Authors: Sarah Sparrows
Tags: #Literature & Fiction, #Women's Fiction, #Contemporary Women, #Romance, #Contemporary, #Military, #New Adult & College, #Romantic Comedy, #Contemporary Fiction, #Fantasy, #Psychological, #Sagas
2015 Sarah Sparrows
Sarah Sparrows 2015
Cover design by Sarah Sparrows
This book is a work of fiction. All
the characters in this book are fictitious and any similarity to any person,
living or dead, is purely coincidence.
All rights reserved. No part of this
publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by
any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical
methods, without the prior written permission of the publisher, except in the
case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other
non-commercial uses permitted by copyright law.
relationship with him had been complicated.
complicated. From the day I met him, he was a complete jackass to me, just
shy of belittling me at every last fucking turn. I never knew what his problem
with me was, but he seemed to get his rocks off on antagonizing me in these
small, subtle mind games. I hated it. I hated
of those were true.
it. It was like we were playing
this constant game with one another. I was always on the defensive, and he was
always on the attack, but something about the game just kept me playing.
It was true
that he was a complete asshole to me. I couldn’t stand how fucking cocky he
was, with his attractive build that I saw way too often when he’d wander around
the house shirtless. Then there was that stupid little smirk he had used on me
all the time – the
He was so confidant, so self-assured, and he had never turned down an
opportunity to pick at me.
I loved it.
It was stupid
and I knew it. I don’t know why I let him get away with it – it’s not
like I couldn’t stand my ground against him. But for some reason… I reveled in
his antagonistic attention. I didn’t let him walk all over me by any means, and
I’d challenge him if he got out of line, but something about the weird, stupid
stepsibling tension between us enticed me.
Was that why?
I dwelled on the thought,
thinking back to when I was sixteen years old.
Did I just want his attention?
was a good girl. Good girls don’t crush on their brothers…
… Sawyer had
been handsome before.
Now, he was
I wasn’t sure
how I could much I could bear a summer alone with the cocky, sculpted jackass
now. It had been easy to let the past be the past and just forget the whole
mess, but then he had to come back and make life a living hell again. Now, I
was going to have to figure my feelings out while
with the guy. And there was
I was going to let him have that kind of power over me, not
after he’d betrayed me before.
didn’t resolve the looming crisis. With a couple of months living together
alone, there were really only two options immediately visible, and I had no
idea which one would be more appealing.
want to kill Sawyer, or…
No. I wasn’t
willing to admit it to myself.
bear to dwell on how much I wanted to fuck him.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
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y life changed forever the day that I
met the jackass named Sawyer Samuels. I was fresh from a year of studying
abroad – God bless those high school essay contests. Let me tell you, I
never seriously entertained the idea that I would be picked out of a few
thousand entries, sent overseas for a year of hardcore education and given
eight cities to choose from. After a mad dash to the airport, eight hours in
the air, and the extra hour in the passenger seat of the car, my tired body was
sluggish with jet lag.
that’s why I took the news that I had a new father – and a new
stepbrother – not particularly well.
I knew that
my mother was dating – that she had met a really great guy who she was
hitting things off with really well. God bless my mom, she was
at keeping up with people. It
was as if she were completely averse to technology. I could understand why she
didn’t want to pay for those pricey international texts, but she would barely
respond to emails, phone calls, practically anything I threw at her. The few
letters I wrote her were never answered, although she’d confirm she loved them
the few times I caught her.
spending so much time abroad, I was eager to find out about this new guy she’d
alluded to – my mother had mentioned that he was a real charmer. She even
happily confessed that he made her feel young again.
enough for me to like the guy.
Ever since my
father walked out on us when I was young, it was just the two of us, and I knew
that she needed that back in her life. That stone. That foundation. My mother
was a strong woman, don’t get me wrong, and her endless cheerfulness could
illuminate the darkest room. But too often had I found her curled up on the
couch, asleep, a half-filled glass of wine on the coffee table and a late movie
marathon quietly lighting the room – with the captions on, so she
wouldn’t wake me. I would always find a blanket for her and drape it across her
tired, saddened body, hoping that she got her rest before the next monotonous
shift at the Waffle House.
told me much about this strange suitor, but what she
told me had interested me.
A little salt and pepper in his hair.
He looks very distinguished, but he can
smile like the rest of ‘em,
she wrote once.
Chet is this big business fellow. I pretend to listen when he tells me
about it sometimes. I just like to listen to him talk. I can’t wait for you to
hear his voice. He’s such a guy.
worried when I hadn’t heard from her for a month and a half, prior to my
return, but those fears fell to the wayside when she snatched me up from the
airport herself. My mother was positively beaming. I’d never seen her so happy
in my life, and I knew that my return wasn’t the
have been going fantastic with Chet.
But I didn’t
get to really ask about that. The entire drive back, she wanted to know all
about Bristol. As soon as I opened my mouth the words just fell out of me. I delighted
her with first-hand accounts of the Bristol International Balloon Fiesta, and
how the sky filled with large, colorful hot air balloons. I proudly elaborated
on the maritime history of the city, including the important, early New World
voyages that had sailed from the Bristol port. She had no idea that Bristol had
been a major trade hub for nearly a thousand years. My tale continued on with
the rich architecture; I elaborated on the beauty of the traditional European
houses and the gorgeous and imposing government buildings; I even explained the
beauty of the Bristol Cathedral, and its gothic, pale-brick twin towers.
enough, Bristol hadn’t been my first choice – that had been my beloved
dream destination, Paris. Heartbreakingly,
wasn’t in the cards, so I settled for the historic port city…although I was
determined to make my way there as soon as I could.
I should have suspected why she was keeping me so talkative. At the time, it
didn’t really occur to me – in fact, nothing seemed really out of place until
I pointed out our exit as we shot past it.
spoke in my faint British accent, “we passed our spot. Did I excite you so much
about Bristol that you forgot where we live?”
something to show you, dearie,” she told me with a wink.
I bit my lip.
She hadn’t called me
and I wondered what had made her so happy that she slipped into the old habit.
to me that she wanted me to meet her boyfriend – and I was far too tired
and jet-lagged to put up with that for too long. But I couldn’t bring myself to
cut her off, or to grumble at her, and so I sat with my temple against the
Half an hour
later, we were driving down a district of
houses. The setting sun had cast a beautiful painterly backdrop
behind the exquisite homes, its light bathing everything within sight under a
gorgeous glow. The entire scene was unreal. Studying the two, sometimes
three-story houses against the blend of oranges overtaking the sky, I noticed
small details that made the entire place reek of money we would never have.
Many of the homes featured thick Greco-Roman pillars, accenting the exquisite
painted woodwork of the houses; they also structurally supported the sprawling,
second-floor stretch balconies. Large, healthy trees with outstretched branches
dominated near the street, shading the asphalt and preventing the borderline
blinding light from being too obnoxious.
beautiful house on the street was set back from the road, as several of them
were. This house in particular was perched atop a hill, overlooking the
dominion of wealthy homes below.
As my eyes
bugged out, it was this house that my mother drove towards, punching out at the
small electronic panel set into a stone wall near the gated entrance.
where your guy lives?”
didn’t I tell you? He’s a little…wealthy.”
wealthy? Look at this place!”
Isn’t it great?” She pulled through the tall, black iron gate, and I peered
through the rear-view mirror as it closed behind us. “Just wait until you see
the inside. It’s even better.”
no,” Mom chuckled airily. “The sly feller only showed me this place a few weeks
ago. He rented this middle-class place for months. It was still
nice, much nicer than what we
have, but he kept
place a total
surprise to me. He wanted to make sure I wasn’t dating him for the money. I
didn’t have a clue that Chet was loaded!”
remained dropped as we passed between the short, stubby trees that lined the
driveway. Scattered along the hill, they coated the entire area in a layer of
mystery. As we pulled ever forward, I couldn’t feel my fatigue anymore –
it had been cleanly and utterly replaced with
If there was
something to make me glad about leaving Bristol and coming back to
Pennsylvania, it was
this freaking house.
A tall, lanky
teenager was loitering at the front door when we pulled up. Standing on the
landing with his back against a pillar, a cigarette stuffed between his lips,
he wasn’t even gazing at us when we pulled up. I could see his thick, sandy
hair through my window. It stood in a barely-managed puff. He looked like my
type of guy – aloof, a little edgy, just the right balance between
I don’t give a fuck
Right as I
was thinking this, he turned and gazed right at me. He looked into my eyes for
a moment, taking one last puff of his cigarette before putting it out in the
mounted ashtray nearby. In that instant, he passed out of view as we parked in
the carport, next to a pricey-looking sports car.
young for your tastes, I’d say.”
you,” Mom cheerily told me. “I’m afraid that I might have forgotten to mention
Place nice with him, okay? He’s
nicer than he looks, I promise…”
wrong about people before.
I hoped that
she wasn’t off the mark with this guy, either.
And that went
for the guy’s father.
ourselves out of the car, and Mom clicked down the carport door as we cleared the
roof. While it tucked our underwhelming vehicle out of view, I glanced up at
Sawyer. He was sizing me up, a glum look on his face.
told me she was pretty,” he told my mother as we met him at the top of the
,” she chided him. “You said you
were going to be on your best behavior. Where’s your father?”
Real keen on meeting
,” he turned
to address me, flashing a coy little smirk.
If not for
his previous line, I would have been flattered. Now that we were right on top
of him, I could see that he dressed in baggy clothes that hid his build. He
wasn’t lanky at all – in fact, I could sense that he had the foundation
body beneath those
clothes. When he wasn’t slumping, his shoulders were broad, powerful –
and when I made the logical mental deductions to his sagging clothing, I
realized that with minimal effort he could probably have an
“I’m sure he
is! It’s about time he met my daughter,” she continued as she started walking
to the front door.
daughter,” he muttered under his
breath, turning away from me.
opened my mouth to demand what he meant by that, but Mom was already crossing
the landing up to the door, and I wanted to keep close to her for now. Swallowing
my words, I scampered off after her – but out of the corner of my eye, it
seemed as if Sawyer were looking at me.
Checking me out?
I didn’t have
time to think about this, because the door opened for us. Inside was a man who
looked almost exactly like a much older Sawyer – but a Sawyer who had
care of himself. With a
broad, powerful build, Mom’s boyfriend bore the telltale lines of frequent
smiling across his strong, chiseled face.
welcome! Come inside, let’s get a look at you…”
aside, holding the door wide open, and we stepped into the rich, exquisite
right. It seriously was better on the inside. But I didn’t have a lot of time
to dwell on the pristine,
“I’d you to
introduce you to Chet…” my mother warmly told me.
reached out to shake his hand, but he pulled me into a strong hug instead.
Surprised, I was taken aback by the strength of his arms as he embraced me. He
was as handsome as she had told me in her few email responses – although
way too old to be anything more than “Mom’s boyfriend”, and he wore a strong
whiff of what smelled like expensive cologne.
hadn’t finished her sentence, apparently. “…Your new father.”