The last thing that Devin Bradford needed was for the woman that he couldn’t stop thinking about showing up on his doorstep, but now that she was here, he was going to do whatever it took to resist her in this romantic comedy from New York Times bestselling author R.L. Mathewson.
Sometimes life doesn’t go the way that we expected.
Determined to be there for his children, Devin put his life on hold, putting his children first even if that meant telling himself that he couldn’t have the only woman that he’d ever wanted, only to feel the last thread of his control snap when she did the one thing that he never saw coming.
She fell in love with his children.
After years of putting off taking the next step, Charlie was finally ready, mostly because her best friend threatened to make her life a living hell if she didn’t. Knowing that she couldn’t keep putting this off any longer, Charlie somehow finds herself moving into the in-law apartment of the man that seemed to go out of his way to avoid her and found herself wondering if she was chasing the wrong dream after all.
Well, this was unfortunate, Charlie thought as she stood there, taking in the large man standing in front of her, noting that he was soaking wet, covered in flour and what appeared to be cocoa powder, his tie was burnt, his shirt was destroyed and he had absolutely no idea who she was, which was understandable since he normally went out of his way to avoid her.
That was confirmed seconds later when that familiar expression that she was used to by now crossed his features, the same one that told her that he was trying to figure out where he knew her from as his gaze darted down to her shirt, the one that she wore every day to work, the same one with “Bradford Creations” printed across it. Frowning, he took in her curly chestnut hair pulled back into a ponytail before looking down to her Harry Potter watch and-
That was apparently enough to jog his memory.
“What can I help you with, Charlie?” Devin Bradford, her boss for the past five years and the reason why she no longer left food unattended in the breakroom, murmured absently, frowning as he reached down and pulled a pink jump rope that had somehow managed to wrap itself around his legs off and tossed it aside.
“I’m not really sure,” Charlie mumbled, suddenly regretting not taking that two-bedroom apartment on Cedar Street that smelled like garbage, kitty litter, and other things that had turned her stomach, when she had the chance as she glanced back down at the post-it note in her hand to make sure that she had the right address.
She did, which meant…
“You’re here for the in-law apartment,” Devin said with a pained sigh as he rubbed his hands slowly down his face.
“Maybe,” Charlie murmured, mostly because she really didn’t think that this was a good idea, not with her quitting and everything. Not that he knew that she was quitting, and since she had no plans of telling him until she was ready, she felt that it would be in her best interest if she got back in her car, drove to work, and spent the rest of the day hiding in her office with the hopes that he would forget this ever happened. Then again, maybe she was worrying over nothing, Charlie thought as she stood there, blinking up at the large man glaring down at her.
Maybe not, Charlie thought, when he said, “This isn’t fucking happening.”
“Okay,” Charlie said as she bit back a sigh of disappointment because she’d been counting on getting this apartment.
If she was going to make this work, and god, she really hoped this worked, she was going to need a cheaper apartment. She didn’t want to give up her two-bedroom apartment, but she didn’t really have a choice right now. Well, she did, but since she’d let Ben talk her into setting a deadline to get her company, that she was still trying to figure out a name for, up and running within the year, she had to do this. The only way that she was going to be able to do that was by saving enough money to make this happen and that meant cutting back on her expenses.
She’d already canceled her cable, figured out a way to cut her cellphone bill in half, switched her car insurance, canceled all those memberships that she’d told herself that she would use one day but never had, Googled ways to cut her utility bills in half, set a budget and at some point she would start sticking to it, gave up those expensive creamy Frappuccinos with an extra shot of butterscotch and chocolate syrup that she liked so much, and fully planned on cooking more so that she wasn’t dependent on takeout. As much as she hated doing this, getting a smaller place would help her reach her goal faster. This apartment was three hundred dollars cheaper than the rest of the apartments that she was considering and would definitely help, but it didn’t look like that was going to-
“I quit!” the small woman covered from head to toe in flour and green glitter said as she tightened her hold around the tan handbag covered in black magic marker and ran for it.
“Shit!” Devin said, looking anxiously over his shoulder before glancing back at the small woman as she tripped over her feet and-
Quickly picked herself back up as she threw a panicked look over her shoulder, released a terrified scream that kind of freaked Charlie out a bit, and kept going as Devin bit out, “Shit!” again. After one last look over his shoulder, he went after her. For a moment, Charlie simply stood there, watching as the small woman ran towards her car only to rethink that plan when she spotted Devin coming after her and took off down the street crying, “You can’t make me go back in there!” as she went.
Wondering if she should expand her search to include rooms for rent, Charlie slipped the post-it note back in her pocket, turned around to head to her car only to turn right back around again and invited herself in when she heard a child say the magical words, “We’re gonna need matches.” Once she was inside the house that looked like it had been hit by a tornado, Charlie carefully made her way towards the sounds of cabinet doors shutting, stepping over toys, crayons, and Legos as she went. When she opened the kitchen door, she completely understood why the small woman ran screaming from the house.
“This isn’t fucking happening,” Devin said as he stood there, forced to watch as the woman that he hadn’t been able to convince to give this another chance tore out of his driveway, leaving a cloud of dust behind.
What the hell was he going to do now?
He was going to panic. That’s what he was going to do, Devin decided, as he walked back inside his house, pulling his phone out as he went and began scrolling through his contacts, trying to figure out how he was going to convince his mother to put off her vacation for another day so that-
“What’s your favorite dinosaur?” he heard Dustin ask as he opened the kitchen door and found the small woman that he’d spent the last five years avoiding gently working her fingers through his son’s soapy hair only pausing long enough to add more shampoo before she continued.
“That’s a tough one,” Charlie said with a thoughtful frown as Dustin, who never sat still, calmly sat in the large kitchen sink waiting for her to answer him.
“I’m going to put down T-Rex,” Abbi, his baby girl, said from where she sat on the counter, wrapped in her favorite Mickey Mouse towel with her wet hair neatly combed and a clipboard with one of the rental applications that he’d printed for the in-law apartment on her lap.
He’d been putting off renting out the in-law apartment for a while now, but with the kids getting older and Bradford Creations growing, Devin didn’t have much of a choice. He needed help, which was why he’d been hoping to rent the apartment to a college kid or a middle-aged woman in exchange for low rent and a few hours of babysitting a week. What he hadn’t expected was for her to show up.
He didn’t know what it was about her, but since the day that she showed up for an interview wearing an Indiana Jones tee-shirt and the cutest fucking smile that he’d ever seen, Devin hadn’t been able to stop thinking about her. Within the first thirty seconds of meeting her, he’d realized that hiring her would be a mistake. He’d planned on thanking her for coming in and tossing her resume in the trash as soon as she left only to find himself sending her a text, telling her that the job was hers before she made it to the front door.
It had been a mistake, one that he’d been regretting for the past five years and it had nothing to do with her job. He wanted her. God, did he fucking want her. It didn’t matter how many times he reminded himself that he couldn’t have her, he couldn’t stop thinking about her. It was the reason why he’d turned the second-floor storage room into her office and avoided the breakroom when he knew that she was in there, because he wasn’t supposed to want her.
He’d made a promise to his children when they were born and he planned on keeping it. That meant avoiding the small woman that never should have caught his attention in the first place. She was nothing like the women that he used to date. She was a short, plump little thing with an unhealthy obsession with Harry Potter and the bluest fucking eyes that he’d ever seen.
“That’s a good idea,” Charlie said with one of those warm smiles that he tried not to think about most days as she finished working the glitter out of Dustin’s hair and gestured for him to cover his eyes.
“What’s the next question?” Dustin asked, obediently covering his eyes so that Charlie could rinse his hair.
Frowning, Abbi glanced down at the application and said, “What’s your favorite ice cream?” making him smile.
“Hmmm,” Charlie said, pursing her lips up in thought before adding, “that’s a tough one, but I think I’m gonna have to go with chocolate chip cookie dough.”
“That’s Daddy’s favorite, too,” Abbi said, nodding solemnly as she scribbled something on the application with a green crayon.
“Are the brownies done?” Dustin asked, reminding him of the reason that they were in this mess in the first place.
“Almost,” Charlie said, glancing over at the oven as the scent of warm brownies caught his attention.
“What about the muffins?” Abbi asked, making him frown.
She’d made muffins?
God, he fucking loved muffins.
“Five more minutes,” Charlie said, making him realize how much time he’d wasted trying to convince the babysitter that hadn’t lasted the week to come back.
“Are you going to take the apartment?” Dustin asked as Charlie picked up a facecloth and began working on removing the glittery-paste mess from behind his ears.
“That’s up to your dad,” Charlie said, rinsing the facecloth as Devin stood there, thinking of all the reasons that this was a bad idea, but one look at his smiling children’s faces had him doing something that he already regretted.
©Rerum Carta Industries, Inc. 2019. All Rights Reserved.
New York Times Bestselling author, R.L. Mathewson was born in Massachusetts. She’s known for her humor, quick wit and ability to write relatable characters. She currently has several paranormal and contemporary romance series published including the Neighbor from Hell series.
Growing up, R.L. Mathewson was a painfully shy bookworm. After high school, she attended college, worked as a bellhop, fast food cook, and a museum worker until she decided to take an EMT course. Working as an EMT helped her get over her shyness as well as left her with some fond memories and some rather disturbing ones that from time to time show up in one of her books.
Today, R.L. Mathewson is the single mother of two children that keep her on her toes. She has a bit of a romance novel addiction as well as a major hot chocolate addiction and on a perfect day, she combines the two.
In 2019/2020, R.L. Mathewson will be publishing Devastated, the first Anger Management novel, Tall, Dark & Furious, the 6th installment to the Pyte/Sentinel series, Irresistible, the long anticipated novel for the Neighbor from Hell Series as well as many more books throughout the year, paranormals, contemporaries, and YAs.