Her New Stepbrother

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The 405 was a fucking parking lot.

Teddy blew out a frustrated breath. She’d thought she’d left San Diego with plenty of time, forgetting how unpredictable LA traffic was.

Her eyes flicked up to her rear view mirror, checking her rich, dark brown hair. She’d pulled it into a messy topknot. A few wisps escaped, framing her heart-shaped face. Her hazel eyes were rimmed with dark green eyeliner and smoky eyeshadow, which made the green in her eyes pop.

At least she’d had the sense to get ready beforehand. When she finally got there she could just run to whatever ballroom they were holding the ceremony in.

Teddy’s father was receiving a legacy award tonight at his field’s biggest conference, which was being held this year in Los Angeles. Since she lived so close, she’d promised to drive up for the ceremony and stay the night.

Teddy was in her second year at SDSU, studying liberal arts with an emphasis in elementary education. She loved San Diego and hoped to get a teaching job there after she finished college.

She’d grown up in San Francisco, where her father and his second wife still lived. Her mother had had passed away unexpectedly when Teddy was just ten, and so it had just been her and Dad for a long time. When beautiful, smart, funny, and successful Adele came along Teddy had been happy for him.

At seventeen, Teddy had known she wanted to go away for college, but had hated the idea of her father all alone. Teddy had grown fond of Adele in the year she’d known her before going off to college, and she was thrilled when they’d announced the previous summer that they were going to get married.

They’d opted for a simple ceremony at the courthouse, and afterward, held a small reception at a swanky bar atop a historic Nob Hill hotel.

Yes, Teddy adored Adele. But her son—now that was a very different matter.

Her step-brother.

Her mouth turned down at the corners as she remembered her one meeting with Jackson, who was a couple of years older than Teddy.

He was annoyingly handsome and tall- probably around 6’3″- with dark blond hair and the sculpted face of a Greek god. And an ego the size of Montana.

She hadn’t met Jackson until her father and Adele’s reception. He was in law school on the east coast at one of the fancy Ivy Leagues and clerked during his breaks.

Although it was the only time they’d met, he had left a lasting impression.

Before they’d been introduced, he’d hit on her at the bar. Once he’d found out who she was, he’d been an grade A asshole the rest of the evening.

She shouldn’t have let it get under her skin. She’d reminded herself that he was probably just trying to salve his bruised pride. But he’d gotten to her, and it annoyed her more than she wanted to admit. She sighed.

Jackson was also going to be in attendance tonight.

If she’d known earlier, she’d have tried to find a way to get out of going. Even now she wished she’d had the guts to say she’d come down with the flu. But she couldn’t disappoint her dad, and now she had to make the best of the situation.

The traffic began to let up, and she sighed in relief. If things moved smoothly from here, she might actually not be all that late after all.


Jackson smiled and greeted the older man his step-father was introducing him to. He took a sip of his scotch, then almost choked as he caught sight of the woman hurrying toward their table.

She was petite, but with killer curves that the simple black dress she wore showed off to perfection. The heels she wore set off her shapely legs. Her dark hair was piled on top of her head in an artful knot that showed off her elegant neck and exquisitely beautiful face.

His stepsister was fucking stunning.

He looked away as she approached the table and threw herself into her father’s arms. “Dad! I’m so sorry, traffic was awful—”

“Theodora,” he chuckled, “it’s all right! I’m just so happy to see you.”

Jackson took another swig of his scotch as his mother got up and embraced her stepdaughter, and then her father made introductions all around.

He felt her eyes on him, and he glanced up from his drink to see that her mouth was twisted in dismay as she located the one empty seat at the table—right next to him. Then her face cleared and he almost wondered if he had imagined it.

Not that he would blame her. He’d been completely out of line the last time—well, the ONLY time—they’d met.

Jackson internally winced as he remembered their first meeting. He had been sitting at the lobby bar, waiting to meet his mother before going up to the reception, and pleasantly buzzed from the cocktails he’d had earlier visiting with an old friend. An incredibly beautiful woman had walked up to the bar. Their eyes met, a jolt of electricity had shot through him.

With his good looks and charm, not to mention his moneyed background, Jackson was used to girls pretty much falling into bed with him. So, with easy confidence, he’d walked right up to the woman he now knew was his stepsister, taken her hand, and kissed it. He looked deep into gaziantep escort kız her eyes and given her his best line. “You are the most beautiful woman I have ever laid eyes on. You must tell me your name.”

Rather than blushing and looking charmed, as he fully expected, her lips curved and she let out a tinkling laugh. She looked behind her, and, too late, Jackson noticed his mother and new stepfather not too far behind her. Teddy had gasped out that she was his stepsister, and then proceeded to double over with guffaws at his failed attempt at seduction.

Humiliated beyond belief—and maybe a little disappointed that his dream woman had turned out to be someone he’d never have a chance with—Jackson had proceeded to get shit-faced and had been purposely obnoxious for the rest of the evening, much to his mother’s embarrassment.

Jackson pulled out his phone and pretended to check his email to occupy himself so that he didn’t guzzle the rest of his drink out of boredom. Out of his periphery, he saw Teddy pull out the chair to his right and hang her small purse on the back of her chair, along with a filmy shawl.

He tried not to notice how the silky black fabric of her dress clung to her curves, outlining her hourglass figure. Or how, as she sat down, the hem of the dress rode up, revealing several inches of her creamy thigh. Jackson almost groaned aloud at the sight.

For fuck’s sake. He was sporting a half-chub and the evening had barely started.

His fingers tightened around his glass of scotch. This was going to be torture.


After making her way through the crowded ballroom and locating their table, Teddy greeted her father and stepmother with affection. They were distracted by people coming by to congratulate her father, so she decided to go ahead and take her seat.

Looking around the table, which was set for 12, she quickly saw that the only option available was next to HIM.

Jackson leaned back idly in his chair with a glass of something on the rocks, the picture of bored indifference. Just like last time, he looked like he’d just stepped out of every woman’s fantasy. His dark-blond hair was slightly tousled, his icy blue eyes trained on his drink, and he wore a charcoal gray suit with no tie. The top button of the white Oxford shirt he wore underneath was undone, showing a sliver of golden skin.

She hung her purse on the back of her chair and sat, reminding herself that although Jackson’s packaging might be pretty, inside was nothing but a big turd.

A mental image of Jackson unwrapping a beautifully packaged gift and finding a giant piece of shit inside flashed through her mind and before she could stop it, a laugh bubbled out of her mouth.

“What’s so funny?” Jackson’s golden eyebrow was raised, a frown marring his gorgeous face.

“Nothing, just—remembered something funny.”

His frown deepened, and she realized he probably thought she was remembering how he’d humiliated himself the last time they’d been in the same room.

“Oh—oh no, I didn’t mean I was remembering THAT,” she hastily explained, her cheeks blooming into twin spots of pink. “I was—uh—remembering a joke somebody told me earlier.”

At that moment, the server came over and inquired whether she’d like a drink. She silently thanked the server for his excellent timing. “Yes, please.” She reached for the wine glass at her place setting. “Red, please.” He produced a bottle with a flourish and poured her half a glass. She looked at the paltry amount of ruby red liquid in the glass and met the server’s eyes, raising her eyebrows at him.

The server looked a bit flustered, but he dutifully poured more wine until the glass was full to the rim. She thanked him, picked up the glass and took a healthy sip. She was going to need plenty of alcohol to get through this.

Jackson was still looking at her, his face impassive. “So, the joke?”

Teddy squirmed and took another sip, more slowly this time, savoring the acidic tang of the wine on her tongue. “Well, it’s kind of an inside joke. You know, you had to be there and all.”

Jackson shook his head. “Whatever.” Picking up his phone from the table, he began checking his emails, studiously ignoring her.

Irritation burned her throat at the dismissal. With some effort, she swallowed it. She needed to get along with her step-brother, for her dad’s and Adele’s sake.

She cleared her throat. “So, you are still in law school?”

He looked up, surprise on his face. What, that she was willingly starting up a conversation with him? She hid a smile.

“Uh-yeah. Well, I graduate in May.” He placed his phone down on the tablecloth. “How about you? You’re in school in San Diego, right?”

She smiled and told him enthusiastically about her second year of college and her plans to teach elementary school.

As the waitstaff began serving the salad course, Teddy realized with a start that she’d been conversing with Jackson relatively easily for several minutes. He’d been listening to her attentively and escort kız gaziantep asking questions about her courses that seemed to indicate real interest.

The table was really too big to talk to her dad and stepmom—with the noise, she’d have to yell across, and that wasn’t exactly appropriate behavior for the occasion—so she supposed she should be grateful that Jackson was actually turning out to be decent company.

She considered him from under her lashes as he forked up a bite of the beet salad with goat cheese that served as the starter course.

She had to restrain herself from letting out a sigh at his rugged good looks. He really was so gorgeous that it should be illegal.

It was too bad that he was Adele’s son.

He caught her gaze and gave her a grin that she imagined probably got him into a fair number of lacy panties.

She smiled back.

Maybe she’d been wrong, and that evening had been a one-off. Maybe he wasn’t a total and complete waste of space, after all.


Jackson watched Teddy as she threw back her head and laughed. God, her laugh was so fucking sexy.

Without taking his eyes off her, he drained his drink and set it on the table, the ice clinking in the empty glass.

Dessert had been served and the ceremony was over. Teddy’s father had accepted his award to thunderous applause, while his wife and daughter looked on with pride. The evening seemed to be winding down, and Jackson was exhausted. He’d flown in earlier from the East coast and it was one in the morning his time. He was also feeling the effect of three scotches. Not drunk, exactly, but definitely buzzed and ready to crawl into his bed.

Teddy’s father stood. “Well, kiddos, Adele and I are going to retire,” he told them.

Teddy smiled at them. “Good night, Dad. Congratulations again.”

“Are you all settled in your room?”

She shook her head. “I came straight here so I wouldn’t be too late. I still need to check in.”

“Ah.” Her father nodded. “All right, then. We will see you at breakfast.”

After they’d gone, Teddy finished her wine and stood. “Well, have a nice night,” she told Jackson.

He eased his lean body out of his chair to stand next to her. He’d taken off his suit coat at some point during the evening and he saw her eyes sweep his body quickly. His white Oxford shirt was so expertly tailored that he knew she could make out the shape of his sculpted chest and arms underneath, and he hid a smile.

So, his stepsister wasn’t as unaffected by him as she pretended to be.

That thought perked up his mood and some of the exhaustion he was feeling faded away. He picked up his coat, then turned to Teddy. “Are you headed to the front desk?”

“No, I actually have to run out to the car and get my bags first. I just parked and ran in when I got here.”

“Do you want me to walk you to your car?” The parking garage was pretty big and wasn’t well lit,

And he didn’t like the idea of her going there by herself this time of the evening.

She considered. “Actually, yeah,

if you don’t mind.”

“Don’t worry, I’ll protect you,” Jackson said, doing his best superhero impression. Teddy giggled, and the tinkling sound made him feel about ten feet tall.

About ten minutes later, they were walking up to the check-in counter in the lobby. Jackson stood off to the side while Teddy rolled her small suitcase over to the check-in desk.

He watched her expressive face as she spoke to the hotel front desk agent. As she listened to what the woman was saying, her face fell and she replied in an urgent tone. He couldn’t hear what was being said, so he moved to her side.

“Everything OK?”

She turned to him, her face a mask of frustration. “They gave my room away because I didn’t check in earlier.”

Jackson put his hand on the small of her back comfortingly. He directed his words to the agent. “What do you mean, you gave the room away? Why would you do that?”

The agent pursed her lips. “It’s hotel policy, sir. If guests don’t check in by ten pm without letting us know that they will be coming in late, and the hotel is booked full, the room releases and becomes available in our system. It says it right on the website.”

Teddy’s eyes were shiny when he looked at her. Shit! He could handle anything but a crying woman. He turned back to the agent. “All right, we must have missed that policy. So, find her a new room.”

The agent shook her head. “I’m afraid that’s not possible, sir. We are completely booked. This conference brings in more than ten thousand people every year and we always sell out. Every decent hotel in the downtown area does.”

Teddy grabbed her bag and stepped away, pulling her phone out of her purse and pressing a button. Jackson followed her.

“Dad?” She spoke into the phone. A beat, and then, “they gave away my room! Some stupid hotel policy— I checked in late and didn’t give them advance notice. They can’t get me another room because they’re sold out! And they said everywhere else is too gaziantep escort kızlar because of this conference!”


Teddy’s hand shook as she explained what had happened to her father. She was tired, tipsy, and just wanted to go to bed. The glasses of wine she’d had were interfering with her ability to remain calm, and she felt like she was going to burst into tears any moment.

“Hold on, Theodora, Adele wants to speak to you.”

There was some shuffling and Adele’s voice came through the line. “My dear, I’m so sorry this happened! But there’s an easy solution. Just stay in Jackson’s room.”

Teddy’s brow creased. “Jackson?” She looked over at him. He looked back at her, a confused expression on his face at the sound of his name.

“Don’t worry,” said Adele. “He will sleep on the floor. Put him on.”

“I don’t think that’s a good idea,” Teddy said slowly. In her mind, she saw Jackson in bed, rumpled and naked. Alarm filled her. “No, no, I can’t put him out like that—”

“Now Teddy, you might have gotten off on the wrong foot, but I know my son. You have nothing to worry about. I raised him to be a gentleman. Put him on, please.” Her voice was firm, and brooked no argument.

Teddy handed the phone over to Jackson, shaking her head.

“Hello?” Jackson listened for a moment. She watched as his cheeks became ruddy and his mouth parted slightly. She wondered if perhaps he also was picturing them in bed.

“Mom, I don’t know—” He trailed off. To listen to what she was saying. “But—” His face tightened at what she was saying on the other end. “Fine.” A beat, a sigh, and then, “Love you too.”

He ended the call and handed the phone back to Teddy. She took it and stuffed it in her bag.

“Look, I’ll just—I’ll have some coffee, and then head back. This time of night there won’t be any traffic and I’ll get there in an hour and a half.”

Jackson gave her an incredulous look. His words smacked her with their forcefulness. “That’s a fucking stupid idea.”

Teddy felt her face turn red. What an asshole! Maybe she’d been right about him from the start after all.

“You don’t have to be so rude!” She snapped back.

He stepped closer, the toes of his black dress shoes touching the points of her heels, his face inches from hers. She refused to make eye contact with him.

“You are NOT going to drive back to San Diego in the middle of the night after drinking three glasses of wine. It’s reckless and unnecessary.”

Then, he shocked her by putting a finger under her chin so she had to look directly at him. “I’m not going to let you put yourself at risk that way.”

She froze. So his anger had come out of concern for her? Something warm began to unfurl in her belly.

“My mother would kill me,” he added.

She shook her head. Yup, there he was.

With that, Jackson took her suitcase from her hand and began rolling it toward the elevator. She had no choice but to follow.

As they reached the elevators, she snatched her suitcase out of his hand. “I’m perfectly capable of holding my own bag, thank you very much.” She knew she sounded childish, but she couldn’t bring herself to care.

“Suit yourself,” he muttered. The elevator dinged, announcing its arrival, and the doors opened. They entered the elevator, not making eye contact. Jackson punched a button and the car began to move upward.

Teddy stewed about her bad luck all the way to the hotel room. Jackson swiped his key card and opened the door, and she followed him in.

It was a standard King room, sterile and impersonal. The bed was the focal point of the room, with its white linens and mounds of pillows. Lamps and bedside tables flanked either side, and a brown leather club chair with a standing metal lamp occupied one corner. The room’s best feature was its floor-to-ceiling windows, which took up one whole wall and looked out onto the lights of downtown Los Angeles.

The only signs that someone was occupying the room was a small black suitcase that leaned against the wall next to the bed, a pair of running shoes lined up next to it.

Shrugging off his suit coat, Jackson tossed it over the chair in the corner, then regarded Teddy. “Do you want the bathroom first?”

She nodded, then walked into the bathroom with her suitcase, shutting the door behind her and locking it.

Gazing at herself in the mirror, she realized that her bun was halfway down and she looked like a crazy person. Ugh! How long had it been like that?

Pulling the bobby pins out, she shook her hair out, running her hands through the dark waves and massaging her scalp.

She stripped out of her dress and heels, then her bra. Clad only in her black lacy panties, she found her toiletry bag in the suitcase, set it in the counter, and then took out her toothbrush, face wash, moisturizer, and lotion. She hurried through her night routine, taking her makeup off, smoothing a thin layer of moisturizer over her face, brushing her teeth, and spreading lotion on all her limbs.

Finally, she pulled her pajamas out of the suitcase. Thank god she’d actually decided to pack them — she usually just slept in a tank top and underwear. However, for some reason, she’d decided to take a set that consisted of a black short-sleeved t-shirt with white scalloped lace around the hem and shorts to match. She briefly wished for pajama pants, but then dismissed the thought. She’d be in bed covered up in a minute anyway.

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