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Dance In My Heart

Chapter Fifteen

“Oh my God,” Candice whispered as she steadied herself against the wall with one hand. “What are you doing here?”

Hawk turned and glared at her. The pain and anger in his eyes burned through her like fire. No. More like spiky tendrils from hell itself.

“You really are doing this. I didn’t believe them when they told me,” he replied in a deadly, even tone.

“I...”

“Save it, Candice. Christ,” he yelled. “I defended you! I told them they were wrong.”

“I can explain. It’s not me. It’s my editor.” She had to make him understand. She could take not being with him if she had to, but she couldn’t accept his hate. Her palms broke into a sweat as she put the latest photos on the bed, not caring if they ruined.

“They are your words.”

“But I don’t want to write it. I have no choice.” She rushed to him and placed her hands on his chest, her eyes lifted to his. Surely he could see how much she hurt for him?

His body became rigid, as if her touch repulsed him. He refused to look at her, focusing on something behind her, over her head.

“Please, Hawk. You have to believe me. I never wanted to hurt you.”

“I don’t believe you. I was so upset with myself about leaving you that first night. I thought you deserved better,” he released a bitter, humorless laugh. “I must have been out of my mind. You used me. And I felt guilty about it.”

He shifted his weight away from her and her hands fell into empty space. She felt so very alone, suddenly. As if the place where her heart had lived would never again be filled.

“Great pictures, by the way. You have a lot of talent,” his words burned her anew.

“I’m sorry, Hawk.”

He looked at her again, his eyes narrowed into dangerous black dots. “My name is Michael. You have no right to call me by any other.”

He was right, and she knew it. She’d lost that right when she’d turned on him. Regardless of the reason, a man of honor would never understand why she’d done it. Hell, she didn’t even understand why. Not really.

A man who sold his own horses to provide for families not his own would never do such a horrible thing as she’d done. A man who risked his entire existence to punish someone for an act of cruelty would have made a different choice when it came to betraying someone close to him. She didn’t deserve him.

He deserved better, and she told him so in a cracking voice.

The air in the hotel room thickened, even as the walls seemed to close in. Hawk inhaled deeply, but felt no satisfaction from the oxygen reaching his lungs. Dozens of photographs hung from strings around him. Pictures of his whole life. The people he’d dedicated his life to.

A stack of photos rested on the bedside table and he walked over to them. Using the fingers of one hand, he spread them out. His own image, dressed in regalia, danced from the glossy prints. These were the pictures she’d taken that first day. He lifted them with both hands and leafed through them.

She’d panicked when he’d teased her. She thought she’d captured his soul on film that day, thought she’d offended him. Well, she had his soul now. She should be pleased with herself.

“Why?” he asked without turning. He knew she still stood behind him. Her scent reached out to him. “That’s all I really want to know. Why me?”

Her silence echoed in his mind and he turned to face her, holding up the photos. “Why me, Candice?”

“I don’t know what you mean,” she whimpered. She stared back at him with pleading eyes. But he was no man’s fool. She’d tricked him once. He couldn’t allow her to do it again. His people couldn’t afford any more of her lies.

Her face and neck paled until he could make out the veins in her throat. The remembered heat of her skin beneath his teeth and lips seared through him.

“You knew who I was that first day. But did you really have to sleep with me? I mean, is that how you work? Did you sleep with everyone you’ve investigated for your little stories?”

“No,” she answered, her temper showing in the pink of her cheeks as she moved from shock to fury. Her pleading expression changed to indignation in the span of one tortured heartbeat. “It’s not like that. It’s my job.”

“You’re job? Must be nice having that little line to fall back on.”

“Stop it, Hawk. You don’t know anything about me. You have no right to judge me.”

He could feel her anger now. The six feet of tense air between them sizzled with it.

His own anger demanded release. And release it he would. He yelled, “I know everything I need to know. You use people. You manipulate. And you always get what you want. What else is there?”

“Get out. Get out and go back to your reservation and save your people. That’s what you’re good at right? Avoiding real life so you can play the worshiped hero? So go.”

She marched to the door and threw it open. Her back straight, she stared at him. Fire shone in her blue eyes as her bangs fell in front of her face. He threw the photos on the bed and stalked past her as he muttered under his breath.

“I can’t believe I fell in love with a woman who could this.”

~* * *~

Had she heard him right? Candice stood in stunned silence, her hand still gripping the doorknob painfully. The chime of the elevator had long since dissipated around her.

Hawk was gone. He’d said he loved her, and he was gone. Slowly, the crackle of her abandoned MP3 player ear-piece hanging around her neck invaded the silence, followed by the whisper of traffic from the city streets below her hotel balcony.

She shut the door and stumbled back into her room. The pictures she’d taken of Hawk while he danced strewn across the bedspread. Colorless and empty, they ridiculed her.

She looked at her laptop, the hideous article glared back at her. Trapped inside herself, the photographs and words of her betrayal ripped through her like claws. She wanted to scream. She wanted to pull her hair out.

She did neither.

Instead, she reached for the portable mouse and moved the cursor over the icon and clicked. Then she closed the lid and unplugged her accessories. She stoically packed the heavy computer into it’s case and began removing the pictures from the strings. She packed everything into a file and dumped them into her suitcase.

If she hurried, she could be packed and ready to go in a hour. Her flight didn’t leave until tomorrow night, but she would get on standby now.

She couldn’t stand to be in this room anymore. Her gut clenched as she remembered making love with Hawk on this very bed. Everything she looked at held a memory of him. The sliding glass door to her balcony caught her eye. The image of her back pressed against the cold glass as he’d driven himself into her, her legs wrapped around his lean waist, twisted inside of her. The television screamed at her as she recalled watching bits and pieces of “I Dream of Genie” while they’d eaten strawberries dipped in whipped cream, tasted champagne on each other’s lips and intermittently explored each other’s bodies.

How could she possibly forget him? How could she go back to New York City and pretend none of this ever happened?

She snapped her suitcase shut and slipped on her boots.

She’d just have to figure that out when she got there.

Because whatever chance she’d had to love Hawk had died the minute she’d allowed her idiot boss to dictate her life. The minute she’d chosen to betray him, she might as well have severed her own jugular.

She’d made her bed, and now she had to lie in it.

Alone.

~* * *~

 

©2006 Romance at Heart Magazine.

Book ©2003 by Margorie Jones.

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