Authors: Pam Champagne
Tags: #Romantic Suspense
“Not so fast.” Maria grabbed Sophie’s arm, her dark eyes narrowed to slits. The woman would be pretty if not for her thug attitude. “Who put you in charge? Why should we trust you, anyway? It doesn’t make sense we weren’t told you’d be bringing Hawk. We understood he’d be alone. Give me one reason why we should believe you?”
Sophie shook off the petite woman’s hand on her biceps. “Jack told me to deliver Hawk. Go call him.”
“Come on, Maria,” Dan cajoled, pulling her away from Sophie. “No cat fights. She can handle it. Let’s go outside. The cell won’t work in here anyway.”
Maria glared long and hard at Sophie before she followed her husband. Once the door clicked shut, Sophie half-heartedly wrapped tape around Hawk’s feet, then starting winding it around his chest and the chair. She wound it loose, but wished it had been rope instead of duct tape. The trick was to fool Dan and Maria, yet make sure Hawk could get free. They’d return soon. If they made contact with Jack, they’d know she lied. Could she hold them prisoner until Stan arrived?
Shaking with apprehension, she lost her balance when Hawk tipped the chair, and she ended up under his weight. “Damn it. Get off me.”
Angry dark eyes pinned her to the floor. “Fat chance.”
“You are so freaking dumb. Don’t you recognize a counter set-up when you see one?”
“I don’t believe one word coming out of your mouth. Cut the tape.”
“Trust me, Hawk. One last time. Please.”
“You’ve got to be kidding. You may be a good lay, but not that good.”
A staccato of gunfire erupted outside, spraying glass throughout the room. Sophie kicked Hawk and rolled out from under him.
“Looks like Blair and Reed want to be sure I won’t be telling any tales.”
Sophie scrambled to her feet and backed into a corner where there were no windows. “Reinforcements should here soon.”
“What the hell are you talking about? If you’re telling the truth, why didn’t you let me in on it?”
“Get real. You’d have taken off faster than Rueger after a rabbit. And don’t you dare deny it,” she challenged, seeing his mouth tighten.
“You may be right. Fact remains you played me, Sophie. Was the sex all about keeping my mind occupied?”
Helicopter rotors whupped over the house. More shots from automatic weapons filled the night. Sophie relaxed. The good guys had arrived. She cowered when the door burst open, banging the wall. Jack Blair rushed in, his intention clear. Eyes full of hatred, he walked to Hawk who lay helpless on the floor.
He placed a heavy kick to Hawk’s ribs. “The bastards shot Bob. I may not live or I may end up in prison, but before either of those happen, I’m going to kill you, Hawkins.”
He hadn’t noticed Sophie in the shadows. “Where’s Sophie? She’s next on my hit list.” He raised his weapon and aimed it at Hawk’s head. She drew her Glock from its holster and stepped into a ready to shoot stance, praying her legs wouldn’t collapse. Inhaling, she let her breath out slowly, counted to three and squeezed the trigger. Fired twice more when Jack swung in her direction. He crumbled to the floor, a stream of blood running from under his neck. When push came to shove, her training had paid off. She’d done her job. She’d killed a villain and saved Hawk. Then why did she feel sick to her stomach?
She crouched next to Hawk and cut through the duct tape with her jackknife.
“You killed him,” Hawk murmured with what sounded like awe in his voice.
Sophie waited to feel the horror of ending a human life, something she’d doubted she’d be able to do. Instead, relief that she’d saved Hawk’s life made her knees weak.
The firefight was over and a number of loud voices carried through the broken window. Despite the fact she’d saved his life, the disdain on Hawk’s face told Sophie they were over. Tilting her chin, she met his gaze head on. “You’ve decided I used sex to distract you. What was your reason for participating?”
For long moments he studied her face. “I never refuse a piece of ass when it’s so blatantly offered.”
Hurt and anger warred in her chest. Part of her wanted to lash out at him—to wound him as she’d been wounded. Instead, she withdrew inside herself and said nothing. Stan Clements burst into the house, saving her from long, uncomfortable minutes in Hawk’s company.
She bounded to her feet and brushed shards of glass from her jeans. “Hi, Stan. I thought you’d be lying in wait when we arrived. You never mentioned helicopters. Scared me half to death when they shot out the window.”
Stan eyeballed Hawk, and he didn’t mince words. “Asshole. Why didn’t you contact me? All of this,” he waved his hand around the room, “could have been avoided.”
“Call you for what? You’d already sicced your watchdog on me.”
“From where I’m standing it looks like she saved your neck,” he answered, nodding toward the body. “Where are Dan and Maria?”
Sophie snapped to attention, but Hawk beat her to the punch. “In leg irons, I hope.”
“Damn it. They were nowhere outside,” Stan muttered. “We’ll find them. They can’t have gone far.” He hurried out the door.
It was now or never. Sophie handed Hawk his weapon. “Guess this is good-bye.”
His gaze mocked her. “Yeah, sure. Thanks for the wild ride. It’ll stay on the top of my list of memories to forget. I’m sure we’ll run into each other back at headquarters. Keep your distance.”
Sophie nodded and hurried outside. She didn’t quite make it to the camper before the tears started rolling. “Damn it. He’s not worth crying over.”
“Who?” Her supervisor stepped out of the bushes. He squinted at Sophie with an expression she’d come to recognize as concern. “Something going on between you and Hawk?”
Sophie wiped her cheeks with the bottom of her T-shirt. “Not any more. I didn’t trust him with the truth and now he hates me. Don’t ask any more questions unless you’re prepared to be embarrassed.”
In an awkward gesture, he enfolded her in a bear hug. “I’m here for you. Take all the time you want before you come back to work.”
“About that… I’m not sure I’ll be returning. I’ve got a lot to think about.”
“Because you killed a man? Or has this something to do with Hawk?”
She considered the question, not sure of the answer. “Perhaps a bit of both.” She kissed her mentor on the cheek and walked away.
Stan looked at him over his reading glasses and nodded. “Sure. Hitch a ride on one of the helos. Here’s your badge and passport. And some money.”
“Thanks. I’d like to spend a little time in Alaska. Since I’m here.”
Stan leaned back in his chair. “Is this sudden desire to see the local sights or Sophie?”
What did Stan know about him and Sophie? “Sophie’s gone.”
“Thanks to you.”
He pinched the bridge of his nose to ward off a threatening headache. “Okay. Let me have it with both barrels. Tell me what an asshole I am.”
“You’re an asshole.”
Hawk jumped up, knocking the chair over. “Look. You know, better than anyone, I have trust issues. She lied to me. In the worst possible way. And I’m supposed to just brush it off?”
“She followed orders. Did you forget she’s a damn FBI agent and not just a piece of fluff to fuck and forget?”
Hawk paced the glass-covered floor. Forget Sophie? Hell, he’d almost fallen in love with her. When she’d pulled a gun on him, he’d wanted her to squeeze the trigger to put him out of his misery.
Stan went for the kill. “Not to mention she saved your life. Do you know how difficult it was for her to shoot a man?”
“She didn’t exactly hang around long enough for me to thank her.”
“Can you blame her? Your hostility would have chased off a grizzly.”
“Jesus, Stan. I really don’t want to talk about this.”
Stan heaved a sigh. “There are psychological and physical tests and more paperwork you need to take care of. Not to mention the brass who want to talk to you back in Montana. You’ve got two weeks. Make the most it.” The older man got to his feet and gathered his papers, stuffing them into his worn leather briefcase. “You’re a damn fool if you don’t find Sophie and make things right.”
Stan stopped at the door and looked back. “Take Blair’s car. Sophie’s not in Alaska. I checked with border patrol. She crossed into Canada about six hours ago.”
Hawk saluted. “I owe you.”
“You bet your ass you do. We nabbed Dan and Maria about a mile down the Yukon River, paddling like hell in a canoe, but don’t forget, Sal Alonzo’s on the lam and he’ll be gunning for you. Break Sophie’s heart and you’d best high-tail it back into the wilderness.”
Driving the government issued Ford sedan didn’t sit well with Hawk. Not on this road. The pickup’s height had given him a sense of security, and he missed it. Turmoil churned in his stomach. He pictured little demons gnawing away on his stomach, creating ulcers. Yesterday’s tuna fish sandwiches were a mere memory, but the thought of food made him nauseated.
He’d spent last night at Dan and Maria’s. Thoughts of Sophie bombarded him and he’d not slept. By dawn, he’d admitted he wasn’t angry at her for lying to him. He was terrified of his emotions. His outlook on life was changing. He wanted what others had. A home and family. Even his hurt over Dan and Maria’s betrayal was small potatoes compared to the devastation he’d experienced when he’d thought Sophie had been stringing him along to turn him over the bad guys. She was his soul mate, and he hoped to God he wasn’t too late.
He held his breath as he turned into the RV park where they’d switched trucks. Spying the Ford Sophie had borrowed raised his spirits. She must have convinced the mechanic to fix her radiator while she waited. His hunger returned, but not enough to chance food poisoning by purchasing anything in the store.
Liard Hot Springs. That’s where he’d find Sophie. He ran into the store and bought two large cups of coffee. He also filled the thermos he’d pilfered from Dan’s house. At the register, he grabbed six packages of peanut butter crackers. They might be stale, but at least they wouldn’t kill him. He’d been driving for over eight hundred miles and should grab some shut-eye. To hell with it. He needed Sophie tonight.
It was almost dark when Sophie arrived at the campsite. A swim in the beta pool had been just what she needed to relax and unwind. It may not have mended her broken heart, but perhaps she’d at least get a decent night’s sleep. Rueger’s grin greeted her from the cab. “Whoever said dogs can’t smile never had a dog,” she said as she let him out. Loyal and forgiving, a dog always loved unconditionally. Unlike certain people she knew.
Get him out of your mind, Sophie. It’s time to move on.
The question was, move on to where? To her surprise, she hadn’t dwelt on killing Jack. The bastard deserved it. Remembering his gun leveled at Hawk’s head still scared her. She’d woken last night in a sweat until she realized it’d only been a dream. A dream where she’d frozen and hadn’t been able to pull the trigger. In time, that, too, would pass.
Did she want to stay with the Bureau? Would she be able to go back to work and see Hawk without falling apart? Stan told her to take all the time she needed. She wondered if he had been serious, because it might just take the rest of her life.
In the process of opening a can of soup, she tensed at the knock on the door. She’d tied Rueger to a tree. Why hadn’t he barked? The bad guys were all under wraps. She had no excuse for her knees knocking together. To be on the safe side, she retrieved her Glock and opened it a crack, careful to stay behind it.
“Can I come in?”
Sophie gaped at Hawk.
His smile crinkled the corners of his dull, glazed over eyes. The beard was gone, revealing a pale face. Yet he still sent a thrill straight to her toes. “Please?” he added.
“So you can berate me some more?” Ashamed at herself, she stepped back to allow him entrance. Big mistake. The camper was nothing more than an oversized closet. She backed against the bed and returned her Glock to its holster.
“I’m happy to see you’re being cautious.”
“Why are you here, Hawk?”
“To ask your forgiveness. To thank you for saving my life. To tell you I love you and can’t imagine my life without you.”
Sophie’s head reeled. For a moment she wondered if he planned some new kind of torture until she saw the truth in his eyes. Her arrogant Hawk appeared humbled.
“Sophie? Say something. Anything.”
She held the eye contact. “I don’t blame you, you know. Because of the baggage you carry, I knew I’d lose you when I followed Stan’s orders. There’s no reason to apologize.”
“I buried my past at Dan and Maria’s. At least I hope I did. I can’t promise not to have an occasional relapse, but I’m asking for a chance to make you love me.”
Sophie saw fear and uncertainty in Hawk’s posture as he waited. She knew it’d be a long time before he lost his fear of rejection. Opening her arms, she whispered, “Welcome home.”
Hawk sprang forward, squeezing her so tight she squeaked. “I love you,” he mumbled between kisses on her face and neck. “More than my own life. Marry me.”
Sophie laughed. “Slow down. We have a lot of kinks in the relationship to work out before that happens.”
“I won’t be kinky any more. The missionary position works fine for me.”
Sophie stopped laughing, leaned back and stared at him. “What are you talking about?”
“I’m too demanding. The first two times, I pushed you further than you’re comfortable going. I promise I won’t—”
She caressed his cheek and ran her fingers over his lips. He started to draw them into his mouth, then stopped. “Is that why the last time we made love you were so dull?”
His eyebrows shot upwards. “Dull? I tried to please you and let you know I respected you.”
“Oh, Hawk, you’ve got it all wrong. Sure, I was stunned and shocked the first time we had sex, but you satisfied me. I liked it.”
To prove her point she inched her hand to his crotch and grabbed the warm bulge nestled there. “Bunny missed her carrot.”
He laughed. “God, I love you, Sophie.”
“Let’s go to bed,” she whispered.
“I’ll love you forever and always.”
“Shut up and make love to me.”
Hawk reached down her flannel shirt to caress the tops of her breasts. His hands ripped the material, scattering buttons in all directions.
“Hey. I just bought this shirt.”
His thumbs rolled her nipples. “You want me to be myself?”
His mouth roughly captured her protest and, in true Hawk fashion, he tossed her onto the bed. Sophie blinked back tears at the love shining in his eyes.
“You’re mine, Sophie. Now and always.”
“Never doubt it. Now, a little less talking and a lot more action, please.”
In what must have been a first time for Hawk, he obeyed.