NYT bestselling authors Lauren Hawkeye and Tawny Stokes are sharing an exclusive look at the third chapter of their upcoming novel, THE OTHER BROTHER, which will be told in three parts.
About Part 1: Forbidden
From two New York Times bestselling authors comes a stunning tale of betrayal and blood... Simple. The consummate good girl, this is the word I used to describe my life... until my stepbrother Seth came to live with us. Until that point, I’d been a very good girl... but my older, emotionally blocked stepbrother made me want to do very bad things. With him. In the course of one night everything changed, and my simple world was torn to shreds. I wanted to hate him. I did hate him. Mostly. But now he’s back. And nothing will ever be simple again. The Other Brother is a novel told in three parts. **Contains graphic sexual content and harsh language. It is only appropriate for adult readers age 18+** The Other Brother, Part 1: Forbidden is available for preorder! Part 1 releases February 24th and will be available for just .99c through preorder and release day!
Find out more about Part 2: Taboo and Part 3: Illicit.
Find out more about Part 2: Taboo and Part 3: Illicit.
Three Friday evenings have passed since that moment between Seth and I in his apartment. That moment when I’d thought he was going to kiss me, and instead he’d treated me like a little girl.
I was a little girl. I’d acted like a fool. And now I was ashamed to look him in the eye.
It’s late, almost midnight. I shut my chemistry book and lean back in my chair. My eyes sting something awful. I rub at them and sigh. I’ve been at it, studying that is, for the past four hours, but I’ve been burying myself in schoolwork as a distraction against... well, against Seth.
Never, to my dying day, will I forget the way he looked at me. I might be young, I might be naïve, but I’m not an idiot.
He’d wanted me. I understood why it was a bad idea. I could get over him pushing me away.
What I couldn’t forgive him for was the way he’d treated me. I wouldn’t tolerate being treated like... like a cheap whore who was throwing myself at him.
But I haven’t been quite brave enough to bring that up. So I’ve been avoiding the ever loving hell out of my stepbrother.
Standing, I stretch out my back. The tart smell of Mexican lime and the more mellow vanilla perfume of oleander hits my nose, brought in on the warm breeze coming through my open bedroom window. We have several oleander trees in our yard, beautiful shrubs of white nd pink and yellow, so stunning it’s hard not to touch them.
But every Texan knows better. Innocent beauty outside, poison in the middle. That’s oleander.
That doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy the heady scent though even if the slight trickle of a breeze does nothing to the stifling Texas heat. Sweat slicks my body. My camisole sticks to my chest and my shorts stick to my ass cheeks. Jesus, sweat even dots the skin on my legs and feet. I need a drink. Badly. Maybe even another shower. Sometimes in Texas in the summer months you end up taking like three showers a day.
My water glass is empty so I take it and tip toe out of my room and go down the stairs to the kitchen. Dad and Dinah are in bed. I’m thankful. Their big topic of conversation the last weeks, an argument whispered furiously behind closed doors, has been about Seth and Theo. About how, the day after that family dinner, they were both covered in cuts and bruises.
And neither will talk about it.
Dad thinks they’re just boys being boys.
Dinah, though... she wants more of an answer than that.
I assume that Theo and Seth got into a fight over Seth making me cry. I hadn’t told Theo anything about what had happened— I certainly hadn’t told him how I felt. Partly because, well, that was a secret. Something I don’t even understand yet, let alone have the words to explain.
And partly because... the last couple of weeks, things with Theo’s gotten weird. If I didn’t know how much he cares about football, I would maybe wonder if he was on drugs. I can’t put my finger on it, but where I’ve always seen my brother as just that... my brother... things with him have started to get a little bit uncomfortable.
Shrugging that off, I head downstairs in search of a drink.
It’s dark in the kitchen, but I don’t turn the light on. I don’t need the light to find my way. I fill my glass with cold filtered water from the refrigerator and take it to the patio doors. Opening them, I step outside. Although the temperature is no different outside than it is inside, at least the breeze provides a tiny bit of relief, drying the dampness on my forehead.
Sipping my water, I stare out into the dark back yard and shiver a little. Sometimes when I come out here at night I feel like someone is watching me. My gaze moves over to the garage, to Seth’s room above it. A place I’ve avoided like hell for the last three weeks.
The idea of Seth watching me doesn’t make me uncomfortable though. No, it makes me kind of... warm. I feel my cheeks flush.
Draining the rest of the water, I turn to go back into the kitchen to refill my glass before heading back upstairs. I step inside, slide the door shut, and nearly drop my glass to the floor. Seth is at the kitchen table, sitting in the shadows.
“Sweet Jesus, you scared the crap out of me.”
He doesn’t say anything but just lowers his head into his hands on the table.
It doesn’t seem to matter what I’ve told myself over the last three weeks, how much I’ve thought about the fact that this attraction is all in my head. Just seeing him makes me awake, alive. My belly flips over, and nerves zing through me like electricity.
It’s too much. I want to retreat.
Something tells me to stay right where I am. Something is wrong.
I take a shaky step forward and that’s when I see the blood and bruises on his face and the red stains on his hands and white t-shirt. This is a million times worse than the fight marks he had a few weeks away, the shadows of bruises that are still visible under these fresh lacerations.
He’s very badly hurt. And from the look of his knuckles, someone else is, too.
“Seth. What happened?” Instinct takes over and I shoot across the room to inspect his face. “Are you okay?” I assess the damage: a split lip, black eye, some long marks in his chiseled cheekbone. Hurrying to the kitchen sink, I wet a cloth with warm water.
When I return to him, he hasn’t moved. He just watches me with that stoic look of his, and my belly clenches.
Normally he looks everywhere but at me.
Not important right now. Trying to be gentle, I press the cloth to his lip. “Are you going to tell me what happened?”
“You shouldn’t be walking around like that.” His voice is low and gravely, a little bit of his Southie accent gets in there, and it’s a punch to my gut.
“Like what?” I glance down at my pajama set, the one I always wear at night. I notice though that the fabric does stick to my sweaty boobs. I make an unobvious grab for the shirt and try and fix it.
He looks away from me. “Go put some damn clothes on.”
“Sure. Soon as you tell me what the hell happened to you.” I continue to dab at the congealing blood on his face. “Were you fighting with Theo again?”
As quick as a viper, Seth grabs my wrists. The cloth falls from his hand as he stands and pulls me up against the wall. My heart starts to hammer in my throat, and I swallow thickly. I can barely breathe with the way he looks at me.
That little episode in the garage taught me not to push him.
Not that I think he’ll hurt me—not physically, at least. But words are weapons far greater than fists.
Still, I’m scared. Scared of something I can’t quite define.
The violence pouring off of him is palpable.
The muscles along his jaw line tighten, as if he’s grinding his teeth. Maybe he is. I have to fight an urge to smooth away that tension with the tips of my fingers. He glares at me, and then licks his lips. The heat from his hands around my wrists rushes down my arms and over my body. I can’t handle it much longer.
I’ve always thought the romantic crap about connections between people is bullshit, but I can almost hear the silent click between us. Feel the absolute relief that comes from having the person who completes you within range. It’s powerful and intense and tears of frustration of never being able to realize it prick the corners of my eyes.
His gaze falters, his eyes becoming shuttered again. The arrogant young man returns. He must see the beginning of my tears because he drops my wrists and takes a distancing step away. His breath comes hard and I can see the sweat on his upper lip.
“I shouldn’t have done that.” His voice is a bit unsteady. “I apologize.”
Seth, apologize? I rub at my wrists. It’s not that it hurts, because it doesn’t, not in the true sense of the word, but I try to scrub away the tingles from where he touched me. I want to rub my skin over my lips to transfer that touch.
“You’re right,” I say, although my throat is dry and it’s uncomfortable to speak. “Theo could’ve come in, then he’d give us both some shit.”
I’m referring to what I assume happened between them before, but his reaction is intense, and I know in that instance that they have something between them that goes beyond boys being boys.
His nostrils flare with anger. I never want that anger directed at me. It’s fierce and I take a step away, my back hitting the wall again in the process. “Theo will never hurt you, understand?”
I blink at him, because Theo has never hurt me. We’ve had our spats like siblings do time to time. He has said unkind things to me once or twice, but never has he physically hurt me. We’ve never even play fight before.
Like I said, he’s just been... weird... lately.
“I don’t understand.”
“If you knew.” He looks at me again.
“I did it for you, but if you could see inside me, and see why.” He holds up his bloodied hands. “You’d run. You’d run faster than you’ve ever run.”
I stare at him, not knowing what to do or say. My hands vibrate. My heart still pounds hard. I can’t seem to get it to stop.
He’s trying to scare me again. But I know, I know, that while he has the power to shatter my heart into shards of glass, physically?
Never. He’ll never hurt me. Which makes it safer, if immensely stupid, to crave him so badly.
He growls low, and I realize that my feelings have been playing out over my face.
“Run, Allie.” He says those two words slowly. Slow and clear.
I nearly gasp from the intensity of it. Tears finally do spring in my eyes and I turn and run up to my room. I quietly press the door shut and lean back against it to catch my breath, rubbing a hand between my breasts. My heart thumps painfully against my ribs.
What the fuck was that? My mind reels. I still don’t understand why Seth is covered in blood. He didn’t answer my question about Theo.
Or did he? He was so angry at the mention of my brother’s name.
I push away from the door and sit on my bed. Jesus. I can’t think beyond the pounding of my heart and the way my body vibrates. I shouldn’t feel this way, but I do. I liked the way Seth grabbed me. I liked how he looked at me. I liked how he confessed to wanting me. Even now I wish he hadn’t stopped. I wish he had slammed me up against the wall and took me as his own. I know I’m going to Hell for wishing it.
I want to be like Camilla. I want to go after what I want. There’s no shame in it.
I stand, moving to door, getting ready to go back downstairs, back to Seth with a bravery I hadn’t known existed.
The unmistakable sounds of tires crunching over gravel stops me in my tracks. It’s the middle of the night. Who the hell would be pulling into our driveway?
Scarlet and royal blue flashing lights cut through the glass of my window to stripe my bedroom wall. I’m at the window in the next breath, where two police officers are exiting their squad car.
My stomach drops, twists. I know, I just know this is about Seth, about the blood that’s painted over his face.
I can barely breathe.
There comes two hard knocks on the front door. I’m frozen in place, unable to answer it. From down the hall, I hear the door to dad and Dinah’s room open, and the thumping of someone running down the stairs. Loud voices fill the house, a cacophony of noise that fills my head with chaos. I can’t make out the words but I get the gist behind them. Dinah is downstairs now and I can hear her crying, her hysterical shrieks overlaid with my Dad’s stern tone.
“Not my boy!” Her words are a scream. “I just got him back!”
Her shriek shatters the ice that’s holding me hostage. Darting out of my room, I race down the stairs just in time to see an officer putting handcuffs on Seth. The boy I’ve never thought of as blood but that I care for nonetheless doesn’t fight, just goes quietly when he is escorted out of the house.
Pushing past Dinah and Dad, I try and make a dash outside.
“Seth!” My own voice is a shriek. I don’t understand all of these feelings. I don’t understand anything.
My dad grabs my arm and holds me back. Dinah sobs hard now, and my dad puts an arm around her, the glue holding us all together, even as tears stream down his own face. I wonder briefly where Theo is, but there’s no time for that. He lets me go to rub his hands over his own face and pull his phone from his pocket. I think I hear the words hospital, emergency room, and surgery, but I’m too full of everything to be sure.
Vibrating with tension that I can barely restrain, I stand in our doorway and watch as the officer puts Seth in the back of the cruiser. I want him to look at me. I need it. I want to mouth words of encouragement to him that it will be all right, but he doesn’t look my way. Deliberately, I know.
He stares straight ahead as the car drives away.
That is the last time I see Seth Thorne.
Remember, part 1 releases February 24th and will be available for just 99 cents through preorder and release day! Find out more about Part 2: Taboo and Part 3: Illicit.
About Lauren Hawkeye
Lauren Hawkeye/ Lauren Jameson never imagined that she’d wind up telling stories for a living… though when she looks back, it’s easy to see that she’s the only one who is surprised. Always “the kid who read all the time”, Lauren made up stories about her favorite characters once she’d finished a book… and once spent an entire year narrating her own life internally. No, really. But where she was just plain odd before publication, now she can at least claim to have an artistic temperament.
Lauren lives in the Rocky Mountains of Alberta, Canada with her husband, toddler, pit bull and idiot cat, though they do not live in an igloo, nor do they drive a dogsled. In her nonexistent spare time Lauren can be found knitting (her husband claims that her snobby yarn collection is exorbitant), reading anything she can get her hands on, or sweating her way through spin class. She loves to hear from her readers!
About Tawny Stokes
Tawny Stokes has always been a writer. From an early age, she’d spin tales of serial killers in love, vampires taking over the world, and sometimes about fluffy bunnies turned bunnicidal maniacs. An honour student in high school, with a penchant for math and English, you’d never know it by the foot high blue Mohawk and Doc Martens, which often got her into trouble. No longer a Mohawk wearer, Tawny still enjoys old school punk rock, trance, zombie movies, teen horror films, and fluffy bunnies. She lives in Canada with her fantastical daughter, two cats, and spends most of her time creating new stories for teens. Tawny also writes adult paranormal/urban fantasy fiction under the name Vivi Anna, and is an aspiring screenwriter.