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Step-Lover

By:Bella Jewel


Jack nods. “Yeah, he isn’t happy about changing high schools but he wants to live with me for a while and their mother has a new flame, so she’s happy to let them go.”

I nod. “Fair enough.”

“Honey,” Mom says, stopping in front of me. “I want to ask you something and would have liked to sit and chat about it, but I just don’t have time.”

I narrow my eyes, and then slide my bottom up onto the counter. “What’s going on?”

She smiles, her cheeks pink, her face happy and glowing.

“Jesus, Mom, are you pregnant?”

Jack snorts his coffee and starts coughing, and Mom laughs, shaking her head and waving her arms around. “Gosh no! I’m far too old for that.”

I frown. “Then what?”

“It’s nothing major, calm down.” She laughs softly, and turns to Jake. “Tell her?”

Jake grins. “Got a lake house, big, beautiful, and empty. Had it for about ten years. Going up for part of the summer—the boys agreed to come. It’s massive, loads of bedrooms, heaps of privacy. I thought it’d be a good idea for us all to get to know one another. What do you think?”

A lake house for part of the summer with three men I don’t know . . . God. I’m not sure that’s the best idea I’ve ever heard. Don’t get me wrong, I want to meet them, but being secluded somewhere like that if we don’t all get along could be disastrous.

“It sounds . . .” I look at their happy faces. “Ah . . .”

“Don’t be worried,” Mom pipes up. “The boys will love you and you can bring Melanie if you like.”

I stare at them. Gosh, they look so excited. I don’t have anything planned for the summer and I know Melanie will jump at the chance. “It sounds great.” I smile.

Jack grins and reaches out, squeezing my shoulder. “It’ll be a good way for us to bond. The boys will love you. They always wanted a sister.”

I laugh nervously.

Mom comes over and kisses my cheek. “It’ll be great!”

“So,” I say, jumping off the counter, “when do we leave?”

~*~*~*~

“So we’re going to your step-dad’s fancy-ass lake house for the summer?” Melanie cries, rushing after me as I run towards Biology, which I’m late for.

I’ve been friends with Melanie Reynolds for six years now. She’s a crazy, hotheaded girl who clashes with me more than she gets me, yet it works for us. She’s gorgeous, with long raven hair and dark brown eyes. She’s got a killer bod and some serious ’tude to go with it.

“Yeah,” I yell over my shoulder. “My three, ah, step-brothers will be there too.”

She claps her hands. “Are they hot?”

I snort. “Stop it, gross.”

“Hey, my mom isn’t married to their dad, I can look.”

“Melanie,” I warn, stopping and spinning around to glare at her.

She scoffs and waves a hand casually. “Oh come on, it’ll be awesome fun. Just think, there might be some hot, rich men holidaying for us to crack on to. It’s time you got over what’s-his-face.”

What’s-his-face is a man I met a month or so before Mom met Jack. I don’t know his name. I don’t know where he lives. All I know is I met him during a difficult time in my life, and we had the best weekend together. He made me feels things I have never felt up until that moment, and have never felt again. I’ve not forgotten him; there’s a good chance I had insta-love for the guy. Until he upped and left me and I never saw him again.

It hurt. I won’t lie. I’d thought there was something between us. I’d thought he felt it too, but he was no more than a player. I was naïve. The end. I’ve dated since, but none of it felt right. I don’t know what it was about him, but he changed something inside me. Helped me grow up. Helped me understand there is life after pain.

“I am over him,” I mutter, turning and rushing off again.

“Then let’s get excited about this summer.”

“I’m excited,” I yell over my shoulder as I reach the door to my classroom.

“I’ll call you later,” she cries as I slip inside.

“Miss Beladone, thank you for making the effort to show up,” Mr. Scotland mutters.

He’s old, balding and angry. I grit my teeth and take my seat, not bothering to answer. He’ll only make my life a living hell and shoot back every excuse I give.

“Not even an apology for disrupting the class?”

“Sorry,” I mumble.

Bring on summer.

CHAPTER TWO

THEN – ONE YEAR EARLIER

I twirl in front of the mirror with a massive smile on my face. Since finishing high school and turning eighteen, I haven’t had the chance to go out. Melanie and I decided tonight was the night. We’re free of study and strings, plus we have a small break before we start college. We might as well make the most of it. We’re going out with a bunch of friends to a popular spot on the water.

“I love this dress,” I breathe, running my hands down the tight material.

“I love it more,” Mel says, bundling her hair in a messy yet totally sexy mass on top of her head. She leaves small curls that trail down and frame her face.

“How do you do that?” I ask.

“What?”

I point to her hair. “Make your hair look so freaking awesome without effort?”

She grins. “I have no idea. Come here, let me fix yours.”

I step forward and she pulls me closer, fixing my dark locks. She runs her fingers through them, makes a few shaking motions and then gets out the hairspray. “There,” she says, happy with the final picture. “Check it out.”

I turn and stare in the mirror. She has teased my hair out to there and it looks fabulous. “Super!”

“Let’s go.”

We rush down the hall and call out to Mom, who is busy baking in the kitchen.

“Have fun, girls, stay safe.”

“We will!” we both cry in unison.

Just as we step out the front door a car comes to a halt at the curb. Three of our friends are inside. Two of those are guys; one is Jamison, Melanie’s dreamboat. We rush towards the car and I purposely let Melanie go first so she’s squashed between Jamison and I in the back seat.

“Hey guys!” I smile.

“What’s up?” Pete, who is driving, grins.

I beam. “Not much, Petey, how are you?”

“Good, girl.”

“O

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