Stepbrother Dearest

By: Penelope Ward


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.

I hated that I cared.

I lifted my backpack out of my locker. “You’re crazy. Can we please change the subject?”

“Okay. I heard Bentley wants to ask you out.”

I slammed the locker hard upon that news. “From whom?”

“He talked to my brother about it. He wants to ask you to the movies.”

Bentley was one of the popular preppie guys. I couldn’t figure out why he would be interested in me since he usually dated girls from his own crowd. I didn’t really belong to their group or any group for that matter. There were the people like Bentley from the rich side of town in one clique. Then, there were the artsy and theatrical ones. Then, you had the international exchange students. Then, there were those who were just popular because they were good-looking, intriguing or acted out (Elec). Victoria and I were sort of in a class of our own. We got along with everyone, got good grades and stayed out of trouble. Unlike my best friend, though, I was a virgin.

I’d only had one boyfriend, Gerald, who ended up breaking up with me because I wouldn’t let him get past touching my boobs. Word got out that I was a virgin and certain people around school would joke about it behind my back. While I still saw Gerald in the halls from time to time, I tried to avoid him.

Victoria snapped her gum. “So, anyway, if he asks you out, we should totally invite Elec. He could go with me, and you could go with Bentley. We could go see that new scary movie.”

“No, thanks. Living with Elec is all the scary I need.”


My words would come back to haunt me the next morning. I was getting dressed for school, and when I opened my underwear drawer, it was empty.

I threw on some yoga pants commando-style and marched into Elec’s room as he was putting on a shirt.

“What the hell did you do with my underwear?”

“It doesn’t feel good when someone takes your shit, does it?”

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