The color of Katarina's new house was black. Dark, matte black. It stuck out like nobody's business in the sea of white and beige across the neighborhood. She stared blankly at the house like someone was playing a prank on her, especially considering the condition in comparison to the other houses. It looked like it had been built that morning, whereas the other houses had obviously been there for over a decade. Furrowing her dark, freshly waxed brows, Nina checked the crumpled piece of mail in her hand to make sure she was in the right place. Zeroing in on the address, Nina realized she was, in fact, in the right place:
Tightening her grip on the handle of her bag, Nina blew out a breath and stepped up the three stairs to the red door with a creeping suspicion that her life would change as soon as she stepped through the threshold.
The house was even more beautiful on the inside as it was on the outside. Nina's face was in awe as she took in the modern fixtures and the sleek, black leather furniture littering the open-concept living room to the right of the entrance, with an unnecessarily large dining table between the couch and the obviously newly updated kitchen. Trailing up the stairs, Nina's ears perked at the sound of men's voices floating between the two floors. Her hazel eyes caught sight of the banner hanging across her door.
Welcome home, Katerina.
No one called her by her full name anymore. Nina was always reminded of her full name when she started a new class, but it had been six months since she graduated college and she hadn't had to insist on being called by her nickname. But something about whoever was living here calling her by her full name made her feel all fuzzy and warm inside. It was like she had just been called that for the first time.
Stepping into the bedroom, Nina immediately felt at ease at the simple decor. She hadn't had a room just to herself in a long time, too long to even count. This was just what she needed for her fresh start: a new house, a new room, new friends, new everything. It was all that mattered to her, getting away from the past and starting a new future. The wheels of her suitcase hit the hardwood floor as Nina set it off to the side with a small grin.
A deep voice filled the room while someone cleared their throat behind the young woman. She whipped around with a frightened yelp and stared with wide, hazel eyes at the intruder. The man - now in front of her - was tall, dark tones peeking through his tattooed skin, with dark hair to match. A knot formed in Nina's stomach as she took in his handsomeness. He cocked his head to the side, folded his arms over his chest, and twisted his eyebrows as he studied her. "Katerina, I presume?" His voice was gruff but almost angelic like.
Nina stared at him, stunned by his presence. The smell of his cologne surrounded her and she memorized the notes of sandalwood and moss, like she was standing in the middle of the forest on a crisp, cool morning. He narrowed his near-black pools at his new roommate and cleared his throat again. Nina blinked away the dryness in her eyes and clenched her thighs together as a wave of heat washed through her. She wasn't sure if the heat was arousal from how attracted to this man she was, or from embarrassment from him catching her staring too long.
Shifting on his foot, the tall, attractive man gave her a judgmental glance. "Do you speak, or are you only good for your looks, Katerina?"
Finding her voice, Nina straightened her back and glared at him. "It's Nina." She clipped, any arousal she felt washing away as the man rudely greeted her. "And just because I'm shy doesn't mean I don't speak. Maybe I just don't talk to you. I only speak to people who make me comfortable."
"Ooo, she's feisty." The man took a step closer and dropped his arms. Nina's breath hitched in her throat as she felt his body heat. "I like feisty." He murmured, trailing his finger down her cheek. Shivering, Nina let out a breathy gasp as his skin touched hers but a new voice filled the room and she nearly jumped away from the stranger touching her as two men stood behind him.
The shortest one - still a few inches taller than Nina but shorter than the other two - grinned at Nina. He sported chocolate brown hair, soft blue eyes, and a goofy grin that could melt every heart in every room he entered. It certainly melted Nina's. "Hi, you must be Katerina." He was small, but could definitely knock a guy out if he needed to.
Nina shook her head to clear it and extended her hand with a small smile. "Nina," She corrected. The nicer man took her hand and warmth filled her, blanketed by his comfort.
"Uh," The smaller man took his hand back like he had been shocked and rubbed it on his pants. He looked between the other two and smacked the back of the tall, touchy man. "This big guy is Alex. Don't let him scare you off, Nina, he's really a big teddy bear."
"Dallin-" Alex ground through his teeth, sending daggers to Dallin who seemed to pay no mind.
Instead, Dallin turned slightly to look at the last of the three Nina hadn't met. He looked like the epitome of a hot, popular guy who never heard the word "no" in his life. He was tall, slim but extremely muscular, and hot. Hot with a capital H. O. T. Nina bet he had abs. All three of them were easily the three hottest men she had ever seen - and she had seen a lot of men. Dallin threw his head back to the guy. "That's Kai."
"Nice to meet you Kai, Dallin, and Alex." She murmured sheepishly, feeling overwhelmed by their presence. Their names sounded perfect on her tongue, like they were named just for her to say.
Kai smirked at her. "Pleased to meet you, angel."
"Do you need help with the rest of your things?" Dallin asked, referring to the suitcase Nina had pushed aside.
"Um, no." Nina glanced down at it. "That's it."
Alex scoffed and raised a brow. "That's all you brought?"
"That's all I have." Nina replied shortly. Alex's eyes instantly flickered with guilt but he didn't say anything else.
"Well, we'll just have to take you to get more things so you can feel more at home." Dallin blurted, giving her a reassuring grin.
Home. Nina had never felt like she had a home . . . until now.