Please welcome Chelsea M. Cameron with
The Girl Next Door
The opposites-attract, sweet-and-sexy small-town romance you’ve been waiting for.
Iris Turner hightailed it out of Salty Cove, Maine, without so much as a backward glance. Which is why finding herself back in her hometown—in her childhood bedroom, no less—has the normally upbeat Iris feeling a bit down and out. Her spirits get a much-needed lift, though, at the sight of the sexy girl next door.
No one knows why Jude Wicks is back in Salty Cove, and that’s just how she likes it. Jude never imagined she’d be once again living in her parents’ house, never mind hauling lobster like a local. But the solitude is just what she needs—until Iris tempts her to open up.
A no-strings summer fling seems like the perfect distraction for both women. Jude rides a motorcycle, kisses hard and gives Iris the perfect distraction from her tangled mess of a life. But come September, Iris is still determined to get out of this zero-stoplight town.
That is, unless Jude can give her a reason to stay…
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My parents and I hadn’t really talked about what happened and why I was back, mostly because it wasn’t for just one reason. There were many reasons, all culminating with me packing my shit in my car, loading up my dog, abandoning my friends, and driving back here.
I asked Mom if there was any ice cream in the freezer and she said that there was. While I was getting a spoon, I glanced out the window, which happened to look right into our neighbor’s living room.
The lights were on and she stood in the living room wearing nothing but a sports bra and some athletic shorts. The spoon I’d just grabbed clattered on the floor. As I stood up from retrieving the spoon, I found her staring directly at me. Instead of looking away like a normal person, I stared back.
Her hair had been long in high school and her arms hadn’t been so…sculpted back then. At least not that I remembered. My mouth went dry and I held on to the spoon for dear life.
“What are you looking at?” a voice said behind me and I shrieked and dropped the spoon again. I turned around and found my mom leaning over my shoulder to see what I’d been staring at.
“Oh, nothing, just staring off into space.” I rushed with my spoon and the ice cream back into the living room. My parents kept the room dark and the only light was from my dad’s lamp and the TV, so I could hide in a corner with my lobster-red face.
What had come over me? I’d just stood there leering like a fucking creeper. Part of me expected a knock at the door and for her to storm in and ask what I’d been staring at.
That didn’t happen, but it didn’t stop me from looking up from my book every few minutes to check and make sure.
Before bed, I took Dolly out to do her business and my eyes kept flicking over to the house. The lights were still on, but I wasn’t going to stare this time. I hadn’t asked for more information from my mom about Jude, but I did wonder what she was doing back here. She’d hated this town, from what I remembered, so it couldn’t just be because of her parents’ house.
High school in a small town in Maine was brutal for anyone who didn’t conform, and Jude had been adamant about not conforming. I’d done my best to get through, and the drama club had been my safe haven. I’d never thought seriously about acting after high school, since that was way out of my league, but I still thought about it every now and then. There was a community theater group a few towns away. Could I put myself out there and get into it again?
Dolly was taking her sweet time, sniffing the bushes at the edge of the porch to find the right one to pee near. I jumped as I heard a door slam, the door to the neighbor’s house.
I froze with my back to the house, pretending I wasn’t completely aware of what was happening. Was she leaving again on that motorcycle? Where would she go tonight? The only bar in town closed in less than an hour, and there was nothing else open. Unless she might be going to a friend’s house for a party?
Or perhaps she was going to the beach for a midnight swim. I shivered at the thought of Jude slipping beneath the waves like a mermaid.
Copyright © 2020 by Chelsea M. Cameron
Chelsea M. Cameron is a New York Times, USA Today and internationally bestselling author from Maine who now lives and works in Boston. She's a red velvet cake enthusiast, obsessive tea drinker, vegetarian, former cheerleader, and world's worst video gamer. When not writing, she enjoys watching infomercials, tweeting, and playing fetch with her cat, Sassenach. She has a degree in journalism from the University of Maine, Orono that she promptly abandoned to write about the people in her own head. More often than not, these people turn out to be just as weird as she is.
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