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Stepbrother Charming(9)

By:Nicole Snow

“Spree,” I cut in. “Fucking Spree. Of course.”

Mom gives me a stern look at my language. Whatever. It's just as well because my wine shows up along with two other glasses they must've ordered before I arrived. Perfect distraction.

“We've been using your site since I was a kid,” I continue. “God. Your company's a household name. That must mean you're loaded, right?”

Mom's mouth drops open. Gary laughs and clinks his glass gently against hers, giving the sparkly champagne inside it a swirl. “It's okay, Mandy. The girl deserves some slack. It's not every day your mother marries a billionaire online mogul without warning.”

Christ. He can say that again. I have to stop and drink half my Malbec before I'm able to speak again.

“So, how long have you guys been dating?”

“It's been – what? – seven or eight months?” Mom looks at Gary and smiles. “We actually met at the big industry dinner in DC about a year ago. Gary came to me personally for some help moving things forward in Washington. I was on my way out and happy to take some risk with his drive to grow Spree because it meant more jobs and more revenue. One thing led to another and...well, here we are today.”

Yeah, here we are. Just where the hell is here?

I can't place myself in this reality anymore after they both set off this bombshell in my face. What's really insane is how sure and lovey-dovey they seem. At first, I thought it might be a marriage of convenience, something old people with years in business and government do. America doesn't have blue bloods, but it definitely has aristocrats.#p#分页标题#e#

And yet, the man sitting across from me with his brilliant features and graying hair is a much different kind of royalty than anything we've ever been. A Congresswoman's salary doesn't mean insta-millionaire, especially when she's not taking kickbacks. Mom stayed fairly clean for a politician.

Her new hubby, on the other hand, is a billionaire. Billion with a capital B. I can't fathom it, but I'm going to have to try.

This is the new normal, isn't it?

“Claire, are you sure you're okay?” Gary's tone is almost fatherly.

Holy shit. Fatherly. That's right – he's officially my new step-father, something that didn't hit me in the face until now. Staring at the huge diamonds on Mom's finger helps drive it home too when she turns her hand and they catch the light.

“I'm fine. I'll be okay, I mean. It's just a lot to take in after a long night out.”

“Of course it is, honey. Don't worry. We'll all mull this over at a big family dinner soon enough. I just wanted to give you a chance to find out in a nice, relaxed atmosphere.”

Ha ha, Mom's so funny today. The way my heart's beating, I'm not sure I'll ever be able to relax again. I look at Gary, narrowing my eyes.

“So, what's your story? I hope Mom isn't like your fourth wife? Have you been married before, Gary?”

Another scolding look from Mom. I feel kinda bad, but there's no fucking way I can be polite. Not when my whole world keeps crashing to smithereens. My brain racing a trillion miles an hour strips away the mind-to-mouth filter. Naturally, that makes me think of the asshole and his smothering kiss last night.

Gary laughs, patting my mom's hand. “It's okay, Mandy. Really. I like curiosity. Claire, you'll be pleased to know your mother's only the second woman I've ever called my wife. And I intend to make sure she's the last.”

I raise an eyebrow, breathing an inward sigh of relief as more water shows up. I pour it and start sucking it down. My body needs it, plus it might just keep the nuclear reactions inside me from going off.

“What happened to number one?” I ask in between sips.

“Skiing accident. It was terrible. I still think about those times – where does it all go?” Gary shakes his head. Finally, someone else's turn to do it. “I was a young man with a startup and a five year old son in those days. There wasn't time to mourn. The only saving grace is I wasn't such a popular guy then – the media left my family alone. I wasn't on their radar yet. It was up to me to raise my son alone while I built my company. I'm pleased to say it all worked out. Mostly, anyway.”

I nod. Okay, maybe Gary's not such a weirdo with a silver spoon hanging out of his mouth after all. I gnaw on some bread while they make goo-goo eyes at each other again.

Shit. I hope the spark wears off at some point like all relationships. It's going to be a long fucking summer if I have to see this all the time.

Munching isn't helping my stomach much. I have to really focus on drinking my water and trying to remember what Dana taught me about meditation from her yoga classes to keep from spitting wine up all over the table.