Stepbrother Dearest

By: Penelope Ward

He started to walk away, but Victoria called after him. “Hey, Elec…”

He turned around.

“Would you want to join? I mean…we could go with them. It might be fun. Like a double date.”

He chuckled and just stared at her for the longest time with a look that screamed, not a chance.

I shook my head. “I don’t think that’s a good idea.”

He turned to me with a malicious grin. “Why not?”

Why not?

“Because it’s my date. I don’t want anyone else tagging along.”

“It would really upset you if I went?”

“Yes, actually.”

He looked over at Victoria. “In that case, I’d love to go.”

The look of satisfaction on her face sickened me. She thought this was her big chance to make a move on him. Meanwhile, he’d basically admitted he was just doing this to torture me.

“See you Friday night,” he said before disappearing.

Victoria opened her mouth in a silent scream then tapped her feet excitedly on the floor, and it made me want to vomit. I now had to gear up for what would surely be one of the most awkward dates of my life. But nothing could have prepared me for what actually transpired that night.


Elec was supposed to be meeting us at the cinema. He had taken a part-time job at a bike shop and would be going home to shower first after work.

Victoria, Bentley and I got his ticket before they sold out.

“Victoria, are you sure your date’s showing up?” Bentley laughed.

“He’ll be here.” She looked over at me with uncertainty. Truthfully, I had no clue whether Elec was actually planning to show up and prayed he didn’t. When Victoria texted him that we planned to go inside the theater early to secure seats, he’d never responded.

As we waited in the concession line, Bentley put his arm around my shoulder, causing me to stiffen. It seemed a little forward since we were just getting to know each other. He did smell nice and looked really good in jeans and a black dress shirt. His short light brown hair was spiked with gel. I remember I used to think Bentley was really cute. Nowadays, every single guy seemed to pale in comparison to Elec on the physical attraction meter. I wanted to crush that meter with a sledgehammer.

Victoria was under strict instructions not to tell Bentley that Elec was my stepbrother. Since Elec never spoke to me at school, most people still had no clue that we lived together. I preferred it that way.

Relief set in when the theater darkened, and the previews began to play. I put my phone on vibrate. Maybe he wasn’t going to show after all. My body started to relax while Victoria checked her phone every two seconds and looked around for him.

The opening credits to the movie started. I sank deeper into my chair and kicked my feet up on the empty seat in front of me. Bentley gestured for me to have some of his popcorn. I’d been munching on it for a while and was actually enjoying the movie until I nearly choked on a whiff of clove cigarettes mixed with cologne.

Then, there he was.

My knees trembled as he slid past them in the darkness making his way to the empty seat on the other side of Victoria.

I wanted to smack the look of joy off of her face. When Elec leaned in and kissed her on the cheek, my appetite for the popcorn transformed quickly into nausea. I handed Bentley the bag and pretended to be interested in the movie. In all honesty, I was staring straight at the screen, but Drew Barrymore might as well have been speaking Mandarin Chinese.

All I was really doing was ruminating and breathing in Elec’s scent. His presence had made me angrier than I anticipated it would.

At one point, Bentley grabbed my hand and wrapped it inside his. I froze.

Victoria, who had downed a giant Diet Coke before Elec arrived, whispered in my ear that she was going to the bathroom.

My heart began to pound faster once she left because there was no longer anything blocking my view of him. I could feel from the corner of my eyes that he was looking at me. Despite laughter erupting around me from the audience, the weight of his stare seemed to drown it all out. I wouldn’t look at him or even move.

Just keep staring at the screen, Greta.

My phone vibrated on my leg.

Are you practicing to be a store window mannequin?

I couldn’t exactly respond to the text because Bentley would have seen me. I did, however, look over at Elec and regretted it. His normally unruly hair was gelled and styled. He was also more dressed up than normal in dark jeans and a leather jacket.

His mouth spread into a rare genuine smile that made me feel as if something were squeezing at my heart. Then, he chuckled, causing me to laugh at myself, too. He was right. I had been sitting there stiff as a board tonight. I was acting ridiculous.

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