Hunted:A Stepbrother Romance Novel(10)

By: Olivia Long


“Seriously?” I shrilled. “You broke up?”

“No, no, no,” Dad answered. “We’re getting married. For real.”

As quickly as my heart had fluttered, its heaviness returned and pulled it down. “Oh,” I said.

“Oh, come ON, guys!” Dad cried. “Between you and Chloe, you’d think that Irene and I were abandoning you personally! To be honest, son, I didn’t expect such a lackluster reaction from my only child. I’m getting MARRIED! This weekend!” he reiterated loudly.

“Chloe didn’t take it too well?” I asked, pointlessly.

“She acted like we were a couple of knocked-up teenagers who didn’t know our right from our left,” Dad replied. “She came around, but—it’s a weird reaction, you know? You guys are way too old to be acting so ... well ... invested, for lack of a better word. It has nothing to do with you guys! Nothing is going to change! So just be happy for us, all right?”

I clapped Dad on the shoulder and drew him into a bear hug. “You’re absolutely right,” I admitted. “Congratulations, you crazy old lovebird.” I picked up the cup of water again. “So, when’s the date?”

I was halfway through another drink when Dad merrily answered me with, “This weekend,” and I spat water into a fine spray all over the counter—and him.

He mopped at his face and offered me a bemused smile. “Okay,” he said. “It’s really not that big of a deal. We’ve been engaged for two years. You guys must have known it was going to happen.”

I raised my eyebrows and refused to really look at him. I think, deep down, I thought that making eye contact would reveal too much of my secret reasoning. Even I didn’t like to confront it head-on, and the thought of Dad knowing filled me with shame and humiliation.

I didn’t want Chloe Vaughn to really be my step-sister.

I didn’t want her to be my friend, or my friend’s girlfriend, or my co-worker, or my neighbor, or my acquaintance—there were a million things I did not want Chloe Vaughn to be, and “sister” was at the top of that damn list.

The other list—the list of things I wanted Chloe Vaughn to be—was decidedly short.

“Naked” lurked somewhere near the top of that list, in all honesty.

“In my bed,” was on there too.

“Someone else’s daughter.”

“It’s just a surprise,” I forced myself to say. “So, where are you getting it done? City hall?”

Dad made a show of ducking behind the counter before he answered, “Hawaii.” And, if I had been taking a drink of water at that moment, he might have had good reason.

“HAWAII?” I repeated incredulously. “God damnit, you two are really going all-out. Here I was, thinking you were just having an anniversary dinner, but no, no, no. You were deciding to go to Hawaii and get married tomorrow, no big deal.”

“Well, not tomorrow,” Dad said, as if that would be the craziest thing ever. “Sunday. And from there, we figure, we’ll just leave you two behind and head off on our honeymoon for the week.”

I blinked. “Us two?”

“You and Chloe, son,” Dad answered. “We want you two to be there, of course, and to be part of the wedding. It wouldn’t be right to just flitter off to Hawaii and leave you guys out.”

“Right.” I would have been okay with that. I would have been okay with them never even telling us. “Well, awesome. So, Hawaii for the weekend, no big deal.”

Dad beamed. “That’s right,” he said. “We got tickets for all four of us. But, uh—Irene and mine’s tickets are part of a couple’s package. It’s a deal the hotel is running, and it was just too good of a deal to pass up, and what the hell, you know, we’re ready. So—anyway—Irene and I will be getting there just a few hours before you and Chloe, and it is short notice, so we got your tickets for you, but they’re at different times, through different airlines. Sorry.”

“That’s okay, Dad,” I said. Finally, he was telling me something I was actually happy to hear. “We’ll just catch you guys at the hotel.”

“They gave us the honeymoon suite, a few floors away from the room we got for you and Chloe—but we’ll come meet you when you get there.”

“Chloe and I are sharing a room?” I asked, my voice a touch too harsh. That was just ridiculous. That was too far. NO. I couldn’t do it. No, no, no.

“Of course not,” Dad replied good-naturedly, not seeming to sense why exactly I abhorred the notion. “It’s not a room. It’s a suite. You know. One of those deals with the shared bathroom.”