Breaking Even (The Sterling Shore Series #5)(10)

By: C.M. Owens



Just as I grab my remote, the TV cuts out, and the power dies to the house. Did he really just do that?

My humor fades quickly, because this is crossing a line. I storm out of the house, ready to go bark at the idiot and form some boundaries for the war, when he bursts out of his door, stalking in my direction, barely recognizable under the sliver of moonlight when he gets closer.

It's then I realize the entire street is blacked out, and he looks around to notice the same thing.

“Was it her?” a guy asks from inside his house, laughter lacing his words.

“No,” Mr. Sexy growls. “Whole damn neighborhood is blacked out. Let's take this to someone else's house.”

He starts to say something to me, since I'm standing here at the edge of his yard and staring for no particular reason. He's still wearing ketchup. I can say that's why I'm staring, even though it’s really too dark to see it.

“Can't. Just got a text to pick up some diapers. I need to go,” a male's voice says—and it sounds familiar, oddly enough.

“I should go, too,” another says, and they all speak over each other as bodies filter out. All I can make out are their silhouettes before I turn around.

I head back to my house, feeling a little weird just staring in the dark. It's been a while since this neighborhood has had a blackout. It's usually the bigger cities in the summer that blackout because of the heat and everyone using their air conditioning.

It’s not anywhere nearly that hot, so I don’t know what’s going on.

Just as I settle down on my sofa and pull out my phone to call Maggie, there's a knock at the door. I start to answer, but I know who it is.

“Not in the dark,” I murmur, shivering a little. He'll torture me if he finds out I'm creeped out at night when I’m here alone.

“I'm not here to get revenge just yet,” he says through the door. “You have a gas hot water heater. I've fixed it for Maggie before. Mine is electric, and you've hosed me down with ketchup. It's only right you let me in to use the shower.”

He's good at sounding harmless. Too bad I'm too smart for his tricks.

“Sorry. But no. You have plenty of friends' houses you can go to.”

“They all just left. Most of them have shit to do tonight. Some of them aren't really friends. And besides, I'm not getting into my car with this shit all over me.”

I purse my lips for several long minutes, and finally, with a reluctant sigh, I do something he's bound to make me regret.

“As long as you call a temporary truce,” I say through the door, my hand hovering over the doorknob.

“Truce until I'm out of your house. Then the war resumes,” he says quickly.

I doubt I can trust him on that, but I still let him in. I gasp when he rips me up from the ground and crushes me in a... hug? I'm really embarrassed when my legs try to wrap around his waist, because he drops me back down to the ground and laughs as he walks into my bathroom.

“I've got first shower,” he says, shutting the door behind him. “By the way, love the new hair color.”

It's then I realize what he's done. The bastard has covered me in ketchup, and made fun of my horribly bluish-gray hair. I go to pound on the door, wishing I had the strength to beat the hell out of him.

“You said truce!” I yell, glaring at the door like I can see through it.

“Believe me, that wasn't revenge. That was just a taste of what's to come.”

I wish he meant that dirty. I hate him for making me wish that. Especially since I know he'd never see me that way. Guys like him go for girls like Tria Noles or Ash Masters or even Raya Capperton. They don't go for girls like me.

Instead of fuming at my bathroom door or throwing myself a pity party, I grab some clothes and head to Maggie's room. I'll just shower in there—a cold shower. Maybe he'll be gone by the time I get out.

***

RYE

Does this girl buy anything other than white or black cotton panties? No lace, no satin, no other color. How can someone so feisty manage to be so dull in every other way? There's no way she's getting laid if she’s wearing this stuff.

She has a thousand candles, like most girls, and they’re all lit throughout the room and the house, giving me a view of the sad life she leads. I should have snooped when I was cutting down her bed.

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