This girl…

Is going to be the death of me.

I don’t even know what the hell happened to us.

She was Cinderella. I was Prince Charming. It was a fucking fairy tale.

Until the clock struck midnight and everything went to…




The second the word left my mouth, I regretted it. Then instantly felt sick to my stomach. And started to have a full-fledged panic attack. Because even before she had the chance to fully awaken, even before she whispered my name into the darkness…

She reached for me. Like she always did. Every single time.


Swiping blindly, desperately for her hand, I caught her hard by the wrist. My mind was racing so fast that it made my head spin. So goddamn fast I couldn’t think straight. I couldn’t even speak.

“What’s wrong?”

Yeah, I might actually hurl.

She whimpered softly and then, even softer, “You’re hurting me.”


With a groan, I loosened my grip. Immediately. Because I’d much rather castrate myself than ever cause her pain. But I didn’t let go.

I couldn’t let go.

“Are you okay?”

No, I wasn’t okay. I was anything but fucking okay. And I was scaring the shit out of my perfectly beautiful girlfriend too. But what was I supposed to say? What the hell was I supposed to say?



Well, I sure as hell didn’t say the right thing.

And now I’ve hardly slept in forty-eight hours. Yeah, we have a damn near impossible deadline to meet. But you want to know the real reason?

I haven’t talked to her.

In forty-eight fucking hours.

Because she won’t answer any of my phone calls or texts. Not a single one.

Did I mention she’s nearly 3,000 miles away?

On the other side of the godforsaken country.




He was sleeping soundly.

Such a freakin’ idiot.

With his head resting on one bent arm, a ballpoint still loosely gripped in the other hand.

Such a gorgeous freakin’ idiot.

Breathing a small sigh, Mickey ruffled his thick chocolate locks.


She leaned down and brushed her lips to his temple, murmuring, “Cale.”

Still nothing.

“You’d better wake up,” circling around to stand behind his wheelchair, Mickey draped her arms over Cale’s shoulders and began to unbutton his collar, letting the idle threat dissipate into thin air, “or else…”

Not even a twitch.

Sliding a hand inside the front of his shirt, she found Cale’s nipple and gave it a solid tweak.


He shot upright in a flash, seizing Mickey’s wrist through the cotton and nearly stabbing her with his pen in the process.

Wide awake.


“In the flesh,” she replied seductively, plucking the dangerous weapon from his grasp. And then attempted to stifle a laugh. Because what she could only presume to be a very important contract was stuck securely to the side of his face.

What I wouldn’t give for a camera right about now…

When Cale released his grip to push away from the desk and make a sluggish turn toward her, he looked adorably disoriented.

Okay, not quite wide awake.

Emerald eyes still unfocused, he mumbled hazily, “What are you doing here?”

Dazed, confused, and sexy as can be.

“Saving your handsome butt from drowning in a puddle of drool.”

“P-pardon me?”

Mr. Calm-cool-and-composed stammers too. You just have to catch him off guard. And half-asleep.

Smirking, Mickey peeled the document from his cheek and held it up between them. “Still need this slobber fest?”

Blinking a few times, Cale quickly snatched it from her and tossed it to the floor.

Always so darn stubborn.

Mickey calmly bent to scoop up the discarded item, gingerly flattened out the wrinkles and returned it safely to his desktop.

Cale frowned before scrubbing a hand down his face and muttering, “Thanks, I actually do need that.”


“Where’s Cam?” she inquired casually. “I didn’t see his truck outside.”

“I sent him home.” A deeper frown. “The useless bastard kept on nodding off.”

Mickey rolled her eyes. “Because you’re doing so much better, right?”

“You weren’t supposed to see that,” he shot back with a scowl.

Reaching out to brush an errant strand of hair from his forehead, she asked, “What am I ever going to do with you?”

Glancing down at his partially open dress shirt, Cale quirked a brow in response.

Mickey blushed up to her ears.

That’s never going to stop, is it?

“Well, I’d say you were taking advantage of a completely defenseless man.”

“You’re never defenseless,” she couldn’t help but laugh, “and I was only trying to get your attention.”

“Real subtle, Mickey,” he teased, a lopsided grin finally lifting the corner of his mouth.

Which she caressed appreciatively with her thumb. “Are you complaining?”

Chuckling quietly, Cale pulled her onto his lap. Looping both arms around Mickey’s waist, he gave her a tight squeeze. “Do I ever complain?”

“Not really.”

His teeth grazed gently across her shoulder as Cale repeated slowly, deliberately, “Do I ever complain?”

“Never,” she relented in a hushed tone, reaching for his waistband.

Calloused fingers immediately closed over hers, halting Mickey’s intentions.


“Wait a second.”

“Come on…”


“We’re alone, right?”

“Yeah, we are, but…” he trailed off into silence, burying his face into the crook of her neck with a frustrated grunt. It was an extended moment before he spoke again, the simple words muffled against her skin, “I can’t.”

I’m in love with an idiot.

“Relax.” Pushing his hand aside, Mickey unfastened Cale’s belt buckle and tugged the hem of his shirt loose. “You can keep your pants on tonight.”


The world’s sexiest idiot.

“This isn’t a booty call,” she chided gently.

“It’s not?”


“Well, what the hell is it then?” he scoffed.

Undoing the remaining buttons, Mickey slid the crisp fabric off his shoulders and yanked it free. Then removed the undershirt beneath. Allowing both articles to fall, she whispered, “I missed you.”

He groaned in reply, guiding both the hoodie and t-shirt up past her ribs only to stop dead. Followed by a hoarse, “Jesus Christ.”


Eyes darkening a shade, Cale ground out through clenched teeth, “Where’s your goddamn bra, woman?”

“It just so happens that I was lying in bed,” a strategic and slightly sadistic pause, “when I decided to miss you.”

Another groan. Much louder.

Mickey made a valiant effort at an innocent-looking smile. “What?”

“You’re trying to kill me, that’s what.”

“Maybe I’m after your money.”

“You can take it all, Mickey.” Cupping a breast in his palm, Cale exhaled a long, shaky breath. “Every last fucking penny.”

“You have such a potty mouth tonight.”

“Sorry,” he said sincerely. “I’m just tired and…”

“It really turns me on.”

A flash of desire ignited behind those fiery green eyes as he firmly clasped the back of her neck, drawing Mickey close.

She eagerly leaned into him, sprinkling kisses along Cale’s deliciously stubbled jaw.

“Say it again,” came his low command.

Mickey trailed up to the corner of his mouth, her tongue tracing the edge of his lip. “It really turns me on.”


“It really…”

He silenced her with a kiss.

The kiss.

Hard. Unyielding. Possessive.

As Cale’s mouth captured, no, consumed hers, all Mickey could hear was the blood pounding in her ears. The feel of warm skin and powerful muscle registered for only a split second before her fingertips went completely numb.

Fighting against the dizzying urge to straddle his chair and wrap her legs around the backrest…

She pulled away, somehow managing to utter an unconvincing, “No.”

A hand slid into her hair, roughly jerking her back. “Yes.”

“I already told you,” she continued breathlessly, “this isn’t a booty call.”

“Like hell it isn’t.”

“When’s the last time you ate?”

“Between your legs…”

“Nice try.”

He froze, moaning an oath against her lips.

Giving Cale’s chest a firm pat, she hopped off his lap with a knowing grin. “My guess is lunch.”

Another curse.

“Am I right?”

Actually, a long and irritated string of obscenities were leaving the sexiest mouth on the planet.

“That’s exactly what I thought.”

Staring in disbelief as she dropped a pair of disposable chopsticks and some napkins in her vacated place, he growled, “You can’t be serious.”

“I sure can be and most certainly am.” Mickey turned to grab the plastic bag from atop his desk. Untying the knot, she produced a cardboard box, popped the lid open, and held it out to him. “Eat.”

Ignoring the takeout, which Mickey set down next to his laptop, Cale narrowed his eyes accusingly. “You’re such a tease.”

“I’m just taking care of my man.”

“You’re just tormenting your man.”

“Po-tay-to, po-tah-to.”

“You’re going to be the death of me, Mickey.”

“I’m only after your money, remember?” she said jokingly, then peered down at the questionable meal with great skepticism. “And besides, you might actually get food poisoning from that.”

“Lucky me.”

“Everything else was closed.”

“It’s a conspiracy.”

Laughing, she swung around Cale’s chair and gripped the backrest to steer him under the desk, repeating her concise directive once more, “Eat.”

“I hate it when you do that,” came his low grumble.

Mickey knew instantly what Cale was talking about. “Sorry,” she murmured, dropping a quick kiss on the top of his head. “Force of habit.”



“Exactly how many cripples have you dated anyway?” he muttered tersely, bending to retrieve his discarded dress shirt.

She nudged it out of reach with her foot.



“I am not sitting here half-naked.”

“Fully naked works for me…”


“But I figured you’d be a prude about it so I brought you something comfier to wear,” she finished before stripping off the oversized sweatshirt and handing it over with a wink.

He swiftly pulled it over his head, mumbling a barely discernable, “Thanks.”

“You’re welcome.” Reaching out to put the hood down and smooth his disheveled locks back in place, she added, “But don’t say that word.”

“What word?”

Mickey shrugged. “Never mind.”

He flashed her a rueful smile. “I was only kidding.”

“I know,” her voice went quiet, “it’s just that…”

“Hey.” Cale caught Mickey’s hand and brought it to his lips, pressing a kiss against the inside of her wrist. “I’m sorry.”

She shrugged again. “I deserved it for handling you like a shopping cart.”

“Like a damn stroller,” he corrected wryly.

Mickey settled into an Indian-style sit on the floor next to Cale’s chair. Resting her chin on the side guard wrapped over his wheel, she added some over-the-top eyelash batting for good measure. “Just eat, please, baby?”

With an indignant snort, Cale broke apart the wooden sticks. Then glanced over at his girlfriend before averting his eyes and frowning in disapproval.

She gave his arm a comforting pat. “What’s bothering you now?”



“Well, I wouldn’t call it a bother, per se.” Keeping his gaze firmly fixed on the container of Chinese food, Cale stabbed at its mystery contents. “More of a distraction than a bother.”

“No idea what you’re talking about, stud.”

He continued stabbing.

“Tell me.”

Stab. “I can see them.”

“See what?”

Stab. Stab. “Your damn nipples.”

“Pervert,” she giggled.

“I blame the twins,” he replied flatly.

“How much longer do you have to work?”

An exasperated grunt. “At least another couple of hours.”

“Then hurry up so you can take all three of us home.”

Cale’s mouth twitched slightly. “Ninety minutes, tops.”

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