This Tangled Thing Called Love: A Contemporary Romance Novel

BOOK: This Tangled Thing Called Love: A Contemporary Romance Novel
7.58Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

This Tangled Thing




Marie Astor





This Tangled Thing Called Love

Copyright 2012 by Marie Astor

Excerpt from
To Catch a Bad Guy
by Marie Astor

Published at Amazon for Kindle




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 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. Any resemblance to actual events or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

Table of Contents


Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Chapter 24

Chapter 25

Chapter 26

Chapter 27

Chapter 28

Chapter 29

Chapter 30

Chapter 31

Chapter 32

Chapter 33

Chapter 34

Chapter 35

Chapter 36

Excerpt from
To Catch a Bad Guy

Chapter 1



It was barely eight a.m. when Claire heard the sound of music emanating from the ceiling. For a moment, she had a scary thought that she was late for work, but then she remembered that it was Saturday. She curled her legs and pulled the comforter up to her chin; she was dreaming, and the sensual music had to be a part of the dream. She snuggled against the pillow in anticipation of what the dream would bring next, but as she attempted to drift back to sleep, the music kept growing louder. After tossing and turning, Claire finally awakened, aware that the persistent sounds were very real.

Claire lay back on her pillow, staring into the ceiling in bewilderment as the sultry sounds of Argentine tango filled her bedroom.
Who in their right mind would blast tango music at eight o’clock on a Saturday morning? Obviously, the new tenant of the upstairs apartment,
Claire answered her own question. She was wide-awake now. Building rules explicitly stated that there was to be no noise until 10 a.m. on weekends, and she would make it her business to educate the new resident.

Claire kicked off the comforter and slid her feet into her slippers. Then she pulled on her bathrobe and headed out the door.

She pressed the elevator button, but saw that the elevator was out of order. Had she been in a calmer state, this might have been enough of an obstacle to postpone her mission, but at present this circumstance only added oil to the fire.

As she walked up the stairs to the top floor apartment, Claire felt the onset of a hangover. She had been out late with the girls last night, and she was bound to pay for it now. If only she had been able to sleep it off. Claire frowned as she stoically climbed the rest of the stairs. Saturdays were supposed to be relaxing, but this Saturday promised to be anything but.

The music grew even louder once Claire had reached the next floor. Now it was a
waltz: a slow, sensual melody that made her
right down to her slippers.
This music lover must be quite a connoisseur of tangos
, Claire thought, about to ring the doorbell. She stopped halfway, remembering that in her fury she had forgotten to brush her teeth and comb her hair. Her hesitation was brief, as she decided that this grooming lapse was irrelevant at the moment. In fact, she thought that it might serve the purpose of her visit – her disheveled state should be enough of a deterrent to stop the culprit from further misconduct. She pressed the bell and waited.

Several minutes passed. The music continued, but nothing else happened. Frowning, Claire rang the doorbell again. Her lips drawn and her hands crisscrossed on her chest, she geared herself up for the speech she planned to deliver to the offender, but she was disappointed yet again as the door remained closed.

This time her finger nearly sank into the rickety doorbell as she kept the button pressed for almost a minute. Whoever was inside had to hear that, but apparently, she was mistaken again. Exasperated, Claire clenched her fingers into a fist and pounded on the door, but to her surprise the door
open under the impact. The blasting music seeping through the opening enveloped her, and under its spell, Claire made her way inside the apartment.

What she saw next defeated all of her expectations as she froze in place, mouth agape. The apartment consisted of one giant room. It must have been a one-bedroom at
some point, but the dividing wall had been knocked down, leaving a vast loft. The room was empty save for a frumpy couch in the corner, a scant table and two chairs. Several large bags, presumably with clothes and other possessions, were planted on the floor sporadically.

But this disarray had nothing to do with Claire’s paralyzed state as she stared at the back of the man who was too absorbed by his task to notice her presence. He was shirtless, and his muscles rippled as he moved with feline grace to the sound of the mesmerizing melody. His feet were engaged in complicated dance moves, but his hands were busy with a paint roller as he coated the wall in front of him in red paint. His longish hair touched the nape of his neck, and Claire found herself swallowing uneasily as she stared on, hypnotized.

The music lover
– that was how she mentally called him – lowered his paint roller into the paint bin, and Claire caught his striking Roman profile. He was about to go on with his task, but he must have spotted her from the corner of his eye, because he abruptly turned around and stared right at her. Claire blinked and began rattling off the cause of her visit, at which the music lover signaled for her to
stop and glided over to the iPo
d speakers on the table, which were the source of Claire’s initial indignation.
was the only word Claire could think to describe his graceful way of moving.

The music stopped, and Claire shivered uncomfortably, terrified by her current predicament. What had she been thinking, wandering into some stranger’s apartment? He could have her arrested for trespassing, and that was the least alarming of the possibilities. Handsome or not, he could be a serial killer for all she knew, and now she was stuck there at his mercy.

“I’m Alec, Alec
.” The music lover smiled at her as he held her gaze with his dark brown eyes.

Claire made a mental effort to stop calling the man before her
the music lover
. His name was Alec, and she knew absolutely nothing about him except the fact that he was inconsiderate enough to blast tango music at eight in the morning on a Saturday, which was why she found herself in his apartment in the first place. That’s right, her visit had a purpose, and now she would make it known.

“I’m Claire Chatfield. I live in the apartment below yours…”

“It is a pleasure to meet you, Claire. Thank you for coming over to welcome me to the building.” Alec reached for her hand, and Claire felt his warm fingers encircle her palm. “Would you like some coffee, Claire? I was about to have mine…” He half-turned to the tiny kitchen.

“No!” Claire heard herself shouting.

“Well, if you don’t like coffee, I have some orange juice…” Alec went on, clearly taken aback by her reaction.

Get yourself together
, Claire thought as she folded her arms on her chest, pinching her forearm. “Actually, the reason I stopped by is the music.”

“You love tango, huh?” Alec’s gaze travelled along her bathrobe. “It is beautiful…”

“No, I don’t love tango,” Claire snapped.
Alec character sure had his act down pat
. Granted, he was a looker, but in Claire’s book that did not give him the right to be so blatant about it. Sure, there must be plenty of women hungering for his
mouthwatering flesh, but she sure as hell was not one of them. She had a boyfriend, and she had come there for a reason.

“You don’t like tango?” Alec stared at her in frank bewilderment.

“I don’t like any music blasting through my ceiling at eight a.m. on a Saturday. The building rules say no noise until ten a.m.” Claire glared at him. She was in control now.

“Oh, I’m so very sorry.” To her surprise, Alec blushed. “I used to rent a loft in a warehouse, and I forgot how thin building walls can be.” He grinned apologetically. “I promise you that it will not happen again. Now, may I offer you a cup of coffee as a peace offering?” He winked at her, catching her irate gaze.

“No, thank you. I think I’ll head back to bed and try to catch up on some sleep.” Claire turned to leave. “And by the way, you need to have a building permit to do any kind of handiwork,” she blurted over her shoulder as she shut the door behind her.

Back in the safety of her apartment, Claire locked the door behind her. Her face was burning crimson red; she had never lost control like this before.

She stumbled into the kitchen and put on the co
ffee pot. She was too rattled
to go back to bed now. Mechanically, she poured cereal into a bowl and splashed some milk over it. Taking a bite of her cereal, she cringed as she replayed the encounter in her mind. She could not remember the last time she had been this flustered. She liked to think of herself as a fairly rational person, and yet, just now she had behaved like a complete maniac. First, she had burst into a total stranger’s apartment, and then she had ogled his naked, incredibly muscular torso – at this thought Clair
cringed again, hoping that her new neighbor had not noticed this lapse – and then, after he had tried to make small talk despite her unexpected appearance in his apartment, she had nearly screamed at him for playing his music too loud. And to top it all off, after he had sincerely apologized, she had snubbed his perfectly good-natured offer of a cup of coffee.

Reliving the memory of her embarrassing behavior was enough to make Claire burrow her face in her hands and pull on her hair. She was a grown woman, and she knew how to handle tough situations. What on earth made her act like this? Sure, Alec’s devastatingly handsome looks could have been an explanation, but Claire knew full well that it was not the answer. A part of her wished it had been the answer. That would have made things so much simpler. Claire was in love with David Lawson, and she was not the kind of woman who got smitten by a six-pack, no matter how hard, or dark eyes, no matter how piercing. No, t
he true reason was in the music -
the sultry, maddening tango music.

You love tango, huh
? She remembered Alec’s question, which was more of a statement really, as though it were a given that everyone on earth adored the heart-wrenching melody. Well, in his defense, Alec could not have known how loaded the question was for Claire. His innocent remark took her back to a time she did not care to revisit, so the only natural response was to snub him and run for cover. Well, she was all grown up now, and she knew how to deal with unwelcome recollections of the past: lock them up in a “do not open” memories compartment, where they belonged.

BOOK: This Tangled Thing Called Love: A Contemporary Romance Novel
7.58Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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