Title: Everything I Shouldn't (Nashville Nights #2)
Author: Stacey Mosteller
Release Date: May 20, 2014
Cover Design by Ashley at Ashbee Designs (http://www.ashbeedesigns.com)
Cover Models – Kathy Riddle Hodge & Brandon Lowman
Photographer – Kathy Riddle Hodge & Ted Alley
I didn’t plan on David getting suspicious, and I definitely didn’t plan on getting caught. My selfishness has cost Jeremy everything, my brother won’t even look at me, Lyric must hate me for practically blackmailing her to keep silent and my best friend is barely speaking to me.
Now my life is full of secrets and lies. The people around me have been affected by the choices I’ve made and the lies I’ve told. But what will they do when they discover the biggest secret of them all?
Jeremy is everything I shouldn't want, and the person I can't live without.
My dad was always busy, and while, my brother David loved me, Jeremy was the one who kissed my knee when I fell off my bike, the one who taught me how to climb a tree, all the things my brother - who even as a teenager was over-protective of me - didn't want me to do.
He never grouched about having to watch me like David did, he was always willing to play games with me and include me in whatever he and my brother were doing. I was heartbroken when David went away to college, but the fact that Jeremy was gone too devastated me in a way that not even losing my parents did. All of a sudden I was alone. They both kept in touch after they left for school, at least at first. The phone call came every few days for months, but gradually became only once a month or less, especially after David came back for Christmas and argued with our dad.
After that, the only time David would call was when he knew Dad was gone. Then, when our parents died and everything fell apart; Jeremy was there to comfort me, to hug me, to dry my tears. That doesn't mean that my brother wasn't there, because he was. He was just stuck being the grown-up. David had to deal with funeral arrangements, lawyers, wills, the court and our grandparents.
Once Jeremy and David moved back home, David became more of a parent than a brother, and Jeremy made every attempt to fill that role. Unfortunately, my feelings for Jeremy were never that simple. The fact that he became as over-protective now as my brother is did nothing to discourage my growing infatuation with him. Up until recently though, Jeremy never gave any indication that he saw me as anything other than David's little sister. I’ve been chasing after Jeremy since about a month after my brother moved back and brought him with him.
We spent a lot of time together because he was trying to distract me from the life I was thrust into, taking me to the movies, hanging out, helping with homework… all the stuff that brothers do with little sisters. It didn’t take long for hero worship to turn romantic. But looking back, it’s clear I wasn’t the only one with a secret. At the time, I thought that the reason my brother didn’t react the same way Jeremy did when I really started dating was because he was so preoccupied with getting his business off the ground and raising me.
Now, I can see that the reason Jeremy always did his best to scare away any guy I brought around was because he was jealous. I imagined that convincing Jeremy to give me a chance, to really look at me like a woman, instead of his best friend’s baby sister would be impossible. But just when I thought I should give up, he kissed me. We continued our relationship in secret because I was afraid of what David would say and how he would react. It didn’t take much to convince him to keep it a secret, even though I know it bothered him to not be able to tell him. I finally got everything I wanted, but I fucked it up royally.
I lied to my brother, my best friend, even Jeremy. I was so concerned with what I wanted that I didn’t give anyone else a thought. Jeremy wanted me and maybe even fell in love with me, but now, everything I had, all the people who loved me; none of them are here. It’s all so completely screwed up, and I have no idea where to start fixing anything. Jeremy's friendship with David is ruined, my brother broke up with Lyric, Olivia won't even speak to me.
I'm completely alone for the first time. I have so much to make up for. I’m the hateful bitch who destroyed a friendship, made someone who could have been a friend lie to my brother, and I kept secrets and lied to my best friend’s face. I have no idea how to even begin to make things right, but I know I have to try.
Jeremy I fucking knew this thing with her would blow up in our faces. I should have known better, but instead, I went for it. It’s always been SarahBeth for me, always. And not in a dirty old man way, don’t call Chris Hansen and To Catch A Predator because it’s not like that. When it started, I was jealous of David. He had a dad and a mom, which was already something I didn’t have, and then came SarahBeth. She was this tiny little thing with big eyes and curly blonde hair, I swear to God, she looked like an angel the first time David showed her to me.
He was disgusted and pissed because she was crying all the time and taking all the attention. Meanwhile, I would have given anything to have the life he had. As she got older, she worshipped her brother, and me by association. Following us around, trying to imitate us and running after us on her short little legs. By the time she was old enough to chase us, we were thinking about cars and tits not little sisters, and she drove David crazy. He’d get impatient and yell and she would cry. Big, fat tears that broke my heart, even back then.
We grew up, moved out and then moved on, leaving SB behind us. At least for a while. Then, the unthinkable happened. That night, it almost broke David. I think it did in some ways, but SarahBeth? Man, it destroyed her. In the blink of an eye she lost her parents. In a way, she gained a new parent in David because he took the “guardian” title to a whole new level.
In fact, and it makes me feel like an asshole to say it, but I think Dave may have been more her father than her actual dad was. When we moved back, David spent a lot of his time building his business. It was easier for me in a way because I just had to get hired. David built his job from the ground up, which took up the majority of his time, leaving me to entertain SarahBeth.
We got extremely close during that time. I knew she had a crush on me, but I thought it was more hero worship than true romantic feelings. I was wrong. The older Sarah got, the more beautiful she became. Gone was the tiny tomboy who wanted to follow us everywhere, and in her place was a beautiful woman. The more time I spent with her, the more I started noticing things about her; the smell of her hair, how soft her skin was. The more I noticed, the more I tried to stay away.
The sister of my best friend shouldn’t be the girl I can’t stop thinking about. I did everything I could to distance myself from her, making excuses when she asked me to take her places, showing up with a date when I knew she would be there, even though I knew it would hurt her.
The lengths I went to were atrocious and shameful, but I was trying to avoid this situation. Instead of thinking of her like a sister, I was thinking of her as someone I wanted to own. She became the girl I wanted to claim, to make sure everyone knew she was mine.
Finally giving in and taking her should have brought relief, but instead all it brought was more stress and in the end more heartache. I’m old enough to know better. Hiding things never works, secrets always come out. I wanted her more than I wanted his friendship, and look where it got me. He hates me, she’s devastated, and everything is completely fucked up.
I have to make things better; I need to fix this. Fixing my friendship with Dave and deserving SarahBeth is the only thing that matters to me now. He has to understand that hiding our relationship wasn’t to hurt him; we weren’t trying to deceive him. We were only trying to figure out how to tell him.
David discovered us before we were ready, before we could figure out what to say to him. We should have just been honest from the beginning. If I had just gone to him before, explained that I do love her, that I will be good to her, maybe he would have given his blessing. At least then, we would know.
David’s reaction might have surprised us. Instead, I let the fear of losing his friendship, of no longer being like brothers color my reactions and influence my decisions. I’m done being afraid; I’m done hiding. Making him understand just how much I want to be with her, that she is it for me has become my top priority. Now I just have to figure out how to get him to talk to me without him kicking my ass.
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