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Ruby Scott is months behind on rent and can’t seem to land a steady job. She has one chance to turn things around with a big audition. But instead of getting her big break, she gets sick as a dog and completely bombs it in the most humiliating fashion. All thanks to a mysterious, gorgeous guy who kissed—and then coughed on—her at a party the night before.

Luckily, her best friend might have found the perfect opportunity; a job staying at the lavish penthouse apartment of hotel magnate Bancroft Mills while he’s out of town, taking care of his exotic pets. But when the newly-evicted Ruby arrives to meet her new employer, it turns out Bane is the same guy who got her sick.

Seeing his role in Ruby’s dilemma, Bane offers her a permanent job as his live-in pet sitter until she can get back on her feet. Filled with hilariously awkward encounters and enough sexual tension to heat a New York City block, Shacking Up, from NYT and USA Today bestselling author Helena Hunting, is sure to keep you laughing and swooning all night long.


EXCLUSIVE EXCERPT: Shacking Up

Helena Hunting

30 May 2017

BOOK SERIES: 

From the author of the Pucked series and the Clipped Wings series, comes a brand new romantic comedy, and together with my blogger sister, Vilma’s Book Blog, I have the first chapter just for you.

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Excerpt

Click here to read first half of Chapter 1 >>

I’ve never been a big drinker. In college when my friends were chugging beer and doing keg stands at frat parties, I’d be the girl nursing the same red plastic cup all night. It didn’t help that all they usually had was beer, which I’ve never developed a taste for. So even though I’ve been sipping the same martini since I arrived, downing the back half of it hits me like I’ve chugged an entire bottle of vodka straight without eating. For at least two days. The feeling won’t last long, but it’s discombobulating regardless.

I step through the doors and decide before I jump on the subway I should use one of the nice, swanky bathrooms. I’m not sure my bladder will be able to make the trip home and the walk to my apartment. Only a few people mill around in the open foyer, talking on cell phones. I spot the restroom sign and head in that direction, attempting to maintain poise.

The lighting in this hall is even worse, with only a few accent lamps illuminating the way. It’s kind of creepy. The actual bathroom is lovely, with a couch in the corner and a primping mirror. Some woman with ridiculously high heels, abnormally long legs and a super short, tight dress is currently taking up residence in front of the mirror with half her purse contents strewn over the counter. She’s also talking on her phone, speaker style. She might be on video chat, actually, based on the way she has her phone propped up.

She pauses for a moment, her gaze shifting to me for a quick glance. I don’t even have half a second to form a polite, potentially fake smile before she pulls a face as if she’s smelling garbage and looks away.

I push through the first door to find a plugged toilet. Holding back a gag I move on to the next one and find it’s clean. Once I’m locked safely in my stall, the modelesque bitchy chick resumes her conversation, as if closing the door somehow makes it impossible for me to hear what she says.

I drape my shawl over the hook, along with my purse and hike up my skirt, tucking it into the front of my dress to prevent it from getting wet and pull a hover squat. I don’t care how nice these bathrooms are, I don’t want my skin touching the seat if I can avoid it.

“Ugh,” the woman preening moans. “Do you think this dress makes me look fat?”

I make a face at the door and hold in a snort. She’s rail thin.

“You look amazing. I bet you look better than Armstrong’s fiancée. I don’t know why he’s even marrying her. Her family doesn’t have nearly as much money as his.”

“But they’re old money, and you know what that means.”

Her friend makes a disapproving sound. “Still.”

“Her dress is so last year. Anyway, I think my date with Banny is going really well.”

“Now that he’s not doing that soccer thing anymore and he’s taking a role in his family business, he’s definitely more appealing.”

“He played rugby, not soccer, and I totally agree.”

I roll my eyes at their conversation. These girls are the exact reason I rebel against the entire room of people out there and everyone associated with them. So shallow.

“Do you think you’ll get an invite back to his place?” her friend asks.

“I really hope so. That would be ideal, but I don’t know, he’s been sick or something. He’s been taking cold medication all night. Not that it matters. Do you think I should have sex with him if he does invite me back, or should I play it coy? I definitely need to play this right. I need another date out of this.”

“Maybe just a blow job, then?”

“That’s a good idea.”

“And don’t let him take your clothes off.”

“Of course not. I did send him that picture of me sucking on a lollipop a few minutes ago. You don’t think that was too forward, do you?”

“He used to be a professional athlete, I’m sure he’s used to forward.”

Wow. This is a seriously classy conversation. I finish my business and avoid eye contact as I head for the sink and turn on the water hoping to drown out their conversation.

There are little bottles of lotion, packaged mints and ironically, lollipops arranged by the disposable hand towels. I select a grape one, unwrap it and pop it in my mouth. I also take a package of mints. If I was alone, I might have hocked everything in that little basket.

I drape my shawl over my hand so I don’t have to touch the handle, or anything really.

As I’m passing the men’s room the door swings open and a huge suited up guy steps out. He’s a tank of a man, his shoulders so broad he has to turn a bit to get through it. He’s staring at the phone in his hand so he nearly walks into me. I have the self-preservation required to attempt to get out of his way, lest he mow me over. But my grace has taken a vacation and I stumble into him instead of away, while simultaneously trying to get the lollipop out of my mouth so I don’t appear completely trashy.

“Hey!” His voice is a low, deep rasp. Like sex dragged over smooth stones.

I grab the lapels of his suit jacket to stop from toppling over and he wraps an arm around my waist to keep me upright I suppose.

I barely get a glimpse of his face before he’s right in mine. “You’re a bit forward, aren’t you?” His nose brushes my cheek as he speaks, warm breath caressing my lips. Warm breath that smells like booze.

“I don’t think—” My attempt at a protest doesn’t have the desired effect since he takes the parting of my lips as an invitation for his tongue to enter.

The first thing I notice is how much he tastes like scotch. What’s worse is that I can probably name the brand if I think about it hard enough.

He groans into my mouth and his arm tightens around my waist. Obviously this guy’s made a mistake, but as shocked as I am, I have to admit, he’s a great kisser.

Aside from the boozy taste, his lips are full and soft, and he does this sweep thing with his tongue that makes my knees forget their purpose—which is to keep me upright or knee him in the nuts for attacking me with his mouth. All the right parts of my body start to warm and tingle as our tongues dance—that’s right, I said our, because I’m definitely kissing him back, even though I’m not the intended tongue target.

My eyes are wide as a result of the unexpected, although not unwelcome assault, so I can see his long, pretty lashes resting against his cheek, and the straight slope of his nose. I think in addition to being huge, he might also be hot.

I flatten my hands on his chest with the intention of pushing him away, because that’s what I should do instead of allowing the continued tongue gymnastic routine. I note first, the solid wall of muscle underneath, followed by the softness of the fabric. Instead of creating space between us, I accidentally smooth my hands over the lapels, up past the collar where I’m met with warm skin. His hand shifts from my hip to my ass. Suddenly, I can feel a whole lot of something going on behind his fly. At my gasp he makes another low noise in his throat.

Before I can decide whether I should still shove him away or keep making out with him, a shrill, familiar voice cuts through Awesome Kisser’s rumbling groan. It’s close. Like right in my ear. “Ban—What are you doing?”

His tongue retracts from my mouth and his hand from my ass. Turning his head toward the horrific noise, his confused gaze flipping between me and the bathroom selfie girl, and then he coughs, right in my face.

I make a gagging sound and use my shawl to wipe his spit from my cheek while Awesome Kisser apologizes— to whom I’m uncertain. He searches his pocket for something—a tissue maybe?

Bathroom girl gives me a look of revulsion and turns her angry gaze on Awesome Kisser. “This.” She sweeps a hand down, gesturing to her ultra fit body wrapped in her tight dress. “Could’ve been yours tonight.” She spins on

her eleven inch heels, her hair fanning out impressively as she sashays past us down the hall.

“Brittany, stop! I thought she was you!”

Of course her name is Brittany. It’s a common money name, like Tiffany and Stephanie and all the other names that end with an “ie” or “any.” Not that mine is any better. How I ended up with a name like Ruby, I’ll never know. I’m not even born in July, so it has nothing to do with my birthstone.

The only similarities between Brittany and I is that we’re female, with hair on our heads. Hers is close to the same color as mine in this awful lighting, but it’s about eight inches shorter. We’re also both wearing dresses. They’re both dark, mine being a deep wine colored and hers is black. Mine hits a few inches above my knee, hers barely skims the bottom of her ass.

Brittany spins dramatically to face her could’ve-been-bed- partner, her expression incredulous. She gestures a perfectly manicured hand at me. “How drunk are you? You think this bargain basement wearing slut looks like me?”

I huff. “Seriously? If your dress was half an inch shorter your vagina would be showing, and you’re calling me a slut?” Mostly I’m jealous of how good she looks in it, but she’s the one who started with the insults. Besides, I’m not the one at fault here. It’s the amazing kisser who stuck his talented tongue in my mouth and subsequently ruined the hotness by coughing in my face.

Awesome Kisser steps between us, his wide shoulders almost blocking out my view of the angry skank-atron. “Whoa, ladies, it’s a simple misunderstanding, let’s not get nasty.” I note the barely imperceptible slur at the end, extending the “s”. He reaches out and puts a hand against the wall, as if he’s barring a potential attack, except then I realize it’s to steady himself. He’s definitely drunk. Which would explain the accidental tongue-nastics.

“I don’t know why I’m wasting my breath,” Brittany sneers. “I’m going home. Delete my number.”

He runs a frustrated hand through his thick, wavy, luxurious hair. And this man does not have plugs either, all that sexy is his. “Fuck.” He turns and gives me a quick onceover. I take a quick look down and notice his shoes are black and polished, with no pointy toe. Confident and low maintenance.

I note a few important details while he assesses me, the error that cost him the hot-sure-thing. First of all his eyes are bloodshot and his focus is divided, which could very well explain his inability to discern me from the dark haired Barbie doll storming away. His nose is a little red and he seems pale. His brow is also glistening just a smidge. I also note the very obvious lump jacking up the front of his dress pants. I feel some satisfaction that my kissing skills are decent enough to give him a woody.

Finally, and most important, this brick house of a man is smokin’ hot, even if he is sick, based on Brittany’s bathroom reports. Like on a scale of one to ten he’s a seven million.

He clears his throat. “I’m really sorry I sexually harassed you and coughed on you. I’ve been popping cold meds like candy tonight and I think I had one too many scotches. I honestly thought you were her, even though clearly you’re not.”

Well that’s rude.

He gestures to my body and then my face as he expels a quick breath. “I mean, you’re, wow, just—hot.”

Or maybe he’s not that rude.

“Anyway, she’s a friend of the family, so I have to fix this. I need to go. You might want to take some vitamin C or something when you get home.”

With that unnecessary, but somewhat appreciated explanation he turns around and jogs down the hall.

I guess I should be flattered that he mistook me for a supermodel, even if he is hammered and drugged.

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