In this explosive novel from bestselling author Jen McLaughlin, a good girl falls for the ultimate bad boy: her stepbrother. Perfect for fans of Sabrina Paige, Caitlin Daire, and Krista Lakes, Bad Romance proves that passion can be so wrong it’s right.
Seven years in the army will change a guy. But after a shoulder wound ends his career as a sniper, Jackson Worthington finds himself back home, fighting a battle that’s all too familiar: keeping his hands off Lily Hastings. She’s still her rich daddy’s little angel, innocent, impossibly lovely, as squeaky-clean as Jackson is dirty. And she’s still his stepsister—forbidden but not forgotten, not after the soul-melting kiss that got him kicked out of the house at eighteen. He couldn’t resist her then. How the hell can he resist her now?
Lily is about to marry a man she doesn’t love, and commit to a high-stress job she hates, all to please the father who controls every waking moment of her life. On top of everything, her teenage crush is back, with a sleek, chiseled body and a trace of the rebellious boy whose lips sealed her fate. Jackson’s timing couldn’t be worse . . . or better. Because Lily’s all grown up, too. She’s aching for another taste. And for the first time, she’s ready to be a bad girl.
Though she lives in the mountains, she really wishes she was surrounded by a hot, sunny beach with crystal-clear water. She lives in Northeast Pennsylvania with her four kids, a husband, a schnauzer mutt, and three cats. Her goal is to write so many well-crafted romance books that even a non-romance reader will know her name.
“It feels nice,” I said, trying to smile. Her thin legs flexed as she moved her feet in the water, brushing her toes against mine. It wasn’t something we hadn’t done before. Soft touches like that. But tonight . . . it made me suck in a breath. I cleared my throat and tried to think of something, anything, to say. “I’m not even going to get to swim in it. Even if your dad refuses to admit it, I’m out of here for the army soon.”
“I know.” She sipped on her Coke, her gaze off in the distance. She looked . . . sad. Which inexplicably made me sad, like our emotions were tied together or some shit like that. Her small, delicate features looked flawless in the late-afternoon sun. For some reason, I couldn’t stop staring. I was going to miss her when I was gone, but that wouldn’t stop me from going. Nothing would. “I’m sorry he’s such a jerk to you. You deserve better.”
And that was why I liked Lilly; she was always on my side. She was the only one in this ridiculous family that cared about me. I lifted my own Coke and shrugged. “Whatever. I don’t care.”
“Yeah. You do.” She rested her hand on my thigh, and I tensed. I had board shorts on, so she didn’t touch skin, but still. It felt . . . intimate. And good. “I can see it in your eyes.”
No eighteen-year-old guy liked to hear his feelings showed in his eyes. So I scoffed. “Yeah, sure. Whatever.”
“It’s true,” she said a bit defensively.
No. It. Wasn’t.
I didn’t care about Walter, or his wife, or anyone but myself . . . and Lilly. She was the one exception. And I’d show her that, right here. Right now. Her hand was still on my thigh, so I covered it with mine. “The only person whose opinion matters to me in this house is sitting right next to me, and I mean it.”
She licked her lips and shifted closer. “I care about you very much, Jackson.”
“Yeah.” My heart sped up, and I smiled. “I know.”
A laugh escaped her, and she bumped me with her shoulder, her gaze focused on my lips. “Cocky much?”
“Yep.” The way she looked at me, as if she wanted nothing more than to see what it would feel like if I kissed her . . . well, there was only so much a guy like me could ignore. And I was leaving, and I wouldn’t see her again, and man, I wanted to find out what she tasted like so damn badly. Just one small, tiny, innocent kiss. That was all I wanted. No one would ever know.
Not even Walt. “Know what I see in your eyes?”
She parted those soft pink lips and stared at me as if I was some sort of god or something. It made me feel a little bit ill, but also as though I could rule the world, if I had her by my side. “What?”
“You want me to kiss you,” I said, some unknown, greedy man taking over my actions. I trailed my hand up her bare arm, leaving goosebumps in my wake.
“To be your first kiss. The one you remember for the rest of your life. To touch you.”
She trembled and licked her lips. “How did you . . . ?”
Curling my hand over her chin, I grinned. “Go ahead. If you’re brave enough to do it, to take what you want, kiss me. No one will ever know you kissed your stepbrother but us. It’ll be our little secret . . .”
I knew she wasn’t going to, no matter how much I might wish otherwise. It was why I left it up to her. I didn’t have qualms about it. Didn’t think it was wrong, or dirty, because she wasn’t my damn sister. But there was no way she had it in her to—
“You know what?” Crawling into my lap, facing me, straddling my thighs, she cupped my face and stared into my eyes. I got lost in hers, and some sinking suspicion told me that I was staring at the person I was meant to live the rest of my life with—which was crazy. “I know you think I’m too young, or too good, or too scared to do it . . . so I’ll prove you wrong. And guess what? You’re going to like it.”
And then she did it. She kissed me.
And she was right. I did like it.
Her soft, sweet lips closed over mine, and she tightened her grip on my cheeks. And, God help me, I finally found out what she tasted like. She smelled like vanilla, sunshine, and innocence, and she tasted like heaven. . . .
Moaning, I took over the kiss, pressing her perky, soft breasts against my chest and skimming my hands down her sides. When I gripped her ass and arched my erection up against her, she gasped, giving me access to her mouth. I took it. . . .
And then I took some more.
My tongue found hers, and she gripped my shoulders, digging her nails in as she pressed down against me, obviously wanting to feel my dick up against her core again.
And for the first time . . .
I thought I’d finally found a home.
Burying a hand in her hair, leaving the other on her sweet ass, I deepened the kiss, taking it to the next level. Warning bells went off in my head—this was getting too hot, too fast—but I ignored them, because she just felt way too fucking good. What had started off as a lighthearted flirtation backfired, because she was kissing me, and I didn’t want to stop. Having her in my arms made me feel as if I wasn’t alone.
As if we were meant to—
“Son of a bitch,” Walter growled from behind me.
I stiffened and broke off the kiss, my hand still on his daughter’s ass, and knew I’d fucked up. I’d forgotten to listen for anyone coming. “Shit.”
“Daddy, I—” Lilly started to say, scrambling to climb off me.
“Don’t talk to me. Go to your room immediately.”
Lilly gave me one long, panicked look, but did as told.
She always did.
“And you?” Walter grabbed me by the arms and yanked me to my feet. “How dare you defile my baby girl? Get out of this house, and don’t come back. You’re cut off. Not welcome here. Out of this family.”
I forced a careless grin, even though watching Lilly run from me was like watching my own heart leap out of my chest and sprint for the door. “It’s about damn time. I never wanted to be in it, anyway.”
Yanking free, I walked past the man I hated more than my own father. Walked right past my mother, and didn’t even look at Lilly, who stood paralyzed halfway up the stairs. If I looked at her, I’d waver. I’d want to stay, for her. And I couldn’t afford to do that. Not anymore. So I walked right out the door. . . .
And I didn’t look back.
Not even once.