Stiff:A Stepbrother Romance(4)

By: B. B. Hamel


“Best room in the house,” he said with a wink.

The bed was enormous, a four-poster thing, like something from a fairy tale. I had my own desk and dresser and walk-in closet, plus a little TV.

“I can get a computer in here too, if you want,” he said.

“No, no thanks. This is already too much.”

He laughed. “I’m just happy you’re back home. Anything you want, just ask.”

We walked past two more empty rooms and he showed me the bathroom. Marble floors, huge tub, huge shower. It was absolutely unreal.

“When did you get this place?” I asked him as I walked through the bathroom, gaping at everything.

“Just two months ago, actually. Susan picked it out.”

“It’s incredible.”

“I know. It was hard to sell the house on Beaker, though.”

I nodded. Beaker Street was where we’d lived with my mom, all those years ago. I thought of that house as my childhood home.

But this new house would do just fine.

“Why don’t you get unpacked and then come downstairs. We’ll have something to eat.”

“Sounds good, Dad.”

He paused outside my door. “Thanks again for coming home.”

“Thanks for doing all this for me. I’m glad I’m here.”

He smiled and then left.

I collapsed onto my bed, my mind spinning in tight circles. The house, my father, Susan, and Easton were all incredible. It was almost too good to be true.

Except the part about working for Easton. That made me nervous, in all honesty. I had no clue what he was like, and, plus, he was so young. How could I really learn anything from him? He probably barely knew anything himself.

And why had he left the FBI? Susan’s comment about it made it seem very mysterious. Maybe I could ask Easton himself, though he hadn’t exactly seemed super friendly when I’d run into him earlier that day.

As I unpacked my stuff, I could feel my heart racing. I didn’t know what would happen, but I knew I was in for an interesting summer. All reservations and hesitations about Mishawaka were forgotten for the time being.

I had a job and a decent place to stay. What else could I possibly want?





2





Easton





Coming home was not what I wanted to do on my twenty-fifth birthday. But after you’re honorably discharged from the FBI, or “let go” as they like to say, there’s not much else to do.

So I packed my things and drove across the country. It passed by like a blur, one long string of shitty fast food place after the next.

Finally, like magic, I found myself back in Mishawaka. The place was full of memories. And the last thing I wanted was memory.

I had enough to last a lifetime.

I didn’t tell my mother at first. She was probably too busy running the town with an iron fist to care. She’d notice eventually, anyway, when some young upstart kid started plying his trade in town. She was one of the most powerful members of the city council, after all, and any changes in town inevitably went through her.

Still, I got my private license, I used what savings I had left to rent out some office space, and I put a little ad out in the paper. Work started coming, but slowly.

It took my mother three months to notice that I was home. Needless to say, she was pretty unhappy when she found out that her son had been fired from the Feds and was suddenly working as a cheap private eye for hire right in her city center without her knowledge. That sort of thing just didn’t happen to Susan Wright.

I took a little pride in the fact that I had lasted so long without her noticing. I used every trick I could think of to stay underneath her radar, but eventually she was going to find me out. I thought three months was pretty damn good.

That first conversation didn’t go well. I didn’t much care whether she was happy to see me or not, but I knew she could make my life difficult if she wanted to.

Eventually, after another few weeks or so, things got a little better.

I parked my car around the corner from her house, a habit I’d picked up when I was an agent. Never park right out front; never leave yourself exposed. I was a careful person and always had to be. When you worked in my division of the FBI, you had to be.

There were some fucked up, dangerous people in the world.

I walked slowly around the block and up my new stepfather’s stoop. Susan had moved in with him after she had convinced him to sell his old house and to upgrade. It wasn’t surprising that she refused to live in anything but the best.

I rang the bell and waited, shifting my weight foot to foot. In the Feds, they teach you to always be ready for everything.

I still had a lot of habits from my days in the bureau. I glanced down at the tattoos peeking out from my shirtsleeves and grinned to myself. I had picked up a few new things, too.

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