Elec nodded slowly with a sympathetic look. “So, yeah…I f**ked him up.”

“You let everyone think you were to blame. You took all that shit from Randy over it! You were just protecting me?”


“I didn’t know how to break that news to you about what they were planning. But clearly, tonight, my warning to stay away from him wasn’t getting through to you, so I needed to tell you.”

“Thank you.”

“I like to give you a hard time. It started out as a way to get back at my father…torture Sarah’s daughter. But eventually, getting under your skin sort of just became this fun little game. Tonight, when you cried, I knew I’d taken it too far and that for you, it wasn’t a game. As hard as it may be to believe, I never meant to hurt you, and I sure as f**k wouldn’t stand by and let someone else hurt you, either.”

He looked up at the ceiling again, and his lips bent into a frown as he pondered what he’d just said.

I lifted my index finger and brushed it softly across the spot on his lip that got torn in the fight. He closed his eyes, and my heart started to pound furiously as his breathing quickened with every stroke of my finger over his warm lip. “I’m sorry you got hurt.”

“It was worth it,” he said without delay.

I stopped touching him, and he looked at me. The sarcastic glare he used to give me was replaced with a look of sincerity.

Since I had his attention, I used the opportunity to change the subject. “You want to be a writer?”

He returned his gaze to the ceiling. “I am a writer. I’ve been writing since I was a little boy.”

“What’s Lucky and the Lad about? Why were you ashamed to show it to me?”

Looking uncomfortable, he repositioned his body. “I just wasn’t ready to talk about it.” He smiled and hesitantly said, “Lucky was my dog, actually.”

I couldn’t contain my smile. “You wrote a story about him?”

“Sort of. It’s like a supernatural version of my life with him. Lucky was not only my best friend, but he was the only thing that could calm me down when I was younger. I suffered from pretty bad ADHD back then and had to be on medication for a while. When my mother brought Lucky home, my behavior improved dramatically. So, while the story is based loosely on Lucky and me, it’s really about a boy who has superpowers that he uses to help solve crimes, but he can only decipher all the noise in his head when the dog is with him. The dog gets kidnapped as blackmail at one point, and the rest of the story becomes about getting Lucky back. It’s set in Ireland.”

“Wow. Why Ireland?”

“I’ve always had this weird obsession with all things Irish.” He pointed to the two shamrocks on his abs. “Case in point. I think it’s my way of trying to connect to that side of me—Randy’s side—since I have no real connection with him. That sounds kind of f**ked up, but it’s the only explanation I have.”

“What happened to Lucky?”

“Lucky died shortly after Randy left my mother. So, it was a lot happening at once.”

I put my hand on his arm. “I’m sorry, Elec.”

“It’s okay.”

Looking down at my hand sitting atop his sleeve tattoo, I thought long and hard about asking my next question. “Why does he treat you like that?”

He looked over at me. “Thank you for standing up to him last night. I wasn’t that drunk. I heard everything you said, and I’ll never forget it.” He closed his eyes. “But I don’t want to talk about him, Greta. It’s a long story, and it’s too complicated to get into at two-thirty in the morning.”

I wasn’t going to press my luck. This was more than I’d ever gotten out of him.

“Okay. We don’t have to talk about it.” After a long moment of silence, I asked, “Can I read your book?”

He laughed and shook his head. “Wow. You’re just a million questions tonight.”

“I guess I’m just excited that I’m finally getting to meet my stepbrother.”

He nodded in understanding. “I don’t know if I want you to read the book. No one’s ever read it. I keep telling myself I’m gonna figure out how to publish it, but I never do. It’s not perfect, but it’s the story I’m most happy with. I’m pretty sure there are lots of mistakes I haven’t caught.”

“I would love to read it. And if I catch any mistakes, I can let you know. English is sort of my thing.”

He smiled and rolled his eyes. “I’ll think about it.”

“Okay. Fair enough.”

When he turned to me again, the gray of his eyes lit up in the lamplight. He made himself comfortable and relaxed into the pillow. “Tell me about your father.”

He was looking at me so attentively, and it touched me that he wanted to know about him.

I sighed and stared off. “His name was Keith. He was a good man, a Boston firefighter, actually. My mom was 17 when she met him, but he was older—in his twenties—so it was really taboo. He was her one true love. We lived a simple life, but it was a good one. I was his little princess. One day, he just started complaining about a cough and within a month, he was diagnosed with advanced lung cancer. It took him from us six months later.”

He placed his warm palm over my hand, which was still grasping his arm. Then, he ran his fingers through my own. His touch felt electric. I never imagined that just holding someone’s hand could make me feel more than anything ever had up until that point.

“I’m sorry you had to go through that,” he said.

“Me, too. He left me some letters, one for every year until I’m 30. So, on my birthday, I read them.”

“He’d be proud of you. You’re a good person.”

I didn’t really know what I’d done to deserve this glimpse into what Elec was like behind the tough act, but I loved it. At the same time, I expected it to end at any moment.

“Thanks.” I caught my eyes lingering on his and abruptly turned away. He removed his hand from mine, and I felt it on my chin as he brought my face back to meet his stare again. “Don’t do that.”

“What?”

“You turned away from me. That’s my fault. I made you feel like I didn’t want you looking at me—that self-respect bullshit I fed you. Out of everything I ever said to you, that was the biggest lie, and I regret it the most. I’d started to let my guard down, and it freaked me out. I never had a problem with the way you look at me. My issue is the way it makes me feel when you look at me: things I’m not supposed to feel, things I can’t let myself feel for you. At the same time…nothing felt worse than when you stopped looking at me, Greta.”

He had feelings for me?

“What does it look like I’m thinking when I look at you?” I asked.

“I think you like me even though you think you’re not supposed to.” I smiled in silent agreement as he continued, “You’re trying to figure me out constantly.”

“You don’t make it easy, Elec.”

“Sometimes, you also look at me like you want me to kiss you again, but that you wouldn’t be sure what to do if I did. That kiss…was why I got the hell out of that restaurant so fast. It started as a joke, but it sure as hell felt real to me.”

My heart leaped to know he’d felt what I did that day. “Are you attracted to me?” I immediately felt stupid for having blurted it out. “I mean…I don’t look anything like the girls you date. I don’t have big br**sts and don’t color my hair. I’m like the total opposite of the ones you bring home.”

He chuckled. “That you definitely are.” He leaned in. “What makes you think I prefer them just because I bring them home? Those girls, they’re…easy…for lack of a better word, but they don’t do anything for me, really. They don’t try to get to know me. They just want to f**k me.” He wiggled his brows. “Because I’m really good at it.”

I laughed nervously. “I figured.”

The tension in the air grew thicker by the second. Nothing had ever turned me on like the sexual confidence he’d exhibited in that moment.

I was beyond intrigued…and curious.

His eyes trailed the length of my body from head to toe. “In answer to your question, though, I prefer your body to theirs any day, actually.”

Overwhelmed with arousal, I dug my fingers into my pillow upon hearing him say that. “Why?” The question had come out more like a sigh than a word.

His voice lowered. “You want details, huh?” His lips curved into a smile. He moved in closer to me as if he were telling me all of this as a secret. “Okay…you’re petite, toned, limber and your tits…they’re the perfect size and natural.” He looked down at my chest. “I can see you have beautiful ni**les because they’re saluting me right now. It’s not the first time that’s happened, either.”

I tucked my hands under my cheek and relaxed into the pillow as if he were reciting an erotic bedtime story. He whispered even lower, “I would love to suck on them, Greta.”

So incredibly turned on by the words coming out of his mouth, I felt a trickle of wetness and throbbing between my legs. Urging him to continue, I breathed out, “What else?”

“You have an amazing ass, too. That night we went to the movies, you were wearing that little red skirt. Every time that prick would drag his hand down to your ass when we were walking, it would drive me insane. I wanted to be the one touching you.”

I couldn’t help it. I edged in even closer and put my hand on the scruff on his face. “Really?”

“You’re really pretty, too.”

Dying to taste his mouth, I ran my fingertip across his lip ring. “I thought I was pretty ‘plain?’”

He shook his head slowly and caressed my cheek. He leaned into me, whispering softly over my lips. “No…just pretty.”

The need to kiss him was overwhelming. “Kiss me,” I sighed.

He continued to speak over my lips, his breathing labored. “It’s not that I don’t want to kiss you. I want that so f**king badly right now. But I just—”

I didn’t wait for him to finish. I took what I wanted, what I needed.

He moaned into my mouth when my lips covered his. He planted each of his hands on either side of my face. Without the hot sauce from our previous encounter, I was able to just taste him and knew immediately that there was no going back for me. I don’t know if it was my hormones or if the past several weeks were just major foreplay, but I felt completely out of control. The noises coming from the back of his throat made me even hungrier for him, and I caught them with my breath.

At one point, I rubbed my tongue gently around the cut on his lip as he closed his eyes. Then, he took over and started to kiss me harder, more demanding. I pushed my body into his and felt his erection press against me. I didn’t care about any of the consequences in that moment. I just knew I never wanted this to stop and shocked myself with what came out of my mouth next.

“I want you to show me how you f**k, Elec.”

He pulled away from me suddenly, looking stunned. “What did you just say?”

It was the most humiliating moment of my life.

His eyes widened, almost like he’d woken up from a dream. “Fuck. No…no. You need to understand something, Greta. That is never gonna happen.”

Okay, that was actually the most humiliating moment of my life.

“Why would you say that after everything you just told me?”

God, I felt so stupid.

He rested his head again on the headboard, looking almost tortured. “It was important to me that you know how much I want you and how beautiful I think you are—inside and out—because I feel like I’ve beaten down your self-esteem even though it wasn’t my intention. I meant everything I just said, but the kiss should not have happened. I shouldn’t even be in this f**king bed, but it just felt so good to lie here with you for a while.”

“How am I different from any of those other girls you give yourself to?”

He ran both hands through his hair, messing it up then looked at me with darkened eyes. “Actually, there’s a big difference. You’re the only girl in the entire world that’s forbidden, and f**k me if that doesn’t make me want you more than anything.”

CHAPTER 8

Nearly a month passed since that encounter in my bedroom.

Elec had left my bed that night shortly after he’d repeated that I was strictly off limits and that nothing could ever happen between us. It didn’t make sense to me that he could feel so strongly about it, considering we weren’t actually related. So, I felt that there had to be more to the story.

The worst part about what happened in my room was that Elec started to distance himself. There were no more rude texts, no more invites to play video games. When we were home at the same time, he stayed in his room, and I stayed in mine. He’d also been spending more time at the bike shop or out of the house.

I never thought I’d miss his insults and crude talk, but I would have given anything for things to at least go back to the way they were before I kissed him—and told him I wanted to f**k him.

Ugh.

I cringed whenever I thought about it. But in that moment, I was drunk off him and wanted to know what that felt like more than I’d ever wanted anything. I was ready.

Elec and I had both turned 18 in the weeks since that night. Our birthdays were just five days apart. So, I definitely felt old enough to take that step with someone. It wasn’t as if I were intentionally saving myself for marriage or anything. I was a virgin simply because I’d never wanted it with anyone before…until Elec. He’d spent the past few weeks making it crystal clear that it was never going to happen between us.

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