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Mistake

My Favourite

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First Published 2012 First Australian Paperback Edition 2013 ISBN 978 174356483 7 MY FAVOURITE MISTAKE 2012 by Chelsea M.Cameron Philippine Copyright 2012 Australian Copyright 2012 New Zealand Copyright 2012 Except for use in any review, the reproduction or utilisation of this work in whole or in part in any form by any electronic, mechanical or other means, now known or hereafter invented, including xerography, photocopying and recording, or in any information storage or retrieval system, is forbidden without the permission of the publisher, Harlequin Mira, Locked Bag 7002, Chatswood D.C. N.S.W., Australia 2067. This book is sold subject to the condition that shall not, by way of trade or otherwise, be lent, resold, hired out or otherwise circulated without the prior consent of the publisher in any form of binding or cover other than that in which it is published and without a similar condition including this condition being imposed on the subsequent purchaser. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. This edition is published in arrangement with Harlequin Books S.A.. This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either the product of the authors imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental. Published by Harlequin Mira An imprint of Harlequin Enterprises (Aust) Pty Ltd. Level 4, 132 Arthur Street NORTH SYDNEY NSW 2060 imprint landscape white 12mm high AUSTRALIA and TM are trademarks of Harlequin Enterprises Limited or its corporate affiliates. Trademarks indicated with are registered in Australia, New Zealand, the United States Patent & Trademark Office and in other countries. Printed and bound in Australia by Griffin Press

CHAPTER

The first time I met Hunter Zaccadelli, I punched him in the face. Granted, he completely and totally deserved it. He also asked for it, in so many ways. When our fourth roommate bailed on us three days before school, Darah, Renee and I assumed housing would take care of it and shove some poor unfortunate in with us. Probably some poor girl who had decided to switch colleges at the last minute to follow a boyfriend, or someone who had their apartment plans fall through. We werent sure what to expect, but come move-in day, I did not expect who was waiting outside when I opened the door. I knew the upperclass housing was coed, but never in my wildest and craziest dreams did I think it would actually happen to us. Instead of a desperate and frazzled girl, he showed up with a footlocker, a backpack and a guitar. It was so beyond clich that I didnt say anything for the full three seconds it took for me to assess him. Dark hair buzzed so short his head was almost shaved, purposeful five oclock shadow, piercing blue eyes and at least a foot on my five feet. And a cocky smile to top

CHELSEA M. CAMERON

it all off. He might as well have had Trouble tattooed on his forehead. Speaking of ink, I could just make out some on his arm, but I couldnt see what it said. His thin T-shirt hugged his chest in a way that didnt leave much to the imagination. Maybe hed borrowed it from his little brother. Are you Darah, Renee or Taylor? You look like a Taylor to me, he said, looking me up and down. I wasnt at my best, considering I was dressed for moving heavy objects in a blue UMaine T-shirt and black soccer shorts, and I had my light brown hair in a haphazard bun against the back of my neck. His eyes raked up and down twice, and for some reason the way he assessed me made me blush and want to kick him in the balls at the same time. There must be a mistake, I said. He adjusted his bag on his shoulder. Thats a creative name. What do you shorten it to? Missy? Thats not what I meant. His grin somehow got wider. Either his dad was a dentist, or he was really into f lossing because those teeth were pretty perfect. I noticed things like that, having gone through my own dental saga between three years of braces and night headgear. I still had to wear a retainer every night. Is that her? Darah called from her room, where she was arranging her photo frames so they were exactly level. She was neurotic like that. Im Hunter, by the way. Hunter Zaccadelli. Of course his name was Hunter. The only Hunter Id ever known had been a complete douche. Looked like this guy was going to carry on the tradition. He pointed to his footlocker. So, should I bring my stuff in or? My brain wouldnt stop misfiring.

MY FAVOuRITE MISTAKE

Whos that? Darah finally emerged. Our other roommate, Renee, was still unloading stuff from her car. New roommate, hey, he said. Youre the new roommate? Her eyebrows migrated so they were nearly hidden under her dark bangs. She gave him the same up and down as I did, but he didnt do the same to her. He was still looking at me. Yeah, my housing plans fell through at the last minute. My cousin was going to let me live at his place, but that didnt work out, so here I am. Do you mind if I come in now? You cant live here, I said, crossing my arms. Why? This is a coed living facility, last time I checked. He f lashed his grin again and shouldered his way into the room, completely ignoring me as his chest brushed mine, and I got a whiff of cologne. It wasnt that cheap crap that punches you in the nose. It was spicier, almost like cinnamon. I stood my ground, but he had height and weight on me. But I had surprise on my side. Well, its better than sleeping on my cousins couch, he said, plunking his bag on the f loor and surveying the room. The suites were small, with a kitchen and tiny nook for a dining table on one side and a tiny living room for an apartment-size couch and a recliner on the other. The bedrooms were the worst, with two lofted beds crammed perpendicular to each other along the wall, the desks crammed underneath, and room for only two small closets. Can I see some identification? Darah said, propping her hands on her hips. How do we know youre not some random creep? Do I look like some random creep? He spread his arms out, and I finally saw what the tattoo on his left biceps was.

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A number seven in curling intricate script. My eyes moved up to his face. How are we supposed to know? Darah moved closer to him, using her stature. They were almost the same height. Look, all I know is that I submitted an application and they sent me an email with a room number and your names. Here, I printed it out. Do you treat all your guests like criminals? He drew out a many-times-folded sheet of paper and handed it to Darah. She glanced at it, sighed and handed it to me. Why wouldnt they have notified us? I said once Id read it. There it was in black-and-white. Who knows? Darah said, still eyeing him warily. Oh my God, I swear Im never moving again, Renee said from the top of the stairs, her arms full of boxes and two bags dangling from her arms. Who left their crap in the hallway? She stepped over the footlocker and guitar case, giving them a look of disgust. Has our new roommate showed upoh, hello. Her voice changed from irritated and dry to sweet and sugary the second she saw Hunter. Im guessing thats your guitar in the hallway. She dropped her stuff and proceeded to pop her hip out and lean to one side. Oh, please. This, I said, pointing to Hunter, is our new roommate, according to housing. No way. Renees eyes got wide in her tiny face. Renee looked like a blond-haired, blue-eyed china doll you plucked off a shelf and put in a Victorias Secret tank top. Are you shitting me? What a reception, Hunter said. Shut up, I said. He just smiled again. God, I wanted to smack that smile right off his face. I should probably get my junk out of the hall, he said,

MY FAVOuRITE MISTAKE

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going and picking up the footlocker as if it weighed nothing more than a shoebox. Show-off. Hunter had to navigate boxes and random pillows and crap that littered the rooms, which he did with grace. He found a spot and set the footlocker down, looking at us. So, who am I sleeping with? he said, leaning against the door to my bedroom. The agreement had been that since Darah and Renee had already been roommates last year, and I was joining their little group, that the new girl would live with me. But that was so not happening now that the new girl wasnt a girl. Did you seriously just say that? I said. At the same time Darah said, The only free bed is in Taylors room. There is no way hes staying with me, I snapped, readjusting my arms so they covered my boobs better. Hed been staring at my chest since hed made the sleeping-with comment. Not that I had much of one to speak of, but that didnt stop his eyes from traveling there. No, were calling housing right now and straightening this out, I said, pulling out my cell phone. Tay, theyre not open on Monday, Renee said. I dont care. There must be someone there. Its move-in day. I grabbed the campus phone book that had been on the doormat when wed gotten there that morning and thumbed through it until I found the number for housing. Aw, cmon, Missy, you dont want to live with me? Who did this guy think he was? Id known him all of ten minutes and hed already given me a nickname and propositioned me. Call me that one more time I didnt finish as I furiously

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typed in the number. Darah and Renee whispered to Hunter, but not quiet enough so I couldnt hear them. Its best to let her go when she gets like this, Renee hissed. I wouldnt mess with her, he said as I listened to another ring. Finally, a message picked up, telling me what the hours were and giving me some extensions I could try. I punched in the first one. No answer, but a message machine picked up. I left a short message, explaining the situation in the most urgent of terms, and then called back the original number. I didnt stop until Id left messages for all five of the contacts on the housing voice mail list. I slammed my phone down on the counter. Feel better? Hunter said. No. I chucked the phone book on the couch. Darah and Renee were looking at me like they were worried I was going to explode. I was on the verge. If you were a gentleman, youd offer to sleep on the couch, I snapped. Well, Missy, youll come to find out that Im not a gentleman. I plan to take full advantage of this situation. My mouth dropped open in shock. No guy had ever talked to me that way. Is it hot in here? I think Ill open the window, Renee said, scurrying over to our one window, located at one end of the couch. Darah looked at me and then Hunter and back. Well, theres nothing we can do right now. Lets get his stuff in, and then maybe we can go down and see if anyone is at housing, she said. Darah was always the peacemaker. Sounds good to me, Hunter said, walking right into my bedroom as if he owned the place. I cant believe this is happening, I said, closing my eyes.

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I heard Back in Black by AC/DC coming from my room. Hunters ringtone. Hey, man. No, I just got here. Room 203. Yeah, that would be great He nudged the door shut, and I glanced at Renee and Darah. I didnt think we were going to have to do this so early, but I think we need a roommate meeting, I said. Wed agreed that we would have weekly roommate meetings to air our grievances. I was all for getting that shit out in the open so we didnt end up hating each other. Id had a horrible roommate last year, and I didnt want to deal with that again. I listened, but it sounded like Hunter was still on the phone. I could hear him rummaging and prayed he wouldnt break anything. Then I would kill him. I dont see what the big deal is, Renee said. I mean, it would be the same if one of us had a boyfriend staying over. Paul stayed over all the time when Darah and I lived here last year. But that was because you were sleeping with him, I said. Maybe Ill sleep with Hunter, she shot back. Renee had broken up with Paul extremely recently and was on the prowl for a rebound. We all knew she and Paul were meant to be and that they would eventually realize that, but Renee was still in the anger stage. Are you uncomfortable with staying with him, Taylor? Its okay if you are, Darah said. I cant imagine why I would be uncomfortable about sharing an extremely small room with a guy Ive known all of a half hour who keeps making creepy comments. Cant imagine why Id have a problem with that. If you want, Renee and I can switch. Ill stay with him, and Renee can stay with you, Darah said.

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Why cant he stay with me? Renee whined. Because youll rape him in his sleep, I said. You cant rape the willing, Tay, she said, winking. Youre disgusting. How about we draw straws? Darah said. Do we even have straws? Renee said. How about we do numbers or something? Here, she said, grabbing a UMaine notepad that someone had left on the kitchen counter, along with a pen. Ill write our names down and well put it in She grabbed the baseball cap Id discarded earlier. And Hunter will pick. There you go. Problem solved. My door opened and Hunter emerged, another grin on his face. You werent talking about me, were you? Like he didnt know. I rolled my eyes as Renee wrote each of our names on little bits of paper and tossed them in my hat. She put her hand over the top and shook it up. Pick one, she said, shoving the hat in his face. Okay, he said, sticking his hand in and pulling out a folded slip of paper. Renee slowly unfolded it. We all waited as she paused dramatically. Taylor, she said, turning it around so we could all read my name in black-and-white. Shit, I said.

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