I blinked.


“Uh…” I hesitated again, “yeah.”

“I thought she was happy with the way things were,” he told me.

“She is,” I told him.

He stared.

Well, I brought us to this dire pass I had to lead us through it.


“Are you happy with the way things are?” I probed cautiously.

“Fuck yeah,” he replied.

Well, at least that was firm.

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“So… um, your hesitation with making it official has to do with…” I trailed off and lifted my eyebrows.

“It’s fine like it is, why change it?” he asked.

Okay, I was careening down the highway to the danger zone so I might as well shift up and engage the rocket launchers. The problem was, this meant explaining women to him and men never really were able to process that.

“All right, this is the gig,” I said and straightened in my chair, shifting my booty in it to indicate what I was saying needed his close attention. “Women like clothes, they like shoes, they like flowers and they like people to look at them and think, ‘God, she’s gorgeous.’ The more people who think that, the better it is. The one day in your life where you get all that rolled up into one is your wedding day. And it comes with jewelry and presents and ends with a vacation where it’s practically law that you have to wear fabulous underwear and have lots of sex.”

Leo flashed me a white smile showing that, likely, most of what I said was lost on him but I got through with the fabulous underwear and lots of sex so relief flooded through me.

Therefore, I reached out a hand and wrapped it on his forearm. “So, you give her that then you come home and it’s the same as it was before except you have towels and china in your house you didn’t have to buy.”

His arm twisted and he caught my hand then he gave it a squeeze.

Then he muttered, “This sounds good.”

“Well, lucky for you, you got it for free. I’m considering going on the road, holding classes for men, explaining things. I just need to hook up my commissions with wedding planners and really bad cover bands.”

This got me another white flash of smile even as he noted, “Engagement rings don’t exactly come cheap.”

“This is true but I’m Cam’s best friend and I’m not going to mess with any of that kitchen and bathroom bridal shower stuff. It’s all about lingerie.” I let his hand go and crossed my heart then lifted my hand, palm out. “Swear.”

“You break that promise, darlin’, and I gotta sort through garlic presses and other shit to find the bottle opener, you know I’ll make you pay,” he threatened.

“Camille doesn’t have a garlic press?” I asked, fake aghast.

This got me another white flash.

Then the white faded and his eyes grew intent. “She worried about this?”



“Yeah,” I answered honestly and quietly.

“Shit,” he muttered.

“She wants to be yours, Leo,” I told him.

“She is mine, Gwen,” he told me.

“Then let her show the world every day by giving her a ring.”

He held my eyes. Then he nodded once.

Then he said, “I gotta get to the gym.”

I nodded back, saying, “I gotta get home.”

He stood and I took a sip of coffee. I thought he’d go to the sink but he came to me. I tipped my head back to look at him just as his hand cupped the back of my head and his face got close.

“This,” he whispered, “this right here is why Cabe Delgado finally woke the f**k up.”

My heart seized but I wheezed, “Leo.”

“No more to be said, darlin’, think about that,” he declared, pulled my head forward an inch, kissed my hair and then let me go and walked his mug to the sink.

God, I loved Leo. He was the shit.

I looked out the window. The snow was long gone. February was leaking into March. In Denver this meant anything goes weather-wise. Blizzards, lying out in the sun in your bikini or both within an hour.

My phone hadn’t rung and Hawk hadn’t attempted to penetrate the Antoine/Freeman fortress. Even if he didn’t get my check and note yet, he went back to his lair to find I wasn’t there.

He was no call and no show.

This said it all and I told myself I was relieved but I wasn’t.

As I drove up to my house I noted that the good news was, Dad and Meredith’s cars weren’t there.

Dad called the night before to say that he and Meredith were going to spend the day at their house cleaning and sorting through stuff. I told him I wanted to get a few hours of work done to stay on target and then I’d come and help.

The bad news was, there was a Harley in my drive and on that Harley sat Tack.


I pulled up to the curb so I wouldn’t block him in and he threw his leg off his bike. He started to the front door so I headed there.

“Hey peaches,” he greeted when I got close.

I had not bothered with makeup or hair. I’d taken a shower and put on another pair of yoga pants, a camisole and a zip up hoodie. I hoped I looked like hell but the way he was watching my h*ps move as I walked I was guessing I didn’t. Or at least my h*ps didn’t.

“Hey,” I replied.

His eyes lifted from my h*ps to mine. “Got a minute?”

“Depends,” I answered. “Are you here to tell me Ginger owes you three million dollars now?”


“Are you here about Ginger at all?”


“Are you here to freak me out in any other way?”


“This would include asking me for a date,” I warned.

“Babe, don’t date,” he replied.

This was a surprise so I tipped my head to the side. “You don’t?”

“Do tequila shots followed by five hours of sex count as a date?” he asked.

“Um… no,” I answered.

“Then I don’t date.”

I smiled at him.

Then, stupidly, I asked, “You can have sex for five hours?”

He smiled at me.


Moving on.

“Okay, you can have a minute.”

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