Hunted:A Stepbrother Romance Novel

By: Olivia Long

I stood shakily from the tile and glanced around the dark pool house.

I was so sure I smelled it.

Could it just be post-traumatic stress disorder?

Or ... did I really smell the distinct odor of Keenan O’Connor’s cigarette brand?

I marched to the window facing out onto the pool and scanned the yard and house beyond.

I felt ... watched.

I couldn’t shake it, even though it had to be my imagination. There was no way that Keenan had found me here. There was no way that a South American drug lord—“consultant”—would have been so burnt by my fumbled foray into his territory that he’d actually follow the disgraced corporal back to his American homestead and—threaten his loved ones?

I glared over the house. I could see that a few lights were still on. Dad and Irene had gone out for a private dinner to celebrate their fifth anniversary, Dad’s idea—he enjoyed the party Chloe had thrown for them (and for which I had taken partial credit), but also complained that it had been a little noisy for his tastes, and Irene was too distracted by the guests to focus on the important thing: him. They had gone out hours ago, leaving Chloe inside, alone, and the living room light burned on, letting me know that she was probably on the couch, watching some TV.

And everything was fine.

I swallowed again and promised myself: everything was fine.

Everyone was safe.

The smell of the smoke and this nagging sensation of being watched—invaded—were all just part of the dream.

Just a dream. Just a dream.

Chapter 4


It was after midnight, and I finally felt safe lounging in the living room, certain that Chase wouldn’t bother coming into the house at such an hour unless there was an emergency. He had a bathroom and a private fridge and a bed and a closet and, as far as I was concerned, he never needed to come to the main house for anything.

Then the door burst open, and in staggered Mom and Harry, drunk as a couple of college kids, home from the club. So ridiculous. Harry was oozing all over Mom, and she was lavishing in the attention, and neither of them noticed my icy stare from the couch.

“Oh!” Mom yelped, eyes connecting with mine at long last. “Honey! We didn’t know you were still up.”

“Well, it’s a Friday, and I’m twenty-one, so, yeah,” I muttered pointedly. “I’m up.”

“Well—fantastic,” Mom said. I frowned in her direction. There was something different about her, something youthful, and I found it highly suspicious. Mom and Harry were not young, and they had no business acting otherwise. “We have some great news, honey, and you were the first person I wanted to tell.”

I don’t know why, but I—I knew what she was going to say. It was like that horror movie moment when you just know that the worst possible thing has happened.

“What?” I asked, my eyes going wide and blank.

“Harry and I,” Mom said, smirking while Harry graced her cheek with another sloppy, gross kiss. “We’ve decided the hell with setting a date, and all the expenses, and the invitations, and the caterer, and blah, blah, blah, for a bunch of people we only half-like on their best days. So! We’re going to elope this weekend!”


I felt cold all over.

“What?” I breathed. “You can’t—you can’t do that,” I insisted, though all the fight had gone out of me the moment they’d confirmed my suspicions. It was finally, really happening. They were getting married. And stupid Chase was going to be my stupid step-brother.

“Of course we can,” Mom rebutted, not seeming to even notice my drawn and pale expression. Then again, Mom did always kind of suck at identifying emotions on other people’s faces. She strolled into the room and kicked off her heels, hardly looking at me. She was still over the moon, and I was going to puke, and she didn’t even care. “We booked tickets to Hawaii with our phones while we were still at dinner!”

I needed a drink. A stiff one.

“But,” I floundered. “You ... you can’t flitter off to some remote island and get married. That’s not—the way anyone does anything. You have to get a wedding planner, and a venue, and those take months to open up! And you need a band! And—and centerpieces!”

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