Home > Knockout (Whiskey Dolls #2)

Knockout (Whiskey Dolls #2)
Author: Jessica Prince

 


1

 

 

Layla

 

 

There was no denying it, I lived a pretty blessed life. I had everything a girl could dream of, an incredible job, a fabulous apartment in a picture-perfect town, the most amazing friends, and a pretty steamy flirt going on with a guy on the floor above mine that I was almost positive was going to lead to something incredible when we both got past the fun of the chase and decided to take our banter to the next level.

In all that wonderful, there was only one glitch. A glitch in the form of a very tall, well-built, annoyingly attractive pain in my ass that easily managed to push my buttons on a regular basis and make me all kinds of stabby.

To say Jude Kingsley hadn’t made the best first impression would be like saying Hell was only a little hot, or that finding a gnat in your freshly-poured coffee was only a little annoying.

A huge freaking understatement.

Jude Kingsley was that gnat in my coffee. And I hated him with the burning passion of a thousand suns.

I met the man who was soon to become an ever-present pain in my ass four months earlier. It was the day I finally got to move into my new apartment, an apartment in a building that was so in demand the wait to get in felt like an eternity. I’d fallen in love with the model unit and its open, airy floor plan with tons of windows looking out across the mountains surrounding my town the moment I’d taken the virtual tour. I was on a waiting list for the better part of six months, impatiently counting down the days for a unit to become available, and when it finally did, I didn’t hesitate to write a nice, fat deposit check to secure it.

When moving day rolled around, I’d felt like I was floating on a cloud. Everything was coming up Layla, and because of that, nothing could rain on my parade. Or so I’d thought.

What would soon become a constant battle of wills and childish name-calling all started with a stolen parking spot.

I’d circled the block around my building for twenty minutes, trying to find a space close enough that the trek back and forth to unload the boxes from my car wouldn’t break my back, when a four-door sedan that had been taking up two spots right in front of the building’s front doors drove off, leaving the perfect opening for me to pull in.

“Yes.” I did a little dance in my seat and flipped on my blinker, prepared to slide my car right into place when, all of a sudden, the reverse lights on the big blue Jeep in front of me flashed on and the driver whipped the wheel around, executing the perfect parallel park into my spot. “What the hell?”

Inching forward, I hit the button to roll down my window as a wall of muscle pushed the Jeep’s door open and threw one motorcycle-boot-clad foot out onto the pavement. “Hey. Hey, excuse me!” I called out, waving my hand wildly to get the dude’s attention as I pulled up beside him. “Hi, hey. Sorry.” I plastered on my brightest, most charming smile. “I’m sorry, but I think you took my spot.”

The guy looked to his Jeep, then back at my car, and for the shortest moment I thought a sneer pulled at his lips when he gave my Mercedes a scan, but I figured it was just a shadow cast by the sunlight, because it was gone before I could be sure.

Sunglasses shielded his eyes from view, but I had the strangest feeling in my gut that the look he was giving me behind those shades wasn’t all that nice, which didn’t make sense at all. I didn’t know the guy from Adam, and the short interaction so far had been pleasant enough . . . even though he was a parking-spot-stealing shithead.

I knew I was right when he opened his mouth and replied, “Really? ’Cause my car’s in it, so I’m pretty sure that makes the spot mine.” To add insult to injury, he turned on the heel of his boot and sauntered carelessly toward the building like he had all the time in the world.

An instant dislike formed right then and there, a dislike that was firmly cemented later that day.

“Shit, shit, shit. Don’t fall, Layla. Do not fall.” I was race-waddling through the lobby toward the elevator with a box of dishes in my arms that weighed approximately eleventy billion pounds. I was worrying about giving myself a hernia while, at the same time, silently berating myself for thinking I was badass enough that I didn’t need to hire movers as I struggled to keep gravity from taking hold and sending all my dishes crashing to the ground.

From a distance, I could see the elevator doors were open, and people were loading in. It looked pretty full, but as I got closer, I noticed there was just enough space at the front for me and my box.

I let out a sigh of relief and was closing in on the elevator when I was suddenly shouldered out of the way by an unpleasantly familiar hunk of man in faded denim and cotton.

My jaw hit the floor just as the asshole who’d stolen my parking spot out front shoved his way into the elevator car and turned around to face me. “What the—Excuse you!”

“Sorry, princess,” he said with an arrogant smirk that had my palm itching to smack him right in the face. “Looks like you were too slow . . . again.”

“You son of a—” I started, but the doors slid shut before I could finish.

That was the start of a budding hate-ship that would grow out of control, like weeds choking a flowerbed. The months that followed carried petty little squabbles just like that. And it certainly didn’t help matters that he lived in the apartment directly above mine.

I would have liked to say I took the high road as often as possible, but that would have been a bold-faced lie. He’d stomp around upstairs, so loud it sounded like he had a heard of elephants living in his apartment, so I’d blast K-Pop music in retaliation. No, I wasn’t a fan, but Jude hated that shit, which made it totally worth it.

There was even one night, not too long after I moved in, when he’d brought a woman back to his apartment. I wasn’t sure if the sheetrock in the whole building was paper-thin, or if he’d intentionally made the effort of finding the most annoyingly loud woman in whatever dive bar he trolled, but the sounds of them having sex rang through my ceiling clear as a bell. The chick’s nasally pleas to God were enough to make my ears bleed, so I’d returned the favor by standing on my couch and beating at the ceiling with a broom handle for the entire length of it.

I hated to admit it, but the dude had stamina. The stupid jerk.

A few weeks after that, I went to see if a cute top I’d ordered online had been delivered to the mailroom, and I found the box in the trashcan next to all the mail boxes, covered in some slimy, sticky, disgusting green goop. I didn’t have proof, but I knew in my bones that Jude had been the culprit. To get back at him, I’d flirted up the building’s mailman, Gary, so that he’d turn a blind eye once a week, leaving Jude’s box open just long enough for me to stuff it full or porno mags and fliers for Russian escort services.

Had I spent far too much money on porn that didn’t appeal to me in the slightest, just so I could stick it to my nemesis? Sure. Did every gas station attendant in and around Grapevine now think I was into some pretty weird shit? Oh, without a doubt. But was it worth it? Hell yes. Every time he opened his box and those magazines and flyers came spilling out for everyone in the vicinity to see, I got a sick, tingly sense of sheer happiness.

Between the two of us, we’d racked up so many complaints—most of which we’d made against each other—that the people in the management office usually shot up from their chairs and ran to hide if they saw one of us coming. There was even one occasion where Nancy, the office manager, spotted me through the glass windows of the office and quickly locked the door and shut off the lights, like I wouldn’t know they were in there.

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