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Stepbrother Charming(7)

By:Nicole Snow

I don't dare tell her it's Ty, or that I practically invited the last collision with the sex-crazed jackass.

I'm already stuck in enough crap. I can't imagine telling her how good his lips tasted on mine.

At some point, she stops interrogating me and throws a blanket over me as I'm lying on her couch. I pass out and sleep like the dead until my phone screams me awake in late morning.#p#分页标题#e#

“Claire, it's Mom. Just making sure we're still on for lunch?”

Of course we are. The universe has decided to make me pay for last night.

I inwardly groan, wishing I could pass out for a few more hours. I'm alone in Dana's place. My friend went out shopping and left me an extra key to lock up if I decide to leave, as the note on the counter says.

“Yes, mom. I'll be there.”

“Oh, good!” her high, almost sing-song voice makes my ears ring. “Don't be late. I've got some huge news to tell you.”

Huge? As if big isn't enough? I hope to God she isn't going to say she's launching her Senate run early. I can't deal with the stress of that, especially the media storm it'll bring, when my first summer as a real adult has barely started.

“Honey, what's wrong?” Mom pauses, oh-so-concerned. I'm surprised she can't smell the vodka through the phone.

“Late night with Dana. Nothing to worry about. I'm just shaking off all the fun.”

“Claaaire.” She clucks her tongue in that haughty, disapproving way she's always done. “You need to start taking better care of yourself. You're out of college now. When I was your age, I was struggling just to keep my head above water. I didn't have time for all night drunken –”

Blah, blah. Fuck you. And blah.

Shaking my head, I slam my phone at the edge of the sink and wash up, listening to her lecture me about all the thrills and dangers of being a young woman. I want to cut the speaker phone, or else drown the fucking thing in the sink.

“Mom, I know. I hear you. Let's not talk about this, okay? I really want to have lunch and figure out the ride back to Tacoma. I haven't seen you for a while, and I actually want to. I just don't want you treating me like a total idiot.”

“Yes, Tacoma...” She trails off oddly, and I don't really understand why.

Maybe admitting she actually counts freezes her cold in her tracks. Mom and I haven't really been close since I was a teenager. Her last couple terms in Congress were a blur. There wasn't much hanging out with her staying in DC half the year while I was stuck here for school.

Then when she left the US House and came home, she was always busy with something, and I can't say the desire to reconnect has been crazy pressing until now.

“All right. You know I'm only hard on you because I love you.”

“I know. So, Carbonari's at one?”

“No, no. I thought we'd try something new. There's this great new wine bar a little north of the city.”

She gives me the name and I almost fall over. It's a budget buster for me, and way beyond anything my frugal-minded mom normally indulges too.

Damn, now I really know she's contemplating that early Senate campaign. She's going to bribe me to soften the blow.

“Okay, I'll be there. Uh, you're paying, right?”

I exhale relief when she says yes, because I'd be going home hungry if she wasn't. It's a miracle I'm not ass deep in loans like my friends, but hitting the classes hard hasn't left me much time to work, and my bank account looks really pale.

Slipping out of Dana's apartment, I lock up and slide the key back underneath the door. Then I'm in my car, struggling for oversized shades to blot out the blinding sun.

My eyes don't want to let go of what happened last night. They're throbbing like mad, making me re-live all the stupid memories at Club Zing. My mind won't get off him the whole way to the wine bar.

I can't believe I kissed a total asshole. And I definitely can't believe I let him put his hands all over me, however brief. Jesus, what would've happened if I'd been so fucking drunk I said yes to Ty's gross advances?#p#分页标题#e#

Shaking my head makes my eyes feel better, so I'm practically swaying to the music buzzing out my radio the whole trip. Last night needs to be my last big drinking binge ever. A tall order, I know, because right now a glass or two of wine sounds awfully good, if only to take the edge off.

The place is even fancier than I thought. If it's not the Senate campaign, I wonder if she hit big in Vegas. Mom was gone there for a whole month up until my graduation. She's a gambler by nature, which I guess is what makes politics so appealing.

I can't say I'm immune to the same adrenaline rush – and certainly not to finer things. When I walk into the place, it's heavenly. The light potpourri of high-end wines blends with well-cooked steaks and starters. My stomach growls something fierce, reminding me I haven't eaten since a quick dinner last night, before meeting up with Dana.