Stepbrother Dearest

By: Penelope Ward

I knocked.

To my surprise, he opened right away. A clove cigarette was hanging out of his mouth. The sweet smell of the smoke traveled quickly up my nostrils. He took a long drag then slowly and intentionally blew the smoke right in my face. His voice was low. “What?”

I tried to seem unaffected until an uncontrollable hacking cough broke out.

Very cool, Greta.

“Dinner is almost ready.”

He was wearing a tight, white ribbed tank top, and my eyes drifted down to a tattoo that said “Lucky” on one of his muscular biceps, which was now leaning against the door. His hair was wet, and his jeans hung low, showcasing the top of the white boxer briefs underneath. His steely gray eyes stared into mine. He was breathtaking…for a bastard.

I had zoned out when he said, “Why are you looking at me like that?”

“Like what?”

“Like you’re trying to remember what I looked like the other night…like you’d rather have me for dinner.” He snickered. “And why are you winking at me?”

Shit. My eye twitched whenever I was nervous and made it look like I was winking.

“It’s just a twitch. Get over yourself.”

His expression turned angry. “Really? Should I? My looks are all I have going for me, right? So, I should capitalize on that.”

What was he talking about? I stood there speechless.

He continued, “What’s the matter…too hot in here for you? Then, he said in a mocking tone, “So…fucking…hot.” He flashed a wicked smile.


Those were the exact words I had used to describe him on the phone to Victoria earlier.

He had been eavesdropping on my conversation!

My eye twitched.

He continued, “You’re winking at me again. Am I making you nervous? Look at your face! Red’s a good color on you.”

I immediately left to go back downstairs.

He yelled after me. “We’ll match, seeing as though I’m the DEVIL!”


Elec picked at his meal without saying a word as I fixated on his lip ring. Randy was glancing over at him with a look of disdain. My mother refilled her wine glass more than once. Yup, our very own version of the Brady Bunch.

I pretended to be enjoying the Tetrazzini while ruminating over the fact that he’d overheard me talking about him that way and therefore, now knew I was attracted to him.

Mom was the first to speak. “Elec, what do you think of Boston so far?”

“Seeing as though I’ve ventured nowhere but this house, it sucks ass.”

Randy slammed his fork down. “Can you show some respect to your stepmother for five seconds?”

“That depends. Can she stop boozing it up for the same amount of time? I knew you married a cheater, Daddy, but a lush, too?”

“You worthless piece of shit,” Randy spewed.


Once again, Randy had floored me with his choice of words toward his son. Elec was surely being an asshole, but it still shocked me to hear that kind of language coming out of my stepfather’s mouth.

Elec’s chair skidded back as he threw his napkin on the table and got up. “I’m done.” He looked over at me. “The Titty Zinni or whatever the fuck it’s called was wonderful, sis.” The word “sis” had rolled off his tongue with sarcasm.

After he left the table, the silence was deafening. My mother put her hand on Randy’s, and I was left pondering what could have happened between Elec and his father to cause such a rift.

I impulsively got up and walked upstairs. My heart was pounding as I knocked on Elec’s door. He didn’t answer, so I slowly turned the knob and found him sitting at the edge of his bed smoking a clove cigarette. He had headphones on and hadn’t seen me enter. I stood just past the doorway and observed him. He was bouncing his legs nervously, looking frustrated and defeated. Eventually, he put the cigarette out only to immediately reach into his drawer and grab another one.

“Elec,” I shouted.

He jumped and removed his headphones. “The fuck? You scared the shit out of me.”


He lit the cigarette and gestured toward the door. “Leave.”


He rolled his eyes and shook his head slowly, returning the headphones to his ears and taking a long drag.

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