How to LoveBy: Kelly Jamieson
To P.G. Forte, who brainstormed this book with me when I was totally lost, and to Nara Malone (once again) who told me to put my writing frustrations into the story—thanks to you, Jules’s creative dissatisfaction comes from a very real place. Also, thanks to editor Christa for pushing me on this one.
What more could a girl ask for than a handsome new neighbor with a body worthy of a Men’s Health magazine cover?
Jules’s neighbor, who’d just introduced himself as Mike Lacasse, stood on her tiny front doorstep, his muscular self taking up a lot of space. Hazel eyes creased attractively at the corners when he smiled, and wow, that smile—boyish but super sexy. His golden brown hair stood in all directions, either carelessly casual or carefully styled, Jules wasn’t sure which. From his black T-shirt, wrinkled khaki cargo shorts and worn leather flip-flops, she was going to guess he hadn’t spent an hour in the bathroom using hair products.
Well, wasn’t this nice. She smiled back at him. “Hi,” she said. “Nice to meet you, Mike. I’m Jules Stockwood.”
He nodded. “I knew that.” He glanced at the magazine in his hand and held it out to her, tapping at the address label with his other hand. “This was…uh…delivered to us by accident. I found it in the mailbox this morning.”
She took the magazine, her monthly copy of Nude Photo. She looked up at him and caught the faint color that washed into his face. Aw…was he embarrassed by her reading material? She smiled.
“Thanks. I appreciate you bringing it over.”
“I’m a photographer,” she told him, holding up the magazine. “I do some nudes. This is a good resource.”
“Oh. Well. I didn’t even look at it…”
She laughed. “Yes you did. But don’t worry, it’s not porn and I’m not some crazy perv living next door to you. Although…” She paused. “Maybe that’s what you were hoping for.”
He blinked and then he smiled too, dimples flashing in his dark gold-stubbled cheeks. She almost sighed. What a smile.
He shoved his hands into the front pockets of his cargo shorts and shook his head. “Nope. Wasn’t hoping for a crazy perv. There’s nothing wrong with looking at a little soft porn once in a while.”
“I couldn’t agree more.”
“Not that that’s what that is,” he added, nodding at the magazine. “But I’m not going to claim I’ve never picked up a Playboy magazine.”
“And not just for the articles.”
They stood there smiling at each other and Jules felt it…a slide of heat through her veins, a tingle down low inside. She could read the interest and attraction in his eyes too, those green eyes with flecks of brown and gold.
“I was going to come over and introduce myself this weekend,” she said. “Are you getting settled in to your new place?”
“Yeah, getting there. The house needs a lot of work, though.”
She nodded. “Yeah. Mrs. Kedding who lived there couldn’t keep up with a lot of the things that needed to be done. Matt and I tried to help her out as much as we could, but it’s good for her that she’s living in a condo now.”
“Matt? Is that your husband?”
She laughed. “God, no! I’m not married. Matt’s the neighbor on the other side of you. I guess you haven’t met him yet.”
He shook his head. “No, not yet. Mrs. Kedding seemed like a nice lady. We knew the place needed some work but I don’t mind. I like doing stuff around the house. Hey, I should tell you—we’re going to paint the fence between our yards. Do you want us to paint your side too?”
“Us?” Damn! Was he married? She hadn’t seen a woman around since he’d moved in last weekend.
“Me and my roommate. Housemate, I guess. Carlos.”
“Oh.” Her smile returned. “You don’t have to paint my side. I can do that. Or my landlord.”
“Well, we could help. I’ll let you know when we’re going to buy the paint, and we can pick up an extra gallon for you.”
“That would be great.” She tipped her head to one side. “Um. Do you want to come in for a cup of coffee or anything?”