I nodded, following him into his room. My heart was racing, and I knew what I was doing was probably a huge mistake, but I couldn’t help myself. Ever since Lincoln had come into my life, there was only one thing, only one mind-meltingly hot guy. It was him every time I closed my eyes and felt my soaked-through panties.
The thought of my stepbrother without a shirt on practically got me off. How messed up was that?
“Here we go,” he said, pulling a bottle from his closet.
I giggled again. “What’s that?”
“Vodka. Vladimir’s Vodka. Only the finest Russian blend.” He walked into his bathroom and returned with two paper cups, pouring two shots. He held his up. “To our parents’ marriage.”
He grinned and threw his drink back. I followed suit and nearly gagged as the sharp, biting taste of cheap alcohol overwhelmed my stomach and throat. I began to cough and he laughed.
“Not funny,” I croaked.
He laughed and walked into the bathroom, returning with some water. I drank it gratefully.
“Is that stuff meant for stripping paint?” I asked incredulously. I couldn’t believe people drank it.
“It comes in a big plastic bottle and costs about ten bucks.”
“Yeah.” He smiled huge, clearly loving my discomfort. “It really is.”
He poured out two more shots and walked over to his balcony, pushing open the French doors and walking outside. I followed him, making a face at the horrible drink in my hand. There was no way I would put more of that terrible swill into my body. I was pretty sure the first shot was already starting to eat its way through the lining of my stomach.
I leaned up against the railing, looking out over the lawn and into the trees. He took a deep breath and let it out.
“Decent night,” he said.
“Yeah. It’s pretty.”
We were standing close, lit only by the moon. I could feel his chest rise with each breath. I wanted to touch him, wanted to do more than just touch him. But the word “stepbrother” kept ringing in my ears, over and over.
He leaned on one elbow, his face close to mine.
“What now?” he said softly.
“I don’t know. Bed soon, I guess.”
He reached out and tipped my chin toward him. Chills ran down my spine and my heart began to race even faster, if that was possible. I looked at his full lips and into his intense gaze, completely entranced. I wanted this, wanted it badly. I was terrified.
“Not what I meant.”
And then he kissed me. Desire flooded through my body as his lips pressed against mine, sending deep traces of hunger into ever part of my torso.
I pulled away. “Wait. We can’t.”
“Sure we can. We’re not really related.”
“I know. But I can’t. You’re drunk.”
He laughed. “So are you.”
“Exactly. I’m sorry.”
He straightened up. “Fine. That’s cool.”
I tossed the cup I was holding off the balcony and watched it drop through the blackness, disappearing into the night. I turned away and walked quickly inside, cursing my idiocy, angry at myself for backing out when really I wanted him more than anything.
“Sleep tight, Brie baby,” he called after me.
I didn’t look back.
I didn’t see him again for three years.
That was it. A few hours of dancing, a few hours of flirting, and one kiss. That was the extent of our relationship, unless you counted the small talk before the reception started. The marriage happened really suddenly, and we didn’t have a chance to get to know each other very much before being thrown together that night. I couldn’t have known what he would do to me, what he would make me feel.
I had spent hours agonizing over that moment. Throughout the years, I drifted between believing I did the right thing and being convinced that I had made the biggest mistake of my whole life. I never got a chance to find out, because Lincoln disappeared from the house early the next day and ended up moving out to Europe two days after that.
I had my own stuff. I had school. I had friends and one or two boyfriends and hours spent in the lab. But always in the background was Lincoln and his career, exploding into stardom in the last year and a half.
I sighed, shaking myself out of the memory. I glanced down at my phone and checked Facebook, but there were no texts or messages or wall posts or anything to suggest that someone would be my savior.
Someone other than Lincoln, of course.
As if on cue, the back door to the house pushed open and there he was, limping on his cane out toward me, followed by Jessica and the camera crew. I sighed and rolled my eyes at him, and he grinned. Something lanced through my chest; I couldn’t tell if it was annoyance at the cameras or desire for his slightly-sweating body.