“I don’t see the problem, Tinkerbelle,” he said, placing the small cup of medicine on the sink counter so that he could cross his arms over his chest and glare down at her, looking every bit the intimidating Marine that he probably once was. The fact that he was naked except for the towel wrapped around his hips didn’t take away from the effect. She could appreciate the concern and bossiness over her well-being, she really could, but that didn’t change the fact that she shouldn’t take the medicine. “Look,” she said, sighing heavily as she reached up and pushed back her hair, somehow resisting the urge to scratch her face and neck as she did it, “I really appreciate what you did for me tonight. I do, but I don’t need any medicine. I’m fine.” He didn’t say anything as he continued to stare down at her. Not one to let some guy intimidate her, she stared back, fully expecting him to back down. So when a minute or so passed and he still kept that glare up, she couldn’t help but shift nervously even as she struggled to hold her own in this contest of wills. She would not lose, damn it! “I-I don’t need it,” she heard herself stammering nervously before she could stop herself. Instead of arguing with her, he simply continued to glare. “I’m not even really that itchy,” she rambled on nervously, absently scratching her right arm as she tried not to squirm beneath that glare that was actually starting to freak her out a little bit. “I doubt that it would help,” she continued to ramble on. “I’ll be fine in the morning,” she added a moment later, needing to break the silence and hoping that he’d stop glaring at her. When he still didn’t speak or move for that matter, she added, “I react badly to medicine.” An understatement, definitely an understatement. Instead of asking her to elaborate, he just kept on glaring down at her until she couldn’t take it any longer and finally blurted out, “Fine!” She grabbed the small cup of medicine, downed it in one sip and slammed the small disposable plastic cup on the counter. Furious that she’d let the bastard intimidate her, she stormed past him, barely aware that he’d stepped out of her way and kept on going. She decided that it was for that best that she didn’t look back, because if she saw even a hint of a smug smile on his face she was going to go outside, scoop up a handful of that white slime and shove it down his throat. *-*-*-* “Let the dream go, buddy, cause it’s not happening,” he absently told the erection making his shorts a little too snug as he searched through the kitchen cabinet by the sink, looking for something to eat and distract himself from the memory of running his hands over Tinkerbelle’s incredibly lush body. With a snort of disgust, he slammed the cabinet door shut and moved onto the refrigerator as he cursed himself for reacting this way, especially over a woman who hated him. He didn’t need this complication in his life, but he’d be damned if he could think of anything else right now. That last two hours had been…. Pure hell for him. He’d never been more terrified in his life. Several times he’d debated calling 911, but the fear that she’d take a turn for the worse during the time that it would have taken to get to his cell phone and make the call had kept his ass in the shower with her. Not knowing what else to do, he’d let his training take over and he’d handled her the way he would have if she’d been one of his men. It had been a good plan, a solid plan, but there had just been one small problem with it. She wasn’t one of his men. Tinkerbelle was soft, curvy and without question a woman. So, he’d tried a different approach, one that should have worked, especially with her. He’d thought of her as a little sister since she gave off that little sister vibe, but the moment that he’d hooked his fingers in her panties and started to pull them off all brotherly thoughts vanished and were replaced by thoughts that had him gritting his teeth and calling himself a bastard. Thank fucking God for the pain in his shoulder and hands. It had kept him focused and helped his cock behave since the last thing that either one of them needed was his damn cock getting in the way. He only wished that his damn vision could have been fucked up as well. It would have made things a hell of a lot easier for him and spared him from fantasizing about Tinkerbelle’s small, but oh so fucking perfect body for years to come. The image of her pert little heart shaped ass, perfect breasts tipped with baby pink nipples and soft blonde curls between her legs that he’d barely stopped himself from running his fingers through was going to haunt him for the rest of his life. It was only the reminder that she hated him that had kept him from trying for something more. He wasn’t foolish enough to think that after tonight that Tink was going to suddenly forgive him and see him as something more than the asshole next door. He was a Bradford after all. To be honest, he didn’t want her to see him as anything more than the asshole next door. He didn’t need any complications in his life and he sure as hell didn’t need- Someone knocking on his door tonight. He was not in the mood to deal with his family, not tonight. As much as he loved them and appreciated everything they’d done for him since he came back broken, he wished that they’d forget about him. He didn’t need or want their pity. He was fine, more than fine no matter what any of them thought. He sure as hell didn’t need anyone to fix him. Chapter 6 8:30 P.M. “What now?” he asked, sighing heavily when he realized that it wasn’t one of his family members stopping by with some bullshit excuse so that they could make sure that he was taking care of himself. It was his pain in the ass neighbor no doubt coming back to- “I wanted to thank you for everything that you did for me last night,” Tinkerbelle started, instantly making him frown. “Last night?” he repeated, sure that he’d misheard the small woman, standing in the hallway, still wearing the towel that he gave her a little over an hour ago wrapped around all those surprising curves that she’d somehow hidden from him. “Yes,” she said, pushing back a strand of hair curled from her recent shower and obviously still in the process of drying, “I’ve been thinking about this all night and-” “All night?” he found himself muttering, not entirely sure where she was headed with this. “I just wanted to stop by on my way to work and thank you for everything,” she said, finishing with a firm nod as she turned and started to head down the hallway towards the front door when she suddenly stopped and turned right back around. “I almost forgot,” she said, walking over to him and- Forced him to blindly reach out and grab hold of the doorway before his knees gave out and dropped him on his ass from the weight of the cotton towel that she’d tossed over his shoulder. “Thanks again,” Tinkerbelle, now butt naked, said with a polite smile as she turned around and headed for the front door, leaving him holding onto her towel as his mind raced to figure out what just happened even as his gaze fell to that delectable, softly rounded ass that he’d give anything to- “I forgot my keys,” Tinkerbelle said with a self-deprecating laugh as she turned around and headed back to her door where she lightly knocked.