Hate Notes(7)

By: Vi Keeland & Penelope Ward


Every question came out of his mouth in a challenging way.

“No. I . . . used to read romance novels. But I got out of the habit.”

He cocked a mocking brow. “Romance novels?”

“Yes.”

“So tell me, Ms. Darling, how is it that someone who doesn’t read—aside from the occasional romance novel—comes to be interested in a penthouse property featuring a library that takes up twenty-five percent of the entire space?”

I said the first thing that came to mind—anything to avoid awkward silence with this man.

“I think the library adds character. Being surrounded by books is very sexy . . . cozy . . . I don’t know. There’s just something intriguing about it.”

God, that was a stupid answer.

He continued looking at me inquisitively, like he was expecting more. His gaze made me very uncomfortable, not only because he was so serious but also because he was so attractive. His dark hair was parted to the side, and unlike the rest of him, it wasn’t perfectly coiffed. He was also sporting three-day scruff on his chin. Reed had a dangerous energy about him that contradicted his proper attire. Something in his eyes told me he’d have no trouble bending me over and smacking my ass so hard that I’d feel it for days. At least, that’s where my mind went.

Being in the quiet of the library, coupled with the power of his stare, was making me tense.

He finally said, “Shall we tour the rest of the space?”

“Yes . . . please. That’s why I’m here.”

“Right,” he muttered.

I breathed a sigh of relief, grateful for the change of environment. The library had started to feel like a dungeon.

Reed was equally impressive from the back. Watching the curve of his ass move against his tailored pants, I tried to fight the sexual thoughts in my head.

He led me into the impressive kitchen. “We have mahogany floors. As you can see, it’s gourmet—designed with the chef in mind and recently renovated. Countertops are granite, center island is marble. Bosch stainless steel appliances. Everything is top-of-the-line. Cabinets are custom white lacquer. Do you cook, Ms. Darling?”

Straightening my black sheath dress, I said, “I do, on occasion, yes.”

“Great. Well, feel free to look around. You can let me know if you have any questions.”

Was he starting to act normal with me? My pulse began to calm down a bit.

I strolled around the massive kitchen, my heels clicking throughout the room. He leaned his muscular forearms against the center island, his body still as his eyes followed me. The break in his intensity had apparently been short-lived. It was back.

Forcing my eyes away from him, I nodded. “Very nice.”

“Questions?”

“No.”

“Ready to move on?”

“Yes.”

The next stop was the master suite. The room was dim, but the large window in the space that displayed a spectacular view of the city more than made up for that.

“This is the master suite. Take a moment to look inside the generous walk-in closet. The en suite bath features a steam shower, Jacuzzi tub, and marble floors. And as you can see, this room has the best view in the entire place.”

I took my time, looking at everything in a last-ditch effort to appear serious. He followed close behind me, which put my body on alert. I was highly sensitized to his sexuality, and I didn’t like it. This man was not nice. He was not Reed—or at least not the Reed I’d fantasized about. My Reed was supposed to give me renewed hope. This one was slowly sucking the life out of me.

Once we circled back into the main space of the bedroom, he looked at me. “Questions? Comments?”

I needed to just end this. Say something.

“I’m thinking . . . um . . . that this might be too much space for me.”

He sat down on the bed and crossed his arms, the ever-present folder still in his hand. “Too much space . . .”

“Yes. I’m thinking it might be a lot for just me. I . . . work a lot. And . . . won’t have time to enjoy it.”

He glared at me—like, full-on glared. “Oh, that’s right. The dog-surfing instruction.”

Dog what?

“Excuse me?”

He tapped the folder with his index finger. “Your occupation. You filled out the application and submitted all of your information. That job sounds very involved—dog surfing. How does one come to teach that?”