Page 17 of My New Step-Dad

Flipping on my laptop, I bring up rental properties and start searching through them. It’s time to move on. I can’t keep chasing after things that are just running from me. I also don’t have to be like them. Lily’s right. I can start a new life, be different from my mother.

I print off a couple listings and take a shower. I get dressed in another sundress, this one light purple. I make quick work in the bathroom, deciding to leave my hair down today. When I’m ready, I go to my bedroom door and pray I don’t run into Bruce. I grab my purse and the list of properties and try to make a fast retreat from the condo, only to slam right into Lily.

“Sorry, Lily. Seems I can’t stop falling all over you today,” I mumble as I continue past her. I don’t know how much she heard this morning, but I really don’t want to relive it. She follows me into the entryway where I hit the elevator button. Damn, I should have explored this place better and found out where the stairs are. I would love to avoid this conversation I know Lily is about to make me have.

Suddenly, she snatches the papers out of my hand.

“What the hell?” I snap, trying to grab them from her. She shuffles through them before folding them and putting them under her arm. “Are you going to give those back?”

“No, you don’t need them.”

Her response is tart but clearly final. I remember the tone from when I was a child and she would watch me from time to time between nannies showing up.


“I don’t know how much you heard, but it’s clear he doesn’t want me here. It’s also clear that he’s only keeping me here because he feels he obliged because of my mother. I was an unwanted burden on her, and I won’t be an unwanted burden on someone else.”

The elevator dings, answering my silent prayers. I reach my hand out, indicating for her to give me my papers back, but she makes no move to. Whatever. I’ll get new ones somewhere.

“Keep them,” I say, stepping into the elevator, but she follows behind me.

“Lily, I don’t want to be rude, but I don’t want to talk about this, and I want to be alone right now.”

“He hates his job,” she says, ignoring what I said to her. “He’s different with you. Bruce Archer is losing control. I saw him pick you up and sit you on the counter. I couldn’t see your face but I saw his. Didn’t you see it?”

No, I didn’t. I closed my eyes and waited for him to kiss me, but I don’t say that out loud.

“He was right. I should find someone else. I want someone I’ll come first with. It was silly and naïve of me to think he’d want me. Hell, I saw the woman he was with the night I got here.”

“I’ve never seen him with a woman. You must—”

I cut her off. “It doesn’t matter.”

“I have to do everything around her, don’t I?” she huffs.

I have no idea what she’s talking about.

“Just don’t sign a lease or anything like that. Wait until the lawyer closes your mother’s estate. Just wait four days.”

I don’t respond to her because I’m not sure what she’s talking about.

The elevator stops on the third floor, and a boy about my age steps on. He nods at Lily before running his eyes over me. He’s cute, but I don’t feel the same spark I felt the first time I met Bruce. He’s tall, but everyone is taller than me. His light blond hair is a little shaggy, but it gives him a softer feel. Soft is nice. Maybe soft is what I should be looking for. His hazel eyes spark with amusement as he catches me looking him over.

“You must be new,” he says.

“She’s staying with Mr. Archer, Bryan. She’s new and doesn’t know anyone. You should show her around today.”

I feel my cheeks warm at Lily’s words.

A boyish smile spreads across Bryan’s face. “I’d love to…”

“Sophie,” I say, giving him my name.

“Sophie.” He rolls my name off his tongue, but it doesn’t give me the thrill like when Bruce does it. “Like I was saying, I’d love to show you around. I was just going to grab something to eat. Join me?”

“Okay,” I say. When the elevator dings, Bryan grabs my hand, pulling me out. Glancing over, I can’t help but see the knowing smirk on Lily’s face.

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