Title: The Man Next Door
Author: Roya Carmen
Genre: Romance Suspense
Release Date: May 21, 2020
I was just a girl, a young neglected girl with issues. I was a mess. A mess he wanted nothing to do with. He knew better. But I certainly didn’t. All I knew was that I liked what I saw.
I grew up in small town Michigan, raised by a single alcoholic father and two older brothers who never gave me the time of day. All I had were my best friends, Izzie and Gavin, a reclusive broken man, ten years my senior. My father forbade me to see him, but I didn’t listen. I was crazy about him and he adored me. Even when our small community was rocked by a heinous crime and Gavin was the main suspect, I still loved him.
When tragedy struck, I finally escaped. As far away as I could.
I’ve been in Chicago ever since, trying to forget all about my past. Yet, I find myself still thinking about my past, about Gavin and Izzie, about my other life. I’m not truly living anymore, just going through the motions. Until…
Noah Reed. My new neighbor. Beautiful, sweet and intoxicating. There’s something about him I just can’t put my finger on. He’s the first man since Gavin I truly let myself fall for. I think he might be the one. Until…
… the day I discover his secret.
His sky blue eyes are fixed on me, and I freeze. We’re both without words. No, it’s not just my imagination. The boy definitely wants to get into my pants, or my sweats, as it were.
“I’ve been busy,” he says, not taking his eyes off me, “but not that busy. I just think you should stay away from me, Abby. I’d be nothing but trouble for you.”
My breath hitches. What does he mean? “Why?”
“I’m a mess. I’m bad news, Abby. You’re probably better off to stay away.”
“Why? What did you do? Are you in the mob? Did you kill someone?”
He laughs. “No. And no.”
“Then what is it?” I ask, breathless. “Do you have a girlfriend? A secret wife? Are you a grieving widower?”
He smiles. “No… single at the moment. And not a grieving widower… never married.”
I stare down at my fuzzy socks. “It’s because I’m too old, right? You don’t get mixed up with women my age. You probably want some hot young thing.”
He shakes his head and catches me by surprise when he takes my face in his soft hands. “You’re not too old. You’re beautiful, Abby.”
My silly heart skips at his words.
“Then why?” I ask softly.
His pupils grow, his eyes darken, and his beautiful lips slightly part open. I stretch my neck up, and tentatively press my eager mouth against his, just a soft kiss.
He doesn’t move, doesn’t react, and it breaks my heart. I can see desire in his eyes, as clear as day. I can feel the attraction between us, in every cell of my being. He’s as tempted as I am, yet he won’t—
He grabs my face again, but this time, he’s not gentle. He presses his mouth against mine and licks my bottom lip. My whole core is on fire. I reach for his jaw, and rub my palms against his five o’clock shadow. When his tongue invites mine to dance and play, it eagerly accepts. His hands travel to my hair and his long fingers get tangled in my locks as his mouth is busy exploring me, undoing me. My whole body is lost to him. I haven’t been kissed like this since…
I want more. I lean in, and press myself harder against him, my desire possessing me unapologetically, making me numb to the world outside. I run my hands down his torso, and he groans when I reach the band of his pants. Is this wrong? Is this too early? We barely know each other. He’s too young for me.
My heart jerks when he suddenly pulls back and pushes me off him. My stomach falls. I’m an idiot. He clearly doesn’t want to get involved with me. Why am I acting so aggressive, so desperate? “I’m sorry… I got carried away.”
He’s breathless when he tells me, “No… it was me. I just think this is a bad idea, Abby. That’s all.”
Why is it such a bad idea? I want to scream. Tell me why?
“You should probably go.”
“Yes… sorry.” I rise and turn on my heel. I’m not staying there another second. I get it. You don’t want me. You don’t have to tell me twice.
He nips at my heels as I practically sprint out of his loft. “I’m sorry,” are the last words I hear before I slam the door into his face. I run to my apartment in tears.
My movie is still on. Richard’s character climbs the fire escape to reach Julia’s, despite the fact that he’s terrified of heights. He’s wielding a bouquet of roses, and his heart is hers. Forever.
Bleeding hearts bared, total abandonment and grand declarations of love… that’s not how real life works.
It’s all a bunch of crap.
I click off the TV, and cry in my pillow.