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Authors: C. M. Owens

Tags: #Romance, #Contemporary, #Romantic Comedy, #Literature & Fiction, #Contemporary Fiction

The Sterling Boys

BOOK: The Sterling Boys
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The Sterling Boys

The Sterling Shore Series

Published by C.M. Owens at Smashwords

Copyright 2014 by C.M. Owens

 

 

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise) without the prior written permission of both the copyright owner and the above publisher of this book. This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, brands, media, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. The author acknowledges the trademarked status and trademark owners of various products referenced in this work of fiction, which have been used without permission. The publication/use of these trademarks is not authorized, associated with, or sponsored by the trademark owners.

 

 

Edited By Tonya Houle
Prologue

 

6 years ago...

 

Nothing physical defines a person. So why do we rely so much on the superficial to give us meaning?

 

Prom night

 

RAIN

 

I'm sure it's every girl's fantasy to have five gorgeous, rich boys walk into her house while wearing their designer tuxes and carrying a bouquet of flowers for her. Especially if those five boys are Sterlings. For me? It's not a fantasy. Not tonight. It's real.

My five best friends have delayed their senior prom to come be with me when I need them the most.

I sniffle as they all flash their dazzling smiles while lining up in front of me. Surely they're not going to stay.

"I'll put in the movie," Corbin says, winking at me as he pats my side.

"Movie?" I ask, my voice rasp from emotion as Dale kisses my cheek and flops down in front of the couch I'm on.

"When's the pizza coming?" Dale asks, ignoring my query.

"Pizza?" I ask as Kode takes his turn to kiss me, barely missing my lips when he kisses too close.

"The pizza will be here in five," Maverick says from somewhere behind Kode.

"I've got the popcorn," Kode says softly, cupping my chin and placing a second kiss on my forehead.

"Popcorn?" I ask, sounding pathetic as my questions continue to go unanswered.

After Maverick kisses me softly on the lips, he quickly dodges the slap on the back of the head by Dane. He knew it would be coming.

Dane Sterling. The epitome of perfection. He has perfectly smooth, dark hair that shags with just the right amount of length; crisp green eyes that leave emeralds envious; and a body that should be illegal for an eighteen-year-old to own. Add in the fact that he's the most loyal, trustworthy, and generous person there ever was, and you have no chance of keeping your knees from wobbling.

I was born into a screwed-up situation. My mother was the other woman; the maid to be exact. I was the love child born from a forbidden relationship. My mother loved a bored man with a wandering eye. And she fell hard, only to realize she was just a victim of the fairytale bullshit she'd believed in.

Rich men with wives don't fall for the maid; they just fuck the maid and get it out of their systems. He sent her money after she quit, and she had me to raise on her own. When she died from breast cancer, I was just thirteen. My grandmother had died ten years before that. Breast cancer and endometrial cancer had worked together to steal her life.

The only family I had was the bastard who didn't want me.

It was his wife, Eleanor, who stepped in to make sure I had a home. She could have turned her back on me, considering I was the proof of her husband's infidelity, though I doubt my mother was the first woman Edward strayed to.

Coming to Sterling Shore—the beach town full of rich assholes—was intimidating, exhausting, and grueling. I was living with the father that didn't want me, the woman my mother had hurt, and the daughter my father actually loved—Tria. Don't even get me started on Ms. Perfect.

After my new
sister
started a rumor on my first day of school, I was tormented. Though no one knew the details to my sudden appearance—and Tria wouldn't let that scandal come out—everyone knew something wasn't right. Tria told them my mother was a crack-addict, and I was the charity case they took in after I was "found soliciting my body for food."

When I was affronted in the hallways that day, Dane stepped in like the knight he is. He told everyone to fuck off or deal with him. Considering dealing with him also meant dealing with his brother and three cousins, all of which held the prestigious Sterling name and terrifying temper, no one dared to
fuck
with him. Thank God.

I was adopted into their little gang, and no one ever bothered me at school again—besides Tria. But she didn't have enough clout to make anyone else mess with my five bodyguards.

Dane is a Sterling now, but he wasn't always. His past—his jaded roots—make us kindred. It's one of the reasons I'm closer to him than anyone else here.

His birthfather is a mystery. His birthmother was actually an addict who left him unattended for days at a time. At ten, he ventured out into the streets of Chicago after not having eaten for over three days. He stopped at the shelter that was serving soup, and Elizabeth Sterling was there, volunteering during a mission trip.

She called around to every social worker in the area until she got someone on his case. She bypassed all the traditional steps and used her husband's name to hurry things along.

Dane's birthmother was found dead after a week-long investigation. Elizabeth, being the truly good saint she is, did everything in her power to make sure Dane got to come home with her to Sterling Shore. He went from starving and neglected to rich and healthy. He never forgot where he came from, and that jaded past sets him apart from the spoiled crowd.

To me, it makes him a stronger, more incredible person. He doesn't take anything for granted, and his compassion is incomparable to anything I've ever witnessed.

He's the one man in this room I view as more than a brother, though I'll never tell him that. Especially not now. Now that I'll have to—

"You need to make room, girl," Dane jokes, trying to snuggle in behind me on the couch.

I smile as I scoot up, giving him enough space, and his long, warm arms slip around me, gently tugging me to him. He nuzzles me so sweetly before pressing a soft kiss to my jaw, and then runs the kiss back to my ear.

It takes every ounce of my strength not to shiver. I don’t want to put my emotions on display. It's a very hard feat to accomplish when he's snuggled up like this with me.

"Why are you guys here? You're going to be late," I mumble as Dane's hand finds the bare skin of my stomach.

Skin on skin. Gah. It kills me every time.

Maverick frowns, as do the others.

"I came because you're my date, and you're here. Why these assholes followed me, I don't know," Dane teases, earning a few glares from the others.

"Date?" I muse, seeming lost under his spell—as usual. "How was I your date?"

"Who else was I going to dance with?" he asks simply, shrugging.

I wish it wasn't so easy for him to make me smile.

I can envision five very pissed off girls standing around in lavish prom dresses right now.

"You guys should go. It's just... I'm fine now," I mutter guiltily, but they all snort as though I've said something ludicrous instead of sensible.

"Not happening," Kode says as he plops down in the chair close to Dane and me. "Besides, I don't care anything about dancing. I prefer movies, pizza, and popcorn. It's the perfect prom night, if you ask me."

I manage to laugh—though it is a terrible, weak laugh—for the first time since yesterday afternoon.

Dane snuggles in closer to me, kissing me again on the cheek. "Where're your parents?" he whispers, sounding a little angry.

"Edward is on a plane to New York for a business meeting. Eleanor took Tria to Justin's for the big prom dress reveal. I suppose she felt it would be insensitive to me if she gleamed about her healthy daughter's night in front of me."

I sound bitter, but I shouldn't. Eleanor has been wonderful to me. I wouldn't have survived these past five years without her. This house is cold—cruel and cold. She's the only one with any emotion.

Edward is stoic, rarely even glimpsing my way. He spoils Tria and tends to me out of obligation. I can't wait to go to college, even if I won't be going there feeling complete.

"I'm staying the night," Dane whispers against my ear, making me smile.

Every time he stays the night, I can't help but wish he'd cross the line. Just for one night. Our friendship is too strong to be wrecked by one night.

The front door opens, making all of us look up as it shuts back. Eleanor walks in with tear-streaked cheeks, and she pauses when she sees the five Sterlings in her living room.

I expect her to make them leave, considering Edward hates me having them over. But she smiles weakly instead. "You boys want me to order any food?"

"Pizza's on its way," Dale chirps, making her tight smile return.

Then her eyes find me. "Rain, I have the surgery dates if you want them. I'm sure the boys will want to be there."

They all stop what they're doing and turn to face her, waiting on her to elaborate as their breaths cease. I didn't tell them the gory details. Only Dane knows. I only told him because I had no one else to talk to.

"What surgeries?" Maverick asks in a rasp tone, swallowing hard.

Her eyes grow a little wide when she realizes she's slipped up. Dane kisses the top of my head as he sits up just a little.

"Sorry," Eleanor murmurs sincerely, wincing. "I thought that was why they're here."

"We're here because Dane said Rain couldn't come to prom tonight. We didn't need more information than that," Kode utters with a trembling, hoarse voice. "What surgeries?"

She exhales wearily as she sits down on the rigid and uncomfortable chair next to the oversized bay window. I can't tell them, and I know Dane doesn't want to. I hate to put the burden on Eleanor, but I just... I can't.

"Rain's mother died of breast cancer when she was just thirty-one," Eleanor says softly, making my eyes water and Dane's hold on me tighten in response.

"Yeah," Corbin drawls, frowning in confusion. "What does that have to do with surgery dates?"

Eleanor wrestles with whatever emotions she's dealing with. I don't know if it's from Tria going to her senior prom, or if she's genuinely upset over the fact I'm eighteen and have already been categorized as high-risk.

"Rain was told that there was roughly a ninety-percent chance of her getting breast cancer. Her mother was young when she got it, and it ate through her quickly. Her grandmother was a little older, but not by much. Rain has to have a surgery to prevent that from happening."

My tears start to fall. I'm eighteen and I'll be losing part of the thing that makes me feel like a woman. No woman of any age should ever have to go through this. I should be focused on going to Hudson, not dealing with the very likeliness that I'll develop cancer without this procedure.

I roll over, snuggling into Dane's embrace, and hide my tears against his tux that I'm most likely going to ruin. He holds me closer and kisses my head, doing all he can to soothe me.

"What sort of surgeries?" I hear Maverick ask, sounding as though he's as scared as I am.

Eleanor lets out a harsh, pained breath as she chokes back a sob. "A preventative mastectomy. Then we'll have to start getting her reconstructive surgeries. There will be several before she's restored completely—or as best as can be."

I shudder as more tears fall out. I'm scared. Scared of what might happen even after the surgery. Scared of letting them cut me to pieces. And scared no one will ever look at me the same again. It's a daunting future for anyone.

"I'll call my dad. She'll look the exact same," Dale says, making a rustling sound as he most likely stands.

"I already called him," Dane says while strumming his fingers through my hair. "Of course he's going to do it."

I turn back to see Eleanor smiling softly. Dale's father is the most prestigious plastic surgeon in the country, and to even get on the waiting list you have to have a reference.

"Yes. Those are some of the dates I was going to give everyone. Dr. Sterling called me today to tell me he'd be taking care of the reconstruction just as soon as the mastectomy was taken care of."

"I'll call my dad," Corbin says, referring to the man who owns Sterling Shore Memorial Hospital. "I'll make sure she's set up with the best doctors and nurses, and even make sure she gets one of those badass maternity suites instead of a regular room for recovery after the mastectomy."

I smile lightly as Corbin comes over to kiss my hand. Then he walks out of the room, pulling his phone out of his pocket before he even crosses the threshold.

"Tell me something to do, and I'll do it," Kode says, leaning forward to stroke my cheek.

If I wasn't already crying, I'd start. These boys are better than any brothers I could have ever dreamt of.

"It's not until after school," I murmur softly, looking to Eleanor. "Right?"

"Yes. It'll be the week you all come back from Cancun."

At least I get my summer vacation before my life starts to become real. Dane smiles against my forehead, piquing my curiosity.

"I'm going to make sure you have such a good week that you forget about the surgery," he murmurs softly, making the butterflies ruffle in my stomach.

Empowered by the reality of how short life can be, I start plotting something I never thought I'd have the guts to try.

 

***

Cancun

 

"You're sure about this?" Dane asks, kissing my neck as my body arches under him, moving to find his touch.

I've never been more certain about anything in my life. I've spent a week in paradise, and I want to leave with the best memories possible before my whole life changes. The surgeries, college, moving to New York, being stranded from my best friends... It's all happening so fast.

BOOK: The Sterling Boys
5.43Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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