Page 33

Then he was in me, careful of our bandages, and kissing me hard the entire time.

Hawke and I had sex—and I mean a lot—those first few months after I turned eighteen. But that night was different, almost desperate. What made it so hot, and I’m sure the reason for it infiltrating my dreams, is the way he was so possessive of me. Carefully cradling that leg in the crook of his elbow while he pummeled into me with smooth strokes, he lifted his face and with glittering eyes said, “Need to see it.”

“What,” I had moaned as he hit me especially deep.

“My name. On you.”

He reared up, still seated to the hilt, and carefully peeled the bandage off. Then with the same care, if not more, he held my leg up and out while he fucked me, looking at his name on my tender skin the entire time.

It was the most erotic thing I had ever experienced in my young life, and I was so sure, in that moment, that we were meant for each other forever.

I brooded about that dream the entire flight from Chicago back to Raleigh. When we landed, I called Dad to let him know I was back, but he didn’t answer the phone. He’s been tiring out quickly since the virus injection so I assumed he was napping.

The rest of the day was spent at the arena, where I did some training with Max and then helped Goose reorganize supplies, but by three p.m. we were out of work to do and I was told to go home. I hadn’t seen Hawke since dinner the night before, but I sure was thinking about him, much to my chagrin.

With no training appointments at Xtreme Fit, I’m actually looking forward to a quiet afternoon at home with Dad, and looking forward even more to another full night of sleep before getting back to double duty the next day. I think I’ll make spaghetti for us tonight. It’s his favorite and it’s easy. I could do without the carbs, but with as busy as I’ve been, they’ll get burned up quickly.

When I unlock the door and open it, I’m hit with eerie quiet. The living room is empty and dark, so I turn on one of the floor lamps by Dad’s recliner. He must be napping in his bedroom, which is odd, because he normally lives in that damn recliner. He says he doesn’t feel like such a wimp in it.

With quiet stealth, I head to the kitchen and dump my purse on the scarred, wooden table that we moved from my small house in Columbus. I had found it at a garage sale a few years ago and I loved the charming farmhouse style. It takes me only a few minutes to pull some hamburger out of the freezer to thaw and cans of sauce that I lay on the counter before I decide to go check on Dad.

His bedroom door is open and when I spot him on his bed, I know immediately something is wrong. My father is a portly fellow and he’s a back sleeper, two factors that cause his chest to heave deep in slumber and usually with a resounding snore. It’s way too quiet and he’s on his side, his back to me.

Absolute terror seizes my body and my heart seems to thud to a dead halt. Then a rush of adrenaline spikes and I reach his bed with a few quick steps. With my hand to his shoulder, I whisper, “Dad?”

I’m immediately relieved when I feel warmth radiating from underneath his white cotton T-shirt and his body jerks from my touch. He lifts his head from the pillow, tries to angle his face toward me, and mutters, “Vale?”

His voice is hoarse and my hand immediately goes to his forehead. It’s so hot that fear jolts through me again.

Dad rolls to his back and looks at me blearily. “Hey, honey. I had a headache and was just taking a little nap.”

“You’re burning up,” I tell him as I lift my hand from him, turn it, and place the back against his cheek. Just as hot. “Are you sick? Maybe flu or something?”

“No,” he says as he shakes his head and then winces. “I just have a really bad headache. Little nauseous, I guess.”

Dave Campbell may be portly, but he’s still a strong man. He hauls himself up so he can lean back against the pillows and headboard. His hand gingerly rubs against the side of his head where I assume he’s hurting.

“Let me get the thermometer and some Tylenol. Some ice water too,” I say as I turn from him, only to have his hand come to rest on my forearm.

“No, I’m good. It’s time to get up anyway. I’ll come out there.”

“Okay,” I say guardedly. The fever is freaking me out a bit. “But straight to your recliner. I was going to make spaghetti tonight, but I’m thinking some good old chicken noodle soup. What do you think?”

Dad chuckles then winces again. “Sounds good, honey.”

He swings his legs over the edge of the bed, puts his hands on the mattress, and pushes himself up. I want to put my arms around his waist to steady him, but I know he wouldn’t like that. He gives me a wink as he stands straight, and the pressure in my chest seems to lessen a bit. He looks strong and lucid.

I watch keenly as he takes a step forward, a smile of relief gracing my face.

Then I watch as his eyes roll into the back of his head, and he drops to the floor.

My hands are shaking when I dial Hawke. They hadn’t been shaking in the past fifteen minutes, but they’re sure as shit quaking now. He answers on the second ring.

“Hawke.” My voice is piteous, trembling, and weak.

“Vale? What’s wrong?” he asks urgently. He can tell something is definitely wrong.

“It’s my dad. He’s got a fever and he had a seizure.”

“Where are you?” I can hear rustling, maybe a drawer slamming.

“At our apartment. The EMTs are here. He’s conscious, has a really bad headache. They’re getting him on the stretcher now.”

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