Rm w/a Vu(13)

By: A. D. Ryan

“You must be Juliette.” I think my head moves up and down, but if it is, it feels disconnected from the rest of me. There’s an awkward pause between us when his eyes lock with mine.

He’s nothing like I imagined him to be. First, he’s certainly not a 60-something-year-old bald guy in boxers and a sweat-stained tee. While I am thankful for this, it also worries me because how can I possibly live with a guy this good-looking? Standing within a foot of him makes my knees feel weak…not to mention the deep tickle that starts in my belly and works its way south of the border.

What the hell is that? It’s a rhetorical question, because I know what is happening with my body…but to be feeling this over a complete stranger? It’s unlike anything I’ve ever experienced—even with Ben—and my cheeks burn like they’re on fire.

We’re still staring at one another, and I honestly don’t know how much time has passed. I know I’m supposed to say something, but my brain and my mouth aren’t cooperating with each other right now.

The man must be confused, because his eyebrows pull together. “Are you not?”

My lips part, but the only sound that escapes is a breathless, “Huh?”

He chuckles. I enjoy the sound even more in person than over the phone. “Are you Juliette?”

“Yes,” I manage to squeak out. “Sorry, yes. I called last night about—”

“The room,” he finishes for me. “I remember. I’m Greyston Masters.” After introducing himself, he offers me his hand, and I take it. The way his warm hand closes securely around my own makes me sigh.

Get a grip! I inwardly scold myself, yanking my arm back and hugging it to my chest while my cheeks continue to flame. He regards me with one raised eyebrow. Clearly he thinks I’m insane and won’t want to take me on as a tenant. I should probably just g—

“Please, come in. I’ll show you the house and the available room for rent,” he offers, gallantly stepping off to the side to invite me in.

“Oh,” I say, somewhat shocked that he hasn’t slammed the door in my face with such force that I stumble backward. “Great.”

Once I’m inside, he closes the door. “Follow me.”

I listen, because I feel somewhat compelled to. It’s strange, this feeling I’m experiencing, but I shake it off because deep down I know I don’t believe in any of it. I even start to consider the possibility that I’m just seeking some kind of rebound.

I bet Greyston would be a great reboun—

I derail that train of thought before things inside my head get inappropriate—er.

We make our way slowly through the main level, and I can’t stop ogling the man. I do hear him; it’s just my eyes that aren’t paying attention. He shows me the living room first, and I’m proud of myself for being able to tear my eyes away from him long enough to admire his ability to decorate his home without it looking like a total bachelor pad.

He laughs, and I feel my heart quicken as I take in the way his eyes sparkle and how the outer corners crease when his smile reaches them. “My mother may have influenced a few of my decisions.”

“Meaning she made them for you,” I quip playfully, a wide smile forming.

“Essentially, yes.”

As we make our way through the rest of the main floor, my eyes continually find their way back to Greyston. His messy hair, the cut of his jaw…but mostly his ass. I can’t help it. I blame whoever designed the jeans he’s wearing. In fact, I am currently trying to devise a way to check out the tag on his pants so I can send an angry note…or a thank you letter; I’m still not entirely sure.

I have to get myself back under control, because if I do decide to live here, things could get awkward. I don’t want awkward. I have awkward at my parents’ house.

“The basement is just through this door. It’s finished, and the laundry room is down there.” He pauses briefly, seemingly nervous. “I’d show it to you, but I can imagine that leading a girl that responded to an ad I placed in the paper down into my basement might seem a little daunting.”

While I feel like I can trust him, my logical inner voice does kick in…and it sounds an awful lot like my father. “Not a problem. I’m okay. Thanks, though. It’s always good to know.”