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Practice Makes Perfect (Housemates #3)
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Getting experience with the guy next door seems like a great idea-until the lines blur. Dev, a geeky first year physics student, has zero sexual experience and he’s determined to change that ASAP. After a bad time in halls of residence, he’s starting the summer term with different housemates and a new plan of action. Ewan lives in the house next door to Dev. He’s young, free and single, and isn’t looking to change that anytime soon. When awkward circumstances throw them together, Ewan offers to help Dev out in the bedroom in return for maths tutoring, and Dev jumps at the chance. They work their way through Dev’s sex-to-do list, but what starts as a perfect no-strings arrangement gets more complicated as their feelings for each other begin to grow. If they’re going to turn their lessons in lovemaking into something more permanent, they need to work out how they feel about each other-before they get to the end of Dev’s list.
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“Are you sure you don’t need help with anything else?” Rupert asked, surveying the mess of bags, boxes, and black bin liners that contained all of Dev’s worldly possessions—apart from the ones that were still in his bedroom back home in Oxford.
“No, honestly, I’m good. Thanks again for helping me move.”
Rupert had a car, and he and his boyfriend Josh had insisted on helping Dev move across town from the halls of residence he’d been so glad to escape from. This room in a shared house was his new start for the summer term.
“It was no trouble.” Rupert smiled.
“It’s so weird to think this used to be my room. It feels like ages ago that I moved out.” Josh moved to stand beside Rupert, looking around the room as Rupert slipped his arm around Josh’s shoulders.
“Seven months.” Rupert kissed Josh’s temple, his face full of affection.
Seeing them together made Dev’s heart squeeze with longing. Not because he fancied Rupert—although he did have a bit of a crush—but because he wanted what they had.
He wanted a boyfriend.
“I guess we’ll leave you to it, then,” Rupert said. “Let you get yourself sorted.”
“Okay.” Dev adjusted his glasses, which were slipping on the bridge of his nose. He was hot and sweaty after several trips up two flights of stairs with heavy bags and boxes. “Thanks again.”
Rupert’s brow furrowed as he studied Dev. “Hey,” he said softly. “You’ll be okay here. Shawn can be a bit of a twat sometimes, but the rest of them are good people.”
Dev nodded. His stomach was full of butterflies despite Rupert’s reassuring words. Dev had briefly met his new housemates when he’d looked around the house a couple of weeks ago, but he didn’t really know any of them; he didn’t even know Rupert very well. He trusted Rupert’s judgement, though. Rupert had been kind when Dev had badly needed a friend, and he’d helped him find this place to live. If Rupert said he’d be okay here, Dev believed him.
“Text me if you need anything, yeah? And we’ll see you soon.” Rupert stepped forward and drew Dev into a hug. Dev hugged him back a little awkwardly. He wasn’t used to physical contact, and although he craved it, Rupert’s closeness had him flustered.
“Thanks,” Dev mumbled into Rupert’s shoulder.
When Rupert released him, Josh gave Dev a hug too, and a light kiss on the cheek. “Take care.”
When they’d gone, Dev closed the door behind them. Taking a deep breath, he turned and took stock of his surroundings.
It was utter chaos. Just looking at it made Dev’s blood pressure rise. The room was warm and stuffy too. He wrinkled his nose, catching the faint scent of tobacco smoke, along with another, more pungent smell Dev couldn’t quite identify. Paul, the previous occupant, had obviously ignored the house rules about not smoking indoors.
Dev opened the window wide, letting in a blast of cool April air, and then perched on the edge of the bed with a notepad and pen. He wrote a list in his neat, precise handwriting.
go to supermarket (He’d need another list for that.)
With his list written, Dev was calmer already. Unpacking first, then.
Several hours later, Dev sat on his neatly made bed and picked up his notepad again. He leaned back against the pillows to rest his aching back, and he crossed off unpack.
Exhausted, all he wanted to do was chill out for the rest of the day, but he was hungry, and eating involved moving. Having previously lived in student accommodation with catering, or at home with parents who fed him, Dev wasn’t used to cooking for himself, but there was a microwave, so he wasn’t going to starve. Reluctantly he heaved himself up, put on a hoodie, and put his wallet in his jeans pocket.
Music came from one of the rooms on the floor below as he passed, along with chatter from the living room. Dev wasn’t ready to be sociable yet, so he went straight out, escaping to the solitude of the street.
It was a nice evening, mild for early April. The sky was mostly blue with just a few fluffy white clouds. A fresh breeze blew, carrying the scent of city streets and the sea.
A small supermarket was handy, just a short walk away on the main road leading towards the city centre. Obviously used to catering for students, it stocked a load of cheap pizzas and ready meals, plus things in cans, jars, or packets that could be heated up and added to pasta or rice.
Wishing he’d made more effort to learn to cook before leaving home, Dev gathered an assortment of things that looked vaguely edible and easy to prepare.
He was nearly back at his front door when the pounding of feet made him look up to see a guy running towards him, flat out sprinting down the pavement. His bright red hair caught the evening sun, a blaze of glory in the drab city street.