That was, when he wasn’t watching the Broncos.
And I had to admit, most of the time he was doing all of that he was in my house.
“I’m okay, Dad, just a little freaked,” I said into his chest.
“Honey,” Dad said into my hair.
Then I felt his lips leave my hair and I looked up at him to see he was looking over my head at Hawk and Lawson. He moved me to his side, his arm clamped around my shoulders and Meredith got close. She took my hand, I squeezed hers and she squeezed back as I looked to see her give me one of her small, sweet, everything-is-gonna-be-okay smiles.
Then I heard Dad say, “Are you the police?”
He was asking this into the room, his question aimed at both Hawk and Lawson.
“Yes sir, Detective Mitch Lawson,” Lawson replied, stepping forward.
Dad let me go to shake his hand then let it go and clamped his arm around me again, tugging me into his side in a way that my body jolted and then collided with his body.
Hmm. Seemed I wasn’t the only one who was freaked.
“And you?” Dad asked and his eyes were on Hawk.
I looked at Hawk as Lawson took a step away, his face studiously blank, his eyes alert, taking in everything, namely the fact it was clear my family had no idea who Hawk was.
“Hawk,” Hawk said, his hand extended, Dad let me go again, took it and Hawk went on. “Gwen’s man.”
I felt and saw Dad’s body jerk in surprise as Meredith whispered, “Gwen’s man?”
I had no reaction. I was too busy staring at Hawk with my mouth hanging open.
“Honey, you have a man?” Meredith asked and I knew this question was directed at me but I was still too busy standing, staring at Hawk with my mouth hanging open to respond.
“Hawk?” Dad asked, his gaze never leaving Hawk.
“Flew Black Hawks when I was in the Army,” Hawk stated, giving me the third piece of information about him, the first being he was great in bed, something I’d known for a year and a half, and the second being what was apparently his nickname, something I’d known for approximately three minutes.
But this was not what I was focused on. I was focused on the very small piece of information he’d relayed and what it meant for me. And that was that I was f**ked.
I knew this was true when my father stated in a surprised yet clearly elated voice, “You’re an Army man?”
Dad was an Army man. He served four years in the Army before he got out and went into construction. There was a reason why Dad married Mom; he was a wild child like her. He credited the Army with sorting his shit out and saving his life. Problem for my Mom was, she didn’t sort her shit out when she was a soldier’s wife. Dad would have stayed in the Army but being in the Army often meant being away and Mom had me and Dad knew Mom couldn’t be trusted alone with me so he got out to make sure I was raised right.
But Dad still loved the Army. Dad bought olive-drab t-shirts with the word “ARMY” on the front of them and wore them all the time. And Dad formed instant, unshakable bonds with any of his Army brethren. He did it all the time, when we were on vacation, when he was at the hardware store, when he was standing in line to buy a bucket of chicken. He had a sixth Army sense and if he got a whiff of Army, bonding ensued.
Like right now with Hawk.
“Yeah,” Hawk replied and Dad still had hold of his hand so he shook it fervently, a relieved, elated smile on his face.
All thoughts of his daughter’s break-in had flown out of his head. I had a man. That man was an Army man. Not a man like Scott Leighton, who Dad told me after I divorced him he always thought was a pu**y (and he’d used the p-word right to my face, then again, Dad pretty much hated Scott). All was suddenly right in Baxter Kidd’s world and what was making it right was the man standing in front of him.
Yes, I was definitely f**ked.
Dad let go of Hawk’s hand and clamped me to his side again, looking down at me. “Honey, why didn’t you tell us you were seeing someone?” he asked, giving me a shake and beaming at me like a lunatic.
“Um…” I mumbled.
“This is lovely, we’ll have to have you over for dinner,” Meredith put in, my head swung to her to see she was smiling brightly at Hawk.
That was Meredith. If it was a-okay with Baxter, it was hunky dory with her.
“Um…” I mumbled, louder and more hysterical this time.
“Make your lasagna,” Dad put in his order then turned to Hawk. “The lasagna is good, son, but it’s her garlic bread that takes the cake. It’s homemade, from scratch, all the way down to the bread.”
Oh my God! Did my father just call my mystery lover “son” after only knowing him for five seconds? He’d never called Scott “son”. The only thing he ever called Scott was “Scott” and “a pu**y”.
“Um…!” It came out like a strangled cry.
“Gwendolyn,” Lawson called and my frantic eyes few to him.
“Yeah?” I answered.
He took a step in to join our huddle, his hand in his jacket pocket and he pulled out a wallet while speaking. “I’m done here but you need anything, hear anything you think I need to know or remember anything,” he was pulling a business card out of his wallet and he handed it to me, his soulful brown eyes locked with mine, “call me, day or night. My cell is on that card.”
“Uh… okay,” I replied, taking the card and his eyes released me and moved to Hawk.
“You got footage?” he asked.
“Yep,” Hawk answered.
“You know this guy?” Lawson went on.
“Haven’t seen the tape,” Hawk replied, “but my boys couldn’t ID him. I’ll have a look at it when I get back to base.”
“The car?” Lawson kept at it.
“Ran the plates, it’s stolen,” Hawk answered.
“Is it too much to ask you to share that footage with us?” Lawson continued.
“It’s already been e-mailed to the Station,” Hawk returned.
“Footage?” my father butted in and Hawk’s eyes went to him.
“Got a business, part of what I do is security. Gwen and I hooked up; I put cameras on her house. It’s monitored twenty-four, seven. Couple weeks back, we installed more cameras to monitor the street. We got tape of the guy who broke in.”