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Chapter One


This is the first time in my life I’ve truly contemplated murder.

I break the pencil in my clenched fist as I think about how I would go about it. I could hire a hitman . . . No, it would take too long to find one. I would much rather do it myself anyway. It would be gruesome, and I can see the headline in every paper: “Young College Student Murders Neighbor Over Loud Music.”

I know what they say about loving your neighbor and all that crap, but this one is making it hard for me to love them. I have a test tomorrow, and they’ve been playing loud music all night. It’s not even something that could lull me to sleep. Nope, it’s heavy metal!

Ugh, seriously? I mean, who does this person think they are?

I can’t even think straight with the constant thump–thump in my head. It’s like my neighbor has turned our building into a one-person nightclub.

I’ve tried earplugs, headphones, and even turning on my own stereo, but nothing seems to work. It’s like this neighbor is on a mission to test my patience. But hey, maybe I should thank them. I mean, who needs caffeine when you have a neighbor who’s determined to keep you awake all night? It’s like a never-ending party, and I’m an unwilling guest.

This is what I get for craving independence.

When my parents suggested I live at home while I work on my degree, I was adamant about wanting freedom. To be fair, my parents helped me find an apartment in the nicer part of town, but I haven’t even been here for two weeks and I already want to run back home.

I can just see my mother’s smug face reminding me how she’d warned me that living alone is nothing like I imagined.

No, I am not willing to prove them right just yet.

I am even less willing to go to prison for murdering a person who has no concept of courtesy or manners. It’s almost two in the morning. Any normal person would imagine other people are sleeping, but no . . . not my neighbor.

“Enough!” I cry out, snapping my textbook closed and throwing the broken pencil on the desk. My heart is pounding as I storm out of my unit like a general taking a battlefield and stomp down the hall to the next unit. I raise my hand, ready to bang on the door, but just before my fist makes contact with the wood . . . I hesitate.

Despite my furious thoughts, I am generally a calm and non-confrontational person, which only goes to show how far I have been pushed. But now, I am about to confront someone in a way I never have before. And this is not just anyone, it’s my neighbor. Do I want the first time I ever see them to be an angry confrontation?

I am tempted to slink back to my apartment and just endure the torture. That way, I won’t risking pissing off a neighbor and having them come up with even more ways to make me miserable. I could bang on the door and curse them out to make myself feel better about losing so much sleep. Heck, I could call my night-owl sister and vent to her, let her keep me company until I am tired enough to fall asleep. I am about to go do just that when screeching guitar riff sends anger surging through my veins once more.

For Christ’s sake!

I bang on the door before I can stop myself. My heart pounds in time with the music, and when the door doesn’t immediately open, my eyes narrow on it. I huff and lift my hands to slam on it once more when it suddenly opens and I almost careen into the house, but strong arms grab me before I fall. My eyes lock on a heavily tattooed sweaty chest that looks like it’s been carved from stone. Every line is perfectly sculpted as if by a hammer and chisel.

My gaze unconsciously moves from the solid chest, my breath growing short as I follow the sharp lines of his stomach, but I quickly look away when I reach the dark trail of hair below his navel that disappears into the waistband of his shorts.

“Holy shit,” I whisper breathily, a shiver coursing through my body even as an unfamiliar heat spreads through my core. Being so close to this man who smells addictively of sweat and the deep, warm notes of sandalwood leaves me feeling a little light-headed.

“Can I help you?” a deep voice asks, and I push away from the muscular body, eyes shooting up, and it’s a wonder I don’t swoon on the spot.

Of course, my neighbor is the hottest man I have ever seen because . . . why not?

I realize with a start that this man is familiar to me. I’ve never actually met him, but I have passed him plenty of times in the lobby coming and going from the building. Every time I’ve seen him, it was all I could manage not to trip over my own feet. He’s mesmerizing. I had no idea he even lived on my floor, let alone right next door!

But of course all the best-looking men are assholes to bring a balance to the universe, and this man is the most gorgeous of them all with his perfect granite jaw and those sharp green eyes that seem to pierce right through me. His short dark hair looks so smooth, and I wonder if it would feel as soft as it looks if I ran my fingers—

Snap out of it, Dawn!

Christ, I don’t even remember what it is I came here to do.

Music. Loud. Test. Sleep.


I clear my throat and aim my best glare at the man as I take a step back. So what if he’s built like a Viking? I’m not scared of him. Well, maybe I am, but I won’t let him see that.

“Your music,” I start, my voice shakier than I would like, but I can’t help myself. Not when those green eyes are staring at me like that. Christ, do his eyes have to be my favorite shade of green?