Bad Romance: A Stepbrother Novel
by Jen McLaughlin
In this explosive novel from bestselling author Jen McLaughlin, a good girl falls for the ultimate bad boy: her stepbrother. Perfect for fans of Sabrina Paige, Caitlin Daire, and Krista Lakes, Bad Romance proves that passion can be so wrong it’s right.
Seven years in the army will change a guy. But after a shoulder wound ends his career as a sniper, Jackson Worthington finds himself back home, fighting a battle that’s all too familiar: keeping his hands off Lily Hastings. She’s still her rich daddy’s little angel, innocent, impossibly lovely, as squeaky-clean as Jackson is dirty. And she’s still his stepsister—forbidden but not forgotten, not after the soul-melting kiss that got him kicked out of the house at eighteen. He couldn’t resist her then. How the hell can he resist her now?
Lily is about to marry a man she doesn’t love, and commit to a high-stress job she hates, all to please the father who controls every waking moment of her life. On top of everything, her teenage crush is back, with a sleek, chiseled body and a trace of the rebellious boy whose lips sealed her fate. Jackson’s timing couldn’t be worse . . . or better. Because Lily’s all grown up, too. She’s aching for another taste. And for the first time, she’s ready to be a bad girl.
“They did?” Mother gasped, smiling.
“‘He’s’ right here,” I said drily. “And doesn’t want to go to Yale.”
Neither of them noticed.
“At least he can amount to something, unlike his father.”
Mother smiled even wider. “Thanks to you, Walter.”
“You’ll go at the end of the month,” Walt said, not even looking at me, even though he clearly spoke to me. “You’re dismissed.”
The hell I was. “I don’t want to go to Yale. I’m joining the army.”
Walt laughed. “Not in my house.”
This was bullshit. Everything about it was. Mother was married for the millionth time, and this time to a man who quite clearly didn’t want the extra kid that came along with her. No big shocker, there. His new wife didn’t exactly want me, either.
She never tried to hide that fact from me.
Had told me, straight up to my face.
But to have some pompous prick all up in my business, telling me what I had to do with the rest of my life as if I needed to listen to him, was the last straw. I was eighteen years old. I didn’t have to listen to Walter Hastings. Or to his wife.
Screw them all.
They’d only been married a few months, and he wasn’t my damn stepfather, no matter what he thought. I mean, he was. Legally. But I didn’t need him.
I didn’t need anyone.
So I stood up, fisting my hands at my sides. “I don’t want to be a lawyer. I already told you that.”
Walt laughed. “And I told you that, under my roof, you do what I tell you to do, and that’s that. You’ll do it, and you’ll like it. I won’t budge.”
“Neither will I, Walt.”
“Don’t call me that,” Walt said, his voice low and seething. His name was Walter, and he hated it when I called him Walt . . . which was why I did it. “My name is Walter, or Mr. Hastings, or sir. No one calls me Walt. Learn some respect, boy.”
I didn’t answer. Just smirked.
Walt could kiss my ass.
“Jackson, dear . . .” Mother fidgeted. “It’s a good career. You’ll be lucky if you live to see the other side of twenty if you join the army. Listen to your father. He knows what’s best for you.”
I stiffened. I might not know my father, but I knew one thing. Walt wasn’t him. “He knows shit, and he sure as hell doesn’t know me because he’s not my father. He has no idea what’s best for me, or who I am. Or what I want. I want to—”
“Watch your mouth, young man, and how you speak to your mother. You’re going to law school, to Yale. That’s final, so get it into your head. End of discussion.” Walter picked up his newspaper, addressing his wife. “And if he wants to continue living here, he will stop annoying me.”
I gritted my teeth, because he was a tight-suited asshole. “Then I’ll leave this house. Go out on my own. Make my own way.”
“Over my dead body. You’re part of this family now, and while you are, you’ll live up to the Hastings name. And that’s all that will be said on this matter. You may go,” Walter said dismissively, flicking a hand my way. “I’m finished with you.”
There was so much I wanted to say, but why bother? I knew it was a waste of my time, so I walked away from them both. He wouldn’t listen, and, really, it didn’t matter even if he did. Officially, I was an adult now, so I didn’t need their approval to sign up for duty, no matter what they seemed to think. End of discussion. What the fuck was that, anyway? The discussion was over when both parties decided it was. Not one.
As I left, I heard Walt sigh. “Honestly, Nancy, I don’t know what to do with that boy. Are you sure his father won’t take him off our hands? He’s nothing like my Lilly.”
Ah . . . Lilly Hastings. Fifteen. Rich. Smart. Sweet as hell. And gorgeous, to boot. Walter didn’t deserve her, and it boggled my mind that she was the old man’s daughter, because she was nothing like him. Everything she got, she must’ve gotten from her deceased mother. That was the only thing I could figure.
I initially tried to hate her on principle, but the thing was, I couldn’t. From my first day here, when she brought me chocolate chip cookies because they were my favorite, till today, she’d been nothing but kind to me. She was the only person who made life in the Hastings household bearable. And because Lilly was the total opposite of her father, no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t hate her.
And believe me, I tried.
Jen McLaughlin is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of sexy books with Penguin and Random House. Under her pen name Diane Alberts, she is also an USA Today bestselling author of Contemporary Romance with Entangled Publishing. Her first release as Jen McLaughlin, Out of Line, released September 6 2013, and hit the New York Times, USA Today and Wall Street Journal lists. She was mentioned in Forbes alongside E. L. James as one of the breakout independent authors to dominate the bestselling lists. She is represented by Louise Fury at The Bent Agency.
Though she lives in the mountains, she really wishes she was surrounded by a hot, sunny beach with crystal-clear water. She lives in Northeast Pennsylvania with her four kids, a husband, a schnauzer mutt, and three cats. Her goal is to write so many well-crafted romance books that even a non-romance reader will know her name.
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