The Consequence of Seduction

  I nodded, suddenly realizing it was a very real possibility that Reid would turn around, jump on Britney, ride to the top, and kick his brother in the family jewels. “Fine, my house is . . .” I looked down the road, then up the road, then blinked up at the sun.


  “No.” I pushed on Reid’s muscled chest. “I live . . . in Midtown-ish.”


  “I think so.”

  “You think so?”

  “Stop repeating everything I say!”

  Reid held up his hands. “Fine, let’s grab a cab and pray you at least remember your address so we aren’t roaming the streets. I don’t take you for the type who would actually survive overnight in the elements.”

  He hailed a cab, shoved me in—not very gently, mind you—and turned those aqua-blue weapons in my direction. “So?”

  “Er, Koreatown, fifty West Thirty-Fourth.”

  “Koreatown,” Reid repeated. “I should have known.”

  I rolled my eyes. “I’ll have you know I live next to the Macy’s flagship store. I’m within walking distance of Grand Central and—”

  Reid held up his hand. “Not a tourist, you don’t need to sell me on New York, Sebastian.”

  “Stop calling me that!”

  “Sorry, Shrew.”

  I groaned into my hands and prayed it would take us only a few minutes to make it to my apartment.

  It didn’t.

  Because, as I previously stated, I was clearly unlucky.

  Twenty minutes later, the booze had worn off and I was left feeling itchy, sweaty, gross, and dehydrated.

  I threw a twenty at the driver and basically launched myself from the car, hoping my catlike reflexes would startle Reid and cause him to stay in the car and disappear so I could wallow in shameful peace.

  Clearly he wasn’t easy to get rid of.

  He gripped my wrist, got out of the cab, and slowly walked with me to the door.

  The doorman tipped his hat as we walked in, which only made things worse. That same doorman had stopped me on multiple occasions, accusing me of stalking some of the residents. It probably didn’t help that I’d gone on one date with my neighbor and when I refused to go out with him again, because he had a gross cheese fetish, he made a scene in the lobby.

  Since then, I’d had three run-ins with Dwight.

  He threatened to call security on me only once.

  Since then we’d given each other a wide berth. I ignored him and he ignored me.

  “Excuse me.” Dwight cleared his throat and approached us just as I hit the button for my floor.

  Gritting my teeth, I turned and crossed my arms, ready for a battle.

  “Yes?” Reid answered.

  Dwight looked down at the ground, then back up at Reid, his ruddy face flushed with excitement. I’d never seen the man so much as hint that he had a sense of humor or knew how to smile. He was in his midfifties, losing most of his hair except for a small patch I could only assume he refused to cut, right in the middle.

  “I saw your show last year at least a dozen times.”

  “Oh, wow.” Reid nodded. “Thanks, man, that means a lot.”

  “You are”—Dwight held out his hands, his eyes blurring with tears. Oh, dear Lord—“hands down the best Phantom this world has ever seen.”

  Lay it on thick, Dwight. I half expected him to burst into tears.

  “We have to go,” I snapped, ignoring the fact that my estrogen seemed to immediately triple in supply at the thought of Reid wearing a cape. Hot damn.

  Dwight’s eyes narrowed. “You sure you live here?”

  “For the past two years,” I said through clenched teeth. “Reid.” I gripped his arm. “Come on.”

  His arm was so firm, strong. I glanced up.

  Cape, cape, cape! my body freaking sang. Oh, man, I wonder if he kept the mask?

  “Sir.” Dwight shook his head. “An absolute pleasure.”

  Reid reached out and patted his shoulder. “For me too.” He glanced down at the name tag. “Dwight.”

  Dwight gasped. Like a freaking schoolgirl. I shook the visions of a Phantom Reid out of my head and crossed my arms.

  If Dwight fainted, I was going to purposefully knock myself out and pray that when I woke up this day from hell was nothing but a really horrible nightmare.

  He didn’t. Faint, that is, but he did fan his face and walk quite briskly back to his desk before he lifted his phone into the air.

  A picture was snapped just as the elevator doors closed. I could imagine the caption now: REID EMORY INVITES HOMELESS CAT LADY INTO HIS APARTMENT FOR AFTERNOON TEA.

  I winced as my own reflection flashed back at me in the shiny elevator doors.

  Reid’s eyes met mine in the reflection, and they were kind. His expression was one you save for old ladies while they buy discount bread at the grocery store just because it’s on sale, then feed it to the birds. “It’s true, you’ve probably had better days.”

  “My hair.” I touched the top of my head. My frizzy hair just kept growing and growing, like an overwatered Chia Pet.

  “It wouldn’t stay down.” Reid shrugged. “Believe me, I tried.”

  I rolled my eyes. “You licked your hand and patted it.”


  The doors opened. I hurried past the other doors and stopped in front of mine.

  Yellow tape.

  Why, why was there yellow caution tape in front of my door?

  “Uh-oh. Kill someone last night?”

  “It’s not crime scene tape, you ass!” I ripped the tape from my door like I was Xena, Warrior Princess, shoved my key in the lock, and stepped in.

  The apartment was semidark.

  I flipped the switch.


  “You smell smoke?” Reid coughed and covered his mouth just as my tiny shih tzu barreled out of the bedroom and launched himself onto Reid’s leg.

  Reid looked down at the small rat. “Friend of yours? Funny, I expected you to be more of a cat person.”

  “Come here, Otis.”


  “Yeah.” I snuggled my dog close to my chest. “You know, from Milo and Otis?”

  Reid’s eyes scanned my small one-bedroom apartment. I knew it wasn’t anything special. I didn’t have time to decorate, and even my sad pathetic coffee table was naked, not even a coaster decorating the thing. But I’d always been of the mind that a woman doesn’t need a coaster if all she drinks is wine.

  “I know a Milo.”

  “Right. Okay.” I dropped Otis onto the ground and went to another light switch. Nothing.

  “Did you pay your power bill?” Reid asked, his tone completely serious.

  My cheeks heated as I clenched my fists to keep from scratching his eyes out. “Yes. As I said before, my electricity went out this morning, but they promised it would be fixed within a few hours.”

  A knock sounded at the door.

  I ignored it.

  Already knowing what it was.

  More bad news.

  Because after today, how could it really be anything good?

  Reid pushed past me and opened the door.

  “You can’t be here!” A stout man with a wiry mustache pushed into my apartment and clenched his fists at his sides like he was trying to keep his anger in check. “It’s been condemned.”

  “Whoa, whoa, whoa!” I held up my hands. “Over the electricity?”

  He sighed, looking at me like I was a complete idiot, before addressing the other male in the room. “She your girlfriend?”

  “Something like that.” Reid smirked. Hey, at least he semi claimed me, right? “Now, what’s going on here?”

  The man held out his clipboard, handing it to Reid, a relative stranger. Never mind that it was my name on the lease. All that mattered was that there was a man to explain things to rather than a hysterical lady with poofy hair. “The electrical is so old we’ve had to condemn the oldest apartments on
this side, the ones not renovated or part of phase one.”

  My stomach sank. “I was told it was perfectly safe.”

  “Lady, that smoke you smell? Could have been you or your little fur ball had some pathetic squirrel not sacrificed itself on a power line this morning. You need to pack your shit and stay with friends. If you need help moving, I can give you some numbers, but you can’t stay the night.”


  “Lady.” Seriously, if he called me lady one more time I was going to show him how much of a lady I could really be and slam his head in the doorway. “Stay with your boyfriend, I’m sure he won’t mind.”

  “He would.” I gritted my teeth. “Believe me.”

  The man left, slamming the door behind him.

  And that’s when I felt the familiar sting of tears. Nothing in my day had gone right, and now I really was homeless. All I needed was a cart and an END OF THE WORLD sign.



  I wasn’t one of those guys—you know, the type that knew how to comfort other human beings well. I did the typical rough pat on the back and chin nudge. When I broke up with my last girlfriend, I patted her ass and said, “Good game.”

  It may have been because I was breaking up with her while watching SportsCenter, but she cried. Hard. Then shrieked and asked why she even put up with me in the first place.

  I wasn’t sure if it was a rhetorical question, so I ignored her.

  Which just pissed her off more.

  So tears—the kind I was about 99 percent sure were going to start flowing freely from Jordan’s eyes—freaked me out.

  “Er.” I looked frantically around her sparse living room. Where was the wine? The chocolate? The cuddly teddy bear that I could chuck in her general direction to distract her enough so I could make a run for it?

  “I’m homeless!” she wailed, wobbling on her legs. I took a tentative step backward and covered my nether region, in case she wanted to take out her bad day on the entire male gender, and not wanting to be the one she made an example out of.

  “There, there.” I coughed into my right hand while the left kept its protective goalie-like stance. “It will be all right.”

  She blinked her big brown eyes up at me. “If you pat my head, I won’t be responsible for my actions.”

  Good thing she warned me, because I was just about to pat her head—like a dog—and possibly scratch behind her ear and ask if it made her feel better. I might be really good at flirting and getting a girl to fall for me, but I was shit at real emotions. I didn’t cry over women—they cried over me. Plain and simple.

  “So.” I licked my lips. “It seems your hands are full here, so I’ll just . . . keep in touch? Maybe we can do lunch tomorrow?”

  “Do. Lunch,” she repeated, her eyes widening into an expression that looked a hell of a lot like the beginnings of a toddler meltdown.

  “Yeah.” I gulped. “Food always makes me feel better, so . . . you know, now you’ll have something to look forward to.”

  Somehow I was making the situation worse, if the red on her cheeks was any indication.

  “Reid, I have no home. I have to move out of my apartment while trying to keep your sorry ass out of a media firestorm, and you expect me to do all of that how? If I lose my job and my home—” She blanched. “Oh my gosh, I can’t, I can’t lose my job!”

  “I think you’re overreacting,” I said dryly.

  Jordan flashed me another terrifying look that had me taking a step closer to the door. Almost there. Freedom. So close. I reached for the doorknob just as she said. “I know!”

  My entire body felt like it had just been electrocuted. Looking back on this moment, I’d recognize it for what it really was—somehow she’d channeled whatever superpowers Max possessed and shifted the universe, deciding my future, my destiny, without ever asking my opinion in the first place.

  “You.” Jordan stalked toward me. “You have an apartment.”

  It was the perfect opportunity to lie. Really, I was an actor. I could make her believe I’d sold my penthouse within the last twenty-four hours because I wanted to live on the streets.

  In a box.

  Or a cart.

  Hell, I could have said I was renovating, right? Joined the circus?

  But her face.

  I was always a sucker for a pretty face.

  And hers was more than pretty; it was pathetic pretty. Large brown eyes blinked up at me, their innocent trust making me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Damn it! I needed to look away.

  But I couldn’t.

  I opened my mouth.

  Nothing came out.

  She put her hands on her hips, which drew me in more, because damn, did the girl have some delicious curves on her. What was that smell? Her perfume? I was falling . . . oh, no, it was happening . . . she was using her feminine wiles on me. And I was a powerless bastard.

  I needed someone to hit me over the head with a cement block.

  Instead, she fluttered her eyelashes twice.

  And I hung my head and muttered, “Grab a suitcase.”

  “Yes!” Jordan jumped into the air, then launched herself into my arms, nearly sending me flying backward. Her legs wrapped around my waist and suddenly she was kissing me on the mouth, then hopping down before my body had time to register that the gorgeous woman had all but pressed her goodies against mine. “You’re the best!”

  Wait! My body tightened. I should at least get sex out of the deal, right?

  As a thank-you?

  “At least first base,” I mumbled under my breath.

  “Pardon?” Her eyebrow arched, making me feel ten inches tall.

  “Just, uh . . .” I scratched my head. “Sorry, it’s a sports metaphor, you know, pass first base, the hardest base, and you’re home free!”

  “Oh.” She shrugged. “For a minute there I thought you were asking for a sexual favor.”

  “Never!” Hell, yes, I was. Instead I broke eye contact and rubbed my hands together. “Let’s grab your shit and go.”

  Jordan rolled her eyes and disappeared into the bedroom while I shakily leaned against the wall and wondered what the hell I’d just agreed to.

  “Ground rules,” I stated once we were riding the elevator up to my apartment. I was holding a suitcase and a plant she’d refused to leave behind because she’d kept it alive for three freaking years. Another mark against her, considering anyone who could keep a plant alive that long needed to get laid, or just find a hobby, any hobby that made their life look less pathetic. Checkers. I’d have more respect for her if she was in a checkers club.

  But no, my new roomie-slash-shrew fake girlfriend had a plant fetish.

  And she wasn’t the only one having a rough day.

  Otis let out a pitiful moan.

  “Shh, Otis.” Jordan rocked the small shih tzu back and forth like it was an infant, then kissed its head. “We’re almost there.”

  I cleared my throat just as the doors opened, revealing the marble penthouse lobby.

  “Holy crap!” Jordan did a little spin.

  “Wait.” I stopped her spinning and jerked my hand back just before Otis took a giant bite out of my thumb. “Ground rules, remember?”

  Jordan rolled her eyes. Her frizzy hair had yet to calm down, and if anything it had doubled in size and was cheerfully growing to the tune of “Stairway to Heaven.” Her big brown eyes were makeup-free, her complexion flushed but beautiful. Her round face only made her appear more feminine and enticing.

  Which was the last thing I needed.

  An attraction to my roommate.

  And publicist.

  And shrew.

  What the hell kind of day was this?

  Jordan peeked around me, her gaze on the large black double doors behind me. “Jordan, focus!”

  “Sorry.” She returned her gaze to me. “Ground rules. Yes.”

  I held up a finger. “One, you’re only here until we can find a place for you to live
where you won’t get electrocuted.”

  She nodded.

  “Two.” I held up two fingers. “I like order, you know, clean lines, clean laundry, made beds, no dirty dishes—”

  “Whoa.” Jordan chuckled. “Are you saying you really are gay? It makes perfect sense!” She slammed her hand against her forehead. “The need for a good publicist, the whole taming of the shrew. Who is he?” She was already pulling out her cell, ready to do damage control.

  “Chill.” I held up my hand. “Not gay, just a type-A personality.”

  Her eyes narrowed.

  “Fine.” I sighed. “I’m settling this.”

  I went in, molding my mouth to hers, her protest dying against my lips as my tongue swiped her lower lip, once and then twice, before entering into the sweet velvet delicacy of her mouth.

  Otis moaned.

  Or maybe it was me.

  Jordan wrapped a hand around my neck, pulling me closer.

  “Drop the damn dog,” I hissed against her mouth.

  Otis fell to the ground with a thump and started barking wildly while I picked up Jordan by her hips and held her against my body.

  Barking continued.

  The kissing didn’t stop. Who knew she had such talent? Her mouth was like a weapon. I was ready to suffer all the day long if that meant I’d get to taste her.

  Jordan’s cell went off.

  I pleaded with the universe, Just let her cell die!

  “My, my,” a voice said from behind me. A very evil voice. “What do we have here?”

  I jerked away and glared at Max, who leaned against the elevator doors. “You guys taking your work home?”

  “Max.” I gritted my teeth. “Not that it’s any of your business.”

  He tilted his head. “Oh, it’s always my business.”

  Otis barked and started terrorizing Max’s feet.

  “Aw, hey, little guy.”

  “Otis,” I clarified.

  “You guys already bought a dog?”

  “No,” we yelled in unison.

  “It’s Jordan’s.”

  “And you, the lovely lady, and her dog are at your apartment because?”

Previous Page Next Page
Should you have any enquiry, please contact us via OnlineBooks