Forbidden Steps: A Stepbrother Romance

BOOK: Forbidden Steps: A Stepbrother Romance
4.96Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

FORBIDDEN STEPS

Bianca Sommerland

 

Copyright © November 2015, Bianca Sommerland

 

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

 

 

License Notes

This e-book is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This e-book may not be resold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return it to the vendor and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.

 

This book is a work of fiction and any resemblance to persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental. The characters are products of the author’s imagination and used fictitiously.

 

Licensed material is being used for illustrative purposes only and any person depicted in the licensed material is a model.

 

 
Blurb

 

One night, one horrible choice, throws the balance off in their lives forever. Stephanie manages to hold things together until Colin returns, but he’s a soldier and who knows how long he’ll stick around? Long enough to help her ease their little stepsister back into the world after she wakes from her two-year coma?

 

Their family might be a little messed up, but Stephanie, Colin, and Ashley have something between them that has gotten them through the most difficult time in their life. A love no one can touch.

 

And no one can know about.

Also by Bianca Sommerland

 

The Dartmouth Cobras

 

Blind Pass

Game Misconduct

Defensive Zone

Breakaway

Offside
 

Delayed Penalty

Iron Cross

Goal Line

Line Brawl  – Coming 2016

 

Also

Deadly Captive

Collateral Damage

The End – Coming 2016

 

Solid Education

 

Rosemary Entwined

Rosemary & Mistletoe

 

The Trip

 

 

Chapter One

 

Pacing back and forth in front of the huge reflective window of her office, Stephanie nodded, opened her mouth, and tried once again to interrupt the fast talking Spanish interpreter. With a sigh she pressed her lips together and shook her head when he just kept going on, enamored with the sound of his own voice. Praying for patience, she made the odd sound of acknowledgment and waited for the moment he would shut up long enough for her to finish explaining the classifications to the client.

One eye on the clock, Stephanie picked at a loose thread at the hem of her grey skirt, cocked her hip, and rested back against the window. Rolling her eyes she listened to the man tell her for the third time, in five minutes, that the shipment was wood and would be classified as such. Then he took a breath.

Stephanie jumped right in, turning to look out into the city as she spoke. “Any other material added to the wood—in this case metal—changes the classification. I don’t make the rules, Mr. Larsoni. Arguing with me won’t change the fact that the shipment won’t clear customs if the papers aren’t done right.”

Teeth pressed into her tongue Stephanie rolled her shoulders along the window and straightened her back against it. Pushing her spiked heels into the carpet she rolled her shoulders, stretching some tension out of her spine. The man blabbered on. Stephanie rubbed her neck while she lifted her head.

The conversation in her ear was going nowhere. She could hear the client trying to interrupt now. Pointless, the translator was on a new mission and it had little to do with either of them. Stephanie just didn’t care anymore. Her eyes were on the clock over her door, watching the second hand as it took its sweet assed time getting to the twelve.

Eagerly anticipating her lunch break, when she could finally take her Bluetooth out of her ear and toss it in her purse; it took a moment for the form standing in the doorway to register. At first she thought she was dreaming. The week had been long, stressful. It was quite possible that her mind had snapped.

With a crooked grin, the man took a step forward. Then another. “Hey, Steph.”

Done with trying to get her mind to register his presence, Stephanie rushed forward and fell into his arms. “Colin! My god, Colin, you’re home!”

An irate voice shouted unintelligible Spanish in her ear. Stephanie pulled the Bluetooth out and let it fall to the worn grey carpet. Hands wrapped around Colin’s broad forearms Stephanie stepped back and let her eyes pass over him, drinking him in, relief sending hot tears spilling down her cheeks.

“Miss me?” Colin laughed when she answered with a dozen kisses spread over his face. Pulling her against him he hugged her tight. “You almost done here?”

Swiping away her tears with her palms Stephanie grinned. “I am now.”

Colin’s hands slid from her waist to her ass. He pulled her hard against him, his lips sliding down her throat making her groan. “Good. Because I really missed you.”

Stephanie was tempted.
Very
tempted. Feeling him hard against her belly made closing the door and letting him take her on her desk seem like a very good idea. Instead she forced her mind from pleasure to practicality. Too many people here knew Colin. They’d been so careful with their secret. Risking exposure now in a moment of passion would be foolish.

Besides, she’d most definitely lose her job if she got caught having sex in her office. The fact that she was overwhelmed with joy at his return might be considered. If only he wasn’t her stepbrother.

With firm resolve Stephanie cleared her throat and jerked her chin pointedly towards her curious co-workers, lingering in the hall. A forced smile on her lips she bent down and plucked her Bluetooth off the floor. “I thought you weren’t scheduled for leave for another four months.”

Shoving his hands in the pockets of his fatigues, Colin shrugged. “They’re pulling some of the reserves out early. I got lucky, mine was the first to get a return to unit. Debriefing took two weeks. Woulda called to let you know I was coming home but…” With a wide grin he reached out and ruffled her hair. “I wanted to surprise you.”

Stephanie ducked away from him and tried to straighten the mess he’d made of her updo. Accepting it as a lost cause, she pulled the pins from her rich, brown hair and let in fall in soft waves around her face. “You surprised me all right. I’m gonna get in so much trouble.”

The crooked grin was back. Colin reached for her hair again, his voice husky, hungry. “Get in trouble huh? I like the sound of that.”

Evading his touch Stephanie backed out of reach, grabbing her purse off her desk while keeping her eyes on her stepbrother. “I’m sure you do.” Taking his hand she tugged him out the door. “It’ll have to wait though.”

Colin scowled. “What the hell for?”

Stephanie slammed her hand on the button to call the elevator and waved at one of her co-workers, shaking her head when it looked like he would come over. Colin’s tone had given the other man the impression that she needed to be saved from his temper. Little did he know—or need to know—that it was just the frustration of a horny soldier lashing out.

Keeping her voice low, internally begging for the elevator to hurry, Stephanie leaned close to Colin. “Will you keep it down! It has to wait because I’m throwing Ashley a party for her eighteenth birthday. I know it’s two months late but…”

The subject of her stepsister—damn her father and his many marriages—sobered Colin instantly. Giving her some space he looked up to watch the red numbers, marking the passing floors, ascend. “How’s she doing?”

The gleaming metal doors slid open. Stephanie followed her stepbrother inside. “She’s doing good. Her mom’s still raving about how nicely her long hair covers all the scars.”

Colin ground his teeth. “She’d know that if she’d bothered visiting.”

Stephanie shrugged and let an awkward silence fall between them. She didn’t know what to say. Bringing up her stepmother had been a bad idea, but there was no way to take it back now.

Thankfully the silence only lasted until they were settled in Colin’s jeep. Pulling into the busy rush hour traffic Colin cleared his throat and glanced over at her. “I can’t picture Ashley with long hair.”

Stephanie frowned at Colin’s profile as he fixed his eyes on the road. “I sent pictures.”

Colin’s jaw tensed. “I never looked at them.”

Angry. She should be angry. Unlike their stepmother, Steph
had
visited Ashley, once a week in fact, and taken the time after every visit to write Colin to let him know how she was doing. Every new development was relayed with careful attention to detail, wanting to keep the hope alive, hope that their stepsister would one day wake.

But it was impossible to even feel the least bit disgruntled about Colin’s admission. Much as seeing Ashley in a coma had hurt Stephanie, it was nothing compared to the guilt Colin felt. Misplaced guilt, to say the least, but it was there nonetheless.

Colin blamed himself for Ashley being in the car. A car driven by one of his friends, a friend Ashley had been seeing for months. Colin hadn’t been crazy about the relationship but resolved not to interfere. Bob wasn’t a bad guy, just a little…wild at times. Assured of his friend’s regard for Ashley he’d watched from the sidelines, prepared to pick up the pieces if it ended badly.

Ashley never should have been at the party. Colin was twenty-one at the time, which made the crowd he hung with much too old for the sixteen-year-old who, though not related to him by blood, he’d known since she was twelve and considered family. Bob was only eighteen, but no one ever questioned his presence. Which meant his girlfriend was accepted without too much fuss.

Grudgingly watching Ashley all night, Colin had been relieved when Bob had decided she’d had a bit too much to drink and was taking her home. With a distracted wave he’d gone upstairs with the first willing female he could get his hands on. Never once had he thought about how much alcohol Bob had consumed.

The call. The call Stephanie had been forced to make. She’d left Colin a vague message when his voicemail picked up, telling him only that there’d been an accident and he should get to the hospital as soon as he got the message. It was hours before he did.

While his friend died he’d been having wild sex with a stranger. While Ashley had slipped into a coma, fragments of bone driven into her brain from the impact of the crash, he’d been drinking and laughing with the guys.

The image of that night would be forever engraved in Stephanie’s skull. The look of horror on Colin’s face when Stephanie had tearfully told him about the accident. Her father punching him in the mouth, blaming him, held back by security when he tried to go for his stepson again.

It echoed through her mind, even now. The words.
“You are dead to me”
.

After Ashley’s accident their world had fallen apart. Steph’s father left. Ashley’s mother, off on a photo shoot in Rome, stayed there. Stephanie and Colin were alone, struggling to fend for themselves and make all the important decisions concerning their stepsister. The money was gone and Colin dropped out of college to work in a local refinery to pay for the medical bills.

Their savings went to paying for Ashley’s stay at the aftercare center. Stephanie’s scholarship, a godsend, took care of her own school expenses. Unfortunately, there just wasn’t enough money for her to take more than a few classes that would qualify her to work customer service for the customs agency.

Colin blamed himself, for all of it. Stephanie liked to think the bond they’d developed made a difference, gave him some peace, but in the end, even that hadn’t been enough. A chance meeting with an old friend that served in the marines and Colin enlisted. Months later and he was deployed.

It was a cruel twist of fate that Ashley regained consciousness while Colin was stationed overseas. For the past two months, she’d been awake, recovering in leaps and bounds and Colin couldn’t return. But now, now he was back. Now he would see, although Ashley had lost two years of her life, had been through a terrible accident, it was over and he could begin to forgive himself. It took a while before Stephanie realized the car wasn’t moving. Blinking out of the memories she’d lost herself to she turned her head and flushed to see the way her stepbrother was looking at her. They were parked in front of their parent’s house. All the neighbors knew them well. There’d be no mistaking what that look meant if anyone were to see it.

Arching a brow, Stephanie waited until Colin cleared the lust from his eyes before speaking. “You’ve got to stop that.”

Giving her a sheepish grin Colin shrugged. “I told you I missed you.”

Stephanie made a face. “Yeah. You missed part of me.”

Colin groaned. “Oh don’t be like that.” Putting the car in park, he dropped his arm on the back of her seat. “I was hoping for a warm welcome. So sue me.” He stroked his fingers along the side of her neck. “Sure you can’t spare your big brother a bit of time to give him a proper home-cumming.”

Stephanie shoved him and laughed. “Yes, I’m sure. Ashley’s mother took her out shopping. I have to make sure everything’s ready before they get back.”

With a heavy sigh, Colin moved his arm. Drumming his hands on the steering wheel he shook his head, then ran his hand through his almost nonexistent dark hair. “Fine. Let’s get it done.”

Smiling, Stephanie lurched forward and hugged him. “Really? You mean you’ll stay for the party?”

Using the opportunity to slip his hand under her shirt and palm her ample breast, Colin buried his face in her hair and nodded. “Did you think I wouldn’t?”

Stephanie scooted back and pushed his hand away, giving him a disapproving frown as she straightened her crisp white shirt. “Stop it. And yes, I know you don’t speak to Ashley’s mother except for calls at Christmas and mother’s day.”—Which some might consider odd, but his own mother had died when he was seventeen, so the woman was the closest thing he had.— “I also know you haven’t spoken to Dad since…”

Colin scowled. “Your father’s coming?”

Biting her lip Stephanie nodded, sure Colin would change his mind.

Sucking his teeth, Colin gripped down on the steering wheel. With a heavy exhale he moved his head slowly up and down. “What the fuck. I’m doing this for Ashley. If he doesn’t like it, too bad.”

Stephanie watched him leave the jeep, a lump building in her throat. She wasn’t sure what scared her more. The fact that the animosity between her father and Colin would ruin Ashley’s surprise party, or the possibility that forgiveness would be withheld and someone would get hurt.

Either way it couldn’t be helped. Stephanie wouldn’t stop Colin from coming, and even if she wanted to, she couldn’t keep her father away. All there was left to do was pray for another miracle.

The second she thought it, she took it back. She wouldn’t ask for another. The one they’d been given was more than enough.

BOOK: Forbidden Steps: A Stepbrother Romance
4.96Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Other books

The Body on the Beach by Simon Brett
The Lieutenant’s Lover by Harry Bingham
Wild Roses by Deb Caletti
Boats in the night by Josephine Myles
The Botanist by Hill, L. K.
The Labyrinth Makers by Anthony Price