GENRE: Contemporary, Romance
LENGTH: 16,413 words
BLURB: Danny Masterson is finally getting a place all his own, and he couldn’t be more excited. Since college he’s lived with his best buddy Rob, but when Rob’s pregnant girlfriend moved in, Danny knew it was time to move out. His new apartment has all the amenities, and the sexy neighbor living downstairs named Kyle only sweetens the deal.
But a heat wave hits when Rob helps Danny move in, and the apartment’s A/C isn’t working right. Maintenance won’t come out because Danny isn’t listed as a tenant yet, so he’s stuck sweating it out over the long, Fourth of July weekend.
Kyle invites Danny to stay downstairs in his apartment in air conditioned bliss, but he has a pretty roommate named Nadia who may or may not be his girlfriend. Danny thinks Kyle might be interested in him, but so far Kyle hasn’t said or done anything to move things forward between them. Will things ever heat up between them? Or is Danny going to end up getting burned?
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A sporty little red car zooms into the lot at breakneck speed and skids to a stop next to mine, half in two spots. I glance over at the driver, a young woman my own age who still has that fresh out of college look going on -- tousled hair pulled back in a sloppy ponytail, sunglasses obscuring half her face, a crop top paired with sweats that hug her round ass, and flip-flops that smack the pavement with the same sound she makes cracking her gum. I stare at her as she exits the car, trying to catch her eye, but she studiously ignores me and disappears around the back instead. I hear her pop the trunk, hear the rustle of grocery bags, and think, My first neighbor. I should probably introduce myself.
When I get out of my car, too, she still ignores me, so I lean in and grab the folder full of paperwork off the passenger seat just for something to do. By the time I’m standing up, the sunglasses are pushed on top of her head and her hands are full of grocery bags.
Now she looks at me. I flash her a winning smile and say, “Hey. I’m Danny.”
Her response is anything but cordial. With an exasperated sigh, she rolls her eyes and starts to walk away. Then she notices where I’m parked and stops. “Oh, wait,” she says, as if she’s just remembered how to play nice. “Are you moving in?”
“Upstairs,” I tell her, nodding. “Apartment G? So I guess that makes us neighbors, or something?”
Shifting all the bags to one hand, she sticks out the other. “Sorry, I thought you were hitting on me. I’m Nadia. We live under you in A.”
I give her hand a good shake and follow her gaze to the terrace below mine. It’s double the size of my balcony, with two screen doors instead of the one I have. “We?” I caught that. As she starts to redistribute the bags again, I ask, “Do you need any help?”
“Can you get the water from the trunk?” She nods at her car but doesn’t answer my other question.
We. I imagine an apartment full of sorority sisters, slumming it like Nadia here or camped out by the pool I haven’t seen yet, maybe sunning themselves on the terrace over the weekend. The downstairs apartment can’t be that much larger than mine, but they probably sleep two girls to a room, so I’ll hear squeals and giggles drifting up through the floorboards at all hours of the day and night, like a perpetual slumber party, or something. They’ll run up to knock on my door, ask me to open pickle jars and come kill spiders in their bathtubs, or hang pictures on their walls. It’ll be Rob’s girlfriend Lara multiplied to the nth degree.
I’m already wondering if I can’t maybe ask about any other single apartments in the complex that might be available when Nadia hoists the grocery bags over the terrace railing and hollers, “Kyle! Get out here and help, you lazy ass.”
So, no suite full of sorority sisters but the usual boyfriend/girlfriend playing house scenario. Which lets me off the hook, then, since anything she’d need a guy to do, she already has one to do it for her. It really is Lara all over again.
As I duck down into the trunk to retrieve the case of bottled water, I hear a screen door open and shut. Someone yawns, a loud, leonine roar, then a man’s sleepy voice gripes, “You woke me up.”
“You sleep too much,” Nadia complains. “Here, take these.”
I heft the case of water out of the trunk and step around the side of the car. With my elbow, I try to close the trunk but can’t. I get it down halfway, then have to turn my back to it and catch it with my hip. In the end, I’m practically sitting on it before it clicks shut.
Her boyfriend sees me before I see him, because I hear him ask, “Who’s that?”
“Danny,” she says. “He’s moving in upstairs. Danny, this is Kyle.”
When I turn back around, he’s standing on the other side of the railing, on the terrace itself, dressed in a too tight heather gray T-shirt and a pair of baggy Bermuda shorts. His short-cropped hair is mussed from sleep and he blinks owlishly at me, as if he’s still waking up. With his tanned skin and blond locks, he’s about as all-American as you can get, and so damn sexy, it hurts. Physically; I feel lust grip me somewhere below my balls and squeeze hard, threatening to never let go.
Damn, he’s one fine mother.
Eyes as gray and faded as his shirt, slightly too big for his face, shielded by lashes a little too long to belong to a guy. Strong, straight nose. Wide mouth and thin lips that slide easily into a welcoming grin. Teeth so white and perfect, he could do toothpaste commercials. The faintest blond fuzz on the corners of his chin, as if he forgot to shave this morning, curling up along his jaw to meet the darker hair in front of his ears. It’s cut close at the sides and back but kept long on top so it sort of flops over his forehead. I bet he spikes it up sometimes, though. He looks like the type.
You’re staring, I warn myself. I know I am, and worse, I know Nadia knows it, because there’s the slightest little grin toying at the corners of her mouth, a smirk that says, Look all you want, but you know he’s mine, right?
Yeah, yeah, bitch. Rub it in.