Stepbrother Reunited (Billionaire Stepbrother BBW Romance) (2 page)

BOOK: Stepbrother Reunited (Billionaire Stepbrother BBW Romance)
13.27Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

 

“Chloe, Dad-“

 

“Is a
bastard
! I don’t want anything to do with him. Not him, not his money, not
anything
. I don’t know what he told you, but the only reason he sent you looking for me is probably because he needs a kidney or something. Well, he’s not going to get it from
me
.”

 

“He doesn’t need a kidney.”

 

“What?” I demanded, exasperated, “what is it, then?”

 

“Chloe, Dad’s dead.”

 

I was on the floor on my knees just about the time I realized my ankles weren’t going to hold me up in my high heels. “Dead?”

 

“Yes,” Trent said, gently, touching my arm. “Last Friday, he went to sleep and he never woke up. The doctors think his heart stopped.”

 

“He went peacefully in his sleep,” I said, shock still making my lips cold and numb, “there are soldiers who die hurt and alone, and that prick gets to just go in his sleep? Where is the justice in
that
?”

 

“I didn’t have the problems with him that you had,” Trent said. “I can’t even begin to imagine. But I wasn’t exactly his biggest fan, either, you know?”

 

“No,” I said, looking up at the stranger in the gray bespoke suit. “I
don’t
know. I don’t know anything about you, Trent. I haven’t seen you in ten years.”

 

***

 

So, just to clarify, I did not try to get up on my brother – not exactly. Trent is my step-brother. My mom married his dad when I was eight and he was twelve. I didn’t actually see Trent a lot growing up because his mother had custody of him throughout the school year. We got along well enough at holidays and over the summer, though. Of course, it isn’t very hard to get along when you live on a ranch with two swimming pools and its own movie theater. All of our summers were as good as they could be there, except for the one when my mother died.

 

Maybe I should back up even further. My mom and my biological dad were never together. I don’t even know his name. I’ve never tried to find him and I’m willing to bet he hasn’t tried to find me. My mother was working as a cocktail waitress at a casino when she met J.B. Morse. She didn’t know who he was except for a high roller who apparently had enough pull with the casino that he could request her as his personal server. He was handsome back then, although he was twenty years older than she was, and he must have been charming. Mom wasn’t shallow like that, not the way I remember her. Sure, expensive gifts were nice, but the two of us got by fine on what she made. She wasn’t a gold digger.

 

After three months of being Mr. Morse’s personal cocktail waitress, she stopped working. He paid for our apartment and bought her a new car, she entertained him whenever he was in Las Vegas, which was often.  Three months after that, we went to go live at the ranch. I knew Mr. Morse was rich, but I had no idea he was stupid-crazy-Texas-oil-money rich until we moved. He married my mom in a simple ceremony by the waterfall that trickled into the outdoor pool. It was a beautiful day and everyone treated me like a princess.

 

It was also the last good day.

 

Dad, as I had been coached to call Mr. Morse, had been married and divorced twice before he married my mother, and it wasn’t because he was just unlucky in love. Their courtship in Las Vegas had been ideal because they only saw each other for a few hours at a time, a few days a week. Living with Dad all the time meant Mom never got to stop being his personal cocktail waitress. He expected her to drop everything, especially if it was something for me, and cater to his every desire.

 

Once, I nearly drowned in the pool because he needed her for something when she was teaching me to swim. She was sitting at the edge of the pool, coaching me in using my arms and legs to get from the middle to the edge. When she didn’t come when he called fast enough, he grabbed her by the hair and dragged her into the house. I was left struggling to reach the side and get out with no help.

 

The biggest problem was that Dad wanted more children, or, more accurately, more sons. The longer they were married without Mom getting pregnant, the nastier he got to both of us. When I was twelve, the doctors finally figured out why Mom couldn’t conceive: she had fast-growing tumors all over her uterus. By my thirteenth birthday, she couldn’t get out of bed. By my fourteenth, she was dead.

 

That’s when Dad’s rage really hit me.

 

Nothing was right about me, not how I looked, not how I spoke, not how I acted. It was just the two of us in the house, then, except for the housekeeping staff and rare visits from Trent and Adrian, Dad’s son from his first marriage. For four years, I lived under surveillance, sometimes literally. Dad put cameras in my room. He’d force me to sit through hours of him replaying tapes and pointing out how stupid and disgusting they proved me to be.

 

On my eighteenth birthday, I took all the cash in the safe and my Mom’s jewelry and had a friend drive me to the Amtrak station. I took the train to Seattle and never, ever looked back.

 

***

 

I was looking back now, though, at the neon sign over my diner, reflected in the mirror on my side of Trent’s rented Porshe. To convince Mindy to cover my shifts so I could take the rest of the week off, he’d peeled off enough of those crisp hundreds into her hand to pay her bills until Christmas. I didn’t have any real intention of staying at the ranch for a whole week, but I figured he wouldn’t come back to Mindy for a refund after I split in a day or two to come home to my real life.

 

“We need to go by my apartment so I can pack some things,” I told Trent when he climbed into the car beside me.

 

“What kinds of things?”

 

“Clothes, shampoo, toothpaste… those kinds of things.”

 

“If we get on the road now, we can beat the rush hour traffic out to the airport. I don’t want to miss our takeoff time. I’ll buy you anything you’re missing.”

 

“They put a Wal-Mart in at the ranch now, too?” I asked, sarcastically. He put his aviators back on so his facial expressions were once again a mystery to me. We listened to the radio without saying a word to each other until he got out onto the highway. We hit traffic, anyway, because of a wreck ahead of us. When the car stopped moving, he started talking.

 

“Chloe, I know that life with Dad alone those few years was… hard.”

 

“You don’t know the half of it.” 

 

“You’re right, I don’t. And you’re not required to tell me, if you don’t want.” His hand strayed from the stick shift as he absently stroked my thigh. Heat coursed through my body. I now knew it was a gesture of support, not lust, but I couldn’t get my fool libido to listen. Trent wasn’t my brother in blood, but he was close enough that getting turned on was not okay. I shifted in my seat to give myself some relief. His hand moved further up my thigh, which didn’t help anything.

 

“I’m still not real clear about why I have to go to the ranch at all.”

 

“Because Dad adopted you when you were eight, the law considers you to be just as much his child as Adrian and me. We all have to be present when the will is read.”

 

“It’s not like he left me anything,” I scoffed.

 

“Don’t be so sure. Dad flat-out told me he’d disinherited me because I was such a shitty son, and I still got a trust fund when I turned twenty-five.”

 

“He told you that? When?”

 

“At my college graduation party.”

 

“That’s crazy,” I shook my head. “I remember that party. It was right before I left. He told me for days before how you were his greatest success and I was the one that would never amount to anything but a…” I pulled myself up short. Tears stung my eyes, even though the insult was ten years old.

 

“Anything but what?”

 

“A truck stop cum-dumpster,” I finished. Trent lowered his shades and we looked at each other for a long, silent moment. I have no idea who started it, but we both began to chuckle.

 

“Jesus Christ,” Trent said before breaking into a full laugh, “who says that? Who fucking
says
that?”

 

I was laughing now, too. We had kept Dad’s words to ourselves because we thought we were the only ones. Finding out that the worst thing your father ever said to you wasn’t even the worst thing he said
that day
was deliriously freeing. “Who says that?” I hooted. “A hateful old bastard, that’s who.”

 

“I still got your money, Dad!” Trent raised a middle finger and shook it at the top of the car.

 

“No, Trent, no,” I laughed so hard I was struggling for breath, “you gotta point that lower or he’s never going to see it. Not where he is!”

 

We both laughed until we had to wipe away tears. About that time, traffic moved again ahead of us.

 

“I forgot you were funny,” Trent said as we made our way to the airport. “I remember it, now, but it’s been so long.”

 

“Yeah,” I nodded. “Too long.”

 

***

 

One private plane ride and an hour by limo and we were driving through the gates of the ranch. Nothing had changed in ten years, not that I could see. There wasn’t much that could change about the Texas prairie. I don’t know what I expected. It’s not like there were heavy clouds hanging over the place before that could clear up now that Evil Overlord Dad had died. The house even looked the same when we walked through the front door into the white marble foyer ringed by two grand staircases.

 

“Is that…” I looked up as a stout lady in her sixties with iron gray hair trotted out of a side hallway and threw her arms around me. Her smell was so familiar that I recognized her as soon as she pulled me into her tight hug.

 

“Trent, you found her. I can’t believe it.”

 

“Oh, Miss Consuela,” I said, “it’s so good to see you. I didn’t know you still worked here.”

 

Miss Consuela was the only decent thing about my life at the ranch after Mom got sick. She protected me from Dad as much as she could, one time literally hiding me in a cabinet and standing in front of it when he was tearing around the house looking for me. Dad told people she was the head housekeeper and made her wear a uniform when company came over. While it was true that she oversaw the house, her biggest job was overseeing Dad’s finances. Trent probably owed his trust fund to her, if not the existence of the money itself, then certainly whatever back channel way it had come to him without Dad noticing.

 

“I’ll work here until the ranch is sold, unless one of you wants to move in.” She gave me one last squeeze before releasing me. “Chloe, it’s so good to see you looking so well. It’s been so long. But I have to ask… what are you wearing?”

 

“A slutty waitress uniform. It’s a long story. The short version is that Trent shanghaied me from work and wouldn’t let me go home for other clothes so…” I gestured at my torso with both hands, “this is what you’ve got to look at until he takes me shopping.”

 

“I can definitely do better than that,” she shook her head. “Let me take care of it, dear, you should have enough clothes for a week in your room before dinner.” She pecked Trent on the cheek in greeting.

 

“Is Adrian here yet?” Trent asked.

 

“His flight out of Hong Kong’s been delayed,” she said. “He’ll be here tomorrow night at the earliest.”

 

“I guess that gives Chloe and me a chance to catch up before we get down to business, then.”

 

“Miss Consuela?” I asked. “Do you know what the will says?” If anyone in this house knew, she would.

 

“I don’t, no. Your father had it redrafted sometime last year. He didn’t tell me anything about it other than that he’d made changes.”

 

“I guess we will have to wait for Adrian, then.” As my hopes of leaving the ranch forever as soon as the will was read died, a new feeling replaced it. Mindy was covering me to have the whole week off, after all. Would it be the worst thing in the world to stay a few days at the ranch? I could do all the things I used to do in the summer as a kid: ride horses, eat Miss Consuela’s special tamales, go swimming with Trent… lick beads of water off Trent’s taut stomach until he pulled his trunks down and gave me something
really
hard to lick…

BOOK: Stepbrother Reunited (Billionaire Stepbrother BBW Romance)
13.27Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Other books

The Gurkha's Daughter by Prajwal Parajuly
Sweet Spot: Homeruns #4 by Sloan Johnson
S&M III, Vol. II by Vera Roberts
The Last Undercover by Bob Hamer
The FitzOsbornes at War by Michelle Cooper