Home>>read Stepbrother Master free online

Stepbrother Master(12)

By:Ava Jackson

“Emma? Emma!”

I blinked. “Huh?”

“I said, could you pass me the scissors?” Mom repeated with a touch of impatience in her voice.

“Oh. Sure.” I gave her the scissors I'd been holding while I spaced out.

We were sitting at the kitchen table preparing party favors for the guests. Mom had ordered a box of artisanal goat-milk soaps—a phrase I never thought I'd encounter—with the idea of wrapping them in cute little cheesecloth bags. My job in our two-woman assembly line was to tie them shut with pink ribbon. However, because Ford had driven me temporarily insane, I was now up to my elbows in goat soap.

Mom cut a few extra squares of cheesecloth for herself, then looked up at me again. I prayed that I almost banged Ford wasn't written all over my face. When I'd been a teenager, she could practically read my mind if she wanted to. Or maybe I was just a terrible liar back then.

“Are you feeling okay, sweetie?” she finally said. “You've been so distracted lately.”

I knew she didn't mean it in a scolding way, but I still felt guilty. Her big day was tomorrow and I couldn't get Ford's dick out of my head long enough to help. “I'm fine, Mom. Just thinking about—” I picked up a packet and cast around for something plausible. “My job offer. I have to find an apartment in D.C. and get my fingerprints taken and, um … like a million other things before I start in the fall.”

Mom nodded sagely, her smile turning a little bittersweet. “It's a lot to worry about,” she said. Then she laughed. “Growing up isn't much fun, is it? At least I still have a few more months to spoil you.”

I stared down at the round soap cake in my hand. She was right. Now that I had found a real adult job, we wouldn't have many more days like this. Sure, I'd have holidays off, but I still wouldn’t see her nearly as often as I used to. For a last one-on-one summer with Mom, I was more than willing to put up with Ford's weird behavior—not to mention my own.

“Careful not to hold it too long,” Mom said briskly, already tying the ribbon on another little satchel of soaps. “It might melt.” Her tone sounded exactly like it had when I was eight, on the verge of losing my ice cream cone to the hot sun.

I swallowed the knot that had suddenly formed in my throat. “Hey, Mom?”

“Hey, Emmie?” she echoed, teasing.

But before I could finish, Celeste pattered into the kitchen. “How you ladies doing?”

I felt a stab of annoyance at the interruption. We were doing just fine before you barged into our Lifetime moment.

“Oh, you know … slow and steady,” Mom replied with a wave of her hand. “Thank you so much for all your hard work. I wasn't sure if we'd be ready in time, but I think we're going to make it.”

“No problem—it's my job, right?” Celeste glanced down at the dirty tiles and sighed. “Although I wish certain menfolk would take off their muddy boots before tromping through the house. I just cleaned the first-floor bathrooms yesterday, and here I am again.”

“Everybody's talkin' 'bout me,” sang a male voice from outside. The screen door banged open and Mac breezed over to the kitchen sink.

“Isn't the song 'everybody's talkin' at me’?” I pointed out.

“Poetic license.” He started filling a glass with water. “Don't tell Ford I came in here. I'm almost done settin' up them tables for the reception … I just needed to wet my whistle.” With a wink at me, he added, “And steal a minute with you three lovely girls.”

Celeste gave him a tight smile. If Mom hadn't been in the room, I had a feeling that she would have told him exactly where to stick his whistle. Although, I wasn't sure whether she wanted Mac to fuck off or just pay attention to her instead of me.

Mom just chuckled. “Careful, hon. I'll be a married woman soon.”

“But that's rule number one,” Mac said. “Always have somethin' sweet to say to the boss's wife … at least, when the boss ain't around.” He cocked his head in my direction. “Same goes for the boss's daughter.”

Too late, I realized that he was waiting for me to respond. I'd totally dropped the ball.

Mac was pretty damn cute, and he seemed like a fun guy, but I just couldn't seem to get into the swing of flirting with him. The same thing always happened with TJ, too. Neither of the ranch hands could measure up to Ford. He was just … on another level. Sexy, masculine, in control, effortlessly confident. Even when he acted cold, it only made the rest of him hotter by contrast. And two nights ago, I'd glimpsed what he was like when he let himself burn.

It figures that I'd get hung up on the one guy around here I can't have.