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A very special thanks to my incredible beta, the amazing Lattecoug who puts up with my comma issues. Much love! Check out her latest completed story, Reluctant Hearts.

A million thanks to my dear friend MizzezPattinson who pre-reads and inspired this story. XO!

Thanks to all those reading and reviewing. It means the world to me.

Onward with chapter 10! Oh, and only 10 more days to go until #TFMU! - See what I did there?

Come, join me.

Chapter 10


We stand under the muted, amber glow of the streetlight, his chest still heaving as his heated and quite honestly dangerous gaze locks to mine. What I said to him was true. I've never had anyone do anything like that because of me. Not that I can't take care of myself. I damn well can, and that display of testosterone-fuelled jealousy I just witnessed shouldn't turn me on, but God help me it did.

Edward radiates intensity, his hair messed and sticking up, muscles coiled and ready to unleash. How insanely hot would sex with Edward be when he's this riled up?His gaze shifts to my lips as he leans forward. I can almost taste him, and I feel the anticipation fire within me once more. "What do you say? Interested in finding out if I'm the right guy?" His deep, erotic voice breaks the silence and seeps deep inside me.

"I don't know. I mean... I'm not sure about you." The thing is, I really want to be sure. I don't want to have regrets like he told me I shouldn't, like I've had so many times before.

He nods, the corners of his mouth curling up into that familiar smirk. "Honesty. I like it."

He likes honesty? Let's see how he does in that area."You do, huh? Mind telling me what you were doing with Julia earlier today?"

He frowns slightly, taking a step back. "You saw that, huh?"

I lift a brow. "Isn't that what you wanted?"

"That was me being an asshole and, for what it's worth, you have no idea how sorry I am for that." I'm a little taken back by his admission and the sincerity in his voice. I wasn't expecting this, and again I'm reminded that I shouldn't have expectations where Edward, or any man for that matter, is concerned. "But tell me did it make you feel?" He matches my raised brow.

"Probably the same way you felt when you saw Mike."

His eyes darken slightly, his jaw tensing as he buries away some intense emotion. "You wanted to scratch her eyes out. Cat fight, maybe? Damn, that would have been fucking hot to see." I shake my head, unable to hold back my grin. "I told you I'd never lie to you, remember?"

"I had that situation with Mike under control, just so you know."

"Mhmm... Sure you did." He opens and closes his hand a few times, turning it over. I can't resist leaning forward and taking his hand between both of mine. I don't dare look up at him, instead I study his long fingers, and the stinging red marks rising slightly on his knuckles from where he made impact with Mike's jaw.

I can feel the weight of his gaze on me, slowly drinking me in as I gently brush my thumb over his hand, lifting my eyes to his."Mike is harmless. Annoying as hell, but harmless."

He narrows his eyes, unconvinced. "It didn't look harmless from where I was standing," he comments, his voice rough.

Lowering his hand, I take a much-needed step back. I can feel the pull, the enticing lure of attraction that rolls off him in waves, reaching out to draw me in, threatening to drown me in the process. "Yeah? Well, things aren't always what they seem."

"Isn't that the fucking truth."

"Look, I can handle myself. I spent most of my teenage years with bikers who define the word badass. My dad taught me how to take jerks like Mike down in a heartbeat, so don't think for one second that I can't fight my own battles." I poke him in the chest and he flashes me a grin. He's clearly amused with my rambling.

"Maybe I don't want you to."

I narrow my eyes at him. "Why are you here, anyway?"

"Well, you see," he starts, closing the distance between us once more."It turns out, I can't stop thinking about this unforgettable woman I was with last night. She's someone I need to get to know better. Much better."

I inwardly curse my visceral reaction to him. He knows exactly what to say to me, but I need to keep a level head here. "So, I'm a conquest to you? A challenge? Thanks, but no. Been there, done that. Got the t-shirt as a consolation prize." Even I can hear the condescension in my voice.

"That's not what this is. And if you'll remember, I've had you, Naughty One, and I want more. A lot more."

My mouth goes dry, staring back at him. "More of what?"

"You. Any way I can have you."

"So, this is just about sex?" I ask, unsure of what I want his actual answer to be.

"I didn't say that, but I do love how your beautiful, dirty mind works. Always going right to the gutter."

"Ass," I mumble under my breath.

He smirks, deliberately craning his neck to check out my ass. "Mhmm. I told you we'd get to that."

I bite back a laugh. He makes it almost impossible to stay mad at him. Giving my head a much needed shake, I try to focus. "And what happens when you get tired of this? Of me?" I move my hand between us, planting my palm in the middle of his chest, feeling his muscles flex under his shirt.

"I didn't exactly picture you a planner, Naughty One," he notes, his voice thick with want.

"I'm not. Believe me. But I've only been here a couple of days and I've already...and you're, well, you!" I ramble, annoyed that I can't seem to control my instinctual reaction to him. I feel the ache, the reckless impulse that burns through me and kicks my heart into overdrive.

He lets out a deep chuckle. "And that's bad?"

"Yes! No... I don't fucking know. I can't think around you."

"Mmm... Then don't think. Just do. Go with your instinct." He pauses, lifting his fingers to trace my jaw, pulling the pad of his thumb along my bottom lip, making it almost impossible to resist him. I know I should. I have a feeling that Edward could do some serious damage to my heart. I need some distance from him right now. I know with absolute certainty what will happen if I stay any longer. And while it will be intense and give us what we both want, I also know how I'll feel in the morning- confused and aching for more. "What does it tell you, hmm?"

"That I should go home," I whisper. There's no mistaking the disappointment in his face as my words hang in the air.

With the air electrified between us, he reaches behind his back, opening the driver's side door to the truck, his eyes locked to mine. "I'm a patient man."

"So you've said." I brush past him, inhaling the scent that is uniquely Edward. You will not push him up against the side of the truck and launch yourself at him. But fuck if I don't want to.I climb up into the truck and sink to the driver's seat. He shuts the door once I'm inside, turning to lean against the frame of the open window.

Yes, a barrier between us. That's what we need. It's safer this way.

"Call me when you get home. I'll-"

"Worry?"I grin, meeting his steady gaze as I fight the conflicting emotions raging within me.

He nods seriously. "Mhmm. And make sure you lock your door."

I roll my eyes. "It has a deadbolt."

"Good. And if he shows up-"

"I'll handle it," I interrupt him. He lifts a brow, not looking impressed with that answer, but says nothing. I crank the key in the ignition, and the truck hums to life while he stays unmoving from the window. I lean out, lowering my gaze over his torso. "Are you okay? He did get a punch in."

"You could make it feel better," he quips, never missing a beat.

"You never quit, do you?"

"Not in my nature."

"Goodnight, Edward."

He taps his hand twice on the frame of the window, stepping away from the door. "Goodnight, Naughty One. Drive safe."

I swallow back the lump in my throat, stepping on the gas a little too enthusiastically and accelerating away from the boardwalk. I make the mistake of looking in the rear-view mirror, catching sight of him highlighted in the glow of the street lamp. He's unmoving, all lean and intense, his hand raking through his hair as he watches the truck. My hand grips the wheel harder as I fight to not turn around.

I know the physical attraction between us is off the charts, but now he's gone and changed things up on me. Damn him for hinting at something more. Do I really want more? Is he capable of that? Am I? My track record hasn't been great, and judging from what I know, his hasn't been either.

I feel my heart race as flashes of his fight with Mike invade my senses. Edward,all territorial and trying to stake a claim, is a thousand times hotter than it should be. I'm not a woman who needs saving, and Mike was about ten seconds away from understanding just how well I can take care of myself.

I also can't deny that the thought of someone caring enough to want to step up is a welcome one. That's never happened before. I weave the truck through the all but abandoned streets of town as I consider my exes. I don't think a single one of them gave a shit enough about me to even consider pulling a stunt like Edward did tonight.

Finally pushing the truck into park outside of the apartment building, I look out to the Mac's neon sign as I try to get grip. I don't like this unsettled feeling, or the what-ifs that are running through my head. It's times like these I wish I worked out so I could get lost for a while and clear my head. My alternative to pounding the pavement, hitting weights, or worse, one of those Zumba classes designed to torture you, is music.

Locking up the truck for the night, I grab my purse and shove the day's substantial cash into a plastic Dollarama bag before taking the four flights of stairs to my door. I actually feel a little nervous carrying this much money into what is a rather sketchy building. Also, it needs to be said that loonies and toonies weigh a fucking ton in this kind of volume.

The deadbolt is my friend and with a resounding click, it falls into place. I quickly head into the bedroom, spilling the coins and cash from the Dollarama bag to the middle of the bed and hunt down my headphones. It's time to count money and get lost.



I lean over slightly once her truck disappears from view, taking a shaky breath. Fucking goddamn Newton. That punch to the balls is fucking killing me. I contemplate heading over to his house to finish the job, but I really don't think that would win me any brownie points where Naughty One is concerned.

I'm also a little worried that he's done some serious damage. I need to get out of these jeans and into my hot tub. I wince as I make my way back down the boardwalk, each step a reminder that I let Newton get a shot in.

It doesn't escape me that I have - if I want - access to more than one nurse who would be only too willing to examine the area in question. I chuckle to myself as I head behind Kink and climb into my Nova. I let out a string of curses under my breath as my jeans constrict against my groin when I sink behind the wheel.

Less than a week ago, I would have acted on the thought of a couple of nurses checking me out, but now... well, now things are different. Unless of course she'd be into joining the nurses, in which case, bring it on. Something tells me however that Naughty One doesn't like to share, and I think I'm okay with that.

Two hours later, I'm soaking in the hot tub, breathing in the cooler night air. It's a rare and welcome break in the damn humidity and right now, I'm very fucking happy about that fact. I drop my head back to the edge of the hot tub, looking up to the stars, my arms stretched out along the sides, the hand that's not throbbing curled around a glass of Crown Royal.

The searing pangs of pain have subsided, thanks to the magic of the hot tub, and I don't think any permanent damage has been done. I hope Newton has a bruise the size of Quebec on his jaw, the fucking asshole.

I can't understand what came over me tonight. It was an instinctual, automatic response, but something I won't regret. I'll kick his ass a thousand ways to Sunday if it means he stays the hell away from her.

I'm going to have to keep an eye on that fucker. I don't like that he owns her building, that he can get into her place any damn time he wants to. It all seems a little too convenient for my liking.

I lift the glass, swirling around the ice and finishing off the rich, amber liquid. I enjoy the delicious burn, but I could really use a fucking cigarette right now.I should have done a countdown on how long I have to go to win this stupid bet with Jasper.

I close my eyes, sinking down further in the heat of the steamy water, welcoming the calm it brings me. I'm not sure how long I soak, but it's all interrupted with the familiar buzz of my iPhone from the cedar deck beside the hot tub. I grin, turning my head to the glow of the display, reaching over and seeing a text from the Naughty One herself.

Made it home. No worrying required, Rocky.

I chuckle into the darkness of the night.

Yo, Adrian, I told you I would worry. I use my best Stallone impersonation out loud as I type a reply and hit send.

It doesn't take long for her response.

You know, underneath it all, you're really just a big goofball.

I can't help the smirk as I fire off a reply.

Yes, but could I be your goofball?

I wait, and wait, and wait some more, my smirk fading with each passing second. I don't exactly blame her for questioning me or having doubts. It's not like I'm the patron saint of relationships here, but she seems like someone who would try to look past that- look beyond the rumours and preconceived notions.

I let out a string of curses at my idiotic behaviour. I didn't exactly help my cause with that move with Julia earlier. But, doesn't apologizing and admitting you were being an asshole count for something? If nothing else, it did get a reaction from her. She must feel something, or she wouldn't give a shit.

Still, I can't deny that it fucking stings that she's turned and ran away from me not once, but twice now. I go over what she said tonight, about this just being about the chase. That is part of it, but the difference this time is now I want more.

Setting the phone back onto the deck, because, let's face it, a watched pot doesn't fucking boil, I push up from the hot tub and reach for one of the folded towels from the deck, running it through my hair and over my torso. The contrasting cool air feels fucking amazing as it hits me, and I wrap the towel around my waist, tucking it in and sinking down to the Muskoka chair on the deck.

Stretching my legs out, I glare at my phone, which remains silent and black for way too long. And now I feel like a pussy for wasting time waiting around for an answer. Maybe I should just go over there. She may be able to hide behind text messages with feisty responses, but when we're face to face, I know she feels the undeniable attraction between us. Fuck, anyone can see it. Even goddamn Newton, who has about four brain cells firing on the best of days, has figured it out.

Annoyed, I push up from the chair and pick up the phone, heading back inside. I stop midstride at the entrance to my bedroom, feeling the phone vibrate in my palm. Glancing down, the words written by Naughty One confuse me even more.

I don't know. You scare me.

I've had a lot of reactions from women over the years, but this? I've never scared a woman before. That shouldn't ever be a reaction any woman ever has to a man. I'm not even a violent person unless that asshole Newton is in the picture. Then, things are different, but the thought of her being scared by me is more than a little unsettling.

I sit on the edge of the bed, rereading her text and knowing I have to make this right. Of all the emotions I want her to have about me, fear is not and never will be on the list.

Because I hit Newton?

This time, her response is almost immediate.

Because of how it made me feel when you did.


I've clenched and unclenched my throbbing hand a million times. My mind is on fucking overdrive. I can't get her out of my head. She's unsure about me? I'm planning on making it my mission to rectify this fucked up situation starting first thing in the morning. No regrets. At least I won't have any. I hope to hell she won't either.

Abandoning the bed, I've made my way out to the living room, sitting in my leather chair in my boxers, unable to sleep, watching the classic film that is Rocky. It's two-thirty in the goddamn morning, and I'm watching Rocky because of her.

I've stopped and replayed one scene, over and over. I've watched this film a million times over the years and never really paid attention to this part until now.

"She's got gaps, I got gaps. Together, we fill gaps. I dunno."

I watch the scene again, staring at Rocky as he shifts nervously next to Paulie in the meat freezer, and I wonder if after all this time, I've found the one who can fill mine.

Chapter end notes

Loonies and toonies- Canadian coins replacing the one and two dollar bills we once had a million years ago.

Rocky -1976- What can I say about this movie? If you haven't seen it recently, watch it again. If you've never seen it, correct that immediately.

Up next Monday, a visit and a break. Sounds simple enough, right?

Twitter - CarLemon