Roommates (Soulmates #1)

BOOK: Roommates (Soulmates #1)
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Roommates

A Stepbrother Romance

 

Hazel Kelly

 

 

©
2016 Hazel Kelly

 

All
rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, transmitted, copied,
or stored in any form or by any means without permission of the author. Your
support of the author’s rights is appreciated. 

 

All
characters, events, brands, companies, and locations in this story are
fictitious. Any resemblance to actual persons is purely coincidental.

 

Cover Artwork
– © 2016 L.J. Anderson of Mayhem Cover Creations

 

 

 

Table
of Contents

Prologue
4

Chapter 1: Jenny
5

Chapter 2: Ethan
8

Chapter 3: Jenny
12

Chapter 4: Ethan
16

Chapter 5: Jenny
21

Chapter 6: Ethan
24

Chapter 7: Jenny
30

Chapter 8: Ethan
33

Chapter 9: Jenny
36

Chapter 10: Ethan
39

Chapter 11: Jenny
43

Chapter 12: Ethan
47

Chapter 13: Jenny
50

Chapter 14: Ethan
53

Chapter 15: Jenny
56

Chapter 16: Ethan
59

Chapter 17: Jenny
63

Chapter 18: Ethan
67

Chapter 19: Jenny
72

Chapter 20: Ethan
75

Chapter 21: Jenny
80

Chapter 22: Ethan
85

Flashback: Ethan
90

Chapter 23: Jenny
91

Chapter 24: Ethan
95

Chapter 25: Jenny
101

Chapter 26: Ethan
106

Chapter 27: Jenny
109

Chapter 28: Ethan
114

Chapter 29: Jenny
118

Chapter 30: Ethan
122

Chapter 31: Jenny
125

Chapter 32: Ethan
129

Flashback: Jenny
132

Chapter 33: Jenny
134

Chapter 34: Ethan
137

Chapter 35: Jenny
141

Chapter 36: Ethan
146

Chapter 37: Jenny
150

Chapter 38: Ethan
154

Chapter 39: Jenny
158

Chapter 40: Ethan
162

Chapter 41: Jenny
167

Chapter 42: Ethan
170

Chapter 43: Jenny
174

Chapter 44: Ethan
177

Flashback: Ethan
180

Chapter 45: Jenny
181

Chapter 46: Ethan
186

Chapter 47: Jenny
190

Chapter 48: Ethan
195

Chapter 49: Jenny
200

Chapter 50: Ethan
205

Epilogue : Jenny
210

Note from the Author
215

 

 

“There is
always some madness in love.

But there
is also always some reason in madness.”

-Friedrich Nietzsche

 

Prologue

 

 

 

I
always liked him. I just didn’t realize it because I was so awkward back then,
especially around guys. I guess I still kind of am.

 

To
make matters worse, I was only fifteen when our parents got married, which made
the confusing feelings I had for him- that horrible teenage attraction mixed
with extreme repulsion- even worse.

 

But
it wasn’t really repulsion at all. The resistance I felt was merely my own lack
of confidence coupled with the subconscious understanding that my feelings for
him weren’t okay.

 

I’ll
never forget the anxiety I felt the night a party at Jesse Kandinsky’s got so
out of control that my theater friends and I actually got in.

 

Ethan
was there. Along with all the other popular kids.

 

I
saw him in the kitchen as soon as I walked in the back door. And he saw me,
too. He always saw me. It was talking to me that he avoided.

 

I
stood back from his circle of friends and watched Jesse spin an empty wine
bottle on the butcher block while my friend, Brandi, rummaged in her oversized
purse for the two bottles of hard lemonade her older sister gave us.

 

It
was obvious that everyone was drunk but me. Yet strangely, even my vision felt
blurry as I tried to reconcile the noise and the crowd while clocking my
emergency exits.

 

But
when the spinning bottle stopped, the room came into focus again, and I
realized everyone was staring at me.

 

“Looks
like you’ve gotta kiss Jen,” Jesse said to Ethan.

 

I
felt the color drain from my face, taking the moisture in my mouth with it as a
suffocating panic grew in my chest. I was going to be found out.

 

Ethan
laughed it off. “Yeah, that’s not happening. She’s my sister.”

 

“Not
really, though,” Jesse said.

 

Everyone
erupted into nervous laughter and jeering sounds that made the already hostile
environment seem even more like a jungle full of predators.

 

My
cheeks felt like they might burst into flames.

 

“Don’t
be stupid,” Ethan said, tilting a can of beer over his mouth.

 

When
Jesse spun the bottle again, Ethan glanced back at me one more time and wiped
the back of his hand across his lips.

 

I’ve
been wondering what it would be like to kiss him ever since.

 

 

 

 

Chapter 1: Jenny

 

 

 

I’d
knocked so many times now it was going to be seriously awkward if he opened the
door.

 

I
sighed and pulled the spare key from my pocket, letting the yellow lanyard it
was on dangle from my palm.

 

I
was afraid this would happen, that he wouldn’t be here, that I’d be left standing
outside his door with a duffel bag and no invitation.

 

I
nearly jumped out of my skin when my phone rang.

 

“Hi.”
I scrunched my face.

 

“Hey,”
my stepdad said. “I’m just calling to make sure you arrived okay.”

 

My
eyes traced the outline of Ethan’s front door. “I’m here, but I don’t think
he’s home.”

 

“He’s
probably at work. Just let yourself in. That’s why I gave you the key.”

 

“I
know- I just… Does he even know I have it?”

 

“I’ll
let him know.”

 

“I
don’t want him to come home and get spooked when he finds me asleep on the
couch.”

 

“Don’t
be ridiculous. Go inside and relax. So your mom can finally relax.”

 

“Okay.”

 

“And
good luck at your audition. We’re rooting for you.”

 

“Thanks,
Ed.”

 

I
slipped the phone back in my pocket and squeezed my eyes shut as I turned the
key in the door.

 

After
I pushed it open, I stuck my head in first, relieved that the city lights from
outside lit up the room, making it easy for me to find the switch on the wall
inside the door. Then I dragged my small bag in from the hall and locked
myself inside.

 

I
put my key on the end of the kitchen counter and leaned against it, allowing my
body to feel the exhaustion I’d been fighting off all day as I kept to myself
on the twelve hour bus from Oberlin.

 

The
apartment was nice despite the fact that it was lacking in any cozy feminine
touches- apart from a trace of fresh lemon scent in the air.

 

There
was a black leather couch- my temporary bed presumably- along the back wall of
the open room underneath an abstract print of what looked like the silhouette
of two women kissing.

 

I
turned my head towards the far end of the kitchen. The top of the fridge was
cluttered with a dozen different kinds of liquor bottles and a barrel of whey
protein the size of my suitcase.

 

Before
taking my shoes off, I looked down at the floor.

 

I
didn’t normally take my shoes off in guy’s apartments, but most guys were
filthy and shed as carelessly as cats. But the sparkling white tiles on Ethan’s
kitchen floor looked immaculate.

 

So
either his condo came with a cleaning lady, he had an obsessive compulsive
girlfriend, or all those years at boarding school had actually rubbed off on
him.

 

I
opened the fridge. It was almost entirely bare. As far as I could tell, he
either ate all his meals out or he subsisted on nothing but eggs and BLTs.

 

I
walked over to the closest door. It was locked. I tried it again but had no
luck so I let my eyes wander to the black bookcase beside it.

 

The
top two shelves contained books about booze and bartending: Classic Cocktails,
1001 Cocktails to Try Before You Die, The Stout Bible. Below that there were
books about street art. I recognized Banksy’s name but none of the others.

 

I
squatted down to get a better look at the bottom shelf. It contained a few
fiction classics- On the Road, Raisin in the Sun, Catcher in the Rye. And in
the corner there was a book called The Third Policeman.

 

It
was the copy I gave him when he went to college. I flipped through it. A few of
the pages were folded over. I slid it back on the shelf, wondering why he never
mentioned he read it.

 

Across
the room was a cracked door. I walked across the floor and pushed it open. His
bedroom was dark and smelled like aftershave. I flicked the light on.

 

His
bed was made with military precision and his closet doors were open, revealing
a closet that was ready for a magazine shoot down to the row of shoes along the
floor.

 

I
made a mental note to myself to be really tidy so I didn’t piss him off, though
I imagined it wouldn’t make much difference considering he wasn’t exactly
expecting a house guest.

 

Atop
his dresser, there was a picture of his mom. It was one I’d seen before of her
flying a kite in the Outer Banks before he was born.

 

When
our parents got married, my mom had the same one framed and put it up in the
family room as a sort of olive branch for Ethan. She wanted him to know that
she wasn’t going to try and replace his mother, that she understood how much she
meant to him.

 

But
despite her best efforts, he never made it easy for her. Still, that was
nothing compared to what he put his dad through. I don’t think he ever forgave
him for remarrying.

 

Eventually
Ethan’s anger became difficult to manage. In fact, it got so bad my stepdad actually
seemed relieved when he got kicked out of school because it gave him an excuse to
send him away.

 

I
was only sixteen then, and I could count on my fingers how many times I’d seen Ethan
since.

 

And
while I knew our parents thought sending him away was what was best for him, I
never did.

 

I
mean, it’s not like he went out of his way to be nice to me, but I never once
felt threatened by him or thought he was dangerous.

 

He
was just sad. And I’d be really sad, too, if I went through what he did with
his mom. Not that I could relate.

 

My
dad just fucked off when I was a baby. My mom always maintained it was the
nicest thing he ever did for me.

 

I
wasn’t actively snooping, but I knew I’d crossed the line when I pulled the top
dresser drawer open and found a row of folded boxers next to a fishbowl full of
condoms.

 

I
closed the drawer and swallowed.

 

There
was only one more door to look behind, and I had to check it cause I was
bursting to use the toilet.

 

I
wasn’t a diva or anything, but I’d never been to New York before, and I didn’t
want my first experience of the city to be the bathroom at the bus station so
I’d forced myself to hold it.

 

Sure
enough, there wasn’t a stray pube in sight or a single wet towel on the floor.

 

Maybe
boarding school had been good for him. After all, I’d never seen him fold shit during
that year we lived together, never saw him wash a dish, never saw him make his
bed- not that I ever stuck my head in his room when he was home.

 

I
hoped he’d be able to see that I’d changed for the better, too.

 

College
had been really eye opening for me. I’d grown up a lot, and I wasn’t nearly as
naïve or annoying as I once was. He didn’t need to be embarrassed by me
anymore.

 

After
I went to the bathroom, I pulled a spare blanket out from the top of the closet
and double checked that the condom drawer was closed. It was bad enough that I showed
up uninvited. I didn’t want him to know I’d shown myself around his underwear
drawer, too.

 

Then
I turned his bedroom lights off, laid down on the couch, and studied my script
until my eyelids got heavy.

 

 

 

 

BOOK: Roommates (Soulmates #1)
12.52Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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