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Pretend

The Neighbor from Hell Prequel

There was nothing more painful than falling in love with your best friend.

From New York Time’s bestselling author R.L. Mathewson comes the prequel to the disturbingly funny romantic comedy series, Neighbor from Hell.

She couldn’t do this anymore.

After watching her best friend and the man that she’d been in love with her entire life propose to another woman, Morgan decided that it was time to finally move on. She made plans, plans that Eric didn’t know about and she planned to keep it that way, but unfortunately for her, one bet destroyed everything, leaving her with no choice but to be there for her best friend one last time.

He was done.

Eric Bradford was done wasting his time on women that he had absolutely no hope of falling in love with. He just needed time, a chance to get away, and he just needed…

Her.

Determined to figure out how he kept screwing up his life, Eric takes his best friend on the honeymoon that he’d spent a fortune on and asked her for one more favor, one that would change everything, and leave him with no choice but to do whatever it takes to stop the one woman that meant everything to him from finally walking away. 

Print Excerpt

Chapter 1

Fifteen Years Ago…

“I never really liked Amber,” Jason, his asshole cousin and the reason why Eric was trying to wrap his mind around what just happened, said, sounding thoughtful as Eric sat there debating beating the shit out of him, but…

God, he couldn’t fucking believe this.

One minute, Eric was trying to tell himself that this wasn’t a mistake and the next, he was walking in on the little bastard fucking his fiancée in the men’s room all because the other little bastard bet him that he couldn’t do it. Then again, since Eric actually thought that Amber was in love with him, he probably would have taken that bet, too. That, and according to the woman that he thought he would end up spending the rest of his life with, she’d been saving herself for marriage.

“I don’t know what you saw in her,” Trevor, the little bastard that made the bet, said with a pitying shake of his head as Eric sat there, slowly taking a sip of the beer that Amber’s parents were paying for as he once again wondered how he’d missed the fact that his fiancée was a manipulative bitch.

“Bradfords don’t propose,” Uncle Jared said with a sad shake of his head as he helped himself to another steak dinner that Amber’s family abandoned after everything went to hell.

Eric opened his mouth to tell them that the Bradford curse was bullshit only to finish his beer instead. He should have listened to his family, Eric thought as he handed off his empty bottle to a passing waiter and gestured for another beer. His family had been on his ass for the past year, telling him that he was making a mistake, but he’d refused to listen because he was a fucking idiot.

“You didn’t love her,” his father said, dropping down onto the chair next to him with a heavy sigh.

The sad part?

He couldn’t really argue that, could he? How else would Eric explain his reaction to hearing his fiancée begging his cousin to fuck her? He’d heard the panted demand, stood there for a moment, fucking sighed, turned around and headed back to the bar for a beer. He should have been pissed, should have yelled, decked his cousin, called Amber a bitch, but instead, he’d calmly ordered a beer while he’d told the asshole that almost became his father-in-law that the wedding was off.

He never should have-

“I love bubbles,” came the slurred announcement that had his lips twitching as he looked over at his best friend to find Morgan hugging a bottle of champagne against her chest.

God, she was just so fucking adorable, Eric thought, reaching over to push the glasses that were always threatening to fall off, back up her cute little nose. Her wavy dark brown hair that she always seemed to wear in a ponytail hung free around her shoulders, one thin strap of the black cocktail dress that he’d never seen her in before made its way down her arm, and-

Had him fucking sighing as he took a sip of beer, realizing that the only good thing that came out of this whole mess was that he got to see Morgan in a dress, something that he never thought would happen again after the unfortunate incident that occurred at their prom.

“I know you do, Morgan,” Eric said, unable to help but smile for the woman that always had his back as he reached over and plucked the bottle of champagne out of her arms.

“My bubbles,” Morgan mumbled sadly as she watched him hand the bottle over to a passing waiter.

“I’ll get you more bubbles later,” Eric promised her even as he gestured to his cousin to hand him the bucket of ice on the table behind him.

Jason grabbed the bucket and moved to hand it to Morgan when Eric snatched it out of his hands with a glare because letting the little prick next to her was the last fucking thing that he was going to let happen.

With a sheepish smile, Jason murmured, “Right,” grabbed an abandoned beer from one of the tables next to them and took a sip while Eric shifted his attention to his best friend and-

“Where are the bubbles?” Morgan mumbled sadly as she stared down at the glass of water in front of her.

“They’re sleeping,” Eric told her even as he tried to remember if he’d ever seen her this drunk before.

Normally, Morgan didn’t drink, but those few times that she did were always memorable. There was the time that he stole beer from his grandfather’s house only to end up trying to convince her that the squirrels throwing nuts at her did not want to be her friends. Then there was the time when they were in college and he dragged her with him to a fraternity party and ended up chasing her through the math building at two in the morning because she didn’t want to be late for a class that she wasn’t even fucking taking. The last time he saw her this drunk was probably her twenty-first birthday, which was something that he’d promised himself that he wouldn’t think about again.

“But I love them,” Morgan mumbled sadly as he placed the bucket of ice on the floor between them and took her small hand in his only to wince when he saw how swollen it was.

Morgan didn’t get pissed often, but when she did…

“Can I hit Amber again?” she asked, sounding hopeful.

“Maybe later if you’re a good girl,” Eric promised her as he examined her hand to make sure that it wasn’t broken.

Nodding, Morgan said, “I’ll be good,” making his lips twitch as he grabbed a handful of ice from the bucket and pressed it against the back of her hand.

“I know you will, baby girl,” Eric said, wondering what he’d done to deserve someone like her in his life.

Morgan always had his back no matter how badly he’d fucked up and he’d definitely fucked up this time. She never judged him, never threw his mistakes in his face, or made him feel like shit when he screwed up and he fucking thanked god for that right now, because the last thing that he needed was one more person telling him how badly he’d fucked up his life.

“Is it later?” Morgan asked, sounding hopeful as she glanced around the insanely expensive restaurant, most likely looking for another chance to bitch-slap Amber.

“Not yet,” Eric said softly, watching as Morgan’s small shoulders sagged in defeat.

“Looks like it’s time to leave,” Trevor said, drawing his attention to Jack, Amber’s father, who looked seriously pissed as the manager handed him the bill for this mess.

“Probably a good idea,” his father murmured in agreement as he stood up and headed toward Theo, who wasn’t letting the fact that he was barely fourteen stop him from trying to pick up a waitress. Eric watched his little brother lay on the Bradford charm only to wince in sympathy when their father grabbed him by the back of his shirt and dragged him out of the restaurant.

“Well, that was fun,” Trevor said around a yawn as he got up.

“Not really,” Jason said, grabbing another beer as he headed for the door.

“You want help?” Trevor asked, gesturing to Morgan, who was staring intently down at the bucket of ice.

“Did you see that?” she mumbled, worrying her bottom lip between her teeth as she glanced up at him.

“See what?” Eric asked, dropping the ice back in the bucket as he stood up.

“I turned the bubbles into ice with my mind,” Morgan whispered as he plucked her glasses off her face and carefully placed them in his jacket pocket.

“I did,” Eric said, nodding as he reached for her.

“Do you think this means that I’m a Jedi Master now?” Morgan asked as he picked her up and carefully threw her over his shoulder.

“I really do,” Eric said as he headed for the door.

There was a sniffle and then, “I knew this day would come,” making his lips twitch even as he tried to figure out what the hell he was supposed to do now.

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.

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