“My insurance guy called,” I replied into the phone, wandering to the window, staring at the not-very-attractive scrub, hardscrabble and somewhat attractive, small-river-maybe-large-creek flowing by. “I need to meet him at my house.”

“When?” Hawk asked.


“Three,” I answered.

“I’ll send one of my boys,” Hawk replied.

“Thanks, baby,” I whispered, he didn’t respond so I went on. “Can I ask about tonight?”

“What about it?”

“Well, is it a little black dress and heels night? A glittery top with jeans night? Or a t-shirt and motorcycle boots night?”

“You own motorcycle boots?”

“No, but there are about a gazillion Harley Davidson stores in and around Denver. Maybe your boy can take me on a pit stop.”

“A gazillion?” he asked, sounding like he was smiling.

“Maybe a bazillion, just down from a gazillion.”

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I heard a manly, deep chuckle.

Then, “Babe, not big on a woman in motorcycle boots.”

“Okay, that’s out,” I muttered and got another chuckle.

“Somewhere between dress and heels and tee and boots. That work for you?” he finally answered.

“Yes,” I replied then cried, “Oh! Meredith called. She wants to do dinner but she can’t make dinner at their house because clean up just started so she wanted to know if we want to meet them at Rock Bottom Brewery.”

“Call Elvira, tell her to check the schedule and give you my parents’ number,” he said.

“Your parents’ number?” I asked.

“They liked your folks, they’ll want to come.”

I lost sight of the scrub, hardscrabble and small-river-maybe-large-creek as my eyes went blurry. This was because it was one thing for our parents to be thrown together in a out-of-control family drama that involved cleavers and weeping but it was totally another to casually arrange a meeting of the parents like it was just any other dinner.

“Gwen?” he called.

“What?” I answered.

“Thought I lost you.”

“I’m here.”

“All right, so call Elvira.”


I got that out but I was incapable of further speech. It just hit me that my mystery man knew my parents, I knew his, he wanted me to set up a meet the parents dinner even though we’d already met each other’s parents, not to mention they’d met each other, and we were practically living together.

Therefore it just hit me that I was freaking way the f**k out.

And this was because he said that if I gave him me, he could find out that I’m treasure.

But he could also find out I wasn’t what he wanted.

But mostly I was freaking out because I just realized I really wanted to be what he wanted. I really wanted to be treasure. As in, really.

“Gwen,” he called again, sounding slightly impatient.

Oh no! I was making him impatient!

“What?” I answered.

“What’s up?”

I couldn’t tell him that.

“Um…” I quit speaking.

Hawk was silent. Then he sighed, another indication of impatience.


“Gwen, baby,” he said softly. “What’d I promise you?”

I closed my eyes. He’d promised me that, no matter what, he’d handle me with care. And I was guessing that Cabe “Hawk” Delgado was the kind of man who kept his promises.

“Sorry,” I whispered then admitted, “Don’t mind me. Minor freak out. It happens.”

“Babe,” he replied, now sounding slightly amused.

“Hawk?” I was still whispering.


I sucked in breath then shared, “It happens a lot.”

“No shit?” he replied, definitely sounding amused now and not slightly.

I let out the breath.

Moving on!

“Don’t you have stuff to do?” I asked, “Beating infidels into submission, shit like that?”

“Sweet Pea, what do you think I do for a living?”

“Well,” I started. “You fly on your supersonic jet to hot, humid, tropical, war torn nations, execute your duties as a soldier for hire which means doing things like blowing up bridges and beating infidels into submission.”

“Hard to do that and get home to take you to dinner,” he noted.

“Hawk, your jet is supersonic,” I reminded him.

He burst out laughing and I smiled a relieved smile into the phone and listened.

When he was done laughing, he said, “Babe, I had a supersonic jet, your ass would be in it, I’d take you to a hot, humid, tropical nation but only so you could spend the days in a bikini and I could f**k you on the beach.”

Oh. Wow.

“Your daydreams are way better than mine,” I breathed.

“This shit gets done, Gwen, that won’t be a dream,” he replied, I sucked in another breath and then got dead air.


When Hawk’s boy, Brett, parked in my drive, I saw the windows of my house boarded up, likely something Hawk or possibly Dad arranged.

I’d previously met Brett. He’d been one of the commandos who installed my security system. He was blond and blue-eyed and kind of had the boy next door thing going for him, if the boy next door had more weight and exercise equipment than Hawk. In other words, Brett was ripped and he was bulky.

But Brett wasn’t like Fang. Brett talked. I knew this because I knew Brett had worked for Hawk for three years. Brett also used to be in the Army. And Brett had a girlfriend named Betsy who was pregnant. They were getting married but not until after the baby came because Betsy didn’t want to be fat in her wedding pictures. I told Brett I could see that, I wouldn’t want to be fat in my wedding pictures either.

I let us in my house and Brett went to the security panel, punching in the code. This was a relief considering I’d forgotten it

Then I surveyed my living room.

“Boy,” I whispered, looking around at the destruction then my eyes went to Brett and I finished, “Bullets do a lot of damage.”

Then for some reason, perhaps because I was there when that destruction happened, that destruction could have happened to me and it brought it all back or because now my living room was even further away from being habitable and my furniture was shot up, my face scrunched and I burst into tears.

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