When her long-distance teaching buddy goes on maternity leave, New York City native Leyla Harraq, temporarily transplants to a sleepy beach town on the West Coast to manage her friend’s Hot Yoga studio. But the yogini’s brash spunk leads to an immediate social gaffe when she insults her new landlord, carpenter Adam Fields, and must backpedal to save face.
Watching her hottie landlord wallow in solitary confinement after a brutal break-up will never do. Motivated by her own need for physical contact, Leyla happily offers herself as the perfect rebound. She’ll be gone in a couple of months, no one has to know, and she can wipe his ex right out of his mind… and body. After all, if anyone knows how to turn up the heat, it’s her.
But when the studio owner realizes she can’t return to teaching full-time and asks Leyla to stay, the fish-out-of-water must make a choice. Can she abandon her commitment-free lifestyle for small town drama and a chance at love with a hunky hammer wielding man?
She bent over. Again. And I stared. Again. And possibly drooled. What the hell was wrong with me? I’d been dating my girlfriend for ten years and never once thought of another girl in a totally inappropriate and downright lusty way.
Plus, I was her damn landlord. There had to be some kind of weird power thing making my dirty mind even worse. When the hell had I turned into Creepy McGoogly-Eyes? I shook my head like a confused dog and headed through my glass door into the open kitchen.
“Chicken okay for you?” I asked over my shoulder. That was the other thing. Why had I asked her to dinner? Maybe it was because I couldn’t figure her out. New York sass one minute and stupefaction the next. Yeah, that was it. Not her bendy little butt, coal-black hair or insanely charming accent.
“Chicken is perfect. Thank you so much for your hospitality; I really didn’t expect it.” Leyla’s soft smile revealed a small dimple in her chin. She tapped the counter a couple of times and surveyed the room before meeting me at the fridge. “What can I do to help?”
Damn, she was short. She didn’t even have to hunch down to look in at the shelves. And I didn’t fail to notice her offer. Whenever Holly came over, which was most nights when she wasn’t traveling for work, she would find excuse after excuse not to chip in. Either she’d just gotten her nails done or was too tired or would just blink and say, “I do love it when you spoil me, babe. You don’t mind if I chill, work was a bitch.” It had just seemed like something I’d accepted in our relationship. I’d often wondered how much she would do if we ever had kids. And if I was honest, it was one of the things holding me back from buying a ring.
“Give me something to chop.” Leyla held open her hands. “Or I can just rummage around and make a salad out of whatever I find.”
I pulled out the marinated chicken breast from the bottom drawer and met her olive eyes on the way back to standing. “Go for it. There’s a head of lettuce and vegetables in the second drawer. You want a beer?”
“You trying to get me drunk?” A small, sarcastic snarl wrinkled her face.
I yanked my head back, and she cringed.
“Fuck. I’m sorry. Oh, Christ, now I said fuck. And Christ. I’m so sorry.” Rapid blinks were followed by one long one and a sharp exhale from her nose. “I think I have a little bit of fish-out-of-water syndrome. I’m sorry if I offended you with my language or implied…”
She really was quite the little pickle. I couldn’t help but chuckle. “Is that a yes or a no?”
“Maybe it will help me stop committing social faux pas. A beer would be great, thanks.” Leyla pulled out two red peppers and an onion and set them on the counter. I stepped out of the doorway, opened the cooler, grabbed a longneck, and wiped the ice water it dripped onto a nearby dish towel.
A quick hiss escaped the bottle as I twisted the cap and brought it back to the kitchen. I slid the beer across the counter, where Leyla was already busy chopping vegetables.
“Just for the record, I don’t consider the swearing a problem. The gawker comment, yes,” I deadpanned.
Her face fell as she reached for the beer. The bottle hovered below her lips and her eyes went wide. “I—”
“Relax. I’m fucking with you.” And dear God, it was more fun than I’d had in a long time. She was easier to wind up than a toy from the dollar store.
She set the beer down and crossed her arms. Her eyes narrowed, but a glimmer of something, maybe mischief, betrayed what she probably wanted to read as anger.
“You were kinda staring at my ass.”
Her ass was kinda staring back as far as I was concerned, sending all kinds of voodoo messages that had somehow convinced me to check it out every chance I got. But no way was I confessing to that.
“Sorry. But no. I told you. I was just trying to figure out how you’d made yourself into a human pretzel.” Human pretzel in ridiculously revealing shorts.
Her slightly pouty lips plumped out and Leyla rolled her eyes. “Whatever, Mr. My Girlfriend is in Vegas.” She turned back to the vegetables, took a swig of the beer, and went back to work.
Born and raised in the Midwest, Contemporary Romance and Erotica writer, Deana Birch, now lives with her family in Europe. She can be found teaching yoga, ruining her children’s French homework, cleaning up dog vomit, writing her next book, or reading someone else’s.