The boy next door, p.1
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       The Boy Next Door, p.1

           Melinda Dozier
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The Boy Next Door

  The Boy Next Door

  by Melinda Dozier

  Copyright 2017 Melinda Dozier

  Thank you for downloading this ebook. This book remains the copyrighted property of the author, and may not be redistributed to others for commercial or non-commercial purposes. If you enjoyed this book, please encourage your friends to download their own copy from their favorite authorized retailer. Thank you for your support.

  Table of Contents

  Chapter One

  Chapter Two

  Chapter Three

  Chapter Four

  Time Changes Everything Preview

  About Melinda Dozier

  Chapter One

  With four words, Gabe ruined Amanda Larson’s teenage life. I’m not taking you.

  The night was expected to be the event of the year. Dresses bought months in advance, hair salons booked solid and reservations made at fancy restaurants. Everyone had big plans.

  Everyone except Amanda, who had the biggest blow to her life -- so far. It was her senior year homecoming dance, and her date, Gabe, had just informed her that he wanted to go with his buddies instead. The dance began in an hour and now...

  She’d only dated Gabe for a month, and knew the relationship-- if you could call it that--wasn’t working out. But, she couldn’t break it off with the dance around the corner. Other dating prospects were null, so she’d dealt with Gabe. Then this happened.

  Amanda, still dressed in her formal baby-blue gown, sat on her porch swing. Her slender body was bent forward with her feet curled under her legs. Amanda’s light brown hair was swept up in a bun with tears soaked curls plastered to her face. She sighed and wiped her cheeks, thinking she could call Shannon, and tag along on her date, but what kind of best friend wanted that?

  What would everyone think at school? How could she face Gabe on Monday? She wasn’t really interested in him, but now that she didn’t have a date, she’d miss the entire celebration. The dinner, the dance, and the party at Shannon’s house afterward.

  When she told her parents, her mom planned to call around and fix her up with someone at the last minute. Another plan by her mother to save the day. Amanda refused. She didn’t want to end up at the dance with a date who didn’t want her and she didn’t want her mother deciding what was best for her. The last thing she needed was sympathy from her parents. She ended up in a yelling match, which made things worse, and she slammed the front door in her mother’s face.

  Now, she sat on the porch swing, lost in thought. She had no idea what to do. She wasn’t about to miss her senior Homecoming dance. If she had to, she’d go alone, but that would be humiliating.

  Amanda lifted her head toward the moon shining through the sycamore trees in the front yard. She closed her eyes and thought about her options, which were close to none. When she opened her eyes, she heard footfalls in the yard.

  She glanced around, hoping Gabe had changed his mind, and saw Jake.

  Jake Edwards had been her next-door neighbor for over ten years. They grew up together climbing trees, looking for lizards, and swimming in the pond. As time passed, they spent more time together -- going to parties, hanging out at the lake, and laughing at each other’s jokes. Last year, Amanda would’ve considered Jake one of her best friends, although she wondered if he would feel the same. But there came a point where everything changed. One day she discovered a charming man, instead of that jokester jock from next door. With every touch, every look, she imagined him as more than a friend.

  In fact, she’d been infatuated with Jake ever since he left home for college. To be honest, she’d been fascinated with him ever since she started high school. Now, he’d been away for almost four months and she missed him like crazy.

  “Hey, Squirt.” He stood in front of the porch with his hands in his jean pockets. Dark bangs fell on his forehead and his tight t-shirt hung perfectly across his chest.

  Looking at his half-smile, a ping settled low in her belly. She missed him -- their walks home after school, his intense stares when she told him about her latest boyfriend, the early morning runs and his wisecracks at family dinners. Now he was back from college for the football game. As the school’s quarterback the year before, it was his job to crown the Homecoming King for the new year.

  Sighing, she tugged at the hair in her face and slipped it behind her ear. Amanda wanted to see him, but not when she looked like the Wicked Witch of the West. He would make some joke about Gabe, who he never liked, and she wasn’t up for comedy at the moment. She looked away and bit her lip.

  “Mandy?” Jake walked up the porch steps and sat next to her. His tall frame seated next to Amanda’s sulking one made him look huge, although he was only a few inches taller than her. He leaned forward so he could see her face.

  “Gabe called it quits.” Amanda crossed her arms across the tight bodice of her dress. “He’s going to the dance with his friends, instead.”

  Jake narrowed his blue eyes and squinted. “Wait a minute. He left you here stranded?”

  Amanda fought the urge to melt into complete mush as she gazed into his blue eyes. “Yeah, but it really isn’t a big deal. I just-”

  Jake stood, his fists tight at his side. “I'll kill him.” He walked to the stairs as if he would actually search out Gabe. Stopping at the top step, he muttered under his breath, looked at Amanda and strode back to the swing. “Hey.” He rubbed his chin in thought, then spoke with a softer voice, “You're right, Mandy. It's no big deal. He’s no big deal.” He grabbed her hand and squeezed.

  “Hmph.” Mandy rested her head on Jake’s shoulder. Her veins hummed with pleasure at the feel of his arm around her. She almost wished they could just sit together on the swing the entire night. Talk about a Homecoming never to forget. Her and Jake - nothing else. To hell with the dance.

  He laid his head against the back of the swing and tightened his lips. “What pisses me off is there were tons of guys who wanted to ask you out. But, since Gabe already had you, they couldn’t.”

  “Oh yeah? Like who?” She rolled her head towards him, moving a strand of hair away from her neck.

  “When I talked to Tom last weekend on the phone, he told me he wanted to take you out, among others.” He lifted a single eyebrow, waiting for her response.

  “Oh, woopty doo, Tom the Worm.” She laughed a little. “It's okay, really. I just didn’t want to miss the fun, you know? It’s my last Homecoming. I didn’t even care about Gabe.”

  “Gabe makes the guys on Jackass look like Einstein.”

  She didn’t feel like laughing.

  He smiled at Amanda. “Well, you sure do look beautiful.” His blue eyes glimmered with something she had never seen before.

  If she moved mere inches, their lips would touch. What would he do if she did? She stayed awake so many nights wondering what his kisses would be like. So many times, she watched him kiss other girls. She licked her lips just thinking about it, then looked away. Amanda sighed. His interest in her only added up to a good friend. That was it.

  She attempted to smile. “Thanks, Jake”

  Jake leaped up , causing the swing to sway, and startling Amanda. “I have a brilliant idea.” He held the swing still by the chains hanging from the ceiling and leaned into Amanda’s personal space. A slow smile spread across his face. “I'll take you.”

  Amanda couldn’t believe his words. “What?”

  “Yeah. I have my old tux next door somewhere. Besides, I’m going anyway. I have to give away the King’s crown. Having a stunning date would be a bonus.” He pushed her foot softly with his own. “Come on. Will you be my date tonight?”

  Be Jake’s date? The most sought after senior from last year. You bet! She had to play it cool. “Well, I g
uess so.”

  “Great. I'll be back in about 30 minutes. I have to shower and find that tux.” He pulled Amanda up from the swing and into a quick hug, causing the butterflies in her stomach to summersault. “Get ready, Mandy. You’re about to have the time of your life.”

  Jake hurried next door to his house. She waited for him to go inside before she said a small thank you to the angels above. When she turned around, her mom had the door open. She had a big grin and a told-you so look on her face.

  Amanda rolled her eyes and pushed her mom back inside. “Stop it, mom. We’re just friends.”

  But on the inside, a flutter fell across Amanda’s belly. For the one-billionth time, she wished they could be more than friends. Maybe this night could be something different. Maybe she’d build the best memories with the boy next door.

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