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Baby Mine (Hunter & Lennon, #1) (Roommate Duet Series)

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Blurb

I saw her first.Blonde. Gorgeous. Feisty.I was captivated.

But it didn’t matter because when she walks out of my best friend’s bedroom half-naked, I know I’ve lost my chance.

Now we’re roommates and constantly fighting about our living arrangements. Though we argue about everything, I can’t stop thinking about her in all the wrong ways. I should move out so I can finally get over her, but the selfish part of me can’t let go.When tragedy strikes, we’re left to deal with it together. Instead of pushing her away, I pull her closer.Just as we come to terms with our new reality, she reveals a life-changing event that affects us both.And I’m left to make the hardest decision of my life—remain friends or confess my feelings and risk it all.

Baby Mine is book 1 in the Hunter & Lennon duet and must be read first.

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Prologue
Prologue Hunter For the past four hours, I’ve been running around behind the bar, getting people’s beers and making cocktails nonstop. Spring break means the bar stays insanely busy, especially with California State University just ten minutes away. “Dude, Hunter,” Brandon hollers. Looking over my shoulder, I see him standing at the opposite end of the bar. “Need a refill, man!” He shakes his empty beer bottle as if that’ll encourage me to hustle. Considering he doesn’t tip, his pretty boy ass can wait. “I’ll be right over!” I reply, shaking my head. It’ll be his fifth beer in the past few hours, but I know he’s taking full advantage of our last semester in college. In just a couple of months, we’ll graduate and be in the real world—hopefully not still bartending, though. I’m getting my degree in engineering and don’t plan to use it making drinks. Brandon Locke is my roommate and one of my best friends. Though we grew up hating each other in high school since he was the kicker for my school’s rival team, we moved past that when we played football together at CSU Sacramento. He’s one of the most dependable guys I know, and though he tries to keep up with me and our other buddies, he’s more of a straight arrow. Tonight, however, he seems to be bending. “Locke, you sure you want another?” I ask when I’m in front of him. “Don’t make me jump over this bar and junk punch you,” he threatens, then slaps down a five-dollar bill, making me chuckle. “Oh, big spender. Fine.” I grab a cold beer from the cooler and slide it over to him. I take the five and put it in the drawer. “But don’t think I’m holding your hair back when you puke your guts out later.” Brandon immediately chugs away while holding up his middle finger at me. “I don’t need a sitter, Dad. Besides, Mason and Liam will make sure I get home safely.” That makes me snort, and I shake my head. “They aren’t much better.” “True.” He shrugs, giving no f***s. This last semester has been hard on us. These final months before graduation have been a mental head game as we focus on the future and job hunting. Bartending pays the bills for now, and I don’t mind it, but on nights like this, I wish I was hanging out with my friends instead of serving them. At least being the sober one keeps me entertained because they’re a bunch of idiots when they’re drunk. “Manning!” When I hear my last name being yelled across the room, I immediately know it’s Mason. As the loud and obnoxious one of the four of us, he’s always ready for a party. Hell, he is the party. He squeezes his way through the crowd until he’s standing next to Brandon. His lazy grin tells me exactly just how drunk he is. “You better slow your s**t down, Holt. I’m not gonna get a fine for over-serving your ass,” I warn, cleaning up a beer spill from the person he bumped into when he barged over to the bar. “Dude, I’m totally fine. Look…” he tells me, aiming for his nose with his finger, but he misses and gouges his eye. “Well, I’m not driving anyway, so hook a brother up.” I slide open the cooler door, grab him a Pabst Blue Ribbon, and hand it over. “I don’t know how you drink that PBR shit.” I take his money off the bar. “Should charge you extra for making me serve it to you.” “Shut the f**k up,” he shouts. “You just don’t know what’s good.” Mason takes a long swig. I scoff, ignoring him. “Smells nasty as f**k too.” Brandon leans over and makes a face. “Probably why he likes it. Just his type,” he adds, and we both laugh. “Where’s Evans?” I ask, realizing I haven’t seen Liam in a while as I look over the crowd. He’s not as rowdy as Mason, but he’s been known to get thrown out of a party or two. Kinda ironic considering he’s a bouncer here and usually the one breaking up fights and kicking drunks out on their asses. “Saw him heading toward the back with a redhead,” Mason explains. Liam isn’t on duty tonight so that can only mean one thing—closet s*x. “f**k,” I mutter, shaking my head. I’m not about to hunt him down just to see something I’ll need to bleach from my memory and eyes. This wouldn’t be the first time he’s banged some chick at work and probably won’t be the last. “Hunter!” Greg, the other bartender, shouts and gives me a look to keep moving down the line. “Yeah, yeah,” I murmur, waving him off. He’s in his thirties and constantly on my ass. If I didn’t need to pay half the rent and bills, I would’ve left months ago. “Alright, man. We’ll let you get back to work. Be back for a refill shortly,” Brandon tells me, tapping his knuckles on the bar. He drags Mason away with him, and I get back to serving drinks to the dozens of people waiting. As I’m grabbing beers and making cocktails, the bar continues to fill and grow louder. Music blares, couples dance, and I wouldn’t be surprised if a mosh pit broke out soon. “What can I get ya?” I ask a blonde whose hair covers half her face. The moment she looks up and I see her blue eyes, all the air is sucked from my lungs. Her smile widens, and she tilts her head just slightly as though she’s examining me. Her gaze slowly rakes over the tattoos on my arm before she meets mine again. “What would you recommend?” The sweetness of her voice has me licking my lips and swallowing hard. She’s stolen my thoughts with one question. “Uh…um…well…” I stutter because I can’t form a cohesive sentence. She blinks at me, waiting patiently. “What are you in the mood for?” I finally ask. She pinches her lips together, moving them from side to side as if she’s truly thinking about it. Then she taps her fingertips on the bar. “Something dangerous.” Good God. Considering I work in a bar where the ladies parade their asses in short skirts and low-cut tops, I see beautiful women all the time. But this woman—the word beautiful doesn’t seem sufficient to describe her. A mesmerizing light surrounds her, and as ridiculous as it sounds, I’m half-tempted to ask where the hell she came from. She’s stunning, and something about her makes me want to get to know her—everything about her. “Technically, that could account for ninety-five percent of what’s behind the bar so…” I try not to stare, but honestly, it’s impossible. She has a sweet, compelling vibe to her, but at the same time, she’s mysterious. “You like straight liquor?” I ask. “As a matter of fact, I do,” she replies with confidence. Fucking hot. “I’m gonna make you something, sweetheart. Sit tight.” I point at her, making sure she doesn’t go anywhere. “Should I be worried?” she taunts, lifting a brow when I grab the bottle of 1800 tequila. “Yes,” I tell her. “Yes, you should…” I linger, hoping she’ll tell me her name. “Lennon,” she announces. “What’s yours?” “Hunter,” I say, pointing at where it’s embroidered on the left side of my shirt because the manager insisted we display our names. “Ah, yes. I see it now.” Lennon smiles wide, and it’s pure heaven. “What are you adding in there now?” She leans over slightly when I pour some vodka, gin, and rum. “Are you trying to get me drunk?” I finish mixing her drink and place it in front of her. “Yes, I figured that was your intention.” I smirk. “Hold on.” I hold up a finger so she doesn’t take a sip yet. Grabbing a cocktail stick, I stab a couple of cherries onto it and then gently place it in the glass. “Alright, now.” Lennon grins with an arched brow. She takes a hesitant sip, then goes in for another. “Strong enough for ya?” I tease when she makes a sour face. “Yeah, that definitely does the job.” She blinks a few times. “What’s it called?” she asks, then brings it back to her lips. My smirk deepens. “The Leg Spreader.” Lennon quickly covers her mouth before she spits out her drink. She’s holding back a laugh, and it’s impossible not to laugh with her. “You asked for dangerous,” I remind her with a smirk. She swallows and nods. “And you delivered.” Our eyes stay locked as she finishes her drink, not even flinching at the extra liquor I added. Impressive, to say the least. “Don’t forget your cherries,” I tell her, nodding toward the cocktail stick. She stands, setting the glass on the bar, and then grabs it. “I wouldn’t dare.” Her voice is sultry and seductive, and if this stupid counter wasn’t in the way, I’d close the space between us. Once she slides them off and swallows them down, Lennon takes a step back, then stops. “Thanks for the drink, Hunter.” “My pleasure.” I shoot her a wink, and she blushes before turning and walking away. My heart pounds at the way my name sounds on her lips. I swallow hard, trying to stay focused, but Lennon has knocked me off my axis. For the next couple of hours, I keep tabs on her as she and her friends dance around the bar. After a while, they come up for shots, and I happily hook them up. She’s cute and flirty, and it’s so damn hard to focus when she’s near that I almost slap myself. “So what brings you girls out here?” I ask when she and a friend order another round. “We’re on spring break,” her friend answers. “Oh, so you’re from Sacramento?” I ask while I help make a f**k ton of margaritas for Greg, so I don’t stare aimlessly at Lennon. “A few hours away,” Lennon responds. “We attend CSU in Fresno.” My heart drops slightly when I hear she’s not a local, but that doesn’t stop me from wanting to take her home and kiss every inch of her delicate skin. Something simmers between us, and I know she feels it too by the way her eyes study me. She’s intense and hot, setting my rapidly beating heart on fire. “We’re here visiting friends for the week,” she adds. “They’re the half-naked ones on the dance floor with those guys who can barely stand.” She giggles as she points at the center of the bar. When I look over her shoulder and see the girls she described surrounded by Brandon, Mason, and Liam, I grin. Of f*****g course. I haven’t served them in the past hour and have wondered where the hell they went. “Careful,” I warn, nodding toward them. “They’re just as plastered as you all are, considering I’ve served them all night too.” “I already called the beefy one,” Lennon’s friend singsongs. “I hope he doesn’t get whiskey d**k, though,” she blurts out, and I chuckle at the thought of Liam with a limp d**k. I’m sure he’d have some asshole comeback at the mention of it. “I think you’re safe. He can drink anyone under the table. He’s a bouncer here actually.” Her eyes light up like a kid in a candy store. “Oh really? Well, don’t mind me then…” She trails off before slowly walking away and waving bye to Lennon. “You want another?” I nod toward her empty glass. “No, I shouldn’t.” She sets it on the bar, and I immediately reach for it before her fingers release. Electricity buzzes down my spine the moment I feel her skin against mine. Her eyes focus on where we’re touching, and she swallows hard. I pull away, and I almost see the immediate loss on her face. Damn, this woman could have come straight from my dreams. “I have to start cleaning up soon, but can you come back in about thirty? Things will slow down, and I won’t have to rush around,” I say, hoping she gets the hint. I want to ask for her number or hell even just sit and talk with her until the sun rises. “Sure.” She flashes me a sexy grin. As she’s walking away, Lennon looks over her shoulder at me and winks before going to her friends. The smile that fills my face might be permanent, and she’s definitely to blame. Forty-five minutes fly by, and I finally have time to breathe. I look around the nearly empty place for Lennon but don’t see her anywhere. My heart drops at the realization that she’s gone. Fuck. The announcement for last call is made, and the lingering patrons order their last drink before leaving. We don’t close for another fifteen minutes, so I hang on to hope that she’ll reappear before then. By the time I make it home, it’s well after three a.m. I’m bummed and almost feel numb that Lennon never came back. Whether it was her way of brushing me off or she left with someone else—and both options make my blood boil—I’m pissed at myself for not asking for her number when I had the chance. Considering she’s only visiting and not from here, I may never get the opportunity again. The lamp casts a dim light in the living room when I enter the apartment. I know it was off before I left for work, so hopefully, that means Brandon made it home safely. The moment I see his shoes haphazardly thrown on the floor, I don’t bother checking because it’s confirmation he did. It always takes me a while to wind down after a busy shift and even more so tonight because my mind is reeling over Lennon. Rather than going to bed right away, I take a shower and wash the night off me. It’s hard to think straight when her face is all I see and her voice is all I hear. She was something special, one of a kind, and no woman has ever had that effect on me. I’m kicking myself and wonder if it was for the best, considering she doesn’t live here. Still, I can’t seem to shake the feeling, gnawing me to the bone. Once I’m clean and in bed, I toss and turn. I’m unable to fall asleep, but it’s not the thoughts of her keeping me awake. Rather… Thump. Thump. Moaning. Thump. What the f**k? “Yes! Yes, yes, yes!” “Oh, come on.” I groan to myself. Brandon bought some chick home, and now they’re f*****g at nearly four in the morning. I wouldn’t give a s**t, but his room is right next to mine, and I can literally hear every damn pant and movement. The headboard slams against the wall we share, and I want to pound my fist against it and tell them to keep it down, but since I’ve done the same to him, I let it go. Instead, I grab my headphones and turn on some music. It helps for about thirty seconds until his bed pounds and rattles so hard against the wall, I’m certain it’s going to come through the drywall. Now I wish I would’ve waited to take a shower and was in the bathroom right now. I have plans in the morning and have to be up in five hours, so I don’t have time to waste not sleeping. I do my best to drown out the noise, but the walls are paper thin, so it’s no use. Part of me wants to give him a high five for pleasing this chick so well—if her screams are any indication—but considering they’re both probably drunk, I’m actually impressed with how long this continues. Guess I won’t be calling him “Limp d**k Locke” tomorrow. “f**k!” After one final loud thud against the wall, the apartment goes silent. About goddamn time. Rolling over, I shut my eyes and attempt to fall asleep. Ten minutes pass, and I’m still restless. “f**k it.” I decide to get up and grab something to drink. Maybe chugging three beers will help me pass out. Without turning on any lights, I walk down the short hallway and see a glimmer of light coming from the kitchen. I turned off the lamps after my shower, so Brandon must’ve got up, and I didn’t hear him. Stepping into the kitchen, I notice the fridge door is open with an almost bare ass perked up in the air. She’s wearing an oversized T-shirt and thin panties while digging through our food. God help me. Apparently, Brandon’s date is raiding our fridge now. Decent ass, though. Leaning against the counter, I cross my arms over my chest and loudly clear my throat. “What are you—” Before I finish my sentence, something flies through the air at me, and I don’t dodge it quick enough before it grazes my right nut. “Son of a bitch.” I barely get the words out and hunch over, holding my junk in my palm. “Oh my God!” the girl squeals. “I’m so sorry! You scared the s**t out of me!” I’m ready to curse her out, but I can barely breathe as I squeeze my eyes tight, trying to gain composure. “You…hit…me!” I hiss between pants. “This is what I get for being thirsty.” “It was an accident!” She kneels, trying to console me when a lock of blond hair lands on my arm. “Don’t touch me,” I warn. “I just…need a minute.” I hear feet padding against the floor, then the flick of a light switch. “Jesus, what the hell did you do to my roommate?” Brandon asks. “I threw the bottle of Reddi Whip at his nuts,” the girl explains. Fucking A. Reddi Whip. Of course. “I didn’t mean to! I didn’t hear him approach, and then I heard his voice, and it was instinct,” she rambles a ridiculous explanation that has me seeing red. Brandon tries to muffle his laughter but fails. “You okay, man?” He pats my shoulder and offers a hand. I inhale a deep breath and swallow down the pain. Taking his hand, I stand and try to get my bearings before I chew this chick out. “Sorry about that. She was thirsty and wanted some snacks,” he explains like I’m an i***t and didn’t just hear their entire f**k session. “Whatever, it’s fine.” I pinch the bridge of my nose to regain my control. My vision finally clears, and it’s then I see the woman Brandon has his arms wrapped around, swatting her ass. “Lennon,” I croak out, blinking, hoping I’m imagining her in front of me, standing in my kitchen with my best friend. My jaw tightens and nostrils flare at seeing her pressed against him. What in the ever-loving-f**k is she doing here? “Hunter.” She says my name so softly I almost don’t hear it. “You know each other?” Brandon asks, pulling her tighter as he looks at her like she’s the most beautiful woman he’s ever laid eyes on. Because she is. “From the bar,” Lennon quickly explains. I can’t seem to form words at the moment. The air in the kitchen grows thick, and I wish it were only my nuts that felt numb right now. I look back and forth between them, watching them together, and know deep down inside that Brandon isn’t going to let her go after tonight. He’s not a wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am type of guy. He f****d her senseless and claimed her as his. Brandon has the ability to give her everything she could ever need or want, but me, on the other hand… “He made me a special drink,” she adds, pulling me from my self-deprecating thoughts. The Leg Spreader. How fitting. “Oh, right.” Brandon smiles, having no f*****g clue what this is doing to me. Of course he has no idea. I didn’t even get the chance to say anything or make it known I was attracted to her. But this answers my question as to why she never came back. Fuck my life. “Certain he makes all the pretty ladies special drinks. That’s how he gets the big tips.” Brandon chuckles, tilting Lennon’s chin up until their lips collide. And I’m out. “I gotta get up in a few hours, so I’m gonna head back to bed,” I say casually, pretending my heart isn’t being gutted. I turn to walk away when Lennon calls my name. “Hunter.” The sound of her voice makes my jaw tighten and hands ball into fists. When I turn, she’s behind me and smiles when I look into her eyes. Goddammit, why does she have to be so gorgeous? “Water?” she offers as if she’s trying to make peace. Blinking, I look down and see she’s holding a bottle. “You said you were thirsty,” she confirms. As I stare at her, my lips move into a firm line, and I ignore her offer. Is it possible she didn’t feel what I did? Was it all a figment of my damn imagination? She came up to the bar at least a half dozen times, and I never asked for her number. f*****g moron. Did she think I wasn’t interested and then found someone who made it clear he was? My roommate, to be exact. Without another word, I turn and walk away with my bruised nuts and defeated d**k between my legs.

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