From Alexa Rivers comes an opposites attract romance packed with humor, emotion and a sizzling happily ever after.
A Place to Belong from Alexa Rivers, an all-new standalone small-town romance in the Blue Collar Romance multi-author series, is available now!
Horror author Felicity Bell moves to the charming town of Oak Bend after being shunned from the last place she called home. When she walks in the door of her new rental, she doesn’t expect to find a half-naked man standing in her kitchen. There’s just one problem: Wyatt Dawson seems to think it’s his kitchen. Misunderstandings aside, her new neighbor is lumberjack hot, and his grumpiness only makes her more determined to bring a little joy to his life, even if he’d rather be left alone.
Burned by his past, Wyatt isn’t about to let the cheerful free spirit next door into his heart only for her to crush him when she flits out of town again. But with his well-meaning, matchmaking, mother on the case, these two end up spending far too much time together and things between the unlikely pair quickly heat up. It may be true what they say—opposites do attract, but only if their relationship can survive Wyatt’s interfering ex-girlfriend and Felicity’s fear of history repeating itself.
Welcome to Oak Bend, where blue-collar hotties work hard and love even harder, especially when it comes to landing their happily ever after.
I should have known the moment I saw her that this was no coincidence. A hot crazy lady randomly appears in my house? Not fucking likely. This has Mom’s fingerprints all over it, and the keys clutched in the blonde’s hand are the nail in her coffin. I sigh. The woman is eyeing me like I’m a rabid dog about to strike. Or at least, that’s how she’s looking at me now. I caught the flash of heat in her gaze when my towel dropped a moment ago.
Groaning again, I lean against the doorframe and wonder what I did to deserve this. I’ve spent a long day completing work on a brick fence. My back aches, and all I want is to crack open a beer and watch hockey.
“So?” The blonde clasps her hands together, fidgeting. She’s pretty, if a bit skittish. Her moss-green eyes dart around the kitchen, returning to me every few seconds as though she’s wary of taking her attention off me for too long. “What’s going on?”
I nod toward the keys in her hand. “Those belong to my mother. She owns the house next door, which is the one you actually rented.”
“Oh.” Her slim shoulders slump in relief, and her curls bounce. “Thank goodness for that. It’s all a big misunderstanding.”
I laugh dryly. “It’s no such thing.”
A furrow forms between her brows. “What do you mean? Surely she just gave me the wrong set of keys.”
She seems baffled by my cryptic comment, and I sigh, already able to tell that she’s the type who’s curious enough to stick around until I explain everything.
“Mom intentionally sent you here,” I say, figuring I may as well get the awkwardness out of the way. I’m sure it’s not the only time she’ll be subject to Mom’s match-making machinations if she plans to live next door. She has a wholesome, sweet vibe that Mom will just eat up.
Yeah, I’m going to be dodging this woman for the foreseeable future.
“She hoped we’d run into each other, and that I’d be smitten with you. She set us up.”
“Oh.” This time, there’s a whole other level of meaning to the word. But then she cocks her head, and the furrow deepens. “I wouldn’t have thought you needed to be set up.” Her gaze rakes over me once again, and I can’t help but puff out my chest. It’s been a long time since anyone looked at me with such blatant appreciation, and I can tell she doesn’t even realize she’s doing it, or else she’d be mortified.
“I don’t,” I reply firmly, and her eyes snap up to mine. A delicate, pink flush journeys down her neck. Damn, I need to get rid of her before I actually do start to find her charming. “Here. I’ll get you my key for the place next door, and you can give me that one.” I nod at the key in her hand. She drops it on the counter.
“I’m so sorry about this.” She wrings her hands, looking awkward as fuck. “I didn’t mean to just walk into your house and make myself at home.”
“I know you didn’t,” I assure her. “I’m going to come closer now, is that okay?”
She nods, but her eyes remain on me as I enter the kitchen and head for the key hook by the fridge. I remove the one for the rental and replace it with the key she left on the counter, then offer her the one she actually needs. Our fingers brush as she takes it, and something jolts in my chest. Shaking it off, I snatch my hand away and check that the towel is still secure. The last thing I need is to give her another peep show.
“That key will open the front door of the house next door. Hold onto it for now, and I’ll get Mom to drop by with the proper key tomorrow.”
“I can do that.” She smiles, and I resist the urge to fall back a step, because it lights up her entire face, elevating her from pretty to gut-wrenchingly beautiful. “I don’t want to put you out any more than you already are.”
“Don’t worry about it.” Despite my frustration, I find my lips curving. “It’s not you I’m angry at.”
Her expression softens. “Please don’t be too mad with Nadine. She seems like such a nice person, and I’m sure she only wants to make you happy.”
Damn, she has a point. But whether her intentions are good or not, it’s not going to stop me from giving Mom a piece of my mind. She needs to know it’s not all right to hand out my house key to total strangers just because she wants grandbabies.
“Hey.” Her smile diminishes. “I just realized—I didn’t get your name.”
“I’m Felicity. It’s lovely to meet you.” She offers a hand, and I look meaningfully down at the towel. I’d rather hold onto it if possible. She drops her hand, giggling. “Oops, forgot about that.” She hefts her suitcase—a faded blue thing—off the ground. “Maybe I’ll see you tomorrow?”
“I’m not much of a people person.”
Her smile vanishes, and I feel an unwelcome pang of regret. It’s better for her to find out now that I’m an unsocial prick rather than letting her get her hopes up only to
have me dash them. I’m not the kind of neighbor who has barbecues in their back yard and invites the entire block to visit.
“Well.” She tucks a strand of hair behind her ear. “Once again, I’m sorry. I’ll see you when I see you.”
She starts toward the door.
“Wait,” I call. She stops in her tracks and glances over her shoulder. “Let me help with your bags.”
For a moment, her radiant smile reappears. “Thank you, but I’m excellent at carrying my own baggage.” She pauses, then turns back toward me and squares her shoulders. “Also,” she takes a deep breath and releases it, “I’m a horror author.” She makes the announcement as though she expects lightning to strike her down. “Is that going to be a problem?”
One of my eyebrows shoots up. I have to admit, it’s a surprise. I’d never have expected the sunny little blonde to write scary stories for a living—I’d pegged her more as the kindergarten teacher type—but I don’t understand why she’s waiting for my response with as much dread as if she’d told me she was a leper.
I shrug. “Nope. Don’t know why it would be. I’m a brick mason. You’re not going to
hold that against me, are you?”
“Of course not.” Her shoulders relax. “Thank you, Wyatt.”
“For what?” I ask, bemused, but she just shakes her head and wriggles the fingers of her free hand in a wave as she exits. Going to the window, I watch her round the corner and disappear from sight.
One thing is for sure. My new neighbor will be more interesting that the previous one.
Alexa Rivers is the author of steamy and heartfelt small town romances.
She lives in a small town herself, complete with nosy neighbors and quirky traditions.
She shares a house with a neurotic dog and a husband who thinks he’s hilarious.
When she’s not writing, she enjoys travelling, baking and decorating cakes, eating those cakes, cuddling fluffy animals, drinking excessive amounts of tea, and absorbing herself in fictional worlds.