Roommate Wars: Chapter 22


Elise

I couldn’t move, couldn’t turn or stretch my legs. I was too tired to wake fully, so I dozed in out of consciousness until I was finally uncomfortable enough to open my eyes. I groggily tried to sit up, but there was a very heavy arm around my waist.

I knew that muscled arm. Knew that soapy male scent.

Jack.

We’d been watching TV, and then Jackson gifted me with the most incredible foot rub. But what happened after that?

I tried to turn and look at him, and although the couch was as soft as any bed, it wasn’t actually a bed. With the two of us spooning, I couldn’t shift.

So I moved to roll off the couch toward the ground, but I was trapped in the Jack-sized swell his larger body created on the couch.

It didn’t help that he was warm and cuddly, and I was freaking tired.

I closed my eyes and enjoyed the moment with Jack off his guard, his body wrapped around mine. The soft sound of his breathing. I could stay like this. Sleep out here for the night. But that would mean waking in his arms, and as tempting as that sounded, I was still getting used to the idea of us dating.

I rolled forward, putting all my weight into it, and tumbled onto the floor between the couch and the coffee table.

When I looked up, Jack was staring, a lock of thick, wavy hair covering one of his eyes, his expression confused.

He blinked and looked around, then yawned. “What time is it?”

I reached over and turned off the TV. Only now the room was totally dark. Crap. “I don’t know.”

He sat up and reached for his phone on the coffee table, tapping the screen to get it to light up. “Three.”

Shit! Half the night had passed? I sprang to my feet and ended up stumbling and half falling onto Jack.

His hands were on my hips, steadying me, sending heated zingers spiraling down my belly.

“Sorry,” I said and straightened. “We should go to bed.”

He stood, yawning again while making a noise of assent. But instead of walking to his bedroom, he stepped back for me to go first.

I stopped in front of him. “Good night.” His hair was rumpled and adorable, but his gaze was on my mouth, and the moment grew intimate in the still apartment the way it had earlier in the night.

Clamming up, I turned and hurried to my room. On my way there, I heard him quietly pad into the kitchen and turn off the stove light we left on when we weren’t home.

He was shutting down the house, and it was domestic. Somehow that stupid light made this whole arrangement less casual. He was looking out for me, and no one did that except for Sophia.


It took me forever to fall back asleep, and it seemed like only minutes had passed when my obnoxious alarm went off. I wobbled groggily through my morning routine, grabbing one of my favorite blouses from Jack, along with dark pants. After a few more minutes of applying makeup squint-eyed and detangling my hair, I reached for my work bag and headed to the kitchen.

Would Jack be awake, or would he sleep in? He seemed to be getting up early most mornings instead of the vampiric schedule my sister said he kept. Could be because of his new company and the various meetings he’d been attending lately.

If the city health department wasn’t such a bureaucracy, I would have slept in too, but they liked us to clock in and out at the exact same time. No working overtime (that cost them more), and no clocking in late! The exclamation was silent, but I felt it in my soul whenever I saw my boss, who’d taken to casually strolling past the worker-bee cubicles when I was least expecting it.

Only this morning, Jack hadn’t slept in. He was standing in the kitchen in a suit and tie, hair lightly damp from a recent shower, and he had his cell phone held to his ear.

“Are you sure you can’t make it?” There was a pause in which Jack didn’t seem to get the response he wanted. His head dipped and he frowned. “I see. No, no, I’ll figure something out.”

I dumped my work bag on the counter and went to the pantry. I didn’t have time to eat, so I grabbed an instant oatmeal packet for later, along with a hard-boiled egg I’d made a couple of days ago. I glanced over my shoulder to find him texting. “Everything okay?” I turned on the faucet and filled my water bottle.

He looked up. “Uh, yes. It will be.”

“What’s going on?”

He shook his head. “Just something with my dad.”

I turned off the faucet and faced him, arms crossed. “Jackson, are you my boyfriend or not?”

He looked over, adorably perplexed. “Yes?”

“Given that reality, shouldn’t you share what’s going on with me?” I gave him a pointed look, and here’s what was hilarious—I’d never had a boyfriend. Not a real one. I was a commitment-phobe after watching my sister put herself out there with friends and men and repeatedly getting rejected. I’d learned not to follow in those same footsteps. I’d date people for a few weeks here and there, but nothing serious. Yet here I was, schooling Jack.

It was a good thing this was short term, or we’d run into problems once we had to do serious adulting.

He let out a sigh. “My dad’s helper is sick. Which wouldn’t normally be a problem, but it’s been a few days since she was last there, and neither of us have checked on him. She cooks dinner and runs errands, like picking up prescriptions. I’m in meetings all day and can’t get there until late.” He checked the time again, then rubbed his jaw. “I suppose I could have food delivered and go later tonight. But the prescriptions…”

“I work near him. I’ll go after I get off and be there no later than five fifteen. What’s the name of the pharmacy?”

He blinked several times. “I can’t ask you to do that, Elise.”

“You didn’t ask me. I want to do it. I like your dad.”

He looked uncertain.

I rolled my eyes and shoved my packaged food in my bag. “Text me your dad’s address and the pharmacy.” I walked past him on my way to the door and smacked his ass, just to jog him out of his stupor.

He frowned, and I smiled.

The ass smack might also be because he looked sexy as hell in his business suit. I liked the dressed-down Jackson, but this worked too.

He was still frowning when I closed the front door. I would definitely pay for that ass smack later.

I’d made my way to the front of the building when I received a text from Jack containing his dad’s address and other information.

I was wearing the man down, and it made me uncommonly happy.

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