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Based:A Stepbrother Romance(9)

By:B. B. Hamel

“Hey, Brie,” he said as he got closer.

“Hey yourself. Cameras follow you everywhere now?”

He stopped and looked back at them. “Guys, cameras off.”

There was a moment where nobody moved. Jessica took a step closer and looked like she wanted to say something. Lincoln raised an eyebrow at her, and she thought better of whatever protest she had in mind. She gestured at the crew, and they shut off their equipment.

Lincoln looked back at me.

“Sorry about that.”

I looked nonchalant. “Not a big deal.”

He limped over and sat down slowly on the chair next to mine, obviously trying not to let me see how much it hurt him. That was typical Lincoln, blocking out anything painful and pretending like the world was just fine. Even with two broken legs and a cane, he was the strongest man I knew.

He glanced over his shoulder. “Can you guys take five?” he asked Jessica.

“We have a schedule,” she said, frowning.

“I know. But we agreed Brie won’t be in any shots until she wants to be. So let me talk with my stepsister, and you guys take a break.”

Jessica sighed, obviously annoyed. “Okay, fine. Be fast, though. We have some interviews to shoot.”

She turned and stalked back up to the house, and the camera guys followed, smiling sheepishly at me, almost apologetically.

“Trouble in paradise?” I asked him.

“Not really. She can be a little uptight sometimes.”

“She is supposed to be in charge of your thing, right?”

“I guess. It’s my life, though.”

I nodded. That made sense. “Well, thanks. I appreciate it.”

He grinned at me. “Don’t thank me yet. I’m actually here to talk to you about the cameras.”

I sighed. “Look, Lincoln—”

“Wait. Before you get started,” he said, interrupting me, “just listen. I know you don’t want to be in this thing, and frankly I don’t blame you. It’s not really my kind of deal.”

“So why are you doing it?”

“Not sure, I guess.” He pursed his lips, and I had the weird urge to reach out and touch his bicep. He stretched out his legs, wincing slightly. “Your dad says it’ll be good for my brand. And I’ve been away from the jumps for a while now, because of my fucking legs. I guess I want to start getting back into the game.”

“The game?”

He gave me a look. “The fame bullshit. The game.”

“Oh. Right, of course. I forgot you were ‘Based’ now.”

“Only when the cameras are on. Right now, I’m just Lincoln. And I want you to be in this documentary.”

I sighed. “I would really rather not.”

“I know. But the cameras are going to be all over the place all summer, and it’s going to be a pain in the ass for everyone if you’re constantly trying to dodge the shots.”

“So you want me to do it because it’ll be more convenient for you?”

He grinned. “Yeah. That, and if you agree to do it, I can make sure your role is limited.”

“But if I don’t agree, I won’t have any role at all.”

He sighed and looked out over the water. I watched his face shift from cocky and brash to pensive in less than a second. I thought I was seeing an entirely different side of him, and for a brief moment I liked it. But then he looked back at me, a mischievous smile playing on his lips, and the pensive side was gone.

“I know we haven’t been close for a while. Haven’t really seen each other. But it would mean a lot to me if you did this.”

“Lincoln, I really—”

“And,” he said, continuing, “I’ll owe you a favor. Whatever you want. Agree to do one interview with the crew, and I’ll owe you one favor.”

I paused, and his smile broke out into his arrogant grin. I wanted to say no, wanted badly to turn him down and forget about the whole thing, but his offer was tempting. What did I want from Lincoln, anyway? Then again, it was only one interview, and he was writing me a blank check.

“Anything I want?” I asked him cautiously.

He leaned closer. “Absolutely anything you want, I’ll do it for you.”

I couldn’t help but note the insinuation there, but I ignored it.

“And all I need to do is one interview.”

He nodded, saying nothing.

I sighed. I should say no. I really, really should say no, and I should stay far away from him. If I knew what was good for me, I’d stand up and walk away and catch the next flight to L.A., regardless of how angry and upset Jules would be.

“Okay. I’ll do it.”

He smiled huge. “Great. This is going to be fun.”