Beginning the republication of The Courtland Chronicles
A life of wealth and privilege doesn't equal happiness—just ask Eric Courtland. Growing up with a cold, unfeeling father and unstable mother has taught him exactly what he doesn't want out of life or love. The troubled young man prefers a solitary life and is content to keep it that way until a campus emergency saddles him with an unwanted roommate.
Popular, wholesome, straight Nick Thompson is far more temptation than Eric's prepared for, but Nick's warm, easygoing manner gradually cracks through Eric's prickly protective shell.
After Eric suffers a traumatic attack, their friendship gives way to an intense passion. Eric's no stranger to casual sex, but what he feels for Nick is something deeper, and more fragile.
Independent Eric doesn’t know the first thing about being in a relationship, much less with a lover who can’t even admit he’s gay. But conservative Nick can’t seem to find his way out of his own personal closet.
Rock, meet hard place.
Eric stepped inside his room and stopped short, frozen by the sight of someone else’s clothes strewn over the couch. What the hell? Had dorm administration assigned him a new room without telling him?
If so, they hadn’t bothered moving his furniture or changing the number on the door. He let his backpack slide to the floor, shrugging off his parka just as he registered the soft patter of water running in the bathroom.
Confusion quickly morphed into panic, but he held it in check while he tugged off his gloves and rummaged in the closet for his old baseball bat. With the hallways bustling with students returning after winter break, it’d apparently been far too easy for someone to slip in here unnoticed. Someone about six foot three and built like a brick wall, if the giant-sized jeans, boxers and T-shirts spilling out of an equally huge duffel bag were any indication. Common sense told him to call security, but to hell with that. He could take care of this jerk himself.
The bathroom door yawned half-open, curls of steam wafting out, the moist heat stinging Eric’s skin. He poked his head in just as the water shut off, the shower door swinging wide—
And out stepped a dripping-wet Greek god.
Speechless, Eric stood there staring, until he remembered he was supposed to be pissed. “What’re you doing in my room?”
The guy whipped a towel off the rail and around his waist, much to Eric’s relief. He was having a hard enough time keeping his eyes on the guy’s face. Something rang familiar about him, though Eric couldn’t quite place it. High cheekbones, a straight nose, lush lips and dark, wavy hair sat atop a muscular, well-defined athlete’s torso.
“You going to answer me?” Eric prompted sharply, holding up the bat.
“Or do I need to press the issue?”
“Jesus, put that thing down!” The guy fell back a step, raking a handful of dark curls off his forehead. “Look, I’m sorry I startled you, okay? I was assigned to this room this morning.”
Eric lowered the bat, raising his eyebrow. “You’re my roommate?”
“That’s what they told me down in the admin’s office.”
Not fucking likely. Still, Eric’s curiosity was piqued. How far did the guy plan to carry this little charade? “Prove it.”
Hands raised as if under arrest, the guy scooted carefully past him and into the living room. Eric followed, waiting as the half-naked giant dug in his bag, then shoved a crumpled sheet of paper under Eric’s nose. “Watt Hall, upperclassmen’s wing. Room 5D, right? That’s what it says on the door.”
Eric stared at the paper, the heat of budding rage inching slowly up his throat. “Don’t get too comfortable,” he snapped, ripping it out of the guy’s hand before heading for the door.
Bypassing the packed elevators, he barreled down the stairs two at a time until he reached the first floor. A line of bedraggled, pissed-off students stretched down the hall and around the corner, most of them still bundled in their winter coats, suitcases and backpacks piled at their feet. Gut tightening at the sight of so many people in a confined space, Eric ignored their protests long enough to elbow his way to the front of the line and into the dorm administrator’s office.
Mickey, the administrator in question, clutched a clipboard in his sweaty hands, frantically flipping pages as two frazzled coeds glared at him. He took one look at Eric and scribbled something on a piece of paper, handed it to the girls and hustled them out the door. “Five minute break,” he barked to the crowd, then closed the door and flipped the lock. Indignant cries went up, fists pounding angrily on the glass.
“Sorry, Eric, but I got a situation here,” Mickey said, pushing his glasses up his nose. “The pipes burst over at Ruggles Hall during the holidays. We didn’t find out till everyone started checking in this morning. I got over a hundred students I need to find places for.”
“Then it won’t be any more trouble to find another place for that guy you sent to my room.”
Mickey stared at him. “You arrogant rich prick. You’ve got no idea how many hoops I had to jump through to snag you that private room—”
“And for the amount of money I’ve been slipping you every month, I expect it to stay private.”
“You’d better be glad I haven’t sent another couple guys to sack out on your floor in sleeping bags. That’s what I have to do with everybody else, ’cause guess what? We don’t have enough rooms!”
Eric came that close to letting fly with a few choice words, but instead he clenched his teeth and counted to ten. Being told to suck it up rankled, even if he was on the wrong side of the argument. As a junior, he wasn’t supposed to have a room to himself. He and Mickey could both be in hot water if Mickey’s higher-ups found out.
“What about the gym?” he snapped.
“It filled up within the first hour, or I would’ve sent him over there already.”
A perfectly reasonable response, which didn’t make Eric’s slow burn go down any easier. “So how long’s this supposed to last? Two weeks? A month? All semester?”
“Who the hell knows? I’m just trying to put out fires.” Mickey eyed the throng on the other side of the door with a sigh. “Look, it’ll be at least a week or two till we find out what’s going on with Ruggles—”
“And what happens after that?”
“If they can’t fix it, they’ll probably offer everybody their rent back and send ’em home.”
“What if he doesn’t take it?”
“Then I’ll find him another place to crash, okay? But for now, you’re just gonna have to deal with the situation.”
“Fine,” Eric muttered, adding a silent thanks for nothing as Mickey opened the door to let him out, heart thrashing with panic as the crowd closed around him. He pushed and bulldozed, throwing elbows until he finally broke free, then bolted downstairs and out the front door.
He slumped against the building, turning up his jacket’s thick wool collar against the bitter January chill, sucking down fresh air until his lungs screamed from the cold. But he couldn’t go back inside—not yet, anyway. So he headed for the Greek deli across the street, ordered a coffee and sat down at a tiny corner table, stirring in a dollop of cream while he ruminated.
Mickey’s tirade had scorched the edge off Eric’s anger, though lingering irritation still needled him. Maybe he couldn’t get his unwelcome guest kicked out through official channels, but what if the guy decided to leave on his own?
Eric sipped his coffee, a slow grin spreading across his lips. He had a pretty good idea how to manage that.
- "As I never read the original story, this new version feels fresh and is well-written. It’s melodramatic yet earthy feeling in its emotions. There’s a definite ending with this story but also a sense of a beginning and I for one look forward to Eric and Nick’s journey!
- joder at Words of Wisdom from the Scarf Princess
- "I enjoyed this book and look forward to the further stories of this series, in the order things occur. Ms Grant is a skilled writer of emotions and builds characters who grow but need to mature and develop more even at the end of the book. It makes the reader care deeply for them and want them to be successful with each other and in life. This is a character-driven book with angsty plot turns that make the reader ache for the characters. … I’m eager to read the next book!"
Rating: 4 1/2 Sweet Peas!
- Mrs. Condit Reads Books