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Dance In My Heart
Fear wrapped around Candice like a web. Would Hawk still be next to her if she opened her eyes? Inhaling the rich male scent of the pillow beneath her head, she forced her lids up and breathed a sigh of relief as she found Hawk staring at her. He laid on his side, his head propped in one hand.
“Good morning,” he whispered, his voice rough with sleep.
“Good morning.” She answered as she pushed herself up to mimic his position.
“I’d ask you how you slept, but I don’t think either of us got much sleep. You are a wild-woman.”
She released a nervous laugh. Only with him. She’d never done half the things she’d done with Hawk with anyone else. Not even her husband, and she’d considered their sex-life one of the good points of her failed marriage.
“I have to go to work.” Hawk sighed, but made no move to leave the bed.
“So do I.”
“You need to call a tow,” he laughed. “And get a new rental car.”
She laid her head into the crook of her arm as she remembered her out-of-commission rental and groaned aloud. She needed to write her article and get it back to New York. She didn’t have time to track down tow-trucks and deal with the red tape of a car-rental counter.
“But first, I think we should take a shower.”
Her ears perked. Sliding gaze over the heated pools of his eyes, and then over the hard planes of his smooth, heavily muscled chest, she raised an eyebrow. “We?”
“Oh, absolutely. I’m big on water conservation.”
She laughed again. Okay, so she didn’t have time for this either. But she didn’t care.
Two hours later, she climbed off Hawk’s bike in front of his office building. Several young men stood over the open hood of her car. Instantly riled, she felt her temper flare.
“Hey, Mike. I think it’s the starter.”
The starter? They weren’t trying to strip the car, they were trying to fix it. Shame clawed its way over her, pricking her flesh with knowledge she wasn’t as cosmopolitan as she thought.
The boy in the middle waved to Hawk. She recognized him from yesterday. He was one of the young men Hawk had met with before they went to lunch.
“Thanks for looking at it for me, Jeremy,” Hawk replied as he stowed his helmet and gathered his pack from the saddlebags.
“You asked him to fix my car?”
“Yeah. I called him last night. The kid’s a whiz with anything under the hood.”
“But I can’t fix it. Don’t have the parts. Sorry, Miss Lincoln.”
“That’s okay. I called a tow before we left Hawk’s place.”
“I have to get to work.” Hawk faced her and took her into his arms.
“I know. Don’t worry about me. I won’t get in your way. I’ll just wait out here for the truck.”
He kissed her lightly on the tip of her nose. She inhaled the tangy scent of his leather jacket and smiled.
In a voice low enough the boys couldn’t hear, he whispered, “Thanks for last night.”
She didn’t know what to say, except, “You’re welcome.”
You’re welcome? She cringed inwardly.
“Can I see you later?”
Her heart stopped. The last thing she expected him to offer her was another chance to see him. Last night had been a bonus. Icing on a huge erotic cake. Could she risk seeing him again? Knowing he already held every piece of her heart and knowing she held none of his?
She didn’t have a choice.
“Yes,” she answered, the word in her head filled with hope and promise.
“Good. I’ll cut out of here early and meet you at your hotel about eight?”
“Sounds good to me.” Another night writhing in his arms sounded more than great.
“I hope you packed your glad rags, because I’m taking you dancing.”
A real date? She nearly choked. This might be getting out of hand. But she couldn’t resist smiling. “I’ll be ready.”
She watched his sauntering stride as he walked toward the doors of his office. He exchanged high-fives with the boys as he passed.
“He’s a good guy, Miss Lincoln. Are you his girlfriend?”
Her attention snapped toward Jeremy Littlefeather. She didn’t have an answer. Thankfully, the truck arrived and she didn’t have to come up with one.
The boys said goodbye and meandered as a group toward the residential streets. She frowned as she wondered which of the houses she’d seen last night and again this morning housed the troubled young Jeremy.
“You need a ride back to the city?” The driver appeared friendly enough as he wiped his hands on a red cloth then tucked it back into the pocket of his coveralls.
Her bona-fide date with Hawk sprung into her mind. She had some shopping to do.
~* * *~
Hawk lifted his eyes from the computer screen and rubbed the ache from them with both hands. “Yeah, Celeste?”
“Mary Cadrieux is here to see you. She’s pretty upset. Have you got a minute?”
“Sure, what’s wrong?” He felt his brows close. Foreboding dread slithered up his spine.
“I’m not sure. But she’s been crying.”
“Send her in.” Hawk moved the financial files off his desk and stood to meet Mary at the door.
A pretty girl of fifteen, she normally possessed the classic grace of her people. But when she came through the door, her shoulders slumped heavily and she hugged herself tightly around her waist.
She raised red eyes toward him. Instead of speaking, she sobbed and ran toward him. He caught her in his arms as her momentum nearly knocked him over.
“What’s wrong, baby?” His voice choked. He’d never seen her like this before.
“I’m sorry, Mike,” she cried. “I didn’t mean for it to happen. I didn’t mean it. But he wouldn’t listen to me. I tried to make him, but he wouldn’t listen.”
“Who, Mary? Make who do what?” Dear God, let him be wrong. Not Mary.
“I’m...,” she began as he hiccuped a sob. “I’m pregnant.”
Hawk’s eyes fell closed as he held her tightly.
Fifteen. And pregnant.
He searched his memory for an image of who could have done this to her, but he couldn’t remember ever seeing her with a boy.
“Who, Mary? I’ll need to talk to him if I’m going to help you.”
She stiffened. “No, you can’t,” she begged.
“I have to, Mary. This is serious.”
“I know, but I already told him and he doesn’t care.”
“Is he Native, or White?” At least he’d know where to concentrate his search. He would find the kid whether she liked it or not. Only question was, search the res, or search town.
“Mary? It’s going to be alright. I’ll help you. But you have to help me. You didn’t do this by yourself. Now tell me.”
“He’s Ojibwe,” she confessed into his chest.
Damn. He thought of his conversation with Jeremy Littlefeather yesterday. He’d come by to vent his frustrations concerning a girl. Jeremy wouldn’t tell him which girl he talked about, but it had to be Mary. Jeremy was only sixteen.
“Jeremy,” he voiced his suspicions.
She shook her head. “No, not him.”
He pushed her away from his chest and bore his sympathetic eyes into her tearful one. “Mary. Tell me who,” he demanded.
She withdrew for a hesitant moment before fresh tears cascaded over her streaked cheeks. “Justin Cross,” she wailed.
Fury like he’d never known surged through him. He tightened his grip on her shoulders before he released her for fear of hurting her. Justin was twenty-four years old. This was more than horny kids not taking the right precautions; this was a crime.
He swallowed against the sick twisting in his stomach. “You wait here.” He grabbed his jacket and keys and headed toward the door.
“Where are you going?”
Hawk stopped at the panic in her voice. “Don’t worry about it. Just wait here. I’m going to have Celeste call your mother. If she gets here before I come back, tell her I’ll stop by tonight and talk things over with her.” He looked into the scared girl’s face. “Your mother is good woman. It will be okay.”
“Where are you going?” she repeated.
But he couldn’t tell her. How could he explain he was going to find the man she probably fancied herself in love with and beat the holy, ever-loving shit out of him.
~* * *~
Hawk pushed the swinging door away from him. He’d been in every dive bar in town until the odor of stale cigarettes and beer clung to him like a blanket.
The object of his fury sat at the bar with his back to the door. Justin hovered over his drink, grumbling to the white barkeep.
Without warning, Hawk grabbed Justin by the back of the shirt and threw him to the floor. Drunk, if the smell of whiskey on him indicated anything, Justin tried to gain his feet.
“Hey, Mike. What the hell are you doing?” Justin’s words slurred as he stumbled to one knee.
“I’m kicking your ass, you pile of shit.”
He clipped Justin’s jaw with a right cross and sent the man flying backwards. He dove on him then, driving his knees into Justin’s stomach as he pummeled his face with closed fists.
“She’s only fifteen, you bastard!”
Fury became a living part of him as he released years of pent up frustration at the plight of his people. The anger directed itself at Justin, but came from a much deeper place. Anger with himself for not changing things, for always trying and never making a damn bit of difference, fueled the fire in his fists. He was angry with Justin for taking advantage of a little girl, and furious with Mary for letting him.
With each fist landed on Justin’s broken and bleeding face, he felt his control slipping further away.
“What the hell do you think you’re doing, Mike?”
Rough hands grasped his arms and hauled him backwards. He snapped into reality at the sound of Carl Brandon’s fierce bark. How long had he been beating on Justin? He looked at his knuckles and almost cried at the torn, bruised flesh.
Hawk sagged between the two men holding him fast. “I don’t know.”
“Four guys tried to get you off him before I got here,” Carl knelt beside Justin’s still form. “Damn it, Mike.”
Hawk explained quickly, “He raped Mary.”
“God.” Carl stood and scratched his five o’clock shadow. He released a sigh before ushering them out of the way to allow the ambulance crew through the small crowd. “I’m sorry about that. But it doesn’t give you the right...”
“I know, Carl.”
“I hate to do this, Mike.”
Hawk straightened to his full height. A shudder of shame and disbelief coursed through his pulsing bloodstream. Dear God, what had he done?
“Damn it.” Carl took a set of shining silver handcuffs from his belt and turned Hawk around to face the bar. “Michael Manone Irontree, you have the right to remain silent. You have the right to an attorney...”
The words of the Miranda Rights drifted away. He had become everything he’d never wanted to be. He pictured his kids in his mind. Mary’s tears. Jeremy’s questions. Any number of good things he’d done in his life disappeared in this one act of rage.
How could he ever face them again?
“Do you want to end up like your dad? Pure intentions are fine, Mike, but you can’t take the law into your own hands. You know that as well as I do.”
Carl’s words cut him to the quick as he squeezed into the back of the patrol car. His eyes settled on the heavy metal barrier between himself and the front seat.
Like an animal.
He closed his eyes for a moment, then forced himself to look at the truth. He deserved no solace. He’d acted of his own free will. He deserved whatever happened to him now.
As the jailhouse approached, he closed his eyes and saw only one face.
~* * *~
©2006 Romance at Heart Magazine.
Book ©2003 by Margorie Jones.Return to Page Top