Then I freeze.

It takes my brain a moment to catch up to what I’m seeing. A guy standing there with his back to me, half-naked, in the middle of taking a piss.

“Sorry!” I gasp and slam the door between us before he can turn around.

The image is still burned into my mind though. His dirty blond hair long in the back. Long enough to touch the nape of his bare neck, which led to a very toned, very appealing backside. Sharp shoulder muscles that plunged along his back, his shorts low on his hips, low enough that I could tell every inch of his body was just as muscular as his arms and shoulders.


My heart pounds and I lean my head against the wall, holding my breath.

I can do the math, of course. That has to be him. The mysterious step-brother.

Maybe Becca was right after all. Maybe he is hot. I mean, it’s hard to tell from the back, he could be a but-his-face, yet somehow, I have the feeling he’s just as good looking from the front angle as he is from the rear.

I bang my head against the wall lightly. Not what I need right now. I do not need this annoying intruder in my life to be hot as well. I just need a summer away, a summer to de-stress. Not meet some new family member who will drive me insane.

I finally have my racing heart somewhat under control when the toilet flushes. I push myself upright, force on a smile. If nothing else, I can be polite.

Then the door opens, and the floor drops out from beneath me. I’m on that bridge all over again, falling off, only this time, it’s not into a pleasant sensation.


Because there’s no mistaking him from the front. No missing those stormy blue eyes, full of confusion right now, or those arched brows of his, now furrowed. He looks exactly the same, just older—six years older, to be precise. Those years have only made him even better-looking, unfortunately. He’s got razor-sharp cheekbones, a jaw that could cut glass, and dark stubble along it that could probably do the same. His hair has darkened a little, no longer summer-white blond, but a darker, dirty blond that suits his tan skin tone.

And of course he has to be shirtless so I can see just how well the rest of him has improved too. He’s filled out, no longer the muscular but scrawny 16-year-old in my memories. He’s frankly drop-dead gorgeous, and it makes me furious and hot all at once.

“Pau? What are you doing here?” His voice is the same, too. Deep, almost baritone, a sound that immediately catapults me back to that summer. All those late-night, soul-baring conversations we used to have.

“What do you mean?” He frowns. His eyes search mine, and there’s something dawning in them. Something I don’t want to chase quite yet. “Wait…” he says, and that alone makes me want to disobey. Run while I still can.

I hate the way he looks at me. The way he sees what no one else can.

“Are you finished?” I point past him at the bathroom.

“Yes, but—”

I dart around him and slam the door between us. At least that will buy me time. A minute to collect my thoughts.

I hear Dad now, somewhere outside, shouting. Car doors slam, the door to the cabin creaks open and shut, and I just sit on the toilet, head in my hands, trying to take deep breaths.

It will be fine, I tell myself. This is all some kind of misunderstanding.

I hear a woman’s voice too, and my stomach clenches. Sensing what I already know, deep down. But it can’t be right. It’s impossible. It would be insane.

I finish washing my hands, delay as long as I can while drying them. Then I finally push open the door to face reality.

I find all three of them outside, on the patio that connects the two cabins. Dad, looking dapper in the suit jacket he wore to pick me up. Josh, looking somehow even hotter now that he’s pulled on a T-shirt, because it’s a tight one, sticks to his muscles in all the right places, and reveals just enough that I want desperately to see what’s under it again.

And right between them, in a light summer dress, smiling and happy, even if it makes my heart sink… Susan.

“Hey guys,” I tell them, my voice shaky.

“Pau.” Susan’s on her feet in a second, then hugging me, tight. I hug her back, automatic, because she’s always been sweet to me, always spoiled me whenever I hung out with Josh at her place during those family parties. She’s great, and I love her loads. That only makes this worse. “I told your father we should have warned you first.” Susan draws back, smiling sympathetically. “But you know him. He loves surprises.”

“Dad.” I look past her. Narrow my eyes to stop them from tearing up. No, no, please don’t let this be right.

“I told you you’d love your new step-mom, didn’t I?” Dad’s grinning, his smile so huge and bright that it kills me. I want him to be happy, I really do. I want Susan to be happy too. But did it have to be together? Copyright 2016 - 2024