Excerpt Reveal: Roommate by Sarina Bowen
by Sarina Bowen
Release Date: January 11, 2021
Heart Eyes LGBTQ
An Excerpt from Roommate
Knuckles rap on the front windshield, and my heart crawls into my mouth.
“Hey, Roderick?” says a low voice. “You in there?”
I let out a gasp. Who’s this intruder who knows my name?
“Roderick,” he repeats. “Come on, man. Show me that you’re alive.”
I’m startled to realize that the voice belongs to Kieran Shipley.
“Dude.” He knocks again. “You’re in the back, right? Come on. It’s cold out here.”
“You’re cold?” I sputter, throwing off the sleeping bag. “Don’t let me inconvenience you.”
“Hey.” He tries the door handle, but of course it’s locked. “I wasn’t talking about me. I mean it’s too cold to sleep out here.”
Isn’t this just mortifying? “I’ll be fine. Move along now. There’s nothing to see here.”
I hear a loud thunk, and wonder for a moment if Kieran punched my car. But then I sit up and realize that sound was his forehead hitting the roof. His big farm-boy body has knocked the snow off one window, and is now bent into a defeated posture against my car.
“Get out,” he says. “Come on. Take this address, okay? I have an extra room to rent. And I have enough on my conscience already. If you croak out here, I will lose my shit.”
With a groan, I open the door and climb out, wrapping my stolen sleeping bag around me. “Let me get this straight. You want me to come home with you because it’ll help you sleep better.”
The moonlight reflects off the light carpet of snow. He blinks, his handsome brow wrinkled with tension. “Something like that. But you’ll sleep better, too, right? Win-win.”
“I don’t like owing people. You don’t even like me.”
“Don’t even know you,” he growls in that abrupt way that Kieran says so many things. He squints at me. “What’s wrong? Did something happen?”
“No! Nothing!” I bark, swatting at my face. I must look like I’ve been crying. I have never been more embarrassed than I am right now. “Go home, Kieran. You don’t want me for a roommate. You don’t even want me in the same area code.”
He flinches. “Wasn’t ever about you, though.”
“It never is,” I hiss, because I’m so tired of men who can’t sort out their shit. I was an excellent companion to Brian, who wanted me desperately about half the time and then couldn’t stand the sight of me the other half.
“Look, you should have just told one of us you were sleeping in your car.”
“It’s not your problem,” I argue.
Kieran blinks. “Doesn’t mean we wouldn’t care.”
And now I feel like a heel. “It’s embarrassing, okay? I didn’t plan on leaving Nashville as quickly as I did. And I drove up here hoping to crash at my parents’ place. But they shut the door in my face. It’s not the kind of story that’s fun to tell.”
His big eyebrows furrow. “Why’d they do that?”
“It’s the gay thing.” I make sure to keep eye contact while I say it, because I never let anyone know how much it bothers me. “They’re not into it.”
“Oh.” He sighs. “Parents are the worst.”
“Yeah.” An awkward silence falls between us. I shiver against the snow falling in my face.
“Here,” Kieran says. He pulls an old business card out of his pocket and hands it to me. It’s from a barbershop, but he’s scrawled an address on the back. “It’s the white house right on the Colebury green. You can’t miss it. I’ll leave the side door open. Take the downstairs bedroom. There’s nothing in it, but it’s heated.”
“You can’t leave your door unlocked.”
He rolls his eyes. “Better lock it after you come in, then.”
At that, he walks across the lot, climbs into a pickup that’s almost as old as my car, and drives away.
I let out a shout of frustration that dies quickly in the nighttime void and then get back in my car. There’s snow in my hair now. I sit for a moment, stubborn and shivering.
He probably hopes I won’t actually show up. He did his part, right? He gave me the option, so now he can feel okay about it.
Then again, he drove over here at eleven at night to offer me a room in his house.
I ponder my choices for a little while longer. I can either sit here feeling cold and miserable all night. Or I can go someplace I’m not wanted.
It’s really freaking cold in my car, so in the end, it’s an easy decision. I’m clinging to the bottom rung of my own life, and Kieran Shipley—Lord knows why—just offered me a hand up.
I’d be an idiot not to take it.
Even so, it takes me another half hour to get up the courage to drive into the center of town and pull into the driveway of a pretty white house right on the town green. I double and then triple check the address before I walk up to the side door and try the knob.
Wanted: One roommate to share a 3-bedroom house, split the rent, and ideally not be the guy I can’t stop thinking about.
I’m a man with too many secrets, so the last thing I need is a new roommate with a sexy smile and blue eyes that see right through me. Eight years ago, Roderick left town after high school. We’re not friends. I owe him nothing. But back then, I let one of my secrets slip, and he’s the only one who noticed.
Part of me knows I should run far, far away. But the other part wants him to come upstairs and spend the night. But if I let him in, I could lose everything.
* * *
Seeking: a room to rent in town. I’m tidy, have no pets, and I will feed you homemade bread.
I should probably add: Gay AF, and has no filter. It’s no wonder my new landlord is so wary of me.
A smarter man would ignore those hot glances from the broody lumberjack. He may want more from me than another fresh-baked pretzel. But if I push my luck, I’ll end up back on the street.
Too bad I’ve never been smart with my heart…
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About Sarina Bowen
Sarina Bowen is the award-winning author of more than thirty contemporary novels. She has hit the USA Today bestsellers list thirteen times and counting. Formerly a derivatives trader on Wall Street, Sarina holds a BA in economics from Yale University.
Sarina is a New Englander whose Vermont ancestors cut timber and farmed the north country since the 1760s. Sarina is grateful for the invention of indoor plumbing and wi-fi during the intervening 250 years. On a few wooded acres, she lives with her husband, two boys, and an ungodly amount of ski and hockey gear.
Sarina's books are published in a dozen languages on four continents.
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