Dirty Laundry: The Q Collection, book four

Fuck, fuck, fuckity fuck. Who the fuck is this guy and what the fuck is he doing in my happy place?

"My name is Adam. I'm doing my washing, and yes, you said that out loud."

Shit. "Sorry," I say with as much enthusiasm as I can muster, which admittedly at two in the morning isn't a great deal. He quirks an eyebrow at me, shakes his head and goes back to reading his book.

Double shit.

Head down, cheeks blazing and lips zipped, I drag my laundry duffel to the rear of the laundromat and fill two washing machines with a week's worth of dirty clothes and not-so-dirty sheets. I think I wash the sheets more out of habit than anything. I mean, it's not like I'm doing anything to make them unclean. I have no love life to speak of. There's no baby gravy to wash off or sex sweat to soak out. Nope. Nary an orgasm to be had in my bed.

Unless you count foodgasms. And meat sweats. And food babies.

God, I love food.

Almost as much as I love my local laundromat.

I love that it stays open twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. I love that it has a coffee vending machine and, more to the point, the coffee doesn't taste like dirty mop water filtered through a sweaty jockstrap. I love the enormous pink neon sign that stretches across the window and fills the shop with its ethereal glow. And I love that I can rock up at some ungodly hour of the morning and know without a doubt that I'll have the whole place to myself until sunrise, when the rest of the world suddenly awakens and fills up with people far more interesting than me.

At least that's how it usually goes.

Usually. But not tonight, apparently. Tonight I have to share the place with Adam.

Heaving a sigh, I set the machines to wash, then glance over at my interloper and his book. He's completely engrossed in whatever he's reading, not paying a lick of attention to me—not that anyone ever does—so I take a moment to soak up the sights.

Hey, if I have to share my happy place with the man, I may as well check him out.

Neatly trimmed brown hair and a clean-shaven face give him a well-groomed look, but a strong jaw, firm lips and a nose that looks like it's been broken more than once make him appear more rugged than pretty. His plain blue T-shirt hides his body, but the nicely sculptured biceps revealed by the short sleeves hint at a lean yet strong physique. His long legs are stretched out before him and crossed at the ankles, his jeans stretched taut by thighs thick with muscle.

He's yummy. He's dreamy. He's… the total opposite of every guy I've ever dated.

Let's face it, statistically speaking plain Janes like me don't end up with men like, well, him. I mean, this guy looks like he exists on a diet of protein shakes and power bars and probably spends every available minute in the gym.

He's every jock in high school who made fun of my shapeless figure, every colleague who passed me over at the office Christmas party because my reputation for being a frigid bitch was apparently set in concrete.

In other words, he looks like a total dick.

Still, as dicks go, he is handsome, and it's not likely he'll talk to me, absorbed in his book as he is.

Maybe this won't be such a chore after all.

With his face still buried in his book, I chance another look at those rock-hard thighs, sink my teeth into my bottom lip and imagine straddling—

"Are you going to stare at me all night?"

Shooting my gaze back to his face, I say, "What makes you think I'm staring at you?"

Watching me over the top of his book, he replies, "Baby, you ain't exactly subtle."

I cock a brow at the infantile nickname. "Baby? Do I look like a baby to you?"

Setting his book down on one solid thigh, his finger wedged between the pages to hold his place, he slowly peruses my body. I anchor my hands on my narrow hips and lift my chin, trying to ignore the sensual way his dark eyes roam over me.

And failing miserably.

My stomach flutters and my cheeks heat. The way he's watching me, I can almost feel his hands sliding under my clothes, over my skin, between my legs…. And I find myself trying not to remember the last time someone looked at me for so long without speaking. Gritting my teeth, I wait for the inevitable criticism.

Too tall, too thin, too boyish.

The usual complaints.

But after another lengthy moment of silently staring at each other, his lips lift at the corners in the slightest of grins. "No, ma'am. You look all grown up to me."

Wait. What?

No jokes about the itty-bitty titty committee? No backhanded compliments about my weight? No inappropriate eating disorder comments?


Relieved and a little confused, I pull my shoulders back, narrow my gaze. "Then can you quit it with the 'baby' thing?"

He nods in deference and goes back to reading his book. "Sure thing."

"Thank you."


I clench my jaw and glare at him, watch his grin broaden. I mutter under my breath, "Ass."

"Or you could just tell me your name," he says, then flicks over the page.

Obviously. I could do that. Or I could lie. "My name is Eve."

Adam puts his book down again and quirks an eyebrow. "Is this the part where I make a joke about you playing with my snake?"

A burst of laughter escapes me. "Very funny."

"I thought so."

I put my duffel on a chair and walk over to the coffee machine. "Can I buy you a cup of coffee? An apology for swearing at you earlier."

His deep voice is mired in wariness. "Vending machine coffee?"


"Hey, don't knock it ’til you try it."

His lips twist, and for a moment I think he'll refuse, but then he says, "Black. One sugar."

Two minutes later, I hand him his coffee and take a sip of my own. "You know, research suggests that people who take their coffee black are psychopaths."

He watches me over the rim of his cup, the harsh glow of the fluorescent light above us reflecting off his dark green eyes. "The same could be said about people who do their laundry in the middle of the night."

"And here you're doing both..."

Mind the gap