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This wasn't her fault of course. She'd respected their arrangement and even followed the rules that they both set, but somewhere along the line it stopped working for him. This whole bullshit situation of ha**ng s*x with a woman but not sleeping with her and having to sneak into her room first thing in the morning just so he could cuddle with her and admittedly have his very naughty way with her was just too much work.

Plus if he was going to be honest with himself he'd have to admit that he was sick of all the work that it required to keep his hands off of her in public. Every time he wanted to touch her, hold her hand, or kiss her he had to remind himself that it wasn't like that between them and hold back. Denying himself what he wanted wasn't fun and he was done doing it.

This whole thing was ridiculous, he thought as he stepped back over the playful pups and started up the stairs. They'd been together for months and he cared for her, genuinely cared for her. He couldn't actually remember caring about a woman before Zoe. Before her he only cared what being with a woman did for him, food, sex, and a beautiful woman on his arm, but with Zoe he'd have to get his own damn food or risk his own case of food poisoning, unless she made him a yummy sandwich, he'd die without sex with her, and he didn't give a flying f**k what anyone thought about her. He enjoyed being with her and if anyone had a problem with that they could f**k off.

He didn't think it would last once he put his new plan into effect, but then again he hadn't thought their little arrangement would last this long. He'd been wrong about that, but he was sure that once they arrangement turned into something a little more substantial the novelty of the whole thing would wear off quickly. No doubt his plan would take all the fun and excitement out of sneaking around, and he was pretty sure that's why it lasted this long, but he didn't really care. The sooner he told her the sooner he could put himself out his misery and just relax and enjoy being with her until it was time to end things.

When he came to the top of the stairs he hesitated for a moment. He'd kept her up pretty late last night, or rather this morning, maybe he should just let her get some sleep and he'd talk to her when they both got back from their Thanksgiving plans. But that would mean he'd have to wait until well after six o'clock, the time he usually came home after his family ran out of food on Thanksgiving Day, to talk to her about his decision and he really didn't want to put it off, knowing how happy it would make her.

Besides, he didn't want to leave without seeing her. It was stupid, but he liked seeing her first thing in the morning when her hair was all messed up, her face was puffy and she grumbled rather violent promise to his manhood. She was so damn cute first thing in the morning.

He walked into her room and wasn't too surprised when he heard Toby's happy panting closing in behind him or when the large pup ran past him, wagging his tail happily as he raced towards Zoe's bed, but didn't jump on the bed. The pup had learned early on not to be close to Zoe when she first woke up. The woman was not a happy camper and poor Toby had been hit with a pillow or two as Zoe struggled to bury her head under her pillow and ignore their demands that she get up.

A few seconds later Max ran in, no less eager, but not yet quite half the size of Toby and raced to the bed, trying to jump on it and failing miserably as he whimpered, still sounding very much like a puppy, demanding Zoe wake up and cuddle with him. It was the same way the dogs had woken him up an hour ago. Of course Toby didn't hesitate waking him up with puppy licks since he'd snuck into his room with Max following right behind him around three this morning after Zoe had fallen asleep, and slept on the bed with him.

After he gave each puppy some attention they took their morning walk, ate a quick breakfast, and he took a shower while the puppies played tug of war with his boxers. Every few minutes he had to tell them to be quiet so that they wouldn't wake up their mommy. He really should be heading to his uncle's house, but he wanted to see her first even if it was only for a moment.

He knelt by the bed and smiled at how beautiful she looked. How in the hell had he ever been stupid enough to call her plain? She was easily more beautiful to him than any of the women he'd dated, he thought as he reached out with one finger and lightly tickled the tip of her nose.

Her little early morning growl, which was laced with a little whimper of annoyance, had him biting back a chuckle. He picked up a long strand of her beautiful brown hair and lightly, ever so lightly tickled the tip of her nose with it.

"Stop it," she muttered as she lazily reached out and slapped at the air, not even close to his face.

So of course he had to do it again. This time when she went to swat off his tickling attack he was forced to duck his head or get a weak slap in the face.

"Zoe, wake up," he said in a tauntingly upbeat voice, knowing it would drive her crazy.

"Go away," she mumbled. "I hate you."

"Because I'm waking you up?" he asked, smiling as he ducked another weak attack.

"Yes!" she snapped, clearly aggravated as she was every morning when he did this. Yet he just couldn't stop himself from doing it. It was just too damn fun.

He was just about to up his attack when she flopped over onto her back and shielded her eyes with her arm. Not even two seconds later her eyes were wide open, one hand was clamped tightly on her mouth and the other one was pressed against her stomach and was off the bed and running towards the bathroom, slamming the bathroom door behind her.


Running a frustrated hand through his hair, he placed the glass of ginger ale on the nightstand, away from the edge where the dogs could get it, and headed for the bathroom. He'd hoped she was getting better. The last two mornings she'd only complained about feeling slightly nauseous, but she hadn't been sick. At least he didn't think she'd gotten sick.

She hadn't told him if she had and both mornings he was so damn busy making her stay in bed for a little longer, grabbing her some toast and ginger ale, making his lunch and taking care of the dogs before he left that wasn't entirely sure, but he thought she'd been okay. When he stopped by the office later both days and asked her how she felt she'd assured him she felt great, but clearly that wasn't the case if she was getting sick again.

"Zoe?" he said, slowly opening the door. "Baby, are you okay?"

"Yes," she mumbled, grabbing a toothbrush and loading it with toothpaste.

"You've been sick for almost a week now, Zoe. Maybe I should take you to the emergency room," he said, already trying to figure out which hospital was closer and wondering if he could get his uncle or someone to watch the dogs in case they got stuck in the emergency room all day.

She stubbornly shook her head, spit and added more toothpaste to her toothbrush and started the process all over again. A few minutes later she finally finished.

"I'm fine, Trevor," she said, walking past him, pausing only to pet Toby and pick Max up. Cuddling the small dog, she climbed back onto the bed and pulled the comforter up. Toby waited until she was settled before jumping on the bed and settling next to her and Mr. Cuddles.

Forcing himself not to throw her over his shoulder and take her to the nearest hospital, mostly because she'd probably knee him in the balls again, he sat down near her hip and handed her the ginger ale. Eying him warily, probably because she knew what he was thinking, she took a small sip.