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Roommate Wars: Chapter 14


So far, the night had been a success. Environ received one verbal commitment from an investor, and two meetings were scheduled with potential investors who’d gone from cold to warm in interest. Not a done deal, but promising. On top of that, my date was smoking hot, though feisty, and I was enjoying myself, which I rarely did at these events.

Ball attendees had made their way to dining tables positioned off to the side, and we were in the process of tackling the last part of a four-course meal, guests talking animatedly around us.

Elise stared greedily at the limoncello and raspberry mini cake on the plate in front of her. “If this is the type of food I can expect from these things, feel free to bring me to all the parties, Jackson.”

I smirked. That was a promise I would hold her to. With Max and Sophia here tonight, along with Elise, it felt more like a fancy get-together than an investor ass-kissing.

“I won’t even mind it when Thalia insults me if the food is this good.”

I swiveled my head to her. “What did you say?”

Her fork was raised to her mouth, a bite of cake on the end. “Huh?”

“About Thalia?”

She bit the side of her lip and set her fork down. “Nothing. She just, ah…isn’t a fan of mine.”

The fuck? “Why do you think that?”

Elise picked up her napkin and touched the side of her mouth with it. Her hands were elegant even when they smacked my ass, which I’d deserved. “To summarize, she made it clear I’m not good enough for you.”

I snorted. “You’re way out of my league.”

She blinked, her expression stunned.

I took a bite of cake and looked away. “She’s probably jealous. You’re breathtaking tonight.” I considered that a moment. “Too stunning—a few men here need to watch where their eyes roam.”

The warmth of her gaze caressed the side of my face. “Those are heavy compliments, Jackson. You’re not going to ask me for anything, are you? Because if clothes and delicacies are involved, I might accept.”

I glared, and she smiled.

“As I was saying,” I told her, “maybe stay away from lecherous geezers. These rich, old men are crafty.”

“Noted,” she said. “But the only handsy man so far has been my roommate.”

I pointed my dessert fork at her. “That was for show.”

“Sure. I believe you,” she said, heavy on the sarcasm. She took another bite of dessert. “But your acting didn’t pass the test. Thalia isn’t buying it. That woman is onto us.”

I growled low in my throat. If Thalia hadn’t already brought in new investors and won over my team, I’d consider letting her go. “Let me handle her.”

Two days later, I’d been forced to go commando all day during a very important meeting with community leaders interested in our technology, and I’d felt like a total perv. “Elise!”

I dumped my briefcase on the counter and stormed to her bedroom.

She was sitting with her head against the beige upholstered headboard, hair in a messy bun, long, bared legs crossed at the ankle while she typed on her laptop, wearing nothing but a pair of my boxers and a T-shirt.

I shook my head. Ogling my roommate wasn’t the reason I’d hunted her down. “Dammit, Elise, I have no underwear. What happened to doing laundry?”

She looked up sheepishly before her expression turned to one of stubbornness. “That’s not my fault. You made me get dressed and go to a party over the weekend, and I didn’t have time for laundry. There’s a lot of work involved in beautifying oneself. There’s the shaving all the bits—”

I flinched.

“—and the polishing of nails and other parts. And makeup, and underwear that doesn’t show through fitted silk. And hair! Have you any idea how long it takes to accomplish a natural-looking bun that doesn’t stretch my skin like a canvas? And for the record, five-inch heels hurt. So don’t give me this ‘You didn’t do my laundry, woman,’ business. I’ve been busy and I’ll get to it when I get to it. Or, you know, you can do a load yourself.”

The instinct to tuck tail and hide was powerful.

She returned to her computer and snapped her fingers without looking up. “Close the door behind you.”

How had I lost this argument? “Just make sure you get to the laundry.” Sophia had tried to school me about heels when she lived here, and like a moron, I hadn’t considered that when I bought Elise’s outfit. “Sorry about the shoe thing. I should have asked before I bought them.”

Her temperament flipped on a dime, and she beamed up at me. “It’s fine. They were very pretty.”

I narrowed my eyes. Was she playing me? “Speaking of uncomfortable, do you know how awkward it is to wear a suit without underwear? The boys were clacking like castanets.”

Elise’s eyes widened, and then she bent at the waist and laughed, tipping her laptop onto the mattress. “Really?” She wiped her eyes, because apparently that had brought tears to them.

“Happy my misery makes you laugh,” I said, irritated, but my lips might have cracked a fraction into a smile. “It’s airy without underwear.”

Her gaze slid to my waist, and I felt it in my dick. “You’re not helping,” I muttered.

She gave her head a quick shake. “Sorry. I guess I can take a break and do a load.” She set the laptop aside and slid off the bed. “Just give me an hour or two.”

“What about dinner?” I asked.

Her face hardened. “You’re pushing it, Jackson.”

I held up my hands. “It’s in the contract.”

She raised her eyebrow. “You mean the invisible contract?”

“The verbal contract.”

“Fine,” she said and swept past me. “Take your shower, or whatever, and I’ll tend to my domestic duties.”

Thirty minutes later and showered, I walked out in sweats and a tee to find Elise in the kitchen wearing her Hot Stuff apron, which was a good sign. She never made food without wearing that thing.

I sat at the peninsula, and she set a plate in front of me.

“Pizza?” I said, surprised. “And salad?” She’d heated up a frozen pizza and even added additional toppings. But the salad with cut vegetables was the biggest shocker.

This was a huge upgrade from her normal fare. Call me impressed.

Elise busted out a piece of fabric and handed it to me. “Here.”

I held it up. “Are these…my boxers?” I glanced at her legs, now covered in the jeans I’d bought her that looked damn good, if I did say so. Her top was something black and stretchy the salesperson had insisted would look nice. And it did. Too nice, because it was hugging her curves in all the right places, drawing my attention and holding it.

And then my body froze. “These aren’t… Is this the pair of boxers you were just wearing?”

I’d considered buying her lingerie when I bought her a wardrobe, but figured she’d take it the wrong way and injure me. Now I realized I should have taken the risk.

“Yeah, but don’t worry,” she said. “I only wore them for an hour or so.”

I stared. “Tell me you wore underwear underneath these.” The idea of her bare flesh against the boxers was too much. The partial erection I’d had earlier was now at full mast.

She checked the time on her phone. “Of course I was, silly.” She took off the apron. “Are we good here?”

I frowned as she rushed to put away dishes she’d used to prepare the food. “Where are you going?”

“Date. Sophia convinced me to try this new app her employees were talking about.” She closed the dishwasher and dusted off her hands. “She’s worried this fake-dating arrangement will ruin our friendship, and she wants to make sure things stay platonic. Toodles!” She finger-waved and walked out the door before I could catch my breath.

More dating?

It wasn’t until she was gone that I realized there was no way she could have done laundry and made dinner in the last thirty minutes. Which meant the only underwear I had for tomorrow were the ones in my hand. The ones that had caressed her long tan legs earlier. And other bits.



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