Sudden Attraction by Ali Rivers

Chapter One

Alicia Monsey sighed as she pulled the last of her suitcases into her parents' old home, carrying them up the stairs to her old bedroom, with all of her childhood memories still intact, in the form of pictures and various posters of her favorite bands on the wall. One look around the room had her shaking her head. She was going to need to thoroughly clean the room and take out the things she didn’t want anymore. It had been ten years already, and her tastes in decoration had changed drastically. She was no longer the girl that wanted her room to be painted bright shades of pink and purple but was now one that adored cool colors like gray or just plain white. But that was work for another day.

At that moment, all she wanted was to fall into bed and get the much-needed sleep she’d been dying to have since she’d arrived home an hour ago. Hence, without second thoughts, she returned to the living room to click the lock of the front door in place before heading back to the bedroom. Pulling her luggage to a corner of the room, she changed into something comfortable that she could sleep in and fell into bed. Sleep was quick to whisk her away.

The next morning, Alicia woke up to the soft rays of the morning sun streaming into the room. Her eyes slowly opened up, getting used to the bright light, but her brows knitted together in confusion as she tried to remember where she was. Closing her eyes, she opened them and glanced around the room to see her childhood pictures hanging on the wall. Realization dawned on her, making her relax better into the bed, exhaling in relief. For a moment, she’d thought she was still back at Morrison’s place. A chill ran down her spine at that thought.

Morrison was her ex-boyfriend, who she’d recently broken up with after suffering from his constant abuse. It had taken her five years to realize what they had between them wasn’t love but him blackmailing and manipulating her emotionally. Being with the man had robbed her of her peace of mind and freedom, as whatever she did and whatever opinion she expressed ended in a fight between them, with him laying out his frustrations on her in the form of painful blows that always left her injured and sick.

The surprising part was that as soon as he was done hurting her, it was as though he came back to his senses and begged for her forgiveness, but he never truly changed. More than once, she’d tried to end the relationship, but the moment he found out, he always found a means to tie her down. This time around, she’d successfully escaped while he’d traveled out on a job, and the only place she thought of relocating to was her childhood home, which had been abandoned for a year now.

Her parents had moved to London, leaving the house behind for any time they wished to visit Chicago, and from the state she’d found the place in, it appeared they hadn’t visited in a while. She was grateful for that because she needed some peace and quiet away from everyone else. Not that returning to her hometown was going to afford her that because most of the people here knew her, either as neighbors or as schoolmates from their old high school, and she was dreading running into any of them.

She rose from her small teenage bed and trudged into the kitchen to get some coffee into her system before starting her day. A while later, she was seated on one of the stools of the kitchen island, her eyes roaming the kitchen with thoughts of cleaning up the place and making it into her home for the time being. She didn’t know how long she could remain in hiding from Morrison, but while she was at it, she needed to be comfortable wherever she was staying. And again, she realized she needed a source of income. All thanks to her ex-boyfriend and her impromptu decision to escape, she’d left her job behind without notifying her employer. Although she wouldn’t mind asking her parents for financial aid, she wasn’t ready to let them know how bad things had gone with Morrison. They’d warned her about him at the beginning, but she hadn’t listened because, truly, her parents weren’t ones to give relationship advice. All through their marriage, they’d both jumped from partner to partner, breaking up and then getting back together again, not minding how it was emotionally affecting her.

Pushing thoughts of her parents to a dark corner in her mind, she quickly got her laptop from the room and switched it on, ready to start her job search after changing her location to her new area. It didn’t take her long to stumble upon a vacant position for an English tutor at a high school, but the only problem was that it was her old high school. Could she teach there without running into any of her old schoolmates? Wouldn’t her cover be blown more easily? She considered the offer, wanting to bypass it. But one look at the pay had her applying for the position without further thought. It could keep her going until she could find her bearings.

Afterward, she began her day, cleaning her new home and putting everything in order. She even took a trip to the grocery store to stock up the kitchen and to also get some important things she needed. Later that evening, she received an email informing her she had an interview the following Monday morning. Alicia was overjoyed at how easy it had been. Her only prayer was that she got the position.

Monday morning came sooner than expected, and she stared at herself in the vanity mirror for ten minutes, debating if she looked professional enough for the job. The dress she had on fit her to perfection, accentuating her curves and stopping just a little above her knees, but not too far up to be inappropriate for a tutor. Paired with stilettos, with her dark hair falling down her back, she got her bag from the bed and exited the house, heading for the Uber she’d ordered.

Without hesitating, she rattled off her destination to him as he pulled away from the curb. In ten minutes, she was strutting into Crest High, feeling positive about the interview. When she got to the office, she saw that she wasn’t the only candidate. There were a bunch of others waiting to interview for the same job. Her heart fell a little at that, but she joined them, patiently waiting for her turn.

A while later, her name was called, and she was ushered into the principal’s office. Her eyes fixed on the man that would be interviewing her, but she wasn’t prepared for what she saw. Dressed in a white dress shirt and a black tie, with his blond hair slicked back, he looked exactly like the teenage boy he’d once been.

It was Howie Holland, her high school classmate.

“Alicia?” He looked up at her in surprise, and her knees felt weak at the sudden encounter.

It seemed the universe was against her.