How can a man work when his sexy neighbor is always naked?
Quaid Marshall's life has hit rock bottom. He's lost the most recent of his dead-end jobs, has been evicted from his apartment, and if not for his sister Dana's Smoky Mountain ski cabin, he'd be living under the overpass in a cardboard box. Dana says it's the perfect chance to finish that screenplay he's been avoiding for two years. Since the day he drove the car into that tree, killing his fiancé, David. The day Quaid's life went to hell. With nothing left to lose, his only option is to finish the stupid screenplay and enter it in the ScreenWay contest, with its $25,000 grand prize. But it isn't going well. His sister neglected to tell him about the next-door neighbor...the incredibly hot, incredibly tall, incredibly buff next-door neighbor...the one who likes to sunbathe...naked. Next to that buzzing hive of bees. With that hideous little...is that a dog? How the hell is Quaid supposed to write a horror script when all he can think of is the sexy opening of a romantic comedy? And how the hell is he supposed to look himself in the eye in the mirror every morning when he feels so disloyal to David's memory?
Connor "Mac" MacPherson's balls are gonna fry to a crisp, and it'll be all Dana's fault. Mac's been out here for days, puttering around, sunbathing, and finally, taking it all off in hopes of getting noticed by his best friend's stubborn, brooding brother. When Dana asked him to try to get Quaid out of his shell, Mac agreed, sight unseen, because he loved his funny, quirky friend and would do anything to help her out. Even if her brother turned out to be a complete troll. But when he saw the Adonis that sidled out onto the deck that day, it went from mercy date to Lord have mercy... But all the man did was sit there pretending he didn't notice. He noticed, though. Oh, yeah. He noticed. And Mac wasn't about to let the Adonis ignore him any longer. After all, he'd promised Dana...
Quaid Marshall leaned his elbows on the deck rail and gazed through the trees that were almost close enough to touch. His sister Dana had generously offered him use of the Smoky Mountain ski cabin for the summer—rent free—and he hoped he’d be able to get some work done on his screenplay.It wasn’t going well. His sister had neglected to tell him about the next-door neighbor.The incredibly hot, incredibly tall, incredibly buff next-door neighbor. The one who liked to sunbathe in the raw. The one with the incredible package nestled in neatly trimmed dark curls. Who didn’t seem to notice the beehive beneath the corner of the deck not a foot away.Quaid sighed heavily. How the hell was he supposed to write a horror script when all he could think of was the sexy opening of a rom-com?He stepped away from the rail and sat back down at the patio table, where his tall iced coffee sweated beside his laptop. Which had shut down because his battery had died.Because Quaid couldn’t write a damn thing with The Naked Neighbor over there sunning himself in all his magnificent, manly glory.Three days of this nonsense, and not ten new words on the page.At this rate, he was never going to get his script done and make the contest deadline. Which was just a week away. And he needed that $25,000 grand prize. He knew he was a fool to depend on winning a contest for grocery money, but nothing else seemed to be working out.Nothing had worked since David.It had been two years. David was dead. He wasn’t ever coming back.Quaid glanced over at The Naked Neighbor. He wished the guy would just go inside. Or put on some damn pants. He didn’t need the distraction. What he needed was a finished screenplay.He went inside, grabbed the laptop power cord, and headed back out onto the deck. He plugged the cord into an external outlet and waited as the laptop stirred back to life. The cursor blinked at him from the nearly empty white page, reminding him what a failure he was. He’d lost the house. David had been the breadwinner, supporting Quaid’s writing dream with his architect’s salary. After the accident, Quaid had gone back to waiting tables, tending bar. Bad idea, mourning the loss of your love, the loss of your home, the loss of all hope surrounded by all that alcohol. Add to that list “loss of job” after being caught drinking on it.Dana had finally told him to quit wasting his time bouncing from dead-end job to dead-end job and go hide out at the cabin and immerse himself in the script he’d started back when David had been his strongest supporter and cheerleader. The script he’d started and abandoned again half a dozen times since…since that day. He’d taken her up on the offer of her ski cabin in the middle of the North Carolina woods because quite frankly, he had no other option. He was being evicted from the cheapest fourth floor studio apartment in the crappiest complex in the crappiest part of Charlotte. It was shack up with Dana or find a nice cardboard box under the overpass.“Fuck it.” He hit the icon at the top of the document and minimized it to the computer’s desktop. The wallpaper image of David smiled at him, standing on the deck of the sailboat they’d spent their weekends on at the coast, bare-chested, wrapped in a towel from the waist down, water droplets clinging to his tan skin and dripping from the ends of his long, auburn hair, darker now that it was wet. That was the day David had proposed, the day Quaid had accepted. The day they’d gone out to dinner to celebrate and had gotten into that stupid argument in the car and Quaid had driven them into a telephone pole, killing David instantly.At least David hadn’t suffered. Quaid had saved the suffering all for himself.He looked over the top of the screen toward the trees. Between the gap in the branches he could see his neighbor turn over. He had an incredible back. An even better ass.Guilt hit him like an avalanche. He knew it was crazy to feel disloyal to a dead man. He knew David would have wanted him to move on, to be happy. He knew it wasn’t in any way a betrayal of David’s memory to look at an attractive man who felt the need to flounce around naked in his general vicinity. But what he knew and what he felt were two different things.The Naked Neighbor’s dog—some kind of furry little brownish-blackish, purse-dog/rat…thing—who had been quiet for a change—launched itself in a cacophony of frantic, asthmatic-sounding wheeze-barks off the deck and down the stairs and through the yard to the squirrel that had the good sense to barrel up the nearest tree. The little demon creature stood up on its bowed hind legs at the base of the tree, leaping as if he thought he could actually reach the squirrel, who was now invisible somewhere up in the canopy, and barked non-stop at it with its annoying, high-pitched-yet-gravelly voice. It sounded like an aging soprano who’d spent the last forty years smoking cigarettes and drinking gin.“God, will somebody please shoot that thing?” Quaid clicked the desktop icon for the screenplay document, and the title page bloomed once again onto the screen. He scrolled down. The document’s shocking swath of empty whiteness mocked him.He placed his fingers on the keyboard.Nothing happened.He took a sip of his ice coffee. Most of the ice had melted into a watery puddle on top.He put it down.He glanced over at his neighbor again.Oh, for heaven’s sake. This was nuts. He felt like the creepy psycho killer he was avoiding writing about.He slid his chair around to the other side of the patio table so he could keep his back to The Naked Neighbor and his eyes on his work. Through the trees in the narrow side yard, the atrocious orangey-brown clapboards of the vacant cabin next door made him want to shudder.But at least the house wasn’t naked.He moved his laptop over to his new spot and looked back at his first page.