Stepbrother Takes (His Twisted Game, Book Five)

By: Chloe Hawk

AVERY



It was unbearable.

I couldn’t take standing here at this stupid photo shoot, trying to pretend everything was okay.

I tapped my foot against the floor impatiently, counting the seconds until I could be alone with Cole again.

Why? So you can ask him why he never mentioned he was engaged to Lucy Caro, ask him what she has to do with the man who followed you, with whatever secrets he’s hiding? He’s not going to tell you anything, and you know it.

Could it really be a coincidence that Jeffrey had mentioned Lucy to me just an hour before she showed up at Cole’s photo shoot? Had Cole requested her to be the model for his ad? And how else was Lucy involved with Cole? There was no way Jeffrey would have mentioned her if she was just someone Cole had been involved with romantically. There had to be more to it than that.

I blinked away the tears threatening to spill down my cheeks.

Every one of my nerves was on high alert, my body so tightly wound I felt like I was going to jump out of my skin.

Kalia glared at me, shaking her head at the sound of my foot tapping on the hardwood floor. “Can you stop that?” she asked. “The photographer needs to concentrate.”

I wasn’t in the mood to put up with her attitude. But before I could come up with a bratty reply, Cole came walking out of the dressing room, knocking the breath right out of me.

He was wearing a pair of dark wash jeans that hugged his tight ass and muscular thighs. A black t-shirt under a dark grey leather jacket set off his broad shoulders and his hair had been slicked back. His eyes burned bright blue, and there was just a hint of stubble on his cheeks, giving him an air of mystery and danger.

“Okay,” the photographer said. “Let’s get started with the shots of the two of you, then we’ll let Lucy go and we’ll shoot Cole’s solos.”

From what I could tell, the photo shoot was part of the mega advertising blitz for Cole’s dating app. The app was a mix between Tinder and Facebook – it would show you people in your immediate area who were looking to date, but they were all friends of friends, so there was at least a little bit of a vetting process.

The premise of the spot they were shooting was that Cole, the founder, actually used the app himself and Lucy was the girl he met.

All of this information had been relayed to me by Kalia as soon as I came out of the bathroom. I couldn’t believe I’d been able to retain any of it.

Lucy took her place with Cole behind the white backdrop.

“Any instructions?’ she asked as a makeup assistant adjusted her hair around her shoulders so that it looked perfectly tousled.

“Just go with it,” the photographer said. “We’re looking for playful, yet sexy.”

“That won’t be hard,” Lucy said. “Will it, Cole?” She laughed and pushed her back into his chest as he slid his arms around her waist. The photographer began snapping away.

Cole was tall and broad-shouldered, dwarfing Lucy, even though she must have been at least five-foot ten. They looked perfect together, so naturally beautiful. This was the kind of girl Cole should be with – gorgeous and successful and confident. Not someone like me, who had nothing figured out and nothing to offer.

Stop, Avery, I told myself. It’s just acting. They’re in a photo shoot together. It’s pretend. She’s a model. She said herself that they’re not together anymore.

It was true. Actors did this kind of thing all the time, even kissing and shooting sex scenes with each other.

But still. Cole wasn’t really playing a role. He was playing himself. And Lucy was playing his girlfriend, and the fact that the two of them had a history I knew nothing about made it that much worse.

Lucy was leaning into Cole now, tilting her head up to look at him as his hands encircled her tiny waist.

“Whisper something in her ear, Cole,” the photographer instructed.

Cole whispered something to Lucy and she laughed hard, throwing her head back like it was the funniest thing she’d ever heard. A hint of a smile tugged at Cole’s lips, like he was pleased with himself for having made her laugh.

I looked away, because it was making me slightly nauseous, seeing the two of them like that.

Kalia was standing next to me, and I saw the same look on her face – she was jealous too.

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