Sébastien rolled his eyes as he heard Tamlyn’s voice coming from bathroom. She was singing again. If he wanted to be absolutely honest, he really didn’t mind her singing. Her voice was soft and velvety, her pitch was perfect. If she would only open her mouth to sing, he knew they would get along just fine. However, Tamlyn only sang while she was in the shower so he had to put up with her annoying speaking voice the rest of the time she was around him. Her high pitched squeals, her exaggerated exclamations, almost every noise she made infuriated him.
Just earlier that day she had almost pushed him to the edge, yet the reason now seemed rather irrelevant. He had finally decided that just her mere presence was enough to drive him completely insane. They were in the kitchen and she had insisted on making breakfast for him and Luc. She had thrown open the fridge, dug through the contents and announced she was going to make omelets. Soon there were eggs and cheese and vegetables covering the kitchen counter and floor and Tamlyn seemed completely oblivious to the mess she was making. She was chattering about the cooking classes she had taken back home, telling Luc in near perfect French about how she had picked up a French cookbook before she came over and made every single recipe for her brother and sister, when Sébastien had finally realized he had been glaring at her. Her dark red hair had been pulled into a high pony tail and he couldn’t help but notice her long and slender neck. The apron she had borrowed was tied around her thin waist and her jeans were perfectly snug. Why did this girl have to be so damn irritating?
Sébastien had stormed out of the kitchen then and there, an act which produced a disapproving glance from his father and a laugh from Tamlyn followed by a comment about his rude behavior. He had marched to his room and slammed the door, a blatant yet childish show of his utter abhorrence for the girl. All of the other exchange students the three men had housed over the years had been a pleasant surprise for him. They would normally keep to themselves, occasionally inviting Sébastien to the movies or out to dinner. They were respectful and courteous – everything Tamlyn was not.
The first time he had seen her, he knew she was going to be different. She arrived at their apartment dressed in tight jeans and a white tank top, a bright pink bra practically glowing beneath the thin fabric. Her sandals were impractical and made a terrible noise as she walked around the apartment. Her toes and finger nails were painted an electric blue. The girl also seemed to lack any regard for personal space. She was constantly touching his dads, linking arms with them, hugging them for absolutely no reason. Tamlyn would try and pull the same act with him as well, but Sébastien wouldn’t have it. He was always pushing her away or shrugging her arms off his shoulders.
And he hated that she was always at the apartment. He hated that he had to live with her for the next 10 months. Why couldn’t she be staying for only one semester like the other two Americans? Why was it necessary for her to stay the entire school year? Maybe she would decide she was miserable in Paris and skip out early. But that didn’t seem very likely. Tamlyn claimed to love it here, and Luc was completely besotted with her, always willing to listen to her stories and eat her cooking, showing her what Sébastien considered to be unnecessary encouragement.
Sébastien tried to push the redhead from his mind as he concentrated on his book. There was no reason this American should ruin what remained of his summer. Soon he would have to go back to work in the shop. At least while at work he would be away from her and her damn voice. But soon her singing grew louder, or perhaps he just couldn’t stop focusing on it. Growling in annoyance, Sébastien stood up from his desk and stomped out of his room, heading straight for the girls’ bathroom.
“Tamlyn?” He called as he knocked on the door.
She stopped singing but didn’t answer.
“Stop singing,” he told her in English.
He heard her laugh and his spine stiffened.
“Why? Don’t you like it?”
“No. And you are disturbing the neighbors.”
She laughed again. “I happen to know that your neighbors love my singing. They told me so themselves.”
“Well, I don’t like it.”
“What if I sing in French?”
Sébastien sighed and didn’t answer.
“Si tu ne m’aimes pas, je t’aime, mais si je t’aime, prends garde toi…” She started the aria from Carmen and Sébastien felt the goose bumps climb his skin. Her voice soared from the tiled bathroom and filled the entire hallway. But he wasn’t in the mood to be distracted all afternoon.
He pounded on the door again. “Tamlyn! Stop!”
He heard the water turn off but the song continued and Sébastien pounded on the door for a third time, completely frustrated that she was able to get a rise out of him. His fist was still banging on the door when it flew open and he saw Tamlyn standing on the other side, a towel wrapped around her body and her wet hair hanging over her shoulders.
“What is your problem?” She asked, putting her hands on her hips and accentuating her curves.
Sébastien swallowed and forced his eyes to look at her face. “Stop singing,” he said again, making sure to add a little venom this time.
“I don’t want to hear it all the time. There are other people in this house apart from you.”
“I know!” Tamlyn answered in French. “And your dads love my singing as much as your neighbors.”
“But I don’t like it and I live here as well.”
“Believe me, I know you live here as well. You never leave this place!” She adjusted her towel and Sébastien’s eyes fell to her cleavage as she wrapped the terrycloth tightly around her. Her skin was still damp and her face was slightly pink from the heat of the water. But he shook his head and remembered the task at hand.
“It’s my house, I can do as I please.”
“Don’t you have friends? Aren’t you supposed to be on holiday? Go to Ibiza or wherever it is you Europeans go.” She pulled her hair to one side and Sébastien glanced down at the perfect curve of her neck and shoulder. What was wrong with him? No girl had ever enticed him or aggravated him this much.
“What I do is none of your business. But you are staying in my house and should be respectful.”
Sébastien watched as a little of the courage fell from Tamlyn’s face. “Okay,” she said slowly. “If my singing bothers you that much then I’ll stop.”
A guilty pang hit Sébastien right in the stomach though he couldn’t figure out why. It must have been something about the girl’s expression, the way her eyes betrayed an emotion which he hadn’t seen in her before, a sort of sadness if he had to put a name to it. He wanted to take it back, wanted to tell her that he didn’t actually mind her singing at all, but he couldn’t. If he gave her an inch, she would take a mile and so he turned around and walked away. He was halfway to his room before he heard the bathroom door close.
Tamlyn had been right. He needed to get out more. But all of his friends now had jobs, legitimate jobs, whereas Sébastien was still trying to figure out what he wanted to do with his life. University had been a waste of time. He had no desire to use his law degree and wasn’t eager to pursue any other studies. Coming home after graduation had been a major blow to his confidence. Agreeing to run Luc’s shop had been even worse. But he didn’t have any other options. His savings were growing, slowly but surely, and he estimated that by the following summer, he would have enough for at least two years of travel, two and a half if he really stretched it. He wanted to believe that his future lay somewhere outside of Paris, he just needed to go and find it. So while his friends were busy working or vacationing, he would choose to remain at home, saving every Euro that he earned until he could afford to leave for good.
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