Forbidden Attraction by Ali Rivers

Chapter One

Ryan Hillman pulled the last of their suitcases through the front door to find Hailey curled into the sofa, fast asleep, with soft snores escaping her pouty lips. A small smile stretched his lips at the sight of the four-year-old sleeping peacefully.

They’d had a stressful day, journeying from London to Chicago and trying to get their new home in order. It had taken a toll on the little girl. Abandoning the suitcase in the middle of the room, he strode to the sofa and gently lifted his daughter into his arms, cradling her against his chest. He carried her to the room he’d prepared for her, although he had not yet added the finishing touches.

This will have to do for tonight,he convinced himself, placing her gently on her little bed. With a kiss to her forehead and one final glance at the girl, he made his way to the living room, to continue with his task of putting the place in order. He returned to carry the suitcase he’d left in the middle of the room to his room, but halfway a yawn escaped his lips, and he suddenly realized how tired he was. The stress of their journey was getting to him.

Without second thoughts, he shut his bedroom door after deciding to continue with his task tomorrow. Ryan didn’t have to search for sleep because the moment he fell on the king-sized bed, sleep whisked him away.

* * *

“Daddy, will I be going to school today?” Hailey’s little voice filtered into Ryan’s ears before she came into sight, hugging his legs and looking up to him with a wide grin.

“Good morning, princess.” Ryan smiled at her, placing the mug of coffee he’d been sipping from on the counter and lifting her to sit on the kitchen island but not before kissing her cheeks affectionately. The little girl clasped her small hands around her dad’s face and returned the gesture, making him chuckle. “How was your night, baby?”

“I loved it, but I wanted to spend it with you,” she pouted, frowning. Ryan pecked her cheeks to cheer her up, and she couldn’t stop the smile that broke out on her face.

“Tonight, you can sleep in my room,” he promised her, and her grin widened, making him smile.

Hailey was the only good thing his ex-girlfriend had given him before their miserable relationship ended with her dumping him at the altar. He couldn’t recall how he’d once thought he was in love with a leech like Vanessa Beckham, a woman he’d met in London when he’d attended a friend's wedding. At first, they’d gotten along well, and Ryan had thought it was love at first sight. Three months later, he’d discovered she was pregnant with his baby, and that was when her true colors surfaced. But now, he was happy he’d come to his senses after the woman dumped him at the altar for a man who she’d specially invited to the wedding to taunt Ryan. Ryan had realized early into their relationship that Vanessa was only with him because he was a well-known athlete and that gave her popularity and pride, but then things were still moving smoothly between them, and he did his best to save their relationship for the sake of their child. But the moment he confided in her his decision to retire from the field, her attitude and devotion slacked off even more than it had been. He’d still gone ahead with planning their marriage, believing she would change, but when she dumped him at the altar, he didn’t feel the heartbreak she’d intended to cause him. Instead, it felt like good riddance to a toxic relationship. The only reason their relationship had lasted for five years was because of their daughter, and he was glad she hadn’t insisted on getting custody of the four-year-old. He was more than happy to have the little bundle of sunshine with him.

Hailey’s tiny fingers poked him in the chest, breaking his reverie.

“Daddy, I asked if I’d start school today?” she reminded him, staring into his blue eyes with her hypnotizing baby blue orbs, shining with hope. But then, Ryan was going to have to squash her hope, although he didn’t like it.

“Not yet princess. Probably tomorrow.”

Her face fell on hearing her dad’s response. If there was something the little girl loved more than her daddy, it was meeting other kids at school. Back in London, she was always eager to return to school to meet her peers, telling her dad of her friends and how she loved spending time with them. Although she was sad to have left her old friends, she was equally eager to meet new ones.

“How about we visit Auntie Cheryl today, huh?” Ryan asked, trying to cheer her up.

“Yeah!” She clapped happily, throwing her little arms around her dad’s neck. “I’d love to see Auntie Cheryl,” she exclaimed, excitement dripping from her voice. The last time she’d seen Cheryl, her dad’s sister, was when she’d visited them in London, just before her mom left them.

Knowing he had limited time, he began to prepare breakfast. It was a good thing he’d woken up early to finish arranging their stuff and putting the house in order. He was also glad for the things the agent had helped him purchase, including the furniture, and luckily for him, the interior design had been taken care of, thus making everything easy for him. He couldn’t picture himself running around all day buying furniture and looking for a designer to put his new home in order.

A while later, Ryan and Hailey left for Cheryl’s place. But they were unaware of the eyes that were glued to them, particularly Ryan.

Amelia retreated from the window after the new neighbor's car was out of sight. She’d seen him moving into the apartment beside hers last night and had perched by the window to get a glimpse of his face, but she couldn’t get anything. Out of curiosity to know the face of the man she’d rented her apartment to, she’d perched by the window again this morning, waiting patiently for him to emerge, but at the moment that the door to their home finally opened, her phone had rung and she had to rush to her room to get it, only to discover it was her ex-boyfriend. Deciding the man wasn't worth losing sight of her new tenant for, she’d rushed back to the kitchen window to see the hot neighbor getting into his car.

Her eyes widened at the sight of the man, whose body physique screamed of an alpha male even though he was clothed. The T-shirt he wore fitted him to perfection, hinting at the washboard abs and bulging biceps they were concealing. Her eyes roved his entire body before returning to his face. His features looked so fierce, yet they had a beautiful and graceful edge to them. From her distance, she couldn’t tell the color of his eyes, but his hair appeared to be jet black, a few strands falling onto his forehead. Amelia was unable to continue ogling him as he’d entered the car and pulled away from the curb, not noticing he was being watched by his creepy landlady.

Amelia cringed at that thought, but she couldn't help but obsess about his looks, which were now engraved in her brain.

He‘s going to be a lot of hot trouble. Have I made a mistake renting my apartment to him?she thought to herself, still trying to discern what had come over her as it seems she couldn't think straight without her thoughts drifting to her neighbor.

For the rest of the day, Amelia’s thoughts were occupied by her hot new tenant. Even at work, she found it hard to concentrate, nor engage in meaningful conversations with her colleagues without zoning off. She hated the fact that she was acting like a lovesick puppy, but she just couldn’t help it.