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Step-Lover

By:Bella Jewel

enough by that we’re not going to be completely isolated.

“Are you girls all ready?” Mom asks, coming into the room wearing a light yellow summer dress that makes her look like sunshine.

“You look gorgeous, Nancy,” Melanie says, gushing over mom’s dress.

“Thank you, honey, so do you.”

I smile and clap my hands, yelling, “Let’s do this!”

We all go out and pile into Jack’s truck. He turns and gives us all a once-over and then grumbles something to himself about ‘eight hours with women’ before starting the truck and hitting the road.

We torture him the entire ride over, singing songs, chatting about periods and boys, and making him listen to our girly music. By the time we arrive at the lake house, he practically throws himself from the truck. I know he’ll be eager to have some male company. Melanie, Mom and I climb out of the truck with loose jaws as we take in the view in front of us.

The house is massive, but it’s also the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen. It’s made out of dark pine and has balconies surrounding the entire thing. Big floor-to-ceiling windows run along the front, so you have a view of the lake no matter where you are. And the lake is right there, only twenty meters or so from the front of the house. There is a camp over the other side, and the sounds of laughter and games can be heard. There are about seven other houses scattered along the banks of the lake, and families run about, enjoying themselves. Speedboats and tubes fill the water.

Oh my god.

Yay.

“This is amazing,” I breathe, walking up to Jack.

“Yeah.” He smiles, causing his eyes to crinkle. “I love it out here.”

“I can’t believe you own something like this.” Melanie sighs. “Can you please marry my mom?”

Jack snorts. “Nice one, honey, but no. Nothin’ can take my eyes off Nancy.”

Aw.

“Aw damn,” Mel whispers. “You’re sweet.”

Mom and me both giggle from behind them.

“Believe it.” He chuckles. “Now get inside and choose your rooms before the boys get here. Nancy and my room is the first on the right, any other is yours.”

Melanie and I squeal and charge towards the house, but both of us skid to a stop when we get inside. “Oh wow,” I say, staring around the room. It’s gorgeous. The floors, walls and ceilings are wood like the outside, and the kitchen is so massive it takes up a good portion of the house. It too is wooden, only it’s a creamy white. The lounge and dining are massive and open, and the fixtures and furniture make it, without a doubt, the most amazing house I’ve ever been in.

“I’m picking a room,” Melanie cries, charging off again.

I run after her, rushing down the hall and flinging doors open. All the rooms are large, but the one I pick is right at the end and opens up onto the massive patio. I squeal and lunge onto the bed, rolling and staring out the gigantic double doors and out over the lake.

“Oh my god, I thought my view was good,” Melanie groans, rushing in and throwing herself onto my bed. “This room is amazing.”

“And it’s all mine,” I tease.

I know there are five bedrooms in this massive home, so I guess one of the boys will have to share. I’d feel sorry for them, but I like my space and I don’t want to share with Melanie because she snores. So they’ll have to suck it up. I wish I could feel guilty, but, ah, hell no.

The sounds of gravel crunching alert us that someone has pulled up. We both sit up and stare out the window as a massive, black SUV comes to a stop near Jack’s car. I watch in fascination as three boys get out. Well, shit, they’re not boys . . . they’re more like men. The first one I see is super tall, and I know it’s Ripley because I’ve seen his pictures on Facebook. He’s around six foot and lean. He’s got his dark hair long and hanging around his shoulders. He’s wiry in build; he hasn’t filled out yet.

The second one is standing, leaning against the car, and his hair is darker than his brothers and cropped short in a buzz cut. He’s wearing what looks to be cargo pants and a tight black tee. Is he in the army? I don’t remember Jack mentioning that. He’s got his arms crossed over his chest and he looks as if he wants to beat someone. His jaw is to tight I can see the muscle jumping even from here. Damn.

My eyes turn to the third and I swallow. Even from this distance, you can tell he’s different from the other two. Firstly, his body is broader and thicker. He’s shorter, maybe just under six foot, but I can tell he’s well built, making him look that much more powerful. Then there’s his hair. It’s messy, not short and not long—just a mass of scruff on his head. It looks as if he’s done nothing more then wake up and run his fingers through it. It’s not dark like Jack’s—instead it’s a gorgeous sandy color.

He’s wearing a pair of sunglasses, and his arms are crossed over his chest, as if he’s really not in the mood to be here. Talk about broody brothers—they really don’t look happy about spending time with their new family. I keep watching in fascination as he lifts his sunglasses and turns his face towards the house.

“Oh my god,” I gasp, leaping backwards and dropping down onto the bed.

My heart is suddenly racing and sweat begins to bead on my forehead. I must have seen it wrong, yes, I was wrong. I lift my face again and he’s still looking towards the house, and I know, I just know I’m not wrong. I drop back down and begin panting. Melanie is still staring in fascination, not having noticed my freak out. “Oh man,” she breathes. “Christmas just came. Army man is mine.”

When I don’t answer, she turns and stares down at me. “What’s wrong? You look like you’ve seen a ghost.”

Maybe I have. He might not be close, but I don’t need to be to know what color his eyes are. They’re a toss up between blue and gray. His jaw is constantly covered in a light shade of stubble and he’s got the biggest, softest lips. His body is large and muscled and his voice is rugged and rough, and so damned sexy I’ve never

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