Enemies with Benefits
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  • ISBN/ASIN: B07RWDH7XK
  • Language: English
  •   Read Sample

Enemies with Benefits

An Enemies-to-Lovers Romance Loveless Brothers Romance Book 1
Roxie Noir

I don’t love him. I don’t even like him.
I just want him.

Eli Loveless was my nemesis from the first day of kindergarten until we graduated high school. Everything I did, he had to do better - and vice versa. The day he left town was the best day of my life.
Ten years later, the day he came back was the worst.
Now he’s my co-worker.
Grown-up Eli Loveless is sexy as sin. He’s hotter than asphalt in the summer. The irritating kid I once knew is gone, and he’s been replaced by a man with green eyes, perfect abs, and a cocky smile.
It’s bad that I want him. It’s worse that he wants me back.
There are looks. There are smirks. There are smiles that make my panties burst into flame.
And then there’s a shared kiss that leads to the hottest night of my life.
This is no office romance. This is a five-alarm fire.
What’s a girl to do when the man I can’t stand is the one I can’t stop lusting after?
Enter into a friends-with-benefits agreement, of course.
No dates. No relationship. Just blisteringly hot sex, because if there’s one person I could never fall for, it’s Eli....right?
Enemies With Benefits is the first book in the Loveless Brothers series, and can be read as a total standalone. It's for fans of high-heat, low-angst romantic comedies and anyone who enjoys a rivals-to-lovers story. This book also has tons of sibling banter, a workplace romance that smolders, and a small town with tons of charm and quirk. It's steamy, hilarious, and of course it's got a guaranteed HEA. (And yes, it bangs.)

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About the Author

Roxie is a romance author by day, and also a romance author by night. She lives in Los Angeles with one husband, two cats, far too many books, and a truly alarming pile of used notebooks that she refuses to throw away.
Join her mailing list for release updates, free bonus scenes, and tons more!
http://www.roxienoir.com/newsletter
roxie@roxienoir.com


 

Read Sample

CHAPTER 1 : VIOLET


THIS IS GOING off the rails.


I don't want it to. I wish it wasn't, because I started this date the way I start every date: with unbridled optimism. Before I actually go on a date, I'm always overflowing with excitement and the soul-deep knowledge that somewhere out there in the mountainous wilds of southwestern Virginia lives my Prince Charming, ready to show up and whisk me away.


Okay, that's overstating things a little. I have zero interest in an actual prince, and being whisked sounds like it's some kind of baking-gone-wrong incident, but I'd like to have a life partner. When done properly, it seems like having one is nice.


I'd like someone to make me look forward to going home at the end of the day. Someone to make me laugh on long car rides. Someone to snuggle during the long mountain nights, preferably someone warmer than me.


I just don't want the wrong life partner.


"You've never been here before, huh?" Todd asks, looking at his menu and not at me.


"No, but I've heard good things," I say, keeping it upbeat.


"Yeah, I figured you hadn't," he says, finally glancing at me over the menu. He's smirky and smug. Smugky? "You should've seen the look on your face when I said where I was taking you, like I'd just told you it was Christmas morning."


I want to give him the benefit of the doubt. I keep reminding myself over and over not to judge a book by its cover. People are invariably deeper and more complex than they seem at first.


After all, he took me to Le Faisan Rouge, the fanciest and only French restaurant in Burnley County. He opened his truck door for me when he picked me up. He pulled my chair out for me when I sat down in the restaurant. He settled my napkin on my lap with a flourish, like a perfect gentleman.


But the smug smirking. The fact that he corrected my pronunciation of Le Faisan Rouge with a pronunciation that was completely incorrect. I've never been to France, but I did take a semester of French in college, and I know how to say rouge, thanks. "Don't get to go to many five-star restaurants, I assume?" he asks, smugly sipping his water.


Optimism: slipping.


"I've heard the steak is good," I say, deciding I'm going to keep having the conversation I'd rather not be having. "Maybe I'll get that."


Todd just snorts, then leans across the table like he's got a secret he wants to tell me.


"The steak's the best thing on the menu but that doesn't mean it's very good," he says, looking around. "I heard a rumor that the chef made friends with the restaurant reviewer when they were in town, if you know what I mean. One of the perks of being a female chef, I guess. Garçon!"


There's so much going on with that statement that I just stare at him for a moment.


Did he really just shout at the waiter?


And insinuate that the chef slept with a reviewer?


"I hadn't heard that," I say, my voice getting brittle. I keep scanning the menu, reminding myself: book. Cover.


But of course, none of the menu items have prices. My heart curls into a little ball, because I have very firm beliefs regarding first dates: I pay my own way.


I don't like being paid for. I don't like feeling as if I owe someone something. I don't like feeling like I shouldn't order goldplated lobster with a side of caviar if I feel like it.


Not that I ever do. I've got a budget.


"Well, you wouldn't unless you're really tuned into the local restaurant scene," Todd says. "I'm personal friends with a few other chefs around town, and that's the rumor going around. Garçon!"


Optimism: running on fumes.


"Any chance they're all men whose restaurants got lower ratings?" I ask. At this point I'll do almost anything make him stop shouting garçon like that. With his accent it sounds like gar - sawwn, and it grates on my ears every time he does it.


Todd ignores my question completely.


"GAR-SAWN!" he says, even more loudly than before. From the corner of my eye I can see the people at the next table over look at us. I don't look back. I'm too afraid I'd recognize them, even though we're in Grotonsville one town over from Sprucevale,


where I actually live and then I'd have to acknowledge that I'm here with Todd.


That's when it happens.


Todd snaps his fingers at our server.


I swear the sound echoes in my soul.


And now I'm forced to acknowledge that this date is in salvage mode. Todd is no longer a guy with some issues but maybe we'll get to know each other over dinner; he is now someone I actively hope to never see again after tonight.


I know that everyone has flaws I'm flaw central over here but after a year of waitressing during college, with God as my witness, I'll never fall for someone who snaps at the waitstaff like they're dogs. Not that I was in danger of falling for him anyway. Showing a strength and integrity of character I can only dream of having, the waitress comes over with a smile on her face. "Hi there, I'm Stephanie, can I get y'all started with something tonight?" she asks, never once betraying that I'm sitting across from a monster.


I give her the most intense I'm sorry he snapped at you look I can.


Todd doesn't even look up.


"We'd like a bottle of the two thousand twelve Deux Canard Bordeaux, along with the three-cheese gougères and the duck rilletes. That'll be all for now," he says.


"Thank you!" I call as she walks away. Todd looks at me like I told a mildly amusing joke.


"I can't believe I still have to ask," he says, settling back into his chair. "I'm a regular, they know what I'm going to want. Always the 2012 Canard Bordeaux. It's the best wine in the house, not that their wine selection is anything to write home about."


I take a long sip of water. I consider just standing up and leaving, but I don't want to be rude. I don't want everyone in Le Faisan Rouge to stare at me as I walk out.


I also am not having a good date.


So I smile, shrug, and say, "They only got five stars because the chef slept with a reviewer, but you come here all the time?" Todd smiles. His teeth are an untrustworthy white.


"Where else am I supposed to go around here?" he asks. "You think I'm gonna go to Louisa Mae's for meatloaf?"


"I don't see why not. At least it's good," I point out.


"The only wine they have on the menu is merlot and chardonnay," he says, like that's some unspeakable crime. "At least here I can eat my decent steak with a very good wine."


My heart skips a beat at that very. Did Todd just order us a hundred-dollar bottle of wine?


Maybe just this once, get down off your feminist soapbox and let him pay for the date?


This was his idea, after all.


My palms are still sweating when the waitress comes back with the already-opened wine, because I'm still trying to figure out how much I'm going to be paying for it. Fifty dollars? Seventy-five dollars?


It's your own fault now for not saying something, I remind myself.


Or you could just let him pay for the stupid wine that he wanted in the first place.


They go through the whole sniff-swirl-taste-drink-nod thing that wine people love to do, and the waitress pours both of us a glass. I sample mine.


It tastes like wine.


"Are you ready to order?" she asks, still smiling.


"We'll both take the filet mignon, medium rare," Todd says, and reaches for my menu.


I pull it back and look up at the waitress myself.


"Actually, I'd like the coq au vin, please," I tell her. This guy has already gotten me wine that's definitely too expensive. The hell I'm paying for dumb steak I don't want, too.


"The filet is better," Todd says, looking at me like I've just said that I'll be dining out of the dumpster.


"I'm not in a steak mood," I say,


"You should be."


I hand my menu back to the waitress and smile at her. Todd just shrugs.


"Your loss," he says, which I very much doubt, and drinks some more of his fancy wine.


He then launches into a one-sided conversation about golf. I have no opinions whatsoever on golf, so I drink my overpriced wine, nod sometimes, and think about what I'm going to tell Adeline about this date, since she set me up in the first place. Todd is her cousin's cousin's friend or something.


Our food comes. Todd slices his filet mignon like it's done him wrong, and I eat my chicken as politely as I can. When we're finder of things, but I can't. I hate feeling like I haven't paved my own way, like I don't deserve whatever I get.


I grab my purse and start fishing through it for my wallet. My palms are getting sweaty, and I feel like I just had four espressos instead of wine.


Two hundred and fifty dollars. Two. Fifty.


Still no Todd. There's a second panic, low and steady, eating at the bottom of my stomach but I ignore it because I really need to take one disaster at a time.


The waitress walks by. I'm now elbow-deep in my purse because my wallet has apparently migrated to the very bottom. I pull the thing onto my lap.


I shove some stuff around in there. Still no wallet, but I tell myself that of course I can't see it — it's dark in here, and besides, the interior of my purse may as well be an abandoned coal mine.


I still don't find it.


I start pulling stuff out.


An eyeshadow palette I've used exactly twice. A tube of mascara. A tube of mascara that has old do not use! written on the side. Three tubes of chapstick, a tube of tinted chapstick that's supposed to give you a healthy, vibrant glow but in fact does absolutely nothing, a bottle of Advil, and a water bottle cap.


No wallet.


One earring. Foundation. A plastic bangle bracelet. Eyeliner. A pack of unopened index cards, two dry-erase markers, and a tiny notebook that's rubber-banded shut. A used paperback copy of East of Eden and also a used paperback copy of Shopaholic Takes Manhattan, because I'm a woman of complicated tastes.


Still no wallet. Still no Todd.


I'm panicking. My insides are tied in knots, and my hands are trembling with the adrenaline that's shooting through my veins as I think this can't be happening again and again.


No wallet means asking Todd to cover the whole bill. No wallet means I'm not the self-sufficient go-getter I like to think I am. No wallet means relying on someone else's kindness, and I already know that the price tag for Todd's kindness isn't one I'm willing to pay.


I paw through everything on the table. I pat down the lining of my purse and run my hands over the straps, just in case my wallet has wormed itself into a strip of leather one inch wide.


It's not there. My whole body is hot with embarrassment. I ignore the sidelong glances from the couple at the next table over as I shove everything back into my purse and wait, trying to slow my heart.


I look at my phone to text Adeline again about my hilarious date mishap and realize it's been ten minutes since Todd went to the bathroom.


Well, he's either dead or gone.


Or playing Candy Crush on the toilet because he's a rude jerk.


I flag the waitress down. Politely.


"I'm so sorry," I start, meaning I'm sorry for what I'm about to ask, and also, I'm sorry in general about Todd. "My date went to the bathroom about ten minutes ago and hasn't come back, and I'm starting to worry he's had some sort of emergency. Could you ask someone to go check?"


I'm talking way, way too fast, my words coming out in a frantic rush. Her eyebrows knit together in a look of waiterly concern, and she glances back at the bathrooms, like maybe we'll both get lucky and he'll waltz out at this exact moment, looking only slightly worse for wear.


Todd does not waltz.


"I'll find someone," she says. "Be right back, okay?"


"Thank you!" I call after her, my heart thumping too loud in my chest.


Please be playing Candy Crush like a jerk.


Please.


A minute later the kitchen door swings open, almost smacking into a busboy.


A tall, dark-haired, annoyed-looking man comes out and strides toward the bathrooms.


I stare.


I forget about Todd.


I forget that I'm on a date.


In fact, I forget everything I've ever learned about how to act in public because I unabashedly ogle this man as he crosses the Our food comes. Todd slices his filet mignon like it's done him wrong, and I eat my chicken as politely as I can. When we're finished, the waitress clears our plates. I thank her and he doesn't. After she leaves, he refills my wine glass, even though I haven't even finished my first one.


Then he leans in, smirking smugly, holding the stem of his glass between his fingers.


"So," he says. "Your place or mine?"


I nearly choke.


"What?"


He smirks, though this one comes out more like a snarl. It's not a good look.


"Come on. Your place or mine?"


I set my wine glass gently on the table.


I'm not having sex with him. I'd rather get into a bathtub full of wolverines, and for a long moment, I just stare at him in disbelief that any human being can think that this date was heading that way.


It's on the tip of my tongue: I do not want to have sex with you; rather, I would prefer to get the check, split it, and amicably go our separate ways.


But at the last second that seems rude, so what I actually say is: "No, thank you."


"You sure?" he asks. "I thought that was a pretty nice dinner."


He spins his wine glass between his fingers, the red liquid sloshing around inside. I want to tell him about preferring the wolverines, but I control myself.


"I'd prefer to go home alone, thanks," I say. "I need to get up early in the morning."


It's still too polite, too nice, because it's been bred into me since I was old enough to say goodness gracious.


"It doesn't have to take a long time," he says, like this somehow makes his offer better.


I wonder how I ever felt optimistic about him. I wonder if my optimism meter is broken, or at least seriously damaged.


Todd's face changes in a way that reminds me of a five-year-old about to have a tantrum in the toy aisle at Walmart. He snaps his fingers in the air again, and this time, I swear I flinch.


"Check," he says as the waitress comes over, and she nods, then leaves.


He looks at me. It's calculating look, like he's tallying up how much money he just spent not to get laid.


The almost-tantrum look on his face intensifies.


"I'll be right back," he says, and heads toward the men's room.


The moment he's gone, I breathe a sigh of relief.


I should have ended the date the first time he snapped at the waitress. I should have told him I wasn't interested instead of that


I have to get up early tomorrow. I should have been polite but firm and just walked out of there, figure out my own way home.


I shouldn't have let him pick me up for this date in the first place.


Todd takes his sweet time in the bathroom. I pull out my phone and text Adeline.


Me: Don't trust your cousin's cousin again, for the good of womankind.


She doesn't text back, so she must be at work already. I flip through Pinterest on my phone. There are some cute pictures of hay bales decorated for a wedding. I pin one to my work account.


I wait for Todd to come back. I wait for the check. I wait and I wish that Todd had taken me for meatloaf at Louisa's instead. I also wish that Todd was someone else entirely, someone I'd actually want a second date with.


Maybe I should stop dating for a while, I think. I keep getting disappointed. Maybe I need a hiatus.


The waitress flits over, dropping a smile and placing the check on the table, enclosed in a leather-bound folder that matches the menus. My heart ties itself into a knot but I look up at her, smile, and say thanks. She smiles back. Thank God.


I mentally brace myself before I open it.


$254.09.


I close it again, like there's a poisonous snake inside it, my heart beating way too fast. I thought it'd be expensive but not that expensive. Good God, was his steak plated with gold? Was my chicken encrusted with pearls and I didn't notice? What exactly about that wine was worth $125 anyway, and can I re-cork it and take the rest home with me for that price?


I drink the rest of my glass of wine, pour myself a few more ounces, and drink that too.


Just let him pay, I tell myself. This was all his idea.


Copyright: Roxie Noir


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