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Perfect Chaperone (The Next Door Daddies Series Book 1), page 1

 

Perfect Chaperone (The Next Door Daddies Series Book 1)
 


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Perfect Chaperone (The Next Door Daddies Series Book 1)


  Perfect Chaperone

  The Next Door Daddies Series (Book 1)

  Lauren Wood

  Copyright © 2019 by Lauren Wood

  All rights reserved.

  No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without written permission from the author, except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.

  Contents

  1. Heather

  2. Heather

  3. Casper

  4. Heather

  5. Casper

  6. Heather

  7. Casper

  8. Heather

  9. Casper

  10. Heather

  11. Casper

  12. Heather

  13. Casper

  14. Heather

  15. Casper

  16. Heather

  17. Casper

  18. Heather

  19. Casper

  20. Heather

  Epilogue

  Brother’s Billionaire Best Friend (Excerpt)

  Also by Lauren Wood

  About the Author

  Blurb

  My new boss is also my accidental husband.

  A week-long girls’-trip before my new job starts. How can I say no?

  It’s just a week. What could go wrong?

  Short answer:

  Everything.

  Add in a bad boy next-door neighbor I had a crush on as a chaperone, too many shots, and you have chaos.

  Casper knew my weakness and used it to his advantage.

  All night long.

  Then come regrets.

  Accidental marriage.

  And a ring to prove it, with a piece of paper the next morning.

  It gets worse.

  He’s also my boss now.

  But what will he think when he finds out about our secret baby?

  ***

  1

  Heather

  I had just gotten the call that was going to change my life forever. I was almost six months out of college and things had been looking lean. I put in my application with Razor Industries right when I got out of school. They were the biggest software company in the area, and it was right down my alley.

  They never called though. Months went by, and I started sending resumes further and further away. I wanted to stay close and help my mom out as she got older, but the only job I could find was a hundred miles away in Chicago. I wanted to do something else, but I finally gave up on the idea of finding something close.

  A week before I was supposed to leave, Razor Industries’ HR department called me out of the blue. I had an interview later in the day, and now I started there in a week. It was everything that I wanted and more. I was so excited and of course, the first person I wanted to tell was Ellie. She was my best friend, and we’d really thought that we were going to have to see each other far less.

  Ellie just got back from her honeymoon with her new husband. They seemed to be pretty happy, so it wasn’t like she would have been able to come with me. Now she didn’t have to and instead of going home, I went to her house first. I knew that there would be coffee and congratulations waiting for me.

  When I got there, I heard fighting when I walked up, and I was a little surprised by the volume. I had never heard Ellie and Michael argue, so it was strange to hear it now. It threw me off so much, I didn’t know what to do. I just kind of stood there with indecision. Was I supposed to knock? I didn’t want to interrupt something. Maybe I should call…

  I was about to turn around and go to my car and get my phone. Maybe a text would help me gauge if I should say I’m here. But then the door opened, and Michael came out. He was red-faced and something was going on. He made a scoffing sound and told me that I needed to talk to Ellie.

  “She has lost her mind, Heather. I just can’t…”

  He stormed off and got in his car. I had never seen him so mad. He was an All-American boy, blonde hair, blue eyes, and I don’t think I’d ever seen him upset before. It was rather strange to see him in that way. I wanted to know what was going on, so I went in the house and found my friend crying.

  “What’s going on?”

  “That stupid jerk. He thinks he can control me, but he can’t. Just because we’re married doesn’t mean that he gets to tell me what to do!”

  It didn’t make sense. I had never thought of Michael that way before.

  “What is he trying to make you do?”

  “Have kids.”

  I stopped and kind of sighed. I knew how Ellie felt about it, and I figured that it would come up.

  “He didn’t know how you felt?”

  “Well, we talked about it. But he told me that he thought I would change my mind when we got married. I haven’t and now he’s mad. I don’t know if we’re going to make it.”

  I gave her a hug and told her that everything was going to be okay.

  “I don’t know if it will. Not this time.”

  We talked for a bit and I was finally able to share my own news. I had forgotten about it for a time, but I was glad I said something. Finding out that I was going to be staying seemed to perk her right up, and I was thankful for that.

  “We have to do something to celebrate you not leaving.”

  She had that look in her eyes and it made me nervous, if I was honest with myself. Every time I turned around, Ellie was dragging me off on an adventure, and we usually got in trouble.

  “Let’s see if Midge and Dottie want to go. I think it’s time we have a trip.”

  “Where do you want to go?”

  I was worried about the destination because Ellie could be a bit much sometimes. I thought that marriage was going to slow her down, but I was learning quickly that it would not do that at all. I should have known better honestly.

  “Vegas.”

  “No, not even talking about that.”

  “I can see it now. We would be drunk, lose one of our friends, and end up spending the time trying to figure out what we did.”

  “That’s a movie, Heather. It’s going to be fine. You never want to let loose. You’re going to be working all the time soon, so why not get out and have some fun first?”

  I was a little unsure if I wanted to go. I loved Ellie and the rest of our circle, but they got me in trouble, a lot. I had more messed up situations to get out of because of Ellie, then anything else.

  “I will think about it. When do you want to go? I start in a week and it would take a couple of days to get there if we drove.”

  “We’re going to fly. Casper’s mom can get us a good deal on tickets. It will be fun.”

  I paused when I heard his name. Casper was my neighbor, or at least his parents still were. I don’t know where he lived now, but I saw him all the time at his mom’s. He had to be pretty local, but I didn’t know where.

  “I don’t want you getting them through his mom.”

  “You have to let it go. How long has it been since you had a crush on him?”

  I said it had been a while, but I still had warm thoughts flow through me when I thought about him. He was one of those guys that every girl dreamed of, and it was hard not to fall for him as well. He was the kind of man that I had been attracted to as long as I could remember. I wanted him, truly I did, but my parents would never go for it. My mother, in particular, had always been clear how she felt about him. He had tattoos, drove a Harley, so obviously he was bad news, and I was told to stay away from him. Even now, at twenty-three, she would catch me looking his way and she would make a comment about it.

  “Well, it’s settled. I will ta
lk to Casper and see about tickets. You’re going and that’s that.”

  I didn’t have a choice it felt like. I wanted to believe I did, but I don’t think I really did.

  “Heather. It’ll be fun.”

  I sure hope that’s true. However, I felt like this fun we were going to have should be more specific. My kind of fun and Ellie’s sort were two very different things.

  “Fine, but I have to be back by Monday. I can’t be late for my first day. Then it would all be for nothing.”

  Ellie agreed with me, but she was already miles away in Vegas. I didn’t think it would end well. A lot could happen and all I could think about, was how badly it could all go. I wanted to celebrate with my friends, but Vegas? It had a reputation, and Ellie didn’t need a reason to let loose.

  2

  Heather

  I went back home, not sure how to feel about everything. I told mom about the new job, and she wasn’t as thrilled as I was. I knew that she wasn’t going to be happy about it.

  “Why do you insist on doing things the hard way, Heather?”

  I sighed. I wished there was some way to get out of this.

  “What do you mean, mom?”

  I had a bored sound to my voice and her dark eyes flashed. I knew her well, and I was pissing her off. It was that simple and there wasn’t much that I could do about it. Not really.

  “You need a husband, not a job. I don’t know why you worry yourself with college and working. Find a man, a rich man, and you will never want for anything.”

  She was telling me from experience. It was never a mystery why she had married my dad. He was about thirteen years older than her, and he had a lot of money. That was what Nancy required.

  “We have talked about this a lot, mom. It's a new world, and you don't have to marry a man with money to have a good life. I can make my own money.”

  “Just the fact that you say that tells me that I have taught you nothing. It certainly wasn't from lack of trying. You never did seem to get the important things to stick, did you?”

  I don't know what my mother thought, but she viewed work as something that was beneath her. Surely she should not have to do anything. She was too beautiful. Nancy was beautiful. I'd always thought that my mother had a certain spark about her, but there was darkness inside of her as well.

  “I am not saying that I am never going to get married, it is just not too high on my priorities right now. I have to meet someone that I actually like first.”

  She put her hands up like she was frustrated with me.

  “Do you know how many times I have set you up with someone? Half the time, you don't even show up for the date.”

  “Just because they have money, doesn't mean I want to marry them.”

  “Once again, are you listening to nothing?”

  She was convinced that money was everything, but I still had the romantic notion that I could actually, I don't know, love the person.

  “I am listening. I have been listening to you my whole life and every time I actually cared about somebody, you found something wrong with them.”

  “Are you seriously bringing up Casper again? I thought we were done talking about him?”

  Sadly, enough she was right. That was exactly who came to mind, even if he wasn’t the only guy that she had disapproved of.

  “I was not bringing up Casper, you were. What I'm saying is that I have heard this for a long time, and I don't know if I agree with you. I'm going up to Vegas for the week and I will see you when I get back. Once I start working, I should really think about getting my own place as well. It’s getting a bit too cramped here for me.”

  She started to say something, but I told her that I had to go get packed. I was done having this conversation, the same one I’d had too many times before.

  The worst part of it all, was that she brought up Casper. Why did she have to bring him into this?

  3

  Casper

  I was over at my mom's house when I saw Ellie pull up. I used to see her a lot when we were in school together, but since getting out, I had a lot on my plate, and I didn't get to have as much of a social life at the moment. I was still getting out, but it was in the city or elsewhere.

  While I loved the small town I grew up in and I chose to live here, it didn't mean that I got to spend much time here. There was not a lot of business that couldn be done in this small po-dunk town.

  “What is Ellie doing here?”

  “She is such a nice girl, isn’t she?”

  “Yeah. What is she doing here?”

  “She called me up about getting a few tickets, for her and her friends. Something about Vegas, if I remember correctly. I am going to get them the discount.”

  “Who is they?”

  “I don’t know, you know the four of them that run around together all the time. You were the one in school with them, not me. One of them lived next door.”

  My mind instantly went to Heather. She was my next-door neighbor for many years. She went away for college and only stayed sporadically. I still saw her in the night through her window. She had these lacey sort of shirts that she wore a lot, and they didn't cover up much.

  “Vegas, huh? What are they going to do there?”

  “I don't know, something about celebrating. Why don't you ask them yourself, since you’re so interested?”

  I was tempted to, only because I was curious why they were going. I don't usually care about things like that, but when it came to Heather, it was different. There had been a few times, a few moments that I thought she was going to be the one. If I was truthful with myself, I still think there was a chance, if her mother hadn’t hated me. She had done pretty much everything to keep us apart and at some point, it had just been easier to go along with it. Heather started to believe all of the things that were whispered in her ear, whether they're true or not.

  Ellie came in and I dropped the conversation immediately. I didn't need her to go back to Heather and tell her that I was talking about her. I wasn't supposed to think about Heather this way, but it was kind of hard not to.

  They said their hellos and hugged it out. I was never really going to understand women. They were constantly hugging each other and carrying on like they were best friends. I knew that my mother did not feel that fondly of Ellie.

  I didn't say much because I didn't want to draw attention to my curiosity. I wasn't supposed to care after all. So, I fiddled around with the sink that I told my mom I would fix when I was there and listened to what the two of them were talking about.

  “Well, Heather got this new job she's been going for forever and she starts next week. I thought it would be good if we went down to Vegas for one last girl’s trip, you know. It might be a while, until we can get out again, because all of our lives are going so fast. Did I tell you that I got married?”

  “I did hear about that. How is that going?”

  “Well we're going to Vegas so...”

  I kind of chuckled at that, and I got a dirty look from both of the women.

  “Are you sure that you guys want to go alone? It can be rather dangerous. Maybe you need someone there, to make sure that you guys aren’t taken advantage of.”

  “What, like a chaperone, Casper? I think that we can handle a little trip by ourselves.”

  I forgot she had a feminist streak, and I didn’t want to go down that road with her.

  “Yeah, something like that. Vegas is crazy. And I just worry about you guys.”

  Ellie started to smile, instead of frown, and I don't know why, but that bothered me even more. It felt like she had something up her sleeve and the grin got even wider.

  “What are you doing this week?”

  “Oh, well, Casper is always pretty busy with his...”

  I stopped my mom from spilling the beans because not many people in town knew what I had going on. It was better that way. I didn't want to be treated any differently. It would just be awkward if everyone knew.

  “Not muc
h of anything, Ellie. Would you like to take me up on the offer?”

  “If you are offering to come be our knight in shining armor, then how could I refuse you?”

  She definitely had something on her mind, and I wonder what it was. I wasn't going to ask about it though. Truthfully, I probably didn't want to know the answer. It was going to be hell trying to shuffle my next week’s appointments, but that's what I had Donnie for. He was the best assistant, and he would have to prove his mettle this next week. I had a trip to go on, even though I don't know how it was going to turn out.

  My mother was rather surprised that I had agreed to go. She knew what my hectic schedule was like. Once Ellie left and we were alone again, she turned to me and asked me what I was doing.

  “What do you mean?”

  “I mean, what are you doing, Casper?”

  “I just thought that they should have someone there to watch out for them. Didn’t you hear me say that?”

  “I know you better than that. You're my son, remember? Tell me that you're not going because of that girl.”

  My mom didn't much care for Heather, because she thought Heather was the root of all evil. I had gotten my heart broken from her. There had been a time where I thought something would happen, but her mom had crashed it. It had probably made me who I am today, gave me the drive to make sure that I didn't turn out to be the piece of shit that was going nowhere that she told me I would turn into. I knew that Nancy had a lot to do with the business and everything else, but my mom never saw it that way. She always blamed Heather for it.

 
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