“What the hell?” I say to myself the next morning as I hear loud noises outside my window. I get out of bed and shove the drape aside and my mouth drops open.
It’s like three male fitness models have descended on my lawn and taken up residence. Tall. Muscular. Tan. Shirtless. Holy shit. Am I dreaming this? I look back at my bed. I’m not in it, so I must be awake. My room is bright from the sun and I go over to check the clock. It says it’s eight-fifteen.
I return to the window and gaze out at the scene on my lawn. I spot Nash walking over from his house, carrying a bag of something over his shoulder. Hot man number four. He, too, is shirtless and I’m reminded of how his chest felt when I ran my hands over it the other night as he kissed me. How his body felt when it pressed up against me. How it felt when his mouth— Read More
Nash turns the TV on and flips through to a reality show where some guy tries to survive in the wild. “How about this?”
He smiles. “Callie, I was joking. I didn’t think you’d actually want to watch some guy trying to catch fish and make a fire for an hour. I’ll find something else.” He flips through the channels.
“Nash, really. I don’t care. You came over to watch TV so watch whatever you want.”
He mutes the TV and looks at me. “That’s not why I came over.”
My stomach clenches as I prepare for him to confront me about my mini breakdown. God, I can’t believe I did that.
“Then why’d you come over?” I ask, lifting my legs onto the couch and hugging my knees to my chest.
He has that same concerned look he had when we were at his house. “Because I—”
“Don’t,” I blurt out.
“Don’t say whatever you were going to say.” I pull my knees even tighter to my chest.
He notices my closed off body language and his face turns from concerned back to his normal, casual, smiling self. “I was going to say that I like hanging out with you. You’re strange, but in a good way.”
“I’m not strange!” I extend my leg out and jab him with my foot.
“I said in a good way.” He laughs and grabs my foot, moving over a little so he can set it on his lap. Read More
“There she is,” Lou announces as I walk around him to the lunch counter. Nash is there, wearing jeans and a gray t-shirt, his blue eyes gleaming, a wide grin on his face showcasing those perfect teeth.
Okay, so he’s hot. That explains why I wanted to have lunch with him. I just wanted something nice to look at while I ate. At least that makes sense, but I’m still annoyed at myself for acting this way over some guy.
“How’s your day going?” he asks, turning to me.
“Good. Did you order yet?”
“Yeah. Got the grilled ham and cheese. Got you one too.”
“You ordered for me? Maybe that’s not what I wanted.”
“Well, you could’ve ordered for yourself but you took too damn long. What were you doing back there?” Read More
She’s standing in front of her garage, trying to lift up the door.
“No, thanks. I’ve got it.” She’s struggling to make it move even an inch off the ground. Her knee must still hurt because she’s trying to open the door while balancing on her good leg.
I reach down and lift up the door. “You going to work?”
She turns to me, putting her hands on her hips. “Stop doing things for me.”
“Why?” I smile at her.
She seems surprised by my question. “Because I can do things myself.”
“Maybe before your knee was hurt, but now, you need some help.”
“Actually, I don’t.” She glares at me.
I lock eyes with her. “I think you do.” Read More
The first half of Chapter One, written in Callie’s POV.
One, two, three, four. I continue counting the steps in my head as I walk to the mailbox. I don’t know why I do it. Why I constantly count. I didn’t used to. Three hundred and eighty-five days ago I only counted when I needed to. In fact, counting used to be a good thing. Only four days until Christmas. Six days until my birthday. One week until I’m home on summer break.
“Twelve,” I mumble to myself as I reach the mailbox. It takes exactly twelve steps to get to the mailbox and twelve steps to get back. I never knew this until a few days after it happened. Before that, I wouldn’t have cared. I still don’t care. And yet I keep counting, each and every day.
I put my electric bill in the box, then turn and walk back. One, two, three…
My gaze is focused on the concrete path that leads to the house. It’s cracked and crooked, the ground seeping through, making it uneven and dangerous to walk on. That’s why I always look down, making sure I don’t trip.
An engine roars behind me.
“What the…” I mutter as I turn to see a large, black, rusted-out pickup pulling in next door. It’s going way too fast and jerks to a stop. The loud rumbling engine idles a moment, then turns off.
A shot rings out and I trip on the sidewalk and drop flat to the ground.
What was that? Did someone just shoot at me? I freeze, waiting to see if they’ll shoot again. I hear the door of the truck squeak open, then slam shut. I keep my gaze low to the ground, afraid to look up and see the person who I’m now assuming is a raging lunatic who just randomly shoots his gun at strangers.
I’m shaking as I stare at a pair of black work boots which are now planted in the driveway next to mine. The owner of the boots is not moving, his legs in a wide stance facing the house. Did he come here to kill my neighbor? If so, my neighbor’s already dead. Old Man Freeson, as I used to call him, died last year and his house has been abandoned ever since.
The boots take a step forward, then stop again.
“Oh, shit,” a deep voice says, and then the boots stalk toward me at a rapid pace.
‘Oh, shit’ is right. He’s coming to kill me! And I’m so frozen with fear I can’t get up.
“Hey. Are you—”
“Stop!” I yell, crawling backwards on my hands. “Get away from me!”
After a tragic accident claimed her family, Callie dropped out of college and went to live in the small town where her family used to spend the summers. A year later, and struggling to move on, she keeps to herself and wants to be left alone. So she’s not too happy when her new neighbor keeps knocking on her door.
Nash Wheeler, a 25-year-old construction worker from Chicago, inherited the house next to Callie’s and is living there for the summer while he renovates it. Outgoing, confident, and never one to back down from a challenge, Nash sets out to get to know his new neighbor, inviting her over for dinner and offering to fix things around her house.
As much as his persistence annoys her, Callie finds herself attracted to the tall, muscular, blue-eyed guy next door. And the more time she spends with him, the more she realizes how much they have in common. Like Callie, Nash has experienced loss, but when he opens up to her about it, she’s not willing to do the same. It’s too personal.
Nash is just her neighbor. Just some guy living there for the summer. But is that really all he is? Or is he the one person who can finally help her move on?
Next to Me is a standalone, contemporary romance. Coming soon!