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Authors: Lyra Marlowe

GirlNextDoor

Girl Next Door

Lyra Marlowe

 

Nolan and John are paramedics,
partners, best friends—and complete opposites. Nolan is a true romantic with a
broken heart, and he’s gay. John is straight, a relationship-dodging cocksman
who’s growing bored with casual sex. But Nolan’s having sex dreams about John,
and John’s having fantasies about Nolan. They could be moving toward a
relationship, though they’re both afraid of destroying their friendship.

Then Nolan’s one and only
ex-girlfriend comes to visit and changes everything. With Nolan’s blessing,
Lucy does her best to ease John’s boredom, playing out his deepest sexual
fantasies—and hers. But when Lucy learns of John’s secret desire for Nolan, she’s
determined to see them happily together. She won’t take no for an answer, even
if she has to drag the two of them into bed with her.

 

Ellora’s Cave Publishing

www.ellorascave.com

 

 

 

Girl Next Door

 

ISBN 9781419936968

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Girl Next Door Copyright © 2011 Lyra Marlowe

 

Edited by Grace Bradley

Cover design by Dar Albert

Photography: Artix Studio; Olly/Shutterstock.com

 

Electronic book publication November 2011

 

The terms Romantica® and Quickies® are registered trademarks of
Ellora’s Cave Publishing.

 

With the exception of quotes used in reviews, this book may not
be reproduced or used in whole or in part by any means existing without written
permission from the publisher, Ellora’s Cave Publishing, Inc.® 1056 Home
Avenue, Akron OH 44310-3502.

 

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This book is a work of fiction and any resemblance to persons, living
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Girl Next Door

Lyra Marlowe

 

Chapter One

 

The Spot was a straight-up meat market—a bar where people
went to meet for no-strings-attached sex. The music was loud. The drinks were
cheap. There was no cover charge for ladies. The furniture was old and the
carpet was filthy, but the lights were dim enough to disguise cosmetic flaws,
in the club and in the patrons.

John Krulak was a regular.

He was tall and trim and good-looking, and he could
generally hook a woman and have her out of the tank for the price of two rounds
of drinks. Sometimes it took less than that.

Wednesday night, he slid up to the crowded bar just as happy
hour ended and drinks went back to full price. Jake, the regular bartender,
waved, then finished making a tray of Cosmopolitans for the waitress. He came
down with a bourbon on the rocks, John’s usual order. “Hey,” he said.

“Hey, Jake,” Krulak returned. “Busy tonight.”

“Yeah. Happy hour special packs ’em in after work.” The
bartender shrugged. “You been kinda scarce lately. Find a new playground?”

“No, just working my ass off.”

Jake grunted. “Least you got a job.”

“Hard to outsource paramedics.”

“Yeah, ’til the Japanese build a medtech robot.”

“Thanks, Jake.”

The bartender grinned. “Happy hunting.”

John sipped his drink and turned to look over the dance
floor. Everyone there had come from the office; they still wore their suits and
their sensible shoes. But they’d all had a couple cheap drinks too. Ties were
loosened, blouses unbuttoned to show a little cleavage. Everybody looking to
have a good time after work.

John Krulak didn’t have to wear a tie to work, and his
workday rarely ended when it was supposed to. But that wouldn’t matter to any
of the half-dozen women he spotted checking him out. They didn’t care what he
did during the day. They were just interested in what he was doing tonight.

And that, he told himself firmly, was just the way he liked
it.

When he was younger, he would have eased onto the dance
floor and chatted up one of the prospects. These days, he just waited. He
turned back around, watching casually in the mirror behind the back bar. Very
soon, a tall blonde slipped out of the crowd and moved to join him.

“Hey there,” she purred.

John smiled and turned. “Hello.”

There was a ten-second pause while they checked each other
out at close range. The woman was probably a little north of thirty years old.
Her makeup was fresh. She had a little too much blush on, and wore four or five
different colors of eye shadow, skillfully blended. Her mascara was a little
clumpy. Her hair was dyed and the dark roots were just beginning to show. It
looked sculpted, stiff.

Her body said she went to the gym and actually worked out.
She had fine, prominent breasts, probably assisted by serious Victoria’s Secret
support, but her waist and arms were slim. Her legs, almost entirely displayed
under a black miniskirt, were magnificent. Strong and long. Just the way John
liked them.

He finished his drink. The liquor warmed down to his
stomach, and the warmth just kept going lower as he studied the woman.

She tilted her head a little, and John could see in her eyes
that he’d passed inspection too.

He said, “I’m John. Can I buy you a drink?”

She said, “I’m Sherry. Yes, you can.”

John nodded, and Jake brought them a round of drinks. Hers
was another Cosmopolitan. John felt his lip curl and fought to conceal it. A
Cosmo was the perfect drink for a girl who wanted to get hammered without the
inconvenience of tasting alcohol. Or one who watched too many chick shows on
basic cable.

Still, she had great legs.

Sherry took a long sip of her drink and said, “So, John,
what do you do?”

“I’m a paramedic.”

She lit up. “Oooh, I’ve always wanted to fuck a fireman.”

John sighed. Usually that kind of talk would make him
certain of his catch. Tonight it just annoyed him. “I’m a
paramedic
, not
a fireman. There’s a difference.”

Sherry leaned closer. “Okay.”

She didn’t ask what the difference was. John knew she didn’t
care. But he cared, very much.
If I was a fireman, Nolan wouldn’t be my
partner. Because firemen live together, you see, in twenty-four-hour shifts.
They sleep together in a dorm. So there are no gay firemen, because it might be
contagious or something. My partner couldn’t be a fireman even if he was the
most qualified person in the world. Because he’s gay and he won’t hide it. And
I’m glad, actually, because this way I get to work with him, and he’s the best
paramedic I’ve ever known.

But it’s still not fair.

He glanced around the bar, spotted a table of firefighters
over by the back door. They weren’t from his station, but he knew most of them.
One of the guys nodded to him, an acknowledgement that Krulak had once again
hooked a hottie without getting off his bar stool.

In the department, they knew all about him. He had a
reputation as a famous cocksman, and he lived up to it. Been proud of it too.
Until lately.

Lately, it all felt fake.

John shook his head. No. That wasn’t true. It was the same
easy casual sex he’d scored since he was in college. He wasn’t losing his
touch, or his desire. He wanted this beautiful woman next to him, and he was
going to have her.

There didn’t seem to be much need for small talk. She was
halfway through her drink. “You live around here?” he asked.

She raised one eyebrow. “About four blocks.”

“Good.”

“You don’t waste any time, do you?”

John drained his bourbon. “Do you want me to?”

“No.” Sherry grinned. “That’s what I like about firemen.
They’re always so direct.”

She leaned forward and gave him a full view down her ample
cleavage. She was ready to go. On most nights, John Krulak would have been
ready to go with her. But tonight it was just too easy. Too cheap. Too stupid.

When
, he asked himself seriously,
did you start
wanting the women you bed to be smart? It’s not like you plan some kind of
relationship with them. It’s just sex. Holy shit, you’re turning into Nolan.

He stopped that thought firmly. He looked at the woman
again. Beautiful and not too drunk and very willing. What more did he want?

He wanted someone he could have a conversation with in the
morning.

Someone like…

No.

He was out of condoms, anyhow. He always carried one in his
wallet and another in his car, but he’d used them both last weekend with
Candy—which wasn’t her real name, and he didn’t care. Well, Sherry probably had
one. Or he could get one in the men’s room, or there was a convenience store
right across the street. He was sure she wouldn’t mind a brief detour in the
name of protection.

It suddenly just seemed like too much trouble.

“You know what?” John asked. He pulled out his wallet, slid
two tens across the bar for Jake, waved off his change. “I’m really tired. All
that firefighting.”

Sherry’s expression wavered in confusion. “What?”

“Tired,” John repeated. “But if you’ve really got your heart
set on fucking a firefighter,” he gestured to the table by the back door, “you
go over there and tell them Krulak sent you. Believe me, they’ll take care of
you.”


What?
What kind of girl do you think I am?” she
demanded. “You think I just go from one man to the next?”

That was exactly what kind of girl John thought she was,
actually. But it seemed unkind to say so. “I don’t mean anything,” he said in
the soothing tone he used for strung-out addicts at work. “I just— I’m getting
over something and I really just want to be alone tonight.”

Sherry slammed back the rest of her pink drink, slid to her
feet and put one defiant hand on her hip. “Then what the fuck are you doing
here
?”
she demanded. She didn’t wait for an answer. She just spun expertly on her
stiletto heels and walked away, with a definite
see what you’re missing
sway to her hips.

Krulak watched her go, then finished his own drink. “Strike
out?” Jake asked sympathetically.

“Not in the mood,” John answered.

“For
that
? Really?”

“Really.”

Jake shook his head. “I don’t think I’d ever not be in the
mood for a piece like that.”

A piece.
That’s exactly what she’d be. A piece.
Not a person, not anyone I cared about. And that’s what I’d be to her too
.

It had never bothered him before.

He put his glass down. “Tell her you’re a fireman, Jake.”

* * * * *

It was early, by John’s standards, when he pulled into the
parking lot outside his apartment building. He was restless, unsettled. It had
been a long, long time since he’d taken a pass on a sure thing. In a way he was
proud of himself. And in another, he was shaken. He was thinking of things he’d
tried not to think about.

A walk, he decided. He was still out of condoms anyhow. And
milk.

There was a drugstore two blocks down. He threw his jacket
back in the car; it was too warm for it. Then he walked briskly down to the
bright store. He got the milk and noticed that they had Sam Adams beer on sale.
He was on his last razor blade too, he remembered. And then there were the
condoms.

He snagged a three-pack of his regular brand, got his razor
blades and went to check out.

The cashier looked as if she were still in her teens. She
had teenage skin, anyhow. Her hair was straight, short and dyed dead black, and
she had a silver stud in each nostril. As a paramedic, John almost recommended
that she remove them and swab her nose down with hydrogen peroxide immediately.
But he remembered that he was off-duty, so he kept his mouth shut. She didn’t
look as if she’d be receptive to free medical advice, anyhow.

“These are on special,” she said, cracking her gum. “Buy
one, get one half off.”

“The beer?” John asked hopefully.

“The rubbers.”

“Oh.” He tried to ignore the fact that he was buying
condoms—and beer—from someone young enough to have serious acne. “Well, the way
my luck’s been lately, I don’t need any more than this.”

The clerk looked him up and down with brutal frankness. “I’d
do you.”

He could feel his face heating up. With as many women as
he’d had, he should not be flustered by a wayward child. “Thanks,” he said,
“but I’m afraid of nose studs.”

She shrugged. “Suit yourself. But take the half-price ones.
You don’t want to get a jinx.”

“A jinx?”

“You pass up cheap condoms, you might never need ’em again.”

John sighed. He just wanted to be gone. The fastest way to
that goal seemed to be to go along with her. “Don’t want that,” he agreed. He
ducked back into the aisle and picked up another three-pack.

Holy crap
.
I just turned down an easy lay in a
bar, and I’m going to have six condoms in my stash. What’s wrong with this
picture?

The cashier smiled, a tight, smart-ass smile, when he got
back to her. “You get a specialty free when you buy two.”

“A what?”

“Specialty.” She rolled her eyes, obviously bored with
explaining things to this old fart, even if he was, in her words, do-able. “On
the top row, in the single packs. Specialties. You know, spikes, studs,
glow-in-the-dark. The freak stuff.”

John Krulak had had enough. He straightened up and looked
the teen with the soon-to-be-infected nose squarely in the eye. “What do you
recommend, angel?”

She blinked, and her cheeks turned just a little pink under
her very white makeup. “The spikes hurt. The ridges are pretty cool.”

“Not glow-in-the-dark?” John asked sweetly.

“Kid stuff.” She smirked.

“God forbid.” He strolled back to the condom aisle yet again
and made a show of considering the options. They were, in fact, a little
frightening. He took the ridges.

The cashier nodded when he got back. “Good choice.” She took
his money, letting her black-lacquered fingernails scrape over his palm. “I get
off at ten.”

John shook his head. “I bet you do. But that’s past my
bedtime.”

He picked up his bag and fled.

Seven condoms
.
I’m turning down sex and I have
seven condoms. If this keeps up, I’m going to have to start checking expiration
dates.

John had never been a good Scout, or even a bad Scout, but
he did believe in preparation. Before he went inside his apartment building, he
stopped at his car, tore off one of the foil packets and put it in the console.
He put another in his wallet before he went to bed.

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