Love Next Door, an all-new sweet and endearing romance from New York Times bestselling author Helena Hunting is now live!
When Dillion Stitch left her hometown, she had no intention of going back. But when her brother gets into trouble, Dillion reluctantly agrees to return home to take her place at the family business.
Being back in Pearl Lake after all these years feels familiar, but also brings a few surprises. She’s quick to notice that someone new has shown up at the cottage next door. Dillion gets more than an eyeful when she goes to check out the newcomer and meets Donovan “Van” Firestone—her beloved neighbor’s grandson—in all his unclothed glory.
Having gotten off to a rocky start, it’s not long before they begin bickering with each other all over town. All that back and forth inevitably sparks an undeniable attraction. But Dillion’s family has issues, Van’s family resents him, and neither Dillion nor Van feels truly at ease in the small town. For these Pearl Lake exiles, home isn’t just where the heart is—it’s where things get complicated.
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I turn on the flashlight and trudge through the brush and past the campfire, which incidentally has been left unattended. It’s down to a smolder, but Van has left out hot dog sticks and a bag of buns.
I keep going, toward Bee’s front porch and the blinding spotlight. Standing in front of the cottage is Van. Shirtless. Sweaty and shirtless. The bright light shines directly on him, accenting the dips and ridges, the smooth planes of muscle.
Van is ripped. Probably because he spends a lot of time at the gym, staring at his own reflection in the mirror. He lifts his ball cap from his head and runs a hand through his deliciously sweaty dark hair before he flips his cap around and replaces it, backward this time.
I roll my eyes at myself. What the hell is wrong with me? Deliciously sweaty. “Hey!” I bark.
He startles and the hammer in his hand goes flying, but he was on the back swing, so it heads in my direction. I sidestep it, and it manages to miss me by about six inches. He spins around, eyes wide as they land on me. “What the fuck?”
“Do you realize what time it is?”
“Do you realize that you scared the living shit out of me and I could’ve hurt you, or myself?” He motions to the hammer lying on the ground next to me.
“Wouldn’t that have been a pity,” I snap.
“What the hell is your damn problem?”
“You.” I point a finger at him. “You are the problem. It’s after ten. There’s a bylaw in place around here that stipulates all construction takes place between the hours of seven a.m. and nine p.m. from June to August, and you’re violating that. And for what? It’s not like whatever you’re doing is going to matter when your damn plan is to parcel out the property!” I’m yelling now, and heaving. And my nipples are peaking under the white tank I wore to bed. I hug myself to hide them.
“This is the second time you’ve said that. What the hell are you talking about?”
“What do you mean, what am I talking about?” I flail for a second and then cross my arms again. “You called me about it. Bee wasn’t gone a couple of weeks, and you were already asking about acreage and subdividing. It doesn’t take a genius to know what your plans are!”
“I don’t even know what you mean by subdividing, and I never called you.”
“Yes, you did!” He’s just so infuriating.
“No. I didn’t. Believe me, I’d remember dealing with someone as hostile as you.”
“I am not hostile.”
“Really?” Van props a fist on his hip. His narrow hip.
I follow the movement, which leads my eyes to his waist, that enticing V of muscle dragging my gaze down farther. Of course, because my brain is a jerk, the image of him naked pops back into my brain.
As if he’s reading my mind, his brow arches. “You’re picturing me naked right now. Aren’t you?”
“What? No!” My eyes snap back up to his.
“Yeah. You are.” His lip curls, somewhere between a smirk and sneer, his tone needling. “You were staring at my crotch, probably thinking about the last time you visually molested my junk. Is that why you stopped by? To check me out again? This whole fake phone call thing is an excuse for you to come back over here and get a look at the goods again.” He runs a hand down his chest.
“You’re an egotistical asshole. I realize that this might be some kind of fun holiday for you, and that you’re probably sleeping until noon every day, but some of us have to be up at the crack of dawn. Bylaw hours are seven a.m. to nine p.m. Next time you break them, expect to get a visit from the sheriff.” I spin around and stomp over to the extension cord, find the place where it’s joined to the lamp, and break the connection, submerging us in darkness. “Next time I won’t be so nice about it.”
“Hate to break it to you, but you weren’t very nice about it this time,” he calls after me.
It drives me crazy how easy it is for him to push my buttons.
A few seconds later I hear an oof and a clatter, which means he’s tripped over something in the dark. I smile to myself. Hopefully this time he’ll get the message.
About Helena Hunting
New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of PUCKED, Helena Hunting lives on the outskirts of Toronto with her incredibly tolerant family and two moderately intolerant cats. She’s writes contemporary romance ranging from new adult angst to romantic sports comedy.
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