Word Count: 22,079
Genre: Erotic Romance
Available formats: : PDF, RTF, Epub, HTML, Mobipocket (.prc)
© Cover Art by Jenny Dixon, 2012
New Concepts Publishing
Lake Park, GA 31636
This is a work of fiction. All characters, events, and places are of the author's imagination and not to be confused with fact. Any resemblance to living persons or events is merely coincidence.
New to town, I’d used up a tank of gas pounding the pavement in search of a place to light before I had to spend all of my savings on a hotel. I tried to be philosophical about the situation. I’d be living here now. I needed to learn my way around, but moving wasn’t cheap and I was going to have to count my pennies until I was fully settled, so it was hard to be completely off hand about it.
There’d been a few frustrations in the exercise, like getting lost more times than I liked to count, but I’d found a place that suited both my budget and my temperament. I was trying to decide what furniture I needed and where to put the pieces I’d brought with me when I’d discovered the view from my apartment was a beautiful one--not the scenery, the local wildlife.
My living room window looked right down into the walled yard of the neighbor’s house--sort of--meaning I could see into it--and from a distance at least, the man next door was enough to send any red blooded woman’s libido into overdrive.
Impossible as it seemed, he looked even better close up, because I’d nearly broke my neck to get back downstairs to unload the car so that I could get a better look at the young god sprawled half naked in a lawn chair next door.
Disappointment filled me when I reached the parking lot. The wall was just a tad too high for me to look over it casually. I suppose that was why I hadn’t noticed him to begin with.
I glared at the wall irritably. Climbing on the top of my car and leering at him wasn’t what I’d had in mind. He was built like a young god, but that didn’t mean he looked like one. For all I knew the body was just a fluke and the face that went with it a total turnoff.
I was still trying to figure out how I was going to get a better look at him when I slammed the trunk lid, hoisted the box I’d removed from the trunk on one hip and started back. There was a face peering at me from the other side of the wall. A jolt went through me, partly because I was stunned to discover he’d come to check me out without any pretense of casual curiosity, partly because finding someone staring at me was completely unexpected, and partly because if this face went with the body I’d seen from my window it was hard to fathom why there wasn’t also a harem of women draped all over him.
Blinking rapidly, as if someone had just swung a punch at me, I braked as abruptly as if I’d run into the wall he was leaning on.
His dark gaze scanned me from the top of my head right down to my sandals without any attempt to hide his carnal interest. His gaze was heated when his eyes met mine again and so was I. One corner of a devilishly kissable mouth tipped upward, displaying an equally devilish dimple. The smile kept growing, his lips parting slowly to reveal a set of teeth that looked amazingly white next to his dark olive skin. “Movin’ in,chère?”
Feeling as giddy and awkward as a teenager, I merely gaped at him, my mind struggling to decipher the unfamiliar accent. “Uh--yes,” I finally managed a little weakly.
“You doan sound too sure,chère. I didn’t scare you, did I? ‘Cause that wasn’t what I had in mind. I just figured I might as well introduce myself an’ offer you a hand, seein’ as how we’re gonna be neighbors.”
I managed a tremulous smile. “That’s so sweet of you to offer, but I’ve only got a few things with me. Most of my stuff is in storage. I thought I’d look around for someone to move it for me tomorrow.”
I blinked in surprise and stepped back as he hoisted himself up on top of the wall. Every muscle in both arms and his chest and belly strained and rippled as he straightened his arms, supporting his body momentarily, and then flung one leg over the top.
Every muscle in my body clenched, especially those in my lower belly, as I stared in opened mouthed wonder at all those rippling muscles. I hadn’t even known men had that many muscles in their bodies.
“Beau,” he murmured with a wide smile as he landed beside me.
I was so busy staring at the happy trail that led from his belly button to Godzilla, faithfully cupped by his snug jeans, that it took me several moments to gather my wits. “I’m … uh …Jillian,” I supplied after a frantic scramble around my mind in search of my identity. “Beau?”
He grimaced, rubbing the dark shadow of beard along his jaw. “Short for Beauregard. DuMauier.”
My face flamed. I prodded my mind for the little bit of French I remembered from high school. Beautiful view? I knew that was close to the mark if not the exact translation. I’d thought it was a nickname, but if anybody deserved to wear such a name, this man certainly did.
“Oh!” I said. Thoroughly rattled by now, I stuck my hand out. “Jillian.”
The easy grin and the dimple appeared again, this time accompanied by a husky chuckle that made my kegels clench like they had something to hang on to--or wanted something to place a stranglehold on--which they definitely did. “I did rattle you just a tad, din I,chère?”
I went back to blinking, wondering how he could tell. “Cook,” I added hastily, realizing that I’d already given him my first name twice and feeling my face heat up and flash like a neon sign.
“On occasion,” he responded. “Especially for purty ladies.”
I began to have the bizarre feeling that I’d stepped into a different world and the natives didn’t speak my language. It dawned on me after a moment, though, that he’d thought my name was a question. “Uh … I meant, my last name. It’s Cook.”
He chuckled again, his face darkening just enough to thoroughly captivate me, as if I hadn’t been to start with. “Now I’m disappointed. Here I thought we had somethin’ goin’.”
I wasn’t shy ordinarily, but I wasn’t exactly bold either. I burned to say something ribald, though. Dinner and a fuck? “We could,” I stammered. “I mean, I could … cook.” My wits were scrambled! “Uh … actually, I don’t have any of the kitchen stuff yet.”
“So--maybe I should invite you to my place instead? I cook a mean steak.”
I wanted to accept, desperately, which was the main reason I thought it unwise. “I’d like that,” I managed to say politely. “But I guess I should get settled in before I consider … uh ….” I floundered, trying to decide whether the invitation constituted a date, or if it was just a neighborly sort of ‘housewarming’ thing. I didn’t want to sound as if I assumed he was interested in me that way when I’d barely met him. “…Playing” Eekk! Where the fuck had that come from? “Work before …uh … play, you know.” God! Kill me now! That was unbelievably stupid! “Because I’m not settled in and couldn’t return the invitation.”
I could tell from his expression that he was trying to decide if I’d lost my keeper or had way too much to drink.
This was really going badly!
I rubbed my temple absently, wondering if I’d gotten sun stroke, or if it was just my libido that had fried my brain. “I’m sorry. I’m just really tired,” I said on inspiration. “Long drive, and all the packing before, sleeping in a strange place. I’m really not a moron. Honestly.”
He gave me a look of sympathy. “Tell ya what, baby. I jus’ happen to have access to a truck and some men with strong arms and backs. Why don’t I give you a hand with the movin’?”
“That is so sweet!” I exclaimed, totally surprised to discover that he was as nice as he was beautiful. “I wouldn’t want to impose, though.”
He took the box from me and guided me toward the apartment house. “I consider it an investment.”
I looked at him in surprise, wondering if I was going to get to pay him back in trade. Oh what a job that would be! “An investment?”
“I’ll get you moved in, and you cook dinner for me.”