Today I am so pleased to welcome Sarina Bowen to Joyfully Jay. Sarina has come to share an exclusive excerpt from her latest release, Roommate. Please join me in giving her a big welcome!
I’m having a happy dream. The best kind of dream.
I’m in a gleaming restaurant kitchen, cooking a meal for the actor Henry Cavill. And he’s flirting with me. But I can’t tell if he’s flirting for real or just being friendly. As I set a plate down in front of him, I’m trying to decide whether or not to slip him my phone number.
“You’re really cute,” he says. “But it’s too bad we knew each other in high school. That ruins everything.”
“Why?” I ask Dream Cavill. But he can’t answer me, because the oven timer starts ringing loudly. I look around but can’t find it.
A few seconds into its persistent beeping, I startle awake and realize that pesty sound is not part of the dream, but real. With a gasp, I yank my head from my hands and rise from my stool so quickly that I sway on my feet.
I lurch over to the oven and check the pumpkin muffins. They’ll need another two minutes, so I close the oven door and shake my bleary head. Finally, I stop the timer’s infernal noise. I spot Kieran in the doorway, frowning at me. He’s the only witness to this shit show.
I haven’t even been offered the job yet, but I’ve already fallen asleep on it. This is not good.
“Sorry,” I try to say, but it comes out as a croak. I clear my throat and try again. “I was just…” The sentence peters out, because there’s no excuse that I can offer. Sleeping in my car is killing me. I look like death this morning and am now capable of slipping into REM sleep while the muffins bake. It’s unprofessional, and I really hope Kieran doesn’t mention it to Zara and Audrey.
He probably will, though.
Kieran disappears without a word, which is just as well, I guess. Zara will be back any moment. I take out the muffins and set them on a rack to cool. Then I stir up a batch of oatmeal cookies with raisins.
Ten minutes later, as I’m dropping cookie dough onto a tray, Kieran enters the kitchen. He places a mug of steaming coffee on the worktable beside me and disappears before I can say anything.
It’s a pretty helpful gesture considering that Kieran hates me. Every friendly thing I say to him goes wrong somehow, and when we worked the counter together yesterday, it had seemed like I couldn’t stop bumping into him. Maybe he’s just clumsy, but it was probably my fault.
And although he likely brought me the coffee so I wouldn’t burn the place down by accident, I should still thank him.
I don’t get my chance until that afternoon. Zara retreats into the little office to order some supplies. The shop is in a rare lull, the only customers outside on the patio, wearing their coats in the weak October sunshine.
“Can I talk to you for a sec?” I ask Kieran.
“Why.” His forehead wrinkles. The dude does not want to talk.
But I plow ahead. “Just thought I’d introduce myself properly, because I hope we’re going to be working together.”
“Nice to meet you,” he grits out.
“Yeah. I can tell you’re thrilled.” I chuckle. “Look, we obviously went to the same high school—”
“It was a long time ago. I don’t even remember.” He shuts me down with a few quick words. Then he swallows hard, betraying his discomfort.
And that’s when I get angry. Can we really not get past my teenage stupidity?
“Yeah, okay,” I say slowly. I cross my arms in front of my chest to show him that his brusque tone doesn’t scare me. Although I have to lift my chin to look him in the eye. He’s probably got four inches on me, as well as bulging biceps that I can’t help but admire. It’s too bad Kieran Shipley wants nothing to do with me, because the man is as hot as he is grumpy.
And now I’m staring.
“I guess I must be thinking of somebody else,” I say so slowly that it sounds like a tease. “Pity, though. Because once upon a time I really enjoyed putting on a show for that other guy. Whoever he was. And I’m pretty sure he enjoyed it, too.”
And then—because self-preservation was never my strong suit—I give him a sleazy wink, turn on my heel, and disappear into the kitchen. But not before I glimpse a flash of red on his face.
I just made him angry. Awesome. I must not want to buy decent food or sleep in a real bed after all.
Nice going, Roddy. You’re fucking everything up again.
But if Kieran Shipley can’t deal with me, maybe this job was never meant to be.
Wanted: One roommate to share a 3-bedroom house, split the rent, and ideally not be the guy I can’t stop thinking about.
I’m a man with too many secrets, so the last thing I need is a new roommate with a sexy smile and blue eyes that see right through me. Eight years ago, Roderick left town after high school. We’re not friends. I owe him nothing. But back then, I let one of my secrets slip, and he’s the only one who noticed.
Part of me knows I should run far, far away. But the other part wants him to come upstairs and spend the night. But if I let him in, I could lose everything.
Seeking: a room to rent in town. I’m tidy, have no pets, and I will feed you homemade bread.
I should probably add: Gay AF, and has no filter. It’s no wonder my new landlord is so wary of me.
A smarter man would ignore those hot glances from the broody lumberjack. He may want more from me than another fresh-baked pretzel. But if I push my luck, I’ll end up back on the street.
Too bad I’ve never been smart with my heart…
Shorby –> https://shor.by/roommate
Sarina Bowen is the award-winning author of more than thirty contemporary novels. She has hit the USA Today bestseller’s list sixteen times and counting. Formerly a derivatives trader on Wall Street, Sarina holds a BA in economics from Yale University.
Sarina is a New Englander whose Vermont ancestors cut timber and farmed the north country since the 1760s. Sarina is grateful for the invention of indoor plumbing and wi-fi during the intervening 250 years. She lives with her family on a few wooded acres in New Hampshire.
Sarina’s books are published in a dozen languages on four continents.