Home > New Jerk in Town (Carolina Kisses, #2)

New Jerk in Town (Carolina Kisses, #2)
Author: Sylvie Stewart

Chapter One




“Because I said so.”

Yeah, those are the words that just came out of my mouth. Which wouldn’t be all that disturbing if I were, in fact, a parent, but I’ve been lucky enough to dodge that bullet so far.

Felicity’s head falls back, and she laughs hard enough for me to know I’ll never live this down, so I do the only thing I can and walk straight out of her room—the one she still insists on calling the guest room. I can’t call it anything but hers.

“You can dream all you want, but I’ll still win!” Her taunt follows me down the narrow stairs to the main floor of the house, and I feel my stomach growl with hunger.

She has her mother’s blood in her veins so, unfortunately, she might be right in the end. That’s what genetic hard-headedness will get you, and my sister Sherry—Felicity’s mom—could give a jackass a run for its money.

In fact, Sherry’s had a lot of practice, given her shit choice in men over the years. Case in point: her latest jackass is the very reason her daughter is now staying with me instead of basking in the toxic swamp that is Sherry’s current live-in relationship.

There was a time when I interfered and chased assholes away from my sister, but I eventually realized it was a waste of energy. She was going down her chosen path no matter what. Not even a North Carolina-bound hurricane could stop her from doing exactly as she pleased, which mostly happened to be tangling herself up with one cocksucker after another. Now all I can do is my level best to keep that apple from falling too close to Sherry’s fucked-up tree by keeping Felicity on the straight and narrow where guys are concerned.

I pull open the refrigerator and make a point not to inhale as I take in its paltry contents: two bottles of beer, a half-gallon of milk, a few condiments, and some highly dubious takeout containers. I run a frustrated hand through my hair and listen to the shuffling of Felicity’s combat boots across the floor over my head. The sound has become just another familiar part of the symphony provided by any good beach house. The creaks and groans of the clapboard construction and the slapping of the loose shutters blend with the rushing wind from across the Atlantic. I swear the house shifts on its foundation hourly. One day, I’ll wake up with only rubble surrounding me and the tide rushing in to sweep everything away.

The fridge door falls shut again, and my gaze shifts to the range nearby. I’ve been meaning to replace the damn thing before its temperamental wiring causes the whole house to go up in flames. Although, come to think of it, the insurance money would come in handy right about now. Any hunger I felt fades at the thought of my bank account and exactly how little money sits in it. Breakfast will have to wait.

“You need to get laid.”

I whip around at Felicity’s comment. I must have been deep in my personal pity party if I missed her boots clomping down the stairs.

“How did you get to be such a heathen?” My backside hits the edge of the counter, and I give my beard a good scratch.

She just raises a brow at me.

Right. I forgot for a minute she spent the last sixteen years living with Sherry.

“At least mind your own business,” I grumble. I’m fully aware that Felicity knows what every other teenager in the world does about sex—which is fuck-all, by the way. But they think they know everything. All she needs to know is not to sleep with some asshole and make sure she triples up on protection even if her chosen guy is up for sainthood.

“You are my business.” My niece has the nerve to grin before she pinches my cheek in a way, I assume, is supposed to tell me I’m adorable. How in the hell did I get here?

Without hesitation, I grab her wrist before swinging it down and twisting her body in one fluid motion. I’ve got her arm pinned behind her back and her front facing the opposite counter before she knows what hit her.

She tries breaking free, but my hold is firm. “Hey! How many times have I told you to stop doing that to me?”

My words are low and controlled. “I’ll keep doing it until you learn how to do it yourself when some asshole tries to touch you without your permission.”

“Fine.” She stops struggling, and I release my grip. When she turns back to me, her grin has been replaced with a scowl. “You’re a real pain sometimes, Milo.”

“Thank you.”

Felicity rolls her eyes like the pro she is and shuffles over to the cabinet where we keep the cereal, all the while muttering about how she should have gone to live with her friends Ted and Haley because they’d at least have the decency to wait until after breakfast to assault her. I watch as she pours the sugar shit into a bowl and settles at the table, shoving aside unopened mail, dirty plates, and half a dozen comic books.

“Forget something?”

“If you think I’m drinking the milk in that petri dish of a fridge you’ve got there, you’re nuts.”

Just to spite the little smartass, I turn back to the refrigerator and pull out the half-gallon of milk before setting it on the table with a clunk. My backside lands in the seat across from her, but her eyes don’t budge from her comic book, so I unscrew the lid and bring the container to my lips where I proceed to chug for a good thirty seconds. It’s not exactly farm fresh, but it could be worse. I drop the milk back down with an overly exaggerated, “Ahhh.” This finally captures her attention, but only results in a slow head shake I interpret as more pity than anything.

“Good luck with that.” She shoves a fistful of cereal in her mouth and goes back to the comic as she crunches away.

I slide the carton aside and lean forward on my elbows as I take in the lanky figure before me. Her long t-shirt is frayed at the cuffs, and her hair is pulled back in a disheveled ponytail—quite a departure from the multi-colored cloud of short hair she’s sported for the past few years. It’s the same dark brown as mine now and just as unkempt. There’s nothing artful about the way she’s arranged her hair and outfit, and that’s her way. But the artfulness lies elsewhere.

“So, are we going to talk about this for real, or are you just going to ignore it?”

Her fingers casually flip a page and she mumbles over her mouthful of cereal, “I’m not ignoring it. I’m just telling you not to worry about it. I’ve got it covered.”

“As clever as you are—and, believe me, I know you are—there’s no way you’ve managed to magically come up with three grand, plus whatever you’ll need for supplies.”

She swallows and sends a quick glance my way. “Maybe not yet, but I have a plan. Like I said, don’t worry.”

“And like I said, I’m paying for it.” I check the exasperation in my tone before continuing, “I’m an adult who happens to have credit. You, on the other hand, do not.”

“Ah! But I have a job.” Her brows shoot up as she gives me her full attention this time. She kindly refrains from mocking me with the unspoken, “You, on the other hand, do not, asshole.”

I brush past it. “A job which pays you shit and one that you’re giving up for art school.”

“Yeah, but I have savings. And they’re taking me back when I come home from Virginia.”

It’s no use. My fist hits the table, and I practically growl at her. “You’re not spending your savings on school! That’s bullshit! Save it for college or a car or, I don’t know, one of your stupid comic books!” Her eyes drop to the table, and I hate myself a little. Breathe, asshole. “Sorry, Liss.” I scrub a hand through my hair and check my voice again. “It’s just that a kid shouldn’t be expected to pay for their own high school education.”

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