A Stepbrother for Christmas:The Hard and Dirty Holidays(7)

By: Celia Aaron



“Your team?” I laughed. “I’m shocked anyone would let you on a team with other normal human beings. Were they afraid you’d kill them in their sleep or something if they didn’t?”

The room fell silent and Mom dropped her fork onto her plate with a clink. “Anna! Apologize right this minute.”

“I won’t. You know what I mean, right Niles?”

He closed his eyes and when he opened them I saw pain there, pain I’d inflicted. I thought it would feel good, hurting him the way he’d hurt me so many times. Instead, I just felt sick.

“Annalise—”

“No, it’s okay, Ellen. Really.” Niles wiped his mouth and tossed his napkin down next to his half-finished meal. “I need to turn in. It was a long flight and I’m beat. Thanks for this lovely dinner. Delicious as always. Please excuse me.” He rose and squeezed his dad’s shoulder before leaving.

The room seemed to deflate, as if I’d stuck a pin in it. Mom took what was left of my wine and put it out of my reach.

“Really, Mom?” I rolled my eyes and tamped down my unease. Was she right?

“Yes, really Anna. Why would you say something so awful?”

I fisted my hands next to my plate. “Oh, I’m awful. Have you forgotten about how he treated me?”

“That was years ago, Anna. You’re two different people now, all grown up. It’s obvious he’s changed and so have you.” She neatly folded her napkin and gave me a pointed look. “But I don’t know if all of the changes were for the better.”

I winced at her words. She was my biggest cheerleader. Her words were a shock to my system. Was I being a jerk? I pushed back from the table.

“Anna, it’s okay. Stay—”

“No, Brent. It’s fine. I don’t want to ruin the rest of the dinner. I’m going to bed. I’ll see you two in the morning.” I didn’t look at Mom as I strode out with angry steps. Petty? Maybe.

The second I was out of the room, they began talking in low voices.

I climbed the stairs, tripping once before I made the landing. Niles’ door was closed. I stopped in front of it. Should I apologize? A chant of “assless Anna” ricocheted through my mind from my ninth grade year. No, definitely not apologizing. I went to my room and changed into a t-shirt and panties before going to the bathroom. It was a jack and jill between Niles’ room and mine. His door was closed.

A few of his items were on the counter – razor, toothbrush, and the delicious soap I kept smelling. I stilled and tried to listen for him. Nothing. He must have already been asleep. I brushed my teeth, trying not to think about what I’d said earlier. Once I was done in the bathroom, I slipped into the queen size bed. I was beat from the trip and admittedly a little drunk. Sleep took me quickly.

***

A weight settled on me. My eyes flew open. Red hair, blue eyes. Niles had his hand over my mouth.

“Be quiet, Anna. Let’s not wake our parents.”

Panic rose in my throat, but I didn’t make a sound. He removed his hand and stroked through my hair.

“What are you doing?” I hissed.

He leaned in, his lips so close to mine. “I just wanted to apologize and do it right this time.”

“You call this doing it right?”

He laughed, low and seductive. “I saw the way you looked at me. And I’ve read your diary, remember? I know this is how you want it.”

I drew a hand from under the sheet to slap him but he caught my wrist and pinned it to the bed. My heart pumped double time and my clit began to tingle. He was right. This – what he was doing – was my kryptonite. I’d always had fantasies of being forced. No one had been able to deliver. That’s why all my relationships ended. But the fear mixing with exhilaration in my veins told me that Niles could give it to me.

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