Beautiful Moves(Shifting Steel Book 3)(2)

By: Stephanie West

"Okay. I love you Bella Bear," Sabine sighed.

"Love you too, Sis. Kisses," Ella said before hanging up.

Ella hated hiding things from Sabine, like the fact they might already be getting evicted from the cheap little apartment, Sabine had yet to set foot in.

Ella recalled her visit with the apartment manager, Char, earlier that day.

An uneasy feeling overwhelmed Ella, as she walked into the apartment office. She was dreading this conversation.

“Hello, Ella. How are you settling in?” Char stood as she greeted her.

Char was gorgeous and intimidating, in a badass sort of way. She was sporting a black bob, smoky eyes, glossy, bee-sting lips, a skin-tight, black skirt, and a white, button-down, dress shirt stretched across her voluptuous boobs. Char didn’t fit the landlady mold at all.

Ella envied the woman. She doubted Char had begged for anything a single day in her life. Ella wished she had the same confident air. Instead, she worried everything was going to come crashing down on her head, all the darn time. It made what Ella came to do twice as difficult. Was Char the type to cut someone a bit of slack?

“Well, that’s what I’m here to talk to you about. I’m going to be late on next month’s rent. I’m willing to make it up to you,” Ella quickly added.

At least I didn’t chicken out, letting the first of the month come and go without a word.

Ella might be lacking in a lot of ways, but she owned up to her mistakes. She hoped if she was straightforward, the woman would work with her. But Char put a hard stop to that notion, looking at Ella with an equal mix of pity and hardness.

"It's not really my call. You'll have to talk to my brother. He owns this place," Char informed her.

The news was disheartening. It meant she’d have to work up the courage to do this all over again.

Ella huffed as she tried to push aside her rising panic. Even if she got the job with the design firm, it would be several weeks before she saw her first paycheck. Ella took a gulp of her wine, followed by a few deep breaths. She couldn't let herself get worked up, or things would get hairy.

The wet nose that brushed against Ella's hand grounded and calmed her.

"I know. I'm okay." Ella smiled at the little mutt jumping frantically at her feet. She swooped down and snatched him up. "You're spoiled, aren't you, Wright? Who wants a treat?"

Ella grabbed a milk bone from the box on the counter, then set Wright on the floor. He bounded like a jack rabbit, shaking with excitement.

"Go get it."

She pretended to toss the bone, then giggled as the fur-ball scrambled on the kitchen tile, taking off toward the living room. Midway, Wright came to a halt, and turned back around. She'd done this to him one too many times; Wright was starting to catch on. The brown fluffy pup gave an expectant look and wagged his tail happily, despite her mean trick.

"Sorry. I'm such a bad mommy to my sweet fur-baby."

Ella tossed the treat, delighting in how Wright jumped up and snatched it out of the air. Wright’s tail whipped back and forth with such unrestrained enthusiasm, that his whole body swayed from side to side. Ella chuckled harder seeing the tail wag the dog.

The sound of a motorcycle rumbling in the small parking lot, drowned out her mirth. There seemed to be a lot of bikers around Manhattan, Illinois. Ella moved to close the window of her first-floor pad, then paused.

"There he is," Ella whispered to the pup, as she watched tall, dark and handsome throw his leg over the Harley.

Ella had only met her neighbor briefly when she checked out the apartment. She didn’t even catch his name. He'd been out of town ever since she moved in. Not that she'd been watching for him, or anything. Okay that was a lie.

Char had just given her a tour of the one-bedroom apartment. It wasn't a dump, like most of the places in her price range. Thank god. Unfortunately, it was in a town, at the far end of the Metra line, making the commute into Chicago a little rough. But Ella couldn’t afford to be picky.

Ella had been stunned to silence when she stepped out the apartment’s front door, coming face to face with the compelling man. He stood in the doorway of his place, casually leaning against the wood frame.

Ella froze midstride, in her hand-me-down Burberrys, nearly falling off the heels. The pumps brought her up to five six, but she still only came eye level with the top of the dark stranger’s bare chest.

The beast of a man wore a long-sleeve plaid shirt, which hung open. The expanse of sun-kissed, taught muscle, dusted with a smattering of hair, led to washboard abs. Ella followed the thin trail of hair from his bellybutton, until it disappeared beneath the waistband of his jeans.