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The Pucking Wrong Number: Chapter 23


“Bill, I brought you some leftovers,” I said with a tired smile as I met him at the corner where he usually waited for me on nights when I worked late.

“You’re a goddess, little duck,” he said, tucking my arm in his and patting my hand reassuringly. The small act after a difficult day made me want to cry. “You’re working too hard, though. You’re young. You should be out with friends, not pushing yourself to death,” he chastised as we walked.

“Maybe someday,” I murmured with a sigh. We’d had this conversation many times before. And he didn’t quite seem to understand why I was so against being homeless…

“Somedays aren’t promised,” he said, right as we got to the entry to the apartment complex. I paused, hearing the ache in his voice. It was obvious there was a story there.

I didn’t pry, though.

Over the last year, I’d learned that Bill only talked about some parts of his past, and whatever caused that ache in his voice…was not one of those parts he discussed.

I stared after him as he walked away, singing something softly to himself, before I trudged up the stairs to my apartment, my feet aching and my head pounding. Today had been one of the longest days I’d had in a while, even with the late start. All I wanted to do was kick off my shoes and crawl into bed. But as I got to my door, Jared emerged from his apartment next to mine, blocking my way. His greasy hair was slicked back, and his small, round, piercing eyes seemed to glint in the dim light of the hallway.

‘Ms. Bardot,’ he said, his voice oily and insincere. ‘I’m afraid I have some bad news for you.’

My heart sank. ‘What is it?’ I asked, trying to keep the exhaustion from my voice.

‘You’re being evicted,’ he said, a sickening grin spreading across his face. My mind went blank for a moment. Evicted? But why? I’d paid my rent on time every month.

‘Why?’ I managed to ask, my voice trembling slightly.

He shrugged. ‘Business is business, Monroe. I’m sorry, but you’ll have to be out by the morning.’ I stumbled back against the wall, my mind reeling. How was I supposed to find a new place to live by tomorrow? I hadn’t found anything yet that I could afford.

“Please, I don’t understand,” I said, feeling confused and disoriented.

“I have someone else who wants your place, someone who can pay more. You’re out, Monroe,” he replied gruffly.

“But…maybe I could pay extra,” I pleaded, even as I calculated in my head how I could afford to pay even a penny more.

“Sorry, girly. But we both know that’s not going to happen.” He gave me a sleazy grin.

I felt sick to my stomach, the world spinning around me. I didn’t know where I would go. This would ruin everything.

“Please, there has to be something I can do,” I said, my voice trembling.

He leaned in closer, invading my personal space. “Well, there is one thing you could do.” His breath was hot and stale against my face.

I recoiled in disgust, taking a step back. “What are you talking about?” I asked, a sense of dread washing over me.

“We’ve had this conversation before. I’m a man with needs, Monroe. Maybe if you were a little more accommodating, I’d reconsider.” His eyes roamed over my body.

I felt sick to my stomach, feeling violated and disgusted. “No, I’d rather sleep on the streets than do that,” I spat. I wanted to punch him again, but I’d prefer not to. He’d kick me out tonight instead of tomorrow–although tomorrow was just a few hours away at this point.

“Suit yourself,” he said with a shrug. “Just make sure you’re out by tomorrow.”

With that, he turned and walked away, leaving me alone in the hallway, feeling utterly hopeless and alone.

I stood there in shock for a moment, before finally willing my legs to move and walk into my apartment. The tears started then, coming out in harsh gasps as I stood in the middle of the tiny room, surrounded by the life I’d been scraping together. Jared’s words echoed in my head, and I felt a sense of panic rising in my chest, like a wave in a stormy sea, threatening to drown me in an ocean of uncertainty and despair. Where was I supposed to go? What was I supposed to do?

The tears streaming down my face blinded me to everything around me as I stumbled through my tiny apartment. The feeling of hopelessness was almost suffocating. I was disappearing, with no one to save me.

The sound of my phone buzzing seemed to shake me out of my daze. I fumbled for it, wiping away the tears that were still leaking from my eyes. When I saw Lincoln’s name on the screen, a small glimmer of hope sparked in my chest. It was like a tiny flame in the darkness, illuminating the way forward. I wiped away the last of my tears and took a deep breath before checking the text.

Lincoln: Did you make it home safe? You were supposed to call me.

It was like a lifeline had been thrown to me, something to hold onto amidst the chaos.

A second later, he was calling, obviously impatient with the fact I hadn’t responded yet.

I fumbled to answer it, hoping to stop myself from crying again. ‘You’re in big trouble, baby,” he said. “You were supposed to tell me when you were off so I could drive you home.”

The lump in my throat made it impossible to respond with anything but a sob. Lincoln’s playful tone immediately disappeared as he realized something was wrong. ‘Sweetheart, what’s going on?’ he asked, concern lacing his voice.

I struggled to compose myself enough to explain what had happened, telling him about the eviction notice and how lost and scared I felt, hiccuping and sniffling as I talked.

“Oh, baby. I’m so sorry. But it’s going to be okay. We’ll figure this out together,’ he said, his voice gentle and reassuring as he spoke. ‘Right now, I’m going to come pick you up. We’ll pack up your stuff together, bring it over to my place, and then you can stay with me as long as you need to.” I heard the sound of an engine starting.

“You’re coming right now?” I whispered, more tears tracking down my cheeks.

“Yep. And I’m going to stay on the phone with you the whole time, because, baby, your tears are tearing me apart. Dream girls aren’t ever supposed to cry.”

A hiccuped laugh escaped me and he chuckled softly, the sound like a warm caress across my skin.

“I think you’re delusional,” I whispered. “You see something that doesn’t actually exist.”

Lincoln let out a deep, throaty chuckle, the sound reverberating through the phone. ‘Delusional, huh?’ he murmured, his voice rough and low. ‘You think I’m delusional for seeing how amazing you are? How special and strong and beautiful?’

He paused, taking a deep breath, like he was trying to rein in his emotions. ‘Monroe, I see you. I see all of you. And I’m not going anywhere. I’ll be here for you, every step of the way, no matter what. Because I know that you’re worth it. You’re worth everything. Eventually, you’ll trust me. I’ve been lonely all these years, too. Waiting for you.’

His words were like the sun breaking through the clouds after a storm. But it wasn’t just relief I felt—it was something more. Something deeper. As I watched the street through my window, waiting for his car to appear, warmth spread through my chest, like a slow-burning fire.

I realized with a start that I was falling in love with him.

It was like the petals of a flower unfolding, revealing a beauty that had been hidden away, like the universe had opened up and allowed me to finally see what I’d been missing all these years. Lincoln felt like he could be the missing piece to my puzzle, the one I didn’t know I needed until he was right in front of me.

As Lincoln’s car rolled to a stop outside my apartment building, a wave of relief and joy crashed over me, washing away the fear and uncertainty that had plagued me just moments before. He was still on the phone with me when I threw open my door and let him in.

Lincoln’s golden gaze locked onto mine, and in a heartbeat, I was in his arms. His fingers brushed against my skin like the first drop of rain on parched earth, igniting a wildfire of sensations within me, sparking shivers down my spine and sending my heart racing. Our lips collided, igniting an inferno that left me breathless. I melted into him, feeling his strength and protection surrounding me, as if his arms were the only safe haven in the world. Every touch, every kiss, every moment with him was a fiery explosion of desire and longing that I never wanted to end.

He helped me pack up my belongings, his touch gentle yet firm as he carefully wrapped each item, which I’m sure resembled trash compared to what was in his place.

All of my belongings fit into two boxes. That was it. That was the sum of my life up to now.

It was pathetic, really.

We loaded the boxes into the car, and I couldn’t help but marvel at how he seemed to effortlessly navigate the chaos of my life. With him by my side, everything felt just a little more manageable, a bit more bearable.

As we drove away from the place that had represented my new start, I felt a bittersweet sense of loss. But as I gazed at the beautiful man beside me, the one that seemed more god than mortal, his eyes flicking to me every few seconds, like he couldn’t stand to look away…

I thought maybe it wasn’t so bad.


I pulled the car into my parking garage. A smirk played on my lips…a sense of triumph surging through me. She was mine now, whether she realized it or not. Now that she was going to be living with me, I knew I could convince her to fall for me, and I wouldn’t hesitate to use every trick in my playbook to do so.

I was a predator, and she was my prey.

But she was more than that.

She was my salvation, the one person who could make me feel alive again.

I was willing to do whatever it took to keep her by my side, to make her see that we were meant to be together.

And nothing, not even her, would stand in the way of that.


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