Off Limits(9)

By: Callie Harper

I almost felt bad when I saw tears swim in Jewel’s eyes. She did as she was told, turning and disappearing into the crowd quick and fast. Not before I got one last look at her luscious ass, her small waist flaring into a generous swell and curve.

I turned away, angry at myself for getting played. She’d lit a spark in me, made me almost forget myself, woken me up from my boredom like a cool breeze. But it wasn’t real. None of this scene was. The best thing to do was turn my back on it, all of it. I knew that, but it turned out sometimes even a 21-year-old world-weary, jaded son-of-billionaire could get played like a sucker.



I thought it couldn’t get any worse. That scene at the fundraiser, when my mom had almost found me getting down and dirty with her boyfriend’s son against a wall? I’d thought that was as bad as things could get.

It got worse. They got married. Valentine’s Day. So romantic.

At least our parents hadn’t done a big wedding ceremony. I knew my mother wanted it, but she wanted to be married to Tucker Leland Helmsworth II even more, on any terms he wanted. She told me that they’d tied the knot after-the-fact, after they’d eloped in some place called Turks and Caicos. So now I had a stepbrother, Tucker Leland Helmsworth III.

The Valentine’s Day they’d eloped, what had I been up to? Out for a romantic evening of my own, roses and candlelight with my boyfriend? Not by a long shot, not a nerd like me. I’d spent the night playing poker with my geek-squad friends. We played for lunch, as in who’s buying who lunch next week at school. We liked to pretend that poker was cool, that it wasn’t as dorky as staying in on a Friday night to play board games or Dungeons and Dragons. But, honestly, it was the same thing. We drank lemonade instead of liquor, chewed gum instead of smoking stogies, and kept our clothes firmly on, thank you very much. No strip poker for this Victorian era women’s social club.

I didn’t tell anyone what had happened at the party over Christmas break. My friends would be scandalized, and not in that fun ‘tell me more’ kind of way. I’d spent my entire life defining myself as the opposite of my mom, from the way I dressed to the kinds of people I hung out with. They didn’t play that way.

They wouldn’t know what to say about Tuck. How I’d thrown myself at him, moaning as he’d played with my breasts, pressing against him and practically begging for his touch. Now he was my stepbrother.


The only thing to do was forget it, pretend it had never happened, avoid him like the plague and count the minutes until they got divorced. Because they were going to get divorced. It was only a matter of time.

I’d only met my new stepfather, Leland, once, at that party, but I wasn’t impressed. He reminded me of a stuffed pheasant, pampered and glossy, the kind of man who got facials and mani-pedis. I guessed as a billionaire you did whatever the hell you wanted. The world spun on his axis, who was going to say no to him?

Certainly not my mother, but I could tell you I heard the clock ticking on their marriage. He wasn’t the type to grow old and gray with. Let me rephrase that. He wouldn’t grow old and gray with a woman growing old and gray by his side. He’d trade up, turning in his older model for the newest, sleekest thing money could buy. Right now, that was my mom who still had enough va-va-voom in her 30-something tank for his 50-something engine. But it wouldn’t last.

I was sure Tuck was exactly like him. I’d played right into his hands at the party, believing every hackneyed line, feeling sincerity in every practiced touch. I was sure he’d had a laugh about it afterwards. I’d been such ripe, low-hanging fruit. He was a player and I’d been played.

I’d just have to avoid seeing my hotter-than-hell stepbrother until the marriage was over. And then I’d never have to see him again.

My plan worked until spring break. One month. It was nice while it lasted.

Late March they insisted we join them in New York City. They were going to throw a huge party with anyone who was anyone attending. Of course their two children had to be there. Scandal if we didn’t show. How about if we made out in the middle of the dance floor? Would that be scandal enough?

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