“That wasn’t an animal, it was a chicken and more than that, it was that motherfucking chicken, so he wasn’t fucking innocent after all. That chicken deserved to be under the wheels of your car and we deserve to be driving to work right now and arguing over something else that’s stupid.”

“Stupid?” she says. “If we ever argue about something stupid, it’s probably because it came from you.”

“Are you calling me stupid?”

I know I shouldn’t be bothered by that comment and I normally do let a lot of things roll off my back, but being called stupid or dumb has always aggravated me, probably because it’s such a stereotype to put on hockey players, probably because it’s a sore spot because I wish I had gone to college. It was always part of my plans.

I’m watching her carefully. I know she wants to say it, I know it bothers her so damn much that she’s had to go to school and work her juicy butt off. I know she thinks I got everything handed to me in life when that’s never been the case at all.

The sweat is now creeping down my face and getting in my eyes.

Why the fuck is it so hot? It’s not even sunny out!

She purses her lips for a moment. “You’re the one who said we argue about stupid shit.”

“Well, we do. All we do is argue.”

She snorts, looking away. “You wish. I know arguing turns you on.”

“It turns you on too,” I point out, starting to unbutton my shirt. “Remember that time when you accused me of stealing your idea for the hotel lobby?”

That got her attention. Her nostrils flare as she gives me daggers. “You did steal my idea! Like you would have ever come up with having cucumber spa water on your own.”

“No, it was my idea,” I tell her. “I saw it at another hotel so I stole it.”

“Well I came up with it organically. And why the hell are you taking off your shirt, are you turned on already?”

“It’s fucking hot out!” I yell, wrestling with the already damp shirt as it’s sticking to my skin. I practically rip it off, throwing it on the roof of the car.

And now Nova is speechless.

Which is both a nice respite and somewhat rewarding since she’s staring at me with her eyes wide and mouth open, something she immediately tries to hide.

“You can ogle me, it’s fine,” I tell her, raising my arms out.

I know I have a damn good body. When you consistently workout every morning for an hour and watch what you eat, you’re very aware of the reward. Plus I’m naturally bulky and muscular, which is why I was such a good defenseman. When I came skating at top speed and threw people into the boards, they were out for the count.

Now of course I wouldn’t mind doing the same to Nova, throwing her up against the car and having my way with her, sweat be damned.

“I’m not ogling you,” she manages to say, a bit too late.

I grin at her, making sure everything is flexing. And as her eyes coast over the rigid planes of my abs, they pause at my crotch, where, yeah, I’m pretty fucking hard as well.

“I can’t believe you’re turned on,” she says, shaking her head in disgust. “Put your shirt back on and your boner away, I can’t talk to you like this.”

“Hey baby, I thought this was the Hawaiian way. If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em, right?”

“Please don’t start beating anything,” she says, eyes at my dick imprint again. “You’re so inappropriate.”

“Because arguing with you turns me on? Or because I’m thinking about what happened the last time we argued, when you insisted that the cucumber water was your idea. Do you remember?”

“I’m not revisiting memory lane with you,” she says, and starts to walk past me to the driver’s side. “I need to get my phone to call roadside assistance.”

I reach out and grab her, my hands wrapped around her forearms, pulling her in until she’s almost pressed up against my chest.

I grin down at her, at her eyes that hover between being anxious and wide and devilishly curious. “Of course you remember,” I murmur, leaning in closer. She smells like honey today. “The way we argued in your office afterward. You got so hot for me, so wet, you were begging for it. I fucked you right there on your desk, right up your tight little ass.”

She swallows loudly, her eyes turning into mahogany saucers. “That didn’t happen,” she manages to say, her voice low and throaty.

“Oh right,” I say, biting my lip for a moment. “We had angry sex up against the wall. The whole doing you on your desk was what I was imagining last Friday when I was jerking off to you in the washroom.”

She blinks at me but somehow doesn’t seem all that surprised. “Was that before or after the chicken attacked you?”

“Before,” I murmur. “I was interrupted. But you can bet I finished that fantasy back at home.”

Nova doesn’t blush often but she’s blushing now, her cheeks darkening as she averts her eyes. “You’re sweating on me,” she says after a beat.

“I know. I’m starting to think that you’re the reason it’s so fucking hot here.”

“That’s cute.” She cocks her head. “Need I remind you that you’re my boss? I don’t like it any more than you do.”

“But I do like it,” I tell her with a grin. “I love the fact that I’m your boss and I get to order you around and tell you what to do.”

She laughs. It’s a genuine laugh too, a beautiful sound. Because she knows I haven’t been able to order her around or tell her what to do, but lord knows I won’t stop trying. “You’re impossible,” she says. “Now can you let me get my phone or do I have to knee you in the balls?”

Her smile is sweet but her eyes tell me she means business.

“Still feisty,” I tell her, letting go of her arms and watching her bring her purse and phone out from airbag hell. “Tell me again why we didn’t work out?”

She’s about to dial when she stops, cold.

Uh oh.

That was maybe the wrong thing to say.

Her raises her chin to look at me.

I swear I see a glimmer of something witchy and green in her eyes, like somewhere inside her I just threw a bunch of gasoline on an industrial fire.

“You want to know why we didn’t work out?” she repeats. Slowly. Her words like miniature bombs. “Really? You want to know?”

I try to shrug. “I was just joking…”

“No, really,” she says, taking a careful step toward me. “You seem like you want to know.”

I should probably protect my balls at this point.

“Look, let’s just forget I said anything,” I tell her quickly. “Call Triple A and we can get going. I’ll call Loan to pick us up.”

“We didn’t work out because you never wanted us to work out,” she says, eyes sparking as she pokes her finger into my bare chest.

I wrap my hand around her finger and pull it off. “That’s not true at all.”

“You told me, and I remember this so, so clearly, that one morning after you slept over at my apartment for the first time, months after we started fucking. You said, I think we should call this off. I don’t want things to get complicated at work. To which I said, things won’t get complicated. We’re allowed to date people in the office. To which you said, but we aren’t dating, we’re just fucking. To which I said, oh. I thought this was turning into more. To which you said, you know I’m not that kind of guy. To which I said, you’re right, I did know that.” She pokes her other finger in my chest, harder now. She’s grinding her teeth as she talks. “So we stopped sleeping together, just like that, because you didn’t want to complicate things and ruin our friendship and you didn’t want commitment and what did you do two days later?”

Oh god. She knows.

“You fucked Stacy, the god damn front desk clerk, the same clerk you knew had a crush on you, the same clerk whom you once said wasn’t your type. You were screwing her just two days later, you fucking asshole.”

Okay. She’s got me there. But even though I don’t really have anything to defend, I still feel like I’ve got to try.

I raise my palms, staring at her finger instead of the hatred billowing in her eyes. “It didn’t mean anything.”

“What didn’t? Stacy, or us?”

“Stacy.”

“How is that supposed to make me feel better? That’s even more insulting.”

“Look, the two of us were just having fun and you knew I didn’t want a relationship, so you went along with it anyway. What, did you think you were going to change me?”

Her nostrils flare again. Okay, wrong thing to say, part two.

I stumble on. “I mean, you seemed to take it well. You never showed much interest in me if my cock wasn’t buried deep inside you, so how was I supposed to know you’d care?”

She shakes her head, taking her finger away and turning from me. “Why am I even talking to you about this? Why do I even bother?”

“I don’t know but you brought it up.”

“You brought it up!” she yells, whirling around. “You just brought it up. And now that it is up, are you fucking dense? You really thought it was just about sex for me and that was it?”

“Of course I did!” I throw my arms out. “Why would I think any different! You never told me anything, you never opened up. The only time I saw you vulnerable was when I was making you come. And maybe that’s one reason why I liked to make you come so fucking much, it was the only time you let your guard down, where you’d let me in, let me see who you were underneath.”

Shit. I had no idea where any of that came from but apparently I haven’t been the only one harboring some resentment over the last five years.

It’s caught her off guard too. She’s breathing hard, her forehead creased. I both want to pull her into me and hold her and tell her I’m sorry for even yelling at her like this, and at the same time I want to kiss her, strip her bare, see if maybe she can belong to me this time around.

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