I was more excited about making our next move. I'd spent about an hour on the heavy bag earlier today, but it still hadn't worked this sizzle out of my nerves. Nothing seemed to have done that when I only wanted Hawk's mouth and hands on me. Not much longer and maybe we could finally get there. His hand on my thigh wasn't helping matters much.

"They need to all go away," I muttered back to him. "I want you alone."

Hawk laughed and squeezed my thigh, causing me to moan. A few eyes turned our way, but Hawk only laughed again. "Patience, Damon," he whispered. "We'll get there soon enough." I saw the heat in his eyes, too.

I tried to focus on eating my dinner. The sooner my plate was empty, hopefully the sooner I could disappear with Hawk. We were going to be leaving at first light, so I was pretty sure there'd be a strong suggestion for us all to hit our beds early. That was only a step down from an order. And everyone who was going out would stay here at the clubhouse.

I was afraid Icarus or even Bull would put me on the detail staying here with the Ladies. Worried they'd say it was too dangerous when the Crows had already attacked me twice. I had all my arguments ready to go. I'd never cared about danger. Hell, I'd been in dangerous situations for years.

No one even tried to make that decision for me. Trace and Arrow were being left behind, along with Wraith. I was surprised to see something like relief in Trace's eyes at that decision. He hated even touching a gun. The first time I found that out, I'd called him a pansy in my head. But, he wasn't. I'd known that from the moment he'd stood up to his stepfather. His very own monster.

He'd carry a knife, but guns made his hands sweat. It wasn't the violence that was an issue for him. I wondered if his hang up went back to his stepfather, who carried a gun for a living.

People stood up from the table, and I jerked my head up to glance around. They were all carrying empty plates into the kitchen. Even Hawk pushed his chair back from the table. I seemed to be the only one with food still on my plate. Great. Everyone would probably think I was nervous about what was going down tomorrow. Instead of anticipating what might happen when I left this dining room with Hawk.

I shoveled two more bites into my mouth, which felt like they lodged right in my throat, before I gave up. No way could I finish eating. Hawk's hand on my leg during dinner had been the last straw. This had been coming for too long now. Yeah, it was my fault it had taken so long. I couldn't wait any longer. I really hoped Icarus wouldn't want any of us to stick around down here after dinner.

Hawk leaned back against the counter when I stepped into the kitchen. His arms were crossed loosely over his chest, one ankle hooked over the other. There was a slight smile on his face. Icarus stood a few feet away, one hip cocked and resting against the front of the refrigerator.

I had no idea what they'd been talking about when I came in, but they were both silent and looking at me now. My gaze snapped back and forth between them, trying to figure out what was going on. Had I missed something? Were we supposed to be having some kind of talk after dinner? No, I didn't think so.

"Something going on?" I asked cautiously.

There was a suspicious tilt to Icarus' mouth. "Nope," he said quickly. "Nothing at all. I'm just heading out."

I still had no idea what that had all been about. As Icarus strode away and I felt Hawk's gaze on me, I couldn't worry too much about that. I faced Hawk now. "You want to go upstairs?" I asked. I didn't care about working our way up to this. I wanted to be with him.

"Yeah." His smile took on a different light now. "I'd like that."

Somehow we managed to walk up the stairs and still keep our hands to ourselves. I don't know how much restraint it took on his part, but mine was about stretched to the limit. His room was closer to the head of the stairs, so we ducked into it first. I didn't care whose room we were in. He closed the door then turned to me.

Before I knew it, his mouth was on mine, and he backed me up against the door. He put his hands on both sides of my head. Our mouths didn't part, but mine opened, and his tongue thrust inside.

An image flashed into my mind even as we kissed. Us in a similar position down in the gym. Then, Hawk and Jumper in that same stance, only with Hawk's fist cocked back instead of the two of them kissing. I could barely breathe and put my hands against Hawk's chest to push him back. But, they were trembling. He seemed to sense I needed air.

He took a step back and studied me. "What's wrong, Damon?" he asked. "You wanted this."

"I do. I so do. But..."

"What is it?" he asked when I trailed off.

I moved over toward his bed, my legs feeling shaky. I hated feeling like this, but there wasn't much I could do about it. Hawk joined me, perching right on the corner of his mattress.

"That night down in the gym. When you went after Jumper-"

"We don't have to talk about that." I felt him shutting down.

"Yes, we do," I insisted. "I can't do this thinking you could ever turn on me like that, Hawk. My father-"

"I know." His voice was hard, and I jerked back, needing more distance between us. His eyes closed, but not soon enough to keep me from seeing that same anguish that had been there that night. "My father was the same," he said without opening his eyes again. I almost felt the pain drip out with the words. "I swore I would never become like him. It's why I hold on so tight to my temper, Damon. It's why I let almost everything roll off my back. I can't become him."

Now, this was something I understood. I'd had the same thoughts, both about my father and my brother. I scooted closer to him on the bed and recalled what Medusa said to me after I'd been hurt. "Losing your temper once isn't going to turn you into your father, Gavin." I reached out to squeeze his thigh. "Just like me taking a pill when I hurt won't turn me into my brother."

"I can't take that risk. Don't you see, Damon? I couldn't stand it if I ever hurt you like that?"

I was pretty sure there was more to this than what he said. Hawk had never been one to share openly about himself. Yet, I probably knew more than anyone else. "What made you go after Jumper like that? I thought he was your friend."

"He's my brother, as much as the other guys are." He looked at me, and I knew he thought of me as even more than that. "But, what he said, it was so close to something my father said to me that last night, as he slammed his boot into my ribs. It set me off."

It made me hurt to think of someone hurting Hawk. I brushed some of his hair back, and he lifted his gaze to me again. "I don't want you to be afraid of me."

"I'm not," I said, and it was as much the truth as it was a lie. "I don't think you'd ever hurt me." That was the truth. I may be scared of what he made me feel, and that show of temper worried me, but I wasn't afraid he'd turn it on me. Hawk wasn't like that.

"It would kill me if I ever did," Hawk said.

He stayed right where he was, as if afraid I'd reject him if he came to me. I went to him instead, sliding my hands over his shoulders before pressing my mouth to his. I kept the kiss light at first, hoping he wouldn't step away from me now.

He didn't. Instead he stepped into me and pressed his lips even firmer to mine. One hand clasped the back of my neck as if afraid I'd run away if he didn't hold onto me. There wasn't anywhere else I'd rather be.

"Are we okay?" He rested his forehead against mine when we finally broke from the kiss.

"I certainly hope so."

His smile warmed almost every part of me. And I slid my hands up into his hair before bringing my lips to his again.

"Come to bed," he whispered against my lips.

Gladly.


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