How to Love(9)By: Kelly Jamieson
She intrigued him like no other woman. The way she’d shied away from talking about the emotions in her images, boldly changing the subject and then totally flirting with him…she was the kind of woman who could probably mess with a guy’s mind, but wow, she fascinated him. He was looking forward to getting to know his new neighbor better. Much better.
They could hear the music from the party as Jules and Neve let themselves out her front door and started toward the beach. Jules grimaced. “I hope all the neighbors are invited so they don’t complain about the noise.”
Neve grinned, a small thermal cooler bag slung over her shoulder. She and Jules had pre-mixed margaritas chilled and packed up for the party. “I bet they are all invited.”
Sand spilled from the beach onto the road and the sidewalk as they drew closer, and then their feet sank into the silky cool sand as they started toward the rear of Jaden and Bella’s beachside home. Tiki torches on the beach lit the area. The thumping music of a Pitbull song played over speakers, but it wasn’t really that loud. The sound of voices chattering and laughing floated on the night air as they approached, the soft whoosh of dark ocean waves washing onto the shore a backdrop behind them. A small fire burned on the beach in a fire pit with people gathered around it. More guests were dancing in the sand, and still more gathered on the large wooden deck of the house.
“Ah, Matt’s here,” Neve said on a groan, referring to her brother who was also one of Jules’s neighbors.
“Of course he is,” Jules said with a laugh. “What’s wrong with that? He’s a nice guy.”
“He’s going to bug me about wasting my life working in a coffee shop.”
Which was probably true. Jules liked Matt a lot, but she knew he drove Neve crazy. Since their dad had died when Neve was eleven, Matt had taken over the father role and Neve did not appreciate it.
“You should tell him what your plans are.” Neve had recently confided her goals but had asked Jules to keep that to herself because of her own doubts, and also because she knew how her brother would react.
Neve scowled. “Why, so he can make fun of me or tell me it will never work? Or I should be doing a ‘real’ job? No thanks. Let him think I’m wasting my life away.”
“Hey, Jules! Neve!” People greeted them as they climbed the steps to the deck, some giving them hugs and kisses. They pulled out their margaritas.
“Where are the guests of honor?” Neve asked, pouring a drink. “And our hostesses?”
“They went inside for a tour of the house.”
Neve and Jules exchanged glances, thinking of the two cute little blonde sisters and the two hunky neighbors. Jules pursed her lips. Whatever.
She and Neve started talking to Matt’s live-in girlfriend Corey Fenwick about her incredible hand-made chocolates. “Your chocolate is as good as an orgasm,” Jules said with a groan. “I need some.”
“That must be some chocolate,” said a deep voice from behind her.
Jules turned to see Mike, smiling, holding a bottle of beer. “Oh, it is,” she said. “Have you met Corey?” She made introductions.
“And you haven’t met Carlos yet,” Mike said. “Carlos! Buddy, come meet our next-door neighbor.”
Jules followed his gaze and watched a man detach himself from the Surf Sisters with a smile and stroll across the deck toward them. She let out a soft sigh. Oh man. Another easy-on-the-eyes neighbor. Carlos was about the same height as Mike, who she put at around six feet, more muscled than Mike’s lean build, also broad in the shoulders, narrow in the hips. His darker skin, short beard and cropped black hair contrasted Mike’s golden tan and sunlit brown hair. When he smiled, blinding white teeth flashed and dark eyes crinkled at the corners.
She recalled her impulsive invitation to Mike earlier, to pose nude for her. God. Carlos could pose too. Jesus.
“Hey,” he said, extending a hand. “I’m Carlos Vergara. You must be Jules.”
“I am.” She shook his hand. “Nice to meet you, Carlos.”
“Mike tells me he was at your gallery this afternoon.”