Sylvia O’Mara has spent the last four years trying to get over her high school sweetheart, who after breaking off their relationship left town without any reasons. With the help of her friends she has moved on and started dating a mysterious bad boy. She isn't happy, but she's content; until she meets the new neighbor.
Quinn Lobato has recently moved to Minneapolis to finish college close to his parents. His mother found the perfect apartment for him close to campus and assured him it has everything he needs. Quinn has had his own hurtful past and is looking forward to starting medical school and a new life.
Little do they know that what they each need is waiting just across the hall.
ISBN Trade Paperback: 978-1-926760-82-7
FICTION | Romance Contemporary
List Price: $17.95
Published: October 20, 2010
"This book has it all - love, anger, humor, drama, tension, friendship and steamy sex scenes. And there is a great epilogue that tells how the future ends up for them. A definite must read!" Book Bitches Blog
"Across the Hall is a good read. …if you're looking for a funny, interesting, sometimes sad, with a bit of drama New Adult read, Across the Hall is the perfect book…" My Life is a Fairy Tale
"This is a great story that is well developed and has a great cast of characters that you will love reading about." Nerd Alert Book Love
It was too bright. Way, way too bright! I tried throwing the pillow over my head but that just caused the throbbing to start. Why did I let Kai-ying talk me into the shots? Damn evil little sprite and her “just one more and if you don’t meet someone we’ll go home.” I lost count of ‘one mores’ after four and that was on top of a couple mixed drinks. How the hell her little body could handle that much alcohol was beyond me. The morning sun filtered through the curtains and I had to get up and get the day started with the hangover from hell.
I laid in bed awhile longer thinking over the previous night. My happy go lucky best friend, Kai-ying had insisted that I go out with her and our third musketeer, Kerri. She claimed she had a good feeling that I was going to find my Mr. Right very soon and no one argues with Kai and her freaky future feelings. I went along even though I knew I was not going to find Mr. Right when I already lost him four years ago. Recently here had only been Mr. Never Calls Back and Mr. Please Be Gone By Morning.
Kerri’s boyfriend Reed sealed my fate when he bought a new game for the play station. Reed and Kai’s boyfriend Sloane wanted uninterrupted playing time, thus freeing Kai and Kerri for the evening. So the three of us dressed up and headed out to the bar.
I didn’t even know why I bothered trying to look good when I’m out with Kai and Kerri. All eyes are on them no matter how I look. Kai-ying Adams is every boy’s wet dream. She was a petite little Asian girl who was cute as a button. Kai was eye catching with her ever-changing streaks of color in her short black hair. Her love of bright colors often extended beyond clothes to the colored contacts she wore, often making her look like a Manga character. Her personality was as bright and bubbly as her appearance. She’s the complete opposite of Kerri.
Kerrington Shaw was the definition of elegant sophistication. She was tall with long black wavy hair and violet eyes. Her bone structure was perfect, her cheek bones, high and fine, with dainty brows and a straight slim nose. More than once she’d been told that she looks like a young Elizabeth Taylor. Like Kai, Kerri knew she was beautiful. She had been told it all her life. She used that beauty to her advantage, yet often forgot that sometimes one needs to be nice and not just beautiful. Kerri can indeed come off as a bit of a bitch but that just seems to add to her appeal.
Then there was me. I was nothing but your average, everyday girl. My Irish descent was clearly evident in my naturally curly light red hair and green eyes. Nothing could be done about my hair. If it wasn’t frizzy it was tangled in knots. My checks were dotted with freckles and my lips were puffier than I would have liked. I know celebrities pay big bucks to have lips like mine but to me they just seem too big for my face. Add all that with my small stature and I was really not much to look at.
It didn’t really matter to me that Kerri and Kai were so much more interesting than I was. I loved them like sisters and going out with them was always an adventure. We had this little ritual we did when we went out. It started with getting a mixed drink, scoping the place out, doing a shot together and then dancing. That little ritual was exactly how we started the night. When we weren’t dancing we spent most of the night at a back corner table with Kai and Kerri pointing out every guy in the place. Most nights none of them appealed to me but that night there was one that I couldn’t take my eyes off.
I first noticed him standing at the bar smoking. In general, I don’t like smokers but when they look like sex on fire I’ll make an exception. He was the epitome of the classic bad boy, all wrapped up in a leather jacket and dirty Levis. Not my normal type at all but maybe it was a good time for change. Of course being me I couldn’t just go up to him and guys like that don’t seek average girls like me out, so I sat and watched him. He spoke with the bartender for a bit before scanning the room. He took a long look at Kerri. I’m sure had she noticed she would have led him along only to tell him about Reed in the end, that was if Reed didn’t just show up. Reed is a big guy, intimidating to most until you get to know him. From all appearance he looks to be a big tough guy. He’s loud and crass and doesn’t like others looking at his Kerri. When you get to know him you know he’s nothing more than a giant teddy bear. Reed was always joking around and more often than not those jokes were aimed in my direction. He said it’s because he never had a little sister and if he did I would be exactly the one he would want.
Needless to say, it surprised the hell out of me when the bad boy from the bar came up to me and started dancing with me. He pulled me tight up to him and moved with me. I could smell the smoke and alcohol on him but I found it to be more of a turn on. The smooth leather of his black jacket was broken by little silver studs and rings. I could feel each little bump on his jacket the closer he danced to me. After a few songs he led me off the floor and back to the table Kai, Kerri and I had been at before. I probably would have gone home with him if it hadn’t been for Kerri. She decided that it was time to go and she was going to make sure I got home safely. I knew I spent some time talking to him but for the life of me I couldn’t remember his name in the morning. It was something like Bob or Brian or Bill. Hell, I couldn’t remember. I would have to call Kai and ask her.
I looked over at my alarm clock, it was just after ten. I had to get moving if I was going to be into work by noon. I wasn’t like Kai and Kerri, who came from wealthy families and didn’t have to work while in school. Even though my education was paid for I still had rent and life expenses to cover. My part time job at the campus book store barely helped keep me afloat but the schedule was flexible and close to the apartment which was great since my car finally died the past spring and I didn’t have enough to get a new one yet.
I got up and headed to the fridge for a pop and then the cupboard to grab the Tylenol. I twisted the lid to match up the little arrows but couldn’t seem to get the damn thing to pop off. I finally tried using my teeth which only sent fresh waves of pain coursing through my already sensitive head. Frustrated I threw the bottle at the wall and headed to the bathroom for a long hot shower.
The combination of the caffeine and the shower had me almost feeling human again as I headed out for work. I pulled the apartment door shut behind me and paused for a second to fish my sunglasses out of my purse. The large window over the stairs was letting way more light in than I could handle at that moment. I put them on and let my head fall back against my door, that’s when I noticed the door across the hall was propped open.
That place had been vacant since May. I knew from Kai that it had been rented in May but the new tenant wasn’t moving in until the end of summer. I had been wondering for the past week when my new neighbor would show up. I’m sure Kai would know all about the person by the end of the day. It had been killing her all summer not knowing anything about the renter of apartment 304. She knew everyone else in the building. Of course that wasn’t hard, there were only twelve apartments in our building and I was in 303, Reed and Kerri were in 203 and Sloane and Kai were in 201.
There was a moving truck in the parking lot. I gave it a fleeting glance and saw a shadow on the ground behind the truck. I would just have to meet my new neighbor later. I had to go the opposite direction to work.
Work sucked. I hated this time of year. All the lost freshmen stumbling around looking for their books just got old after awhile. By four o’clock my patience was long gone and my headache was back in full force. I stepped in the back room just to get off the sales floor and take a breath. I pulled out my cell and checked the missed calls. Three from Kai and one from a number I didn’t recognize. I skipped over Kai’s and went right for the mystery number. It was from a guy named Beau Dalton. Apparently Beau was the name of the man from the bar the night before. I was close. At least I had the B right. I hadn’t recalled giving him my number, but then I didn’t exactly remember his name either. He wanted to know if I was free for a late dinner. I called him back and we settled on eight and gave him directions to pick me up. I smiled inwardly as I realized I had something to talk about with Kai when I called her back. But that had to wait until after work. I took a deep breath and headed back into the chaos for a couple more hours.
I called Kai back on my way home. “Sylvia, you have to get back here. Your neighbor moved in across the hall today and Reed and Sloane met him and they said that...” she was talking so fast. I knew I wouldn’t be able to interrupt her until she had it all out so I let her continue. “He lives alone and he’s in med school and he was really nice. When you get here we need to go see him and say hi. It’s the neighborly thing to do, you know.”
“Sure, but aren’t we doing this to satisfy your curiosity?” I teased.
“That too. Aren’t you curious?”
“No. I have other things to keep my mind occupied. Beau called and asked me to dinner tonight.”
The squeal she let out was like an ice pick to my head. “Oh, Sylvia see I told you I had a good feeling it was time for you to meet someone. You will have to invite him to the picnic this Saturday. And...”
I cut her off. “Stop now. I just met him. And yes, I am going out with him tonight but that doesn’t mean he will be around by Saturday.” My track record with guys staying around longer than a week wasn’t good. There had only been three or four boys that I’d dated for longer than a month since high school. I broke it off with all of them. Mostly I settled for one night stands. If I didn’t get attached to anyone it wouldn’t hurt when they left. The quick turnover rate was starting to wear on me and lately I found myself watching my friends in loving relationships and wanting one for myself.
“I’ll come up to help you get ready. Then we can go see Quinn before he...”
“Quinn? Who is Quinn?” I felt the air rush out of me as pain over took my chest.
“Oh, that’s what Reed said the new guy’s name is.” I stood frozen. It couldn’t be. “We can stop and say hi...”
“Kai I have to go.” I hung up while she was still talking. The panic came back bringing a hallow feeling with it. It’s not him. It’s just a name. There are lots of people named Quinn. I’m being ridiculous to even entertain the idea that it’s him. I took a few deep breaths to calm myself down. Yet it still all came back.
“Sylvia it’s not working.” Quinn was looking over my shoulder. He couldn’t even look me in the eye.
“What’s not working?” My body went instantly cold with fear. I knew where he was going but I couldn’t believe it.
“Us. I thought it would, but this is not what I want. I’m ready for a change and I need to be free for that to happen.”
The pain was ripping into me. The lump in my throat had me choking on my words “but...but...I love you. You love me.” The tears were falling and I just wanted him to wrap me in his arms and tell me he didn’t mean it. “What about the last four years? Are you throwing that all away?”
Quinn pinched the bridge of his nose and closed his eyes. When he finally did look at me I could see the pain in his deep brown eyes too. “No, but it’s time to end it. I want to move on. I have plans for my life and you don’t fit into them anymore.” I tried to take his hand but he pulled away. “Sylvia I have to go.” He leaned over and kissed my forehead and turned to walk away. I tried to grab on to him but he just shrugged me off and kept on going. I just stood there numbly watching my love walk away as my world shattered.
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