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Enamor (Hearts of Stone #1)
Author:Veronica Larsen

Enamor (Hearts of Stone #1)

Veronica Larsen



About Enamor:


A hundred miles from my problems, I've found a new one just down the hall. My gorgeous and conceited new roommate is exactly the type of guy who ruined my life. Hating him should be easy, but it's not.

We fight and tease, playing a game we can't win. And when all pretenses fall away, he shows me a side to him I can't ignore. He's guarded for a reason and he's never let anyone in...until now.

With this reckless game we play, there's one truth we can't escape: we're treading the edge of an attraction so intense it might as well be a grenade.






Chapter One


Julia





IF GIVEN THE CHOICE, I would've wanted my life to remain comfortable, private, and predictable. I would still be living with my parents in Newport Beach, just minutes from the Pacific Ocean and an hour-and-a-half drive from San Diego. But there's something to be said about the unexpected, when the rug is pulled out from under you and you're forced to see the world in new angles.

That's what happened to me and I didn't like what I saw. I saw the people I trusted betray me. Disbelief and suspicion lingered in the eyes of people I never thought would question me, or my morals. I burned bridges I might someday need to cross again, just to be able to head off in a brand new direction. Not because I wanted to, but because I saw no other choice.

I walk along the empty sidewalk, concrete and storefronts evenly lit by the overcast sky. Dark strands of hair go wild around my face with the sweep of a sudden breeze, forcing me to smooth them down with the palm of my hand. My walking pace inadvertently slows once I'm in front of a coffee shop.

I'm too aware of how the morning air fills me, stirring the emptiness in the pit of my stomach. A feeling I decide is hunger, even while I know it's more likely nerves. Hunger is easier to fix. And, anyway, hunger is a possible explanation since I've yet to have breakfast.

I check the time and realize I still have eighteen minutes before I have to meet with my new roommates to sign the lease. The house is just down the street from this very spot. I hadn't noticed I was already so close to arriving, only two or three more minutes of walking at the most. The realization makes my palms grow sweaty.

I've been so busy worrying about whether I'll like my new roommates that I've forgotten I need to make a good impression on them as well. What if they decide I'm not the right fit? I'll be left to look for another room to rent, which would also mean more awkward, tension-filled days at my uncle's house.

Deciding I've got the time to spare, I push open the coffee shop door and stroll inside. The air-conditioned air carries the scent of sugar and cinnamon and coffee beans. I exhale and take my spot in the line of eight other people, confident it will move fast enough that I'll be able to grab a cup of mocha and make it to the house by ten.

It only takes me a few seconds to make a mental note of which pastry I'll be ordering with my drink. But it soon becomes apparent I'll be waiting a while before I can actually order it. The line moves frustratingly slow. There's only one girl behind the counter. She takes two orders at a time before ducking behind the machines to make the drinks, leaving the rest of us in line shifting from the awkward proximity to strangers.

I'm shifting for different reasons. For starters, I've realized that maybe the empty feeling in my stomach really is a hunger the nerves were masking. Last night, after class, I rushed to my uncle's guest room to avoid another tense interaction with his wife. I knew from early on in the day that she was in a bad mood, her passive aggressive comments amped up a few degrees higher than usual.

Soon I'll be away from the disapproving glares my aunt throws my way whenever she thinks I'm not watching. I'm not really sure how much she knows about what happened, but the way she looks at me is enough to suggest she's made up her mind about the events, just like everyone else did back home.

I'm looking forward to giving my uncle the definitive news that I've found a place to live. I've already met one of my roommates. Ava's a tall, strawberry blonde with an infectious smile. I liked her the moment I laid eyes on her. She has a way about her that puts me at ease. There was a second girl, who I also liked, but she backed out of moving in earlier this week. Ava sent a message two days ago letting me know her cousin will take the spot. And even though I'm a little nervous that Ava's cousin might turn out to be a fire-breathing female dragon, I know I'll have to find a way to make it work, regardless.

The longer I stare at the pastry in the glass case, the more committed I am to wait in line to get it. Every so often, I check my watch again to make sure I'm not cutting it too close. Being late wouldn't send a great message.

The line crawls forward until there's just one person in front of me, a tall guy with light brown hair. Behind the counter stands a pretty, blonde barista, her hair braided off to the side.

"Good morning," she says, perking up quite visibly when the guy in front of me walks up to the counter.

Though I can't see his face, I imagine his expression is friendly, maybe even encouraging, judging by her face. Her grin seems to go well beyond the polite smile afforded to the other customers.

"Morning," he replies, voice velvet and gravel all at once. "I'll have a medium cappuccino."

She tilts her head and lifts a hand to her mouth. "Wait. Where do I know you from?"

"I'm not sure," he says, drumming his fingers on the counter as though in contemplation.

They seriously just stare at each other for at least three seconds, which may not seem like that long of a time, but it is when there's a line of people behind him and all that's required of him is his order.

I let out a loud breath and tap my right foot to a slow rhythm. I have seven minutes to grab my drink and eat my pastry on the walk to the house.

"I think you're in my economics class," the barista offers, with a sudden bout of recollection that rings false. She's pretending she didn't immediately know who he was.

"That could be it."

She glances at the register but I doubt she remembers what it's for because she's yet to ring up his order. Instead, she tucks her hair behind her ear and says, "Hey, that final is supposed to be a killer, there's an opening in my study group if you want to join."

Right. I bet that study group consists of her and her vagina.

"Sounds interesting. I might take you up on that," the guy says, a smile evident in his tone. A smile the barista returns as she bites her lip coyly and glances down again.