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Breaking the Rules by Crystal Kaswell (1)

Chapter One

Emma

There's something wrong with my brother.

The house is spotless.

No dishes in the sink.

No papers on the dining table.

No pillows strewn over the black leather couch.

The only sign of life is the tap tap tap of the shower upstairs.

"Brendon." I kick off my work flats. Move across the living room. Up the stairs. "Can we talk?" I swallow the nerves that climb into my throat.

I need to stay cool and collected.

So he believes my version of events.

If my brother finds out what really happened…

That's not an option.

The shower turns off.

I take a deep breath. Exhale slowly.

I'm convincing my brother this isn't a big deal. Period. End of story.

"Hello?" A low, deep voice fills the hallway.

It's familiar.

But it's not my brother's.

That's definitely not my brother.

That's…

Uh…

Fuck.

I try to make eye contact, but I can't.

He's dripping wet.

Naked.

Huge.

"Emma?" The familiar voice asks.

Something clicks in my head.

That's him.

He's wearing way fewer clothes, yeah, but I'd recognize those blue eyes anywhere.

Hunter.

Hunter is naked in my brother's house.

Hunter is naked in my brother's house and I'm staring at his cock.

I should stop.

Really, I should.

But he's so…

"Fuck. Sorry." He turns and marches into the bedroom.

My eyes stay fixed on his tan skin.

I try to look at something else—his sandy hair or the lights in the bathroom or the beige carpet—but I can't.

He's so naked.

And I'm so into it.

"You okay?" He steps into the hallway.

Finally, my eyes obey my command. They trace a line up his long, lean torso. The dreamcatcher tattoo on his shoulder. The strong chin. The piercing blue eyes.

They're so fucking intense.

"Emma?" he asks again. With extra concern. "Are you okay?" His voice drops to something closer to a whisper.

It's not even remotely close to a baby, I want you whisper, but that's still where my head goes.

He's wearing a towel.

Only a towel.

And he's wet.

I…

He…

God, he's beautiful.

"What are you doing here?" I press my palm against the doorframe. Dig my toes into the carpet.

"Brendon didn't explain?"

"No."

"I'm staying here for a few weeks."

I just barely nod.

"And I'm filling in at Inked Hearts. While he's in New Jersey."

"Oh." Of course the one guy who makes me blush is filling in at Inked Hearts. Of course he's house sitting the one time I want to stay here. "That's great."

"You sure?" he asks.

"Yeah." I try to find something to say. Fail. It's weird. Unlike me. I hold my own around guys. Even half-naked ones. But after that… Fuck, I don't know anymore. "You'll fit in."

"You work the front desk?"

"Yeah. Sometimes." I take a step backward. Suck a breath through my teeth. Hunter is still wearing a towel. My brain is still struggling to function. It's still screaming Hunter. Towel. Wet.

It's a cavewoman who can barely put words together.

Though there's a certain flow to Hunter. Towel. Wet.

It's poetic.

"I should get dressed." He nods to the office.

"Right." I press my lips together. He's so… This is so… I'm so not doing this. "I should… um… I'll see you later."

He nods sure, turns, and disappears into the office.

I press my bedroom door closed.

Then I slide to the ground and I die of embarrassment.

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