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You Don’t Know Me: A Stand Alone Romance by Faleena Hopkins (1)

Chapter One

Rue

Green is the color of money, so of course his eyes are green. That’s the first thing I thought when I opened my door and saw Jack Stone standing on the torn up welcome mat of my unglamorous North Hollywood apartment, wearing a form-fitting suit and undone tie, his sandy-brown hair skewed and hanging over his frowning forehead.

That and, he’s got a heat on.

That’s what my mom used to call blind stinking drunk, but he’s also hot-as-hell sexy and hot-as-hell pissed, so that’s heat times three. The weird thing is his fury seems to be directed at me; weird because we’ve never met. Ever. I only know who he is because everyone knows who he is. I know intimate details about him I shouldn’t know: he’s dated three girls in the last month who were all blondes, he likes dogs over cats, loves Bourbon over beer, and if anyone puts a mushroom in anything he’s eating, he’ll spit it out. I know these things because I read the gossip magazines to keep me occupied during my graveyard shift at the Supermarket. It’s something to do between ringing up booze for has-been rockstars from the ’80’s, and snacks for stoned teenagers who are unsuccessfully trying to buy booze. But I wouldn’t admit to reading such trash.

“How old are you?” the incredibly impressive Jack Stone growls, his angry stare ripping down my body. I glance down out of instinct, horrified to remember I’m wearing my ugly pair of sweats and a shirt that is a couple sizes too large. It’s comfy to sleep in, but I vow as of this moment to throw it away as soon as I figure out what the hell is going on.

“What?” I sound as confused as I am, plus I’m kicking myself for not putting on makeup before I opened the door. At least some lipstick or something. And I haven’t brushed my teeth either. But it’s only 8:00 a.m. so can you blame me?

“You’re Rue Calliwell, right?” I nod. His eyes narrow into sexy slits and he repeats in a low, guttural growl, “How old are you?”

I look past him, scanning the sidewalk to see if we’re on camera. This is a joke right? I meet his eyes, and answer, quietly, “Yesterday was my twenty-first birthday.”

For some inconceivable reason this inspires a slew of swear words to pour from his beautiful mouth, ending with, “FUCK! I can’t fucking believe this fucking shit.” And with that, he flips around and sways his way to the street, only once almost falling.

What is happening?!!

“Hey!” He doesn’t turn, so I try louder. “HEY!!!”

Oops. That sounded a little harsh.

He turns around. No, that’s not correct. He turns just his head around, those intense eyes of his peering at me like a vampire’s who was going to let you go, but then decided that no, you were doomed to die. “Did you just yell at me?”

Now I’m getting irritated. Why the attitude? “Excuse me, but you can’t wake me up and ask how old I am and then just walk off, swearing, without explanation. I don’t even know you! I mean, I know you, but you don’t know me. You know what I mean!”

Glowering, he takes a few crooked, long strides back and gets really close to my face. His eyelashes fall as he rakes his steady, judgmental gaze over me again, this time from the ground up.

I cross my arms, and gulp, standing a little straighter with my chin cocked out in defiance.

There’s something about him that inspires rebellious blood pumping in my veins. Something about the way he looks at me, like I’m beneath him or something. I may not be on the covers of magazines, but I’m no troll guarding a bridge, either!

Righteously, I hold his gaze, inhaling a small huff as his pale green eyes knife into mine to cut me down. He sneers, reaches up and touches my shoulder as if he has the right. I’m so shocked, I say nothing. He’s staring at his thumb as it swipes against the baggy cotton twice before retracting.

With him this close, I can see where his stubble has recently been shaved off. I can see his scar that slices into one eyebrow from the car accident he was in seven years ago when he was sixteen and almost drove off the cliff in Malibu. The whole world knows he almost died that day. When I totaled my car, the only people who knew about it were the guy I ran into, my mother, and my insurance company who danced in their swivel chairs as they hiked up my premium.

When Jack does something, it’s news.

I open my mouth to say something–ask why he’s here, how he knows my name, why he’s so perfect…but I seemed to have lost my ability to think straight. Unfortunately, I can still stick my foot in my mouth. “Are you about to kiss me?” I whisper, holding very still.

Like he’s won a battle I’d barely begun to understand I was in, he smirks, eyes lighting up with superiority. But the smirk is quickly replaced by a snarl as he says the weirdest thing I’ve ever heard. “My lawyer will be calling you.”

My jaw drops.

He flips around and exits in angry zigzags.

“Your lawyer?” He doesn’t answer. “Wait! What?!” I’m standing on my tiptoes like that will make the sound reach farther. But he doesn’t look back. One half of the Stone brothers disappears around the side of my apartment building. Did he walk here? And what the hell?

His lawyer will be calling me??!!