Authors: Kim Linwood
? And a stepbrother? She definitely could’ve mentioned that earlier. Not that it changes how I feel about anything, but I like to have all the facts so I can prepare. I got that from Dad, I think. Him and his checklists. I stand, take a deep breath and smooth down my shirt. Alright, let’s get this over with. A brother might not be bad. I’d always wanted a sibling. Better late than never I guess.
Their voices carry through the house from the entry. Herbert’s voice is deep and gravelly, like he used to smoke. Or still does, I suppose, but that doesn’t sound like Mom’s type. I give them a moment to say their hellos before I approach.
“Hello... um...” I just realize I have no idea what to call him.
He smiles warmly, his face looking strangely familiar. Square jaw, deep hazel eyes. He holds out his hand. “Herbert’s fine. You must be Angela.”
I take it. “Just Angie. Thanks.”
“You give your girl a nice name, but will she use it?”
Mom’s always disliked me shortening my name, but Angela makes me feel like I’m eighty. Maybe because she named me after her great aunt Angela who used to make me watch Jeopardy marathons. Given her use of
earlier, it really feels like a double standard.
Herbert takes a step to the side. “I’d like you to meet my son, Gavin, the heir apparent to my financial empire. A bit of a rebellious streak, but I’m working on it.” He smirks in a scarily familiar way.
My jaw drops. No way. No fucking way. The floor drops out from under me at the mention of his name. This isn’t happening. No wonder his facial structure looks so familiar. Like father, like son.
Like my new stepbrother, who I almost fucked just three weeks ago. He puts his hand out like his dad did, his gorgeous eyes locked to mine. He’s grinning broadly, obviously thinking this is the funniest thing in the world. “Hi there, Sis.”
I stand still so long that Mom gives me a bump with her elbow. Her whisper is a hiss, though I’m sure they all hear it. “Angela.”
Like a rusty robot, I raise my arm stiffly and take his, remembering the rough feel of his large hands all over me as I shake it briefly. Even that short touch sends sparks racing up the skin of my arms. I should say something, but I’ve no idea what.
“Hi.” That’s all I get out, then I just stand there like an idiot.
Mom gives me a confused we’ll-talk-about-this-later look, but she shoves me aside and makes room for our visitors. “Come in, come in. I’ve got a roast cooking in the oven, with potato gratin and asparagus to go with it. It should be done in twenty minutes or so.” She practically drags Herbert towards the living room, leaving me alone with Gavin.
ell, how’s this for a surprise?” Gavin laughs out loud, a rumble in his powerful chest. “And here I thought you were gone from my life for good.”
I finally find my words, hissing them between my teeth. “Fine, laugh it up. But not a word about this to anyone. You eat, we stay pleasant, and then you leave. You understand?”
“I don’t know, babe. I’m not nearly as good at leaving as you are. Will you teach me how? Besides, this is like destiny. Karma. It’s like God decided to give me a second chance.” His voice drips with sarcasm. He strikes his arms out, smiling broadly. “Beautiful Angie, delivered right into my arms.” Closing in until his nose is only an inch from mine, he whispers loudly. “What do you think? Should we do it in your bed? That’d be hot.”
The image of the two of us in my bed, him naked and above me flashes through my mind. I must’ve given something away, because his smile broadens knowingly. He’s so frustrating. I want to smack him right in the face, but I hold back. This isn’t the time to make a scene. Also, he doesn’t seem to care if anyone finds out that he almost boned his stepsister, but I do, and I don’t want him to have any excuse to blab.
Instead, I try to reason. “Gavin. If anyone finds out that we almost... well, you know, then—”
“Almost what? I think you need to explain it more clearly.” He laughs, enjoying my misery. “Did we almost do something three weeks ago? My memory’s a bit fuzzy. I think you have to be more specific.”
So much for reasoning. “You’re a prick, Gavin.” Turning on my heels, I stomp out of the entry, leaving him laughing behind me. Why did it have to be him? And why is my heart pounding like a jackhammer?
* * * * *
’m so nervous I can barely eat, but Gavin’s a totally different person at dinner. He’s well spoken, respectful, polite, friendly... and only I seem to realize that it’s all a sham. With a long sleeved and collared shirt on, his ink isn’t visible anywhere. The hair that was so wild three weeks ago is combed neatly and gelled into place. I want to scream that this isn’t really who he is, but who’s going to believe me? And what would that do, other than ruin dinner?
I sigh. This is supposed to be Mom’s night, where she gets to bask in being newly engaged. I shouldn’t be messing it up. If he can pretend, then I can too. Swallowing my dislike, I close my eyes for a moment before I engage in the conversation. Mom smiles in relief, her shoulders relaxing. This isn’t going to be easy.
We’re about halfway through our meal when I feel his foot sliding up my shin. Our eyes meet, his mischievous sparkle crashing into my ice cold disdain. What the hell does he think he’s doing? I try to push him away with my other foot, but there’s only so much I can do without being really obvious. In the end, I settle for an angry glare while I do my best to ignore him. Or rather, bide my time.
Mom’s just refilled the wine glasses, even half a glass for me, which makes Gavin grin crookedly. When I reach for the salt, an idea strikes. In an accident that’s totally on purpose, I knock over his glass, right towards his lap. Wine splashes everywhere, but mostly onto his shirt and pants. I can’t believe I just did that, but when I see his shocked expression, I feel no regret whatsoever.
“Oops!” It’s the most halfhearted
in the history of
He glares at me, grabbing his napkin and dabbing at his clothes. They look expensive, but whatever. He can afford it. Maybe next time he’ll reconsider playing footsie with someone who isn’t interested. He looks up, and since Mom and Herbert are scrambling to help wipe up, I stick my tongue out.
His expression darkens, his eyebrows furrowing and his lips tightening in an angry scowl. Is he going to blow already? I didn’t think he’d be that easy. His eyes grow stormy, and I watch him, holding my breath, just waiting for the explosion. He surprises me. The storm blows over almost immediately, and instead of frowning, his face relaxes before spreading back into a friendly smile. While Mom fusses over him and Herbert dabs a napkin at the wine on the floor, Gavin mouths two words at me, “Well played.”
Oh, the game is on, rich boy.
“I’m so sorry, Gavin.” Mom’s found a cloth that she’s brushing against his shirt.
“It’s alright. That’s what dry-cleaners are for. Some people are just naturally clumsy.” He pulls the cloth from her hands. “Honestly, don’t worry about it. But maybe there’s a restroom I could borrow for a moment.”
Mom’s still frowning and throws me a we’ll-talk-about-this-later-too expression, but she nods. “Of course. Why don’t you use the one upstairs? It’s bigger. I’m sure
can show you where it is.” I don’t miss the stress she puts on my name, a warning if I ever heard one.
“Of course, Mom.” I keep my tone even in my best good little girl voice, but the last thing I want is to be alone with him. Still, what’s he going to do with our parents right below us? “This way.” He follows me closely. “I’ll try not to trip and push you down the stairs,” I whisper. “But I’m so
. Maybe you should go first.”
“Oh no. Please. Show the way.”
Rolling my eyes, I climb the stairs. We’re barely halfway up when his heavy hands land on my hips to stop me, much as I was afraid of. They’re strong and even through my jeans they feel hot. He’s standing one step below, but he’s tall enough he has to lean down to whisper into my ear, “If you want my pants off so badly, you only had to ask, Sis.” His chuckle raises the hairs at the back of my neck, and his husky whisper fills me with heat. Damnit, I don’t want to be attracted to him.
“Don’t call me sis. I’m not your sis. I’ll never be your sis.” Each phrase comes out a little icier than the one before it. “Now let me go.”
He holds his hands up in the air. “Of course. Anything you say,
I want to scream, but that would only bring Mom here running. Instead I clench my hands into tight fists. My nails dig into my palms, but the pain gives me something to focus on. Instead of the big, stupid, annoying, bratty, incredibly handsome guy behind me.
I get to the top, open the door to the right for him and gesture inside. “The master bath. Would there be anything else?” I tell him acidly.
“Well... there is one thing—”
“Don’t even try it. Do you really want me anywhere near your vulnerable body parts right now?
What if I slip and bite it off?”
“I was just going to ask which towel I should use, but thanks for the warning.” He backs into the bathroom, grinning as I let out a growl. “Thanks, Sis.” With a laugh, he shuts the door.
Arrgh! I stomp back downstairs, then pause to give myself a minute to relax my features. With my happy daughter mask back on, I return to the dinner table. Mom throws me a thankful glance, but I’m sure I’ll hear about the wine glass later. Gavin returns after a couple of minutes, looking drier, but still with big burgundy stains on his shirt and pants. He winks at me and sits as if nothing ever happened.
When dinner’s over, I offer to clear the table, just to keep out of the way. Of course that ass does the same. It makes Mom smile. “That’s very nice of you kids. I’ll take this wonderful wine Herbert brought and we’ll have glasses ready for you in the living room when you’re done. I’ve even got some of that sparkling grape juice you like, Angela.” Then she and my future stepdad glide out of the dining room, arm in arm. And here I thought being eighteen meant being an adult.
Gavin looks at me. “So...” He draws it out. “How about your mom’s bed? If we’re quick, she’ll never know.” He pats me on the ass.
I’m only one poor decision away from picking up the sauce boat and flinging it at his head. “Not in my room, not in Mom’s bed, not ever. Got it?” I stick my tongue out at him again. “Prick.”
“Oh real mature there,
” He rubs it in, putting pressure on the word to make sure I hear him.
I whirl on him, almost dropping the sauce boat and potatoes in the process. “I already told you, don’t you dare call me that. I’m not your fucking sis, and you’re not my freaking
” I’m done. There was a breaking point, and I hit it. “I’d rather you didn’t talk to me at all, to be honest.” With a snarl, I put him behind me and stride into the kitchen.
He shows up a moment or two later, balancing a scarily tall stack of plates, silverware and a couple of glasses. I rush over to grab the top ones. “Jesus, you don’t have to carry all of them at once. What if they’d fallen?”
“I would’ve paid for new ones?” He shrugs after putting the stuff down on the kitchen table.
Of course. Throw money at it. “Believe it or not, it’s not that easy. They haven’t made that set in ages. I wouldn't have to kill you. Mom would.”
“Alright, alright. Fuck. How was I supposed to know they were family heirlooms?”
They aren’t. They’re the set Mom and Dad bought when they were first married, but I’m not about to tell him that. I start putting stuff in the sink, figuring Mom and Herbert want some time alone. I can always wash some of the pieces that don't go in the dishwasher. Anything to keep busy.
“Thanks, you can leave now.”
I sense Gavin moving just a split second before his hands come down on either side of me and grip the edge of the sink. He moves close, until his front’s pressing against my back.
“I could do you over the sink. They’re snuggled up in the living room. They’ll never know.” His breath is hot against my ear, and his bulge presses into the small of my back.
“Are you deaf? What part of ‘I don’t want anything to do with you’ and
didn’t you understand?” I whirl around, but it only presses my breasts into him instead, and that doesn't help. It’s hard to think when he’s so close. He didn’t button his shirt all the way up after trying to clean off the wine stains, and I can see a bit of ink peeking out. The image of his naked chest is burned into my brain even though I wish I could scrub it out.
“I heard your words.” He leans in like he’s going to kiss me. My breath speeds up and my heart starts pounding. Even if my mind thinks he’s despicable, my body knows differently. He stops short of my mouth. “I just don’t think you meant them. Admit you want me. Just a little?” His teasing voice both excites and infuriates me.
I’m just about to say something when his hand comes to my hip, sliding slowly up along my waist, the heat of him almost unbearable. For a second I close my eyes, distracted by his touch, before I force them back open. I check the doorway, expecting Mom and my stepfather-to-be staring at us in shock. There’s no one there, but even just the thought gets me moving. I dodge to the side to get away from his touch, clutching the kitchen counter behind me. “Leave me alone. I should never have gone with you in the first place, and it sure as hell didn’t become any more appropriate now.”
“Fine, suit yourself.” He shrugs, opens the cabinet under the sink and finds the garbage can. Beginning to clear the plates into it, he glances up at me. “I’ll rinse, and you can load the dishwasher.”
I blink, caught off guard by his change of gears. He’s already rinsing and looks at me, daring me to make a scene about nothing. When I come closer, it’s cautiously, like a skittish animal approaching a wolf. “Alright.” I open the dishwasher without taking my eyes off him. “But no funny stuff. I mean it.”
“Of course.” He smirks, making me want to wipe it right off him. “Here.” He hands me the first rinsed plate. I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop, but it’s not long before we’re done, and I’m almost convinced we’re past it. I close the dishwasher and turn towards the living room.