Authors: Sotia Lazu
Tags: #Contemporary Romance
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Published By: Taliesin Publishing, LLC,
400 Gilead Road, #1617, Huntersville, NC 28070
Copyright © 2014 by Sotia Lazu
Digital Release: August 2014
Cover Artist: Georgia Woods
All Rights Are Reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.
This book is a work of fiction. The names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the writer’s imagination, or have been used fictitiously and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, actual events, locales, or organizations is entirely coincidental.
In hopes of getting her fiancé to consummate their relationship before the wedding, Amanda convinces him they should check out the apartment her father gave her as a gift for their upcoming nuptials. Darkness and privacy are supposed to work in her favor, but there is one parameter she doesn’t know about: the apartment is not empty yet, and the current tenant has no plans of moving.
Derek has had a hell of a few months. His girlfriend turned out to be a cheater and then stole his restaurant. He's not about to also give up the place he's called home for three years—even if his hot but infuriating landlady threatens to move in by the end of the week.
When her own lease is up, Amanda is forced to make good on her threat. As if life isn't already hard enough, her tenant-turned-roommate is as sexy as he is annoying, and her fiancé is caught with a half-naked woman.
Now she and Derek both need to find a way to survive their forced cohabitation. But soon, they discover that sleeping with the enemy can be fun.
To Andrei, who’s not Mason.
Thank you A. for tossing the idea around with me and then giving it to me to play with. Thank you Marilyn for catching the first million typos or so. Thank you Karma for your time, even if I never got that email. Thank you January M., Carla Krae, Allyson Lindt, and Sofia Grey, for beta reading and offering your invaluable advice and support. Thank you Georgia Woods for reading this in a day, and thank you Sharon Pickrel for the super-fast and awesome editing job.
Most of all, thank you to my annoying tenant who wouldn’t move four years ago. You were nothing like Derek, but you pissed me off enough to start forming this story in my head.
Friday, April 25th 2014
! We’re here. We may as well check it out!” Amanda was already fishing the apartment keys from her pocket. She might not live there yet, but she planned on making full use of the premises.
A hand stilled hers. “Mandi, I’m not sure this is such a good idea. Your father—”
God, she hated that nickname, but Mason seemed set on it. Ignoring his protests, she freed her hand and pushed the key in the lock. “My father gave the apartment to me. To us. We could be moving in tomorrow, together, if you…” If he weren’t such a Prudey-McPruderson.
Mason looked at her as if he was waiting to hear the rest of that sentence, so Amanda did her best to take his mind off it. She twisted her fingers into his shirt and pulled him all the way down to her for a deep kiss. So what if she was turning the key behind her and pushing the door open with her heel?
The lights in the corridor went off automatically, which suited her fine. If she took just a few steps backward and managed to pull Mason with her, this would be the first time since their engagement the two of them had complete privacy. A closed door would be separating them from the rest of the world. Then maybe he’d listen to reason.
Two steps. Only two steps.
She slid one foot across the threshold and tried to place her weight on it, so Mason would have to come forward. Yeah…not happening. She tried it again, but failed to shift him even the littlest bit.
Still kissing her, hewrapped his arms around her, keeping her anchored to him. She could possibly tackle him but, really, using martial arts to get her fiancé to make out with her had to be a major no-no.
With a sigh and a pout he couldn’t see, she pulled back from the kiss. “We’ll just take a look around. Make some plans, discuss decorations…” And hopefully throw their jackets on the floor and hump like bunnies.
God, she needed that! A year of first dating Mason and then being engaged to him had provided no outlet for her sexual frustration other than what Amanda achieved by herself. Still, she loved that he cherished her enough to want to wait.
“I thought you’d do that while you stayed here,” he said. “You know you’re better at these things than I am. I trust you completely.”
If the evening went as she’d planned, she might not have to live there alone until the wedding. He might finally concede and move in with her the following week. “I want to pick your brain,” she replied. “Please?”
“We’ve seen the blueprints. And you know the place already. Thought you had some things in mind.”
She did, but not about decoration. “I haven’t seen it since it was renovated, half a decade ago. And the blueprints don’t mean a thing if you’re not an architect. We have to see it up close, check out the walls, the
.” She indeed meant to examine the floor very closely. She hoped it wasn’t very dirty, but she was willing to incur the cost of dry cleaning her favorite skirt, if it meant she managed to finally get groiny with Mason.
“Okay.” Mason tangled his fingers with hers. “But I don’t know how useful I’ll be. I’m not a woman.”
She should protest the stereotype, but he meant well. “Women aren’t the only ones with taste.” She ought to be thankful she had such a wonderful guy fawning over her and not pressuring her into anything—including color schemes—but could he maybe put out once in a while?
Said wonderful guy nodded reluctantly and allowed her to lead him inside. Not that she could do much leading; she could see nothing in the pitch black room. At least in the corridor they’d had the moonlight. Inside the apartment, there wasn’t even a hint of illumination. She blindly steered him toward the living room through what she remembered to be an open kitchen area.
“Do you know where the light switch is?”
In her mind’s eye, Amanda could see him patting the wall blindly. Only, if the lights came on, they’d actually have to look around the place, and she didn’t want to do much looking. She preferred touching. Lots of it. And other actions of a naughtier variety.
“It won’t be of much use,” she said. “Previous tenant took the light-bulbs with him.” It wasn’t as if she’d lied for sure. He might have. She knew nothing about the guy—except he was hot and perma-grumpy, according to Alice—but he might have been the sort to take everything with him. He might have cataloged his underwear alphabetically by color and spray-painted his hair green, for all she knew.
And about now was a good time for her to stop thinking about Mr. Unknown and start thinking about Mr. Right, who was currently cupping her breast.
It didn’t last long. He withdrew his hand, moved it to her shoulder, and apologized. Profusely.
“This isn’t why we’re here. I wasn’t sure you wanted me to…” She blinked against the darkness, but could only make out the vague outline of his body. She didn’t have to see his face to know he was flustered.
Did she have to hand him a signed contract? “Mason, you can touch my boob whenever you feel like it. In fact, that boob is yours until I decide to take it back. Unless you decide to grab it while we’re having an argument. Or when I’m on the phone to my mom, ’cause—Yuck.”
She mulled it over for a moment while Mason’s hand tentatively made its way down again. “Actually, you can…um…initiate contact when you feel like it, and I’ll—I’ll respond according to my mood.” When his fingers stopped at her clavicle, she added, “Which is great at the moment. I’m in a great mood, so boob’s yours.”
Could she sound more pathetic? Probably not. Still, she accomplished her goal; she was getting some action.
was enough. She had to go all the way with him tonight. She needed to. She’d be more patient if he hadn’t been with a woman before, but he’d apparently had several in his life and bed.
He’d admitted that during the same date on which he’d told her he saw her as more than ‘girlfriend material.’ It was their third date, and Amanda had been hoping for a bit more than a kiss, but Mason had explained he wanted to wait. She hadn’t realized how long that wait would be until another four dates later, when he’d said he could see himself having kids with her.
He was always sweet and nice and affectionate—and fully functional, from the reactions she’d gotten to touches and caresses—so she’d decided to go along. They’d
things, some involving lots of nakedness, but after a while, Amanda started feeling like she was in high-school again. Which she most definitely
Enough was enough.
She rose on her tiptoes, plastered her body to his, and kissed his neck, sneaking one of her hands between them to find his zipper. She was careful to tug it down slowly, so he didn’t feel threatened. Although why he, with all his size, was intimidated by itsy-bitsy her, was beyond her comprehension.
Sure, she could be demanding at times, but she needed things. Mason was her man. He should understand her. Plus, they had now more or less agreed on sharing a forever. It shouldn’t matter to him how soon that forever started. Right?
“I thought we were going to check out the place.”
Now see, when he got that whiny tone, Amanda could throttle him. She usually attributed it to the raging status of her hormones. Biting down on her irritation, she caressed his torso. “But there’s no light,” she said. He bulged with muscle everywhere, big and taut, with those square shoulders and thick arms that could close around her and make her feel safe.
Or suffocated, as was the case now, when he was hugging her so he could stop her roaming hands.
“Mandi, we’ve been through this before. I respect you too much to make this into something casual. I want our first time together to be special. I want to be your husband and want you to be my wife.” He kissed the crown of her head as if she were a five-year-old and he was about to tuck her in. She wasn’t a child, damn it.
“We love each other,” she said. “We’re getting married. What difference does waiting for a couple more months make?” Uh-oh. Wrong argument.
“Precisely.” Did he sound smug? Yeah, he sounded smug.
She could turn this into a fight or focus on her target. “I love you, baby.” She kissed his throat, caressed his back, and leaned her forehead against his broad sternum. “I want you, and it’s driving me crazy.”
He sighed with what sounded like defeat. It was a sound that shouldn’t make her happy, coming from her fiancé, but Amanda was seconds away from cheering when he grabbed her butt and lifted her. Her legs came up to wrap around his hips, and he lowered her gently to the floor.
The way they were going about it, her head was supposed to be the last thing to make impact. Turned out, it was the first. It didn’t hit the floor; it hit something more fragile. Something that toppled over with a deafening crash.
The shock made Mason let go of her, and she landed on her ass.
“Baby? Are you okay?” He tried to caress her face in the dark and almost poked her left eye out with his thumb. “Are you hurt?”
She rubbed at the sore bump forming on the back of her head. “I’m fine. It seems a lamp or vase was just sacrificed to the gods of making out, though.” If she maintained the right amount of levity, the situation could be salvaged. “But I’m all lonely down here…” That was her seductive voice. It had to make him bend to her will.
When the lights suddenly went on overhead, she saw her plan was working. Mason was indeed about to lie down next to her, and God only knew what would have happened next.
Only she stopped paying attention to Mason, because there was a man standing in the doorway between the
living room they were in, and the rest of the apartment.
He was holding a baseball bat.