I couldn’t figure out where to cut this, so enjoy this supersize sample of The Guy Next Door. This book is now on sale in ebook and paperback at Amazon! Look for it at other outlets in 2020. For those who’ve already purchased and left a review… thank you! If you haven’t grabbed it, or read it and haven’t posted up a positive review, I humbly ask for you to put this book in your face and let other readers know how you enjoyed it!
A rich tenor that I hoped wasn’t attached to someone standing inside my place called into the house. I glanced at Ebony, eyes wide. She bounded out of the alcove.
“Eb! Wait—” I wanted to grab her, in case it was a serial killer who haunted small towns and kidnapped cute black girls.
“Hey. We’re back here.” Brilliant, Eb. Tell him exactly where to find us, chop us up and bury us in the backyard. “Who’s there?”
Footsteps sounded on the tile just inside the door. “Hi. I’m here for Evonne.”
I followed her around the corner. “Way to tell a stranger exactly where we are, Ebony. You know that’s how that girl got murdered on last week’s episode of The Butler Did It.”
My eyes sought out anything I could use for a weapon, if I needed it. But then I realized that I wouldn’t. Need a weapon, that was.
Because I knew the man standing in my kitchen. I could never forget those soulful eyes, gorgeous dark skin, full lips… and the blue scrubs that seemed cut to fit him specifically, the way they stretched across his chest and cradled his arms in such a nice way.
“Nurse Dude,” I finally said, when I could find my voice. He was such a pleasant sight, considering that he was probably not a serial killer.
“Nurse Dude? Miss Girard?” Ebony repeated, swiveling her head from me to him and back. “You know him?”
“I-I-I…how… what…” I stuttered, then shook my head to arrange my thoughts and cajole my mouth into forming a complete sentence. “This is my new place. Do you live close?”
“Yes, I’d say I live close.” He laughed, showing all of his teeth. “I own the place. I left you the flowers and the note… I’m—”
I snapped my fingers and pointed. “TW! Taj Wright, Registered Nurse.”
“The one and the same,” he said, with a modest nod. “I intended to be here when you pulled up. I don’t normally work day shift, but I switched so I could be here. We had a last minute walk-in and—”
He waved a hand, then tugged at the hem of his scrubs. “So, welcome. Let me know if you have any questions. And you’ll want to pull the moving truck into the driveway. It sticks out into the street and the neighbors…”
He hummed, wagging his head side to side while rolling his eyes. “I’m not leaving again tonight, so use my space.”
“Ebony?” I hinted, since she had the key to the truck, but she stood there, her hands propped on her hips and her chest pushed up and out. “Ebony! Go move the truck!”
“Oh, right!” She pulled the key from her pocket and teetered out on her stilettos. “Be right back!”
I moved into the kitchen and leaned against the counter in front of the dishwasher. The scent of the air freshener hit me again and I realized that he had been inside my home. It didn’t feel like a violation, considering the house belonged to him. It was weird though, knowing that he had set things up for me, bought flowers, wrote a note.
“So…” He mimicked, moving around the outside of the kitchen, leaning a set of meaty forearms onto the counter, muscular without hulking out like an NFL fullback.
Whew. I was going to be living mere feet from him? Look at God.
“So…” I repeated, wishing I had a bottle of water because my survey of him had me parched. “You didn’t think you should let me know that you, in fact, are TWM, LLC, the holding company referenced on the lease? And that you own this house and would be renting to me? And that it was the same you that treated me at the clinic?”
He shrugged strong shoulders and smirked. “I put the house under my LLC for tax and privacy purposes. And there’s no law that says a nurse can’t rent a house to a former patient. Speaking of—”
He straightened, stretching out his arm. “Let me examine that cut. You didn’t come back to the clinic and let me check it out.”
“Oh…” I clutched my still-tender hand to my chest. “No need. It’s fine.”
“Then let me see it.”
“It’s okay. You did a fine job.”
“Then let me see it. Did it not heal okay?”
“Is this what it’s going to be like? You coming down here to randomly check me for a fever?”
He laughed, dropping his hand. “Not at all. I take that very seriously. I only came in tonight because the door was open and someone was here to tell me to come in.”
“In the future, don’t do anything Ebony tells you to do. She has ulterior motives. She plans to kidnap you and make you her sex slave or Sugar Daddy.”
“Wait until you find out I’m only halfway kidding.”
He laughed again, so hard this time that the corners of his eyes crinkled up. “So… well, I’ll let you unpack and get settled. I came down to tell you about the truck. Would be a terrible way to meet the neighborhood busy bodies.” He moved toward the door, talking as he walked. “Let me know if you have any questions. My cell phone number is on the lease, so call any time.”
But suddenly I wasn’t ready for him to leave. “Hey, if you want to check this,” I offered, waiving my injured hand in the air. “For checking’s sake. It does still hurt.”
His brow furrowed. He came around the counter toward me and immediately cupped my hand in his. He was warm and his skin was soft. He’d been wearing gloves when he treated me.
“Any sharp pain? Like a stabbing feeling or throbbing?”
“More tender, not constant throbbing pain. But if I press on it—” I did so, then flinched, sucking in air through my teeth.
“Well, then don’t do that.”
He peeled back the bandage and inspected the progress. “Hmmm. It shouldn’t be this red, but it could be irritated by using the hand a lot. Try to give it a rest tonight and leave the bandage off. Let it breathe. Let’s see how it looks tomorrow. It seems to have closed up fine.”
“You think I’ll have a scar?”
He peered closer, tipping his head one way and then the other. “Hard to tell. Why?”
“They’re often on camera, so—”
“Camera?” His eyes rolled up, meeting mine. “Will you be shooting any low budget films?”
I laughed, yanking my hand back from his grasp. Then regretted doing so, not from the twinge of pain but because he was so warm. “I have a web channel. Hair by E. I do beauty and hair reviews and stuff. Aside from that, I need to be able to use both of my hands at the salon.”
“You should be fine, Miss Girard. But let me know if you need a referral to a plastic surgeon.” A beautiful brown, lushly lashed eye winked at me.
“See, there you go. Giving me shit.”
He laughed. “You make it so easy.”
“If y’all are done flirting,” Ebony interrupted, a large box labeled WIGS, 1 of 4 in her arms. She didn’t seem amused at how close Taj stood to me or how friendly we seemed to be toward each other. “We need to unload that truck so I can return it tonight. I’m not letting my car sit at the rental place all night.”
“I’ll let you get to it. Holler if you need anything.” Taj sauntered out of the kitchen and out of the front door, pulling it closed behind him.
I made a half turn, trying to decide where to start. “That box is wigs, so let’s start a stack along that wall.” I pointed toward the hallway leading to the alcove. Ebony smirked, slowly sauntered past me and set the box down, then pushed it against the wall.
Then she turned to me, a hand propped on one hip. “Nurse. Dude.”
“Don’t start, Eb. I’m going to grab some boxes. Did Daddy put his dolly in the truck?”
“Nuh uh, Vonnie.” Stubborn, she folded her arms across her chest and planted her stance, her head tipped to the side. “You weren’t going to tell me about the super cute chocolate nurse with the face and the arms and the chest and the eyes and shit? And how he lives next door?”
“He was my nurse at the clinic the night I fell, Ebony. He bandaged my cut, that’s all.”
“Had to be more than that. Y’all got nicknames for each other. Miss Girard.”
I rolled my eyes to the ceiling, noting the beautiful, hand cut wooden fan for the first time. The design details in the house were impressive. “I flipped him shit. He flipped it back. He happens to own this house, which I told you I didn’t know when I rented it. Can we unload this truck now?”
“Fine. But expect me to be out here visiting a lot. I might need a lot of personal health care from your landlord.”