Book: Tough and Tender (Bad Boy Romance Box Set)

Previous: Chapter Eight
Next: Chapter Ten

Chapter Nine

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“Just what the hell do you think you’re up to, Hawk?”

Bertha stormed in to where two guys dressed it t-shirts and jeans were sitting at a table on the porch of a white-picketed house. It was a sunny afternoon and their beers were in front of them.

Of the two was an African American guy with his hair cut close to his head, much the same haircut that the other man at the table, a blonde, was sporting. But before the blonde-haired one could speak, the black guy right next to him turned to the slim figured woman stalking up to them.

“Hey, sis...”

“No, you stay out of this, Marcus,” Bertha said to her older brother, her eyes glaring at Hawk who had straightened up from his chair. “Exactly what are you playing at, Mr. Hawkins Malone?” she gritted out, thumping a finger repeatedly against his hard-packed pecs which stretched his tight green-colored tee shirt.

“If you’re talking about Anna...,” Hawk began lightly, but she cut him off.

“Who else?” the petite woman growled ominously. “Look, I know I asked you to do me a favor but if you think that gave you the right to mess around with my friend...”

A scowl crossed Hawk’s face. “Nothing happened that she didn’t want to, Bertha.”

“Now see here,” snapped Bertha after hissing in an angry breath, “I knew your reputation Hawk, but I trusted you because I needed someone who fitted the image I wanted perfectly. I knew it would be a good pick-me-up for Anna after her recent heartbreak. But I didn’t expect you to actually pick her up! What the hell happened last night?”

“Do you really want me to answer that?” Hawk asked her wryly, looking away with a slightly embarrassed smirk. “Look Bertha, I don’t want to fight about this. Sit down and let’s talk about how I’m going to get to see Anna again. I want...”

“Hold it right there hot shot. If you think I’m letting you anywhere near Anna again, you’re dreaming. You know she’s just been through a nasty heart break. You really think I’m going to set her up to get hurt by a player like you?”

Hawk scowled. He never really liked the impression people, especially women, had about him. Sure he liked the females but he wasn’t a heartless playboy. It was true he had more than his fair share of admirers though that wasn’t enough for the label he got tagged with where women were concerned.

But no one really understood him. Hawk had always been wary of commitment because of his life as a Marine. He saw his friends and team mates try to hold down a relationship and even a marriage and it was tough, hardly ever home and hardly ever sure you’d make it home in one piece after a hazardous mission. There was also the part of getting so messed up in the head sometimes with all the stuff you saw out there in action.

“Look, I just came to warn you to stay the hell away from Anna,” Bertha was saying heatedly, uncaring of Hawk’s thunderous scowl. “You’ve had your fun. Now let it end there. All I wanted was her to feel a little special for once and you were simply meant to give her a good time at the club, maybe play the gentleman and drive her home at the end. She’d have come away feeling admired and everything and maybe have her spirits lifted up to start dating again when the time came. But you just couldn’t resist coaxing her into your bed, huh?”

Her brother Marcus rose to stand beside Hawk. Both men standing side by side, solidly built with muscles like granite beneath their close fitting Marine branded tees and their snug blue jeans, would seem pretty intimidating to anyone, especially with their military-style haircuts. But Bertha wasn’t fazed because one of them was her brother and the other was his best friend whom she’d known since both men had finished basic training and were put on the same team ten years ago.

“Hey, chill out, Bertha,” Marcus said. “You’re talking to my best buddy here. I never wanted him to get involved with your whacky ploy but since I like Anna and she’s been through so much, I didn’t stand in the way. But there’s no need coming out here to my place to embarrass us while we’re trying to have some peace and quiet.”

“Peace and quiet? Oh good for you. Have at it. But I’m serious; Anna is not to be played like any of your groupies, Hawk. In a week or even a few days you and Marcus will be off again and I don’t want you leaving Anna’s broken heart behind on top of all her other troubles.”

“If Anna wants to see me again, you can bet I’ll want to see her too,” Hawk said with his jaw taut. “I didn’t plan any of this, but it happened. Anna’s an adult and she chose for the night to end the way it did. And about me playing her...it’s not what you think.”

“It had better not be,” Bertha said stiffly, and then sighed heavily. “I just...I don’t want to get her hurt, okay? I’ll never forgive myself. She’s already hurting so bad and it’s obvious she’s on the rebound and that’s why she acted so uncharacteristic with you. She’s not used to smooth players like you, Hawk. Please, just leave her alone. Okay? Don’t make me wish I never got you involved with her in the first place.”

Hawk held up his hands in a gesture of peace. “Take it easy, okay, Bertha. I hear you. Anna is safe from my evil clutches. Even if it means denying myself a chance at happiness, then fine. After all she’s only like the first girl that’s touched me right in my heart since like...years. But hey, there’s that damn reputation of mine. So I’ll leave her alone. You happy now?”

Bertha sighed again, looking embarrassed as she got down from her heated phase. She looked to her brother Marcus whose expression was sporting a frown, and then back to Hawk. She seemed to regard Hawk warily as if she couldn’t be sure he was serious or not.

“Yes I’m happy,” she said slowly. But then she added clearly, “But know this Hawk, if I see you anywhere near Anna again, I’m going to tell her how you were coerced to act like an admirer. I’ll make sure she knows you were just a set up from the start.”

She smiled at them demurely, totally ignoring his furious intake of breath. “Have a nice day, boys.”

Previous: Chapter Eight
Next: Chapter Ten
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