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His Girl

By:Aria Cole

Chapter 1


"Look how high you are!"

Emerson shrieked as I gave her another push on the swing.

"Higher! I want to go as high as the clouds!"

"Not that high." I giggled at the sweet little four-year-old. "I might lose you way up there!"

"Higher! Higher!"

"No, it's time you come back down to earth. We should get back home for lunch."

"Can we have mac and cheese?" The swing slowed, and Emerson peered up at  me with her big brown eyes. This little girl never failed to steal my  heart.

"Anything you want, honey." I lifted her off the swing and looped our  fingers, walking across the crisp green grass of the park. Emerson and I  went to the park most days, mostly because it was only two blocks from  our house.

"Can we go to the park after lunch too?"

"No, not today. I have to work for a few hours tonight. Mrs. Frisk is going to stay with you."

"But she smells like old hot dogs. And she always gives me a goodnight kiss, and her breath smells."

I couldn't help the smile that turned my lips. The things that came out of this kid's mouth.

"Hey! Look at that doggy!" Emerson dropped my hand and darted off to a  squatty little bulldog puppy, gnawing on the leash his owner held in one  hand.

"Emerson!" I called, running after. "Ask if it's okay to pet the dog  first!" My eyes landed on the owner of the dog just as I said the words.

And my heart stopped.

This couldn't be happening.

It wasn't possible.

Why was he back?

And what the hell do I say?


Shit. Too late.

"Hawk." I hadn't breathed that name in nearly half a decade. "Why are you here?"

His dark eyes fell on me, penetrating to my very soul, just like they always had.

My mind fell back to all the times we'd had together. The laughs, the touches, the first kiss, the first …

Hawk Larson was my first everything, and now he was standing right in front of me after all this time.

"Not exactly a nice way to welcome a guy home." His words were clipped,  as if he were irritated by the very sight of me. Well, got news for you,  buddy. Seeing you in my park isn't exactly what I would call a good day  either.

"You're home?" I uttered, one hand reaching out for Emerson and pulling  her to my side. I don't know why I felt the need to shield her because  it only brought attention to her little cherubic face. The inquisitive  eyes.

"I'm Emerson." She thrust out a hand. "What's your name?"

Hawk's eyes held hers, oxygen sucked out of the air between the three of  us. His eyes slid from hers to mine, narrowing with anger before  landing on hers again. "I'm Hawk."

He shook her hand, and every cell in my body begged to disappear. Just melt into the dirt at my feet.

"Mommy is making mac and cheese for lunch. Do you like mac and cheese?"  Her wide eyes were carefree and sparkling. I had to get us out of here.  Standing toe to toe with Hawk left a pounding in my head, stole all the  breath from my lungs, and damn that stubborn part of me that wanted to  wrap him in a hug.

"I happen to love mac and cheese. It's nice to meet you, Emerson."

My gaze hung suspended on his, something in me urging me to pepper him  with kisses just like I used to do when we were teenagers.

But those days were gone, and time had certainly changed both of us.

His broad shoulders, chiseled waist, the corded arms that had always  danced just at the edges of my memory … but not even my memory could do  him justice. I'd known him as a lean college quarterback, taut with  sinewy muscle. The day he left for the NFL was the last time I'd seen  him. For the first two years, Dad would turn on every game, beg me to  watch with him, but I couldn't stand to see Hawk's face. Couldn't stand  to see the happiness radiating across it. I knew this man. I'd known him  from the time he was a boy throwing his first football. I'd cheered for  him on the sidelines when he'd thrown the winning pass at homecoming.  I'd been there with him through it all.

But not this.

Not now.

He was different.



The jawline had grown sharper, now smattered with a dark five-o'clock shadow that had me itching to run my fingers across it.

Hawk's eyes trained on mine then, anger and confusion swirling.

"It was good to see you, Morgan." He said my name like a curse word.

He still hated me.

Jesus, this couldn't be any worse.

Everything I'd done, I'd done for him. He was my heart-he always had been my heart. Why didn't he see that?         



"Next time, ask your mom to add some bacon to the mac and cheese. Makes  it ten times better." He winked at my daughter. Hawk Larson just winked  at my daughter. I can't believe this is happening.

"Oh, she does! It's the bestest!"

Hawk's eyes cut into me, jaws crushed together. "She does, does she? Wonder where she learned that?"

"It's bacon, Hawk. It's not like you have a patent on bacon mac and  cheese." I couldn't help the sarcasm. Why did it feel like five years  had hardly passed and we were falling right back into old familiar  habits?

"What's your dog's name?" Emerson bent to pet the puppy on the head again.

Hawk waited long moments before answering, bending down to place a hand  on the dog's head and meet my daughter at eye level. "His name is Milo."

The air swooped from my lungs with that one word.

He'd named his dog after the kitten we'd found and raised together in high school?

The one my dad wouldn't let me keep, so Hawk had snuck it into his  bedroom every night, hiding it under the covers while he slept. His mom  had found out eventually and forced him to find a home for it. I'd cried  like a baby the day we'd taken Milo to the farm outside of town to his  new home. It was silly, we'd only had the kitten a few weeks, but I  loved him. Somehow it felt like the first thing Hawk and I had together,  a piece of both of us because we'd raised it. Hawk had held me in his  arms, letting me cry out the tears.

Maybe I was preparing myself for him to leave then.

"You named him Milo?"

"Mommy used to have a cat named Milo!" Emerson smiled up innocently.

A tear burned behind my eyelid before I pulled her up to standing again.  "We should get going, honey. I have to work tonight. Mrs. Frisk will be  wondering where we are."

I stepped around Hawk, still hunched and petting his dog, eyes averted from mine.

So many words choking my throat.

Why hadn't he told me he was coming back?

Why hadn't I heard it before now? Usually, gossip tore around our little town like wildfire.

"Bye, Milo! Bye, Hawk!" Emerson waved enthusiastically as we walked away.

I could feel his eyes on us every step.

Every goddamn step, Hawk's eyes were on me, just like they always had been.

It used to make warmth curl up inside my belly. Hawk took care of me  like no one in my life ever had, which was why the anger he'd directed  at me just now was like an iron dagger twisting in my back.

Hopefully, Hawk's visit to Greenville would be short-lived, then Emerson  and my life could go back to normal. Hawk was anything but normal, and  I'd loved him for it at one time. But now, every time I thought about  him, my chest hurt like an oncoming heart attack.

I'd done my best to keep my head down and mind my own business the last  five years, and that wasn't about to change, even if Hawk Larson was  back in town.

Chapter 2


My head fucking pounded.

My chest ached.

My teeth goddamn hurt from clenching my jaw so much.

I really had to work at controlling my anger better. I rubbed a hand across my face as I finished walking Milo around the park.

Of all the people to run into my first week back in town, and it was her.

And she had a kid.

Morgan had a fucking kid, and that kid wasn't mine. I'd been gone for  too long for that kid to be mine, and that meant she'd fucking cheated  on me.

Well, it wasn't exactly cheating when she ripped my fucking heart out and left me bleeding on the floor.

No, that was a definite breakup.

But I guess, for me, it never had been. I'd been thinking about her  nonstop. I couldn't get the soft touch of her lips against mine out of  my head. The feel of her underneath me when I was sliding into her like a  drug I was constantly chasing. The memory of the breathy sighs on her  lips when I made her come. Morgan and I fit like puzzle pieces, a  perfect set.

That was why I'd been so out of my mind when she'd left me.

I may have been the one to move out of state, but I would have married  her, taken her with me, provided everything she needed. We could have  lived the adventure together.

But instead, she told me she never wanted to see me again, and I believed her.

Instead of living life on the road with me, she stayed here, shacked up with someone else, and had the asshole's baby.

I hated her.

Nothing good could come out of seeing her again, and suddenly the  decision to move back home after I permanently injured my rotator cuff  seemed like the worst decision yet.

"Fuck, Milo, we should have run the other way when we saw her coming.  Trouble. Women are nothing but trouble," I rambled to the pup. He  turned, plopped on his ass, and hung his tongue out.