“Cam called and said that Leo said that you got broken –” Tracy skidded to a halt beside Troy when her eyes caught sight of Hawk. Those eyes widened, her jaw went slack and she stared at him. Then, before I could do anything about it, she got the way wrong idea, her face lit with sheer delight and she screeched, “Ohmigod!”

Then she jumped up and down and clapped while the commandos took in the show and she tore her gaze from Hawk and grabbed my hand still jumping up and down.


“Gwennie! Hurray!” she cried.


I took hold of her hand and squeezed firm, “Trace, it’s not what you –”

Before I could finish, she dropped my hand and looked up at Hawk. “I know you! And I knew it! Cam called me and told me you’d come over yesterday and Gwennie got broken into last night and here you are! To the rescue! Hurray!”

Shit, shit, shit!

“Trace –”

She looked at me. “I told you! Didn’t I tell you?” She looked at Hawk and informed him, “I told her, like, a bazillion times!”

“You got broken into?” This was Troy breaking into Tracy’s glee and I stopped looking at Tracy and started looking at Troy.

“Um… yeah but it wasn’t a big deal,” I lied.

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“You got broken into?” Troy repeated.

“Is that why all these guys are here?” Tracy asked, her head swiveling around on her neck to take in the commandos then she looked at me. “What are they doing? Are they building a fortress?”

“They’re putting in a security system,” Hawk answered, Tracy’s face instantly fell at this news and her eyes came to me.

“Oh honey, does that mean you won’t be able to get those Jimmy Choos you’ve had your eye on for, freaking, ever? You know, I can’t hold them very much longer. Someone will notice.”

That was Tracy: fashion before everything, even safety.

“She’s not payin’ for it,” Hawk replied, Tracy’s face instantly lit up again and her eyes flew back to Hawk while Troy’s eyes narrowed on him.

“Hurray!” Tracy exclaimed.

“Babe, stop saying ‘hurray’, this isn’t what it seems,” I finally got out and Hawk’s arm squeezed my shoulders.

“What is it then?” Troy asked me but didn’t wait for me to answer. “And who is this guy? And who broke in? Are you okay? Did you get hurt? Do the police know? Did they catch him?”

I opened my mouth to answer but Hawk answered before me and for me.

“Like I said, I’m Hawk, Gwen’s man. We don’t know who broke in. Gwen’s fine, my boys and I are lookin’ out for her and the police have been informed.”

“Hawk,” Tracy breathed, gazing up at him with stars in her eyes. “Cool name. Way cool. Super cool. Super, double extra cool.”

Good God.

“Honey, you need a brief but I don’t have time, I have work,” I told her and looked at Troy. “And I’m sorry, Troy, I can see you’re concerned but things are a little crazy and I have deadlines. I can’t do my Troy Day today. But I’m fine, totally fine. I’ll call you and explain everything tomorrow.” Then I looked at Hawk and snapped, “And you. Will you quit speaking for me?”

“That’s cool,” Tracy said immediately before Hawk could reply and went on. “And by the way, honey, your hair is the bomb.”

Troy wasn’t cool. He was staring at me. Then he asked, “Does this have to do with Ginger?”

When he asked that, Tracy’s eyes swung to me and they were wide.

“Ohmigod,” she breathed. “I didn’t think of that.”

Troy didn’t wait for my answer; he jumped straight to the right conclusion. He’d known me a long time but my escapades, even at their worst, wouldn’t lead to a team of commandos installing a security system.

“What’d she do?” Troy asked.

“I don’t know and I don’t care. I’ve disowned her,” I answered.

“Finally,” Tracy muttered.

“I want to know and I care if it means, in a day, you’ve found and hooked up with Rambo,” Troy clipped, jerking his head at Hawk.

Hawk did that deep, manly, amused chuckle.

Tracy missed the chuckle because she was declaring, “It wasn’t a day. They’ve been seeing each other for a year and a half.”


Tracy saw the look on Troy’s face, realized what she’d done and said my thought out loud, “Uh-oh.”

“A year and a half,” Troy whispered and my stomach lurched. He looked like I’d kicked him and not in a good place.

Shit, Hawk was right. Troy definitely wanted to get in my pants.

“Troy –” I whispered back and Hawk spoke.

“Friendly advice. Next time, get your head outta your ass and stake your claim.”

My body went solid but it still turned woodenly toward Hawk and I snapped loudly, “Hawk!”

Hawk looked down at me. “Man to man, babe, he’s a man, he can take it and he’s gotta know he f**ked up.”

For the first time in my life I was wishing murder wasn’t illegal.

“I can see you’re not in the mood for an intervention,” Tracy said softly to Troy, “but, um… he’s kind of right, honey.”

This time, my mouth dropped open as I stared at my sweet, wouldn’t-do-or-say-a-thing-to-hurt-a-soul Tracy saying something that hurt a soul.

And Troy looked at her just like I’d figure someone would look whose soul was just wounded.

Then he jerked around and started to go.

I pulled away from Hawk, rushed forward and grabbed his hand, saying, “Troy –”

He stopped and shook his hand free, his eyes narrowed on me. “Don’t,” he whispered.

“Troy –” I started, again.

“You need a washer changed or you’re freezing your ass off because your furnace doesn’t work, Gwen, don’t call my number. Call Rambo there,” he jerked his head toward Hawk, “and hope he knows how to use a f**king wrench.”

Then he walked out my front door.

When he did I swung to face Hawk and Tracy.

“What the hell?” I yelled.

“Babe,” Hawk replied.

“I know,” Tracy said softly. “It was harsh, honey, but Cam isn’t here and someone had to say it. She and I have been talking about it for ages. He should have made his move or moved on. He didn’t do either. Now that you have Hawk, maybe he’ll forget about you and move on.”

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