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Based:A Stepbrother Romance(3)

By:B. B. Hamel

He shook his head. “No. I’m good.”

As soon as they started talking, everyone immediately forgot about me. All eyes were glued back to what was happening between the woman and Lincoln as he began to walk down the thin corridor between the two rails. I took a few steps back, my brain screaming at me to get out of there, but I was completely transfixed by the half painful, half joyous expression on Lincoln’s face. After another minute, he finished the full length of the walkway and stopped at the other end.

“That’s great, Lincoln. That’s such a huge improvement.”

“Yeah,” he grunted. He looked up at me and grinned again. “Not what you expected, was it?”

As soon as I went to answer, one of the cameramen shifted his attention to me. I blinked at the lights and at the mics that were suddenly shoved in my face.

“Uh, what’s happening right now?” I asked.

Lincoln laughed loudly, almost doubling over. I saw nervous smiles on the faces of the camera crew around me, but none of them moved to say anything. Jess continued to watch me with a wary smirk on her face.

“You heard about my accident?” Lincoln said, half asking and half stating.

I nodded. “Yeah. I heard it was bad.”

“Shattered both my fucking legs and had me in the hospital for a month.”

“That’s horrible, Lincoln.”

“Yeah, well. Your dad thought it would be a great idea to shoot a documentary about my recovery and rehab.”

“Oh. So that’s what this is.”

He laughed. “Yep, that’s it. And you’re just in time. Two weeks earlier and I would have still been in my wheelchair.”

His physical therapist made a disapproving sound. “You should still be in it.”

He gave her a shrug. “I’m fine. The cane is enough for now.”

I took another step back. “Okay, well, uh, I should let you get back to it.”

He grinned at me again. “It’s great to see you again, Aubrie. You home for the summer?”

“Yeah, looks like it.”

“Then you and I will be seeing a lot of each other.”

I blinked at him as the cameras shifted away from me and pointed back at him. He was already turning around, his attractive, blond physical therapist hovering over him like a worried mother bird, and I could only think to get out of there as fast as possible. I turned and sped back out the door, shutting it behind me, and walked quickly back into the kitchen.

I stood there, practically traumatized, as what had just happened sunk in. I was going to kill Jules, I realized. She hadn’t mentioned that her BASE-jumping, daredevil, playboy son was going to be living in the house with us.

Lincoln “Based” Carter was pretty famous. From what I could tell, he was the most successful BASE jumper in the entire world. His whole thing was climbing to the top of man-made structures and parachuting down to the ground. The bigger and the more dangerous, the better. He held the world record for jumping from the tallest building in the world, a stunt that landed him in jail for a few months. That only made him more popular.

I saw him everywhere, and I hated it. He had become the poster boy for new extreme sports, and he had his own clothing line. Of course, since he was an extreme narcissist, it was called “Based” and was in practically every store in the entire world.

I thought I had escaped him when I went out to Notre Dame for college. I had done everything I could to put distance between us, especially after what had happened the night our parents got married. While he was busy risking his life all the time in Europe, climbing bridges and jumping off them, I was studying hard and making friends and basically trying to be a regular person.

And suddenly, Lincoln was back in my life. After all these years, after what had happened between us, he was standing in my living room getting groped by some sexy blonde while a bunch of dudes filmed it.

I’m not being fair, I thought to myself as I sipped my drink. He was obviously in pain and struggling. Still, he could have done his therapy and rehab anywhere in the world. There was no reason for him to park himself right in the middle of my house.

I leaned back against the counter and shook my head. This was all my dad’s doing. Put Lincoln in the house, film his recovery, and profit on what would be both heartrending and uplifting. At this point in Lincoln’s career, it was hard not to make at least some money off whatever he did.

I sighed. Summer vacation was supposed to be relaxing.

There was no way I could feel even a little relaxed with Lincoln Carter back in my life.

Chapter Two: Lincoln

I leaned forward and fell.

Wind whipped along my body and screamed through my ears as the night sky came toward me, faster and faster. I felt free and right and home, like floating through empty nothingness was the thing I was born to do. The usual thrill ran through me, but it was tempered by this strange calm that radiated through my limbs.