He rolled us to our sides, his arms closing around me, his mouth going to my ear in return and he murmured, “You’re welcome, Sweet Pea.”
I sighed into his throat.
He touched his tongue to the skin behind my ear then turned me in his arms so my back was to his front, he separated from me only to turn off the light and then curled into me, saying his nonverbal goodnight.
I made mine verbal.
“’Night, baby, love you.”
His arm gave me a squeeze and I felt his face in my hair.
“Love you too, Gwen,” he said quietly then ordered, “Go to sleep.”
But seriously, did I care?
The answer to that was a big, fat, no!
Therefore I snuggled my ass into his lap and replied, “’Kay.”
And then, about five seconds later, I did what I was told.
I felt Hawk’s lips at my hip, they disappeared but his hand moved up, taking the covers with it and I opened my eyes to see the day had just about dawned.
I twisted my neck and saw he was bent over me in the bed, fully clothed.
“Shit to do, Sweet Pea,” he muttered, then dropped his head to give me a light kiss.
“’Kay,” I muttered back when his mouth left mine.
“See you tonight,” he went on, pulling the covers up to my shoulder.
“’Kay,” I replied, turning back, tucking my hands under my cheek and closing my eyes.
I felt him shift my hair from my neck and then his lips at my ear.
“Love you, baby,” he whispered.
“Love you too, Cabe,” I whispered back.
Then he was gone.
My cell chirped telling me I had a text and my eyes opened again to see the day had now fully dawned.
It was Friday. I had work; I was facing another deadline on Monday. I was close to finishing and if I hit it that day, I’d have the weekend to do whatever I wanted. And I needed to get my work done and have the weekend to do what I wanted, most of this being relaxing. Some preliminary stuff for the first of Ginger’s trials was close to starting and Meredith, Dad and I intended to be there when she was in the courthouse. This meant I needed time to be able to be there and this meant I needed a life void of stress.
Luckily, and unusually, the second part of that was already the case. I just needed to hit it to make the first part true.
I turned in bed, lifted up and reached for my phone which was sitting by my happy kitty snow globe.
Then my eyes spied the Polaroid that Hawk must have taken out of his jacket pocket and put on the nightstand.
I picked it up and looked at it. Jury’s girlfriend, Gloria had taken it last night. It was me in my fabulous dress with my infinitely more fabulous shoes sitting in Hawk’s lap, my arms around his shoulders, his arms around my waist. My head was tipped back because I was laughing hard at something Elvira had said. Hawk was laughing too but he was doing it looking at the camera.
It was a great picture and I wished it wasn’t Polaroid because I wanted to blow it up and put it over my fireplace.
I dropped the photo, a smile playing at my lips and picked up my phone. I opened the text and my body froze but as it did, heat seared through my lungs at the same time every inch of skin tingled as if encased in ice.
It was a picture text but there was a message. The message said, Trade for Ginger. The picture was tiny but I could see it and with trembling body and shaking hands, I sat up in bed and touched my screen so the photo enlarged.
Then the whimper of fear slid up my throat.
Oh God. Oh God. Oh God. Hawk.
He was hanging from something. I knew this because his arms were in the frame but high over his head. It was a photo mostly of his head, tipped forward, he looked unconscious. Blood was sliding out of his ear, down his cheek, joined by blood coming from his lip and his cheekbone was red and swelling.
The phone chirped in my hand as I stared at the photo and hyperventilated and when it did, I jumped. Then I closed the photo and went to the texts.
I had a new one. It was only one word.
I started breathing through my nose, not able to get enough oxygen in and my eyes, of their own accord, slid to the Polaroid.
Laughing, close, happy.
“You’re in deep with me, aren’t you, baby?”
I closed my eyes and I saw the image in the Polaroid burned on my brain.
That was what Hawk saw for eight years. I knew it then. I got it. He saw that picture he carried in his wallet burned on his brain, every time he closed his eyes, every time his guard went down, every time his control slipped. That was why he shut everything out. That was why his world was void. So he’d never lose control and see that image on his brain, the last memory, the last happiness he thought he’d ever have.
I opened my eyes and hit reply.
Then I typed in, Deal and hit send.
Tack was walking out one of the three big bays in the garage behind the back of Ride. He’d seen my car coming.
A miracle had happened since Hawk and I became us again, Tack and I stayed us too. Of course, this didn’t include me sleeping in his bed or letting him touch his tongue to mine but I texted him whenever I thought there was something he needed to know, mostly all things smartass, and Tack texted back, mostly all things biker guy smartass reply to cosmo girl smartass comment.
And also, Tracy and I went to a Chaos party that was a freaking hoot, so much fun, and most of the time we spent with Tack and his biker babe drinking tequila shots and eating fantastic barbeque pork sandwiches.
Hawk was okay with this because he knew I was in deep with him but mostly because he took us there and picked us up. He was also okay with this because Suarez sat in a black SUV across the street from Ride, his eyes to binoculars out his window trained on the big hog roast party which was taking place in the huge cement area behind Ride.
I got out of my car and slammed the door as Tack smiled at me.
“Peaches,” he called his greeting.
I ran to him and when I closed the distance and he got a good look at my face, his smile died.
“Talk to me, Gwen,” he ordered.
“They have Hawk, they want Ginger,” I told him.
His body went tight.
“Who?” he asked on a bark.
I pulled my purse off my shoulder and dug into it, shaking my head and saying, “I don’t know.” I pulled out my phone, found the picture text, opened it and turned it to face Tack.