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Full Package
Author: Lauren Blakely

Prologue

Let’s say, for the sake of argument, that you’re considering living with a woman you want to screw.

After all, finding an apartment is harder than landing true love, so even if you have to shack up with the fox you’ve maybe, possibly, always thought was ridiculously hot, you’d do it, right?

Look, I know what you’re thinking.

This can only lead to trouble. Don’t sign that lease. Walk the other way.

But she’s just a friend, I swear. And, hey, this is New York City. Rent is crazy expensive. Always better to share it, right? C’mon. You’d split the utilities even if it meant you were signing up to become the designated dude sounding board for all her online dating escapades.

Please. I can do that with my eyes shut. Advising her on the plenty o’ fish where she’s fishing is simple. I just point to the profile pic and say: he’s a douche, he’s a tool, he’s a dick . . .

Because none of those fuckers are worthy of her.

You’d sign that lease even if you had to endure the sweet torture of seeing that beauty walk down the hallway every morning, fresh out of the shower, a tiny towel cinched around her tits.

Easy as pie.

Even if she called out, “Hey, Chase, can you bring me my body lotion?”

Ha. That’s child’s play.

Okay, maybe I whimpered a bit when she made the request. And I’ll concede the situation was a bit hard—like, steel levels—when the towel slipped and I caught a glimpse of her perfect flesh before she yanked it up.

But still, I can handle all that, no problemo.

Want to know why?

I’ve done it for years, and it’s my secret talent.

You see, everyone has a unique ability. Perhaps you can lick your elbow, stick your whole fist in your mouth (don’t try that at home, kids), or make your eyes move in opposite directions. Impressive party tricks, to be sure.

Want to know mine? My one-of-a-kind skill will save me from a living situation guaranteed to induce an early riser in the pants that lasts round-the-clock.

Here’s my special gift: I’m the king of compartmentalization, and I come equipped with separate drawers for everything. Desires and actions. Lust and feelings. Love and sex. One goes here. The other goes there. And never the two shall meet.

That’s why when one of my best friends came to me with a solution that would solve a big problem for both of us, I just didn’t see how anything could go off the rails.

All I’ve got to do is keep my hands off her, my dirty thoughts locked up, and my eyes looking the other way the next time she gets undressed.

Mere fucking feet away from me.

I can do this. I can absolutely do this.

When you’re the virtuoso of resistance, nothing can knock you off your game.

Not even cohabitating inside six hundred square feet with a woman you’ve wanted for years.

Until the night I woke up to find her curled up next to me under the covers . . .

1

I have a theory that it takes the human brain at least three tries to fully process something when it’s the opposite of what you want to hear.

Take now.

I’m on the third attempt.

Even though I can clearly hear the words the woman on the phone says, I’m sure if I repeat them in the form of a question, she’ll eventually say what I want her to say. “I lost the apartment?” I try again, because soon the bad news she’s serving up will magically morph into something good. Like if a rice cake turned into pizza. Preferably a cheese pie with mushrooms.

Because there is no fucking way the leasing agent is telling me this.

“The landlord had a change of heart,” she says once more, and the sweet one-bedroom in Chelsea slips through my fingers.

I grit my teeth and suck in a breath as I pace outside the emergency room entrance at the hospital. The sidewalk is clogged with other doctors, too, as well as nurses and paramedics, not to mention visitors. I move away from them, walking along the brick exterior during this short break in my day. “But this is the fifth time a place has fallen through,” I say, doing my best to keep my tone even. I don’t have a temper. I don’t get angry. But if I were to, this might be the reason. Because Dante was wrong. Finding an apartment in New York City is the tenth circle of hell. It’s the eleventh, twelfth, and thirteenth, too.

Consider my luck so far in this impossible quest: the first apartment went bust when the landlord changed her mind. The second time, the place was rented to someone in the family. The third pad had termites. You get my drift.

“It’s a tough market right now,” Erica, the leasing agent, says. I gotta give her credit. She’s been trying to find me four walls and a floor for more than a month. “I’ll look again to see if there are any new available options.”

“Thanks. My sublease is up so I’m going to be homeless soon.” I turn around and pace back toward the entrance. Buying a place isn’t an option. I’ve still got medical school debt, and doctors don’t make bank the way they used to. Especially not first-year ER docs.

She laughs. “I doubt you’ll be homeless. Besides, I’ve told you, the couch at my place has your name on it. Come to think of it, so does the bed, if you know what I mean.”

I blink. I do know what she means. I just wasn’t expecting to be propositioned by my leasing agent at two in the afternoon on a Wednesday.

Or a Thursday. Or a Friday. Basically, on any day.

“Thanks for the offer.” I rein in my surprise because I thought she was married. And not just the regular kind of married, but the happily kind.

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