How to Love(4)By: Kelly Jamieson
Jules smiled back at her. “Hey, Jaden.”
“Hey. We’re having the party to welcome our new neighbors, who are also your new neighbors, so you have to come.”
“My new next-door neighbors?” Jules handed money over to Neve and accepted the cup of coffee now topped with a plastic lid.
“Yeah. Have you met them?”
“I just met one of them this morning, as a matter of fact. Some of my mail got put in their mailbox by mistake and he brought it over. Mike. He said he has a roommate named Carlos.”
“Yeah. So we’re having a party to welcome them.”
“Sounds like fun.”
“Just warning you, though—Bella has her eye on Carlos.”
Jules pursed her lips, clasping her coffee in both hands. “Yeah. So?”
Jaden held up her hands. “I’m just saying.”
Jules really hated when people did that. Like they thought she went around trying to steal away people’s boyfriends or husbands or whatever. She would fully admit to being a bit of a flirt—she liked men and they liked her. But she would never steal a guy away from another girl on purpose. And what made Jaden’s comment even more annoying was that Bella and Carlos weren’t even a couple. They could barely know each other, after all. Why shouldn’t Jules be able to talk to her new neighbor and maybe flirt a little if he was nice?
But maybe it was Mike she wanted to talk to and flirt with, because, oh yeah, he was hot and there had definitely been a spark of something between them earlier.
She didn’t even know what to say to Jaden. She’d sound like a bitch if she told her she’d flirt with whatever guys she wanted to. And it was hard to let that go. But then, she wasn’t interested in this Carlos—she’d never even met him—so it probably wasn’t worth getting her thong in a twist over. She looked at Neve and rolled her eyes.
Since she wanted to go to the party, she said, “Okay. He’s all hers.” But then she couldn’t resist adding, “If he wants to be.”
Neve grinned, leaning on the counter. “I’ll come to your place tomorrow night,” she said. “We can walk to the party together from there.”
The street Jules lived on ran perpendicular to the beach, and the two houses at the end both sat right on the ocean. One of those houses belonged to Jaden and Bella. Their little business obviously did very well, because those beach houses were pricy. Hell, so were the other houses on the street. Jules’s house was one of the tiniest cottages, six houses off the beach, and the rent on it set her back a tidy sum every month. But she loved it and wished she could afford to buy it.
“Thanks for the invitation,” she said to Jaden and left the little shop with her coffee. Now she had that party to look forward to, another chance to meet Mike and get to know him a little better and see if he was really as smokin’ hot as she’d thought that morning.
“What’s the neighbor like?” Carlos asked when Mike walked into the kitchen. He sat at the table, spooning Cheerios from a bowl to his mouth while he read the paper.
“Hot.” It was the first word that came to mind.
Carlos looked up at him and lifted one black eyebrow. “Yeah?”
Mike met his eyes and lifted one shoulder. “Oh yeah.”
“What was with the skin mag?”
Mike filled his coffee with what was left in the pot and turned it off. “It’s an art magazine,” he drawled. “She’s an artist. A photographer.”
Carlos grinned. “She takes nude pictures of men?”
“Uh…I don’t know. I assumed men and women. She gave me her card. She has a gallery. Maybe I’ll go check it out.”
Carlos eyed him. “Yeah?”
“Why not? She seemed nice. Really…sexy.”
Carlos sat back in his chair. “Well.”
Mike shrugged sheepishly. “Whatever. She lives next door. We’ll see her again.”
“No doubt. Okay. Let’s get going. My afternoon is booked for a bike trip into the hills. And what are you doing?”
Mike sighed. “Payroll.”
“Don’t pretend you’re pissed about that. You love that shit.”