Read Alaskan Heat Online

Authors: Pam Champagne

Tags: #Romantic Suspense

Alaskan Heat (7 page)

Chapter Ten
On top of Stan’s horrific announcement last night and Hawk’s strange behavior, Sophie had plenty to mull over on the last leg of the trip to Eagle. There was nothing she could do except follow her instructions from Stan, even though she loathed what she had to do. She prayed Hawk would understand, knowing full well it was beyond the realm of possibility. Last night he’d handled her like a piece of Waterford crystal. What was that all about? She’d come to expect his wild lovemaking and, although she’d reached a physical release, she’d been left wanting more.

So far today Hawk’s remoteness overshadowed his polite demeanor. A quick glance in his direction confirmed he was preoccupied. They’d talked earlier and he’d given her the plan. His plan. She’d drop him off at Dan and Maria’s, turn around and head back the way she’d come. If only they had another thousand miles to travel.

“I’m hungry.”

“I can pull into the next store, although this stretch of road doesn’t look too promising. How about I stop at the next rest area and make tuna fish sandwiches?”

Hawk flashed a toe-tingling smile. “Thanks.”

Sophie swallowed a mouthful of her soda and reached into the bag of chips sitting on the seat. She’d stopped at a deserted rest area about a few miles from the border crossing. “We’ll be at the border in a few hours. We need to figure out how to smuggle you in.”

“I’ve been thinking about it. You drop me off five miles from the crossing. I’ll cut through the woods and into Alaska. Meet you on the road a few miles from the border.”

“Nice try, but no go.” Did he think she was crazy? If she went along with him, he’d take off. Sophie all but shoved the remainder of her sandwich in her mouth, more for an excuse to drop the conversation than because she was hungry.

“You got a better plan? Oh, I know. We’ll just politely explain to the border patrol that I have no identification. Lost it on the way. I’m sure they’ll laugh and wave us through.”

“Trust me. I have it under control.”

Hawk mumbled something she didn’t quite catch, other than two words: dream on. If he still didn’t trust her, then perhaps her betrayal wouldn’t hurt him when they arrived in Eagle.

“Are you fucking crazy?” Hawk asked a few minutes later when Sophie explained her idea.

Sophie drew a lungful of air. “It’ll work. I’m a federal agent. They’re not going to tear apart the camper.”

“I could leave right now and do it my way.”

Her heart somersaulted. The moment had arrived. From now on, she had to assume the role of an actress.
Please, God, let it worthy of an Oscar
. “Do it and I’ll turn you in at the border. You wouldn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of making it to Eagle.”

She expected hostility, anger or perhaps a bit of cajoling. She wasn’t prepared for Hawk to slide over to her side, his gaze sincere. “You’d do that…after everything’s that happened?”

“I have no choice.” She’d meant to sound forceful. Instead her words were hoarse. “Please don’t make me do it.”

Disappointment shone in his eyes. His thumb brushed away a leaking tear. “This damn well better work.”

“It will.” The confidence of her reply belied the self-loathing tucked away in a corner of her heart.

Sophie exited the truck and Hawk followed suit. He held himself stiff and unyielding, reminding her of a condemned man. Once in the camper, he turned. The vulnerability in his eyes nearly brought her to her knees. “My life is in your hands,” He said, and then climbed into bed and pulled the blankets over his head.

The truck bounced, rocking the camper, as it advanced toward Alaska. Hawk almost felt empathy for Rueger who rode in here every day, but at least he didn’t have fifty pounds of shit thrown on top of him. Sophie had tossed duffle bags, blankets and God knew what else onto the bed. She might as well have buried him alive. When she’d ordered Rueger to jump up, he’d wanted to strangle her. He concentrated on breathing slowly, reminding himself he wouldn’t suffocate.

The truck slowed and eventually came to a complete stop. Sophie cut the engine and the door slammed. Jesus. Why’d she get out?

“FBI?” a male voice asked. She must have shown him identification. “What’s your business in Alaska?”

“I’ve been transferred to the Anchorage office.” Her smooth answer calmed him a bit.

“Got the transfer papers?”


“They’ve been forwarded. If need be, you can call my supervisor back in Montana.”

Don’t offer anything, damn it.

“Nah. That’s not necessary. I do have to have a look in your camper. SOP.”

Hawk willed his fast beating heart to slow. He’d give anything to wipe the sweat trickling down his face into his eyes.

“Sure. My dog’s in there. I gave you his rabies certificate. The camper’s a wreck inside, though,” Sophie rambled on. “I’ve been tossing my gear on the bed.”

Jesus! She was actually drawing attention to where he lay.

The man laughed. “These things are great, but you don’t get a lot of breathing room.”

The door squeaked open. The camper swayed as someone climbed in. Too heavy for Sophie. Rueger’s deep-throated growl vibrated against Hawk’s chest.

“He won’t bite,” Sophie assured in her sweet voice.

The camper dipped again. “Yeah, well, he appears to be possessive. Probably a good thing…you being a woman and alone.” The door slammed.

Thank you, God.

A few minutes later, they were barreling down the highway. Hawk pushed Rueger off and fought his way out of his claustrophobic hiding place. A long fifteen minutes passed before Sophie pulled over.

“Worked like a dream,” she said after she opened the door.

“You weren’t the one suffocating under fifty pounds of gear and a hundred pound dog.”

“Stop whining and get in the truck.”

Hawk grabbed two bottles of water from the fridge and jumped to the ground. They were less than eight miles from Eagle. His eagerness to confront the scumbags who’d made him a fugitive was paramount in his thoughts. That and his need to put an end to his life on the run.

“You know how to get to Dan and Maria’s?” Sophie asked as they drove onto the Taylor highway.

“Once we get to Eagle, I’ll ask directions to their place. It’s a small place, less than two hundred people. Dan described it as more of an outpost than a town.”


Hawk wondered about Sophie. She seemed tense. No, more like nervous, but he was so into his own agenda, he didn’t have time to coerce her to spill her problems. When she dropped him off, she was leaving. No way, no how would he allow her to stay, regardless of the argument he expected.

When he accomplished his mission and cleared his name, he’d track her down, ask her out on a real date and see where it led. He’d toyed with telling her that before she left, but decided against it. What if something went wrong and Blair and Reed killed him? No, he’d keep his mouth closed.

The town of Eagle was what remained of an Athabascan village which later became a gold rush town. They passed a tiny building housing the telephone and power company, a Baptist Church, and an old fort built in the 1800s. The fact that Eagle overlooked the Yukon River was obviously the biggest thing in its favor. Hawk couldn’t comprehend why his friends had chosen to live in such isolation. Christ, they’d have to drive hundreds of miles to buy groceries.

“Stop here.”

Sophie braked in front of a general store.

“I’ll be right out.”

Sophie’s heart fluttered. She recognized she was experiencing heart palpitations, but no amount of calm thoughts or deep breaths solved the problem. The minute Hawk came out that door, everything would change and there wasn’t a damn thing she could do to stop it, short of disobeying direct orders. The wind had picked up about an hour ago and it now buffeted the camper, making her leery of driving.

Hawk exited the store with a bounce in his step. He waved a piece of paper and climbed in. “Got it.”

“Great. You navigate, I’ll drive.”

“Follow the road along the river for about a mile. Take the dirt road on the left. Dan and Maria’s place is about six hundred feet in on the right.”

Sophie wondered how in hell Stan could sneak up on this house in the middle of nowhere. One road in, same road out. Nowhere to hide a vehicle. His strategy made no sense.

Hawk touched her shoulder. “Don’t pull into the driveway. You can let me off here. There’s a turnaround up ahead a few hundred feet.”

Sophie nodded. “I guess this is goodbye.”

He scooted across the seat to pull her into his arms. “Maybe not. If all goes well I’ll give you a call… What the fuck?” His arms dropped and he looked at her as if he’d never seen her before. Hawk stared at the weapon poking his ribs.

Sophie steeled herself. “Hand over your weapon, Hawk. Don’t make me shoot you.”

“What’s going on? Is Stan waiting in the house? You’re turning me in?”

“The gun,” she repeated, slipping her finger onto the trigger.

She hid her surprise when Hawk complied. He had something up his sleeve. She knew damn well he wouldn’t give in that easy. Shoving his weapon in her jacket pocket, she motioned him to get out of the truck. She slid across the seat and left by the passenger door. Walking close with her Glock’s barrel pushed against his side, they started up the drive.

“I’m disappointed in you, Sophie.”

She managed a bitter laugh. “I bet you are. Surprised to find the timid mouse was an act?” Her heart broke for Hawk, who was about to discover his saviors weren’t going to help him. He was calm because he thought his friends were going to take her down.

Before they could knock, the door of the rustic log cabin swung open. Maria, a small woman with shoulder-length black hair, stood in the entrance gaping. “Hawk! What are you doing here?”

“Maria, I need—”

“Cut the crap, Maria.” Sophie stepped a few inches away, giving the woman a glimpse of the Glock.

“I don’t understand.” The woman was good. If Sophie didn’t know better, she’d believe her confusion.

A man joined Maria. “Who is it?”

After an initial look of what appeared to Sophie to be horror, Dan smiled. “Hawk! This is a surprise.”

“Bullshit,” Sophie scoffed. “I’m delivering Hawk as Bob and Jack ordered.” She stole a glance at Hawk’s face and wished she hadn’t. Eyes glazed with shock, he seemed at a loss for words.

Dan and Maria exchanged a surreptitious look.

“Who are you? Jack never mentioned anyone else being involved.”

Sophie shrugged. “You know how those two are. Closed mouthed about their plans.”

Dan scanned the property. “Get inside. No need to attract attention.”

Sophie wanted to laugh. No one was around except for wild animals.

They all trooped indoors, Dan leading Hawk to a wooden chair. Her weapon now aimed at Hawk’s chest, Sophie imagined his thoughts.
I believed you. Why, Sophie? Why did you lie?
Hawk’s wounded expression cut her to the quick. Then, like a curtain closing, his face became a mask of cold indifference.

Other than the sound of the howling wind, heavy silence filled the room.

“Good job,” he drawled in the mocking tone she’d come to hate. “You used your body as bait, and this big greedy fish swallowed the entire hook.”

Each sharp word sliced her heart like a razor blade. She held her breath and prayed for strength to pull off this caper.

Why couldn’t Hawk see into her soul and know the truth? If he loved her, he’d be able to see she was on his side. How much better was she? At the beginning of their journey, she’d had doubts about his innocence. Her distrust hadn’t kept her from sleeping with him…falling in love with him.
Face it. You deserve everything he tosses at you

With a cold smile, Hawk switched his attention toward Dan and Maria. Maria held enough duct tape in her hand to secure a battalion. Both were skittish and avoided eye contact with Hawk. Sophie speculated on the reasons for their treachery. According to Hawk, they’d been his friends for a long time. It had to be money. What kind of people would sell out a friend for cash? Sophie looked forward to seeing them fry.

Her imagination ran amok with the numerous possibilities of what might happen to Hawk if Stan didn’t get here in time. Each one was more horrific than the last.

Hawk nodded in Sophie’s direction, his attention riveted on Dan. “I can understand her perfidy, but you and Maria? We go too far back.”

Dan mumbled something incoherent, his gaze glued to the floor.

“Speak up, man,” Hawk barked. “I have a right to know.”

Dan’s body jerked. “We ran into rough times. We need the money. I’m sorry, Hawk. When Jack called…” He shrugged. “It’s nothing personal.”

“From where I’m sitting, it’s damn personal.”

Maria tossed a roll of tape at Dan. “Stop yakking and secure him. Once this is over and he’s gone, we can put this all behind us.”

Doing the woman’s bidding, Dan taped Hawk’s hands together.

Sophie holstered her gun with shaky fingers and shoved Maria aside. “I’ll take care of Hawk. You two wait outside for Jack. He should be here any minute.” She yanked the large gray roll from Dan.

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