For Now by Chelsea M. Cameron

  For Now (Rules of Love, Book Two)

  © Chelsea M. Cameron

  For Now (Rules of Love, Book Two) is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are use fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, business establishments or locales is entirely coincidental.

  No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission. All rights reserved.

  Copyright © 2014 Chelsea M. Cameron

  Editing by Jen Hendricks

  Cover by Sarah Hansen at Okay Creations

  Interior design by

  I’m used to having my ass grabbed. Hell, some nights it feels like I’ve got bruises. But tonight I’m not in the mood. I haven’t had sex in a long time, I’ve got PMS and I’m not in the mood for guys who think my ass belongs to them. So when one of my cheeks gets pinched as I bring a tray of drinks to a table, I lose it.

  “You do that again and those fingers are going to be gone,” I say, grabbing the guy’s hand and pulling his thumb toward his wrist. The guy yelps and tries to get free.

  “What the fuck, bitch?!” His buddies just laugh and make jokes about me being a handful in the bedroom. I can see their rings glinting in the smoky light. I’m sure they make wonderful husbands.

  I toss my dark hair over my shoulder. “My ass is not your property. My ass belongs to me and I decide who touches it, got it?” I stare down into the guy’s face as it goes redder and redder.

  He swears at me some more and then I let him go, flinging his arm back so he loses his drunken balance and tips over onto the floor. I leave a smattering of applause in my wake as I head back to the bar.

  “Now if I told you that turned me on, would I get the same treatment?” a voice says behind me as I hop over the bar.

  I spin around and roll my eyes. Javier. Of course.

  He just grins at me and my stomach does little flips. Javi is attractive and he knows it. Once upon a time, when I’d first met him, I would have jumped right into bed with him. He has all the right stuff in all the right places. I don’t even need to see him naked to know that. But things are complicated and now it doesn’t seem like a good idea. Besides, he yelled at me for being a crappy friend to Shannon and I’m still a little sore about it. Had I been a crappy friend? Yup. But I didn’t need him telling me that.

  “I wouldn’t touch you with a ten-foot-pole,” I say, fixing him with my best withering stare.

  He wiggles his eyebrows but I won’t let my focus be drawn to his eyes. They’re this dark brown color, with little bits of almost gold. Not that I’ve paid much attention to them or anything.

  “I’ve got a pole for you, gorgeous. It’s not ten feet but…” I make a disgusted sound, but honestly? The thought of Javier’s “pole” gets me all hot and bothered.

  The guy is seriously jacked. Plus, his arms are covered in dark sexy tats. I really have to stop looking at his arms.

  “You’re disgusting,” I say, narrowing my eyes. “And I’m busy. Go find someone else to annoy with your presence.”

  “You adore me, gorgeous. Plus, I’m not grabbing your ass like those dipshits over there.” He jerks his thumb toward the table with the guys I’d just left. They’re laughing loudly and drunkenly and making a nuisance of themselves. But what else is new? This is a bar after all, where drinking is encouraged.

  “I’m busy,” I say, heading toward the other end of the bar where a girl waves me down for another Sex on the Beach. Javier follows me and waits, leaning his huge arms on the sticky bar. I try not to think of those arms hoisting me off my feet and holding me against his hard body.

  I get the girl her drink and then serve a few more, including a row of shots. To be fancy, I flip the shot glasses up and catch them before I pour. When I first got this job I practiced for ages with plastic cups in my apartment and Shannon as my only audience. I figured having fancy serving skills might earn me extra tips and I need all the tips I can get to pay for law school.

  “So, when are you done?” Javier says when there’s a lull in the action. I fiddle around with the cash register, pretending I’m still busy.

  “Never,” I say. I’m going to resist him, I am.

  “Oh, come on. You know you want to hang out with me. I know Jett is at your place getting busy with Shannon and my bed is nice and big and empty. Well, except for me, but there’s plenty of room.” I try to halt the images of just what we could get accomplished in his big bed and fail.

  Must. Resist. Javier.

  He might have been easier to resist if his name wasn’t so sexy. And his arms weren’t so nice. And his eyes didn’t look at me like he wanted to taste every inch of me.

  “Go away, Javier.” Saying his name turns me on. This is a serious problem. “What are you doing here? Don’t you have other, easier, girls to pester?”

  He laughs and leans closer, looking right and left.

  “I don’t want easy. I like a challenge. And you, Hazel Gellar, are my kind of challenge.” Before I can say or do anything, he hauls himself up on the bar and plants a kiss on my lips.

  I’m too shocked to move so I just stare at him.

  “See you later, gorgeous.” And with a wink, he’s gone.

  I lick my lips and try not to think about how much I like the taste of Javier.

  At three in the morning, I creep back into the apartment as quietly as I can. But as I walk past Shannon’s room, I can hear her voice and Jett’s, talking low. They’re in the honeymoon part of their relationship, so they spend most of their time talking, having sex, or talking about having sex. I’m not jealous or anything, I swear.

  I head right for the shower and peel off my slutty bartender outfit. Disgusting as it may be, dressing sexy earns me more tips. After washing off the night, I go right to bed, not even bothering to put anything on. The nights are still cool, but I like the feel of my sheets on my skin after a shower. It’s one of life’s simple pleasures.

  I set the alarm on my phone and fall into an exhausted sleep.

  Unfortunately, the lovebirds in the kitchen wake me only a few hours later. I’m so, so, so happy for Shannon and Jett is a great guy, but being around them when they’re all couple-y and cutesy is hard to take sometimes.

  Then I hear a third voice that I don’t expect. So I put on a baggy sweatshirt and shorts and stumble into the kitchen to find Javi pouring batter into the waffle iron while Jett and Shannon sit stuffing their faces at the table. And Shannon has that horrible bear mug out that she got on her date with Jett a few weeks ago.

  “What did I tell you about that mug?” I say, and they all freeze and stare at me.

  “What are you doing up?” Shannon says, moving the mug behind a stack of mail. I know it’s there, so her moving it does absolutely no good. I have a thing against objects being shaped like living creatures. It’s not natural. I can feel it staring at me and plotting to kill me in my sleep with its little ceramic bear paws.

  “The three of you were loud,” I say, glaring at Javier, who’s whistling and looking fresh and clean and even more edible than the waffles he’s piled on a plate.

  “Aw, I’m sorry. You usually sleep right through everything,” Shannon says, brushing her blonde hair out of her big blue eyes. She’s one of those girls who looks so innocent, she could basically get away with anything.

  “Yeah, well, I guess I just couldn’t last night.” I can’t be too much of a bitch to her. I’m still trying to make up for all the other times I’ve been a bitch to her, including driving her to fake a relationship (which turned out okay in the end anyway) just so I’d stop pestering her about losing her virginity. I’m going to be mak
ing up for that one for a very long time.

  “You know what’ll make it better? Waffles.” Javier shoves a plate in my face, and my stomach rumbles. Normally I’m not hungry in the morning, but these aren’t just any waffles. These are made-by-Javier waffles. I’ve eaten his food before (not a euphemism) and he’s an amazing cook. Like, should-have-his-own-show-on-the-Food-Network good.

  “Sleep. Sleep would make it better,” I say, falling into the only other chair we have in our kitchen. “I need a cigarette.” That will make it better. Cigarette before waffles.

  Shannon makes a face, but I tell her I’ll go outside. I grab my smokes and a lighter and head out to stand on the steps. The door opens behind me and I’m joined by Javier.

  “Aren’t you supposed to be watching the waffles?” I say, shielding the cigarette from the wind so I can light it.

  “Jett has temporary custody. Got one for me?” I hold the pack out and he takes one, putting it in his mouth and then leaning toward me so I’ll light it for him. Once again, I roll my eyes, but he just winks at me and then inhales, his eyes closing in ecstasy.

  “Fuck, I missed that. I’ve been trying to quit,” he says, blowing the smoke away from me.

  “Yeah, me too. I’m only a stress smoker really. Or a social smoker.” Yup, this is definitely making me feel better. It’s not just the nicotine, it’s the act of smoking that calms my nerves.

  “Jett quit cold turkey, the bastard.”

  “Shannon never started. But she’s a much better person than I am.” In so many ways.

  “Being good is all right for some people, but a little bit of bad can go a long way.” Javier is one of those people who makes everything, and I mean EVERYTHING, into an innuendo. He just can’t help himself.

  We finish our smokes in silence and then wait for a few minutes to go back inside. Summer is coming, but Spring still has us in its somewhat chilly grip. I pull the hood on my sweatshirt up, but Javi is completely comfortable in just a t-shirt. Those damn arms must keep him pretty warm. They’d definitely keep me plenty warm.

  God, I have to stop thinking of him in sexual terms.

  “Thanks for the smoke,” he says before opening the door and going back inside. I wait for another few seconds before I follow him.

  I’m a grump the rest of the day, due to my lack of sleep. Or at least I’m going to blame it on that. And it only gets worse, with the morons in my classes being at their most moronic. I mean, seriously, how hard is it to read a chapter in a textbook and then discuss the stuff you read? Hell, I don’t have a photographic memory or anything, but I’m at least able to do that.

  None of these people will hack it in law school. I honestly can’t wait until all I have to do is read law books and do mock trials. It makes me tingly just thinking about it.

  I knew I wanted to be a lawyer before I even knew what a lawyer did. I have the proof from first grade when we all listed what we wanted to be. Most kids picked President or astronaut or even a unicorn, but I explained to my teacher what I wanted to do (my parents had been watching Law and Order) and she told me that was a lawyer. And that’s been my dream ever since. I think it’s one of the reasons Shannon and I get along so well. We both have dreams that we’ve had for so long we don’t remember not having them.

  The girl in front of me in my Macroeconomics class falls asleep and I resist the urge to poke her with my pencil to wake her up. Even with my crazy hours, I’ve never fallen asleep in class. The energy shots I take might have something to do with that though.

  Shannon’s at work when I get back from my early evening class, so it’s up to me to try to make dinner. I’m not a bad cook, I swear. I just… I’m not very good at it. I don’t know why. Usually my meals are limited to stuff that comes in boxes and take less than three steps to prepare. And then some nights we eat cereal out of the box.

  I’m just looking through the cabinets, trying to find something, anything, that appeals to me. Nothing does. And then there’s a knock at the door.


  I go to answer it and find Javi, grinning at me with a bunch of grocery bags.

  “What the hell are you doing here?” I say, crossing my arms. It’s been a long day and I don’t have the patience to deal with him.

  “I’m making you dinner, gorgeous. Shannon is out with Jett, so I figured you might be eating alone and that would be a tragedy.”

  “You ‘figured’ I’d be eating alone? What the fuck, Javi?”

  He at least has the decency to look a little sheepish.

  “That didn’t come out the way I wanted it to. Are you going to let me in?” I narrow my eyes, but my hunger wins out. If there’s one thing Javi can do, other than annoy the crap out of me, it’s cook.

  He sets the bags down on the counter and starts pulling things out. I gotta be honest, I don’t know what some of them are.

  “Pots and pans?” he says, and I get them down from the top of the cabinet.

  He makes a face.

  “Teflon? Seriously? You don’t have any cast iron?” I have no idea what he’s talking about. A pan is a pan, right?

  “Uh, no? What’s the difference?” Now he gives me a look as if I’ve lost my damn mind.

  “Shit, it’s no wonder you can’t cook.” That comment earns him a smack, but his arm is so rock-hard with muscle, I’m the one who suffers. “Hey, no assaulting the chef. Unless it’s, you know...” He wiggles his eyebrows and I want to strangle him. Why did I let him in? I don’t think a good meal is worth this.

  “Oh come on. I’ll teach you. I know you’re smarter than me. You just need the right teacher.” This is the first thing he’s ever said to me that doesn’t sound sexual. I am shocked beyond belief.

  “Fine. What are we making?” He has an awful lot of stuff for one dinner.

  “Fettuccini with shrimp and red peppers in a cream sauce, balsamic Brussels sprouts and we’ll do lemon bars for dessert.” Shit, that all sounds good.

  “You’re going to teach me to make that? The girl who can screw up anything cooking-related?” I am very skeptical of this venture.

  “Yup. If you can remember all that law shit I know you know, you can make this. Promise.” He wasn’t going to give up, so I sighed in defeat.

  “Okay, where do we start?”

  Cooking with Javi is different than I thought it would be. Honestly, I thought he was going to yell at me and make everything sexual and turn it into a shitty experience. But, who knew, he’s actually a good teacher. Patient, and doesn’t call me an idiot for asking questions. He even lets me stir and doesn’t try to take over.

  It’s the most pleasant few hours I’ve ever had with him, and it makes me wonder if this is really him, or if he’s just trying hard to not be his usual self.

  “So is this what you do to impress all the girls? Cook for them?” I ask as he drains the pasta in the sink and then tosses it into the pot with the sauce, shrimp and peppers.

  He laughs.

  “Hell, no. But they don’t want me to cook for them. That’s not what they come to me for. Some things are about sex and nothing else.” Wow, that’s brutally honest.

  “Don’t you think you’re using them?” I say, leaning against the counter as he stirs.

  “Nope. Because we’re both consenting adults and I don’t give them anything they don’t ask for and vice versa. If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that women want casual sex even more than men sometimes. And I am happy to provide a service.” There’s the Javier I know.

  “Aren’t you just a regular philanthropist? They should give you a plaque.” He laughs again and turns the burner down.

  “I’m like Oprah. She gives out cars. I give out orgasms.” My mouth drops open and then I start laughing.

  “You get an orgasm and you get an orgasm. Everyone gets an orgasm!” I yell in my best Oprah impression. The two of us are laughing our asses off and I realize I’m having a good time with him. All the lost sleep and general life irritation is gone.

/>   “What can I say? It’s a gift,” he says. “It would be wrong of me to not share my gift with as many ladies as possible.” I can’t argue with that ridiculous logic. Besides, I can’t cast any stones because I’ve done the exact same thing.

  “Pig,” I say, throwing an oven mitt at him, which he catches. Of course.

  We sit down and everything shifts. It feels so… domestic. Not like we’re married or anything, but almost like we’re a couple having dinner together like we do every night.

  “So how was your day, dear?” Javi says, as if reading my mind.

  “Crap. But it’s getting better.” I don’t mean to be so honest, but it just comes out. Maybe Shannon is rubbing off on me.

  “Same here. This guy in my graphic design class ended up deleting his entire project. Moron didn’t save anything. You should have seen his face. I almost died.” He chuckles to himself.

  “Graphic design? What is your major anyway?” I realize I’ve never asked. But he knows my major and a whole lot of other things I don’t remember ever telling him.

  “I’m a double major in computer science and graphic design with minors in sociology and literature. And if you tell anyone that, I will be forced to kill you.” Now THAT is cause for a jaw drop. Shit, that’s a lot of classes. I had no idea.

  I sputter as Javi twirls some pasta on his fork.

  “See, this is why I don’t tell people and let them just make their own assumptions,” he says, staring at the pasta on his fork before putting it in his mouth. He’s actually got great table manners. Yet another surprise.

  “Shit. You’re making me feel like an underachiever. How in the hell are you taking all those classes?” I ask.

  He shrugs one shoulder. Yeah, right no big deal.

  “There are 24 hours in a day. I can get a lot done in a short amount of time. And I don’t sleep a lot.” Clearly.

  “So what are you going to do with all those degrees?”

  He shrugs again. Javier isn’t a fan of talking about himself. Noted.

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