Hostile Takeover 1- Obsessed

By: Tawny Taylor

Chapter 1

Holy shit. What was this?

The devil was building a snowman. In hell. Right now.

Why would I think that? Because I was standing in the entry of a freaking palace, a suitcase in one hand, a letter in the other. A letter from my mother.

Mom believes in old-fashioned ways of communicating. She loves writing letters. She says they’re more personal than texting or emailing.


This one…this message…should have been delivered in person.

She was getting married. My mom. The woman who told me time and time again that men weren’t worth their weight in worm poop.

She was getting married. The woman who swore she’d never be “owned by a man.”

She was getting married. The woman who’d raised me on her own and was proud of it.

That woman was on her way to some tropical island to exchange vows with her soon-to-be husband, Dirk Payne.

I should have known something was up when she sent a letter last week, telling me to come to this address for Spring Break, instead of going to her apartment in Ferndale. When I’d pulled up to the massive house, I thought for sure I’d gone to the wrong place. I mean, this place was insane.

Mom and I used to love to go to Sunday open houses in the rich neighborhoods—Grosse Point Shores, Franklin, Bloomfield Hills. We’d dress up in our Sunday best and pretend like we were house hunting. It was innocent fun. I loved seeing what those beautiful houses looked like on the inside, dreaming about living in them.

But some of those houses were shacks compared to this place.

I looked up. The entry ceiling was at least twenty feet high. And a ginormous chandelier dripped crystals from the soaring height. The floor was a smooth marble tile, the walls snow white. A stone waterfall hung on one wall, dripping water to the reservoir at the bottom, making the air smell wet.

Feeling totally out of place, I kicked off my shoes and hooked my fingers in the backs to carry them. “Hello?” I called. Somebody had let me in when I’d knocked on the front door. I’d heard the lock disengage. So where was the he or she who let me in?

The entryway opened at the rear to a glorious open-concept kitchen-slash-dining-slash-living area. The kitchen boasted polished stone counters, more cupboards than anyone would need in a lifetime, and gleaming stainless steel appliances.

Oh, and a guy dressed in a pair of shorts and nothing else.

A really good looking guy dressed in a pair of shorts and nothing else…with abs that looked like they’d been cut with a blade, they were so defined.

I swallowed a mouthful of drool and smiled at Mr. Perfect Abs, heading his way. “Hi. I’m Shayne. Terry’s daughter. I guess I’m supposed to stay here for the week.”

Mr. Perfect Abs met me in the middle, arm extended. Up close, I could see he was older than me by at least a handful of years, maybe more. I could also see his shoulder and arm muscles were just as defined as his abs.

And his face was beau-ti-ful.

I tucked my shoes under my arm to free up my hand. You bet I was going to shake Mr. Perfect’s hand.

“Kent,” Mr. Perfect introduced. His clasp was firm. His eyes were sharp as they met mine. “Welcome.” After shaking my hand he held it a little longer than necessary. I took that as a good sign. I was feeling welcome. Most definitely. “I’m Dirk’s son. I guess that makes me your big brother.”

I scowled. A big brother? At my age? No, thank you. Especially this Adonis with the scrumptious abs and broad shoulders. “How about if I just call you Kent instead?”

“Fair enough.” Kent motioned toward the kitchen. “Can I get you something to eat? Drink?”

As if I could eat or drink anything right now. My throat was so tight, from standing this close to a guy who could do underwear ads, I couldn’t swallow a thing, not even a sip of water. I didn’t want to make a fool of myself, dribbling cola down my chin.

“No thanks,” I said.

“All right. I’ll show you to your room then.” Kent escorted me through one lavish space after another. Even the hallway leading to the bedrooms was gorgeous. It was ridiculous. And I could hardly believe I would be staying here. I couldn’t imagine my mother living in this place, either.

What had been our home for most of my childhood was small, cramped, yes, but also homey. Everywhere you looked you would see something personal, meaningful. The walls were decorated with framed masterpieces—all crafted by one under-appreciated artist, moi. As child-art tended to be, the paintings and drawings all boasted brilliant colors. Red, blue, purple, green. Subjects ranged from abstracts to trees with oversized birds nesting in the branches, and poorly-proportioned people.

But this place had real art, art that probably cost thousands, if not more. The furniture had no ding marks that I could see, unlike ours. It was all pristine, as if no one had ever touched it.

I wasn’t sure I’d like to live in a house like this. It was more like a museum. I was afraid to touch anything.

“Your room,” Kent said.

I sucked in a shallow breath. My room was a freaking showplace.

I stepped inside, dropping my shoes and suitcase on the floor. My feet sank into plush carpet with padding that had to be a foot thick. My gaze meandered around the space, taking in the massive bed piled high with pillows, to the door open to a massive walk-in closet, to the sitting area positioned in front of a wide window. “Thanks,” I said, as I made my way to the window. Outside I saw tree limbs, bare except for buds that were bulging in preparation for spring. A knot of twigs sat in the crook of two branches, a bird’s nest. I wondered if a bird would be laying eggs in it this summer. I wondered if I would be here to see it after I graduated.

I turned to thank Kent again but learned he’d left me.

Ah, well that was probably for the better. I stashed my suitcase in the closet and texted my best friend, Ransom.

This place is insane. Come over and stay with me. It’ll be great.

I gave her the address, told her to get over here ASAP and tucked my phone back in my pocket. During school breaks, I would usually go home and let Mom fuss over me. She’d cook enough food to feed at least eight people and we’d sit in the kitchen and gorge ourselves for hours, filling each other in on the highlights of our lives while we’d been apart. Then, being wiped out from the trip home and the stress of school, I would sleep almost twenty-four hours before getting up and meeting Ransom at one of our fave hangouts.

But this time Mom wasn’t around to cook. Or to listen to my stories about frat parties and exams. The clubs and restaurants where my friends hung out were over an hour away.

Ugh. What was I going to do all week?

I checked my phone. No response from Ransom yet. She had to stay with me. Or I would go crazy with boredom. Absolutely crazy.

Heck, I was going crazy already.

Now what?

I snooped around my new room, checking out the walk-in closet, with its many empty drawers and hanging bars and nooks for shoes. I made use of the luxurious attached four-piece bathroom with walk-in glass shower stall and oversized bathtub. There were all kinds of toiletries in the bathroom. Towels and washcloths, sheets and blankets and extra pillows for the bed. But nowhere did I find a single thing that belonged to me.

This was not my room; it was a room. A very nice room. On loan to me.

After fixing my hair and makeup, changing my clothes into something cute, I ventured out of my borrowed room. By now my stomach was grumbly. I was over the shock of having a beautiful stepbrother. I needed food.

The kitchen, I discovered, was not empty.

I saw her first, the woman. She was barefoot with long, slender legs, and a short, short skirt. She was leaning into Kent, a stemmed glass hanging from one perfectly-groomed hand. Kent’s hands, in contrast, were cupped over her tits. His nose was nestled in the crook of her neck.

Well, hello. Don’t let me interrupt.

I couldn’t help staring at the scene of seduction playing out before me. The woman’s eyes were slitted, her lips curled into a ghost of a smile. Through the heavy silence I heard the sounds of labored breathing, the woman’s soft moans of pleasure.

How far would this go if I didn’t say anything to interrupt?

My heart started pounding as Kent shoved the woman’s top out of the way and uncovered her round breasts. He bent lower, flicking his tongue over one nipple, and little spikes of heat pierced me between my legs. It was like watching a live porno. But better.

No, not better! What was I thinking? If my new step brother caught me standing here, watching, I would die from humiliation. I needed to get out of here. Now.

I turned a one-eighty and rushed from the room. I swear I didn’t take a breath until I was safe in my bedroom, the door shut.

Wow, wasn’t expecting that.

My phone chimed. Finally, Ransom had responded.

Can’t get out there until tomorrow. Sorry.

Sorry. Ransom was sorry.

But I was sorrier.

My stomach reminded me it wanted food.


I was so not going into that kitchen again.

But if I didn’t get something from the kitchen, that meant I needed money to go buy something to eat. Ugh. I checked my wallet. I found a five and a couple of ones. Not enough to buy much, unless I wanted to visit the golden arches.

Well, that was better than nothing.

I skittered through the house and out the front door. If Ransom couldn’t come until tomorrow, I’d have to find something to keep me busy for the rest of the day. I didn’t want to be alone in this place with that going on.

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