Stiff:A Stepbrother Romance(2)

By: B. B. Hamel


“Well,” Dad continued, “her and I have been getting very close over the past couple of years. Last weekend, we decided to finally make it official.”

I shook my head. “This is pretty hard to believe.”

“Listen, sweetie, I know we haven’t seen much of each other lately, but I’d love it if you could come home and spend some time with us this summer.”

I bit my lip. “I don’t know, Dad.”

“Please? It’d mean a lot to both of us.”

“I have a lot of work to do here. I have a job. I can’t just leave, you know?”

“Actually, about jobs,” Dad said quickly. “Susan heard you were a criminal justice major, and she pulled some strings. If you want, there’s an important internship with a detective that would be perfect for you.”

“An internship with a detective?”

“Sure. It’s part of a new program at the sheriff’s.”

I was completely blown away and speechless. I had barely spoken to my dad in the last three years, and suddenly he was dropping bombshells on me one after the other.

“Let’s slow down,” I said.

“Hold on, honey,” he replied. I heard some sounds on the other end of the line. “I’m sorry. I have to run. I’m at a job site right now.”

I sighed. “Okay, sure.” Dad was one of the most famous and influential property developers in our area, and he was pretty much always working.

“Please think about it.”

“Okay. I will.”

“Good to hear from you.” He hung up the phone.

I leaned back in my chair, tossing my phone onto the couch. I barely understood what I was feeling as I took a few deep breaths.

My dad had remarried. He hadn’t even told me about his relationship before that point. Not that I could blame him; I was pretty much estranged from him. But suddenly he wanted me home and had even found a job for me?

I sighed, looking out the window. It had been a long time since I was home. Things had to have changed. At least, I had certainly changed. There were friends back home that I hadn’t seen in a while.

Plus, if Susan Wright had gotten me a job, it was probably pretty serious. I was working as a waitress at a local upscale bar, and while the money was good, it wasn’t exactly helping my career at all.

My long-time goal was to go into the FBI. I didn’t necessarily want to be a field agent, but instead I wanted to work as an analyst or something like that. Ideally, I’d work as support for agents, providing intelligent analysis on field reports and cases, essentially acting as an extra brain for stuck agents.

Unfortunately, splitting the bill thirty ways on thirty different credit cards for drunk assholes didn’t exactly give me the skills I needed.

It was a tough decision. I had left Mishawaka for a lot of reasons, and I wasn’t sure I was ready to go back. Then again, I had changed. That town didn’t have control over me anymore.

It was a tough decision either way.

I stood up and stretched. I decided that there was only one way to figure things out: I needed to order a pizza.

Two weeks later, I climbed out of the cab and looked up at my Dad’s house.

I paid and tipped the cabbie and watched as he drove off, leaving me standing there regretting every decision I had made leading up to that moment.

The pizza hadn’t worked, unfortunately, and I had still been without any clue about what to do when I’d got another call I didn’t recognize.

It was Susan herself, as it turned out.

And she was very lovely. We had a long chat about her and my father, and she even gave me more details about the internship. Apparently, it was with a private detective that used to be a prominent FBI member, which seemed pretty much too good to be true.

After that conversation, and after another frustrating shift at the bar, I pretty much made up my mind. I gave my notice the next day, and I was headed home not too long after that.

It was a crazy decision. My friends all thought I was nuts for just up and going home for the summer, and especially for giving up my job.

But as soon as I heard that I would be working with an FBI agent, even if he had left the bureau, I knew I had to go. I knew I couldn’t turn down an opportunity like that.

Plus, I wanted to see my dad, of course. I felt bad that the job was what really changed my mind, but I couldn’t deny it. I planned on making it up to Dad by spending plenty of time with him, or at least as much as he wanted.

I took another steadying breath and trudged up the stairs, ringing the doorbell. It felt weird to be ringing my dad’s bell, but it wasn’t the same house I had grown up in. So much had changed, and yet nothing ever really does.

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