Stiff:A Stepbrother Romance(3)

By: B. B. Hamel


I waited a few minutes before ringing again. Eventually, I heard someone yell from inside, and slowly the door pushed open.

“Hey—” I started to say, expecting my dad, but stopped mid-sentence.

The guy looking back at me with a small smirk on his face was tall. His green eyes pierced into mine, and I took a small, unconscious step back away from him. I was surprised at the way my heart suddenly began to hammer in my chest as my eyes looked up along his muscular body and lingered on the hints of tattoos at the edges of his long-sleeve dress shirt.

“Can I help you?” he asked.

“Uh, yeah. Hi. I’m Laney.”

He raised an eyebrow. “Hi, Laney. I’m Easton.”

The name suddenly clicked, and I took a sharp breath. “You’re Susan’s kid. Easton Wright.”

“That’s right.”

“I’m Alan’s daughter.”

Recognition bloomed across his face as he stepped out of the door and onto the stoop next to me.

“Well, Laney, I guess this makes you and me stepsiblings.”

“I guess so.”

“Good to meet you. I was just leaving.” He glanced back inside. “Susan is just inside, in the kitchen.”

“Okay—” I started to say, but he was already walking off. “Nice to meet you,” I called after him.

He raised his hand in a small wave but kept walking. It was a little rude the way he just walked off like that. He had stared at me like I was a total idiot for a second. Maybe Susan hadn’t told him about me.

I barely remembered Easton from high school. He was a few years older than me, probably three or four, and I only knew him as a legend. He was an athlete, though not the star of anything, and pretty popular. But he was best known as being the king of the debate team.

In our town, you weren’t popular, athletic, and on the debate team. It just simply wasn’t done. The fact that Easton somehow managed to do all of those things was impressive in itself. There were also other stories about him, mythical kind of things, mostly stuff that was probably made up.

But I had to admit, after seeing him up close, I began to understand his reputation. He was known as a player, or at least he had been back in the day. Suddenly I knew why someone like him was able to get as many girls as he did.

“Laney?”

The voice pulled me out of my thoughts and I looked inside the house. Standing there with her arms crossed was Susan Wright, smiling slightly.

“Hi, Susan,” I said, coming inside.

She gave me a quick hug and offered to take my bags, but I declined. She led me into the kitchen, chatting amiably the whole time.

“Your father is late as usual,” she said. “I’m so sorry we couldn’t pick you up at the train station.”

I shook my head. “It’s totally fine.”

“Did you see Easton on your way out?” she asked.

“Oh, yeah, I did.”

She frowned. “Sorry about him. He can be very rude sometimes.”

“It’s okay. I thought he was fine.”

Her expression shifted back into a smile. “Good. I’m glad. You’ll be working with him, so I hope he was nice.”

My eyes widened a bit, and I felt my heart rate jump. “He works for the FBI agent too?”

Susan cocked her head. “Oh, I didn’t tell you? Easton is the FBI agent. Well, ex-agent at least.”

I opened my mouth and then shut it. I’d be working for my stepbrother, the most notorious player in all of Mishawaka? I didn’t know what to say. “He’s so young,” I blurted out.

She nodded. “Yes, he is. Too young to be an ex-agent, but, ah, personal things happened.”

I wanted very badly to ask her more, but I decided against it. The look on her face suggested that it wasn’t the best topic in the world.

Just then, the front door opened up and my father swept into the room.

I stood up and smiled. “Hey, Dad.”

Alan Mason was a broad man. Not particularly tall, and not exactly overweight, but still thick set. He was always smiling and always busy. His hair had gone a bit grayer since the last time I’d seen him, but otherwise he was the same person I remembered.

“Laney, it’s so good to see you,” he said, wrapping me up in his usual hug.

“You too, Dad.”

“I’ll let you two catch up,” Susan said, and disappeared.

“Your new house is really nice,” I said, looking around. So far, from what I had seen, the place was absolutely huge and very, very modern. I had to admit, it beat the hell out of my dinky apartment back in Chicago.

“I’ll give you a tour. Come on.”

I followed up through the halls. He showed me the living room, the game room, and the dining room. Out back, there was a large deck and a nice pool. Upstairs, there were several bedrooms, including their master bedroom. I was staying on the third floor so that I’d have more privacy.

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