As already mentioned, this was written for Freak-of-Spade's September challenge. I think I should give some warnings for this... There is swearing, smut, extreme corny-ness...and it is insanely long. So...enjoy!

A Koala in September

There's something about coming home and finding your boyfriend in bed with another man. Just gives you a warm, fluffy feeling doesn't it? Also kinda fills you with homicidal rage. Especially when said boyfriend glances up at you, smirks, and says 'Wanna join in?' instead of, y'know, stopping.

Yeah, great feeling, that.

Now, I really want to say I'm making all of this up, that my boyfriend is a sweet, caring, gentle man, full of devotion for me, who would never stray. But the truth of it is, I'm not all that surprised to see him going at it like bunnies with some slut he probably picked up at a club. It just seems like the type of thing Egan would do.

I picked a real winner, didn't I?

Of course, I do the only thing I can think of: I storm out, slamming the door behind me, and head to the balcony. I don't smoke, but this is one of those times I wish I did. Apparently it relieves stress, and God knows I could use that right now.

A few minutes later, the door slides open and Egan steps out, just as I knew he would. Very predictable, my boyfriend.

"Ally, we need to talk."

My hands curl around the balcony railing, my face set in a scowl.

"No shit."

"I think we should break up."

And there it is. No apology, no explanation for why there's some whore in my bed with my boyfriend (who isn't much better himself). Instead, all I get is him telling me it's time to end our three year relationship.

My lips thin, my fingers tightening.

"I see."

I don't know why, but for some reason I'm fighting back tears. Maybe it's just because we've been together for so long and I've gotten used to being with him, but the idea of being alone makes my heart sink. He's a complete asshole, but I really don't want to break up with him.

"Say something."

I snort. "Fine. It's fine. Yeah, we should break up. You obviously can't keep it in your pants."


"Shut the fuck up, Egan!" I snarl, whirling around to face him. "Get out of here! I don't want to see your face anymore!"

He raises an eyebrow. "I own this apartment."

My eyes narrow. "Then I guess I'll just have to find a new place to live, won't I?"

I push past him and head to the living room, looking for the newspaper. I find it buried underneath a bunch of books and magazines, the pages unread. Snatching it up, I stomp into the guestroom, slamming the door behind me. I have nowhere to go, so I'm going to search the classifieds tonight, and tomorrow, I'm moving out.

Egan can go fuck himself. And that slut.

Opening the paper, I flip through until I find the classifieds. Skimming over the personal ads and info on lost items, my icy blue eyes settle on the ads for roommates and places for rent. I skip over the creepier sounding ones ("single male, 64, searching for young man, 18-24; single bedroom apartment") and look for ones that won't end in my hacked up body being found in the forest.

It takes awhile, but I finally find one.

"Two bedroom apartment, shared bath; single male, 25."

Well, that sounds alright. And the guy's only two years older than me. Well, unless he's lying, of course. But at this point, I just want to get out of this apartment as fast as I can.

Grabbing the phone from the side table, I dial the number printed, and wait as it rings. Finally, someone picks up, and a tired voice croaks into the phone, "Hello?"

I glance at the clock and wince guiltily. 1:23 am. I guess normal people are asleep by now.

"Uh, hi! I read your ad in the paper? The one for the apartment?"

"Oh, right." He wakes up a bit. "You interested?"

I nod, even though he can't see me. "I'd like to move in. Tomorrow, actually."

There's a brief pause of surprise. "Uh…tomorrow?"


"Don't you…want to look around first? Meet me? Make sure I'm not some serial killer?"

I laugh. "I'm sure everything's great. So tomorrow at around, say…nine?"

I hear a yawn. "Yeah, alright. Need directions?"

"Nope, I can figure it out."

"Okay. Well, guess I'll see you tomorrow…"

"Yup! Good night!"

After I hang up, I realize I didn't ask his name. Oh, well, I can find out tomorrow. Right now, it's time for packing.

I stand outside of the apartment—no, condo—building, staring. Wow. Classy is an understatement. I'm starting to suspect that my roommate is rich. Like, way rich.

Oh, God, rent is gonna be a bitch.

I sigh, grabbing my bag and slinging it over my shoulder, then pick up a couple other bags. I have a few boxes, but they're going to have to wait. I doubt anyone's gonna steal a bunch of beat-up cardboard boxes. Especially in this neighbourhood.

Egan was asleep when I left this morning, not that I cared. I spent the entire night packing, and he left me alone. He probably figured I was just bluffing and thought that by leaving me alone, he was giving me time to cool down. I wonder how he'll react when he finds out that I actually did leave?

I wonder if he'll even care…

I push through the revolving door and walk over to the desk in the lobby. A thin woman sits behind it, a bunch of monitors next to her. I'm gonna assume she's security.

She looks up when I stop in front of her, eyebrows raised.


"Uh, I'm moving in today to, uh…603? Do I just go on up?"

Her dark eyes scan me suspiciously, considering.

"One moment."

She reaches for the phone on her desk, quickly dialling a number. After a moment, she begins speaking.

"Hello, Mr. Cayden? There's a young man here who says he's moving into your place today. Should I send him up? …alright. Goodbye."

She hangs up, looking at me with a small smile.

"You may head upstairs. I'll have someone bring up your boxes."

"Uh, you don't have to do that…"

She waves me off, picking up her phone. "It's no problem. Go on ahead."

Well, I can tell I'm not winning this argument…

Smiling awkwardly, I head for the elevator, pressing the up button with my elbow. When the door opens, it reveals a man dressed in a neat uniform. He smiles at me when I enter.

"Which floor, sir?"


He nods, pressing the button, and the elevator start on its way up. Okay, this place is even fancier than I thought. I bet each condo has its own doorman…

"Have a good day, sir," the man says when we come to a stop and the doors slide open.

"Uh, you, too…"

I step out of the elevator and begin looking for number 603, which turns out to not be too difficult, since there are only four doors on this floor. Geez, how big are condos…?

Stopping in front of the door with a gold plated 603 on it, I suddenly feel my first bout of nerves. After all, I know nothing about this guy I'm moving in with (other than he's a rich bastard). He could be even worse than Egan. Except, y'know, I won't be dating him…

Oh, well, better get this over with.

Raising my hand, I knock on the door, trying to sound all brave and manly. He doesn't need to know that I'm freaking out on the inside.

A minute later, I hear footsteps and a lock is turned (well, a couple locks). The door finally opens and I find myself…staring at the hottest guy I have ever seen in my life. Now, I've always considered myself pretty tall at 5'8", but this man is 6'2" at the very least. And he is toned. Like, not scary muscular, but not too thin. He could definitely pin me down easily (oh, dirty thoughts…). And his hair is this gorgeous chocolate brown, tied back in a short ponytail. But none of this compares to his eyes, which aren't obscured by his frameless glasses: emerald green surrounded by a thick band of amber. Ooooooh, my fucking God.

"Uh, hey," he says, offering me a crooked grin. "You my new roommate?"

I manage to stop drooling long enough to give him a nod, my mouth still hanging open slightly.

He steps back, gesturing into the apartment. "Come on in. My name's Hunter."

"Uh, Albion…but you can call me Ally…" I reply, walking through the door and setting down a bag to accept his offered hand. It's bigger than mine, warm and calloused. Oh, I can just think of some good uses for that hand…

"Unusual name," he remarks, eyes boring into mine.

"So is yours," I point out.

His grin widens. "Yeah, I guess. Come on, I'll show you to your room." He lets go of my hand and leaves the foyer, bare feet padding against the marble floor.

I quickly kick off my shoes and grab my bags, following him. Just as I thought, the apartment's monstrous, looking like something from an interior design magazine (not that I read those…). The living room's sunken, with a few stairs leading down to it, and next to it is a short hall that leads to a bunch of doors.

"That's the bathroom," Hunter explains, gesturing to a door to my right. "And that's my room, at the end. Yours is right next to it."

Oh, easy access…

"This place is amazing," I remark, pausing in my steps as he opens the door.

Hunter grins, glancing over his shoulder. "Thanks. Spent a lot of time getting it like this."

My eyes widen. He did this all himself? Whoa. Last time I tried to paint something, I ended with more of it on me than the wall.

"Well, there you go."

I peek past him, mouth falling open. This is my room? It's huge!

"Feel free to redecorate it," Hunter says quickly, scratching his head. "I wouldn't mind."

I shake my head, stepping past him to walk over to the bed.

"I like it like this."

The walls are a dark blue, the floor some kind of dark wood, and the bed looks really comfortable, covered in a thick, light blue duvet.

He looks slightly surprised. "Oh, good. So, uh, is that all you brought?"

I set the bags on the bed, shaking my head. "I have a couple boxes. The woman in the lobby said she was gonna call someone to bring them up."

"Oh, yeah, that's Maria. She's awesome, as long as you don't get on her bad side."

I laugh. "I'll keep that in mind."

In the distance I hear a knock, and look up, frowning.

"Is that them?"

Hunter nods. "Probably."

Together, we head back to the front door, finding two guys holding the rest of my boxes.

"Thanks," I say, taking two of them and setting them on the floor before turning to get the rest. However, Hunter already has them in his arms, and the guys are gone. Helpful, isn't he?

He starts heading back to my room, and with a shrug I pick up the two boxes on the floor and follow him.

"You didn't bring a lot," he remarks, beautiful eyes looking over my small pile of luggage.

I shrug. "Didn't have much to bring. Most of the stuff in my old place belonged to my boyfriend." I glance over my shoulder to see how he reacts to finding out I'm gay (it'd be just my luck to get the homophobic roommate). However, he doesn't look surprised, just understanding. Oh, good.

His eyebrows rise a bit. "Is that why you were in such a hurry to move out? Bad break-up?"

I sigh, grimacing. "You could say that. But it's over now. He was an asshole anyway."

He leans against the doorframe, hands in his jeans pockets. "What happened? If you don't mind me asking."

I roll my eyes at the memory. "Found him in bed with some other guy. Then he told me he was dumping me."

Hunter grimaces. "Ouch."

"Yeah. Not one of my better moments." I grin suddenly, looking at the brunet. "Thanks for letting me move in so fast, by the way."

He gives me a lopsided smile. "No problem. I mean, it was kinda weird, getting a call so late from some guy asking to move in the next day, but you seem like a good guy."

I snort at the 'good' bit. "I don't really think that describes me, but thanks anyway."

There's silence as I line up my bags and boxes, deciding what goes where. Ugh, I hate moving.

"So, did you want something to eat before you unpack?" Hunter asks suddenly, abruptly changing the subject.

Biting my lip, I realize I haven't eaten anything since yesterday. The whole Egan situation just killed my appetite. So, I nod, stuffing my hands in the pockets of my loose jeans, and shoot him a quick smile.

"Yeah, that'd be cool."

He grins brightly, giving me a mock salute. "Alright, I'll go whip up something."

I watch him leave, my smile not dimming. I really didn't expect to move in with such a nice (and hot) guy. I'm starting to think Egan dumping me was a good thing.

Stifling a yawn, I shuffle out of the room, my stomach forcing me to find the kitchen. I continue down the hall and past the living room, locating the kitchen on the other side of the apartment. It's really weird being in such a spacey place, with all the rooms so spread out.

I hear singing and poke my head through the kitchen doorway with raised eyebrows. Yup, there's Hunter, singing as he moves around cooking something. His voice isn't bad.

Trying to be a quiet as possible, I tiptoe into the kitchen, perching on a stool at the island. This is pretty entertaining, especially since he appears to be dancing, too. For having a complete stranger suddenly move in, he sure is comfortable. I'm still surprised he let me move in so easily. Maybe he really is a serial killer and he figures I'm an easy target.

…I wonder if there's a lock on my door?

Hunter picks up a knife, still singing and dancing, and turns to a cutting board set on the island. However, I guess I surprise him because he jumps back with a yelped "Oh, holy shit!" followed quickly by a pained hiss. My eyes widen as I see the blood dripping onto the floor from his hand, looking really bright against the white tile. I jump from the stool, rushing over to him.

"Oh, my God! Are you okay?"

"Yeah, I'm fine," he mutters, grabbing a tea towel and pressing it against his cut. "It's not deep."

"Where do you keep your first-aid kit?" I ask, panicking slightly.

"Under the sink in the bathroom."

I pretty much run to the bathroom, tearing through the cabinet until I find the kit, then sprint back to the kitchen. Hunter is now sitting at the island, tea towel wrapped tightly around his hand. I open the kit, sitting beside him.

"Gimme your hand."

He glances at me with a furrowed brow, but stretches his hand toward me without question. Guess he finds me trustworthy. I'm starting to think Hunter is way too trusting. Or stupid. But I prefer the former. Cute, dumb guys are overrated.

I poke through the kit, pulling out some gauze, disinfectant spray, and tape. I clean the cut, peering at it carefully. Well, he's right…it's not too deep. But I'm still gonna bandage it up.

"You're pretty good at this," comments Hunter, breath ruffling my hair since I'm bent over his hand.

I shrug, putting the gauze in place and carefully wrapping the tape around it.

"I'm a bit of a klutz, so I've had to bandage myself up a lot."

"You don't look like a klutz."

My lips curl into a small smile. "Really?"

"You look graceful, actually. Like a dancer, or something."

My eyebrows shoot up, and I look up at him through my blond hair.

"That's a new one."

He gives me a sheepish grin, shrugging. "Sorry. I tend to say the first thing that comes to mind."

"I don't mind," I reply, cutting the tape. It's actually kind of nice being complimented (Egan wasn't much on those, unless it was about my ass or how good I was in bed).

I pack up the kit, shooting him a smile. "All done."

"Thanks." He flexes his hand, nodding. "Much better."

"Uh, do you need help cleaning up the, uh…blood?" I shoot a small grimace at the red splashes on the floor.

"Don't worry about it. I'll do it."

"Okay." I can handle small amounts of blood, but that much…yeah, not really. "I'll go put this away."

He nods and I quickly leave the kitchen, heading back to the bathroom. I feel kind of guilty. It's been less than an hour, and I've already caused my new roommate to cut himself. Next time I won't sneak up on him.

I briefly consider poking around the bathroom cabinets a bit, but decide that Hunter will get suspicious if I'm gone too long. So I just stow the kit under the sink and head back to the kitchen. I'm glad to see no trace of blood remains on the floor when I get back, and there's food waiting on the island. I grin, hopping up on my abandoned stool.

"This looks amazing," I say, staring at the omelettes in front of me.

He shoots me his crooked grin, and takes the seat next to me, dragging one of the omelettes towards him.

"Thanks. Cooking's one of my few talents."

I dunno, he looked like he could be talented in…other areas…

Oh, I have a dirty mind.

We eat in silence for awhile, him looking happy to sit and eat quietly, and me too busy stuffing my mouth to say anything. Finally, I finish my omelette, and glance at Hunter curiously.

"So, when did you put out that ad, anyway?"

He glances at me, taking a sip from his coffee mug. "Beginning of this week."

I'm a bit surprised. "Really? September's kind of a weird time to be putting out a roommate ad. Not many people moving at this time of year."

"Yeah, I wasn't really expecting much." He glances at me, strange eyes warm. "But I'm glad you moved in."

I snort, reaching for my own coffee mug. "We just met. How can you be glad already? For all you know, I'm a terrible roommate, leaving messes everywhere, smoking, bringing home strangers…"

"Do you do any of those things?" he asks, amused.

I smile lopsidedly. "No."

"Exactly. Then why shouldn't I be glad you moved in?"

I laugh, raising the coffee mug to my lips. After taking a long drink, I glance at him.

"So, why were you looking for a roommate? I mean, it looks like you've been living here for awhile by yourself, so it wasn't cuz you needed help paying the rent, was it?"

His cheeks redden slightly as his fingers play along his mug.

"Ah…no. I was just kinda lonely, y'know?" He shoots me an embarrassed look. "Is that stupid?"

I shake my head. "I know the feeling. It's probably why I stuck with Egan for so long."

"That your ex?"

I nod, sighing. Hunter frowns, resting his cheek on his hand.

"I don't get why he would cheat on you. You're hot, you have a good personality… He was an idiot."

I stare at him, shocked. Is he…flirting with me? Or just stating things?

"Uh, thanks," I say, not really sure how I'm supposed to react. "Although I can only agree with you on the 'Egan's an idiot' thing."

"What, you don't think you're hot or have a good personality?"

I roll my eyes. "I'm a jerk and I look average. You just don't know me well enough, yet."

He shrugs, obviously not agreeing. "If you say so."

"You'll see."

That line of conversation dies, much to my relief, and we finish eating. Hunter puts all of the dishes into the dishwasher, then pulls me into the living room.

"Come on, let's watch a movie. Unpacking can wait."

Looking up at his gorgeous, smiling face, I'm inclined to agree.

"Fine. But I get to choose the movie."

There are few things movies, pizza, and beer can't fix…even the pain of being dumped. Hunter and I end up spending the entire day watching movies and getting to know each other, only taking a break so he can get the pizza and do some errands while I unpack. When he gets back, we return to our spots in the living room, throw in another movie, and start digging into the food while tossing back beer. I don't even remember the last time I did this. I forgot how fun it was.

I finish off another bottle, setting it down on the coffee table. My eyes slide from the TV screen to Hunter, who's sprawled beside me. After awhile, I guess he feels me staring at him, and looks over. His usual crooked grin tilts his lips.

"Y'know, you have really nice eyes," he says, his words slurring just the tiniest bit.

I blink at him. "I do?"

He nods. "They're like…like a frost-covered ocean."

I snort in amusement. "That's a new one."

He shrugs. "It's true. They're not dark enough to look like the ocean…but they're not pale enough to look like frost. They're somewhere in between. So, a frost-covered ocean."

Hm, apparently Hunter rambles when he's been drinking.

"Well, I like your eyes, too," I reply, grinning kinda drunkenly. "They're all…cool and stuff."

He snickers, finishing off the beer in his hand. "Thanks."

"I'm serious!" I insist, leaning closer. "They look like…uh…well, I dunno, but they're awesome!"

He glances at me, raising an eyebrow as he smirks. Frustrated that I can't find the words I want, I quickly lean forward, pressing my lips against his eye (well, more like eyelid, cuz he closes it at the last second). I pull back, grinning.

"See? Your eyes are so cool I just wanna kiss 'em!"

He blinks at me in surprise, not moving. Then suddenly I find myself on my back, Hunter's lips on mine. I groan, wrapping my hands in his hair as he slides his tongue into my mouth. It's not a gentle kiss; it's passionate, lustful, and totally carnal…but it's exactly what I want.

When my shirt hits the floor, I push him back slightly, breathing heavy.

"Bedroom," I pant, bright eyes meeting his hooded ones.

He nods quickly, standing up and yanking me to my feet. A lot of things get knocked over on the way to his bedroom, but neither of us cares. We're too busy ripping off each other's clothes and trying not to trip.

We finally reach the room and fall onto the bed, limbs tangled and hot. Our last articles of clothing hit the floor, and Hunter straddles my waist, looking down at me with a feral grin, eyes burning.

Matching his grin with an equalling predatory one, I pull him down for another kiss.

Holy fuck, my head hurts.

My eyes slowly open, squinting against the light spilling into the room. Who the hell left the curtains open?

Holding up a hand to shield my sensitive eyes from the sun, I carefully sit up, wincing when pain shoots up my spine. Oh, owwww… What the hell happened last n?!


Lying next to me, hair messy and limbs tangled in the sheets, is Hunter.

It all comes rushing back to me and my face turns bright red. Oh, my God! I screwed Hunter! Several times! In one night!

Oh, my God.

Holding my breath, I slowly untangle myself from the sheets and slide from the bed, trying not to whimper when my whole body begins to ache. I don't even bother grabbing my boxers before sneaking out of the room and all but running for the bathroom. I close the door behind me and stumble over to the sink, peering into the mirror. I look just as mussed as Hunter, eyes wide, lips slightly parted, and cheeks flushed.

I look like someone's who's just had the best sex of his life.

Feeling horribly embarrassed for some reason (maybe cuz I just fucked my roommate on the first night of living here?!), I go over to the shower and get it going nice and hot. I quickly jump in, wanting to erase all signs of last night. I can't believe I did that. It was great, yeah, but I just broke up with my boyfriend of three years. This must be what they call a rebound.

After spending a long time in the shower, I finally turn off the water, letting out a sigh. Well. Time to face the consequences.

Eyes downcast, I pull open the shower door and step out, hand reaching for a towel. It wraps around one and tugs it closer so I can dry my face. Pulling it away to wrap around my body, I look up and freeze. Two amber-rimmed green eyes gaze back at me, filled with some identified emotion.

We stare at each other, neither one saying anything. Finally, I clear my throat, and offer a strained smile.

"Uh…hi, Hunter…"

His lips tilt into a smirk.

"Hullo, Ally."

"I, uh, just had a shower…" I comment lamely.

His face is amused.

"I can see that."

"So, uh…yeah…I'm just gonna go, uh…put on some clothes now…"

He doesn't try and stop me as I hurry past him, face on fire once again.

Once I'm safe in my room, I slump against the door, dropping my face in my hand. I am an idiot. A complete and utter idiot. Could I have been anymore awkward?

I sigh, trudging over to my closet. I guess it doesn't help that the next time he saw me, I was naked. Not that it should be a big deal, considering what we did last night.

But know what the worst part is? I kinda wanna do it again.

After dressing slowly (I am still in pain), I return the towel to the bathroom and head for the kitchen. I'm met with the smell of coffee and I instantly brighten. Hunter's already seated at the island, nursing a mug. Another one rests across from him, and I happily sit in front of it.

"Thank God," I mutter, almost to myself. "My head is killing me."

"Y'know, coffee isn't actually good for curing hangovers…" Hunter points out with amusement.

"I don't care," I reply, taking a giant gulp. "As long as my body thinks it is."

We sit in peace for a bit, drinking our coffee, until Hunter speaks.

"So, about last night…"

My mood instantly darkens as my cheeks flare up again at the memory.

"What about it?" I ask, refusing to meet his eyes.

He shrugs. "Just wanted to make sure you were okay with it."

"Why wouldn't I be?" I say quickly, fingers tightening around my mug.

"Well, you just got out of a relationship…" He shrugs again, smile appearing. "As long as you're not regretting it."

Well, I'm not regretting the actual event…I'm just regretting that it happened the day after I got dumped.

But I'm not gonna tell him that.

I force a grin, shaking my head. "Nope, no regrets."

He nods, standing up. "Good. I'm gonna go grab a shower, so feel free to do whatever."


I watch him put his mug in the sink and leave the kitchen, heading down the hall. Only when I hear the bathroom door close do I groan and let my head hit the surface of the island.

I am an idiot.

It's been a week since the, er, incident, and neither Hunter nor I have made any more mention of it. Me, because I still can't believe it happened, and him…well, I don't know. He's probably over it already.

I finish buttoning the blue shirt and adjust the mannequin so its head isn't turned around anymore (don't want to creep out the customers, after all…), then jump out of the window display. It's the end of my shift, which means I can finally go home. Unfortunately, mine is also the last shift, so I have to clean up before I can leave. Oh well. Not like there's much to do.

I grab the broom and finishing sweeping the main aisle, heading back towards the check-out desk. Tucking the broom underneath, I straighten and peer around the store. Everything looks okay…

I stretch with a yawn and head for the door. I can finally go home.

I lock up the store and start heading down the street, hands in my pockets. I really like living with Hunter, despite the slight awkwardness derived from that first night. At least I can blame it on alcohol.

As I'm walking, I happen to glance up, and freeze. Oh, my God. What the hell is he doing here?!

He apparently spots me, too, because he stops, staring at me.

"Ally?" he asks in surprise.

My eyes narrow as I nod at him. "Egan."

He scratches his head, awkwardly. "So, guess you found a place, huh?"

A thin smile stretches my lips. "A pretty great place, actually. Great roommate, too."

He looks surprised at that. I snort silently. I bet he thought I'd come running to him and beg him to take me back. Yeah, right.

"So, uh…are you two, uh…"

My smile widens. "Dating? Fucking? Definitely. This guy's sex on legs."

His mouth falls open a bit, but I guess he can't think of anything to say to that. Even after all these years, he can't tell when I'm lying. Okay, so I was only lying about the dating part…and we only screwed once…but that's totally beside the point.

Egan gives me a tight smile. "Well, glad things are working out for you."

I grin. "Thank you. Anyway, I gotta go. Hunter's waiting for me."

My ex gives me a curt nod, obviously trying to control his scowl. Satisfied, I wave and continue walking, my mood definitely brighter. There is nothing more fun than annoying an ex. I think I can call that closure.

It doesn't take long to reach the fancy building, since I work at a clothing store in the rich part of town…which is right near the condo. I wave at Maria as I pass the front desk and she gives me a small smile, before going back to whatever she was doing. I head for the elevators, grinning at the elevator guy when the doors open.

"Hey, Ally," he greets, dimples appearing in his freckled cheeks.

"Hi, Steve."

"How was your day?"

I shrug. "Fine. Work's pretty busy."

He nods. "And how are things with Hunter?"

I sigh, running a hand through my blond hair. "Complicated."

Steve gives me a sympathetic grin. "Yeah, Hunter's a complicated guy."

A short laugh escapes me. "No kidding." The door dings and slides open, signalling my arrival on the sixth floor. I step out, waving at Steve. "See you later."

He grins. "Bye."

I head down the hall to my door, digging out the key from my pocket and stick it in the lock. When I turn the handle, I'm assaulted by the smell of food. My stomach grumbles and I quickly kick off my shoes and shut the door, heading eagerly to the kitchen.

"Hey, Hunter," I greet, stepping up beside him and peering at what he's doing. "What's for supper?"

He glances at me, crooked grin appearing. "Stir fry."

"Awesome. I'll be right back; I'm gonna get changed."

He nods, so I leave the kitchen and go to my room. It's messier than it was when I first moved in, but I've never been the neatest person. I mean, I clean up after myself and everything, but I have a habit of just tossing my clothes on the floor when I get home from work. Cuz after a day of hanging up and folding clothes, I just really don't want to do it when I'm home.

I drag on a pair of pyjama pants and an old T-shirt, kicking my work clothes to the side, then shuffle back out into the hallway. A quick trip to the bathroom, then I'm on my way back to the kitchen.

"Do you need help with anything?" I ask, watching as Egan stirs some vegetables in a wok.

"Nope, everything's under control. It'll be ready soon."

"Okay." Feeling kind of useless, I perch at the island, resting my chin on my propped up hand. "So, how was your day?"

"Good. Got a lot done."

Hunter's a writer, so he works from home. Apparently he's pretty good and has published a lot of books (under a pseudonym, which is why I haven't heard of him). I'm jealous of him; he doesn't have to put up with posh customers all day.

"How about you?"

His voice pulls me out of my reverie, and I glance up, mind quickly returning to our conversation.

"Oh, it was fine." A small smirk tugs at my lips. "I ran into my ex on the way home."

He glances over his shoulder at me in surprise. "Really? What happened?"

I shrug, trailing my finger along the granite counter-top. "Nothing really. He seemed surprised I was actually able to continue my life without him." I grin. "I told him we were dating."

"Me and you?" Hunter looks thoughtful for a minute. "Y'know…that's not a bad idea."

I pause, staring. "What?"

"You, me. Dating. I think it's a good idea."

"But…I just got out of a relationship…" I mumble in disbelief.

"Well, if you're not comfortable with it…"

I bite my lip, looking away. Would it really be so bad to go out with Hunter? He is a lot better than Egan…he's hot…he has a great personality…we've already slept together…and I really do miss having someone who's way more than a friend…

I sigh, looking down.

"I think I'd like to go out with you…but it's just really soon, y'know?"

He gives me an understanding smile. "It's okay, Ally. I get it."

I still can't help but feel bad. "Sorry…"

"Don't worry about it. Now, eat up. I bet you haven't had a decent meal all day."

I look at the plate of food he slides in front of me, my mouth instantly watering. The awkwardness from our conversation is instantly forgotten as I dig in. I am starving.

Hunter sits across from me, watching in amusement as I devour the meal.

"I take it it's good, then?" he asks, eating his at a much more civil pace.

I nod eagerly, swallowing. "You're an awesome cook. But I always feel bad, you always feeding me…you should let me cook sometime."

He shrugs. "I don't mind cooking for you. But if you really want to sometime, I won't stop you."

I nod. "Okay. Then I'll cook dinner tomorrow."


We lapse into silence again, the only sound our chopsticks tapping against the plates (yes, chopsticks. Hunter says they make stir fry taste better and won't let me use a fork).

"We never talked about rent," I say, suddenly remembering.

Hunter glances up, fixing me with his stunning eyes. "Actually, I own this place. There is no rent."

I stare at him. "What? I mean, I know you mentioned you didn't need help with rent, but you never said you owned this place! Then why'd you want a roommate? I know you said you got lonely, but…" My eyes narrow suspiciously. "It isn't like one of those live-in escort situations, is it?"

He laughs, way too amused. "God, no! I was just bored by myself, and I figured since I had an extra room, it might as well be put to use."

"Ever try finding yourself a lover or something and have them move in?"

He shrugs, glancing at me meaningfully. "I like this better."

My eyes widen slightly at his meaning, and I look down quickly, my cheeks flushing. I could practically cut the sexual tension between us with a knife. Or a chopstick in this case, considering Hunter won't let me use proper cutlery.

Then as quickly as it came, the moment is gone, and the brunet starts talking about some book he's read recently. Needless to say, I welcome the change in topic.

Steve wasn't kidding when he said Hunter's a complicated man.

Why am I so warm…?

I shift slightly, frowning when I can't move. Confused, I force my eyes open…and find myself looking at a chest (a very nice one, mind you). My gaze slowly slides up, landing on Hunter's sleeping face. Then I realize we're both completely naked.

Ugh, déjà-vu…

I don't know how it happened. After supper, we were just sitting around on the couch. Then the next thing I knew, we were making out. But instead of moving to the bedroom this time, we just did it on the couch. The very expensive leather couch, might I add. I should point out that leather and two hot, sweaty men do not mix (well, unless you're into that kinky stuff, of course). It was not exactly the most comfortable place, but I didn't care at the time; Hunter has that effect on me.

But the point is, I slept with Hunter. Again. In the same week. After telling him it was too soon for me to get into a new relationship. But does this count as a relationship?

Hunter shifts, strong arms tightening around me as he buries his face in my hair. I wince a bit at suddenly being crushed, but relax a moment later. Egan never held me like this. I'm surprised he even stayed in the same bed with me after a good round of screwing; he was probably too lazy to move afterwards. Anyway, it's actually kind of…nice. I dunno, I feel really safe right now. God, I am so lame.


I blink, craning my head to look at his face. He's still asleep. So he's dreaming about me?


Something nudges against my head, and I lift my face to find out what it is…only to be met with a pair of very soft, slightly chapped lips. At first they hit my nose, but they eventually slide down to press against my mouth. The kiss is gentle at first, barely more than a peck. Then it becomes more heated, forceful. His tongue pushes into my mouth, tangling with mine as we fight for dominance. I groan, wrapping my fingers in his long hair and pressing closer to him, insanely turned on. In the back of my mind, I'm kinda ashamed that I'm so damn easy around him…but at the moment, the larger part of my brain is too focused on the feeling of his tongue in my mouth and the hand moving down my spine to cup my ass.

I'm suddenly flipped on my back, and Hunter looms above me, mouth moving from my lips to trail down my neck. I gasp as his teeth close around my nipple, my nails digging into his scalp. He's already figured out my sensitive spots, and he's driving me crazy.

The hand on my ass moves, and I shiver as a finger slides inside me. A second one is added soon after, making me whimper. The digits push deeper, then crook, brushing against something inside.

"Oh, God, Hunter," I moan, my back arching. "Please…oh, God."

Fuck, he's got me begging…

His other hand slides down my back and lifts up my hips. Taking the hint, I wrap my legs around his waist, shuddering when his fingers shift inside me. This situation has gotten way out of control.

His fingers slide out, being replaced quickly by something much different. I hiss as he starts to push into me, and it's only then that I realize he's doing this without lube or a condom. Of course, by now it's too late to stop him, and I just have to relax as much as possible and try to ignore the pain. He'd better not be diseased. If he gives me an STD, I swear to God I'll cut his dick off and feed it to him.

I grit my teeth, grabbing his head and yanking it down so I can fiercely kiss him. Maybe that'll help distract from the excruciating pain in my ass.

Finally, he's all the way in, and I break away from our kiss to take some deep breaths, still trying to relax. God, I'm gonna hurt later.

"Okay," I breathe, lying back and squeezing my eyes closed. "Do it."

He starts moving, and just as I thought, it hurts like a bitch. He's got one arm wrapped around my waist, supporting me, and the other is braced beside my head, so at least I can just lie here until the pain fades a bit. He goes slowly at first, letting my body get used to him, but it's not long before he starts going faster. And it's then that he manages to hit that spot again, pulling a groan from me, the pain quickly pushed back to the mind. This is why I have sex.

"Right there," I moan, shifting to make sure he hits it again. "Oh, God, right there."

He hits it again and another pleased sound escapes me.

"Faster," I pant, my hand latching onto the arm beside my head, the other gripping the couch cushion.

He obliges, increasing his pace and practically sending me into convulsions. I manage to match my movements with his, my legs tightening around his waist as I force him to push into me harder and harder. I turn into such a slut during sex.

We keep going like this until finally he pushes me over the edge and I come with a scream, my muscles tightening. He's not far behind me, and when he's done, he collapses on top of me, our slicked skin sliding against each other. We're both panting and exhausted, and he's really heavy, but I don't care. That was fucking amazing.

"So that wasn't a dream…"

I turn my head to look at him, eyes glazed. "Huh?"

He lifts his head up, peering at me through his hair. "I thought I was asleep."

My brow furrows in confusion. "Asleep? I kinda doubt you could've done that if you were asleep."

"Oh." He blinks, dropping his head down again, eyes fixed on mine. A sleepy smile curls his lips. "You're gorgeous, you know that?"

My face flushes. "No, I'm not."

He burrows his face is my neck, mumbling, "Yes, you are."

I sigh, wrapping an arm around him and closing my eyes.

"Whatever you say."

After a moment, he asks, "D'you want a shower?"

I grimace, my body aching at the thought of standing up.

"I don't think I can walk right now…"

"How 'bout a bath, then?"

I consider, then nod. "Okay. But I'm gonna need help getting there."


He carefully pulls out of me, pressing a kiss to my lips, and plants his feet on the ground. Once he's standing, he turns to me and slides his arms under my body, lifting me up bridal style. I cringe, curling into his chest.

"Sorry," he mutters, planting a kiss on my forehead.

"'s'okay," I mumble, pressing my cheek against his chest.

He's extra careful, carrying me to the bathroom. When we get there, he sets me on the edge of the bathtub, and even though it hurts to sit, I don't complain. I watch as he moves to the taps, turning them on and dumping some bubbles into the pounding water. For awhile, that's the only sound in the large bathroom.

I'm really confused. I know we're not dating…but right now, we're definitely acting like it. Roommates don't do this kind of thing. Sure, maybe they'll screw around a bit, but then do something like this? I mean, he treats me like…a lover. But we aren't!

…are we?

No, we aren't. I told him I wasn't ready to start dating again.

Then why does this keep happening?

I jump as hands slide across my skin, picking me up again. My icy eyes fly up to Hunter's face, and he smiles at me.

"Alright, I'm putting you into the water now."

I nod, letting him set me down. Normally I'd be annoyed at being treated like some kid…but right now, I'm thankful. Hunter's probably feeling guilty at causing me pain (he really shouldn't, since that was a helluva lot of fun). But whatever. He's way nicer than Egan ever was.

I'm glad to find that the water is the perfect temperature when I sink in, not burning my skin at all.

"This is great," I murmur, leaning back against the side of the tub with my eyes closed. They open when I hear a splash, and I watch in surprise as Hunter slides in. I didn't realize we were sharing a bath.

"Uh…are you sure there's enough room?" I ask, watching the brunet arrange his limbs around mine.

"Are you kidding?" he laughs, grinning at me. "This tub's massive."

Well, I can't argue with that.

He frowns at the expression on my face.

"Why do you look so nervous? Didn't you ever take baths with your ex?"

I snort at that, rolling my eyes. "Egan? He was hardly the type to do that sorta thing. The only way we'd take a bath together is if it involved fucking."

"Yet you went out with him for three years." His tone is kind of disapproving.

"Yeah, well, I never said it my smartest decision," I mutter, eyes dropping down to the water. "It's not like I knew he was a complete asshole when I started going out with him."

Hunter leans forward, touching my knee. "Hey, sorry, I didn't mean it like that."

I shrug. "Don't worry about it." I run my hands through the bubbles, glancing at him through the damp strands of my longish hair. "What about you? Any interesting past relationships?"

He chews his lip, strange eyes meeting mine. "Not really. I've had a couple here and there that lasted for a few months, but nothing really interesting or serious."

I raise an eyebrow. "So, what, you're a playboy, then? Or afraid of commitment?"

Please tell me I haven't moved in with a manwhore. That's all I need: wanting to date a guy who will just toss me aside when he's had his fill. I've had enough of that with Egan.

Hunter shakes his head, looking at me seriously. "Neither. I just haven't found anyone I want to spend the rest of my life with, yet."

I snort. "Are you serious? What kind of line is that?"

He leans closer, eyebrows raised. "Isn't that what relationships are all about?"

I shrug, frowning. "How would I know? You know how mine ended."

"Which is why I think you should move on."

My frown deepens. "I already told you it's too soon."

Yet I'll still sleep with him. I guess that makes me a hypocrite.

From the look on his face, he seems to be thinking the same thing. But he doesn't say anything and slides back to his side of the tub, offering me a small smile.

I have a feeling this conversation is gonna be coming up again. But I'm quite happy to let it die for now.

I think Hunter and I have become fuck-buddies. I'm not totally sure, but we seem to be doing it a lot lately. After that whole bath thing two weeks ago, it's like we both decided that if we weren't going to date, we might as well just screw around. Don't ask me how that works; I don't understand the logic myself. But there we go. An outside observer would say we're a couple, and I think we basically are…just unofficially. I know Hunter still wants us to actually date, and I feel bad about it, cuz I'm the only one stopping it from happening. And I'm not even fully sure why anymore. God, I'm an idiot. I don't think I'm still hung up over Egan. But maybe I am? Fuck, I don't know. But the point is, Hunter and I do everything a couple would: we fuck, make each other dinner, hang out watching TV, go out and do stuff, and tell each other practically everything. I can't even imagine doing this with anyone else.

So what the hell am I so afraid of?

"The thing about Georgette is that she's…she's a widespread kind of woman, you know?"

Hunter's words pull me back from pondering the absurdity of our situation. Georgette…? Oh,right.

I raise an eyebrow at him, dipping my fry in my ketchup. "Are you calling your cousin a slut?"

"Well, I was actually calling her fat, but that works, too."

I snort, stuffing the fry in my mouth. "I take it you and Georgette don't get along."

"Oh, no! She's my favourite cousin!" Hunter assures me, snagging one of my fries.

A disbelieving eyebrow shoots up. "You call your favourite cousin a fat slut?"

He shrugs, the grin that I'm starting to consider my own appearing on his face. "Well, she calls me worse."

"Uh huh." I pick up another fry, then glance at him. "So, did you say she's coming here for Thanksgiving?"

He nods, stealing another fry. "Every year she stays with me. She doesn't get along with her parents, and mine are dead, so we figure the best way to spend holidays is with each other."

I stare at him in surprise. This is the first time I've heard him talk about his parents…

"Your parents are dead?" I ask, although he just told me they were. "What happened?"

He shrugs, chewing on his fry. "Got into a car accident a few years ago. My aunt and uncle took me in, and when I was old enough, I bought this place with my inheritance."

"Oh, uh…I'm sorry." I feel kind of guilty, prying into his past.

"Eh, it's no big deal. It happened awhile ago." He leans his elbows on the table, grinning suddenly. "There's a new restaurant that opened not far from here. It looks good. Wanna go tonight?"

Confused by the sudden topic change, I blink. "Uh…sure?"

His amazing eyes sparkle behind his glasses as his grin widens. "Awesome. It's a date."

There's that word again: 'date'.

I give him a kind of uneasy smile. "Yeah."

Satisfied, he steals more of my fries. I sigh silently to myself. I really need to sort myself out.

"Hey, you okay? You're looking kinda sulky."

My head snaps up, my wide eyes meeting Hunter's concerned ones. I quickly force a smile.

"Nope! I'm fine. Just thinking is all."

"Alright." Yawning, he stands up, pulling his hair back into a ponytail. "Well, I gotta go get some work done. You gonna be okay on your own?"

I roll my eyes, smile turning real. "I think I can keep myself entertained."

He shoots me a lecherous grin and wink, obviously putting a dirty meaning behind 'entertained'. "Don't have too much fun without me."

I groan, dropping my face in my palm. "Just go already, you perv."

He leaves the room, laughing, and leaving me to find a way to keep busy until our 'date' tonight.

I'm gonna ignore how excited that thought makes me.

The restaurant is a cozy little Italian place just down the street, really romantic. Looking around as we're seated at a table for two in the corner, I notice that we are surrounded by couples.

I think Hunter did this on purpose.

"Hey, choose whatever you want," Hunter says, picking up the menu. "It's on me."

"I can pay for myself," I reply, raising an eyebrow.

"Don't worry about it. My treat. Celebrating you moving in."

"I moved in, like, three weeks ago," I point out, peering at him over my menu.

He shrugs indifferently. "Whatever. I'm still paying."

I sigh, rolling my eyes, and let a smile slide onto my face. "Fine."

A victorious grin is flashed my way, making me blush and duck behind my menu. Goddammit, why does he have that effect on me?! He just smiled at me!

I am so freaking lame.

We end up ordering a basket of garlic bread and a bottle of wine to share, the price of which makes my eyes widen. The fact that Hunter isn't fazed at all just shows how rich he is…or how stupid. But other than wanting to go out with me, he's proven to be pretty smart, so I'm gonna go with the former.

Hunter grabs the wine bottle when it arrives and pours me a glass, reminding me again how date-y this is. I mean, Italian restaurant? Wine? Two of us in a secluded corner? If that isn't a real date, I don't know what is. This means we're pretty much officially a real couple…minus the acknowledgement.

"How 'bout a toast?" Hunter suggests.

"Uh…to what?"

"To…us being…roommates?"

I snort, shaking my head. "You are so lame."

He grins. "I try."

Rolling my eyes, I lift my glass and tap it against his for the toast, laughing the whole time. This is just such a weird situation. But despite that, I'm having fun.

Our food arrives a little while later and conversation turns to the standard banter about the world, music, politics, and weather. And unlike conversations with Egan, ours doesn't end in a fight.

Y'know, ever since the break-up, I've been realizing how much dating Egan really sucked.

Geez, I really am an idiot.

"Let's get dessert," says Hunter awhile later when we finish eating. His face lights up when his eyes land on the dessert menu.

I lean closer, peering at it. "Oh, they have truffle cake. That stuff's great."

"Wanna split one?"

Well, I am kinda full…

"Yeah, sure."


He waves the waitress over and orders the cake, pouring us more wine when she leaves.

"You trying to get me drunk?" I joke, picking up my full glass.

Hunter smirks, raising his glass to his lips. "Maybe."

I raise an eyebrow at that as I take a sip of wine, the heady taste settling on my tongue. I wonder if he's kidding…

Our cake arrives sooner than I expected, along with two forks. Hunter eagerly grabs one and takes a bite, moaning deep in his throat.

"This stuff's awesome."

"Told you," I say, scooping up some truffle for myself. I have to fight from making a noise like Hunter when the chocolate melts on my tongue, mixing with the taste of wine.

"You look like you're having an orgasm," comments Hunter, watching with amusement.

"Shut up," I retort, making a face at him.

His voice becomes husky as his eyes darken slightly. "It's hot."

My face instantly turns red, and I quickly take another bite of cake while I think of something to say to that. Nothing comes to mind.

"So, uh, how's your writing coming?" I ask, abruptly changing the topic. This whole thing is already date-y enough without him flirting with me.

He has a knowing smile, but he goes with the topic change anyway.

"It's going. Having some trouble getting the plot down."

I nod, not actually all that interested. I mean, sure, I brought it up and normally I'd be asking loads of questions…but he's got me off balance tonight.

Gah, this is so awkward.

Glancing at the plate, I notice a lot of chocolate sauce left over. Well, don't want that to go to waste…

I trail a finger through it, getting as much as possible before raising the digit to my mouth. But before it can even touch my tongue, my wrist is snagged and dragged across the table. I look up, meeting Hunter's eyes as he slowly wraps his lips around my chocolate-covered finger, his tongue gently trailing up it. My breath hitches and I have bite my lip to keep from making any noise that would attract the attention of anyone nearby. It's really difficult, especially when his tongue is moving like that. Oh, God.

I can barely keep the moan from escaping as my eyes flutter closed. I never realized my fingers were so sensitive…

Too soon the warmth slides away from the digit, and cool air hits it. I slowly open my eyes, staring at Hunter. He's watching me with a dark, heated gaze, lips slightly parted. My icy orbs follow his tongue as it flicks out and runs across his lips, catching any chocolate he might have missed. A shiver runs down my spine, my heart beating faster.

I am in so deep and I don't think I'm getting out anytime soon.

Once again, I have the last shift of the day, which means I'm once again alone in an empty store. I'm pretty sure there should be someone else here, but they always make me close up by myself. Oh well. I don't mind.

Things seem to be getting more serious between me and Hunter. Ever since our 'date', I keep catching him watching me when we're eating or watching TV. And I keep finding myself thinking about him more and more, especially when I'm at work. It's kind of distracting, but I just can't help it. He is always on my mind.

It's driving me nuts.

So I think it's about time I did something. This whole month, I've been avoiding an actual real relationship with Hunter, but for what reason? Because I got dumped by my boyfriend? Bullshit. Egan was a jackass and him dumping me was the best thing that could have happened. Because I'm not attracted to Hunter? Also bullshit. If I weren't, then why the hell would I be screwing around with him? Then that just leaves me being afraid. But of what? Moving on? Making myself vulnerable?

That's it, isn't it? By going out with Hunter, actually going out with him, I'd be opening myself up to possible future rejection. That's what happened with Egan. I made myself vulnerable, let him string me along for three years, and now I'm scared of that happening again.

But that's the thing. Hunter isn't like Egan. Unlike my ex, my roommate actually cares about me. He doesn't sneak around with other guys, he doesn't lie to me, he doesn't treat me like some possession. Sure, he may not be perfect, but he's pretty damn close in my eyes. I don't care that we've known each other for barely a month; this has been the best few weeks of my life.

So I guess it's up to me to make the next move, then, isn't it? Hunter's already made it clear where he stands in this little fucked-up relationship we have, so I don't have to worry about that. He's just waiting for me to finally get myself sorted out and realize what a good thing I have going with him. And honestly? I think I've made him wait long enough.

A smile touches my lips as I finish fixing the last of the displays. Who knew my rebound would turn out to be better than my three-year relationship?

Hunter had better be pretty damn happy about this.

I stretch my arms above my head and run my hands through my hair, icy blue eyes flicking around the half-lit store. Just gotta fix up the mannequins, then I can go home.

I walk over to the window display, hopping up onto the small platform. Looks like someone added a new one, but it's difficult to see in the dim light. Eh, whatever.

I step closer, hands reaching for the fabric of its shirt, but am suddenly grabbed. My startled scream is muffled by a pair of lips on mine, and a tongue which seems to know my mouth a bit too well. Strong arms tightly wrap around me, warm hands sliding up the back of my shirt and moulding to my form. My hands are uselessly pinned between us, fingers splayed against the 'mannequin's' chest. And all that's going through my head is: "What. The. Hell."

Just when I feel like I'm going to pass out from lack of oxygen, my mouth is freed and I greedily gulp in air, wide eyes staring at the face looking down into mine. Shock hits me.


He grins, fingers running down my spine and raising shivers.

"Hey, Ally."

My eyebrows dip in complete confusion, my brain still a bit numb from that sudden kiss.

"What are you doing here?"

He smirks, nuzzling my hair.

"I missed you, so I figured I'd pick you up from work. Maybe we could go out for dinner or something."

I stare at him, laughter escaping me. "So you decided to pretend you were a mannequin and molest me?"

He shrugs, leaning his forehead against mine. "Seemed like the thing to do."

I laugh again, smile spreading across my face as I shake my head.

"You're crazy."

"Maybe. But there's another reason I wanted to see you."

I pull back to look at his face. "Oh? And what's that?"

"Look, I know you said you aren't ready for another relationship, and I don't want to pressure you, but…" He sighs, eyes wide behind his glasses. "Ally, you…you…" He sighs again, frustrated, before trying again. "You are to me as…as eucalyptus is to a koala."

I just look at him, eyebrows raised. That's what he came up with?

"So I'm like a drug?" I ask, dryly.

Hunter nods quickly, relief at me understanding flooding his face.

"Yes! I can't stop thinking about you! Every single waking moment revolves around thoughts about you! It's driving me insane!"

Where is he going with this?


"You better be! This has seriously been affecting my job. Every time I sit down to write, I end up writing about you." His eyes bore into mine, expression serious. "But there is a solution…"

"And what's that?"

His voice lowers slightly, becoming more intimate. "Let's make our relationship real. Enough of this screwing around. I know you wanted to wait, but I don't know if I can."

I stare up at him for a minute, thoughts racing. This is exactly what I was waiting for. And I'm not gonna let this chance pass.

Lip caught between my teeth, I look into his eyes, resolving myself.

"Okay," I murmur softly.

He blinks, momentarily thrown off-balance. "What?"

"Okay," I repeat, smiling nervously. "Let's turn this screwed up thing we've got going on into something more normal."

"Seriously?" he asks, almost like he doesn't quite believe me.

I nod. "Positive."

The crooked grin I've gotten so used to splits his face as his arms tighten around me and he leans closer to plant a kiss on my lips. When he pulls back, his earlier words return to me. Deciding that it's my turn to be corny, I grin cheekily at him.

"If you're my koala, then I'll be your eucalyptus vine forever."

"…eucalyptus is a tree."