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Authors: Chelsea M. Cameron

Tags: #romance, #New Adult

For Real (Rules of Love, Book One)

BOOK: For Real (Rules of Love, Book One)
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For Real (Rules of Love, Book One)

Copyright © 2013 Chelsea M. Cameron

www.chelseamcameron.com

 

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are use fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, business establishments or locales is entirely coincidental.

 

No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission. All rights reserved.

 

Edited by
Jen Henricks

Cover Copyright © Sarah Hansen at 
Okay Creations

Interior Design by
Novel Ninjutsu

 

 

 

 

 

 

“I’m sorry to bother you, but can you watch my computer?”

“What?” I pull my earbuds out and look up to meet a pair of astonishingly golden-brown eyes set in a chiseled face under a head of black hair shaved short on the sides and left long on top and gelled to one side like a wave. From the top of his shirt peek several tattoos and both arms are also covered, but I don’t have a chance to see what they are, as my eyes are drawn back to his eyes and I’m left momentarily without words.

I fish for something in my brain to say and come up with two words.

“Yeah, sure.” Brilliant.

He flashes me a quick smile, pulls his ringing cellphone out of one baggy pocket, and dashes out of the cafe. I’ve been so immersed in working on my paper that I hadn’t even seen him come in, even though he’s been sitting at a table right behind me.

Outside, he’s strolling up and down the sidewalk in front of the cafe, talking on his phone, a smile on his face. I turn in my chair and sneak a peek at his laptop, which is open to Facebook. I’m too far away to see anything, but I know the page layout well enough. He also has a stack of books, and a notebook open with some scribbles in it. A cup of black coffee steams next to the computer. I turn back around so he won’t catch me being a total creeper. Plus, I need to get back to work. I can’t get distracted now.

I’m just starting the second semester of my junior year, and I can almost taste my degree. It tastes like victory and thick paper. In less than two years I’ll have a bachelor’s of science degree in business and be well on my way to an MBA. It makes me shiver inside just thinking about having my own office at the top of a glossy skyscraper, sitting at my mahogany desk and crossing my nylon-clad legs as I sign a corporate merger with a pen that probably costs more than the car I currently drive. Utter bliss. Yes, I want to have money when I’m older. I’ve lived twenty-one years without it. I know it can’t buy happiness, but my family was pretty miserable without it.

My phone buzzes with a text from my roommate, Hazel. I open it to find a picture of a penis.

I’ve never sexted with a boy. Just Hazel. Maybe I should look into the lesbian thing.

Shut it down, Shannon. Shut it down and focus.
I breathe three times, in and out, closing my eyes and emptying my mind. Every thought drains out and I lock my eyes back on my computer screen. My paper isn’t due until next week, but I never wait until the last minute to do a paper like everyone else. You never get anywhere by procrastinating, as has been proven by both my parents and my older brother, Cole, through the dizzying array of semi-failed jobs and careers they’ve had. My brother can’t even make it as a pot dealer, his current occupation. Probably because he smokes too much of his product.

Sometimes I’m convinced I was adopted. Even though I look like the rest of my family, with dishwater blonde hair (that I cover up with highlights) and blue eyes, I don’t act like a single one of them. I’ve heard my parents wonder more than once if I was possessed. They were joking, of course, but it still stings when they point out what I’m already painfully aware of, that I don’t fit in. I’m the black freaking sheep.

“Thanks.” The laptop guy is back. He braces his hands on my table and leans down so his face is close to mine. Dude, invade my personal bubble much? “I don’t normally trust strangers with my stuff, but you look . . .” his eyes skim their way up and down my body, and I shift under his scrutiny. “Trustworthy,” he finally says.

Well, I probably do. I have to go to work in the operations department of a local bank later, so I have a black pencil skirt with a white blouse tucked into it and my cute-but-comfortable tan pumps on. In contrast, his shirt has a cartoon robot splashed across the front and his jeans are really baggy, but not sagging too much. It would be clear to anyone looking at us side-by-side that we have next to nothing in common.

“I think that’s a compliment,” I say as he straightens up and starts moving back toward his table.

“That’s up to you,” he says, walking backwards and finally sitting back down. I turn back around, shaking my head. Whatever.

I start putting my earbuds back in, but stop when someone taps me on the shoulder.

“For your trouble,” he says, as I slowly turn around to see him standing right behind my chair, holding a plate out to me with a scone on it. “Raspberry scone?”

“Uh, no. Thank you. I’m good.” I just polished off a blueberry muffin and I’m on my second cup of black tea.

“You sure? This is a really good scone. You could wrap it up and take it home with you.” He waves the plate in front of me, as if that’s supposed to entice me.

“No, thanks.” I turn around again and hope he’ll go away.

“Fine, then I guess I’ll just owe you one.”

I turn my music back on and ignore him. Saint-Sens fills my ears and drowns out the rest of the noise in the cafe as I pull my focus back to my paper.

An hour later, I type the finishing touches and start packing my things up. The guy is gone, and I’ve been too absorbed to notice when he’d left. My chances of seeing him ever again are slim, since Central Maine University has nearly ten thousand students, and most of them are commuters.

I say a quick prayer before turning the key on my Crown Victoria (which I got dirt cheap because it was a former police car), hoping it’ll start. Thankfully, the engine engages with a minimum of sputtering and I drive from downtown Hartford to the next town over, Deermont, where my job is. I park near the back of the building and swipe my card in the door. I have just enough time to get to my desk, turn my computer on and clock in. So far, I have never been late. Not only because I hate being late, but I’m also terrified of my boss.

My cubicle is near the back of the building, in the “farm” as everyone calls it. I say hello to a few of my coworkers, most of whom are fellow students. My favorite coworker, Amelia, isn’t working today. Bummer. Nearly everyone else’s cubicles just has a few papers or photographs, but hers is covered with her drawings and positive notes and pictures of butterflies. Amelia’s the sunniest person I’ve ever met. Sometimes she’s too much, but things never seem too bad when she’s around.

I have a stack of loan files that need to be scanned, so I start with removing the staples from all the pages. Yes, it’s as boring as it sounds, but at least I can listen to my music. I put my earbuds back in and get to work. This is what I need to do to get where I want to be. Everyone has to start somewhere. I have to pay my dues, even if that means removing staples from a two-hundred page appraisal.

 

 

Three hours later, I am ready to go back to my apartment and get busy on more homework. I’m fishing in my purse for my keys when my hand closes on something. It’s a paper crane folded out of notebook paper. What the heck? I don’t know where it came from, but I know that it wasn’t in there this morning. My mind drifts back to the café, and the guy with the laptop. Maybe he dropped it in there?

It’s a weird thing to do, so I hope it was by accident. He’s Asian, so maybe it’s just a thing that he does to celebrate his culture? God, is that racist? I don’t mean it to be.

I turn it over in my hand as I walk to my car, my heels crunching on the pavement. Cranes are supposed to be good luck or something, so I set it on my dashboard. I don’t really believe in superstition, but you can never be too careful. I don’t want to risk any bad mojo.

“I’m baaaaack,” I say as I unlock the front door to my craptastic apartment. I shuck off my heels and sigh in relief. There is nothing quite as nice as taking your heels off at the end of a long day. Except maybe taking your bra off. Men could just never understand that.

“How was work?” Hazel, my roommate, is hovering over a pot of something in our microscopic kitchen. This could be bad.

“Fine. What are you making?” I say, setting my bag down and trying to avoid the kitchen, in case this turns out to be one of her experiments.

“Relax, it’s from a box.” She holds up an empty box of mac and cheese. I don’t breathe easier, because she’s definitely messed that up more than once. “And I bought a pre-made salad and there is ice cream. So we’re good.” Only then do I let out a breath. She holds the spoon out and I take a bite. Phew.

“I swear, every time I cook you act like I’m feeding you poison.” Hazel and I had become friends two years ago when we’d lived next door to each other in the dorms. She’d had issues with her roommate, I’d had issues with mine, and we’d ended up moving in together halfway through the year. We’ve lived together ever since. We were both poor as all get-out, but we’d managed to find an apartment in Deermont and it hasn’t fallen apart yet, although it’s held together with duct tape and staples.

BOOK: For Real (Rules of Love, Book One)
3.74Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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