Room for two, p.1
Room for Two, p.1Part #2 of Breakfast in Bed series by Sydney Landon
Praise for the Danvers Novels
“Enough bittersweet longing to pluck your heartstrings and enough heat to keep it interesting.”
“Wonderful . . . Landon’s foray into contemporary romance has just the right amount of angst, sass, sexiness, humor, and, of course, romance.”
“If you like the Cinderella-style story, this modern-day version is sure to be a hit.”
—Once Upon a Twilight
Also by Sydney Landon
The Breakfast in Bed Series
KEEPING IT HOT
The Danvers Series
WISHING FOR US
THE ONE FOR ME
WATCH OVER ME
ALWAYS LOVING YOU
NO DENYING YOU
FIGHTING FOR YOU
FALL FOR ME
NOT PLANNING ON YOU
A JOVE BOOK
Published by Berkley
An imprint of Penguin Random House LLC
375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014
Copyright © 2018 by Sydney Landon
Excerpt from Keeping It Hot copyright © 2017 by Sydney Landon
Penguin Random House supports copyright. Copyright fuels creativity, encourages diverse voices, promotes free speech, and creates a vibrant culture. Thank you for buying an authorized edition of this book and for complying with copyright laws by not reproducing, scanning, or distributing any part of it in any form without permission. You are supporting writers and allowing Penguin Random House to continue to publish books for every reader.
A JOVE BOOK and BERKLEY are registered trademarks and the B colophon is a trademark of Penguin Random House LLC.
Ebook ISBN: 9780399587412
First Edition: February 2018
Man walking with document © 4x6/iStock photo
Woman on lounger © Kudia/Shutterstock
Pool and sun umbrella © gunnarAssmy/iStock photo
Water © wavebreakmedia/Shutterstock
Cover design by Colleen Reinhart
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
Praise for the Danvers Novels
Also by Sydney Landon
Excerpt from Keeping It Hot
About the Author
What an asshole!” Dana Anders huffed in exasperation to her boss and best friend, Zoe Jackson. The fact that she was referring to Zoe’s brother-in-law, Asher, didn’t concern her in the least. If there was one rule in this world, it was that you always had your friend’s back, even when it got tricky. “Since when is it acceptable to ask a woman if she shops in the teen plus-size section? He certainly knows how to multitask because he got in a dig at both my height and my weight.”
“I swear, I don’t know why he acts like that towards you.” Zoe grimaced as they both watched Ash walk out of Zoe’s Place. Dana had been the manager of the popular hotel coffee shop for several years now, and it was the best job that she’d ever had. She loved meeting all the new people that passed through the luxury Oceanix-Pensacola Resort as well as chatting with the regulars who came in daily. She was a people person, so the work suited her perfectly. At least it had until the moment when Asher decided to relocate from the Oceanix-Charleston to their Florida location. Dana normally got along with everyone—she had really never met anyone who didn’t like her, so at first the animosity Asher leveled her way was puzzling. Then it finally began to piss her off. What had she ever done to the man to deserve his scorn? It was as if he’d decided within an instant of making her acquaintance that he didn’t like her, and his attitude toward her had only gotten worse. But the most galling part of the entire situation was that although she gave as good as she received where he was concerned, she could admit, just to herself, that she was wildly attracted to the jerk. A humiliating fact she prayed he never discovered.
“Because he’s compensating for his shortcomings by being a turd,” she snapped. “I know the man is your brother-in-law, but I think you would have to agree with me on this one. He’s never had one civilized word to say to me. What is his problem?” Dana inwardly winced when her question came out sounding more hurt than ticked off. The last thing she wanted getting back to Ash was that his behavior was hurting her. Well, that and the fact that she dreamed of him ripping her clothes off and taking her on the counter of the coffee shop. She suspected her boss would not approve of that particular fantasy either, although she was certain that Zoe and her husband, Dylan, had probably succumbed to it more than once. Speaking of Dylan, he was another Jackson brother with whom she hadn’t particularly bonded. Although in their case, the verbal sparring was more like that of siblings, rather than the more insulting variety she participated in with his brother.
Dylan had thought that Dana was a bad influence on Zoe when Dylan and Zoe had finally started to date after years of platonic friendship. In the end, though, Dylan had married the woman he loved, and since the wedding he had mellowed a lot. Nevertheless, he still went through the motions of arguing with Dana just for fun. It was something they both enjoyed.
Zoe laid a hand on Dana’s shoulder and squeezed it in commiseration. “I honestly don’t know,” she admitted. “I’ve asked Dylan about it more than once and he says that it’s really out of character for Ash. He’s normally very charming where the opposite sex is concerned, so we’re both rather puzzled over it. Maybe I should talk to him,” she began, before falling silent as Dana vigorously shook her head.
“No way. I won’t let him have the satisfaction of thinking he’s getting to me. Imagine how much that discovery would thrill him. You never give a bully that kind of power.”
Zoe picked up the latte that Dana had made for her earlier and took a sip. “So what are you going to do then?” She gave her a look full of sympathy before adding, “I can tell that he’s hurting your feelings. I’ve wanted to beat the crap out of him myself even though he’s not saying that stuff to me.”
Stiffening her spine, Dana brushed a hand down her black apron and tossed her head defiantly. “It’s about time I started fighting fire with fire. If he can come into my place of business and insult me every day, then maybe I need to level the same treatment at him.”
Zoe gave her a skeptical look before asking, “What exactly does that mean? You two already bicker when he’s here. It’s not as if you’re just standing around taking it from him.”
“True,” Dana agreed, nodding, “but he gets the last word in because he is free to walk out the door whenever he wants. Since I’m always in the middle of my shift, I can’t exactly follow behind him.”
“You could signal me if I’m here so that I can take over for you,” Zoe suggested helpfully. Dana thought to herself—not for the first time—that she’d hit the lottery in the boss department. Not many business owners would volunteer to cover for their employee so she could follow a customer out the door to continue an argument. Especially when she was now related by marriage to the other person. Zoe rocked, as a friend and as a boss.
Giving her first real smile of the day, Dana shook her head. “That’s not necessary, but I absolutely love you for offering. No, what I had in mind was to give him a taste of his own medicine. He orders lunch and coffee from here almost daily. So from now on, I think I’ll make that delivery myself instead of having one of the girls take care of it.”
Dana saw the exact moment that the lightbulb went on above Zoe’s head. Her friend’s lips twitched before a loud giggle escaped. “That’s rather brilliant, I have to admit. You’re gonna bring the battle to his doorstep. Crap, I’d love to be around to see that the first time. He won’t be expecting it.”
“No, he won’t.” Dana offered an evil grin. “Of course, it’ll only be a surprise once, but if I play my cards right, it’ll make such a big impression that he’ll think twice about opening his mouth to say anything to me other than a polite ‘How are you today?’”
Cringing slightly, Zoe looked at Dana before saying, “I feel as if I should warn my husband out of loyalty. I mean, it is his office that you’re declaring war on.” When Dana narrowed her eyes at her friend, Zoe laughed and held up one hand. “All right, my lips are sealed. I’m sure Ash will tell him all about it after your first delivery anyway. Plus, Dylan’s brother seriously needs to learn some manners.”
They did a fist bump before getting back to work. After that, the rest of the day passed by quickly as usual, and when Dana left for home that afternoon, it was one the few times since Asher Jackson had arrived on the scene more than a year ago that she had pep in her step. She had a war to wage tomorrow, and she found that she was beyond excited to deliver some justice to Ash along with his usual sandwich. Hell hath no fury like a woman called “fat” by a man.
When Asher Jackson’s stomach growled yet again, he glanced at his watch, wondering what was taking so long for his food delivery. Since Zoe’s Place was located in the same hotel, the service was usually very fast. But it had already been almost an hour and he was starving. He’d had a clingy one-night stand the previous evening and he’d been determined not to provide breakfast and mixed signals. When you cooked for a woman, they made a lot of assumptions. Usually he cleaned out the refrigerator before he went out on the prowl. He didn’t even keep cereal in his cabinets. He’d made that mistake before and had a woman eat that stuff dry when he’d told her he was out of milk. Now he knew never to underestimate a woman looking to make what was supposed to be a brief sexual encounter into something more. Truthfully, he discouraged women from staying over, but it had been so late by the time they’d made it to his place and the deed was done, that he’d just crashed instead of dealing with the awkward showing her the door routine.
Turned out he’d made a mistake by delaying that and giving them both a few hours of sleep. When he’d woken up, Betsy, Betty, or whatever her name was had been wandering around his apartment in one of his T-shirts while flipping through a family photo album. He’d had a creepy feeling that she was looking at his boyhood pictures and dreaming about what their future children would look like. She’d even motioned him over and quizzed him about his attractive female cousins featured in some of the pictures. He’d thought he was imagining the tension in her voice until he noticed her eye twitching. Danger! He’d been with his share of crazy chicks before and he knew the signs. So he’d made up something about an early meeting and literally dressed her before pushing her out the door. Afterward he’d found her name and number written in lipstick on his bathroom mirror with a big heart drawn around them. The same information had also been left duct-taped to his refrigerator door.
What he wanted to know was where in the hell had she gotten duct tape and what kind of person put that on top-of-the-line stainless steel? He’d barely gotten over that audacity when he’d returned to the bedroom to find more writing on the mirror in his closet and then later on his dining room window. Fuck, had she been raised in a barn? He was still trying to wipe the bright red stuff off when his housekeeper, Rosa, had arrived. She’d taken one look and connected the dots perfectly. She’d been with him less than a year, but the woman seemed to know everything and she damn sure wasn’t shy about sharing her opinions with him.
“Pissed off another one, huh, Romeo? I hope this girl didn’t cut holes in your expensive sheets or pee on your bath towels. That girl sure had a bladder on her. She nearly soaked through those extra-fluffy ones. Where do you find these women anyway? Have you considered taking out a personal ad? E-Harmony is supposed to run background checks, aren’t they?” Without waiting for him to answer, she’d rolled her eyes and shook her head in disapproval. “No, that won’t work. You need a service that runs an in-depth psych check. And probably not before you sleep with them. Because they’re mostly normal at that point. But you do something during the hour or so that you let them stay to push them over the edge. If you ever decide to see one a second time, by some rare miracle, that’s when the evaluation is needed.” She had walked up to him with a bottle of Windex in her hand and pushed him to the side. “You do realize that crazy is just as contagious as a bad case of the flu, right? You keep dragging these nut jobs home and eventually I’m gonna walk in one day to find you sitting in the middle of the floor spinning a plate and clapping your hands together like that Sybil woman.”
Rubbing his throbbing head, Ash had asked, “Who in the hell is Sybil?” He almost dreaded hearing the answer. He also wasn’t brave enough to tell his rather intimidating housekeeper that if crazy was catching, he’d probably get it from her before anyone else.
She’d clucked her tongue as if he’d committed some grievous error. “That old movie where Sally Field had all of those personalities. That girl didn’t know if she was a boy or a girl or what age she was. She was up, down, and all over the place.”
Confused, Ash had asked, “What’s that got to do with spinning plates? Have you been smoking your husband’s medical marijuana again?”
Rosa poked her surprisingly bony finger into his side. “I know you were doing God knows what all night, but try to keep up. In the movie, Sybil sat on the floor while spinning a plate and clapping her hands. Bat-shit crazy, she was. That could be you one day if you aren’t more selective about your women friends. Why can’t you follow your brother’s example and find a good girl like Zoe?”
Ash didn’t bother to point out that she’d avoided his question about the marijuana. Rosa and her husband, Ted, reminded him of old-school hippies. He was almost certain there was some pot smoking happening at their house on a regular basis. He’d been around his share of weed, so he knew it wasn’t weird perfume that Rosa reeked of occasionally. He didn’t judge though. When she wasn’t giving him hell, she made his life easier. Plus, he found he enjoyed these wacky conversations with her. She’d also shown more than one clinger to the door for him the next morning and that right there was more than enough to earn her a job for life. Hell, he’d make her employee of the month if there was anyone else for her to compete against. As it was, he paid her double the going rate for housekeeping and gave her generous benefits. Okay, so maybe she’d demanded all of that, but he’d given in quickly. She didn’t need to know that he was a tad bit scared of her. “Zoe’s one of a kind,” he admitted truthfully. He was half in love with his brother’s wife and wasn’t shy about telling Dylan as much on a regular basis. Dylan just laughed it off because he had no worries where she was concerned. They were sickeningly in love with each other, and there was zero chance of either one of them ever straying.
“Yeah, you got that right,” Rosa had agreed. “But surely she has some friends or maybe a sister. Someone who thinks that having good morals means waiting until the soup course before dropping their underwear.”
Ash couldn’t help it—he threw his head back and laughed. Damn, he loved the shit that came out of her mouth. If he could find a younger and hopefully more attractive version of his housekeeper, he’d damn well marry her. Considering the amount of stolen and damaged items that women had taken or destroyed through the years, he’d save a small fortune. Not to mention he’d sleep better knowing he wasn’t going to take up a starring role in his own Fatal Attraction movie. Fuck, he had nightmares about psycho chicks standing over him with sharp objects while he slept. “I’m pretty sure that Zoe has already warned all of her friends about me, so I don’t think there’s any chance of that.” The words had barely left his mouth when an image of Dana suddenly filled his mind. He squeezed his eyes shut, trying to block her out. The woman irritated the hell out of him on a daily basis, so it was beyond him why he spent so much time thinking about her. He’d never admit it, but a lot of the thoughts were regret over nasty things he’d said to her. Women loved him because he was full of compliments and charm. But around her, for some inexplicable reason, he turned into some school-yard bully. It was as if he was standing on the outside watching a stranger say all of that shit to her. But no matter how many times he promised himself that he’d do better, he never did. Within seconds of being in her company, he would unleash another volley of insults. The whole thing might have gotten old enough to put behind him by now if she didn’t rise to the occasion so well. There were a few times that he thought he might have seen what looked like hurt in her eyes when they had gone a little too far, but it had vanished so quickly he’d convinced himself that he’d imagined it. Even his brother, who had a similar relationship with her, had pointed out more than once that he needed to back off before she either killed him or quit her job. If the latter happened, Zoe would make both Dylan’s and Ash’s lives a living hell.
Room for Two by Sydney Landon / Romance & Love / History & Fiction have rating 3.6 out of 5 / Based on25 votes