We are taking book requests on our companion website. You can request books here. Make sure, you are following the rules.

Roommate Wars: Chapter 7


We returned to the apartment, and Elise dropped onto the living room couch, toppling Target bags over her lap. She kicked her bare feet up on the coffee table and said, “Home sweet home.”

A thrill ran up my spine. For some reason her thinking of my place as her own gave me immense pleasure. Which was weird and unusual.

If my ex, who’d also been my roommate, had put her feet on the coffee table, I’d have been annoyed as hell. She was self-centered and greedy, which was nothing new, because I had a type. She’d also helped herself to my wallet more times than I could count. When she helped herself to Max’s wallet, that had been the final straw.

Then there was Elise.

Watching Elise economize on the most basic necessities put me in a rage. I could tell she was holding back, not wanting to spend too much. And it made me want to buy her the entire store. Ten stores. A San Francisco city block.

If Elise was going to live with me for the next thirty days, I couldn’t get excited over stupid shit like her feeling at home. Needed to keep things distant. And there was no better way to set up barriers than with my next statement. “What’s for dinner?”

Her expression was confused.

I tipped my head toward the fridge. “I figure tonight is as good a night as any to set the stage for how things will be moving forward.” At her appalled look, I said, “Should have taken me up on the offer to buy you a wardrobe. That kind of gift isn’t likely to happen again.”

Her mouth closed firmly, and I was pretty sure sparks flew from her eyes. She stood and stomped into the kitchen, brushing past me to the fridge. I’d had the forethought to grab a beer, which I took with me toward the hallway. “I’ll be in my office working.”

“You mean your bedroom.”

“Exactly. Let me know when food’s ready.”

I settled at my desk and listened to cupboard doors banging and pots clanging. I was ninety-nine percent sure that was for show. No one made that much noise while cooking.

My mouth curved up. Operation Keep Elise safe but not close was in full effect and running right on schedule. Though it grated on me when she’d said she wanted to seek companionship while we were out shopping. What exactly had that meant?

A lump lodged in my chest. I didn’t want to know.

Hopefully she’d hold off on dating until she moved out, because I didn’t think I could remain neutral on that front.

I put on headphones and listened to music while I took care of emails my assistants couldn’t address. I had one main assistant for random stuff and four executive assistants who filtered correspondence, not to mention business managers, financial managers, and a couple of chief executive officers for the companies I owned. Environ, the virtual reality company Thalia would be running, was one of them. The idea and programming were mine, but as soon as I came up with the concept and began executing and building business alliances, I stepped back and only interfered if things veered off course. It freed up my time to work on other projects.

Thalia was smart. I had no doubt she could handle the company, but it would take her time to get up to speed.

I sent her an email catching her up on the latest investor. For now, I’d be involved in all the investor relations, but eventually that was something I’d hand off too.

I leaned back and stretched my arms above my head, then rubbed my rumbling belly. It had been almost an hour. Elise must be done by now.

After taking off my headphones and putting my computer in sleep mode, I padded into the kitchen to see what she’d come up with.

The scent of fried food filled the air. Not a bad sign. Not healthy, but whatever—I wasn’t picky.

Elise was in the kitchen with her Hot Stuff Coming Through apron tied behind her back and her hair pulled into a ponytail. I smiled at how cute she looked.

“Everything going okay in here?” I tried to see around her to the pan on the stove.

She spun, her back to the food and blocking my view, a mischievous look in her eye. “Oh, yes. It’s all set.” She gestured to the dining table that had only been used by Sophia and her plant designs. It was another one of those pieces of furniture Max had insisted on. At least the couch was useful. This one had been a total waste up until now.

I take that back. Max and I had played beer pong on it once because we were mature like that.

The table was set with plates and utensils and glasses of water. Elise had even folded paper towels in half as napkins. It was…cozy.

A whooshing noise filled my head, and my heart began to race. I hadn’t had cozy since my mom died. When I was thirteen.

Irrational fear and anger knotted my stomach. This was the kind of shit I didn’t want in my life. “You didn’t need to go to the trouble of setting the table.”

“Oh, not at all,” she said, sashaying over with a covered pot. “Have a seat.”

I sank woodenly into the chair, calming my breathing. This was Elise, and she was a wily one. Never had a woman run out on me the morning after sex; usually they were interested in round two. It was my greatest shame that Elise had. Which was why all this was only for show. She wasn’t trying to get close. No need to stress.

She set the dish on the table and pulled off the cover to reveal…hashbrowns.

And not just any hashbrowns. They were the rectangular frozen ones I bought and tossed in the toaster oven when I wanted to spruce up my morning breakfast of cereal.

My shoulders relaxed in relief. Elise was being a pain in the ass, nothing more. “Looks delicious.”

Picking up a fork, I was about to dig in when she said, “Hang on. There’s more.” She pulled out a bottle of ketchup she had stashed in her apron pocket and squirted the two hashbrown patties with ketchup in the shape of happy faces. Then she grabbed a jar of sweetened pickles I hadn’t noticed on the table, speared one, and shook it off onto the plate.

She stood back and admired her work. “There, now you can eat.”

Without batting an eye, I dug into the food, chewing and moaning my delight. I glanced up and caught her frown. “It’s delicious. Why don’t you join me?”

This was clearly not the reaction she had intended, but she covered it well. “Can’t,” she said. “I have a date.”

Elise untied the apron and set it on the counter, and my hackles rose. Because she’d changed, but it wasn’t into her new clothes.

I nearly choked on my food. “Dressed like that?”

She looked down. “What? I thought I did a good job using what I had and borrowing from my sister, as you suggested.” Her smile was the definition of naughty.

I took a deep breath, having forgotten all about my panic from earlier, and counted to five. “I can see your underwear.”

She tugged on the sides of what had to be the smallest skirt ever made. “No you can’t. You’re just saying that.”

I gestured to her legs. “It shows the curves of your thighs.”

“Looking at my thighs, are you?”

“Everyone will be. Sophia’s much shorter than you, and so are her clothes.” Elise was too hot, too sexy. The male vultures of the world would be all over my beautiful roommate in seconds.

“Which is why,” she said while she grabbed the purse I’d finally returned after getting the all-clear from the mold guy, “I suggested going back for my things.”

Her things had been bagged and burned, but best not to tell her that.

She headed for the door, and I abruptly stood. “Wait.”

She turned. “Yes?”

“What about dinner?”

She bowed and gestured to the table. “It’s right there. You never said I had to eat with you. Byeee.” She pinky-waved.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


not work with dark mode