The Billionaire Stepbrother (2015)



              I’d been prepared to see Chris when I got the brownstone. He lived there, but I hadn’t thought he’d be up waiting for me. I’d stayed away from the house as long as I could. I’d caught a late movie at a theater. God bless, New York. The city that never sleeps. People had looked at me funny because of the dress I had on, but I didn’t care. I’d eaten a large bag of popcorn and had propped my feet up on the chair in front of me. I don’t even remember what the movie was about. My only request to the tenant had been for a ticket to the longest movie that they had playing. The movie had been over three hours long. I found the length ridiculous, but who was I to judge? Maybe everyone had gone to the film with the same request as me. Probably not.

              Chris stood up from the couch. I took off my heels and walked passed him. I knew he wanted to talk, but I didn’t. I wanted to sleep the rest of my existence away. What was the point of life without love? I was feeling emotional and sappy, but I didn’t care.

              “Can we talk?” he asked before I could turn down the hall.

              I turned back towards him and took every bit of him in. Sweet torture. He was still in his back pants and white top. The bowtie and jacket were thrown on a nearby chair. His hair looked a little messy. The top two buttons on his shirt were undone. He was breathtaking and I for one was not up to looking at him anymore. “I’m moving back home tomorrow.”

              A pained look crossed Chris’ face. “Don’t, Linda.”

              I shook my head. “I think we both know it’s for the best.”

              He started to walk towards me and I took a step back. He stopped. “I hate it when you do that.”

              I rolled my eyes. “Do what? Back away from you? Is the reason not painfully obvious now?”

              His face softened. He knew now. I backed away to avoid touching him. I backed away so that I didn’t embarrass myself like I’d done hours earlier at the party. I wish I didn’t have feelings for him. I wish I could take back the last five hours of my life, but I couldn’t. Our world was so advanced, yet no one had invented time travel yet. I should complain to congress about that. Someone in the science community was slacking.

              “Linda, I’m sorry,” Chris eventually said. Whatever that meant.

              I turned towards the guest room. “Okay.” What else was I supposed to say? It’s okay, Chris? Apology accepted? No harm, no foul? I didn’t think so.

              I walked into the guest room and turned on the light. I turned to close the door and Chris was looming there, taking up the entire entryway. His quiet presence had scared me half to death. “Can I help you?”

His expression was neutral. “I don’t want you to leave.”

I stared at him and wondered what could possibly be going through his head. “Why?”

He shrugged. “I like you here.” He was so adorable at times.

I looked away from him. “Well, you can’t have your cake and eat it too.”

He frowned. “What’s that supposed to mean?”

I lifted a brow. I had no idea, but it had sounded right at the moment. What was I trying to say? No clue, but he didn’t have to know that. “You know what I mean, Chris.”

Chris’ black brows pulled together. His pale eyes seemed to darken with anger. “So that’s it? If we don’t fuck, you’ll leave?”

Is that what my words had implied? I didn’t have a chance to answer. Chris’ hands came to my sides and pulled me roughly against his body. I could feel the hard member in his pants. I caught my breath. Chris’ menacing stare didn’t change. “Is this what you want?”

I felt the lower part of my body tighten, as if it could reach out and grab him. Yes, I did want him, but not like this. I placed my hands on his chest and tried to push out of his grasp. But Chris wouldn’t budge. I felt my body being yanked further into the room. The door slammed and then I was pinned to the door.

Chris’ large hands slid up the top of my dress and cupped my full breasts. His thumbs rubbed over my nipples through the material. My body began to respond against my will. I threw my back and took in a shaky breath. “Chris, please,” my voice sounded strained to my own ears. I couldn’t think. He had to stop before we got too far. Before I wouldn’t be able to pull back.

His lips touched my throat and I was lost. His mouth was just as teasing as his hands. “Is this what you want?” he whispered. His words pulled me out enough to think.

I shook my head and brought my eyes to look at his. “Not like this Chris.” My hands moved to his face, holding him in place. There were so many things I wanted to tell him, but I didn’t know where to start. Plus, his hands still hadn’t moved.

Chris’ hands stayed planted in their place, his thumbs still over my tender buds. His eyes were still furious. “So, you don’t want me?”

“That’s not what I’m saying.” I remained calm, level-headed, and worked on slowing down my heart rate.

“Then what do you want?”

Still holding his face, I didn’t know what to say, so I tried to show him. I leaned forward and kissed him gently, slowly. I rubbed my lips across his in the most loving way I knew possible, trying to express everything that I was still too nervous to say.

Chris’ breath came out unsteady. “I can’t do this, Linda.”

“Why? Because you’re my brother? Because you’re too old for me?”

He looked at me and I saw the pain return to his eyes. “No.”

Now, I was really confused. I pushed my fingers through his hair, still holding him in place, taking advantage of the fact that he was allowing me to touch him so intimately. “Then why, Chris?”

“Because I’m Christopher Ray, Sr.’s son.” Then he looked at me as though his words made all the sense in the world. They didn’t.

I frowned. “I don’t understand.”

“Don’t you? I’m just like him. Rich, powerful, and unloveable.”

Now I was completely lost. “Chris, what are you talking about? Everyone loves you.”

He pulled away from me and shook his head. “No, they don’t, Linda. Fans don’t count.”

“Your mother loves you.”

“No, she doesn’t. She tries, but she can’t.” Chris ran frustrated hands through his hair before taking a seat on the bed. “I’m the product of a loveless marriage. I’m a reminder of the worst part of my mother’s life.”

I went and knelt in front of him. My dress pooled into a white puddle around me. “Chris,” I placed my hands on his knee. “Julie loves you. When you were away, she moped every day about how she couldn’t see you for Sunday breakfast and how you were too far from home. When she thought you wouldn’t make it for the wedding renewal, she literally had a crying fit.”

Chris just stared at me. “Really?”

I got the urge to knock him in the head. “Of course! Your mother is crazy about you.”

Chris blinked. “I feel like she loves you more.” His words lacked any emotion.

I blinked a few times myself. Chris and I had had so many heart-to-hearts about life in the past, but this was the first time I’d heard any of this. I suddenly wondered what the heck we’d been talking about for years when this was the real stuff. Though, I couldn’t complain. Not really. Chris still didn’t know that I loved him. So, we both had our own secrets, but still. “What makes you say that?”

He was frowning again. “Because, once you came into her life, she basically dropped me like I was last year’s model.”

I wanted to laugh, but couldn’t. “Chris, I was a fourteen-year-old girl who knew nothing about being a girl. You were twenty-five. I think she believed you’d do fine on your own.”

Chris just stared at me for a while. He looked away and then back at me. “Well, when you say it like that.”

I punched him in the ribs. He flinched back, surprised. “Hey. My feelings can be hurt, too.”

I sighed and stood. “You’re ridiculous.”

He gave me a soft smile just before his lips fell. And I saw then that Chris didn’t believe me. He just wanted the conversation over with, but I couldn’t leave him like this. Was this the reason he didn’t like coming around the family? Did he think himself the black sheep? If he did, he was wrong, because that role had already been taken by me. I was the unsuccessful one who’d barely had a dollar to her name, gotten evicted from her crummy apartment, resorted to taking advantage of her brother’s absence, and moved into his home without letting him know. Oh no, if Chris wanted the position as black sheep, he’d have to get a ticket and wait in line.

I placed my hands on Chris’ shoulders and spread my fingers over them. They were solid. I could feel his strength through the material of his shirt. He was crazy if she believed himself to be unloveable. Any woman would be happy to have him, especially me… and Patricia. “Are you seriously taking Patricia to the wedding?”

Chris gave me a genuine smile at last. “No, I just said that to make sure that Mom didn’t try to surprise me with a date when I got there.”

I smiled and let out a half-sigh, half-laugh. “Oh, that makes sense.”

He narrowed his eyes. “Plus, I wanted to make you mad.”

I narrowed my own eyes. “Why?”

“Because you didn’t read the article.”

My hands left his shoulders and went around my own. “I read the article.”

Chris didn’t move, but the surprise was on his face. “When?”

“At the party.”

He seemed confused. “Is that why you kissed me? As a thank you?”

I shook my head. “No, not as a thank you.”

“Then why?”