The Taming of Xander Sterne

By: Carole Mortimer


                ‘I APPRECIATE THAT you leave for your honeymoon at the end of the week, Darius, but I seriously do not need you to arrange for a live-in babysitter for me for the two weeks you’re away!’ Xander scowled at his twin brother across the sitting room of his London penthouse apartment.

                ‘It’s not a babysitter, just someone to help you with things you can’t do yet, like getting in and out of the shower, drying off and dressing, driving.’

                ‘We have a company driver who can do that.’

                ‘But there’s no one to help you with the rest of those things,’ his brother reasoned. ‘Or to cook for you.’

                ‘For goodness’ sake, Darius, it’s been six weeks since I broke my leg.’

                ‘In three places, requiring two operations to fix. You can’t even stand for longer than ten minutes at a time yet.’ Darius was obviously refusing to back down on this.

                Xander eyed him moodily, knowing that everything his brother said was true. ‘This isn’t really about what I can or can’t do, is it?’ He finally sighed resignedly.

                Darius stilled. ‘What do you mean?’

                ‘What I mean is that I don’t have a death wish. Yes, I drove my car when I shouldn’t have, and yes, I ended up crashing into a lamppost and wrecking my car, but thankfully no one else was injured. But I didn’t do it deliberately, Darius. I told you at the time I was just so angry I couldn’t see straight. I was angry, Darius,’ he repeated harshly.

                ‘Everyone gets angry, Xander,’ Darius said softly.

                ‘My anger had been building for months.’

                ‘I know.’

                Xander blinked. ‘You do?’

                His twin nodded. ‘You were working and playing way too hard. It was as if you were trying to avoid something or someone.’

                ‘Lot of good that did me.’ If Xander had been capable of pacing the room at that moment, then he would have.

                Six weeks ago, for the first time in his life, Xander had realised that he had a temper. Not the slow-burning temper of his brother, but a fiery hot volcano that had exploded out of control, resulting in Xander wanting to beat another man to within an inch of his life.

                Admittedly that man had been loudly verbally abusing the woman who had arrived with him that night at the exclusive London nightclub owned by the Sterne brothers. It was a situation reminiscent of Xander’s childhood memories of the way in which his father had treated his mother.

                But the desire to hit someone had shaken Xander to his core, to the point that he no longer trusted himself or his responses to situations; he had never wanted to hit anyone in his life before that night. Not even the father who had beaten him when he was a child.

                Lomax Sterne had been dead for over twenty years now, after a fall down the stairs of the family’s London home whilst in a drunken stupor. A death that neither his wife nor his twin sons had mourned.

                Lomax Sterne had been a brute of a man and a bully, with a temper to match.

                And six weeks ago Xander had terrified the life out of himself by discovering that, at the age of thirty-three, he had the same temper.

                ‘What made you so tense in the first place, do you think?’ Darius looked at him curiously.