Authors: Lauren Blakely
his book is dedicated
to Dr. Khashi. Thank you for the laser attention, and all your time!
Â© 2017 by Lauren Blakely
Cover Design by Helen Williams.
All rights reserved. Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise) without the prior written permission of both the copyright owner and the above publisher of this book. This contemporary romance is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, brands, media, and incidents are either the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. The author acknowledges the trademarked status and trademark owners of various products referenced in this work of fiction, which have been used without permission. The publication/use of these trademarks is not authorized, associated with, or sponsored by the trademark owners. This ebook is licensed for your personal use only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each person you share it with, especially if you enjoy sexy, hilarious romance novels with alpha males. If you are reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then you should return it and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the author's work.
The Caught Up in Love Series
Caught Up In Us
Pretending He's Mine
Stars in Their Eyes
The Sexy One
The Hot One (March 2017)
Joy Stick (May 2017)
Most Valuable Playboy (July 2017)
The Wild One (August 2017)
Happy Trail (November 2017)
Far Too Tempting
21 Stolen Kisses
Playing With Her Heart
Out of Bounds
The Only One
Stud Finder (Sept 2017)
The No Regrets Series
The Thrill of It
The Start of Us
Every Second With You
The Seductive Nights Serie
(Julia and Clay, prequel novella)
Night After Night
(Julia and Clay, book one)
After This Night
(Julia and Clay, book two)
One More Night
(Julia and Clay, book three)
A Wildly Seductive Night
(Julia and Clay novella, book 3.5)
Nights With Him
(A standalone novel about Michelle and Jack)
(A standalone novel about Nate and Casey)
The Sinful Nights Series
Sweet Sinful Nights
The Fighting Fire Series
Burn For Me
(Smith and Jamie)
Melt for Him
(Megan and Becker)
Consumed By You
(Travis and Cara)
The Jewel Series
A two-book sexy contemporary romance series
The Sapphire Affair
The Sapphire Heist
've been told
I have quite a gift.
, I don't just mean in my pants. I've got a big brain too, and a huge heart of gold. And I like to use all my gifts to the fullest, the package included. Life is smooth sailing....
ntil I find
myself stuck between a rock and a sexy roommate, which makes for one very hardâ¦place.
an apartment in this city is harder than finding true love.Â So even if I have to shack up with my buddy's smoking hot and incredibly amazing little sister, a man's got to do what a man's got to do.
can resist Josie
. I'm disciplined, I'm focused, and I keep my hands to myself, even in the mere six hundred square feet we share. Until the one night she insists on sliding under the covers with me. It'll help her sleep after what happened that day, she says.
âneither one of us sleeps.
I mention she's also one of my best friends? That she's brilliant, beautiful and a total firecracker? Guess that makes her the full package too.
a man stuck in a hard place to do?
, for the sake of argument, that you're considering living with a woman you want to screw.
After all, finding an apartment is harder than landing true love, so even if you have to shack up with the fox you've maybe, possibly, always thought was ridiculously hot, you'd do it, right?
Look, I know what you're thinking.
This can only lead to trouble. Don't sign that lease. Walk the other way.
But she's just a friend, I swear. And, hey, this is New York City. Rent is crazy expensive. Always better to share it, right? C'mon. You'd split the utilities even if it meant you were signing up to become the designated dude sounding board for all her online dating escapades.
Please. I can do that with my eyes shut. Advising her on the plenty o' fish where she's fishing is simple. I just point to the profile pic and say: he's a douche, he's a tool, he's a dick . . .
Because none of those fuckers are worthy of her.
You'd sign that lease even if you had to endure the sweet torture of seeing that beauty walk down the hallway every morning, fresh out of the shower, a tiny towel cinched around her tits.
Easy as pie.
Even if she called out, “Hey, Chase, can you bring me my body lotion?”
Ha. That's child's play.
Okay, maybe I whimpered a bit when she made the request. And I'll concede the situation was a bit hardâlike, steel levelsâwhen the towel slipped and I caught a glimpse of her perfect flesh before she yanked it up.
But still, I can handle all that, no problemo.
Want to know why?
I've done it for years, and it's my secret talent.
You see, everyone has a unique ability. Perhaps you can lick your elbow, stick your whole fist in your mouth (don't try that at home, kids), or make your eyes move in opposite directions. Impressive party tricks, to be sure.
Want to know mine? My one-of-a-kind skill will save me from a living situation guaranteed to induce an early riser in the pants that lasts round-the-clock.
Here's my special gift: I'm the king of compartmentalization, and I come equipped with separate drawers for everything. Desires and actions. Lust and feelings. Love and sex. One goes here. The other goes there. And never the two shall meet.
That's why when one of my best friends came to me with a solution that would solve a big problem for both of us, I just didn't see how anything could go off the rails.
All I've got to do is keep my hands off her, my dirty thoughts locked up, and my eyes looking the other way the next time she gets undressed.
Mere fucking feet away from me.
I can do this. I can absolutely do this.
When you're the virtuoso of resistance, nothing can knock you off your game.
Not even cohabitating inside six hundred square feet with a woman you've wanted for years.
Until the night I woke up to find her curled up next to me under the covers . . .
a theory that it takes the human brain at least three tries to fully process something when it's the opposite of what you want to hear.
I'm on the third attempt.
Even though I can clearly hear the words the woman on the phone says, I'm sure if I repeat them in the form of a question, she'll eventually say what I want her to say. “I lost the apartment?” I try again, because soon the bad news she's serving up will magically morph into something good. Like if a rice cake turned into pizza. Preferably a cheese pie with mushrooms.
Because there is no fucking way the leasing agent is telling me
“The landlord had a change of heart,” she says once more, and the sweet one-bedroom in Chelsea slips through my fingers.
I grit my teeth and suck in a breath as I pace outside the emergency room entrance at the hospital. The sidewalk is clogged with other doctors, too, as well as nurses and paramedics, not to mention visitors. I move away from them, walking along the brick exterior during this short break in my day. “But this is the fifth time a place has fallen through,” I say, doing my best to keep my tone even. I don't have a temper. I don't get angry. But if I were to, this might be the reason. Because Dante was wrong. Finding an apartment in New York City is the tenth circle of hell. It's the eleventh, twelfth, and thirteenth, too.
Consider my luck so far in this impossible quest: the first apartment went bust when the landlord changed her mind. The second time, the place was rented to someone in the family. The third pad had termites. You get my drift.
“It's a tough market right now,” Erica, the leasing agent, says. I gotta give her credit. She's been trying to find me four walls and a floor for more than a month. “I'll look again to see if there are any new available options.”
“Thanks. My sublease is up so I'm going to be homeless soon.” I turn around and pace back toward the entrance. Buying a place isn't an option. I've still got medical school debt, and doctors don't make bank the way they used to. Especially not first-year ER docs.
She laughs. “I doubt you'll be homeless. Besides, I've told you, the couch at my place has your name on it. Come to think of it, so does the bed, if you know what I mean.”
I blink. I do know what she means. I just wasn't expecting to be propositioned by my leasing agent at two in the afternoon on a Wednesday.
Or a Thursday. Or a Friday. Basically, on any day.
“Thanks for the offer.” I rein in my surprise because I thought she was married. And not just the regular kind of married, but the happily kind.
“You let me know, Chase. I make a great ceviche, I'm incredibly neat, and I wouldn't even charge you a dime. We could work out some other form of payment,” she says with a purr.
And my leasing agent has now officially requested that I be her boy toy. Fuck. Time to grow a beard. I know I look young for my job, but young enough to be asked to be a sugar boy? I turn to the glass window of the hospital and consider my face. Clean-shaven, hazel eyes, light brown hair, chiseled jaw . . . Damn, I'm quite a specimen. No wonder she propositioned me. Maybe I should take her more seriously.
Even though I have zero interest in serving as anyone's sex slave, her offer is borderline tempting because I'm at the end of the line. I've scoured Craigslist and everyplace else, but I might as well give a kidney for a one-bedroomâthat'd be easier than finding a pad in this city.
You know all those TV shows where the perky twenty-something advertising assistant nabs a swell apartment with a flower planter, bright purple walls, and a reading nook on the Upper West Side? Or when the wet-behind-the-ears dude with an entry-level post at a magazine lands a swank bachelor pad in Tribeca?
At this point, I'd give my spleen just for a closet under a staircase. Wait, I take that back. I like my spleen. It'd have to be a closet on the first floor for me to give up an organ, even one I can technically live without.
“What do you think? You up for it?” Erica asks, in what no doubt is her best sexy-as-sin voice. “Bob said he's fine with you being here, too.”
I frown. “Bob?” Immediately, I want to take back the question because I've got a sinking feeling Bob could be her vibrator, and I walked right into that one.
“Bob, my husband,” she says matter-of-factly, and now I wish we were talking about a toy.
“That's quite generous of him,” I deadpan. “And please let him know that while I appreciate his magnanimity, a mattress in the locker room just opened up.”
I turn off my phone and head inside, my quick break over. Sandy, the curly-haired charge nurse, marches up to me, a serious look on her face as she tips her head toward the nearby exam room. But the tiniest twinkle in her gray eyes tells me my newest patient's situation isn't dire.
“Room two. Foreign body stuck in the forehead,” she tells me. That's my cue to forget about square footage and unconventional living arrangements.
When I stride into the exam room, I find an angular, blond Aquaman perched on the edge of the hospital bed.
“I'm Dr. Summers. Nice threads.” I flash a quick smile. Always helps to defuse the situation. And besides, if I reacted to the three-inch shard of glass sticking out of the forehead of the guy in the green costume, they should take my goddamn license away.
He shoots me a rueful grin as he glances at his getup. The polyester outfit is torn down the right arm and ripped along the thigh.
“Looks like a fun morning,” I say, eyeing the crystal fragment in his skin. “Let me guess. Your forehead got intimately acquainted with a chandelier?”
He nods guiltily, the look in his eyes telling me he wasn't trying to fly.
“And let me hazard another guess.” I stroke my chin. “You were trying to spice up your sex life by testing the whole idea of hanging from the chandeliers.”
He swallows, gives another small nod, then an unsteady
. “Can you get it out?”
“That's what she said,” I say, and he chuckles. I pat his shoulder. “Couldn't resist, but the answer is yes, and there will only be a small scar. I'm excellent at stitches.”
He takes a deep breath, and I get to work, numbing his forehead before I remove the glass. We chat as I go, making small talk about his fondness for superheroes, then I tell him the latest of my apartment hunt woes.
“Manhattan is crazy,” he says. “Even in commercial real estate, it's all gone through the roof.” Then he adds, almost sheepishly, “Though, I can't complain since that's my business.”
“Smart man. Square footage in this city is like a precious jewel,” I say as I finish work on the stitches.
Twenty minutes later, I've sewn up his forehead, and a nurse returns with the shard in a plastic Biohazard bag. She hands it to me, and I pass it on to the rightful owner.
“A souvenir of today's visit to the ER,” I tell the guy, and he takes the bag.
“Thanks, Doc. The sad thing is we didn't even get to the main event.”
“That's why it's an urban myth. You can't really do it while hanging from the chandelier. And hey, next time you're feeling adventurous, take a cooking class and then go home and use the table for dessert, okay? But make sure it's a nice, smooth wood because I don't want to have to remove a three-inch splinter from your gluteus maximus. That's not as good a war story.”
He nods crisply. “I promise. No more acrobatics.”
“But kudos on having a woman who likes you that much,” I say as we leave the room.
He tilts his head. “How'd you know she likes me?”
I nod toward the row of chairs in the waiting room at the end of the hallway. A dark-haired woman in a busty emerald-green costume nibbles on her lip and checks her watch. When she raises her face, her eyes light up as they land on Aquaman.
“I'm guessing the mermaid brought you in? And waited for you?”
“Yeah,” Aquaman says with a dopey smile as he looks at his woman.
“Bed tonight. Use the bed, man,” I say in a low voice.
He gives me a thumbs-up as he leaves.
And, that's today's latest chapter in the tales of the naughty deeds that land you in the ER. Yesterday, it was a zipper malfunction. Last week, it was a fracture from a back handspring. Yeah, you don't want to know what was fractured.
, when my shift ends, I change into my street clothes in the locker room, button my jeans, and tug on a T-shirt. I rake my fingers through my hair, grab my shades, and leave the workday behind me. The second the doors slide shut at Mercy Hospital, I turn off the medical portion of my brain, plug in my headphones, and crank up the audiobook I've been listening to lately. It's on the theory of chaos, and it keeps me company as I head to Greenwich Village to meet a friend.
Once downtown, I leave the subway in a throng of New Yorkers on a warm June day and make my way to the Sugar Love Sweet Shop to meet my friend Josie.
Yes, this friend happens to possess boobs.
Because I have another theoryâmen and women can be friends. Great friends. Even if the woman happens to be the owner of the most fantastic pair of breasts this man has ever seen. A body is a body is a body. I can appreciate her figure empirically, in all its curves and softness, and that doesn't mean I want to hang from the chandeliers with her, or even screw her on a table.
Fine, I'll concede she's totally table screwable, but I don't let myself think of Josie that way.
Even if she looks amazing in that pink scoop-neck T-shirt and a cute little polka-dot apron tied around her waist.
When she spots me, she waves and calls me into the candy shop.
I go, and my mouth is only watering because I like sweet things.