Authors: Terry Towers
(Double Love MFM Romance)
Cover By: Melody Simmons
Copyright 2014 by Terry Towers
All rights reserved. With the exception of brief quotes used for critical reviews and articles no part of this book may be used or reproduced without the written permission of the author Terry Towers. Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada. Terry Towers can be contacted via her website at www.elixaeverett.com
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This book is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, or places, events or locales is purely coincidental. The characters are productions of the authors imagination and used fictitiously
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~ 15 months ago ~
“I can do this. I can do this,” Ivy Sullivan repeated over and over as she stared at herself in her bedroom mirror.
She was so nervous that her stomach was churning and she was frightened she might be sick. Although there wasn’t much in her stomach to unload, she’d been so nervous that she hadn’t been able to eat all day. But it was nerves, that’s all. Once she told her stepbrother how she felt and it was out there everything would be okay. He’d tell her he loved her back and then they could move on as a couple. Sure, the whole stepsibling thing would cause some issues, but their parents had only been married a few years, certainly not long enough for her to consider him as a
sibling, more like a roommate. She’d played the scene out in her head a million times over the past month and it never ended badly.
But years of insecurity and a lack of confidence were fierce opponents, wanting her to remain in her room, shut the door and continue to pretend she was okay with just being his friend. But that was a lie and she couldn’t live with a lie any longer.
At least I’m heading to college tomorrow
, she mused,
if he doesn’t feel the same I don’t have to see him again. Or at least not for a while
She gave her appearance another once-over. She’d spent close to an hour getting ready, making sure her makeup was flawless and her auburn hair shining without a strand out of place. She’d searched every store in Portland, Maine looking for the perfect dress. While the one she selected wasn’t perfect it did a pretty good job at flattering her body shape.
She normally wore sweatshirts and oversized t-shirts in an attempt to hide her chubbiness, but it never really helped. However, this dress was cute, it actually made her look like she had a waist, accenting her figure in all the right places. Having been a girl who’d struggled with a weight problem her entire life, usually weighing anywhere from 80 to 120 pounds more than her “ideal” weight, feeling beautiful and desirable was oftentimes challenging. However, this was one of the first times in her life she felt beautiful, she felt like she might actually have a chance with the captain of the football team who had stolen her heart without knowing it and slept across the hall.
Taking a deep breath in, she slowly released it and gave her appearance a nod. It was now or never. She left her room and crossed the hall. There was the faint sound of music coming from Ethan’s room –
. It was a band he loved and always played when he was in an especially good mood.
He was in a good mood, that was a bonus.
Ivy knocked on his door, waited a minute and then opened it up, peeking her head inside. “Hey Ethan, you busy?”
Ethan looked up from his laptop in her direction, while muting the sound, then spun his desk chair around and gave her a smile. “Not really, what’s up?” He was gorgeous, everything about him was perfect in her mind. Everything from the way his blue eyes shone when he laughed to the way he could make her feel good just being around him. He wasn’t just a random guy she had a crush on, but one of the closest friends she had and if he rejected her it would ruin everything.
And it would crush me
, she silently added.
She opened the door fully and stepped inside, closing it behind her. The last thing she wanted was someone – namely one of their parents – overhearing what she had to say.
“Wow, you look amazing,” Ethan stated, letting out a low whistle. “Big plans for your last night here?”
A blush warmed her cheeks. “No. No, I wanted to talk to you though.” She crinkled her nose at him. “It’s kinda important.”
He motioned toward the bed. “Have a seat. Let’s talk. What’s on your mind?” He sat back in the chair he was sitting in and laced his fingers behind his head. “You know I’m going to really miss having you around to hang out with.”
Ivy graced him with a smile. That was an encouraging statement.
“I have something to say and I’m just going to say it, okay?”
Ethan frowned, leaning forward in his chair and eyeing her a little more critically. “Ummm. All right. You can tell me anything, you know that.” He took her shaky hands in his and gave her a smile of reassurance. “Come on. What’s up?”
Just do it. Just do it. Like a Band-Aid. One rip and right off!
“I love you Ethan,” she blurted, not able to look him in the eye as she said it.
Seconds passed, maybe minutes. She couldn’t say for sure, it felt like an eternity. When she couldn’t stand the wait any longer she looked up into his eyes, which harboured a mixture of confusion and disbelief.
He slowly pulled his hands from hers and straightened in his chair. “I don’t understand.” His eyes focused on a spot above her left shoulder. Then down at the floor between their feet. And then down at an imaginary piece of lint on his t-shirt. He looked everywhere but at her. In the million scenarios she’d envisioned, this wasn’t how any of them went down. The fact he’d pulled his hands from hers also did not seem to be in her favor.
“I love you. I’m in love with you, Ethan. For quite a while now to be honest.” She looked up at him, hopeful. He just needed time to digest the information. He hadn’t turned her down yet, there was still hope.
He stood abruptly, sending his chair tumbling backwards, and thrust a hand into his hair. He didn’t seem to notice the chair was now on its side. “I don’t understand what you’re expecting me to say, Ivy.” He began pacing, back and forth. “What am I supposed to say?”
She chewed at her lower lip and shrugged. “You love me too?”
He stopped pacing and stood before her. “I do.”
Her heart soared.
“As a friend. And my stepsister.”
Her heart went crashing into her stomach. “But…”
“I’ve never considered you in that way, Ivy.”
He gave his head a little shake, catching her gaze for the first time since she’d made her declaration. “I’m sorry, Ivy.”
A sob caught in her throat and tears filled her eyes. She leapt from the bed and brushed past him. When he grabbed for her hand she shook him off, racing from his bedroom across the hall and into the sanctuary of her own room. As soon as the door to her room was closed and locked she allowed the tears and sobs free rein. She began practically tearing the crimson-coloured dress from her body and tossing it into the corner in a heap, not giving a damn it cost her three weeks’ pay working at the local coffee shop as a barista. She’d never wear it again so what would it matter.
As she lay curled up in a ball on her bed she hoped Ethan would change his mind and come to her, telling her he messed up and wanted her too. He didn’t. She left the next morning without saying another word to him.
~ The Present ~
“I can’t believe it, Ivy. I just... Wow.”
Ivy caught her best friend Cassidy Reynolds’ blue eyes in the full-length mirror on the back of her closet door and smiled. She refocused her attention to her reflection, and her smile widened looking at the beautiful green-eyed girl staring back at her. “One hundred and twenty pounds,” she said, more to herself than Cassidy. It wasn’t until she arrived home and saw all the pictures of herself at two hundred and forty pounds that how much weight she’d lost really hit home; she could barely believe she used to be that girl.
“One-hundred and twenty pounds. That’s how much I weigh now. Amazing, huh?”
“It’s insane. It really is,” Cassidy confirmed.
It was. All her life she was always the fat girl. Throughout school she was always the “fat friend” who stood by and watched all her friends go out on dates and have boyfriends while she stayed home on the weekends hoping she could be one of those girls, the beautiful ones, like her stunning blonde bombshell best friend Cassidy. Middle school had been a nightmare, she’d been teased relentlessly – high school was marginally better. It still hurt when she gave it any thought – so she didn’t. At least she tried not to anyhow.
“I think we need to go out and show you around. Fifteen months away from home is way too long to go without my bestie.”
Ivy was tempted, but she was on a mission tonight. She turned to face her friend. “I’m really sorry Cassidy, I really am. I just… after what happened… I needed to get away and then when I started losing weight I didn’t want to come back until I was the new me…” she crinkled up her nose, tossing her auburn hair over her shoulder. “Does that make sense?”
Cassidy got up from Ivy’s double bed and walked over to give her friend a warm embrace. “I get it. But I just don’t understand why you’d even want him after he was such a jackass to you. He doesn’t deserve you. He didn’t then and certainly doesn’t now.”
“I want him
he was such a jackass,” Ivy corrected. Her mind rushed back to the memory of her spilling her heart out to her stepbrother before she left for college. His rejection was swift and perhaps a little blunter than he’d intended, but he’d made it clear, she wasn’t his “type.” Meaning, she was a little too chunky – correction, too fat, to warrant his interest. No doubt it was her weight because up until that moment they’d been close friends, their personalities matching perfectly. Her yen to his yang. Her confession and his rejection changed all that.
“Do you think this looks good on me?” Ivy ran her hands along the red form-fitting mini-dress she was wearing. The dress clung to her curves like a second skin. She wasn’t used to this type of clothing and still felt a little ill at ease showing off her body. So many years of insecurities about her body had taken a toll on her self-esteem, she supposed. She’d always admired the larger girls who seemed to own it, she was just never able to.
“It’s incredible. You’re easily the hottest woman in town, he’ll be drooling over you and I guarantee he’ll be kicking himself for being such a jerk before. So what’s the plan anyhow?”
“I’m going to seduce Trey.”
Cassidy’s brow knit as she took a step back. “I don’t get it. It’s Ethan you want. Why?”
A wicked smile spread across her lips. “Because I’m going to have them both.”
“Excuse me?” Her friend’s blue eyes widened in surprise. “What do you mean?”
“I mean. The best way to get at Ethan is to go after his best friend. Besides, you know how badly Trey treated women in high school. He deserves to be taught a lesson just as much as Ethan. Think of all the girls they’ve cheated on and left heartbroken over the years. It’s about time someone showed them how bad it feels to be treated like they’re insignificant.”
“But how? I mean…” Cassidy raked a hand through her golden hair. “You know they’re both a couple of playboys – that hasn’t changed since you’ve been away.”
“True, but here’s the thing. They both expect the women to fall head over heels like they always do for them. They don’t expect to be the ones being led on. And they always go for looks, not what’s in the woman’s head.”
“Yeah, but how do you expect to rope them in? I mean you’re gorgeous… But…”
“Because, I know them. I know them both, extremely well. I know how to catch them and how to reel them in. I know what they like in a woman, and I know how to be that woman. I know my weight was the only thing holding Ethan back before. Without that between us it should be easy enough.”
Despite her words she was still nervous. Well over a year had passed. They might be entirely different people by now. According to Cassidy they weren’t, they were the same kind of guys who’d left her broken-hearted, but there was no guarantee.
Cassidy draped her arm over her friend’s shoulders. “Well, on the behalf of half the women of Portland, Maine, if you can pull this off, we thank you. About time those jerks learned a lesson.”
Ivy’s heart rate accelerated as she heard the roar of the two Kawasaki Ninja motorcycles coming down the street and then rolling into the driveway of their parents’ two-story home. Ethan had moved out last year, but was housesitting while their parents were on vacation travelling by train across Europe.
Maybe this is a bad idea
. She looked at herself in the full-length foyer mirror. Nervous green eyes stared back. The thought that within a couple of minutes she’d be face to face with the guy who broke her heart was bringing back all the feelings of insecurity she’d felt before the weight loss.
“I’m not that girl anymore,” she coached herself, nervously patting down the front of her dress, smoothing out any wrinkles. She had a week before their parents came back to accomplish her plan. Once they were back she doubted she’d have the opportunity to get both Ethan and Trey together – alone. Ethan would be back living at his place and she’d have failed her mission.
The motors of the bikes shut off and she sprang into action, rushing to the kitchen fridge waiting for the moment to open, bend over, displaying her bottom, while she pretended to look for something inside. She smiled to herself; despite her nervousness she could barely wait to see the look of shock on their faces. The few people she’d seen in town who had known her before she left didn’t even recognize her now.
“After last week, it’s good to have a few days off to relax.” Ethan placed his motorcycle helmet on the table next to the door and rolled his shoulders. He was severely cramped up. With one of the worst heat waves in history baking Portland, the amount of forest and field fires that had taken place over the past week had also been at a record high, keeping him, Trey and the rest of the men at the fire station insanely busy and pushing them past their limits of exhaustion with all the overtime they’d had to put in.
“Yeah. Two weeks without a day off fucking sucked,” Trey agreed, placing his helmet next to Ethan’s. “I need a beer, don’t suppose your folks have…”
“Yeah, I stocked up the other day.”
“Maybe we should head to the clubs tonight. It’s been a while. I could use some serious stress relief.”
Ethan’s hand shot out, stopping Trey from proceeding around the corner and into the kitchen. He placed his index finger against his lips. Trey frowned, but nodded his understanding. He heard movement coming from the kitchen. Suspecting it was an intruder he motioned for Trey to cover his back as he slowly and silently rounded the corner and peered into the kitchen. His eyes immediately caught sight of a slender woman with her back to him, bent over and rummaging through his parent’s fridge. The short dress she was wearing had pulled up and was an inch from revealing her in her entirety to him.
What in the hell is going on? I’m sure I locked the door this morning. Even better question who in the hell breaks into someone’s house and raids their fridge? Crazy people, that’s who.
“Excuse me. Miss…” He cautiously advanced on the woman, not sure what to think of the female intruder, but not taking any chances considering she may be some crazy woman. Trey was hot on his heels as the woman straightened up, a bottle of water in her hand and spun around, her long auburn hair whipping into her face as she turned. She raked her fingers through her hair, pushing it back out of her face and his heart stopped a moment.
He could barely believe his eyes. If it hadn’t been for her emerald green eyes and how her lips curled up into a wide smile of greeting he wouldn’t have recognized her.
A wave of guilt washed over him as his mind flashed back to the day before she left for college. She’d told him she was in love with him and he’d rejected her. That was the last time they’d spoken. He tried calling her numerous times over the past year, but she refused to answer any of his calls or text messages; she wouldn’t even come home from college for the holidays. They’d been so close before that moment and went from being good friends to strangers, and the guilt tugged at him knowing he was to blame for it.
“Well, hello Ethan.” She looked past him and smiled at Trey. “Trey. So nice to see you again.”
“Wow. Ivy, you look… Smoking.” Trey stepped up from behind him and walked over to Ivy.
Her green eyes lit up at the compliment. “Thank you Trey. It was hard work, but this is the new me.”
the new you,” Trey responded with a wide smile spreading across his face.
Placing her bottle of water on the counter, Ivy slid her arms around Trey’s neck and hugged tight to him. Ethan’s jaw clenched and a surge of jealousy raced through him as he watched his best friend and Ivy embrace. Trey lifted her off her feet and she squealed with delight.
Ivy remained extremely close to Trey even after the hug ended and he placed her back onto her feet.
“Geez man!” Trey motioned toward Ivy. “Don’t you think you should pay little step-sis a compliment?” Trey’s eyes moved up and down the length of Ivy’s body. “She’s turned into a goddess.”
“I would have if you’d have given me a second, jackass.” Ethan attempted to simmer his temper. Trey didn’t have to make him look like a douche. “You look really good, Ivy. I’m really glad to see you again.” He stepped up to her and gave her a hug, but she was tense in his arms, not hugging him with the enthusiasm that she had Trey.
I get it, she’s still pissed.
He sighed as he separated from her.
As soon as she separated from him, she turned back to Trey, virtually ignoring him. “So Trey, I hear you’re both firefighters now.”
“Yeah, yeah. It’s been
couple weeks. Lots of fires.”
“I bet.” Ivy’s green eyes remained on Trey’s dark ones, ignoring Ethan. “So Trey, any new girlfriends?”
“Nah. Not for a while. Ethan and I are both having a bit of a dry spell.”
Thanks a lot man. I’m an asshole and having a dry spell, you’re making me look more appealing by the second
. As soon as the thought came to mind he frowned. He’d made his choice over a year ago. He’d told her he wasn’t interested, so it’s not like it mattered anyhow. Over a year of her ignoring his numerous calls said everything he needed to know. But dammit, she could have at least given him an opportunity to explain, to apologize, to smooth things over. But nothing. As soon as he said he couldn’t return her feelings she’d taken off and locked herself into her room, refusing to talk to him. And that had been it; the end of their friendship and dammit he’d missed her.
“Listen Ethan, I know since I’m here now you really don’t have to, but I was hoping since mom and your dad are away for the week you could hang out at the house with me. It’s quiet and so empty, compared to the dorms, ya know?” She turned to Trey and added, “Both of you really. We could catch up.” She gave Trey a side hug.
Anger and jealousy surged through Ethan again. Not cool.
“Yeah, I guess. I’d still need to drop in each day to check on your mother’s parrot anyhow. Pepper is on a special medication and needs to be hand fed the medicine anyhow. And, well, you two don’t seem to have the greatest of relationships. Do they even know you came home?”
“Yeah. They’ve known a while. And for the record that parrot had it out for me from the moment Mom brought it home. Nasty bird.”
Ethan’s frown deepened. “They didn’t tell me.”
“I told them not to.”
“Why?” As soon as he asked the question he growled at himself. He didn’t want Trey privy to what went down between them. He shared virtually everything with Trey, but her professing her love for him was the one thing he’d kept to himself. “Never mind,” he grumbled under his breath, cutting off her chance to answer.
Ethan looked at his friend, wanting to ask Trey to leave so he could talk to her in private. But what good would it do? She may be mad but at the same time maybe it was his overactive imagination, maybe he was the one still fucked up over what happened. Hell, looking as she was now, he imagined she had every frat boy on campus falling over himself to be with her. She was the package: a wonderful person, too smart for her own good and now drop-dead gorgeous to boot. There’s a good chance she was over him now and if he were to even bring up the idea of them together, she’d be the one rejecting him and he’d look foolish and conceited for thinking she carried a flame for him.