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Love Thy Neighbor

By:Belle Aurora

sweetie?”

She answers immediately and firmly, “No! There’s nothing worse than listening to someone vomit. Actually, there is. Smelling someone else’s vomit!”

I give in. “Okay, well, I’ve got my cell on me if you need me.”

As I walk out the restroom door, someone crashes into me from behind. Hard. I teeter and almost fall, but strong arms wrap around my middle and hold me firmly.

My head sways and I suddenly feel lightheaded. I close my eyes and breathe deep.

Oh, damn.

I know that scent. I fantasize about that fragrance. My eyes flutter open, and I look up to focus on the rat bastard.

Ghost looks down at me with what appears to be concern in his eyes. “Okay, pretty girl?”

I hate that I love how he calls me that.

Still in a daze, I stupidly croak, “You smell good.”

A round of applause, please. Bravo.

My back is pressed up against his stomach and chest. He isn’t built like Nik. Ghost is more slender than Nik, and almost as tall and strapping. He has the lean, muscular physique of a swimmer, although his arms are built bigger than a swimmer’s. The feel of the ridges of his abs in my back makes my vajayjay dance. His messy blonde hair sits atop his head looking perfectly styled, even though he runs his hand through his hair every five minutes, and he looks outrageously handsome in a tux and bowtie. His warm brown eyes are dancing.

He replies in a husky, soft voice, “Oh, yeah?” He leans down and buries his nose in my hair. He breathes me in. “Well, I gotta say, you smell good, too, pretty girl.”

I quickly straighten and spit, “God, why are you such an asshole?!” Before he can respond, I’m gone.

That was a little uncalled for.

Shut up, brain.

***

The evening begins to slow. People are leaving the wedding reception. It’s almost two a.m.

I’m seated at the bar, talking and flirting with Sheriff who has opened up to me quite a bit.

He’s easy to talk to, funny and attractive. I take a moment to ponder why I never noticed this before.

Then I take a closer look at him. He’s blonde, brown eyed, tall and muscular.

Ghost.

He looks like Ghost. That’s why.

I don’t want an imitation Ghost. I’ve had the real thing, and I know how good it is. There’s no faking that.

Stefan reaches over and takes my hand. He says, “Sorry, Nat. I got to clean up. It was great talking to you. Hope I get the chance again this Saturday.” He kisses my hand, and I smile softly at him.

“Me too. Don’t be a stranger, Sheriff.” I reply.

I’m about to stand when an arm goes around my waist. I look up and see Ghost frowning down at me. His bowtie is undone and it hangs around his collar.

So hot.

He orders, “Dance. Now.”

Then he tightens his hold around my waist and drags me to the dance floor. We’re the only ones on it. He takes my hands, winds them around the back of his neck and steps closer to me. He holds me tight with one hand on the middle of my back, while the other is half on my lower back, half on my ass. He has me wrapped up.

I’m unsure what’s going on right now, so I react the only way I’m programmed to.

In anger.

I blink then hiss, “What is wrong with you?”

He blinks. His brow furrows and his eyes flash, then he hisses right back, “With me? What the fuck is wrong with you?”

Ouch.

I don’t like Ghost being angry with me. What did I do now?

“Nothing’s wrong with me. I’m having a ball.” I roll my eyes and sigh. “Are we going to do this every single time?”

Ghost stops swaying us and says sharply, “I don’t make it this way, Nat. You do. Ever since we… You’ve been ten times the bitch you normally are. What you don’t get is,” he leans down and whispers, “that does something to me. It makes me wanna soothe the tiger in you. Bend you over another table and pound you into submission. Because that works with you.” His lips brush my ear. “From a tiger into a mewing kitten. And I like that side of you. I like all sides of you, pretty girl. You think you’re putting me off with this supreme bitch act? Nope, all you’re doing is making me hard.”

I lean back, look into his eyes and croak, “I think we should avoid each other.”

He shakes his head slowly and smirks. “I think we should fuck again. Tonight.”

My stomach dips and my core moistens just thinking about the possibility of having Ghost again.

Get the hell out of his clutches, stupid!

I lower my head and shake it. I whisper, “No. It was a mistake. Never to be repeated. I got to go. Please leave me alone, Ghost.”

Ghost stiffens and replies quietly, “If that’s what you want, pretty girl.”

I look up into his eyes and still. He doesn’t look angry. He looks hurt and resigned.

I don’t understand it.

My heart squeezes and I beg, “Please, Ghost. We’re not good for each other. We need to start avoiding each other.”

His brow furrows as he nods. His arms loosen and he walks away from me.

Ghost walking away from me leaves me feeling alone and bitter.

Why did I do that?

Because you’d fall for the broken man which would leave you lonely, regardless.

Oh, yeah.

Thanks, brain.

Chapter One

My neighbors suck

Seven months later…

Tatiana pulls my hair hard.

Yowza!

I squint in pain, remove her grabby hands, and softly reprimand her, “Hey peaches, that’s Teta Nat’s. You’re just going to have to grow some of your own if you want some hair.” Teta means Aunt in Croatian. Tina insists we use Teta instead of Aunt.

She smiles a gummy smile and jumps around in my arms. I can’t help but smile right back at her.

She is too damn cute.

Tatiana is three months old. All eight of us were present at her birth. You really can’t separate us…if one of us gets called, we start a phone tree to alert the others.

Tatiana looks just like Tina when she was a baby; chubby and cute as hell with dark hair. The only difference is my sweet little girlie has Nik’s amber eyes rather than Tina’s green ones. Tina was overjoyed at this. She loves Nik

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