Authors: Stephanie Brother
Published by Stephanie Brother, 2015.
© 2015 Stephanie Brother
All Rights Reserved. This book or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express permission of the publisher except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.
This book is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, or places, events or locations is purely coincidental. The characters are all productions of the author’s imagination.
Please note that this work is intended only for adults over the age of 18 and all characters represented as 18 or over.
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Table of Contents:
I’d only met Erik one time in my entire life.
The day my mother agreed to marry Gerald was also the day that my soon-to-be stepfather finally told me that he had a son who was nearly a decade my senior. His name was Erik and while he would technically become my stepbrother, Gerald warned me that he and his son weren’t exactly on the best terms so I’d likely never get a chance to meet him.
While at the age of thirteen I had been extremely curious about my mysterious, twenty-one year old stepbrother, I never bothered to nag Gerald about what his son was like. I had plenty of other things on my mind at that age so I ignored my curiosity about Erik and focused on helping my mother get ready for her special day.
None of us were prepared for what happened on the day of their wedding.
I was standing at my mother’s side, holding her bouquet as the maid of honor, when the loud sound of a motorcycle’s engine roared through the church. I frowned as the noise came to a stop and a moment later, the doors of the church blew open.
it was him. I couldn’t explain
I knew, but I did.
He blew into the church like a hurricane, his leather coat wafting behind him with every long stride he took towards the alter. Gerald’s jaw locked up with tension as his son approached and my mother looked between her almost-husband and the boy- strike that,
- who was strolling up the aisle like he owned the place.
Whispers of confusion rang through the pews while every set of eyes in the church watched with tense interest as the stranger paused on the floor below where his father and my mother stood and took an exaggerated bow.
is this, Erik?” Gerald hissed through his clenched teeth.
My mother gaped, smiling widely as she looked down at Gerald’s only son, someone she thought she’d never get a chance to meet. “Erik? Oh wow, this is-”
“A surprise? You’re telling me,” he bit out, his voice thick with sarcasm. “Imagine how surprised I must’ve been when I walked into a gas station only to be asked why I wasn’t at my father’s wedding? What the
My eyes doubled in size, both at his casual use of the swear word and the fact that he called his father by his first name. I knew they weren’t on good terms, but it was still so very odd to me. The whispers in the church got louder as the guests began to gossip.
“I didn’t think you’d show up even if I told you,” Gerald spoke, his voice low and calm even though I could practically feel the anger in it. “If you want to be here, sit down and stop making a damn scene.”
Erik laughed incredulously, raising both his hands in the air as he said, “Oh, I don’t think so. I’d hate to ruin your special day.”
“You already have!” Gerald shouted, his voice booming through the church and silencing the whispers.
Erik’s face turned to stone, his jaw clenching tightly with well-coiled rage. Even though I had been incredibly young at the time, I couldn’t help but to think how cute he was. He looked like he could have been a famous actor or something, with his strong jaw and bright blue eyes.
When the eyes flickered to me for the briefest moment, I felt frozen with fear. His eyes widened slightly, as if the realization that the woman his father was marrying might have a family finally sunk in. That gaze stayed locked on me for a long moment and I could see the gears turning in his head, recognizing me as his almost-stepsister.
Just as quickly as his eyes landed on me, they left, surprise once again replaced with anger as he looked back at his father. “Well, my sincerest congratulations to you. I hope you don’t fuck up this poor woman and her kid as badly as you did us.”
A number of jaws dropped as he spun around on his heel and marched out with the same confident stride he used on the way in. He was like a deadly storm, sweeping in and causing irreparable damage before moving out just as swiftly.
Once the initial shock wore off, the wedding resumed like it had never happened. There were quiet whispers during the reception that Gerald and my mother pretended not to hear and the denial about Erik’s outburst and even his existence continued long after that.
Eight years long, to be more specific.
When my stepfather had a sudden heart attack, the pre-reading of his will dictated that his son be contacted and given a third of Gerald’s estate. Apparently, my mom insisted that Erik be left in his will and the two fought tooth and nail over it for years before he finally relented and reinstated his son.
All I knew was I would never forget the first time I saw him.
And I would never be able to forget the second time, either.
I was standing on the porch of my home since childhood, arms tightly wrapped around my body to protect myself from the cold wind as I looked up at the clouds littering the sky. The weather reports were calling for a massive storm and I was worried about my mom who was visiting my grandmother in the next town over. She was set to come home today but had called a few minutes prior to tell me she planned to wait until after the storm passed and begging me to stay safe.
That was when it happened.
I heard a roar in the distance and at first I had mistaken it for thunder, but my heart came to a stop when I slowly began to realize that the sound was far too steady to be caused by the weather. I had taken a few hesitant steps off the porch, the wind whipping my hair to the side as I looked down the street and my breath caught in my throat at the sight of a black motorcycle zooming up the road and slowing to a stop at my curb.
I stared at the leather clad figure with my mouth hanging open, the helmet covered head turning to stare at me in turn. After a long moment, the engine roared again as the man started to pull away, but he only went as far as the driveway before directing the bike towards my garage doors.
I watched his gloved hand make a wild motion at the door and I nodded dumbly before turning around and rushing into the house. I didn’t give myself even a moment to consider the possible repercussions of my actions, I just ran for the garage and pressed the button to roll up the door.
As it opened, a wave of rain came blasting into the garage, nearly soaking me in the process. He pulled the bike into the garage and I pressed the button to close the door, waiting until the noise finally stopped before turning back to the drenched, leather-clad figure behind me.
He swung his leg over his bike and pulled off his helmet and any doubt in my mind that it was him faded away as my gaze locked onto the blue eyes I’d never be able to forget.
The poet in me chuckled at the irony. A man that I had thought of for years as an unstoppable force of nature riding into town on his dark horse on the edge of a hurricane.
How perfectly fitting.
“You’re Erik,” I stupidly said after a long moment of mutual staring, my voice cutting through the thick silence that had overtaken the garage. Even the sound of the rain beating down hard on the roof wasn’t enough to break the tension.
He tilted his head to the side, his blue eyes sweeping up and down my body a few times before settling back on my face. “Yeah. Are you-”
“I’m Kristen,” I introduced myself, realizing that he probably never bothered to learn my name. I’d be surprised if he even bothered to learn my mother’s name but still- “I’m Holly’s daughter.”
He looked down at my outstretched hand then back up at me, his eyes lighting up with recognition. “The kid from the wedding?” he asked softly and I nodded, even though his question felt more like he was thinking out loud. He looked down at my hand again, hesitating for a moment before reaching out his own gloved hand and placing it in mine. “So you’re my… stepsister.”
I shrugged a little. “I suppose so. But, uh... technically-”
“Yeah, I guess you’re my ex-stepsister now.”
While part of me wanted to chuckle, I knew better. “I’m really sorry about your father.”
I watched with fascination as the light in his eyes disappeared, shut down and replaced by a stony look of indifference. “Which part?”
“I’m sorry?” I asked with a frown.
“Sorry about his death? Sorry about him pretty much disowning me to be with your mother? Sorry about the way he treated
mother throughout their entire marriage?”
“I don’t-” I started, then abruptly cut myself off, not sure how exactly to respond to his thorny questions.
He must have noticed my discomfort because he suddenly sighed and shook his head, dismissing the questions with a muttered, “Sorry. Force of habit.”
“It’s- It’s fine,” I assured him, but I still felt a little shaky about his obvious disdain towards both his father and his relationship with my mother. “What are you doing here?”
“Funeral,” he said with a shrug as he started to take off his gloves and shoved them in his helmet. “And the reading of the will.”
“I’m sorry if I sound a bit like an asshole, but I meant what are you doing
? At this house?”
Knowing just how rocky the relationship was between Erik and Gerald, I hadn’t really expected his son to show up at all. But even if the thought had crossed my mind, I just assumed he would’ve gotten a hotel room or stayed with friends. If he had any. I really didn’t know.
Erik stared at me blankly as he said, “Holly said I could stay here.”
I reared back, the surprise evident on my face. I had no idea my mother was in contact with Erik, she’d never made any mention of him before. “Oh. I didn’t know.”
“Is she here?” he asked, gesturing towards the door that led into the house.
I could tell he could sense my hesitation and was trying not to overstep any boundaries by forcing his way into the house. I was a little surprised by the fact but I was smart enough to realize that judging his entire character on one moment in his life probably wasn’t fair to him.
“No, she’s at my grandma’s house. She’ll be there until the storm clears up. But you can come in.”
He gave me a grateful smile and followed behind me as I moved towards the door and stepped inside.
“Thanks. I wish I would’ve thought to look at the weather before taking the bike up here. For a little while there, I didn’t think I’d make it.”
I could hear his words trailing off as he curiously looked around the house and I turned back to him and clasped my hands together, twisting them awkwardly as I searched for something to say. He seemed content with exploring the house with his eyes so I let him do that, watching with a frown as he walked over to the family photos hanging above the mantle.
“Do you want a tour of the house?” I blurted out, not wanting to make him uncomfortable by looking at the pictures of our family.
The family his father had without him.
He stopped mid-step and turned back to me, holding my gaze for a long moment and I swore he could see right through me, reading my intentions as clear as day.
But if he could, then he apparently didn’t have a problem with it because he simply said, “Sure.”
“Great,” I breathed out with relief, then proceeded to take him around the house and show him from room to room. When we reached the guest room, he dropped his small backpack on the bed and shed his wet leather coat, revealing a tight black t-shirt and a set of strong forearms.
I’m not sure why my eyes were drawn immediately to his arms, nor why I felt a blush creeping onto my cheeks as I looked further up and noticed his biceps stretching out the cotton of his t-shirt.
Okay, I was well-aware of why I was looking. Erik was a certified hottie, that was a fact. But I still felt massively uncomfortable checking the man out.
I cleared my throat and shakily asked, “Do you want me to leave you to get settled?”
He turned backwards, the surprise in his eyes that I was still standing there not lost on me. I felt another embarrassed blush rise to my cheeks even as he smiled and opened his mouth to reply.
A loud crack of thunder cut off whatever he was going to say and I startled in the spot, not missing the amused grin that appeared.
“I’m good,” he said after I had visibly calmed myself down.
“Ok, well… I’ll make something for dinner around seven if you want to… you know, eat.”
I twisted my hands together, a nervous habit I couldn’t seem to shake even now at the age of twenty-one. After he chuckled and gave me a nod of confirmation, confirming that he did indeed hear me, I spun around and darted out of the room. I shot down the hall to my bedroom, shutting the door gently behind me and leaning my back against it.
I thought about shooting my mother a sarcastic text message. Something along the lines of- ‘
Oh, gee. Thanks for the warning that the stepbrother I never met was coming to stay with us. I really appreciate being stuck alone in the house with a stranger
,’ but I ultimately decided against it.
Because I was certain that she intended to be here when she extended the invitation to Erik. It wasn’t her fault that a hurricane had rolled in when it did.
Speaking of, I stepped over to my bedroom window and glanced out at the yard, watching as the trees waved back and forth from the force of the wind. I rested my forehead on the glass for a moment, silently hoping that the storm would easily pass by.
But I knew better. The worst had yet to come.