Bad Boy: A Stepbrother Romance(9)

By: Caitlin Daire

I offered a weak laugh in return, too annoyed to appreciate the joke.

“How did she get under your skin this time?” Dad asked. “You’ve managed to ignore her before. Why was it different today?”

“I was on a date, and Candice came and fucked it up,” I said. “So the girl left. I tried to stop her from going, but it didn’t work.”

A half-smile spread across my face in spite of my words when I thought of sweet Rory and the way she’d made me feel in the short time we’d been together at Clancy’s.

She was the one girl who made me feel bad for cursing, because it made me feel dirty in her innocent presence.

She was the one girl who made me feel like I could be a better man if we’d only had more of a chance; more than two hours.

But now it was all over before it had even started. She’d left, and I was never going to be able to apologize for fucking it all up. The city wasn’t exactly small, and I didn’t know her last name or phone number.

“On a date, huh?” he said, raising his eyebrows. He wasn’t the only one who was surprised by the idea of me on a proper date. Believe me, I’d shocked myself by doing it…and Rory hadn’t even been my date to begin with.


“You like this girl you were with?” he asked.

I found myself nodding. “Yeah. But it’s too fucking early,” I said. “I don’t even know her all that well. It makes no sense to like her this much already. I feel like a goddamned teenager.”

“Happens to the best of us.” Dad winked at me, emptying his drink while mine still sat in my hand, untouched. “So, what’s stopping you from going after her?”

I gave him a wide-eyed look. “Well, for one, I was a bit of a dick. I lied to her. I pretended to be her blind date just so I could hang out with her.”


I nodded. “Uh-huh.”

He shook his head, trying to stifle a chuckle. “Okay, maybe that wasn’t the best idea, but it’s quite funny. Anyway, go on.”

“Well, then she encountered my crazy sort-of ex and clearly didn’t think she was my ex…unsurprisingly. Candice is a fucking convincing actress when she wants to be. So now this girl thinks I’m a cheating asshole, and I don’t even know how to contact her, anyway. Do I need to keep going?”

“Nope,” Dad said with a mischievous grin. “But you do need to try and find her.”

I gave him a blank stare, and he winked at me before continuing.

“I think you’ll regret it if you let her go. The way you were in the lobby just now…I haven’t seen you so angry and upset in years, and for you, that’s saying something.”

His words stung. In the years since my mother’s death, I’d changed, and I knew it. Once upon a time, I’d been a happy-go-lucky kind of guy; Mr. Congeniality, always surrounded by friends. Since it all went down, I’d turned sour, bitter. I’d alienated most of my decent friends and I regularly used girls for my own pleasure, never anything more.

I tried not to lead those girls on, though. I was always upfront about only wanting one thing, and I usually attracted the kind of women who wanted nothing more than my dick and a mindless hookup anyway. But maybe enough was enough.

Maybe I needed more than ‘one thing’.

“Give it a go,” Dad insisted. “If you fail, at least you won’t be able to ask yourself ‘what if’.”

I guess he had a point there.

I sighed and nodded. “Okay. I guess you’re right, I’ll try to find her. Thanks, Dad.”

I took a sip of my drink, grinning at my old man and trying to not think about Rory for just a second. “So, anything you want to share?”

I was teasing him. I knew he was hiding something from me, and I wanted to see him squirm. He did. He twisted and turned in his seat, clearing his throat awkwardly before broaching the subject.

“Well, since you ask, I guess...” He cleared his throat again. “Err, it would be good if...well, I wanted to tell you sooner. You know, things get...”

He was being awkward as hell, so I decided to make things easy for him.

“Dad,” I said. “I already know. Elijah told me when you disappeared to that ‘conference’ in Shanghai.”

“Oh?” Dad looked at me with wide eyes, and I could almost hear his panicked heartbeat. “What exactly do you know?”

He was testing me to see just how much Elijah had told me, and I grinned at him as I calmly explained what I knew had transpired a couple of days ago.

“You weren’t really in Shanghai. You were on a secret getaway with a woman, and you got married when you spent the long weekend up at the lake house. Elijah said you’d called him to help find a short-notice celebrant.”

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