Authors: Lisa Ladew
Tags: #General Fiction
Edge of the Heat 7
by Lisa Ladew
All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons or organizations, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means including information storage and retrieval systems, without permission in writing from the author. The only exception is by a reviewer, who may quote short excerpts in a review.
Copyright © 2015 Lisa Ladew All Rights Reserved
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This book is dedicated to you, my readers. I'm so glad you convinced me to write this book. I really enjoyed it. This is probably my favorite book of all time that I've written.
As always, I can't thank my advance readers and my beta readers enough. :) you gals are great.
Hawk's gaze slid over his wife, Vivian. She was across the grand ballroom, barely visible between the other couples moving around her and her adoptive father on the dance floor, and yet she was all he could see. To him, a light of beauty and radiance seemed to surround her, drawing his eye. He sipped at his scotch and water and leaned against a column near the dessert table, his gaze traveling down her body, over her full breasts to linger on her sexy bump. He never would have thought being pregnant could make her more beautiful, but it had, turning her willowy, lithe form voluptuous and captivating. Her skin shone, her hair fell thick and long down her back, and her body moved with sensuous grace.
That was his baby in there, turning her from wife to mother. Or babies. The doctor had said the chances she was carrying more than one were high but Vivian hadn't wanted multiple ultrasounds just to confirm the presence of more than one baby. Hawk smiled as he thought of her natural confidence. He was nervous as hell at the thought that they might be having twins. Or triplets? He needed to remember his wife was a triplet. Could he handle three babies? Could he even handle one? He felt an anxious pounding of his heartbeat in his ears and took a deep breath, focusing on his wife again. As long as he was with her, he could do it.
Movement at the door caught his attention. He swiveled to examine the late-comer.
Old habits die hard.
He relaxed as soon as he saw it was just Craig, but he didn't have Emma with him, and he wasn't even dressed up. His black shirt, khaki pants, and work boots said he came straight from the office. Which was strange. They didn't have any overtime work these days. The Oberlin investigation was almost wrapped up. Their senate committee hearing to put the case to bed was in two weeks, the day after Vivian's twenty week ultrasound.
And then what?
his mind mused for the two-hundredth time. Quit the FBI? Become a full time father? It sure would be safer. But was it what he wanted? He didn't know. There was a good chance he would be moved out of Westwood Harbor once the investigation was complete. Did he want that? Could he—
Hawk's thoughts cut off mid-sentence as Craig noticed him and raised a hand to him, then headed his way. Hawk lifted his chin, immediately noticing another eleventh-hour party-goer coming in the door. Hawk's eyes narrowed and he searched the man's silhouette for tell-tale bulges that would indicate a gun hidden somewhere under the four thousand dollar Brioni suit he was wearing.
Old habits again ...
Hawk saw no indication of a weapon but that didn't mean the guy wasn't carrying. He looked both out of place and perfectly at home here at Vivian's parent's fortieth wedding anniversary. He even looked familiar, but Hawk couldn't put a name or job with the face. He looked too young to be a politician, and too unfamiliar to be a family friend. He would ask Vivian if she knew him.
Craig stopped in front of him, then flagged down a waiter and swiped all the beef tartare off his tray with one scoop. Hawk smirked at his friend and co-worker. Craig was always the life of these fancy parties. The waiter he had robbed moved away, his scandalized gaze still on Craig like Craig might steal his tray too and hit him over the head with it.
"Hey," Craig said around a bite of beef tartare. "Emma can't make it. She's commanding at a monster warehouse fire on the East side."
Hawk heard the proud note in Craig's voice. He was Emma's biggest supporter and still told everyone who would listen about Emma's promotion to Lieutenant in the fire department.
Hawk nodded. "Is that where you've been?"
Craig finished his first tartare and started working on a second one. "Yeah, and I promised I'd bring her dinner so I can't stay long. Apologize to Vivian and her parents for me."
Hawk grunted in the affirmative. The music stopped, and the couples on the dance floor broke up. Hawk turned to watch his wife again while Craig finished his beef tartare and turned to the dessert table.
Hawk saw his father-in-law kiss Vivian lightly on the cheek and then excuse himself. Vivian smiled and then turned Hawk's way, her eyes searching for him, a hungry look on her face. Hawk raised a hand to catch her attention and felt a stirring behind his zipper at her obvious beauty. He'd been slightly uncomfortable the first few weeks after they'd discovered she was pregnant, not wanting to hurt her or the baby during sex, but then her hormones kicked in and her new sex-hungry nature had driven all worries out of his mind. She couldn't get enough of him, even more than usual. She was attacking him before he went to work in the mornings and even coming down to his office at lunchtime, locking his door, pushing him back in his chair, taking out his cock—
Hawk's thoughts were interrupted again, this time by a man rushing over to talk to Vivian. It was the man who had entered after Craig. Hawk didn't like the look on his face as he opened his mouth and said something to Vivian. He looked way too interested in her. Hawk's eyes narrowed and he stepped forward, pulling his bulk off the column he had been leaning on.
What was this guy's deal?
Hawk couldn't hear the words that were being spoken between Vivian and the man but it looked like he had asked her a question, then another. Vivian said a few words and the man started talking again. Hawk checked his wife's face and saw her eyes widen slightly and her mouth pinch like she was uncomfortable. Hawk began to stalk that way, his blood heating, his eyes never leaving the exchange.
The man looked down and Hawk saw his eyes linger on Vivian's breasts for a moment before dropping to her pregnant belly. A bolt of anger shot through Hawk's chest.
The guy's hand reached out as if he were going to touch Vivian's baby bump, ignoring Vivian as she shrank and took a step backwards. Hawk saw red and broke into a jog.
Someone was gonna get hurt.
Vivian bumped into someone behind her and couldn't move any farther. The man in front of her never stopped advancing. He took a step forward and suddenly his hand was there, touching her, only the material of her dress between her and him. Vivian's stomach turned at his poor manners and her skin crawled at his touch. She hadn't even had time to tell him she didn't want him to touch her before he was doing it.
Suddenly Hawk was there, his bulk solid and comforting, and the man's hand was off of her stomach. Hawk had snatched the man's hand away from her and was now squeezing it as hard as he could, bending the wrist backwards, his mouth set in a grim line, his teeth clenched tightly, a vein popping in his forehead. Vivian's eyes flew to the man who had dared touch her. He was dropping down almost to one knee, trying to alleviate the immense pressure on his wrist. His face red and surprised, his eyes bulging, he tried to say something but all that came from his throat was a slight whistling sound.
"Hawk," Vivian said, plucking at his arm, glad he was there, but not wanting him to break the man's arm.
Craig showed up, pushing his way through the couples who were starting to turn to look at them. Craig glowered at the man and towered over the top of him, looking like he didn't really know what was going on, but he didn't care—he was on Hawk's side.
Someone gasped and Vivian saw Hawk put more pressure on the man's wrist. "The lady didn't want you to touch her," he growled.
Vivian pressed against him and grabbed his arm. "Hawk, it's OK, let him go. You're hurting him."
"Damn right I'm hurting him," Hawk said through clenched teeth, his voice low and dangerous.
Vivian saw the man's face grow almost purple from the strain. She was about to try again when Hawk let the man go with a shove. Vivian breathed a sigh of relief. Hawk had always been protective of her, but now that she was pregnant he was turning into a real bear. She could hardly leave the house without an escort. This was the first time he had accosted someone though.
Vivian watched as the guy who had made the poor decision to touch her without making sure she was OK with it regained his footing. He rubbed his wrist and his eyes narrowed, his hateful, icy stare on Hawk. Vivian tensed. The man looked familiar to her but she couldn't quite place him. Something about his light blue eyes made her think she should know him. He was just over six feet tall, not quite as tall as Hawk. She could tell he wasn't scrawny under his expensive suit, but he certainly didn't have the muscular build that Hawk did. She hoped there wouldn't be a scene, a fight even. It was her parent's wedding anniversary party and she didn't want anything to ruin it. All the same, she was glad Hawk had stepped in. The guy had given her the creeps.
Hawk stared back, openly, his face daring the man to challenge him. His expensive, tailored suit did nothing to detract from his ferocity. Craig stepped next to Hawk, looking just as big and even meaner, his mouth set in a grim line. Vivian's eyes flew to the poor man they were staring down. She certainly wouldn't want to get on their bad side. He had to be terrified.
The man turned on his heel and disappeared into the crowd. Hawk relaxed slightly and Vivian blew out a breath.
"It's OK, it's all over," Craig told the couple closest to him, an elderly pair dressed to impress. "He spilled some wine on me. No big deal. It'll wash out." Craig made a show of brushing off his work clothes and Vivian held back a giggle. Hawk watched his friend and Vivian saw Hawk's muscles release their angry tension.
The people watching them turned away, back to their own conversations. Craig stepped closer to Hawk. "Emma's dinner can wait a bit. I can stick around if you think you need me."
Hawk shook his head. "I can handle that tool. Besides, he probably left out the back door already."
Craig nodded. "If you are sure." He stepped forward and gave Vivian a kiss on the cheek before she could react, then disappeared out the ballroom door.
Vivian watched him go. "Emma has to work late?"
Hawk nodded. "At some fire somewhere." He looked off into the crowd. "Who was that guy anyway?"
Vivian shook her head. "I don't know. I feel like I should know him though. I can ask my father."
The music had started again. Hawk pulled Vivian away from the dance floor but before they could take more than a step, a stately-looking man interrupted them. "That was Senator Troy. He took over —" the man's dance partner stumbled and he bent down to help her.
"He looked awfully young to be a senator," Vivian said to herself, her body tensing again at the thought that Hawk had just manhandled a U.S. Senator. A senator surely had the power to get Hawk fired if he was angry enough. How did she not recognize him though?
The man who had been speaking to them stood straight and he and his partner began dancing again. "He was appointed by the governor the day after he turned thirty years old. He is very young," he said over his shoulder before the crowd moved him away from Vivian and Hawk.
Vivian nodded to herself. She'd heard a new senator had been appointed recently, but there hadn't been much fanfare about it in the news. He'd only be filling the seat for fourteen months before there was an election. No wonder she hadn't recognized his face.
"Let's get some air," Hawk said, steering Vivian towards the balcony doors with a hand on the small of her back. Vivian thrilled at his touch. Suddenly she wanted to be home, alone with him. Her overly-active imagination played naughty mind movies of what she wished he would do to her. She let her arousal wash away all thoughts of worry about what had just happened.