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Dear Roomie (ebook classic cover)

Dear Roomie (ebook classic cover)

Dear Roomie

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Reid Durand isn't here to make friends, and he's certainly not here to lose his heart to a puppy, a team, or a chaos agent like Kennedy. But then we don't always get what we want ...

Original classic cover version.


Reid Durand isn't here to make friends.

Coming from a legacy of hockey greatness, he has games to win and things to prove. With his focus during his first season as a Chicago Rebel on his drive to succeed, every vice is off the table. No booze, no sugar, and definitely no women.

Kennedy Clark is the master of the side hustle.

She'll walk your dog, brew your espresso, and pick up your dry-cleaning, all while rocking it in Warrior pose. Standing still is impossible for her because the moment she starts to slow down, it'll come rushing back in a torrent. The memories. The pain. The heartbreak.

Their meet-cute is more of a freeze-cute. Besides, they already know each other. He's the rude, entitled customer at her coffee shop, or what used to be her coffee shop since she just got fired—because of Mr. Extra Shot Americano himself.

Reid didn't intend to get Kennedy fired.
He didn't intend to rescue a dog after the poor thing ended up in the lake.
And he definitely didn't intend to acquire a new roommate.

A curvy, chatty, tempting roommate. 

Now this perfect storm of events are about to wreak havoc on his neatly-ordered life.

Reid Durand isn't here to make friends, and he's certainly not here to lose his heart to a puppy, a team, or a chaos agent like Kennedy. But then we don't always get what we want ...

Chapter One Look Inside

If Reid Durand had a motto, it was this: keep your personal life personal. 

Simple, attainable, crucial. Walking into the coffee shop, this maxim seemed especially relevant. Although a few customers were seated, there was no sign of any of the baristas except for someone talking loudly behind the staff-only door.

More like shouting.

You can’t just make a snap decision like that!

A pause, then, “But my stuff is there. And now I can’t access it!

It all sounded very dramatic, but really such drama shouldn’t be brought to work. People needed to separate the personal from the professional. Better yet, don’t bother with the personal at all.

“Hello?” he called out on the off chance this person might want to do what she was paid to do: serve customers. He dropped his gaze to the counter, longing for a bell like in an old-fashioned hotel. He didn’t like to act all lord-and-master but this was a business, was it not?

The noisy person who wasn’t doing her job had moved away from the door, so he couldn’t hear her exact words. Every now and then melodramatic snatches would float through to the front. 

“Locks … Promises … Sentimental value.”

Another customer came in, an older man with one of those reusable mugs. He stood beside Reid and looked behind the counter rather comically as if someone might be hiding. 

“No one home today?” All that was missing was a nudge and a wink.

The argument was becoming more heated. “He fucking promised I could stay!” 

The new arrival turned to Reid and said rather obviously, “This is ridiculous. They have people waiting here.” His eyes widened. “Hey, you’re Reid Durand! Great game the other night. That goal from Foreman was something else.”

Sure. The incroyable Cal Foreman, Reid’s rival for the coveted right-wing position on the first line.

“You’ll need to get in there more if you want to catch your brother.” The fan—of players other than Reid—nudged with his elbow. And winked. “He was the top goal scorer last season for the Hawks. Your father must be so proud.”


“Right. Stepfather.” The guy went on for another minute about the Hawks-Rebels rivalry and how that was really going to take off now that the Durand brothers were in the same city at last. Finally, the fanboy gush petered out because Reid refused to keep it rolling. 

They both looked toward the back area. 

The door remained stubbornly still.

“This is a disgrace,” Captain Obvious said. “I have a good mind to call the corporate office and tell them all about it.”

“Uh-huh.” If it means you stop talking to me.

“You know? I think I will. I don’t have time for this!” Unpocketing his phone, he nodded at Reid. “Nice to meet you, Durand. Good luck for the rest of the season.”

Reid breathed a sigh of relief when he left. 

The peace didn’t last, and not just because the woman auditioning for a Daytime Emmy in back was in full flight. (She had moved on to bargaining. “At least let me get my belongings!”

Reid’s phone rang with a call from … well, if it wasn’t that famous brother of his. Usually he would let it go to voice mail, just to annoy him, but Bastian had been making such an effort since Reid moved to Chicago two months ago. Reid really should answer before his younger brother tattled to Mom.


“Holy shit! It can’t be. Is this the Reid Durand?”

“Oh, shut up. Sometimes it’s better to answer so you don’t have a fit, wondering if I’m safe in the dangerous suburbs.”

Bastian chuckled. He was an easygoing guy who found humor in everything, especially his grumpy older brother.

“So I’m calling to invite you over to mine for cards. And before you say you’re busy, remember I know your schedule and I also know you don’t have any friends.”

“I have plenty of friends.”

“Name one.”

He growled. “When?”

“Probably Thursday. The guys are dying to know if you’re an asshole off the ice as well as on. I told them you’re even worse.”

“Then I’ll try not to disappoint them.” Hanging with Hawks players? That might be useful.

The door to the staff area crashed open and someone emerged at last. 

It was her, the smartass barista with the pink-blond hair. 

His pulse rate quickened because … he wasn’t sure why. Her hair? He supposed that was it. He didn’t usually have opinions on hair. Hair didn’t usually rate with him at all. But something about this woman—and her hair—gave him a subtle lift. Perhaps because it signified a push against the grain. He shouldn’t appreciate that, but then we’re often drawn to an opposite. Yin and yang, metal to magnet.

She pushed a few stray tresses back, tucking it beneath the ball cap all the staff here wore. Her features were set in granite, yet she seemed to become more grim and annoyed on seeing him. As if he was the source of her problems.

Each time he came in here, his gaze was drawn to her. A couple of times, he had thought about talking to her.

He had wanted to talk to her.

Which was strange because he never wanted to talk to anyone.

Of course, that wanting had made him suspicious, because if he had the desire to do something that would have no immediate benefit for him, if the act of talking with an interesting-looking woman was so appealing, then it was imperative that he shut it down. If it didn’t help his game, he didn’t want to know.

He wasn’t one for feelings or instincts, but he had the strangest sense about this woman. The pull he felt toward her made him want to step outside his zone.

So last week, he had dipped a toe into treacherous waters. He talked to her …

… about his drink (their common ground)

… which he assumed she made incorrectly (she had recited the drink name differently)

… only she hadn’t (but she found it amusing that he would think so)

… and that was the sum of that. 

Sometimes he stayed on his phone so he wouldn’t have to make small talk with retail employees. Better rude than awkward. In this moment, he had a feeling it would only make Coffee Shop Girl’s day worse and something lurched in his chest at the thought.

“I have to go,” he murmured to his brother.

“Okay, I’ll text—” Reid had already hung up.

“Hi, can I interest you in a pumpkin spice latte today?” 

This pumpkin spice shit. They were likely obliged to offer this nonsense to everyone regardless, all part of the great American upsell. She should really start with an apology for the length of time she had left him waiting.

“No, I would like an—”

“Yeah, yeah, I know. Extra shot Americano, right?”

An abrupt response, but she was having a bad day. He knew what that was like. Sometimes he took it out on people at his place of work. 

“Yes, that’s it.”

She nodded tersely and rang it up. He paid with a credit card tap and watched as she headed to the sink to wash her hands. 

He usually dropped money into the tip jar and today was no exception. He didn’t have a five, so he left a twenty and pushed the tip box back to the edge of the counter because he didn’t trust the next customer not to help himself. The world was filled with greedy assholes.

Coffee Shop Girl dried her hands and stepped up to the bar to make his drink. She kept her head down, the bill of her cap covering her eyes.

No matter. Reid knew their color.

A silver-gray, a mercurial shade that reflected the chrome of the bar and usually made her eyes dance. She told stories with those eyes.

Each time he came in here, she was usually laughing at something, maybe a co-worker or the chatter of a customer. Her eyes would light like silver suns, the eyes of a woman who enjoyed life. But with him, the amusement usually faded—or it was replaced by something else.

Something cooler.

She didn’t like him. 

He was used to men not liking him, usually because he made sure to strike first, to establish dominance. Setting a tone with his rivals and opponents on the ice was imperative, even with his teammates so they were assured he was here to play. That he meant business. But with women, he usually encountered a different response. Women enjoyed his surliness. He didn’t go out of his way to hone that aspect of his personality. It just happened that way, and the results usually benefited him in the bedroom.

But this woman was different. Today, she was in a bad mood, not even faking her effort, which was fine. He didn’t care for that phony “customer is always right” business.

He stepped in a little closer, drawn to her forbidding body language, wishing he could do something to alleviate it. With her shoulders tense, she kept her head down, focusing on her task. He remembered the feeling that accompanied that look. Those emotions weren’t easily forgotten.

“Is everything all right?”

Her head snapped back, her shock so sharp that she knocked the cup in her hand sideways. The espresso went spilling across the counter in a muddy mini-wave.

“Oh, shit!” She clamped her mouth shut, then opened it slightly, just enough to murmur, “Sorry.” There was a reluctance about that apology.

This woman was a rebel at heart.

“I startled you.”

Blinking, she seemed to shake herself from a dream, or a nightmare where Reid Durand, the NHL’s poster boy for assholes terrified her with a general query about her well-being.

“No, not at all. Well, yes, you startled me.” She threw the cup in the trashcan beside the bar and wiped the counter down. “It’ll just be a second to re-do it.”

“It’s fine, take your time. You’re on your own here today?”

“Yeah, my manager stepped out for a moment to get some nickels and dimes from the currency exchange. Abolish all cash, that’s what I say!” Chuckling softly, she met his gaze. “Most people pay with credit cards these days anyway, but there’s always someone with Benjamins burning a hole, I suppose.”

Deftly she worked the machine as she talked, more at ease than before. Obviously this was her natural state, an easy way with strangers. Good for someone who worked with the public.

Thank God he had skills on the ice. He’d never survive in customer service.

“You were talking to someone on the phone earlier?”

She flushed, and Reid’s sex-starved brain was filled with lurid images of her pale skin blooming in places unseen. “You heard that?”

“The whole state heard.”

She bit her lip, an astonishingly attractive gesture that hit him right in the gut, or rather somewhere lower. It had been several long, lonely months.

She leaned toward him, the movement making her shirt gape, giving him a view of abundant cleavage. Her name tag read: Kennedy. “Sorry for inflicting that drama on you. Lodging problems. And sorry for leaving you hanging out here. And then spilling your drink. Just sorry all around.”

“That last part was my fault. For making you jump.”

Straightening, she placed the cup under the hot water spigot and started to pour. “Yeah, it was your fault now that I think of it. You’re usually such a grouch that the question about my state of being scared the bejesus out of me.”

“A grouch?”

She sleeved the cup, topped it with a lid, and placed it on the counter. “Are we going to pretend you’re not usually doing your I’m-too-important-to-be-nice act whenever you come in here, Reid D?” That was the name he usually gave, though not today. Either she remembered or she recognized him from TV. “I’ve never seen you be pleasant to anyone except Mia.”

So he wasn’t at his most charming when he came in here. Unable to enjoy the fakery of the social contract, he rarely made a good impression. His mother had despaired of his grim schoolboy photos. Reid objected to being told to smile by anyone, even professional photographers.

Unsure how to respond—and he was never unsure, but now was doubting his entire life strategy—he passed over the dig about his attitude.

“You’re friends with Mia Wallace?” Mia was a hockey player, sister to Vadim Petrov, captain of the Chicago Rebels. On occasion, he had run into her here with that plastic woman who was always making eyes at him.

“More like acquaintances. I walk her dog and make her coffee.”

“You walk dogs?”

“Sure do. You looking for a dog walker?”

He shook his head, feeling a hollowness in his chest that made no sense. “I don’t have a dog. I travel too much to be able to keep one.” 

“Sorry to hear that. Sounds like you could do with the company.”

That was quite the assumption. Not incorrect, but quite the assumption all the same. He had the strangest urge to ask her out for a drink he couldn’t have and a meal he couldn’t eat that would lead to a fuck he couldn’t indulge in. This season was too important and a woman like this had the capacity to derail all his plans.

“You’re one of those know-it-alls, aren’t you?”

She touched her throat as if to say, who, me? and followed up with a cute kick to the corner of her lips. Really fucking cute. Damn. “I’m just excellent at giving advice. Ask anyone here and they’ll tell you I’m a whizz at it.”

“Hmm. So what kind of advice do I need?”

Those silver eyes took inventory, but he got the impression she wasn’t seeing what everyone else did: Canadian hockey player, the oldest Durand boy, the crank who hated small talk. 

Well, look at him now.

This woman saw something else, maybe something he couldn’t see for himself.

“To lighten the fuck up.”

He snorted. Okay, maybe she saw exactly what everyone else did.

She grinned and then she blushed, as though she realized that might be considered inappropriate to say to a customer. It probably was, but Reid didn’t care. He valued honesty above all else, even from his coffee supplier.

A movement interrupted his sightline, someone coming in through the back door and tying an apron. The manager, the one with the simpering smiles. Her gaze split between the two of them, before finally dialing up a fake grin.

Feeling lighter of heart, and with a nod at the pink-haired pixie, Reid picked up his drink and stepped away to doctor it to his liking.

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