Take a peek inside Famous By Association!
Take a peek inside 𝐅𝐚𝐦𝐨𝐮𝐬 𝐁𝐲 𝐀𝐬𝐬𝐨𝐜𝐢𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧, a sexy new romance! Coming September 30, 2020. Add it to your TBR today!
“Looks like you’re staying longer than an hour,” he said, almost teasingly, although part of me wanted to believe he was excited about that.
Just then, another lightning bolt lit up the dark sky, immediately followed by a crack of thunder. It wouldn’t have been too bad if it hadn’t knocked out the power.
“Yeah, and now it looks like we’re gonna be playing Monopoly instead of Minecraft.”
“No, we’re not, because I don’t have Monopoly.”
“What games do you have?”
“PlayStation,” he said with a laugh, though it was obvious he wasn’t joking.
“Then what are we going to do? Just sit here and twiddle our thumbs?”
Without saying anything, Jacoby got up and went to another room. A minute or so later, he returned with a few candles and a lighter. They weren’t the type of candles one would use to make a room smell nice. They seemed to be more of the “essential” type, which was okay with me, because I wasn’t sure I’d be able to weather the storm if he set the mood with some exotic fragrance.
“I also have these.” He pulled out a worn deck of cards from his pocket before taking a seat on the floor on one side of the coffee table.
I slid off the couch to take the other side, sitting cross-legged in front of him, a flickering candle between us. This could go one of two ways, and at the moment, I wasn’t entirely sure if I cared which way it went.
“I hope you don’t mind, but war is about the only game I remember how to play,” he said while shuffling the deck.
“Fine by me.” The silence that filled the room as he dealt the cards between us became too overwhelming, and I needed to fill it with something. After contemplating what I should say for way too long, I decided to ask, “Why do you live in your sister’s pool house?”
Apparently, he found my question funny, because he laughed deep enough—though rather quietly—to cause his shoulders to jump. “Would you like the long version or the nutshell answer?”
I glanced out the window, realizing that we had time for him to tell me every aspect of his entire life, so I said,
“The long version will do.”
“Well, about four years ago, I bought a house with my girlfriend. We were together for over five years at that point, so I thought it would be fine. Which it was…for about three years. Then we broke up and had to split everything. I certainly wasn’t about to buy her out of the house and live there alone, and neither was she, so we sold it, split the equity, and I moved in here.”
I waited a moment, not sure if he was done with his story. When I figured he was, I said, “That’s the long version? What’s the nutshell story, then?”
“I broke up with my girlfriend and moved here.”
I shrugged while flipping a card over, taking his card for the third time in a row. “Yeah, I see what you’re saying…that was a much shorter version. Anyway, when did this happen? Like, how long have you lived here?”
“About eight months.”
“Any plans to move out and live on your own?”
We both flipped over eights, so we called out W-A-R while laying our cards down, and once we reached the last one, he gathered up the pile while answering my question. “Someday, but I’m not in any rush. I enjoy spending time with my sister, and when she has kids around, it’s fun to be the cool uncle…even though I’m technically not really their uncle.”
“I take it you like kids?”
“Yeah, who doesn’t?” He immediately shook his head and added, “Never mind, that was a stupid question. I’m sure there are lots of people who don’t like them.”
I stopped myself before I said something that would blow my cover—it wouldn’t be a far-fetched assumption that Tiffany couldn’t stand children. Instead, I decided to stick with something more neutral. “Dave works at a youth center. He’s always trying to come up with new ways to improve it so more kids will come around.”
“Is it local?”
“No, it’s back home—” I immediately caught myself. “Where we grew up, I mean. He still lives there. I don’t, obviously…because I live here now. Not there.”
Jacoby paused mid flip and stared at me through the flickering light between us. “Okay, you’re acting weird again. Do you not want to tell me where you’re from? Is that supposed to be some sort of secret?”
I waved him off with a laugh. “No, of course not.” God, I really hoped not. “He lives in Glenndale. It’s about seven hours north.”
“Yeah, I know where that’s at. I actually moved here from a small town about an hour south of there.”
“That’s where you lived with your girlfriend?”
He nodded, which I took as him not wanting to continue that topic.
But then he surprised me when he said, “I actually really loved it there—or, at least, that general area. I just didn’t see the point in staying when my family is down here. I do lawn care, so I can do that anywhere. Nothing was keeping me there, nothing worth staying for.”
“Yeah, I really love Glenndale.”
“Do you ever think you’ll go back?”
I opened my mouth to answer, but a split second before my voice came to life, I remembered that he was asking Tiffany, not me. “Probably not. My life is here now. Not to mention, I’m not that close with my family.”
“Any particular reason?”
I shrugged, unsure how to respond because I didn’t know what Tiffany truly thought of us. But I couldn’t stay silent forever, so I had to give him something. “My mom is super supportive—everyone says she’s my biggest fan. And even though I love listening to her brag about me to anyone who’ll listen, a person can only take so much of that.”
“How often do you see them?”
“Well, I’m really busy, you know, so not often at all.” That was the nicest way I could say it, considering the truth was that Tiffany avoided us like the plague. Technically, she avoided me, not so much Mom, but that was only because Mom fawned all over her. If I had to guess as to why she didn’t come around our parents much was because she wouldn’t be able to get away with acting like the most privileged person in the world. We all knew her, the real her, and if she started spinning stories, she’d get called out. Well, Mom wouldn’t, but Dad would.
Jacoby slapped his cards on the table, facedown, and pushed up on his knees to stand. “Want anything to drink? I’m getting a beer. Without the AC, it’s getting a bit warm in here.”
“Sure, I’ll take one, too.”
Little did I know where that would lead.
A few beers later, our card game was over—I won both times—and Jacoby had gotten Sir Terry out of his cage. Seriously, that bearded dragon was the coolest pet I’d ever seen. It didn’t even matter that he didn’t do tricks.
“How old is he?” I asked as I held him, impressed with his size. His body was slightly longer than my hand from wrist to fingertips, but then there was his tail, which was close to reaching my elbow.
“Nine months. I got him as a baby when I moved here. He was just over a month, and much, much smaller than he is now. He’s still growing, though. They say they continue to get bigger until about a year, year and a half.”
We played with him for a bit between us—well, as much as one can play with a giant lizard—before Jacoby decided it was time for him to go back to his tank. I picked him up and carried him to the aquarium in the corner of the room, whining the entire time about how cruel it was to keep him behind glass like some display animal.
Jacoby crossed the room in a few strides and stopped in front of me. He was close enough that I could smell him again, and just like last time, it put me under a spell. “If it makes you feel any better, he actually does spend a lot of time out of the tank when I’m here. But I think the storm is making him nervous, so being in the tank, where he’s comfortable and safe, is exactly what he wants. Trust me.”
He took the not so little guy out of my hand and, without stepping to the side, placed Terry back in his home. This meant he leaned into me. That’s right, Jacoby leaned his body into mine, bringing his intoxicating scent even closer.
In my haze of lust, I gripped the front of his T-shirt, and there was a small chance I made a noise of some kind—a moan, hum, not sure. Anyway, rather than back up, he only pulled away slightly to look at me.
We were face to face, and the room was still rather dim due to the storm that still raged beyond the window. I was very much aware that we were alone. No one could see us, no one could judge us; it was just him and me.
So I went for it.
Using my grip on his shirt, I tugged him closer while pushing up on my tiptoes, bringing our mouths together. It was soft and hesitant at first, but then I got a taste of him, and damn, was I hungry for more.
He brought his hands to my waist, which caused me to hesitate for a moment because I thought he was about to push me away. But when I felt him tighten his grip and pull my body against his, I knew it was safe to keep going.
His tongue slipped past my lips while I threaded my fingers through his hair.
We took one step back. Then another. Then another until he was sat on the sofa, my knees on either side of his hips. It was hot, and steamy, and sexy, and everything else I thought it would be. The one thing I didn’t expect was for it to be short lived.
And unfortunately, it was very short lived.
Out of nowhere, Jacoby pushed me away. Not just pushed me away, but he physically lifted my body off his lap and set me down on the cushion next to him. “Tiffany…” Talk about a mood kill; calling me by my evil sister’s name was like dousing me with below-freezing water. “You’re engaged.”
I didn’t need to hear any more. That was enough for me.
I got up and rounded the couch, not bothering to think about anything other than getting the heck out of there. I didn’t care if I left anything behind; I could replace it. What I couldn’t replace, though, was my dignity.
He called after me, but I ignored him as I opened the door and took off in the torrential downpour. Thunder rumbled all around me, the sky lit up like the Fourth of July, but that didn’t stop me. I didn’t care. I just wanted to leave. I wanted to get home.
I didn’t want to be Tiffany freaking Lewis anymore.
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