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Stretched By My Step

PREVIEW CHAPTER: 

Don’t mess this up, Alexandra, I tell myself, frowning. None of that bad, bratty attitude when he gets here. It’s not cute.




My bad attitude right now is actually just a cover. The truth is that I’ve been looking forward to a day like this for months because it gives me the perfect excuse to see my stepbrother again without seeming desperate. 

In our parent’s four years of marriage, my stepbrother and I have only met once, but that’s all it took for me to become utterly obsessed with him. I just wish it hadn’t happened before I lost my virginity, because now I’ve completely lost interest in having my first time if it’s not with him. 




Today is my baby sister’s birthday party. A month ago, she told my mom and I that she’d decided on “laser tag.” We both look at one another, confused until she later told us that the boy she really liked in her class was really into it. 

I agonized in the bathroom all morning on how to look as cue as possible without seeming like I was trying too hard, caking  caked the counter with makeup, and body lotion, and various overpriced hair products. I couldn’t ask my mother for her opinion on anything, because of the difficult to answer question of why the hell it was so important that I look sexy for a kid’s birthday party, where the only adults that will be there are family members.




Then, when it came to how to dress, I felt incredibly stupid this morning putting on a hot pink lace bra and a matching thong—when there was pretty much no possibility of anyone seeing it. Over that, I chose to just wear a simple black top and blue shorts. After all, I knew I’d be forced to run around a “laser tag zone” and make sure that no child ran into a wall or blinded themselves with their laser or got lost and started crying, or whatever bad happens at a place like this.




“Oh God, he’s already here. Alexandra, will you go outside and give your stepbrother this dumb little wristband to put on so that he can play without having to buy a ticket?” My mom asks me as she finishes getting the party room ready. 

“Um, sure, ok,” I say, playing off my excitement. 

“And be fucking nice!” She yells. 

“Ok, calm down, Woman!” I tell her, rolling my eyes. 




The innocent laughter of children running around the lobby doesn’t do enough to calm my nerves. In fact, it only heightens them—making it too noisy to effectively give myself a nice pep talk before I see him. 

And, as I make my way past all the neon lights and arcade games, I start to think about how much build-up there has been for this moment, given the way that my obsession has developed since last seeing my brother. 

I stalk him regularly on IG and notice every time he’s gotten another tattoo. I’ve even saved several of his shirtless pics at the gym or at the beach on my phone. I’m not one of those girls who feel insecure about liking a guy a lot. I own it. In fact, I’d argue it’s downright romantic to like one guy and only one guy in this day and age. 




I open the door to the parking lot and lean over the railing to wait for him, then pull out my phone to check my looks one last time. I think I’ve struck the right balance between wearing a lot of makeup and not looking like I’m wearing a lot of makeup. The sharp lines of liquid eyeliner and eyeshadow that make my dark eyes are made even more mysterious-looking are the only thing that might be a bit overdone. 

I slide my phone in my back pocket. A few minutes later, I see his jeep park in an open space in the parking lot. He slides out of the driver’s seat and starts to walk towards me, making me so nervous I can hear my own heartbeat. 

Ok, Alexandra, this is really happening.

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