Home > Tempt (Off-Limits #4)

Tempt (Off-Limits #4)
Author: Piper Lawson

 

1

 

 

KAT

 

 

Nothing makes a woman feel sexy like dressing up as a stranger.

It could be the tailored white button-down shirt that skims my body.

Or the heeled Mary Janes that click on the sidewalk.

Nope, I decide as I pass a store window and do a quick once-over. It’s the glasses.

Making my new professors think I’m a serious student the first week of senior year will buy me half a letter grade come finals.

Naturally, I parked myself in the front row of every class today with my best “oh please God, keep talking about that course outline” expression.

Before I can congratulate myself further, a dark, fluffy ball darts between my legs.

The bakery box in my hands slips. It and its precious cargo tumble to the concrete.

I drop to my knees and peek inside the lid.

The contents are intact.

Thank fuck.

From this level, I spot my attacker: the tiniest rabbit ever is huddled against the planter, shielded by the leaves.

“Hey, little guy. Aren’t you handsome?”

“Shit!” A short woman runs out of the building nearby, scanning the bushes in the planters lining the street.

“He’s with you?”

“Yes.” She sighs when she sees him, kneeling down. “His name is Angel. But we might have to change it to Houdini with how much trouble he gets into. He escapes at least twice a week.”

The sign for the animal shelter registers in the corner of my eye.

“Hey, Angel,” I croon. He perks up, sniffing delicately. “I get it. You’re not a sweet Angel. You’re a badass Angel, but misunderstood. Like Criss Angel. Or Angel from Buffy the Vampire Slayer.”

He tenses, but lets me scoop him up.

“Usually, he won’t let us hold him,” the woman says, impressed. “He likes you.”

“I’m good with boys. Just a matter of understanding what they want.” I scratch the bunny’s fluffy ear and he leans into my hand, snuggling as if it’s his mission in life. “I might bring a guy home, but I never keep him. You know what Angel? You might be my exception.”

She reaches into a folder under one arm and produces a sheet of paper. “Adoption application. Just in case.”

“Bye, handsome.” I give my future best guy one last ear scratch before handing him to the other woman.

I tuck the application into my bag, pick up my box and carry on across the street.

Elmwood has Big Fall Energy. The leaves are teasing they’re about to turn gold and red. While the days are still hot, everyone cups their coffee to warm their hands on brisk mornings.

My final year at Russell U will be a victory lap. Graduation’s a given, but what really matters is having the time of my life with my roommates and best friends.

I wouldn’t have survived without them, and tonight, we’re celebrating.

The dance academy occupies an old house, renovated top to bottom. I wind my way through half a dozen dance moms in the hallway to reach the first-floor studio.

Inside, Liv holds court, her dark hair twisted up into a bun on her head and her black bodysuit skimming curves that ended her dream of becoming a professional dancer. Now, she’s one of the top engineering students at Russell U—and queen amongst the cute eight-year-olds she teaches ballet to in the evenings.

“See you all next week!” she choruses, and the children start for the door in a tiny mob.

“Hey!” Liv embraces me at the studio doorway. “Cute glasses. This a new prescription?”

I push them up my nose. “You know it’s first week of classes. Which means—”

“First impressions,” she says at the same time I do.

Since we came to Russell and ran into one another on one fateful night freshman year, Jules, Liv and I have been bonded.

Now, it’s our final year of rooming together. Our final year to enjoy the campus, the parties, the friends, even the classes. Basically, all the things we’ve taken for granted since we arrived as wide-eyed teens.

The one wrinkle is that Liv just moved in with her boyfriend. She comes by all the time, but I’m still working out how to convince her it was a big mistake.

“What’s that?” Liv nods to the box.

“A surprise. But first, I have news. A new roommate. Better than you or Jules.” I reach for the adoption application in my bag.

Liv grabs my arm before I can get it. “Really? That’s great. Jules thought you might be upset about her leaving.”

The air evaporates from the room. “What?”

“Jules is moving in with Tess.”

I’ve been hit in the side of the head. The floor tilts under my feet.

“You didn’t know.” Liv covers her mouth with a hand. “Shit.”

I tug at the neckline of my shirt, popping open another button. “But…They’ve broken up twice already this year.”

Ditching the best roommates you’ve ever had for some epic romance, like Liv did, is hard enough to take. Nothing against Jules’ girl, but their relationship is off-again as frequently as on-again.

“You’ll get new roommates,” she says, twisting the knife in my stomach deeper.

I think of the horror stories from Jules first year before we decided to room together—her first roommate didn’t shower or do dishes.

“Never. I’m like a penguin. I roommate for life.” I toss my hair. “Seriously, it’s fine. I’ll keep the entire place for myself. Kat’s Den of Debauchery. Greek Row’s only a couple of blocks. Just wait, I’ll have an entire frat house worth of juniors tripping over themselves to fulfill my every desire.”

Except a big, empty apartment on campus sounds less fun than I’m making it out to be.

Liv squeezes my arm. “Are the three of us still going for Hoes over Brews?”

Are we? I want to ask.

We started the tradition of girls nights at our favorite pub back when we were single. But apparently everyone’s paired up.

“Ah—rain check. Classes were more intense than I thought.”

Her pretty face falls. “I’m sorry, Kat. I screwed this up.”

“You didn’t. We’ll catch up soon.” I let her hug me, but I suddenly feel out of place.

More out of place than I already did being one of the lone tall people surrounded by swarming children.

I turn toward the door, hurried and unseeing, and promptly run into a hard male chest.

The box tumbles toward the ground for a second time today.

This time, my glasses join them.

“Dammit!”

“Excuse me,” the chest says.

“How did you not see…?”

I trail off and look up into bottomless brown eyes.

They’re accompanied by a gorgeous face and square jaw topping off a hard, lean, and familiar body dressed to East Coast casual perfection in a button-down and jeans. He smells like a sexy forest and from the way his shirt clings, his abs are an eleven out of ten.

“Daniel,” I blurt.

“Kat. Hey.”

His voice is as beautiful as the rest of him.

“I’m here to get Andy.”

“Good. Because taking someone else’s child is a felony. You’re crushing this single dad thing.”

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