NOTE: You guys! The response to this fic has been awesome, but now I'm nervous to post the rest because what if it sucks and you hate it? Regardless, thanks so much for the likes, reviews and kind words. Thanks for reading. You guys rock!


They took to texting each other several times a day. She'd give commentary on her latest job, and he'd share bits about some crazy tourists on his boat. They both threw out ideas for what to watch next in their unofficial '80s movie marathon and debated what to get for dinner.

He was the one who started it, sending her stupid jokes and lame pick-up lines, and he almost always was the one who texted her first.

So it was kind of weird the day that he didn't text her at all. It wasn't a big deal (she wasn't worried or anything) but it was just a little strange.

Finally, around 2, she couldn't stand it anymore, and sent him a text.

u r quiet today. everything ok?

Just a shit day. Hope yours is better.

She wasn't sure what possessed her, but she found herself texting back.

karate kid tonight? I'll make lasagna?

She half-expected some kind of pervy response, but instead he just sent back a smiley face and the immortal words of Mr. Miyagi: Wax on, wax off.

He was quiet, unusual for him, but she didn't push.

She'd been there before, and sometimes talking was the last thing she wanted to do when she was upset.

They ate and watched the movie mostly in silence, but he seemed to be in a better mood after it finished. She was aimlessly channel surfing when he spoke again.

"I saw someone today. From years ago. I … when I was younger, I got involved with her. I shouldn't have touched her in the first place. She was married, and I thought it would be a great, no-strings relationship. But I fell for her, and she said she loved me as well. But she wouldn't leave her husband."

"And you saw her … at work?"

"Aye. I actually hadn't thought about her for a long time, but she came for a sightseeing tour on my boat, with her bloody husband. She flirted with me, slipped me a note with her cell number on it. As though I would make that mistake again."

"I'm sorry," she said. Biting her lip, she continued. "That first day we met, I drank so much the night before because I saw my ex-boyfriend at Mary Margaret's shop, wanting to pick out a wedding cake with his fiancee. He told me he just wasn't made for commitment, but I guess it was just me he wasn't made for."

He leaned back against the arm of the sofa and smiled at her, lifting his beer in a toast. "We're better off without them, eh Swan?"

"I'll drink to that."

"You cooked for him?"


The two of them were hanging out behind the counter in Fairytale Cakes while Mary Margaret worked on scheduling her orders.

"No seriously," Mary Margaret said. "You made him dinner?"

"He had a bad day."

"You are so dating him," Ruby said.

"We're not dating. We're just friends."

"Oh, okay. You've never made me lasagna, and we've been friends for years," Ruby said.

"No, but when you run into some jerkwad ex-boyfriend, I know to feed you chocolate and alcohol. I didn't know what would make him feel better. David loves my lasagna, so …"

"He saw his ex?" Mary Margaret looked up from her schedule with interest.

"Yup. Some married woman; she showed up on his boat with her husband and tried to get back with him."

"Bitch!" Ruby said. "Of course he said no because of you."

"Or, alternately, he said no because she broke his heart and he doesn't want to go through that again."

"Well yeah, but also because he's dating you."

"We are not — ugh, never mind."

"Just answer me one question, and I'll drop this subject," Ruby said. "When's the last time you got laid?"

She shrugged. "I've been busy," she said defensively.

"That's not really an answer," Mary Margaret pointed out.

"I don't know," she said. Of course she knew; it was the day before she met Jones.

"Really? Because I'm pretty sure it was the day you saw Dickhead Cassidy right here in the shop," Ruby said. "And wasn't it the very next day you met a certain hunk across the hall?"

"Just … I've been working a lot, okay? That's the last thing on my mind," she lied.

Of course it was on her mind a lot. The problem was, she couldn't seem to work up any interest in men who weren't her next-door neighbor.

She frowned when she saw Ruby, not making any effort to hide it, silently mouth "dating" at Mary Margaret.


She'd been out of town for three days, looking for some tool who jumped bail on a B&E charge. She was nearly certain that he was dumb enough to go to his sister — his only surviving relative — for help. So for the third night in a row she was staking out the woman's house in hopes of catching him.

She finished up her turkey sub and shifted in the seat, thinking fondly of her bed. If this moron would hurry up and make a mistake, she could be sleeping in it in mere hours.

Her phone beeped, and she looked down to see another text from Killian.

Riggs and Murtaugh are fed.


hey, stay out of my stuff while ur there. no looking in my underwear drawer.

Which one was that again?

Kidding. I'm too busy to go through your knickers right now.

She wondered what the hell he was doing, but that question was answered a moment later when he texted her a photo.

A photo of himself, wearing nothing but a grin, taking a bubble bath in her bathtub.

Killian Jones was naked. Right now. Naked and wet. In her apartment. In her tub. And damn if he didn't look delicious.

"Fuck my life," she moaned, thankful she was alone. If she underwent spontaneous human combustion due to unresolved sexual tension, nobody would ever know.

She had wanted this for so long. Had wanted him.

They were a tight fit in her bathtub, but that made it even better; she was nestled in between Killian's legs, and every inch of their skin was touching. The hair on his legs dragged wonderfully against the outside of her thighs, and she tilted her head as he kissed her neck, teeth grazing her skin. He cupped her breast with one hand while the other slid under the water, over her stomach and between her thighs. She moaned as his callused fingers circled her heated flesh and dipped lower, slipping between her folds and teasing her —

Fuck. Emma groaned as her cellphone rang, and she sat up in the tub and reached for the phone. Naturally, naturally it was Jones.


"Hey, Swan, what're you doing?"

Oh, nothing major, just trying to get myself off while fantasizing about you.

"Um, just taking a bath."

There was a pause.

"I'll be right over."

She laughed. "Jones, forget it. You already gave me back my key, remember?"

"Damn it! Foiled again. It's for emergencies such as this that we ought to exchange keys permanently, Swan."

"I'll keep that in mind."

"Well, once you're finished, why don't you come over? I'll make some burgers, and we can watch a movie. Your choices are: 'Real Genius' or 'The Goonies.'"

"Ugh, I can't pick," she said.

"Let's go crazy and watch both."

"You read my mind," she told him, truly thankful that he didn't actually possess that power.

"So, I'm thinking we should go out tonight, for once," Killian said.

Emma shook her nail polish bottle and propped her foot on the coffee table. "I'm already going out tonight. Ruby and I are going to The Rabbit Hole again. You're welcome to come with us, but it might give you flashbacks to your humiliating billiards defeat."

"Ha. I let you win."

"Just keep telling yourself that, Jones."

"Here," he said, suddenly grabbing her ankle and putting her foot in his lap. He took the nail polish from her and motioned for her to get settled back against the arm of the couch.

She did as he asked, hoping he didn't notice her shiver as his thumb stroked the arch of her foot. She was not a tiny woman, but her foot felt petite cradled in his big hands. His fingers felt just as callused as she'd imagined — and she'd spent an embarrassing amount of time lately doing just that.

"You have a lot of pedicure experience?" she managed.

"None whatsoever, but I've a creative soul," he said, grinning. He focused on painting her nails, then bit his lip before continuing. "Look, Swan, I need to talk to you about something."

That could not be good. She tensed, ready to pull her foot back in case he said something she didn't like.

"I figured out what I want my favor to be," he said, not looking up.

"Wow! Alert the media," she joked. "Three months later, he finally decides! Give me a moment to prepare myself, in case it's my firstborn child. It's not my firstborn, is it?"

He chuckled. "No, but that was second on my list. I, ah … you know Liam is getting married next month, right? I'm the best man, and I need a date."

He raised his eyes to hers, and her breath caught in her throat for a moment. "Um, are you sure? I mean, one of the perks of being the best man is that you're almost certain to get lucky. All those single, lonely women who are depressed that yet another one of their friends or family members is getting hitched while they can't even get a date? I'm sure you could have your pick."

He shrugged. "I don't care about that. I just … I want to be there with someone I can have fun with, Swan. You're my friend, and we always have fun."

You're his friend. Just his friend.

Exactly what she wanted. Right?

"Besides," he continued with a small smile. "If anyone gets out of line at the reception, you can kick their ass for us."

She laughed. "How could I say no to that?" She playfully nudged his leg with her heel. "Hey, finish those up! They need to dry before I get ready."

"As you wish, milady."

"So?" Killian raised his eyebrows and grinned. "So?"

Emma sighed, unable to stop her smile, and leaned back in the booth. "It was fine. Okay, okay, it was pretty amazing."

"I knew it; I knew you'd love it," he said. "There's just something about being out on the water."

She'd finally accepted his offer to take her out on one of their boats. They used the smaller craft that the brothers booked for private groups of tourists and fishermen. They'd spent a whole afternoon out on the water, eating a light lunch before coming back. She'd offered to buy him dessert at Granny's Diner on the way home.

He ordered pie, and she picked out a sundae.

"I thought you wanted something warm, and you're ordering ice cream?" he asked, quirking an eyebrow. The day had been warm enough, but between the clouds and wind she'd gotten chilly on the way home.

"Um, yeah. With hot fudge," she said. "So, thanks for today. You looked like you were in your element, Captain."

"I guess." He nodded at the waitress who brought their desserts. "I just …"

She took a bite and moaned at the taste, freezing when she saw him watching her, tongue teasing the side of his mouth. "Sorry. So, you just …"

"I love the water. I love sailing and being out on the boat, but the business is a huge responsibility and it's a lot of work, especially during our busy season. Liam … he didn't have to make me a partner in it, and I'm grateful that he did. But there's a part of me that wishes I'd had the chance to decide for myself what to do. I might have gone another direction."

"Like … music?"

He shrugged. "I don't know. Perhaps. I'd have liked to continue my education, at least. But it doesn't really matter anyway."

"Of course it matters. You should tell him how you feel. It's not too late to go back to school, if that's what you really want."

Killian shook his head. "He can't run the business without me; it's too much work for one person. And I owe him too much to abandon him for some pipe dream."

She thought about arguing but let it go. It wasn't her business what he did, anyway.

They finished up their desserts with a rousing debate about what movie to watch next — "Heathers" was looking like a winner — and began the walk back to their building. She started to thank him again for the day when the sky opened up with no warning and poured rain.

They stopped dead, staring at each other in shock as they were almost instantly soaked. They ran for their building, screaming and laughing like loons. As soon as they stepped inside, she started wringing her hair out, wincing as Killian shook like a dog and sprayed water everywhere, including on her.

"Hey," she laughed, shoving him and running for the stairs, Jones close on her heels.

They were both laughing and breathing hard by the time they made it to their floor, and Emma was stomping her feet. "Ugh, even my socks are wet. I hate it when —"

Looking up, she broke off — stopped moving, stopped breathing, even — when their eyes met. He was so close and warm and wet and beautiful. She didn't even realize she was moving until she grabbed the collar of his shirt and pulled his mouth to hers.

Her lips were a spark, gliding across his, setting them both aflame. It was only a breath before he responded, his tongue sliding against hers as they opened to one another, tilting their heads to deepen the kiss.

He pressed her back into his door as she moaned, carding the fingers of one hand into his wet hair; she felt him fumbling at the lock a moment before he got the door open and they stumbled inside.

Killian kicked the door shut behind them and grabbed her ass, hoisting her up so she could wrap her legs around his waist. She dropped her lips to his neck as he carried her across the room, settling them both on the couch and pulling her mouth back up to his for a long, deep kiss. She tightened her legs around him, tugging his hips closer, until she could feel his hard heat right where she was aching for him.

Emma gasped at the sensations as his hips circled against her, and he kissed his way down to the spot where her neck and shoulder met and sucked hard. One hand slipped under her shirt, cupping her breast over her bra.

"Oh, Emma," he sighed, brushing his lips over hers again and forcing her eyes to his.

She didn't expect and couldn't stop the wave of panic that crashed over her.

She was making out with Killian. Her neighbor. Her friend.

This was a disaster waiting to happen.

"Wait, Killian, stop," she said quickly, pushing him away.


She squirmed out from under him and jumped off the couch, straightening her clothes. "We can't do this."

He groaned and fell back on the couch, and she looked away from the obvious sign of his arousal. God, she just knew they would be amazing together, but what then?

It would implode, like every relationship ever, and then we wouldn't even be friends anymore.

"Is this because of your bloody stupid rule?" He rolled to his feet.

"It's not stupid," she said, moving toward the door. "I don't do relationships." She winced when he caught her arm.

"Swan, come on. Your rule doesn't even apply, since we've essentially been dating for three months." He stepped closer, lips nearly brushing hers. "Nothing has to change! The only thing that will be different is that I won't have to come home and jerk off thinking of you. And you won't have to do that, either."

She felt herself flush, not from embarrassment (though heaven knew he was right about that) but from a wave of heat as she instantly pictured him stroking himself, fantasizing about her, moaning her name. She shook her head, almost overwhelmed by the intense need to give in and just wrap herself all around him.

Instead, she took a deep breath and stepped back. "I'm not doing this."

"Emma, I'm falling for you."

Oh, God.

"No." She shook her head, backing toward the door, wrenching it open. "No you aren't."

He barked out a bitter laugh. "Please don't try to tell me what I feel, Swan. I knew it the day we met; I haven't even looked at another woman since."

She scoffed. "Bullshit! You've hidden out in my apartment from your one-nighters a bunch of times!"

"I made them up! I just wanted an excuse to spend time with you!" he shouted. Taking a deep breath, he continued. "I know you've been hurt; so have I. The difference is, I'm not so fucking paralyzed by fear that I'm incapable of moving forward with a relationship like an adult."

She frowned as his barb hit right on target. "No, all your fear is centered on the rest of your life, so you just let your brother run it for you! Very grown-up of you, Jones. And for the record, what I do or don't do in my personal life is none of your damn business!"

She stormed across the hall, jamming her key in the lock and twisting her door open. She heard his door slam behind her before she got inside and slammed hers, too, leaning back against it and swallowing a sob.

Damn it. Damn him.

She wished she'd never met Killian Jones.


She was stretched out on her couch in her pajamas, eating mint chocolate chip ice cream out of the carton and watching "Ferris Bueller's Day Off." It was normally one of her favorites, but she couldn't muster so much as a smile over the crazy teen antics this time.

She was a pathetic cliche. Next thing you knew, she'd be watching "The Notebook" and fucking crying into her ice cream.

What she needed was sex. Some rough, sweaty, mind-clearing sex with a random stranger. But that would require getting off the couch, putting on some clothes and pretending she gave a damn about anything.

And she just. Did. Not.

Her phone buzzed on the coffee table, and she knew it was either Ruby or Mary Margaret. Since she wasn't speaking to either one at the moment, she didn't bother to pick up.

Both of them seemed to think she'd made a huge mistake breaking up with Killian — the fact that they weren't even dating didn't seem to matter — and were not at all hesitant about telling her so.

She wondered if Killian was okay. She hadn't seen him at all in the three weeks since their fight. The first week, she'd gratefully taken a job that sent her to Vegas, and she had deliberately avoided him since she got back. Not that it was hard, since he hadn't tried to see her, either. Or call. Or text.

Not that she wanted to hear from him. So it was totally fine.

I wonder if Netflix has 'The Notebook'?

Ferris was just twisting and shouting on the parade float when she heard the key in her door.

Only a couple other people had a key to her place, so it was no surprise when Ruby came barging in, Mary Margaret at her heels.

"Really?" Emma said. "I can't even have some privacy in my own apartment?"

"Oh, whatever," Ruby said. "You're such a drama queen. You've had privacy. For weeks now. Consider this an intervention. It's time to put on your big girl panties and get off the couch."

Emma took a giant bite, wincing at the instant cold-induced headache. "Not going anywhere," she mumbled around the ice cream.

"Ruby's right," her sister-in-law said, nodding as Ruby disappeared into Emma's bedroom. She grabbed the ice cream carton and put the lid on. "You are going to shower. Then, we're going out for pedicures. You need one; your toes look terrible."

Emma looked down and wiggled her toes. The pink hue — Strawberry Margarita — that Killian had painted on weeks ago was looking pretty bad. She watched Mary Margaret stow her ice cream in the freezer and tried to push away the memory of Killian frowning in concentration as he delicately painted the nails.

"Then we're going to lunch," Ruby chimed in, bringing a small stack of clothes out of the bedroom. "Something with no nutritional value and a shitload of calories."

"And then the lecture?" Emma slumped back on the couch, scowling.

They gave her twin innocent smiles.

"Okay," Emma said a few hours later. "I'm squeaky clean, my toenails are pretty again, we've stuffed ourselves with pizza and talked about as much pointless celebrity gossip as I can take. Hit me."

Her friends exchanged a glance.

"Let's be honest," Mary Margaret started. "You keep saying that Killian wasn't your boyfriend. But the sad, wretched vision we found on your couch this morning tells another story."

"Wretched? Really?" she argued, even though she knew it was true. Fortunately, they didn't know the half of it. If they'd seen her huddled on the couch crying at the end of "Top Gun" — "Top Gun," for pete's sake — a couple nights before, they might have had her committed.

"You looked just like me the many, many times I've had my heart broken," Ruby argued. "Look, I'm sure witnessing my disastrous attempts at relationships hasn't exactly been encouraging, but you know what? I still believe in love! And I think I might have found it for real this time. Yeah, I've kissed a lot of frogs, but not all of us are able to find our Prince Charming the first time out like this lucky bitch — no offense."

Mary Margaret laughed. "None taken. And you're right, I am lucky. But, Emma, you can be, too. Killian loves you, and obviously you care about him, too. I know it's scary to take a risk, but honey, the rewards are pretty great. You've gotta take a leap of faith. You deserve to be happy, and we hate to see you sabotaging yourself."

Emma sighed and took a sip of her diet Coke. "This morning, I was about two seconds away from watching a chick-flick and crying," she admitted. "I just … I don't know how I even got here. I don't do relationships, and suddenly I'm in one. And then I'm not. I wanted to avoid getting hurt, and I did anyway. And I probably hurt him, too. And … and dammit, I miss him."

"So what are you going to do about it?" Ruby challenged.

She groaned and dropped her head to the table, not fast enough to miss the high-five her friends exchanged.

"You guys are the worst friends ever."

Fortunately, all three of them knew she meant just the opposite.

She stood outside Killian's door for a good five minutes, trying to work up the courage to knock.

Don't be such a wuss, she lectured herself. You can do this.

Taking a deep breath, she knocked quietly, fighting the urge to run and hide in her apartment before he could answer the door. She waited a minute, not hearing a sound from inside, then knocked louder.

"Killian! Are you there?"

No answer.

She knocked again, with no response, before she turned and shuffled back into her apartment. Either he wasn't home or he didn't want anything to do with her.

She sighed and went into the kitchen, ready to pull out the ice cream again. Was it completely pathetic to get into her pajamas at 3 in the afternoon? She was grabbing a spoon when her eyes fell on her calendar … and the huge, red star Killian had drawn over the Saturday of Liam's wedding, so she wouldn't forget.

The Saturday that was today.

Tacked right underneath the calendar was her invitation to the wedding.

Sticking the ice cream back in the freezer, she sank against the counter and considered. She'd really screwed up with Killian; would he even want to see her, or would that ruin the wedding for him? Well, she was missing the wedding anyway; it had started a few minutes ago. If she hurried, she could make the end of the reception.

Or, she could wait for him to get home. If he came home. If he came home alone, and not with some slutty, big-haired bridesmaid in tow.

The very thought of him bringing another woman home was enough to propel her into the bedroom.

And if she happened to slip into some of her sexiest underwear beneath the coral-colored crochet dress she'd picked for the wedding, that was her own business.

Emma Swan had had some very bad ideas in her day. Disastrous, even. The time she thought Neal Cassidy was The One, for instance. Or the day she bought a bargain-basement dye to color her hair red, and it somehow came out a very sickly purple instead. That was embarrassing.

But this — this was the very worst idea she'd ever had.

Liam Jones' wedding reception was in a lovely ballroom at a nearby hotel. She stood on the periphery, scanning the room and wishing like hell that she had never come here. The guests all looked like they were having a great time, scarfing down food and sipping champagne, chatting around the tables and swaying to music in the middle of the room.

Including Killian and the slutty bridesmaid.

Okay, maybe she didn't really look slutty. Maybe she looked beautiful, with long, dark curls and a very friendly smile. And she could hardly blame the woman for dancing so close to him; what woman wouldn't, given the opportunity? He was certainly not trying to put any space between them, either.

Worst. Idea. Ever.

Emma took a deep breath and watched a moment longer. She was an idiot. An idiot who had watched too many damned romantic comedies, which had clearly rotted the decision-making portions of her brain.

She shook her head and turned to make a run for it, wincing and stepping back as she nearly ran into the groom.

"Emma!" Liam said warmly. "I'm so glad see you. Killian said you wouldn't come, but I'd hoped …"

"Congratulations, Liam," she said, forcing a smile. "I'm very happy for you, but I really need to —"

"He misses you."

"I don't … I'm sorry," she said. She shook her head again, blinking back tears. "I have to go."

She rushed out of the ballroom, mentally kicking herself. She knew Liam would probably mention this to Killian, but maybe with all the excitement of the wedding, he'd forget she was even there. And if not, at least Killian himself hadn't seen her. She wasn't sure what she would say —


Shit. Shit, shit, shit.

She kept walking, even though it was probably obvious that she'd heard him.

"Swan, wait!"

Finally she stopped, scowling at the busy hotel lobby before fixing a polite smile on her face and turning. If she didn't die of this humiliation, she was going to kill Ruby and Mary Margaret both.


He stood in front of her — looking unfairly attractive in the classic black tux — and uncharacteristically not invading her space. He scanned her from head to toe but didn't comment, instead scratching the back of his head and sighing.

"What are you doing here?"

"I …" She literally couldn't think of one thing she had wanted to say. "We had a deal, right? I did owe you a favor."

He smiled tightly, with a decidedly bitter edge. "Right. The favor. Well, consider your obligation fulfilled," he said in a low tone, turning to go.

"Wait!" He stopped but didn't turn around. "Look, I wanted to apologize. I was a total bitch, and I'm sorry. You're right, I'm … I'm just afraid, and I ruined everything."

He faced her again, this time stepping close enough to touch. His eyes searched her face. "What are you saying, Emma?"

"I'm saying …" She swallowed hard and forced herself to continue. "I didn't even realize we were dating until we broke up. I don't … I don't want to break up. I miss your stupid face. And our movie nights and arguing whether to watch 'The Princess Bride' or 'Back to the Future' — and then watching both. And our rambling phone conversations and pointless back-and-forth texts … all of it."

A grin spread across his face. "I miss your stupid face, too, Swan. But … I want more than just your friendship. I meant it when I said I'm falling in love with you. I still mean it. I don't want to push you into anything you're not ready for —"

She laughed, throwing her arms around his neck and going up on tiptoe to whisper in his ear. "If you weren't my neighbor, if I didn't have that stupid rule, I would've jumped you the first time I saw you."

His arms went around her waist, pulling her close. "I knew you couldn't resist me," he said, grinning wider. One of his hands lifted to her hair, twirling it around his fingers and tugging her gently toward him for a chaste kiss.

"So," she murmured against his mouth. "How long do you have to stay at this thing?"

"I've still got to give the best man toast," he said. "But perhaps I could hire one of these gentlemen to do it for me."

He nodded to a group of elderly men reading newspapers and arguing in the corner of the lobby, and she laughed again.

"We've waited four months, what's another hour or two?"

He brushed his lips over her jaw. "You'll stay, then?"

"I'm not going anywhere."

Despite the anticipation of being alone with Killian, the next two hours flew by in a blur of music, laughter and stolen kisses. Killian gave a funny, heartfelt speech honoring his brother and new sister-in-law, and they drank champagne and danced to song after song, twining closer together all the time.

As soon as the crowd sent off the bride and groom, they made their escape, leaving the party behind and slipping into the first open cab they could find.

It was only a fifteen minute drive to their building, and Emma was glad about that, for fear they'd end up giving the cab driver quite the show. Holding hands quickly turned to smiling at each other, which became touching foreheads and bumping noses. It wasn't far from there to actual kissing — deep, wet, drugging kisses that had them both breathing heavily — which led to his hand inching up her thigh under her dress. Before that could turn into anything more interesting and possibly illegal, they arrived home.

Emma hopped out of the cab and straightened her dress while Killian paid the driver. They linked hands and went inside, taking the stairs relatively slowly and stealing glances at one another. She felt a wave of heat wash through her body at the thought of what was to come, and that heat rushed directly to her center when they made it to their floor and he pressed her up against the wall next to his door and kissed her, rolling his hips into hers.

She pushed him back a half-step and slipped her hand between them, rubbing his obvious arousal through his trousers, laughing when he fumbled and dropped his keys.

"Minx," he said, groaning when she knelt in front of him, staring at him from under her eyelashes, just at the perfect height for other activities. She grinned wickedly and scooped up the keys, standing slowly and pushing them back into his pocket.

"Relax, Jones, I'm not going to blow you out here in the hallway … right now," she teased, grin widening at the way his eyes darkened. She pulled out her own keys. "But let's go to my place."

She unlocked her door, feeling the heat of him behind her, and pushed it open. When they were inside, she pulled him in for another kiss, surprised when he resisted.

"Wait, Swan … Emma. We don't have to do this now, you know. We don't have to rush into anything."

"Well, you are gentleman," she said, sliding her fingers into his hair and pulling him closer. "But a real gentleman would keep his promise."

"Mmmm." He swayed toward her, toying with her hair and brushing his thumb over her jaw. "And which promise was that?"

"You said if we were dating I wouldn't have to … satisfy myself anymore," she reminded him, smiling as his eyebrows shot up. "No more being spread out naked on my bed, all alone, using my fingers as a poor substitute for —"

She broke off with a giggle as he muttered "bloody hell," hoisted her up on his shoulder and carried her to the bedroom. He set her gently on her feet at the foot of the bed, turning her away from him. Without a word, he moved her hair out of the way and slowly slid her zipper down, laying open-mouthed kisses along her skin from neck to lower back. She shivered as he straightened and pressed another kiss to the back of her neck, grazing the skin with his teeth, and slipped the dress off.

She stepped out of the dress and kicked it aside, turning to face him again. He shrugged out of his tuxedo jacket and yanked his tie off, not taking his eyes off her. He started on the buttons of his shirt, but she stopped him, shaking her head.

"Let me," she said huskily. She'd wanted to get her hands on him for so long, and she made quick work of the buttons, tugging the shirt out of his pants and smoothing her hands back up his chest, fingers curling in the hair there.

"Emma, love, you're a vision," he breathed, licking his lips as his eyes moved over her form, clad only in champagne-colored bra and panties.

"Back at you," she said, pushing his shirt off his shoulders, reluctantly letting go of him so he could pull it all the way off and toss it aside. "But you're not naked enough."

He huffed out a laugh, and she slipped her shoes off as she watched him rid himself of shoes, socks and pants.

"Are those …" She clapped a hand over her mouth to hold back the laugh. "Iron Man boxers?"

She was amused to see the color on his cheeks as he scratched behind one ear. "They were a gag gift from Liam. No one else was meant to see them."

"You're adorable."

"Oi," he objected. "That's not what a man wants to hear when he's about to bed a woman. Anyway, it's not what's on the boxers, Swan, it's what's in them."

"I have been wondering about that," she admitted. "I mean, I've seen pretty much all the rest …"

"Well, love," he all but purred, "feel free to satisfy your curiosity." He stepped up to her and trailed his hands over her shoulders, the smirk on his face as cocky as hell.

With good reason, she realized, pushing his boxers down enough to free him from them. They both took shaky breaths as she encircled his hard, heavy length and slid her hand from tip to base and back again. She'd been pretty sure he was packing, but to actually see — and touch — for herself sent a shot of liquid heat between her thighs.

She wrenched her eyes up to his face, smiling as she saw his eyes were focused downward and he was swaying toward her again while pushing into her hand. He leaned his forehead against hers and tightened his fingers on her shoulders as she began to stroke him in earnest.

"Fuck, Swan," he ground out, suddenly pulling her hand away. "Nope."

"No?" she said, faking a pout.

He tugged his boxers back up and walked her backward toward the bed, pushing her gently down on it. "We're just getting started here, love, and I don't want you distracting me."

She laughed and reached back to pop the clasp on her bra, tossing it away. "I thought distraction was the point?"

"The point," he said, his voice low and tight, "is that I intend to be deep inside you when I come, not in your hand."

"Oh." Again, she felt a wave of heat flush her body. How the hell could he be so cute and funny one minute and then dangerously sexy crawling toward her on the bed the next? "F-fair enough."

"Just to be clear," he said, leaning over her and settling between her thighs, "we are officially dating now, correct? You're not going to try to kick me out in the morning or recruit some devilishly handsome neighbor to pretend to be your boyfriend?"

"Yes, Killian," she said. "I will go steady with you, but only if you promise to be my prom date."

"I'm serious, Emma."

She sighed, hooking a leg around his waist and pulling him more fully into the cradle of her hips. "I can't promise I'm not going to freak out about this," she told him honestly. "But I want to be with you, only you."

He smiled and brushed her hair out of her face. "You took the words right out of my mouth," he said before lowering his mouth to hers for a gentle kiss.

But she'd had enough of gentle, nipping his bottom lip and sliding a hand into his thick hair while she kissed him back hard. They moaned in unison as their hips rocked together, two thin layers the only barrier between them.

She reached for his waistband again and growled when he pushed to his knees and grabbed both of her wrists, pinning them over her head. "Not. Yet. Be patient."

"Patience isn't one of my virtues," she said.

"That's all right, I've got plenty for both of us. I don't suppose you want to tell me where those handcuffs are?" She smirked at him, and he shrugged. "I'll make do."

He shifted so that he was holding both wrists in one hand; honestly, she knew she could get free any time she wanted, but her heart still raced at the idea of being at his mercy. With a grin, he began to move over her, mouth and hand seemingly everywhere at once, seeking and finding all the spots that made her gasp and squirm. All the while he murmured over her skin, listing the virtues she did have: intelligence, beauty, compassion, sense of humor, loyalty, love.

By the time he let go of her wrists to move lower, slipping her panties off and continuing his exploration, she wouldn't even dream of trying to take control. She sighed and trembled as his hands glided over her feet and his lips and long fingers trailed up her calves and thighs until she was desperately clutching at the sheets beneath her.

"So beautiful," he whispered, finally cupping her sex, then slipping a finger into her wet heat. "So ready for me."

"Yes, yes, please." She tilted her hips toward him, seeking more, seeking everything, and he added another finger, curling them both to drag in just the right spot inside her. She was close, so close, and she tried to tell him so, but the words turned to incoherent sounds in her mouth. She just needed a last push, and he gave it to her, lowering his mouth to her and flicking his tongue just right until she came apart with a sobbing gasp.

"God," she muttered. "Oh my God."

He smiled smugly, and she couldn't even bring herself to be mad because the man had played her like an instrument, and her whole body was humming. She kissed him eagerly when he moved back up to her, and this time he didn't stop her from rubbing him through his underwear.

"Condom?" he asked, nipping at her bottom lip.

She waved lazily at her bedside table. "Drawer."

He rolled off the bed and stripped his boxers off — farewell, Iron Man — yanking the drawer open. She watched him in all his naked glory, impatiently waiting for him to come back to her.

Killian moved back over her, and she widened her legs to take him in, hands moving to grip his biceps. He brushed a kiss over her mouth, then held her eyes as he sank into her, stretching her inch by glorious inch. Her nails dug into his arms as she adjusted to the size of him, the slight burn fading to a throbbing heat. He felt amazing. She hooked her ankles together behind his lower back, allowing him to go even deeper, pulling a low curse from him.

Slowly he began to move, pulling nearly all the way out before thrusting deep, cock dragging deliciously against her walls and filling her all the way up. Each thrust, he changed the angle a bit until he found just the right one, his grin all teeth as her back arched and toes curled, as she tightened her legs and tried to pull him deeper still, as she chanted his name.

Emma was never one to be noisy in bed, and she might be embarrassed later, but she'd never been with a man who knew — who cared, really — exactly what she needed.

"Oh my … Killian … fuck … that's perfect, don't stop, don't stop." She couldn't stop herself from begging him, and he took the encouragement and ran with it, moving faster and harder. She clutched his biceps with both hands as she tried to meet every thrust, unbearable tension coiling inside her.

"Come on, love," he muttered, hips stuttering slightly out of rhythm. He slipped a hand between them, thumbing at her where they were joined. "I need you to come for me, Emma."

She couldn't help but obey, shaking at the force of her orgasm, tightening her legs around him until he found his own release moments later.

They ended up where they always did, on the couch, eating cereal and watching a movie.

"We should have instituted Naked Movie Night long ago," Killian said as the credits rolled on "The Untouchables."

"We're not naked," she pointed out. They weren't totally dressed, either — she was only wearing his dress shirt and he'd put his boxers back on — but that wasn't the same as naked.

"Not yet, anyway," he said, waggling his eyebrows at her in an exaggerated leer that had her laughing and almost choking on a bite of Lucky Charms.

He was an idiot. Her idiot, which actually didn't make her panic at all, much to her surprise.

"I forgot to mention, what with all the excitement of the wedding and getting into your knickers," he said. "After what you said to me, I decided to talk to Liam. I'm going to be starting university in the fall."

"You're going back to school! That's great!"

He shrugged, looking embarrassed. "Just part time. Taking some of the basics until I figure out a major."

"So I'm dating a college boy," she said, laughing. "Does that make me a cougar?"

He set his empty bowl aside and ran his tongue along his bottom lip, and she couldn't help but follow the movement with her eyes, completely missing what he said.

"I'm sorry?"

He looked at her strangely, but repeated himself. "I said, you know I'm going to introduce you to everyone we meet — even complete strangers on the street — as my girlfriend. My-Girlfriend-Emma is going to be your name now."

"That's okay," she said, and weirdly, it was. "I'm going to start introducing you to everyone we meet as my Iron Man. Let them draw their own conclusions."

He laughed. "I'm never going to hear the end of that, am I?"

"Nope." She grinned and dropped her bowl on the coffee table next to his. She crawled over to him, straddling his lap, his shirt bunching up around her hips, giving him a sneak peek.


He hummed, slipping a button open and grazing her skin with his fingertips.

She leaned closer and bumped her nose into his. "You big stud, take me to bed or lose me forever," she quoted.

He grinned, then pulled back and looked at her suspiciously. "Did you watch 'Top Gun' without me? You did!" he complained.

"Really?" She popped another button on the shirt, then a third one. "That's what you want to talk about right now?"

"No, I … but we agreed to watch that one toge—"

She put a finger over his mouth, not sure whether to be amused or insulted. "I promise, we will watch it later. I would take it as a huge personal favor if you would stop talking about this right now." She lifted her finger to her own mouth, tapping her lips. "Only, I can't imagine what I might do to repay that favor …"

He grinned again, undoing the remaining buttons on the shirt and slipping his hands beneath it, pulling her closer.

"Well now, Swan," he said, pressing a kiss to the skin above her heart, "I believe I can think of something."