We are so excited to share with you the adorable cover and exclusive excerpt of House Rules by Ruby Lang, out Feb. 10th, 2020!
Note From Ruby Lang:
The things we do for a deal. In House Rules, the third book in my Uptown series, when music teacher Simon Mizrahi runs into his ex-wife, chef Lana Kuo, while searching for rental apartments, the two quickly realize what they’re willing to put up with in order to find a good place to live–even if that means moving in with each other. But although they’ve got rules to keep them from getting close, the old spark remains—and so do the old issues that once drove them apart.
About House Rules:
ROOMMATE WANTED to share a gorgeous sun-filled apartment in Central Harlem. Must love cats. No ex-husbands or wives need apply.
Seventeen years ago, different dreams pulled Simon Mizrahi and Lana Kai apart. But when Lana takes a position as a chef back in Manhattan, her apartment search puts her right in her ex-husband’s path. Music teacher Simon is also hunting for a new place to live, and when Lana proposes they be platonic roomies, well…it’s not the worst idea he’s ever heard.
A sunny uptown two-bedroom sounds far more appealing than the cramped, noisy space where he’s currently struggling to work. Still, Simon has seen firsthand that Lana’s a flight risk, so he agrees on a trial basis.
Three months. With strict boundaries.
Living together again feels wonderfully nostalgic, but when the ex-couple’s lingering feelings rise to the surface, the rules go out the window.
Of course, chemistry was never their problem. But while Simon’s career feels back on solid footing, Lana is still sorting out what she wants. With their trial period soon coming to an end, they’ll have to decide if their living arrangement was merely a sexy trip down memory lane or a reunion meant to last.
The last person Simon Mizrahi expected to see when he arrived at the uptown apartment he was looking into renting was his ex-wife, Lana Kuo.
He’d caught only the quickest glimpse of her profile, the back of her dark head, her decisive shoulders as she disappeared into another empty room. It was nothing but an impression, a ghost crackling with Lana’s energy, before the real estate broker asked him to sign in.
It couldn’t be her. Could it?
He was still distracted when the broker, who introduced herself as Magda Ferrer, began telling him about the building, and extracting information from him.
“I’m a music educator,” he answered, trying to peer into the next room. Maybe there was no one there, but no—he heard a creak, a door opening and closing.
He fumbled through his email address and telephone number on the tablet, dimly aware he’d probably be getting a flood of emails from this broker because he’d given out too much information. But instead of protesting and stalling, he wanted to get this over quickly. To get into the other room. To make sure it wasn’t her.
He hadn’t seen her in years.
Magda Ferrer was looking blankly at him, so he added, “I teach, and I work with the Manhattanville Youth Chorus.”
“Oh, I think I’ve heard them. They sang at a street festival I was at this summer.”
She tugged a little self-consciously at her suit jacket. She seemed quite young.
Brokers always seemed so polished, so unlike his rumpled self. Part of the job, he supposed. He’d been hunting for apartments for a few months now, ever since the noisy renovations had begun on his neighbor’s place, disrupting his concentration when he tried to work from home, knocking bits of plaster from the ceilings and onto his books, his piano. His tiny one-bedroom felt dustier and smaller, more oppressive than ever.
But try as he might, he was never going to find a deal like the one he had on the rent stabilized unit he’d lived in for the last twenty years, the place that he’d shared, for a brief time, with Lana.
He plugged a few more answers into the broker’s form before heading toward the open door of the bedroom to see if he could find the ghost. He was half afraid the broker would follow him and talk. Half afraid of what he’d say to Lana when he saw her.
She wasn’t there.
He stood for a minute in the empty room. There wasn’t another door, and it wasn’t as if there were furniture anyone could hide behind.
Maybe he was dreaming. That would make more sense. Lana lived somewhere across the country, maybe the world. He didn’t keep track of her. She wasn’t on Facebook—and yes, he’d gone looking for her a couple of times. Once or twice he found mention of her in online newspapers. But she hadn’t kept up with the rest of their friends, hadn’t kept up with him, so that excused his occasional curiosity. They’d shared a life. And now, well, he didn’t think of her obsessively every day. It was a long time ago.
In dreams he still saw her, though. On familiar and unfamiliar streets, in empty rooms like this one, in his bed—or rather, not in his small depressing bedroom, but a different bed, a better one that still somehow belonged to him.
He walked to the window, unbuttoning his heavy pea coat as he looked outside. It was snowing in great, thick tufts. There’d been no hint of this weather as he’d walked out of the subway to get here.
He’d been given a respite, and he was going to enjoy this, the quiet, warm empty room, so unlike his own apartment, the light from the snow outside reflecting on the walls. He was not going to rent this place, he already knew it, because he wasn’t going to change. He needed to get out of his cramped space—should have gotten out years ago—but the thought of moving all of the stuff he’d accumulated over the years, the thought of paying double the rent every month even though he could afford it, the thought of changing everything he was used to, everything that annoyed him, every one of his small daily joys, with no dramatic compelling reason, it made him tired.
He frowned even more at the unexpected sky.
Definitely a dream.
He pinched himself, knowing that didn’t work, and even if it did, he wasn’t likely to be more pleased on waking. But a startled sound behind him made him swing around.
There, in the doorway, was his wife. Her eyes were round with disbelief, and she was clutching her puffy coat in one hand as if she was going to fling it at him.
But she dropped it. And it hit the floor with an unexpectedly heavy thunk.
She was probably real.
So was the coat.
They both looked down at it, and then back up.
“Simon,” she whispered.
He took a deep breath. “Lana.”
There was a moment when they stood, not sure what to do next. Then Lana’s face softened into a bittersweet smile. One palm opened, beckoned for him.
He was going to have to touch her. He was going to get to touch her.
And he stepped up for a hug.
About the Author:
Ruby Lang is the author of the acclaimed Practice Perfect series. She is pint-sized, prim, and bespectacled. Her alter ego, Mindy Hung, wrote about romance novels (among other things) for The Toast. Her work has also appeared in The New York Times, The Walrus, Bitch, and other fine venues. She enjoys running (slowly), reading (quickly), and ice cream (at any speed). She lives in New York with a small child and a medium-sized husband.
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