Anti stepbrother, p.31
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       Anti-Stepbrother, p.31
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           Tijan

  “You did.” He lifted his head. “That kept me going for the rest of the night.”

  I pushed him off, rolling to my side and covering my face with my hands. “I’m appalled!”

  “You shouldn’t be. Hey.” He pulled me back and moved my hands away.

  I kept my eyes closed.

  “Look at me.”

  “No.” I peeked through one, opening it a tiny slit. “You can’t say anything to make me feel better. There’s nothing that can take away my humiliation.”

  “I like it.”

  I cocked an eyebrow up. “You’re bullshitting me.”

  “I’m not. I’m really not.” He tried to stifle his laughter, but his mouth was still twitching. “I have never enjoyed sex as much as I do with you.”

  “That doesn’t make me feel better. You’ve never laughed during sex like you do with me, that’s what you really mean.” I tried to cover my face again.

  He tugged my hands down and kept hold of them. “No.” He pressed my hands to the bed above my head, and as I moved to my back, he rose above me. His eyes darkened once more, and all the humor left his face. Stark hunger spiked there instead.

  “I’ve never enjoyed sex as much as I do with you. Your humor is part of it, but it’s you too. Being with you is different.” His gaze lingered on my lips before flicking to my eyes. “You’re different.”

  The last remnants of my mortification melted away, replaced by all sorts of gooey warmness. The butterflies zipped around in my stomach, along with other lustful sensations, and I wondered why we were still talking.

  I slid my foot up the back of his leg, raising it until my leg wound around his thigh. I watched; his eyes were pure black now, no hints of amber anymore, and I shifted to wrap my other leg around him. Then I lifted up, feeling him right between my legs, right where I wanted him to slide inside. He was hard and ready to go.

  Caden had admitted once that he was always hard when I was around.

  “I’m ready to go as soon as you enter a room,” he said. I thought he’d been joking, but feeling him ready so soon after our last time, maybe not.

  I wound my arms around his neck, cupping the back of his head. “How about you show me how different I really am?”

  He bent down, and I felt him grin against my lips. “Fuck yes.”

  And his lips were hard on mine.

  My phone was ringing.

  I lifted my head, once again sprawled on top of Caden. I didn’t remember at what point our positions had reversed, but I was fine with it. I could wake up on top of Caden for the rest of my life, and I didn’t think I’d get tired of it.

  “Your phone,” Caden prompted me, touching my hip.

  I groaned and slid over him and onto the floor. My phone was in my bag, which was at the bottom of a pile of clothes. As I sorted through them and fumbled with my bag’s zipper, Caden sat up. “You could just get up. You didn’t have to fall to the floor.”

  “Nah.” I shrugged, grabbing my phone. “This was more fun.”

  I heard him chuckling as I answered. “What’s up?”

  My stepmom’s voice filled my ear as Caden got up and headed into the bathroom.

  “Hey, sweetheart.”

  I checked out Caden’s ass. It was tight and round and moved seamlessly under his back, sculpted like a freaking Greek god. I held back a groan. I’d never get tired of seeing his backside.

  “Honey?” Sheila asked. “You there?”

  I coughed, clearing my thoughts. “I am.” And because Caden had left the door open, I moved so my back rested against the bed. Tugging the sheet down and draping it over me, I asked, “What’s going on?”

  “I need a favor.”

  “Oh?” I frowned.

  The shower turned on in the bathroom, and images of me joining him flooded my mind.

  “I just got off the phone with Kevin. I was hoping you could check in on him, make sure he’s okay.”

  Mention of my stepbrother pulled me out of my shower stupor. “What?”

  “We had a bad fight. It’s about his father, but he seemed more upset than normal. Could you go ‘round to the fraternity house? See if he’s okay or not? He said you guys have been hanging out more.”

  “He did?”

  “He said you and your friends were helping him with something. I’m so happy, by the way. I know the two of you hadn’t bonded, but I hoped things would be different when you went to the same college. Thank you, Summer. It means so much to me.”

  I held back a sigh. I loved Sheila. She’d been great to me, but something about this phone call grated on my nerves.

  “I’ll go see him in a few.”

  “Again, thank you so much, Summer. I also wanted to apologize for the last weekend we were there. Your father and I just had to square a few things away. We should’ve had some of that conversation much earlier, but it’s all good now. I wanted to let you know that. Your father and I are quite good now.”

  I was struck by that. A month ago, I might’ve been concerned. I might’ve wondered how everything really was between them, or how Kevin was doing with whatever was going on with his father. But I wasn’t. Not anymore.

  I straightened up, the back of my head pressing into the mattress. What did that mean? Was that a bad thing? Was I becoming selfish?

  I should be worried about them…right?

  “Okay, honey. I’m going to let you go. Thank you again for checking on Kevin, and please give me a call tomorrow. Let me know if everything’s all right.”

  “Yeah.”

  “Talk to you later. I’ll give your father your love.”

  “Oh, yeah. Okay. Thanks for that.”

  I hadn’t even considered sending that message, and as she hung up, my insides were swimming.

  I was staring at the phone in my lap when Caden came back from the bathroom, a towel wrapped around his hips.

  “You okay?” He gestured to the phone. “Who was that?”

  “My stepmom. I have to check on Kevin. She said he might be upset about something.”

  Caden rolled his eyes and turned toward his closet. “God forbid Matthews is mad about something.” He pulled on briefs and jeans, turning back. “Why is that your problem?”

  I tried not to let his chest distract me. “I guess it’s a sibling thing? Would you check on Marcus if he were upset?”

  “Marcus is my real brother, and he isn’t a scumbag trying to get in my pants.”

  Touché. “You know what I mean.”

  He tilted his head and lifted a shoulder. “Guess it depends on who was asking me, and how pissed he seemed. Marcus wouldn’t want me to check on him. We don’t have that kind of relationship.”

  “Colton?”

  “Colton’s different. Colton doesn’t ask for anything, so I’d go in a second with him.”

  “Are you saying I shouldn’t check on him?”

  “I’m saying…” He sat on the bed right next to me. I rested my head back, gazing up at him, and his eyes softened as he looked down at me. His hand brushed my hair from my forehead. “It’s your family. You can do whatever you’d like, but I don’t trust the asshole.”

  I grinned up at him. “You think he’d make a move?”

  “In a heartbeat.”

  My grin fell away. “Are you serious?”

  “He broke up with Maggie to be with you.”

  “No, he didn’t. He’s trying to change. He’s trying not to be like that any more.”

  I sat up and turned around to face him. I tucked the sheet more firmly under my arms to cover me. The rest pooled in my lap, the sides falling to the floor to cover my legs.

  “He wants you.” Caden watched me steadily. “Trust me. Guys know.” He leveled me with a hard look. “Are you sure you don’t still have feelings for him?”

  That stopped me. “I thought you didn’t think I had feelings for him? You said that before.”

  “Yeah, but that was before I fell in love with you.” He stood up, grabbing his shirt. T
hen he walked out, pulling it on.

  I sat there, my mouth on the floor. It wasn’t until the door closed that words came out. “Wait. What?!”

  Caden loved me, and I had to go check on my stupid stepbrother. Those two thoughts repeated through my mind. I could only sit there, my mouth on the floor.

  Oh my God. Caden actually loved me. I never thought… How could…

  “There’s nothing plain about you. Don’t let some dickhead like your stepbrother make you think that.”

  The idea that Caden could love me had never entered my realm of possibilities. I wasn’t just floored, I was actually still on the floor. But I had to find him. Kevin could wait.

  I went outside, but I couldn’t find him. Anywhere. He wasn’t in the backyard, in the house. He wasn’t on the lawn, and I couldn’t see his Land Rover either. He left.

  I couldn’t believe it. I stood there in the doorway of his shed, deciding what to do, then my phone buzzed a text.

  Let me know after you talk to him. Thank you again, Summer! XOXO

  I sighed. It was from Sheila.

  I needed to deal with this. The irony wasn’t lost on me as I went down the steps to the basement. Unlike the first time I went to this basement, I wanted to find a girl with him.

  “Come in,” he called.

  Kevin was alone and at his desk when I entered. No such luck.

  “Oh, hey. What are you doing here?” He got up and cleared a spot on his bed for me. It was covered with his clothes. “It’s my night to do laundry. Don’t worry. Those are all clean.”

  I perched on the end and folded my hands on my lap. Caden’s words were still in my head. I felt them inside of me, and I couldn’t focus for a moment.

  “So, huh.” Kevin cleared his throat, sitting back down at his desk. He faced me, an arm resting on the desk and his legs out. “What’s up?”

  “Your mom called me.”

  “Oh.” His eyebrows furrowed, and he turned slightly away, tucking one leg under the desk. “You’re supposed to check on me?”

  “Pretty much.”

  He laughed, quietly. “Sorry. This is probably the last place you want to be.”

  I glanced down at the floor, but lifted my head again. “What do you mean?”

  “I know about you and Caden.”

  My heart stopped. He did? He couldn’t know what Caden just said to me…could he? There had to be more to that. My head inclined forward. “Yeah?”

  “So…” His head moved forward, matching my movement. “I get it. I’ll tell my mom you checked on me, and everything is great. Don’t worry about it. I doubt Caden would want you in here.”

  “He doesn’t.”

  His eyes widened again. “You told him?”

  “Why wouldn’t I?”

  “You guys are more serious than I thought.”

  Now my eyebrows pinched together. “How is that your business?”

  “It’s a big step when you have to run everything by the other person.” He grunted. “I usually get out then, but it takes me six months to get there. It’s been two weeks for you guys.”

  “What are you talking about?”

  “Being accountable to another person. That’s a big step, Summer.”

  “I was with him when your mom called.” I cursed. That was none of his business either. Why was I explaining any of this to him?

  “Oh.” The ends of his mouth dipped down in thought. “It’s still a big deal. So there is a you-and-Caden thing.” His head perked up like he’d caught me in a lie.

  My blood was starting to boil. “That’s none of your business.”

  “Fine.” He pulled his other leg under the desk too. “Then my fight with my mom is none of your business either.”

  “She’s the one who asked me to check on you.”

  “Oh yeah.” His voice softened, and he cursed. “Sorry. I’m being an asshole.”

  I had a retort on the tip of my tongue, but no. I was being a good stepsister here. I swallowed it down and tried to smile. That was the whole point of this. Brother and sister. Family.

  “So, are you okay?”

  He let out a small breath, his hands moving to slide into his pockets. He leaned back in his chair and stretched his legs out so he looked nice and comfortable. “Who knows? I want a relationship with my dad, and my mom’s claiming he doesn’t want to see me.”

  “You don’t believe her?” My hand itched to text Caden. “That was before I fell in love with you.” My heart picked up its pace.

  “I don’t know. Maybe. He’s a selfish prick too.” He flashed me a grin. “I get that from him, but what father wouldn’t want to see his kid?”

  “What started the fight?” Why was I standing here? Caden was more pressing.

  “I emailed him and then told her what I did. She flipped out.”

  I forced something out that sounded interested. “Really?”

  Caden had blown up my world. I had to concentrate on what Kevin was saying.

  “I don’t know what all happened with them.” He sighed. “I think she’s afraid he’ll tell me, and I’ll get mad at her. Families hide the biggest shit. I think my family is somewhat normal. You’re the one not normal.”

  “Huh?”

  He snorted, his grin upping a notch. “You had a family that loved each other. Your parents were happy, weren’t they?”

  My parents? My mom… I felt a knife of pain burrowing inside of me, making its place again. I thought it was gone. I hadn’t felt it in weeks. It had been gone. Why was it back? I glanced down to my chest, as if I could see it.

  “Yeah.” There’d been fights, just not that many.

  “If your mom was still alive, your parents would still be together, probably.”

  “Yeah.” I echoed. “Probably.”

  My mom…

  The hole suddenly doubled in size.

  “If your mom was still alive.”

  “Sorry.” He grimaced, shaking his head. “You get sad whenever your mom is mentioned.”

  I gripped the ends of my shirt. “I see.” My voice was hoarse. A boulder sat on the top of my throat, blocking my airway.

  That fucking hole. I began itching there, right next to my heart.

  “Aw, shit.” He moved around in his seat again to face me. Leaning forward, his elbows rested on his knees. “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have said anything.”

  “Then why did you?”

  He clapped his hands together, and the side of his mouth crinkled in. His eyes found me—those chocolate brown ones I always used to wish would look at me the way they were right now.

  “My mom and dad hated each other most my life. I knew they were
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