Cockney:A Stepbrother Romance(6)

By: Aubrey Irons

Barney’s got an accent straight out of central casting for a period piece movie; that thick, east-end bristle and dropped consonants. My mother’s filled me in on the plane ride over about the Beckett’s change in fortunes since Oliver visited us; about the inheritance from some great aunt or something that’s gotten Barney out of the butcher business and into the luxury hotel and restaurant business, with his wonder-chef son apparently right there with him.

Oliver might be dressed in just jeans and black v-neck t-shirt, but his dad sure dresses like new money; all swagger and flashy rings and jewelry. Fancy, expensive clothes worn almost in distain as more of a statement than any sort of appreciation for finer style.

Honestly, I could never picture mom with a guy like this, but I guess that just shows what I know.

“So, you like, bake stuff now.” I turn from the window at the sound of Oliver’s voice. His dark eyes flash at me, and he’s smirking, as if the question is meant as some sort of barb.

I frown. “Yes, I bake stuff now.”

“So, what, like cupcakes and the such?”

I narrow my eyes at him. He’s speaking pleasantly in that thick cockney accent, but I can tell there’s something there below the surface, like he’s trying to bait me They aren’t even paying attention to anything but each other right now, but it’s like he’s putting on a facade for our parents. Like it’s all fake and he’s secretly just as pissed to have me here as I am to be here.

Jesus he’s gorgeous. I freeze, frowning at the sudden intrusion of my traitorous inner thoughts while I’m trying to scowl at this boy who’s still just smirking at me. Smirking with those absolutely perfect lips, and those dangerously alluring eyes glinting at me.

The same lips, the same eyes, and the same, well, everything that hooked me before.

Yeah, I’ve fallen for this whole look of his before, and it is certainly not happening a second time.

“How are you with chocolate chip cookies? Cakes with cartoon characters drawn on top? I’ll have to double check to see if I know any five year olds with birthdays coming soon.”

He such a prick.

“Slightly more involved than that, actually, but I guess I’ll have to show you later, sometime in the kitchen.” I roll my eyes as I turn back to stare out at the grey London rain.

I can hear him chuckle behind me. “You haven’t looked me up, have you?”

I turn back, “Excuse me?”

“Looked me up; googled me or the restaurant or whatever.”

“Of course I have,” I say, “‘Jolie, home to London’s hottest young sous-chef’,” I say with air-quotes, rolling my eyes. “Yes, Oliver, I’ve looked you up.” I hate telling him that, as if this little shit could possibly need his ego stroked anymore.

Oliver grins; leaning back in his seat with a smug look on his face as he laces his hands behind his head. “Oh, no-no-no, darling, that’s yesterday’s news.”

I frown, “What are you talking about? Are you not at Jolie anymore?”

He chuckles, just slowly shaking his head as he turns towards his father, “Oy, dad, you didn’t tell her?”

Barney looks up from his whispered little conversation with my beaming mother and frowns.

“What's that boy-o? Oh right, the switch.” He glances my way and shrugs apologetically; “Sorry my dear, guess I didn’t get the chance yet.” He jerks his head at my mom, “Far too occupied with this lovely bird here, you know!” My mother whoops and laughs as he turns to tickle her.

I ignore the nauseating display and narrow my eyes as I turn back to Oliver, “Tell me what?”

He lets out a contented sigh, cracking his knuckles loudly before slipping them back behind his head. He slouches down in his seat and kicks one foot up onto his knee, looking at me with this absolutely shit-eating grin. “Well, ‘the kitchen’ you were just referring to?”

Oh God, now what?

He grins widely, “It’s not home to London’s hottest young sous-chef anymore, luv.” He winks at me. “It is now officially home to London’s hottest young chef.” He winks at me again. “No ‘sous’, in case you missed that.”

Please be kidding.

A lump forms in my throat as what he’s saying starts to sink in. He leans forward, raising his eyebrows at me, “So, ‘the kitchen’ you were just referring to is actually my kitchen now.” He grins as leans back and throws me the world’s cockiest, smuggest smirk. “Looks like I’m your new boss, sweetheart.”

If I thought London was grey before, I suddenly have a whole new appreciation for that particular color as we enter Shoreditch, the old industrial-turned-hipster neighborhood in East London.

Of course, it’s still not distraction enough to take my mind off Oliver’s little news, or that smirking grin he’s managed to flash me anytime I happen to turn that way the entire car ride here. By the time the taxi pulls up in front of Barney’s massive townhouse, I’ve been in England for all of one hour and eighteen minutes, and I have no idea how I’m possibly going to survive being around this little shit-bag at both work and home for four solid months.