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Dance In My Heart

Chapter Eight

Hawk should have known better than to bring Candice to his place when the Timberwolves were playing. True to his usual form when the T-wolves played, he wore his team jersey, had painted his face in black and blue and gripped a reduced sized basketball with the wolf logo on it. Hawk sighed, retrieved a throw pillow from the end of the sofa and tossed it at the back of his brother’s head.

“What the hell?” Jake turned and then laughed as he threw the pillow back. “Oh, it’s you. Boozhoo, bro.” He straightened to his full height as he eyed Candice. “And who do we have here?”

The strains of jealously coursing through him clawed at Hawk’s gut like fire. He felt his expression narrow as he glared at his younger brother. He didn’t like the feeling. He’d never been jealous of anyone. Ever confident and generally even-tempered, he’d prided himself for his realism and common sense. He ran a hand through his hair, willing his body to relax. This was the second time since he’d met Candice for the green-eyed beast to rear its scaled head.

The thought shook him as he set his pack and Candy’s belongings on the sideboard by the front door.

“Candice Lincoln. She’s staying with us tonight, so if you’re having trouble with the T-wolves, I would suggest you turn off the game before you make a fool of yourself.”

“Bite me, bro,” Jake offered casually as he grabbed the remote and turned off the television. “Nice to meet you, Candice. Come on in and make yourself at home.”

“Thanks, and you don’t have to turn the game off for me. I have four brothers addicted to the NFL. I’m used to game day,” she replied as she moved further into the room.

Hawk realized then he knew so little about her. Four brothers. This was the kind of personal information against the rules for a one-night stand. But then, so was having lunch, working together and spending the night together a second time. In his heart, Candice had left the realm of a casual-sex-one-nighter the moment he’d seen her. He knew it and it drove him to distraction. “What’s for dinner?” Hawk’s voice sounded clipped, even to himself.

Get a grip. Don’t be an asshole.

“Navajo Tacos. I just have to fry the bread and we’re set.”

“Candy?” Hawk cleared his throat. “Make yourself comfortable. I’m going to help Shit-For-Brains in the kitchen for a sec and I’ll be right back.”

“Don’t worry about me. I’m fine,” she quipped, taking a seat on the sofa and pulling out her cell-phone charger from her satchel. “Um. Is there someplace I can plug this in?”

“Sure. Right behind that end table.” Jake pointed behind her.

Once in the kitchen, Hawk placed both his hands on the counter and lowered his head slightly.

“Man, where did you find her? She’s hot.” Jake’s wolf whistle from behind him spun Hawk as swiftly as if he’d been punched.

“You keep your hands to yourself, you got me?”

Jake lifted both of his hands, palms out, in a posture of mock surrender. “Whoa, Gekek. Simmer down. I didn’t mean anything by it.”

Hawk groaned and turned away. He had no call to attack his own brother like that. What was happening to him? He felt like a starving man, his animal side lashing out in the most primitive of defenses. Don’t mess with my life’s force. But Candice wasn’t his life force.

Was she?

No. She’s a one-night stand, that’s all. So she’d soon be a double-header, but he would let her go after tonight. He didn’t want the complications of a relationship right now.

“What’s wrong with you?” Jake opened the refrigerator and pulled out several plastic containers of taco toppings.

I’m dying because I can’t have her.

The whole thing seemed pretty ridiculous. His own honor and self prescribed mission to change the lives of his people stood guard over his heart like ancient warriors. He didn’t have time for a personal life. And it seemed pretty unlikely a big-shot like Candice would either.

“Nothing, man. Sorry.”

“You got something going with her?”

Hawk flipped the dial on the gas stove and moved a cast iron griddle over the blue flame. “Not really. It’s just a fling, I guess.”

He cast a sideways glance at Jake who didn’t seem convinced.

“Whatever you say, Mike.”

~* * *~

It’s just a fling, I guess.

Hawk’s words spun in her mind like a top. Candice nearly whimpered before she placed her hand over her mouth, turned on silent feet and walked back into the living room.

What did she think? He loved her? She’d met him two days ago! And she certainly wasn’t falling for him. She couldn’t be. Their lives were too different, their cultures constantly clashing. The very thought of a relationship with him was...

Absurd.

So why did his words wound her to the pits of her soul?

“You okay in here?” Hawk crossed the living room and stood in relaxed composure as he leaned against a built in bookcase flanking the fireplace, smattered with snapshots, books and memorabilia.

“Yes,” she lied.

“You want a drink?”

“Sure.” I want champagne and strawberries.

“Coming right up. And dinner’s almost ready.”

His tall, straight back beckoned to her when he turned toward the small wet bar beside the television. Her fingers itched to take out his pony-tail and comb the long black strands. Her stomach clenched and liquid fire pooled in her gut. They would make love again tonight. It was unavoidable. She knew it as fact. Like air, water, food and shelter, touching him was necessary.

Almost frightened by the thought, she hugged herself with one hand across her midsection as she stood and took the drink he offered.

“You cold?” Hawk’s eyes narrowed.

Freezing. “No, I’m fine.”

Looking for something to take her mind off her childish fantasies, she stared at the photographs on the dark wood shelves. She found a picture of four men, three of them in full Native American regalia. Second from the left, Hawk’s image smiled broadly, his hair braided with bright red and yellow feathers which matched the red, yellow and orange of the outfit. He looked like a mystical fire god. She also recognized Jake in the photo, his regalia more subtle, but if the patterns on the fabric were made of beads, as she suspected, it must have taken hundreds of hours to complete.

“Those are my other brothers,” Hawk indicated. He appeared beside her, so close she could feel his body heat reaching out for her. She trembled inside. “That’s me and Jake. And this is Remy, without the regalia, and that’s Adam. He’s a drummer. He also makes flutes and drums in the tradition of the old ways. They live in North Dakota.”

“Do you see them much?”

“Every so often. Except for Adam. I see him all the time.”

“He travels here, or do you go there?”

“He plays all the major Pow Wows. Since I usually dance at them, we keep tripping over each other.” She liked the way his eyes lit up when he talked about his family. “He’s also a dream-walker. Whenever something really, really important comes up, he might even show up in my dreams. It isn’t often, but considering he’s the oldest and feels sort of responsible for us, it happens.”

Candice felt a cold shiver run up her spine. Born and raised in the real world, the concept of some one infiltrating another’s dreams freaked her out just a little bit. Hawk must have sensed it as his muscles bunched and his body became as rigid as a board.

“Our father went to prison when we were all just kids. I was fourteen, and even though Adam was only sixteen, he sort of took over. Mom died when we were younger.”

The ability to form a sentence escaped her. His father was in prison? She wanted to know why, how, but didn’t ask. The memory obviously pained him.

“Soup’s on, people,” Jake yelled from the dining room.

Her tension dissipated somewhat with the normalcy of the statement. She squeaked, “Let’s eat. I’m starving.”

Throughout dinner, Jake kept the conversation light and friendly. Candice found herself wondering about Hawk’s childhood, how he managed to go to college with no mother and a father in prison. He could have so easily fallen into the trap of alcohol and despair like so many of his people. But instead, he’d focused his attention on changing the rules, making life better for himself and everyone around him. Amazed by his giving spirit, she wanted to know everything about him.

But she didn’t ask the dozens of questions floating in her mind. She didn’t have any right to.

After dinner, she insisted she help with the dishes. Jake ushered Hawk into the other room. “I know you brought work home with you. Go get it done. Candice and I can handle the kitchen.”

Hawk left them alone, although Candice sensed he forced himself to.

Stop imagining things, little girl. It’s just a fling. He said so himself. She pretended not to notice the stab of pain brought about by the thought.

“So what’s your story?” Jake asked, his friendly tone softening the direct question.

She collected their plates and flatware and followed Jake into the kitchen. “I don’t really have one,” she sighed. “Raised in your typical middle class neighborhood in upstate New York. Constantly belabored by four overprotective brothers. Professional father, school teacher mother. College at University of Virginia, Charlottesville. Married the wrong guy, divorced the right guy and now I write for National Pulse Magazine. The end.”

“I doubt that.”

“Really. There’s nothing more to tell.”

“You don’t get to be a staff writer for a mag like the Pulse without some seriously hard work.”

“You got that right. I worked my ass off for years. Covering news all over the world for a couple of other magazines and newspapers. Now I’m full time based in New York. It’s steady work. I like it.”

She lied and hoped he couldn’t tell. He was easy to talk to and she feared she would spew out more information than she wanted Hawk to know. She had a feeling anything she told Jake, he would tell his brother. Not because he meant any harm, but because the brothers were obviously close.

“How long were you married?” Jake stacked the dishes she rinsed in the dishwasher.

“Four very miserable years.”

“Marriage is rough, sometimes. I wouldn’t know. I’ve never been married, and the only one of my brothers to give it shot is also divorced. I’m in no hurry, let me tell you.”

Jake chuckled and then sighed. “Mike has always been too busy to find anyone. Man, that guy knew what he wanted when he was like twelve. Our dad always told us we could be whatever we wanted.” Jake laughed at an apparently happy memory. “Mike took him seriously.”

“How do you mean?” Candice tried to sound nonchalant, but the chance to learn more about the man working silently in the other room quickened her heart too much to let it go.

Jake wiped the counter and tossed the sponge into the sink. “You should know something about Mike, if what’s going on here is what I think is going on. Mike is a workaholic. He spends every waking moment on the job. And when he’s not working, he’s practicing his dancing or performing at Pow Wow’s to help keep the heritage alive and maybe even teach mainstream society that not all Indians are alchies and abusers. The kids around here listen to him, count on him, and follow him. Some of the adults hate him for trying the change things. A few of the elders are still bitter over our lost way of life. Attitudes like that sent the Nations into a downward spiral for years. Mike wanted to change the world. And now he is.”

Any wild fantasies Candice had about falling in love with Hawk died painfully at Jake’s words. She had no right to interfere with Hawk’s life work. She wished she’d gone back to her hotel after all.

When she made love with him tonight, and there still remained no doubt in her mind that she would, she knew what small part of her heart he hadn’t already taken would be his.

And she’d have to go home without it.

 

©2006 Romance at Heart Magazine.

Book ©2003 by Margorie Jones.

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