RELEASE DATE - NOVEMBER 18th
Toddâs my next-door neighborâan up-and-coming chef ready to make his mark on the world. His dreams are bold and limitless, his drive even more so. He offers me a favor, one that I canât refuse â¦ only there are strings attached.
Ameliaâs my next-door neighborâa talented photographer waiting for her big break.
Her dreams are authentic and intense, her art even more so. I made her an offer and she accepted â¦ but I asked for something in return.
Two favors meant to make our dreams come true. Our careers were supposed to change, not our friendship. Success was the ultimate goal â¦ until we saw each other in a different light.
âWellâ¦thank you all for staying late. Youâll be the first to leave tomorrow night, if you choose. Good night.â Davis dismisses everyone without divulging who the winner is.
Iâm assuming he doesnât want questions about wagers and who will be cashing in on what between us.
All of them quickly wave good-bye, and I notice my coat and purse lying across the bar. Todd motions toward it with his head, and I scrunch my eyebrows at him. He in turn widens his eyes, and his head points a little more exaggerated this time. I shake my head, and his lips form a tight line while his jaw juts out at me. Someone should remind him that he isnât my father, and I donât need his permission to stay.
The others file out, leaving me, Davis, and Todd.
âI know you have that date, Todd. Donât worry. Iâll make sure Amelia gets home safe,â Davis tells Todd.
I raise my eyebrows at Todd, silently saying âyou have a date, so leave me aloneâ.
Toddâs chest rises and falls. Heâs struggling inside of himself, and Iâm curious to why. Heâs the one who wanted me with Davis to distract him from the kitchen.
His eyes find mine, asking me if Iâm okay with it, and I silently nod. Hopefully, Davis canât pick up on our nonverbal communication.
âAll right.â Toddâs body weaves back and forth. âYeah, Iâm already kind of late due to this whole lame hot chocolate contest.â He releases an uncomfortable chuckle. âNoodle, weâre still on for tomorrow morning?â he asks.
It almost slipped my mind that we have a photo shoot with Gia, the female model Iâve been working with.
âYeah, ten oâclock. Donât be late.â I point my finger at him.
His lips stay in a straight line. âNever. See you then.â He bends over the bar and kisses my cheek. His hot breath erupts goose bumps along my neck when he lingers longer than usual. âBe careful,â he whispers in my ear.
When he pulls back, all that anxiety I just heard in his words are vividly clear in the lines of his face.
âGood night, Todd. Have a fun date.â I smile, but he doesnât.
Instead, he shakes Davisâs hand. When Todd reaches the door, he glances at me one more time before the cool night breeze streams into the restaurant with his departure.
USA Today Bestselling author, Michelle Lynn moved around the Midwest most of her life, transferring from school to school before settling down in the outskirts of Chicago ten years ago, where she now resides with her husband and two kids. She developed a love of reading at a young age, which helped lay the foundation for her passion to write. With the encouragement of her family, she finally sat down and wrote one of the many stories that have been floating around in her head. When she isnât reading or writing, she can be found playing with her kids, talking to her mom on the phone, or hanging out with her family and friends. But after chasing around twin preschoolers all day, she always cherishes her relaxation time after putting the kids to bed.