Stepbrother Dearest

By: Penelope Ward

“Seriously, why do you smoke? It’s so bad for you.”

“You can’t just steal my shit. But then again, like mother, like daughter.”

“What are you talking about?”

“Go ask your mother,” he muttered under his breath. He held out his muscular, tattooed arm. “Give me my cigarettes.”

“Not until you explain why you just said that. She didn’t steal Randy. Your parents were divorced before my mom even met your dad.”

“That’s what Randy wants you to believe. She was probably fucking around on your father too, right? Poor gullible bastard.”

“Don’t call my father a bastard.”

“Well, where was he when Sarah was fucking my father behind my mother’s back?”

My blood was starting boil. He was going to be sorry for asking. “Six feet under. My father died when I was ten.”

He was silent then rubbed his temples in frustration. His tone eased for the first time since I’d met him. “Fuck. I didn’t know that, okay?”

“There’s a lot you’re probably assuming. If you’d just talk to me…”

Elec almost looked like he was going to apologize. Almost. Then, he shook his head and turned right back into evil Mr. Hyde. “I’ll be fucking damned if I have to talk to you. Give me my cigarettes, or I’m ripping them out of your shirt.”

My body buzzed when he said it. What was wrong with me? A part of me wanted to see what that would be like, his rough hands pulling at the material on my shirt, ripping it off. I shook my head to rid the thought and backed away as he slowly approached. He was just inches from me now. The heat radiated from his body as he moved up against me, squishing the cigarette box into my chest. My nipples instantly turned to steel. I had never felt so out of control of my own body and was silently begging it to stop reacting so intensely toward him. Let’s face it. My body was an imbecile with poor judgment. How could it want something so badly that hated it right back?

His breath smelled like clove. “That was the last package of that brand. They’re imported from Indonesia. I don’t even know where to buy them here yet. If you think I’m difficult to deal with now, you’re not gonna want to see what I’m like with no cigarettes tonight.”

“They’re so bad for you.”

“Ask me if I give a shit,” he said uncomfortably close to my mouth.


He backed up a few inches. “Look…smoking is the only thing that has brought me any peace since walking into this hell hole. Now, I’m asking nicely. Please.”

His eyes softened, and with each second that passed, my resolve weakened. “Okay.” His gaze followed my hand as I reached into my bra for the cigarettes. I handed them to him and instantly felt the cold air replace the heat of his body as he walked away.

If I thought giving him back the cigarettes would initiate a truce, I was wrong.

He turned around one last time to face me, and his eyes were no longer soft. They were piercing. “You’re gonna pay for that.”


The start of school went exactly the way I expected. Elec ignored me anytime we were in the same class or in the cafeteria. Girls flocked around him everywhere he went, and he instantly became popular while barely having to say a word. Probably the least surprising development was Victoria’s covetous reaction to him.

“What do you think my chances are?”

“Of what?”

“Of bagging Elec.”

“Don’t get me involved in that venture, please.”

“Why not? I realize you don’t get along with him, but you’re my only in.”

“He hates my guts. How am I going to be able to help you with this?”

“You could invite me over, set it up so we’re all in the same room and then leave us alone.”

“I don’t know. You don’t understand how he is.”

“I mean, I know you don’t get along with him, but does it really bother you if I try to make a move? It might actually help your relationship with him if I ended up dating him.”

“I don’t think Elec is the dating type.”

“No…he’s the fucking type, and that’s okay with me, too. I’ll take that.”

My heart was beating faster, and I hated myself for it. Every time Victoria would bring this up, it made me insanely jealous. It was like a secret struggle I was constantly battling. I could never admit this to anyone. Which part bothered me most was unclear. Was it the thought of my friend screwing Elec, getting to touch him and living out my darkest fantasy? That bothered me, sure, but I think what upset me the most was the thought of Elec connecting on a deeper level with someone else while he continued to apparently despise me.

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