He wished he could wait, but he couldn’t. Come morning, it would be too late.



Apparently, people didn’t have manners anymore.

Who the hell played doorbell ditch at just after midnight? The neighborhood kids were running wild, spray painting buildings and sticking knives in people’s tires, breaking windows and being a general nuisance, but no one had bothered to ring her bell in the middle of the night.

Teela groaned and slammed her pillow over her face. She’d just started to drift off. She’d felt tired at nine and gone to bed but tossed and turned for hours. Fucking murphy’s law.

The bell rang again and Teela threw her pillow back. “That’s fucking it,” she ground out. She threw back the quilt and even though she was wearing a faded nightgown with a huge cathead on the front, even though it rode up indecently high, she stomped down the hall, down the stairs, and to the door.

She threw it open, doubting very much that there would be anyone there. She expected to see a few teenage punks hoofing it through the parking lot, laughing and yelling obscenities over their shoulder.

She let out a gasp and had to throw a hand out to brace herself when she realized it wasn’t kids playing doorbell ditch at all. No. It was worse. So much worse. She’d take the spray paint, knife wielding, rude-ass teens any day. Anything would have been better than The Troll. Apparently, he didn’t turn back into some other form at the stroke of twelve.

Unfortunately, he was still just as deceptively handsome in a plaid button down and a pair of faded jeans as he was in a suit. His soft dark hair had lost its stiff hold from during the day and fell in waves over his forehead. His crystal blue eyes sparkled like it wasn’t pitch black outside. He actually gave her a smile that was half-genuine, half-forced, but the genuine part of it tugged at parts of Teela. A strange ache developed in her chest and the hairs on the backs of her arms stood on end.

“What- what are you doing here?” she managed to stammer.

Was it wrong that her tongue was so tied in knots she couldn’t use it to form speech, but she imagined doing a hundred other things with it- to The Troll? It’s definitely wrong that I want to know what he tastes like. Probably like slime. He’d definitely taste like slime. Old, drippy, bridge slime.

The Troll’s very un-hairy, very un-troll-like hand shot out and produced a white envelope. “I wanted to bring your cheque. I added a small severance package, even though you quit on your own accord. Call it my better nature or my poor judgement. I thought you could use it.”

Teela’s lungs deflated. It was hard for her to form a coherent thought, she was so stunned. “I- uh- er- it’s midnight,” she stammered again. “After midnight. Kind of a weird time to be dropping off cheques. You could have just mailed it. Like everyone else.”

Ross’ lids lowered over his incredible eyes- no, not his incredible eyes, his filthy, beady, troll eyes, like he was trying to find an ounce of patience. “Okay, okay, you got me,” he sighed. “I’m not here about the cheque. I could have just mailed it.”

“Obviously.” Teela crossed her arms, but then aware that her nightgown was pretty much sheer and showing most of her legs including the tops of her thighs and that the motion was just pulling it upwards to make it shorter, she quickly dropped her arms back to her sides. She wanted to hightail it back upstairs and throw on a robe, but she swallowed hard and stood her ground.

She wasn’t scared of The Troll. She certainly wasn’t unnerved by the way his eyes grazed her bare legs, then shot to her breasts, then rose to her face. She didn’t notice the slight redness flushing his cheeks.

Okay, so she noticed. And it did strange, shivery, sinful things to her lady bits and her nipples.

“Obviously,” Ross repeated. He shifted from one canvas shoe to another, which was a strangely human thing to do. Probably the most human thing she’d seen him do ever. And he was wearing canvas shoes. And jeans. And a plaid shirt. Not the expensive shoes and shirt that gave him the appearance of being completely untouchable.

“So- uh- thanks. For the cheque.” Teela reached out and took it with a shaking hand. She quickly snapped it back to her side.

She went to shut the door, but Ross’ foot shot out and he actually stopped it. No one had ever done that to her before and it caught her even further off guard. Her eyes flew to his face when she realized just how he close he was. And that he smelled good. God, he smelled really good. He seemed bigger up close, broader, more sinful and sensual. A shiver skittered up her spine.

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