Cam and her had been talking about it for ages? Why hadn’t they talked to me?
I didn’t ask this. Instead I shouted, “He’s already moved on! He’s got a girlfriend.”
Tracy waved her hand in front of her face. “Hardly. Every girl he picks he picks so they’d be someone he could drop like a rock if you gave him an in. I don’t like her. Cam doesn’t like her. You don’t like her. She’s a whiner. No one likes a whiner. Even Troy. Therefore, easy to drop like a rock.”
I looked at Tracy. Then I looked at Hawk. Then I looked at my audience of commandos.
Then I went into denial.
“This isn’t happening,” I announced. “I can’t do this right now. My Pad Thai is already cold. I need to nuke it, eat it and get work done. No one exists. I live in a world all alone.”
Then I stomped through Tracy and Hawk, up my stairs and to my food.
When I’d grabbed my noodles and turned around, Hawk was in the door.
“Babe,” he said.
“I don’t see you. You don’t exist,” I informed him.
“Gwen, someone had to tell him.”
“No, they didn’t and if they did, it didn’t have to be you,” I shot back.
“I did him a favor.”
“Really? You did? Should I call Troy and ask him if he thought you did him a favor, telling him that shit in front of me, Trace and your bunch of badasses?”
“Next time, he’ll get his finger outta his ass.”
Definitely exploring the boundaries of head explosion.
“Go away. I don’t want to see you for, I don’t know… maybe a million years. A million years ought to do it. If I have a million years, I think I’ll get over being,” I leaned forward, “insanely pissed at you.”
Then he repeated, “Babe.”
“Thanks for the food,” I snapped sounding about as grateful as I felt, which was to say, not at all. I walked toward him and finished, “See you in a million years.”
As I tried to move around him, he caught me with an arm around my belly and I decided not to struggle because firstly, I might drop my Pad Thai and secondly, I’d lose.
“What?” I snapped when I’d twisted my neck to look up at him.
“We’re havin’ dinner tonight,” he informed me.
“No, we’re not,” I informed him. “I’m enduring dinner with Dad and Meredith where I’ll have to explain about Ginger and you. Then I’m working until I fall asleep at the keyboard.”
His brows drew together. “Are you that far behind?”
“Yes!” I shouted. “I was that far behind yesterday when Darla came to visit and I stupid, stupid, stupidly decided to go to Ride. Now I’m even more far behind and all this shit, Hawk, it is not helping.”
“I should let you get shit done,” he muttered.
“You think?” I snapped.
His arm curled, moving me to his front and curving around me so I had to execute evasive maneuvers not to lose my Pad Thai.
“Hawk…” I warned when his head dropped, I twisted my neck to try to avoid it, his arm tightened, his other one wrapping around me, and I failed to avoid his lips hitting my neck.
“You need to get caught up, baby, carve some time out for me,” he murmured against my neck and I was about to say something snotty but wasn’t able to when his tongue touched the skin behind my ear, I instantly forgot I was insanely pissed at him and then he said, “We’re due.”
“Due?” I breathed because I could still feel his tongue behind my ear.
His head came up, he looked at me and he repeated, “Due.”
His black eyes warmed, the dimples popped out and his arms got even tighter, plastering me to his long, hard body.
I momentarily forgot that we were over as I stared into his warm, black eyes in the light of day, felt his long, hard body against mine and mentally recalled what that body felt like naked.
“Babe,” he called and I blinked.
He smiled, this time with white teeth against his beautiful brown skin and he dropped his head and kissed me lightly.
“Get to work,” he ordered.
Then, suddenly, he was gone.
I stood there with my Pad Thai staring at my empty hall thinking, shit.
Certainty Borne of Nothing but Instinct
I’d managed to get rid of Tracy, nuke and eat my Pad Thai and return to my computer but after an hour of work, my mind wandered. My foot came up so I could rest my heel on the seat, I swiveled my chair and I put my chin to my knee so I could comfortably stare out the window without doing anything too taxing, like holding my own head up.
I wasn’t daydreaming, I was thinking about where I’d gone wrong.
Two years ago, after Tracy had successfully passed an online course in bartending, she’d stepped out of her chosen career of hopscotching through every exclusive retail clothing store at Cherry Creek Mall and scored a job at Club. Club was a trendy eatery that had really good food, stylish, sophisticated glasses in which they served their drinks, three open fires that made the space warm and welcoming, every table was a booth and it had a huge circular bar in the middle where you could see and be seen.
At the time Club was Cam, Trace and my top spot for seeing and being seen while drinking cosmopolitans (though, to be honest, we went there because of the glasses which were flipping fantastic). It now was not since Tracy had broken so many of their fancy glasses, her boss had to let her go. He did this with tears in his eyes because he, like any man with a pulse, was half in love with her – I’d seen it, I was there, so was Cam and it wasn’t pretty.
But I was there one night a year and a half ago, drinking cosmos and keeping Tracy company on her shift.
I was well into cosmo number three and already slightly hammered because I was on some crazy diet where I was detoxing (though I had altered the diet to allow cosmos, of course) and therefore had nearly three cosmos under my belt with zero food for the day.
This was stupid, I could see this now. At the time, it didn’t seem stupid because Tracy was my ride. Troy had dropped me off and Tracy was taking me home. I could get as drunk as I wanted, flirt as much as I wanted and cackle with Tracy as much as I wanted.