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Roommate Wars: Chapter 8


An hour later, I opened the front door for Max and Sophia. “Did you bring the leftovers?”

Max held up a bag. “Thai from last night.”

“That’ll do.” I’d called and begged Max and Sophia for food because I was still hungry after Elise left—and because I’d been losing my shit when she took off, looking far too beautiful for another man.

“What’s going on?” Sophia said. “Is Elise okay?” She glanced around.

“Elise is fine. She went on a date.” I studied Sophia. “She didn’t say anything to you?”

“No, that rascal. She’s been freezing me out of her personal life, and it’s pissing me off.”

I dished the leftovers onto a platter that barely fit in the microwave and started heating them. Elise had made the hashbrowns to annoy me, but I really hadn’t minded. What I had minded was her dressed to impress some other guy. Though I did need more than hashbrowns to survive. Hence food from Max and Sophia.

I grabbed drinks, and the microwave beeped. We squeezed in at the counter and took turns filling our plates with leftovers.

“So why is Elise living in your apartment?” Max said between bites. “I forgot to ask during the VR tutorial, and I didn’t think about it again until Elise was in the room.”

Sophia stared, waiting for my answer. It was strange that I knew more about Elise than her sister.

Max was an investor in Environ, so we’d been busy talking shop and hadn’t gotten to the personal stuff. “I offered for Elise to live here after I saw her apartment.”

Sophia groaned. “It was that bad?”

I gave a noncommittal shrug. I’d promised Elise I wouldn’t tell her sister how bad the place was.

“But given your history…” Max said, leaving the thought dangling.

I frowned. “It was one night and no big deal.” The lie in that statement tasted like ash on my tongue, but maybe if I said it enough, I’d start to believe it.

Max and Sophia exchanged a look. If Elise were here, we’d be rolling our eyes at their silent communication. Where the hell was she, anyway? It was getting late.

“Not the night you slept with Elise,” Max said. “I’m talking about your history of entanglements with roommates.”

Damn, I deserved that. “Yeah, that too. I’m not doing that anymore.”

“You swear?” Sophia asked.

For a moment, I hesitated. Then I came to my senses. “Swear. No worries there. She’s out on a date, remember? About that—how could you let her walk out in your skirt? You’re three inches shorter than her.” Elise had looked sexy and beautiful, but I couldn’t share those particular thoughts with Max and Sophia.

“Why are you worried about what she’s wearing, Jack?” Sophia leaned forward. “Feeling protective? Or something more?”

I looked down at my plate and scraped the last bit of food, avoiding her eyes. “She’s your sister; I’m just looking out for her. I can only imagine the thoughts running through her date’s mind at that tiny skirt.” Because I was having them too.

Sophia laughed. “Elise can take care of herself, but I’ll text and make sure she’s doing okay. Besides, the reason my sister has no clothes and is forced to borrow mine is because of you. She said you burned hers.”

How the hell did Elise know that? I needed to give her more credit. “Trust me, it was necessary.”

Sophia’s mouth twisted, and she eyed me curiously. “I don’t understand you two.”

I reached for the plates that were now empty and brought them to the sink. “Nothing to understand.”

Elise’s and my relationship had gotten more complicated with her living here. And her going on dates. And my lingering feelings for her.

“I’m not sure about that,” Sophia said. “In any case, I’m upgrading my wardrobe and giving Elise a few things that should fit her better. Don’t worry about the skirt. She wore boy-shorts underwear.”

I did not need to be thinking about thin pieces of fabric separating Elise’s delicate, tender bits from the rest of the world. “I have no idea what boy shorts are, but I’ll take your word for it.”

Sophia stood and draped her arm over Max’s shoulders. “Send Elise up when you see her. If she’s out on a date, that probably won’t be until tomorrow, but send her up and I’ll have some more clothes for her.”


A pulse in my temples throbbed. Jealousy tasted bitter, and I was pissed that I knew.

Elise would be out all night, looking gorgeous, with some man she barely knew. How would I know she was safe?

The urge to put a tracker on her came to mind. Then I realized how fucked up that would be and tamped down the desire.

This was going to be a long night.

At some point, I’d fallen asleep with my clothes on. But that didn’t prevent me from waking immediately at the sound of Elise getting home.

I glanced at my phone. It was midnight, so not too late. I stumbled out of bed and caught her walking down the hallway, head down and yawning.

She finally saw me standing near my door and lurched back in surprise. “Hey. What’s going on?”

Clearly, I wasn’t keeping my emotions in check. I leaned against my doorframe and forced my limbs to relax. “How was your date?”

“My date?” She looked like a deer caught in the headlights. “Oh, fantastic. He was really…muscular.”

Interesting description. “So, not smart?”

“What? No, he was just, you know—he works out.”

“Mm-hmm.” I glanced down her body. She looked to be all in one piece. “You okay?”

She tilted her head to the side. “Yes, why?”

I’d never worried about a woman out on her own at night, and I suddenly realized I absolutely should have. There were male predators just waiting for a beautiful woman to get within reach. And sleazy men who trolled dating apps. It wasn’t safe. Elise could have been hurt or kidnapped.

I puffed out a strained sigh. “Just, you know, be safe out there. Don’t hesitate to call me if you get into trouble.”

“Trouble?” Her eyes lit with anger. “You don’t think I can handle myself? That I’m incompetent?”

“What? No. Nothing like that—”

“Well, I can handle myself, Jackson.” She stormed past me and into her room.

I stared at her door in confusion. I’d never been good at reading women, but it seemed I was even worse at reading Elise. “That went well,” I murmured and returned to my bedroom.

Elise was home, and she was safe. That was all that mattered.


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