Home > Model Behavior (Wrecked Roommates, #1)(6)

Model Behavior (Wrecked Roommates, #1)(6)
Author: Kelsie Rae

A few minutes later, he pulls into the long driveway of their five-bedroom house and turns off the ignition. “Welcome home.”

Home. The word feels foreign. Growing up with alcoholic parents who used all of their money to drown out their problems instead of filling the refrigerator does that to a girl. And moving in with the first boy who ever looked my way, yet treated me like a doormat, never exactly fulfilled the Hallmark version of a home either.

Just a roof over my head.

And now, I wouldn’t even have that without Milo.

With my head cocked to one side, I inspect the house looming in front of me. It has two stories with white shutters and dark blue siding, and the grass is freshly mowed with a large tree that reaches for the sky near the white mailbox out front. It’s gorgeous. And nothing like the house I was raised in. I hadn’t taken the time to study it when I first knocked on the door earlier tonight. I was a little too distracted by nerves and the strange roommate with his houseguest to appreciate the place.

My face pales.

I cannot face him again.

“What’s wrong?” Jake prods, reading me like a book as he tosses me my keys.

They fall limp in my lap. “Nothing.”

“Liar,” he teases. “I know you, remember?”

He’s right. He does. Or at least, he used to. Then I started dating Ian. And Ian didn’t want me to talk to Jake. He insisted it was inappropriate.

Oh, the irony.

Slowly, our daily texting conversations melted away to a meme here or there, then almost nothing at all. And even though I hate to admit it, I miss that friendship. I’m just not sure if Jake’s interested in salvaging it now that I don’t have an overbearing boyfriend standing in the way.

“Seriously. What’s wrong, Reese?” he prods.

Chewing my lower lip, I tear my gaze away from the house and look down at my hands in my lap. “Are you sure it’s okay if I stay?”

“We already said yes.”

“I know, but…what about everyone else?” I ask. “I don’t want to be a burden.”

Reaching over the center console, he squeezes my knee. It’s innocent. Comforting. And another reminder that he’s a rock in my ever-turbulent life. One I’d forgotten I’d had.

His touch eases the ache in my chest, even if it only lasts a second before he releases me and mutters, “Like I said, it’s fine. We have an extra room, and the guys are pretty easygoing. Even if they weren’t, Milo made up his mind, and we both know how much of an asshole he can be when he doesn’t get his way.” He laughs dryly. “Seriously, Reese. You can stay as long as you need.”

“Are you sure?”

With a groan, he opens the car door and orders, “Stop asking. You’re fine. I promise. Now, come on. I’ll show you inside.”

My knee bounces up and down as I peek back up at the house that’s taunting me as an image of the half-naked roommate flashes through my mind. Again. I shrug it off and move on autopilot, following Jake’s lead as I slide out of the passenger side.

The driver’s side door closes with a loud thud before he pops open the trunk and finds it empty.

With a puzzled expression, he turns to me. “Where’s your stuff?”

“Oh.” I cringe. “I didn’t bring anything.”

“Why not?”

Wrapping my arms around my torso, I rub my hands up and down my bare arms while hating how vulnerable I’m about to sound. “I, uh…I just had to get out of there.”

He slams the trunk closed, then squeezes the back of his neck like he doesn’t know what to say. I don’t blame him. I don’t know what to say either. After a moment of hesitation, he rounds the car and presses his hand to my lower back to usher me inside. “We’ll get it later, Reese. Not a big deal.”

Oh, it’ll be a big deal.

I’m sure of it. Ian is going to be pissed at me for leaving as soon as his guilt wears off. And facing him again won’t exactly be a picnic, especially when I know how much his family relies on me to balance their books. Still, it’s not like I have much of a choice. I need my stuff. But I guess I’ll cross that bridge when I get there.

“Yeah.” I gulp. “No big deal.”

The rumble from Milo’s bike echoes down the quiet street and cuts off Jake’s response as we watch him pull up next to my car in the driveway. Flipping down the kickstand, he swings his leg over the side then strides over to us.

“Where’s your shit?” he asks, scanning our empty hands.

Jake answers for me. “We’re going to go get it later.”

His jaw tightens as his gaze bounces between Jake and me, but he doesn’t comment on it. “Fine. Let me show you around.”

 

 

3

 

 

Reese

 

 

“Get your pants on, Riv,” Milo yells from the entryway after pushing open the front door. His booming voice makes the walls shake as he adds, “We have company.”

The place is decorated with greige paint, warm brown carpet, and sleek chrome accents, all complimented with a few exposed red brick walls. Stairs hug the wall on the left-hand side, while the right is a giant entertainment room complete with a big-screen television, gaming console, and a worn leather couch that currently has a black lacy bra lying on top of it.

Lovely.

And even though it screams bachelor pad––naked chick included––it’s relatively clean too. The chestnut-colored hardwood floors beneath my worn Chucks look freshly mopped while the spicy scent of aftershave and––is that cinnamon?––wafts through the air.

“If I need pants around your company, they’re obviously the wrong kind,” a familiar voice returns from the top of the stairs. Glancing up, I’m gifted with the same set of abs from earlier tonight. Only this time, he’s ditched the gray basketball shorts for a white terry cloth towel, leaving his muscular chest on full display. Again. My mouth waters as I count his abs before slowly trailing my attention up to his pecs then landing on his amused smirk.

“Hey, sweetheart, long time no see––”

“New rule,” Milo barks, cutting him off. “Unless you’re walking straight from the bathroom and into your bedroom with a towel covering your junk, pants are required in every room of the house. Understood?”

The roommate scoffs. “I’m sorry. Did I miss your name on the ballot? Since when did you become president?”

“Since my little sister started shacking up with us,” Milo returns before he drops his voice and mutters, “Reese, this is River.”

What kind of a name is River?

River’s brows reach for his hairline before he wrenches his gaze from Milo and over to me.

Unconvinced, he challenges, “So, you really are the little sister?”

“I’m sorry. Why do you still sound surprised?” I demand, unable to hide my irritation. “And why the hell are you more hung up on that little tidbit instead of the bomb he just dropped about me rooming with you?”

Casually, River leans forward to rest his elbows on the iron railing as he studies me closer. His piercing, dark gaze rolls over me, stripping me bare and giving me a taste of my own medicine from when I undressed him with my eyes earlier this evening. My heart picks up its pace, but I try to ignore its frantic rhythm as I wait for him to finish his…perusal.

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