“I was in a world of homeowner hell.”
Tempting the Neighbor, a swoon-worthy enemies-to-lovers small-town standalone romance in the Mount Macon Series from bestselling author Ashley Munoz is available now!
This entire thing started because of a faulty tree.
Becoming a homeowner is not all it’s cracked up to be, let me tell you that right now. Especially in the dead of winter, when apparently trees can just fall in the middle of a suburban neighborhood.
Did my next-door neighbor help me remove said tree?
No, he did not…
And I asked while rocking bedhead, the world’s puffiest coat, and ugly snow boots.
So, really…he left me no choice.
I broke into his house.
While I only intended to steal a little warmth and maybe a cup of coffee, I fell victim to his jacuzzi tub.
Unfortunately for me, he returned early and that’s really when things got weird.
Instead of a cold glare or icy reply, all of which I fully expected from my disagreeable neighbor.
Colson Hanes offered to make me breakfast.
Then he asked me to stay…
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At the end of the hall was a closed door, which of course I opened because what if
Colson was secretly hiding dead bodies. If more people would be nosy, I was positive more
crimes would be solved.
But as soon as that door cracked, my eyes rounded, and my jaw hung loose.
It wasn’t the massive king-size bed, with no feathers or silk in sight, that got me. It
wasn’t his elaborate record collection or his deep-set leather chair that faced his backyard, or the
billion-inch television mounted on the wall. No, what had me fully arrested was the soaking tub
in his bathroom, complete with jets and a soft pillow neck rest.
The urge to relax and let the stress of the morning slip away was too strong to resist.
I let out a sigh, tugged off my shirt and whispered, “Come to Mama.”
The man had shower gel that I used as bubble bath, it smelled woodsy with a blend of
spice that made me groan, and I managed to find exactly three candles under his bathroom sink.
They were a part of an emergency kit, but whatever. With the few candles, bath gel, and
steaming hot water, I stripped. The warm air was like velvet against my bare skin as I tossed my
pajamas to the side.
Once the tub was full, I turned off the faucet and hissed as my toe plunged into the water.
I sighed, lowering the rest of my body into the steam.
As I soaked, I closed my eyes and began a deep breathing routine.
I counted slowly, feeling my lungs expand and wisps of my hair float around my head. I
didn’t usually like getting my curls wet, but it also felt too good not to plunge under. Right as I
counted to eighteen, I shoved back through the surface of the water.
“What. The fuck. Nora?!” a loud, angry voice boomed from somewhere off to my left.
My heart flipped inside my chest; my lungs still burned from holding my breath. My eyes
were still closed because I hadn’t rubbed the water out of them yet, but now I was apprehensive
about opening them.
I didn’t need to see, to know it was Colson standing there, witnessing me taking a bath in
his house. Naked.
Oh. My. God.
I was currently naked.
I let out a small animalistic sound and ducked back under the water, as if that could hide
me. Until I realized most of the bubbles had dissipated because shower gel was not bubble bath.
I resurfaced right as I heard him speak again.
“Do you want to explain to me what in the hell you’re doing here?”
Finally, I pressed my fingers into my closed eyes to wipe away the water and slowly slid
my gaze to the mirror, which reflected a menacing form. Leaning against the door frame, with
crossed arms and a scowl on his handsome face, Colson glared.
But what would I even say? How did I come back from this?
“Look…” I swallowed thickly, keeping my eyes on him through the mirror. My arms
were crossed over my breasts, and I brought my knees up for extra coverage. “If you feel the
need to press charges, please let me explain myself first.”
His hand came up, tunneling through his messy blond hair. The beanie he’d worn earlier
was gone, so were his shoes and jacket, now he stood in thick jeans and a soft T-shirt. I hated
how badly I wanted to run my fingers along the stretchy material and rub it against my face when
he wasn’t looking. It looked so soft.
“I never said anything about pressing charges, Nora. All I asked was for you to explain
yourself, so please…” He held his hand out as if I should continue.
My sopping curls frizzed as I sat in the water, watching him in the mirror.
“I have no power at my house…no coffee or way to make breakfast…” I was totally
hoping for empathy from him, but his face was made of stone, completely unmoving, so I pushed
on. “I just planned to steal a little heat and some coffee, but then I saw your tub.”
His head tilted the slightest bit. “And how is it that you found my tub?”
I puckered my brow at the reminder of his closed door.
“Yeah, about that…why leave your door shut when no one else lives here?”
He inclined his head as if to challenge me.
“Why would you assume that no one else lives here?”
Oh, shit…why would I assume that?
“Colson, I’m so sorry. I have no idea what came over me, let me just get up and I’ll
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