A CONVENIENT ENGAGEMENT
A Contemporary Romance
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Sometimes fate has other ideas…
Feeling like her world is falling apart, the last thing Eden Murphy needs is to discover her new neighbor is the only guy in high school she ever had a crush on and who humiliated her.
Starting fresh in a new city, a new job, and discovering a beautiful new neighbor across the hall, Will Trask hopes his future is bright and on track.
When they discover being single seems to be holding them back in their careers, Will comes up with a temporary solution. Pretend to be engaged. At first, Eden rejects the idea but then she sees an added benefit to his scheme—get what she wants at work and maybe exact a bit of revenge on him.
But sometimes the best-laid plans can go awry. Eden gets to know the real Will and things go far beyond a convenient engagement.
When the sound of her door buzzer dragged Eden Murphy from her sleep, she cursed the day she had ever thought living in a trendy neighborhood in DC would be fun. Trying to sleep in was difficult enough with the sounds of normal activities in the neighborhood on a late summer Sunday morning here in Georgetown but after a late night working, she was not in the mood for much more.
The buzzer sounded again. With a growl, she threw off her covers and climbed from her bed. No friend of hers would ever dream of showing up at her door unannounced so she could only imagine it was someone selling something or wanting a donation. She neither wanted to buy anything or make a donation so they’d better stop leaning on her buzzer.
“All right, all right,” she muttered as she pulled on a pair of shorts beneath the over-sized T-shirt she preferred to sleep in.
Stumbling barefoot across the small living space of her overpriced apartment, she stubbed her toe on the leg of her coffee table and cursed as she hopped on one foot. When she reached the front door, she leaned against it and rubbed her throbbing toe. The buzzer sounded again with such an urgency she began to worry if the building was on fire.
Peeking through the security keyhole, she saw the back of a head and then suddenly a wide eye as the person on the other side of the door peered back at her through the hole. The buzzer sounded again.
Stepping back from the door, she wasn’t sure if she should open it or not.
“Who’s there?” she called out through the door.
“Will, I’m your new neighbor,” a male voice came through in a loud whisper. “I presume you’re the concerned neighbor who left me this note.”
Suddenly, a piece of paper covered the peephole.
Crap! He didn’t sound happy about my suggestion of what to do with his trash.
She hadn’t met her new neighbor yet but knew someone had finally moved into Greta Charles’s apartment because there had been an ever-growing stack of boxes outside the unit’s door for the past three days. She’d barely been able to get past them when she returned home last night and when she got no response after ringing his doorbell as well as knocking, she left him a note.
She opened the door. She’d only planned to open it enough to ask him what he wanted but the man grabbed the door and pushed his way into her apartment, shutting it behind him.
“Excuse me,” she exclaimed as she took several steps back and looked around for something to use as a weapon. “How dare you? What do you want?”
The man walked to the center of her living area and turned to face her. He was tall, muscularly lean and rather good-looking in a disheveled, slept in his suit kind of unshaven way. His brown hair with tale-tell sun-streaks in it was sticking out around his head as if he’d had a rough night and had just climbed out of bed as well. He also looked somewhat familiar but that was impossible since she’d never seen him before.
“I arrived home this morning to find this,” he said holding out the note she did recognize.
Suddenly, he seemed to perk up, came to his full height which was easily a few inches over six feet and stuck his hand out.
“Hi, I’m Will,” he said with a far too charming smile and twinkle in his blue eyes she’d come to recognize well as belonging to a man on the prowl.
Before she had a chance to respond, the buzzer sounded again. When it did, Will hurried back to look through the peephole then turned to look down at her. “Um…can I use your bathroom?”
“What is going on?” she asked pushing past him and looking through the peephole.
Standing on the other side of the door was a woman. She was glancing around and when she faced the door, Eden recognized the look of a woman in a not very good mood. She sighed and turned to confront her new neighbor but found him gone.
Yep, she had pegged him right. Her new neighbor was a player and she wanted nothing to do with him or his drama. She opened the door.
“Oh, hi…I…well, sorry to bother you but I was looking for the guy who lives across the way. I think his name is Bill or Will,” the girl said with a shrug. “I’m looking for the no good son of a bitch. Do you know if he’s been home yet?”
“Um…well,” Eden said then glanced over her shoulder to see the guy in question peeking around the doorframe to her bedroom. “I don’t know the guy but maybe you’d like to come in and leave him a note or something.”
She nearly burst out laughing when he started waving at her and shaking his head.
“Or maybe have a cup of coffee. You could wait for him to get home,” she said with a chuckle.
“Uh…thanks, but no, I…well, I…he stood me up last night,” the girl said with a scowl then suddenly glanced toward the stairs. “Maybe that’s him. What I have to say to him wouldn’t fit into a note.”
The girl glanced behind her and then leaned in toward Eden.
“If you’re smart, you’ll stay clear of him. I don’t know why I thought he’d be any different than any of the other guys around. Besides, it turns out he’s not the kind of guy you want more than one night with…if you know what I mean,” she said in a low voice.
Eden chuckled and nodded.
“Yep…I know what you mean.”
“Thanks,” the girl said then turned and stepping past the pile of boxes proceeded to descend the stairs without even a glance back.
Eden closed the door and even as she tried not to laugh, she couldn’t help it. Resting against the door, she chuckled but when she saw the shock of dismay on her neighbor’s face, she busted out laughing.
“Not funny,” he said as he came into the room.
“Oh yes, it is,” she told him as she walked to the kitchen. “You stood up some girl…probably for another one…and she’s actually glad to have escaped you.”
Still laughing, she opened the refrigerator and grabbed an individual-sized bottle of orange juice. Turning to face him and still chuckling, she snapped open the cap. He did look so familiar. She was sure she’d seen him somewhere before.
“Do I know you?” she asked.
“Ha ha. We just met at the door, remember?” he said with a scowl as he plopped down into a chair facing her. “So what’s for breakfast?”
“I just got in from a business trip so haven’t had a chance to get groceries yet and I just figured if you’re going to eat then perhaps…”
Just then, he cocked his head just so, squeezed one eye shut, and shrugged. It was at that very moment she recognized him.
He came to his feet so fast she thought he was going to attack her so she grabbed a knife from the block on the counter.
“What the hell?” Will held his hands up in front of him as if to ward her off.
“I…I thought you…oh, never mind,” she stammered, looked at the knife in her hand then set it on the counter beside her.
“You know my name? How? Have we…you know?” Will moved his hands back and forth as if to insinuate she and he had played the same game he’d played with the girl who had just escaped him.
“Wow…I didn’t think so. I’m sure I would’ve remembered you,” he said rubbing his chin before running his long fingers through his unruly hair. “Wait…then…how do you know my name?”
“Never mind. It’s not important since you’d never remember me anyway,” she said before taking a long swig off the bottle of orange juice and wishing it had some rum in it.
“Oh, no way. If we’ve met, I’d remember you,” Will asked with a lecherous waggle of his dark brows.
“Ha! Since we never actually met, I doubt it,” she said with a laugh. “And it seems you haven’t changed at all.”
Eden rolled her eyes and pulled out a chair from the small table set where she ate her meals alone these days, when she ate at home, and took a seat.
“Did we go to college together?”
“No,” she said shaking her head and wondering why she’d even brought it up. “Like I said—unimportant.”
Will glanced around the space and she wondered if he was looking for a clue of some sort as to her identity. Suddenly, he glanced toward the bedroom.
“You live alone?” he asked.
It was then she realized he’d taken notice of the stack of boxes near the door with Paul’s name on them.
“Yes, he doesn’t live here anymore,” she said picking at the label on the bottle with fingertips in need of a manicure. “I suppose he’s off with someone more exciting. We’re not engaged anymore.”
“Oh, you were engaged? But you’re not anymore?” he replied a little too upbeat but when she narrowed her eyes at him, he continued, “I mean…oh, that’s too bad. His loss.”
“Yes, it is his loss. He’s the one who decided he didn’t want to marry me,” she said with probably a bit too much bitterness in her tone. “It seems he met the love of his life and it isn’t me.”
“Well, he’s an idiot because you’re gorgeous,” Will said taking a seat on the arm of the couch and folding his arms across his chest.
She wanted to laugh at the absurdity of the situation. The man just hid from a woman he’d obviously had a one-night stand with but then stood up, most likely for another one he had only arrived home from spending the night with and now he was sitting here chatting her up like they were old pals. Was she cursed or something that the worst player in the world was now living across the hall from her?
“By the way, you know my name—”
“You can just call me neighbor and we’ll leave it at that. By the way, the reason I left you that note is because you can’t leave those boxes out there. Fire hazard and all,” she said pointing in the direction of the hallway on the other side of the door with the hand holding the orange juice bottle.
“Right. I just moved in and I hadn’t had a chance to get them to the trash. I’ve been out of town on business,” Will said with a shrug when she nodded and rolled her eyes. “Right. I’ll take care of it.”
An awkward silence descended on the room making the sounds from outside, the sound of mowers, blowers, and cars suddenly louder and more intrusive. She couldn’t help but wonder when Will planned to leave. She wasn’t the type to be rude and ask him to leave but there was always room for a first time.
“So, how long have you lived here?” Will asked glancing around.
“Um…since January,” she said.
“Oh…so how long since your…um…ex…he lived here too?”
“Not that it’s any of your business, but yes,” she said standing and moving to the sink to rinse her bottle.
Staring out the small window over the sink at the brick wall across the way, she wished she had ignored the buzzer. She glanced at the clock on the microwave and saw it was already noon.
“Listen…I’ve got to get a shower and get dressed. I have a lot of work to do today.”
“Work! On a beautiful Sunday? It’s still summertime. I was just going to suggest I take you to lunch. I noticed a quaint little café just down the street—”
“No! Look, we might be neighbors but I’m not interested in any kind of friends with benefits thing with you—”
Will came to his feet, his hands in the air. “Whoa! I was just suggesting lunch…you know, to say thanks for saving my butt with what’s her name. Nothing more.”
Feeling bad for jumping to the wrong conclusion, Eden sighed. Would it hurt to have a meal with the guy? After all, she knew she couldn’t hide how she knew him forever and anything sounded more appetizing than just a bowl of cold cereal since she wasn’t going in to the office. Normally, she’d grab a bagel and egg sandwich at the bagel shop on the way so maybe letting him get her some lunch wasn’t a terribly bad idea.
“Of course, if you’re interested in a kind of if you’re lonely and I’m free kind of thing—”
“Get out! Just get out! You are most certainly deserving of whatever hell you catch from your girlfriend,” she exclaimed throwing the plastic bottle at him.
It hit his shoulder and bounced off but he yelped as if it hurt. She was sure it was more out of surprise than pain, but still hoped it hurt a little bit.
“Okay…okay! I was just kidding,” Will exclaimed. “Seriously, we’re going to be neighbors, can’t we be friends?”
“Right now, I’ve got other things on my mind and you’re not one of them. It’s time for you to go. Thank you for the offer of lunch, but not today,” she said as she moved past him to the door and pulled it open. “If you don’t mind…”
She waved her arm in the direction of the open door leading into the hallway. Will dropped his shoulders as if disappointed and dejected causing her to roll her eyes. What a performer. She wondered if that kind of act actually worked on women. Once upon a time, it might have but not since the last time she saw him and never would now.
Will walked slowly to the door and when he reached her, he stopped.
“Thank you for not ratting me out…neighbor…and I do apologize about the trash. I’ll get it cleared out today. You know, I’m kind of new to the city and I don’t really know anyone and since you seem to know me…” He cocked his head in what she recognized as his Will Trask way and spoke in what she assumed he thought was a woe is me tone.
It is kind of endearing…damn him.
“Well, I’m sorry but I don’t know too many people either. I’m simply too busy with my job. I’m working on a new project,” she said glancing at the clock on the bookshelf. “And I’ve got a lot of work to do.”
“Okay.” He took a step toward the open door but stopped again.
Turning slightly, he leaned in making her unconsciously step back.
“I’m not that bad.”
“Yeah…well, I’ve seen you at work and your friend, although I doubt she is anymore since you stood her up last night, said you’re not the kind of guy she goes out with twice. That speaks volumes,” Eden said shaking her head. “Now, excuse me but—”
“I don’t think she meant…never mind. Yeah, I’m going. Thanks again,” Will said and stepped through the doorway.
Eden quickly shut the door and locked the deadbolt. Shaking her head as she crossed to her bedroom, she stopped and lifted her hands toward the ceiling, closed her eyes and leaned her head back. Then she opened her mouth and without making much more of a noise than a groan, she screamed. Once done, she dropped her hands and released a heavy sigh.
“Why did it have to be Will Trask, of all people, who moved in next door? Oh, Mrs. Charles…why did you have to go live with your daughter? You were such a nice quiet neighbor.”
Thanks for reading and I hope you’ll finish reading Will and Eden’s story. It’s my favorite one of all. Happy Reading!