The Dream Guy Next Door (The Guys Who Got Away #1) by Lauren Blakely



“Earmuffs,” I tell Wednesday.

Cue my daughter’s second eye roll of the day. “It’s nothing I don’t hear all the time, Mom.”

“Even so, you don’t need to know about the olive scale.”

With a third roll of her green irises, my daughter hands me her cup and covers her ears.

Betty’s expression is staunchly serious as she dives into a topic worth drowning her perfect grass for. “We are talking full kalamata here. You know what I mean?” She deals me several girl, we’re in this together nods.

I fasten on a smile, strapping in for the Naughty Betty ride. “You mean you wanted to sink your teeth into him?” I’ve heard her scale many times, especially over the last month, since every time I’ve seen her, she asks if I’ve met the man yet.

“Oh, yes,” she says, adopting a deep Barry White bedroom baritone. “Sink them right into his tush.”

Hold on a hot second. “How did you see his tush if he was driving?”

She laughs, shaking her head, all very Silly child, Trix are for kids. “You don’t have to see something to believe in it,” she says. “And I believe in your new neighbor’s yummy butt.” Putting up her hand, she forestalls a reply I wasn’t going to make. “But this isn’t about me. This is for my youngest daughter, Missy. She’s single again, and well, you know how it goes here. Something in the water causes a disproportionate number of women to spring from our wombs.”

“That is true,” I agree. It’s our town’s greatest gift and greatest mystery. We are blessed by a fertility goddess, only she seems a helluva lot more fond of girl babies than of boys.

No one quite understands the Athena phenomenon, but we all understand the effects. Duck Falls counts more female-owned businesses than most towns, more women than most towns, and more women in need of a man-bang than most towns.

Might as well call it Fuck Falls.

There you have it—the reason that new men in town, be they passersby or residents, receive such avid interest.

Or crazed, horny, give-it-to-me-now interest, I suppose.

Betty continues her man-quisition. “Have you seen him yet? Can you verify if it’s true?”

“His biteable tush? That would be nice to know, but I haven’t seen it.”

“So you haven’t met your new neighbor? Are you sure? As in absolutely positive?” The skepticism is strong in this one.

“Scout’s honor.” I hold up two fingers, then I tap my daughter’s hands, signaling that she can remove the earmuffs.

“I heard every word,” she says dryly, and turns to our neighbor. “Do you want me to text you an update on the olive scale later?”

Betty stares at my kid like she’s given her the secret to having a flat belly while eating cake daily. “Yes. Would you do that?” she asks, glomming on to this idea.

I clamp a hand onto Wednesday’s shoulder. “She won’t be issuing olive-scale reports.”

“But maybe consider it,” says Betty. “And maybe let me know before you tell the others? I want to line up Missy before anyone else can grab the olive.” She mimes squeezing melons with her hands.

“I’ve always got my eyes open for Missy. She’s a hoot, and one of my favorite board game partners.”

“And we’ll make sure no one else gets the olive but Missy,” Wednesday cuts in. I dig my claws into her shoulder, letting her know she’s in big trouble now for egging Betty on.

“We—” I begin to express how much that’s not going to happen, but Wednesday interjects again.

“Maybe we can discuss it when my mom fixes those spice racks for you?”

Ohhhhhh.

Oh, yes. I see now.

My child is an evil genius.

“They’re still not closing properly, right?” Wednesday asks, tilting her head with innocent curiosity as she closes the deal.

Betty seems to like this win-win idea too. Her smile spreads. “They aren’t. So frustrating.” Turning to me, she asks, “Can you fix my spice rack later? And there’s no need for another on-the-house job. I’ll pay you.”

“Sure. I have some time this afternoon to work on it.”

“Great. I’ll bake a coffee cake, and we can catch up while you work.”

“Sounds like a plan,” I say.

“Olives and coffee cake,” Wednesday adds.

“Spice racks and coffee cake,” I correct.