Cover Reveal & Excerpt: Trouble Next Door
I’m SO excited to share a sneak peek at my upcoming romantic comedy release, Trouble Next Door. It features a larger-than-life makeup artist heroine, a introverted yet sexy IT nerd hero and a box of wayward sex toys.
Trouble Next Door is out on November 13th!
McKenna Prescott stared at the invoice on her phone, her eyes narrowed at the Real Skin Whoppers eight-inch vibrator, and had two questions. One, was there such a thing as too much veining on a vibrator? And two, why would they name it after a hamburger?
Hungry Jack’s associations aside, it didn’t look half bad. It certainly had a little extra length on her previous model…but she couldn’t really blame her ex for that. He could only make do with what God had given him.
You’re just angry because you didn’t pull the pin first. But you’ve learned your lesson—no more guys for the foreseeable future. It’s time to focus on you.
McKenna was engaging in what she’d decided to call Operation Self-Love. There was no point crying over douchebags. Two nights ago that had been hammered home for good. Her eye makeup had been on point—a smoky dark sapphire blue with glitter and the most kick-butt set of false lashes ever—but by the time she’d come home she looked like Britney Spears circa 2007. Total hot-mess meltdown.
And to think she’d worn blue because she knew Gage loved it and then he’d gone and tossed it back in her face by saying he wanted a classy, elegant woman on his arm. Like she was trash because she liked shiny things.
Ugh, Gage. He wasn’t the man of her dreams, by any means. But he’d impressed her parents and given her a brief taste of their approval. His rejection last night hadn’t hurt her heart the way it should have, but it had shown her that she’d been setting the bar so low that she barely had to lift her foot to step over it. And then, once again, she’d failed. Failed to hang on to a man like Gage, failed to be impressive enough that he would want her by his side for the next step in his career.
But what about the next step in her career?
Screw Gage. Screw all men, actually. And screw her family, too.
McKenna was sick of being the sore point in people’s lives. She was sick of choosing men who treated her like a disposable makeup wipe. It was time she started living for herself. This was the last time she was ever going to waste mascara on a man.
McKenna cringed as she glanced at the empty bottle of Red Hill Pinot Noir she’d consumed last night sitting on her desk. It was a fancy wine. A gift from her parents after they had visited a friend’s vineyard. Probably not intended for wallowing in post-breakup pity while drunkenly shopping for sex toys. But it certainly explained the eye-bulging total amount of her order. Three hundred bucks wasn’t too much, was it? Who the hell cared? At this point, her browser knew more about her life than any man who’d drifted in or out in the last few years. So, she was going exclusive. She could be in a committed relationship with her laptop…and Mr. Whopper, as she’d decided to call him.
Unfortunately, the drain on her credit card wasn’t her biggest worry. It was the email saying her package had been delivered even though she hadn’t received a notification from the building’s concierge. Those guys were like clockwork when something arrived.
McKenna grabbed her keys and decided to go investigate. If she was going to spend Friday night alone, wallowing in her newly single status—again—then she may as well have a battery-operated friend.
She headed downstairs and caught the attention of the person manning the concierge desk. A small trolley behind him was piled high with packages, which meant the mail had definitely been delivered today.
“Ms. Prescott.” The gentleman beamed. “How can I help you?”
This was the one time she hated the fact that the guy somehow managed to remember everyone’s name and what floor they lived on. A little anonymity would not have gone astray on this occasion.
“I’m trying to find a missing parcel. According to the tracking information, it arrived today.” McKenna frowned. “It’s, uh, quite a…valuable parcel.”
God, of all the bloody packages to go missing…
She scanned the email with the tracking information, then told him, “It says it was delivered at three forty-two p.m.”
“I’m sorry,” the older man said, scratching his head. “I haven’t had anything arrive for you and I’ve logged all the packages that came in today. Nothing had your apartment number on it.”
The universe must have her name on a hit list somewhere. Who up there had she pissed off so royally? Not only could she not keep a guy around for more than five minutes, but she was also destined not to have an artificial replacement, either.
She braced her hands on the concierge’s desk and leaned forward, giving him her most charming smile. “Please, Matthew. If you could do some digging, I’d really appreciate it.”
“Let me look up the freight company.” He tapped at the computer screen. “We had three parcels come in from them today. Delivered at three forty-two p.m.”
“That’s the right time.”
“They were logged under apartment 601, 312, and 110.” He cocked his head. “You’re on level one, right? What apartment number, again?”
“101,” McKenna said, a sinking feeling settling into the pit of her stomach.
“What name was on the parcel? Yours?”
She cringed. “Noelle Smith.”
It was her alias for any time she didn’t want to give her real name out—like if a creepy dude wanted her number…or if she happened to be ordering several hundred dollars’ worth of sex toys online. If the box gave anything away, she could claim ignorance and blame it on her “friend,” Noelle.
“It’s a gift for a girlfriend,” she added, meekly.
“Looks like it was logged under apartment 110. The shipping company must have gotten the address wrong.”
McKenna checked her email with the shipping confirmation. Shit. Looks like she was the one who got the address wrong—clearly, drunk typing was not her forte. Great, now she’d have to convince him that it was her parcel…and that meant showing him the invoice with all her dirty little secrets in black-and-white print.
“Uh, actually, looks like that was my fault.” She put on her best sheepish expression. “I typed the number in wrong. Fat fingers, I guess.”
Matthew nodded. “It happens.”
“If I show you the invoice will you still let me have it? I know it doesn’t have my name on it, but I have proof of purchase.” McKenna sucked in a breath when he frowned. “I really need my parcel.”
“I’m afraid that’s out of my control, Ms. Prescott. 110 already picked it up.”
Double shit. Can this day get any more embarrassing?
“Looks like I’ll have to go knock on their door then.” And hope to God that they hadn’t opened her parcel. “Who’s in 110, again?”
She tried to think. Who was on her floor? There was the sweet older couple with the adorable terrier who always wore a tartan coat. They weren’t at 110, she was sure of it. Then, there was a father and daughter a few doors down, a guy who only seemed to be around a week or so everything month. And…
She knew exactly who was in 110. The only guy in the building who’d ever made her look twice—Mr. tall, blond, and handsome who had an equally tall, blond, and gorgeous girlfriend. Or was she his wife? She’d only bumped into him a few times and he’d always had this broody, far-away look about him like his brain was operating on some other level. On the few occasions she’d said hello, he had done little more than grunt a barely passable return greeting.
Not him. Please, anyone but him.
“Beckett Walsh,” the concierge said.
Of course it was him. The universe was not going to cut her a break today. As if it wasn’t bad enough that her ex had dropped by her work today to “check that she was coping” after their breakup two nights ago—seriously, who did that?—and she’d had to play nice because her area manager was visiting, when all she’d wanted to do was grab Gage’s face and mush it into the lipstick rack.
“Thanks for your help,” McKenna said.
She headed toward the elevators, her shoulders slumping. Maybe she should cut her losses and move to the outback where she could live as a hermit. It wouldn’t be all bad. She could adopt a dingo and be some kind of local urban legend. The girl who turned her back on a box of vibrators.
Ugh. Three hundred bucks wasn’t that much…was it? On a retail wage, it was. A few freelance jobs would help her make it up, but work was hard to come by at this time of year. Late July was miserable in Melbourne, oscillating between windy and cold, and rainy and colder. Not exactly peak bridal season. And the school formal calendar wouldn’t kick in for months. Not to mention they were in the public holiday dead zone.
Yeah, and your hopes of giving up shitty retail work to be a real makeup artist will be all for nothing if you keep it up.
This was what she got for “wasting money on frivolous things,” as her mother had once said to her. Maybe she wasn’t entitled to sexual pleasure.
McKenna stepped into the elevator and jabbed at the button for the first floor, tapping her chunky black boot. Screw it, she’d go to apartment 110 and claim back her box of debauchery. Then she could start hunting for a new place to live.
The elevator pinged and she strode down the hallway, deciding not to go home first for fear of chickening out. When she got to apartment 110, she stood in front of Beckett Walsh’s door. The gold numbers glinted at her, as if reveling in her forthcoming mortification.
Hovering, McKenna pulled her compact out of her bag to check her makeup. If she was going to throw her dignity to the wolves, she may as well look good while doing it. The plum and black eye makeup she’d worn to work had the right amount of don’t-fuck-with-me vibes. Plus, she’d swapped out her matte nude lipstick for a more exciting wet-shine gloss at the counter today, which made her look even more fierce. She might get out of this unscathed.