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Roommate Wars: Chapter 5


I was scavenging in Jack’s kitchen for food when the universe heard my prayer and sent a delivery woman bearing groceries.

I graciously accepted said food on his behalf, decided this was too much for him to eat alone, and helped myself to a sandwich after I put everything away.

It was somewhat strange that Jack had invited his CEO into his bedroom, but then again, this was Jack we were talking about. A dedicated homebody.

I’d gotten a glimpse of his bedroom the one night I spent there, and then earlier when I borrowed some clothes. His room was massive, and half of it was set up like an office, so it wasn’t entirely unusual that he’d have a meeting there.

Who was I kidding? It was strange. But I batted down any territorial instincts I was feeling toward Jack because he wasn’t mine, even if I felt a twinge of something unpleasant in my chest at watching another woman go to his room.

This was strictly a one-month business transaction where I made dinner three nights out of the week and did laundry. No bedroom shenanigans involved. That bridge had been burned.

Twenty minutes later, the sound of the woman’s laughter made my ears perk up. Because her tone was flirty.

What in the hell were they doing in there?

I tiptoed to my bedroom and closed the door, leaving it open a crack, then sank onto the bed my sister had left behind and listened.

Was I being nosey? Damn straight!

Jack was hot—when he wasn’t bossing me around. I’d seen the way Thalia looked at him, and it hadn’t been entirely professional.

She was classy-looking, dressed in moss-green wide-leg slacks and a matching blazer with a sexy cream tank. Her outfit was the kind of top-notch businesswoman gear I’d never worn in my life, because who could afford that shit? Jack’s new CEO, apparently.

Meanwhile, I was in boxers and a ratty T-shirt, so I didn’t feel uncomfortable. No, not at all.

This was my temporary home. Everyone dressed like crap at home. I didn’t need to look good; I needed a roof over my head, and who cared if his CEO was classy and pretty? All I wanted was my independence, and living with Jack was a means to an end. If this lady had designs on him, it was good I knew that from the start, so I didn’t get in the way.

I sighed and looked around. Other than the bed, my room was barren, and I couldn’t find my phone. Or my purse, come to think of it. I’d dumped the clothes I’d been wearing near the front door after my shower, and Jack had stashed them somewhere when I wasn’t looking.

As much as I hated to admit it, he’d been right about not bringing anything from the moldy apartment. But I needed something to wear to work tomorrow. Maybe I could pick up a few basics from Target?

I tiptoed into the living room and looked around for my purse. Jack had done something with it after we left my apartment, and I forgot to ask him for it when we got here, as the idea of living with him was throwing me off.

I looked to the ceiling and sighed. I couldn’t buy basic clothing for tomorrow if I didn’t have a wallet. Should I interrupt them and ask him what he’d done with it?

I returned to the hallway and stared at Jack’s door. The sound of his deep voice filtered out as he said something about synergistic outreach—whatever that meant. I’d be disturbing their meeting to ask about my purse, which was a weird roommate thing to do.

Fine, I thought and yawned. This could wait until later.

I crumpled like an accordion on Sophia’s old mattress and closed my eyes.

When I stirred briefly sometime later, it was to the feel of a soft, fluffy blanket being draped over me, right before I sank into a dreamless sleep.

“Morning,” I said as I entered the kitchen the next day. “Thank you for the blanket.” I’d left my door open a crack last night, and Jack must have given me one at some point.

He was sitting at the counter scarfing cereal and scrolling through his phone. “No worries,” he said without looking up.

I opened the pantry. “Do you know what happened to my purse? I couldn’t find it last night.”

After I nodded off yesterday afternoon, I’d slept straight through the night. Living in the roach and mold apartment was stressful, but damn, that was a lot of sleep.

He crunched on a mouthful of some kind of granola/cornflake combo and said, “It’s gone.”

I blinked several times, and my heart began to pound. “Gone? My purse has my work access card and phone, along with my credit cards. It can’t be gone.”

For a second he stopped chewing, his gaze darting to the side. Then he proceeded to shove another bite in his mouth. “It’s getting fumigated by a guy who knows a guy that Max put me in touch with.”

My eyes widened. “What? Jackson, you can’t just take my stuff.”

“Name’s not Jackson, just Jack.” He glanced up, finally looking at me. “Don’t they know you at the health department? Will they need to see the badge to let you in?”

There was probably someone I could call, though it wouldn’t look good to have lost my badge right after starting the job. “That’s beside the point. You can’t take my things and do what you want with them. Those were my personal belongings! My purse has my driver’s license and phone and money.”

He gulped orange juice, his muscular throat working the liquid down, and I glanced away. There was a reason I’d had a crush on Sophia’s old roommate—and it was because he was hot as hell. Even his throat, damn him. I was furious, but my hormones had a mind of their own.

He set the glass on the marble countertop. “Driver’s license? You don’t own a car; you take the bus to work.”

How the hell did he know that?

I threw up my hands. “I need my money. And I have no clothes!” I was still wearing the boxers and T-shirt he’d lent me yesterday.

He finally took me in, and his gaze snagged on my legs before he lifted the bowl to his mouth and drank the cereal milk like a savage.

“Jackson, are you listening?”

He cut me a glare. “Are you going to keep calling me that?”

Finally, something I said got his attention. “Yes. It’s catchy.”

“You’ll never get your purse back with that attitude.”

I breathed in and counted to ten, then let out the air. I would kill him after I got my purse back, but not before. “I can’t go to work looking like this. I have a professional job.”

He stood and carried his dish to the sink, where he rinsed it under the water. “Borrow more of my stuff. I’m sure you can do something with one of my button-down shirts.”

Okay, that could work. “What about pants?”

“Your sister is on her way down. Borrow a pair of hers.”


Right on cue, my sister stormed into the apartment, carrying her giant, all-purpose bag, her hair already frizzy even though it was only seven thirty in the morning. “Where have you been?” Her face was flushed, her expression concerned.

He’d called Sophia? Jack was dead.

And if he thought I’d stop calling him that ridiculous nickname, he had another thing coming. This was a trap. He’d brought me here to torture me with my sister’s overprotectiveness, and it was about to backfire on his ass.

I smiled reassuringly at Soph. “I was a little busy. Sorry for not getting in touch sooner.”

Sophia dumped her bag on the counter, and it landed with a thud that sounded like she might have broken her laptop. “You couldn’t return a phone call?”

“I was working and moving. You went through the same thing not that long ago. You know how hard it can be.”

Her expression softened into one of disappointment. “But I could have helped. You didn’t need to do it all on your own.”

Which was why I hadn’t called her. My sister had mothering issues.

I loved Sophia dearly, and she was my best friend, but sometimes her nurturing went too far. Especially when I wanted to stand on my own.

Though, I had to admit, I could use her help if I was to make it to work on time. “Well, now’s your chance. Can I borrow a pair of pants?”


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