Emergency Engagement (Love Emergency, #1) - Samanthe Beck

Chapter One

Was it possible to be castrated by a playlist?

Beau Montgomery held his tongue while Alanis Morissette growled her way through “You Oughta Know.” He basted turkey and tuned out Beyoncé’s “Irreplaceable,” but he refused to silently endure Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive.” That, ladies and gentlemen, constituted disco, and he sure as hell would not survive. He was stressed enough about hosting his mom and dad for Thanksgiving dinner without the marathon set of breakup anthems coming from his neighbor’s apartment.

A glance at the clock on the stove made him wince. The ’rents had left Magnolia Grove at noon. Assuming reasonable holiday traffic coming through Atlanta, they’d be on his doorstep anytime. The sexy little blonde across the hall needed to take the volume down several notches, or better yet, conclude her Men Suck Festival altogether.

Since it had been going on all day, he doubted either option would come to pass without a word from him. She probably assumed he wasn’t home. He usually worked the holidays to give the other paramedics on the crew—the ones with wives and kids—a chance to spend time with their families. Even when he was home, he preferred to keep to himself. If his parents weren’t part of today’s equation, he’d just focus on the football games and ignore the music.

Beau cursed. Confronting her with a noise complaint on Thanksgiving felt like an asshole move, given they’d barely said hello to each other since she’d moved into the complex six months ago. She wasn’t around a lot—thankfully—because when she spent time at home, she managed to disturb his peace just by existing.

She liked to sing in the shower, seemingly unconcerned if her low, Southern-bluesy voice carried, inviting him to picture her wet and naked. She liked to bake, and the hobby sent distracting scents of cinnamon and vanilla into his apartment like unwanted guests. She liked sex—thin walls held no secrets—though by his count the guy she had it with only brought her all the way home once in every three times at bat. Sheer laziness in his opinion, and why she settled for less than a grand slam every single time he really couldn’t fathom. Maybe silk ties and snappy suits compensated for a lack of bedroom skills?

Or not. Today’s music selections suggested she and One-for-Three had parted ways. She’d stormed into her apartment last night and proceeded to bang around as if she were rearranging furniture and digging through closets. The back-and-forth of footsteps in the hall indicated she’d made several trips to the garbage chute. He didn’t need a degree in psychology to know there was a purge going on next door, both tangible and emotional.

Not that it was any of his business.

Her wild tumble of honey-blonde waves was none of his business either, but it always caught his eye, as did the playful bounce of her full, round breasts when she descended the stairs or the sway of her hips when she climbed them. Nature had stacked some truly awe-inspiring curves onto her slender five-foot-nothing frame.

Her smile usually made an appearance when they passed. She probably aimed for friendly, but something about the way those lips tilted upward in an inherently flirtatious greeting teased his cock, even on those occasions when she had One-for-Three on her arm.

Beau shook his head and went back to straightening up his kitchen. At a different point in his life, her distracting smile—or her equally distracting ass—might have tempted him to find out if she liked his smile, his ass, or anything in between, but that point had come and gone several years ago. He wasn’t looking to get involved, no matter how strong and persistent a pull he felt toward his sexy little neighbor.

His eyes strayed to the pile of yesterday’s mail he’d tossed on the counter. The mail carrier had accidentally included an item for number 202 in his box. He fanned the pile out until he spotted the embossed envelope from the Solomon Foundation for Art, which he’d never heard of. Not surprising, considering he knew fuck-all about art, but he knew a good strategy when he saw one. He’d wander over, knock on her door, and she’d have to lower the music to answer. While he delivered what probably amounted to fancy junk mail, he’d casually mention he expected his folks to arrive at any moment, and he looked forward to having a nice, quiet visit with them.

Satisfied with the plan, he folded the envelope, slid it into the back pocket