“Your brother is gorgeous as usual, Lucy,” Ava said to her friend and sighed at the same time.

“Which one of them?” Lucy asked.

“Matt, of course. You know exactly what man is the centre of my universe. I think I’m in love,” Ava had to admit as she stared longingly after the man that had been the focal point of her girlish infatuations for as long as she could remember.

The fair-haired man was oozing charm and attracting every woman in sight to stare at his handsome face. But Matt had always treated her like a younger sister, teasing and making light conversation the way he often did.

It was impossible not to like him, and his boyish good looks only added to the appeal. He made everyone around him feel happy, and Ava adored that quality in him.

It was so reviving to be in the vicinity of someone that felt like a warm sunny day when he turned his attention to you. Unfortunately, she was not the only one that begged for that attention.

Lucy laughed.

“Matt is his usual charming self. No change there.”

“He’s perfect.”

“You’re not the only one that thinks that.”

“I know,” Ava said while she watched the group of women standing close to her dream prince.

He seemed to bear the attention only too well. He was probably used to it, the way women seemed to be drawn to him like he was a magnet of some sort.

“I have another brother, you know,” Lucy said cheekily.

“Where? I haven’t seen Damon all day. Has he gone into hiding?”

“No, he promised to stay all through the weekend. It’s not every day his favourite sister turns 25, you know.”

“I’m still surprised your parents allowed you to invite all your friends to their summer house,” Ava said.

“That’s why my brothers are here. To act as alibis and making sure that we don’t tear the place down,” Lucy said and laughed.

They had been best friend for many years, and after sharing an apartment they had become even closer. She knew Lucy was happy to be back home with her parents but celebrating her birthday with a large group of friends was even better.

The summer house was a typical detached house situated along the shoreline. Lucy’s parents were well off, and they had several homes around the world. They didn’t use them much, but they had spent several summer holidays in this house when they were younger.

There was a large living room in the middle of the house, and on each wing there was a long hallway leading to several bedrooms. Now that the place was packed, people were cramped together. Ava had been placed in Lucy’s room, along with another girl. Still, it was worthwhile to sleep on the floor for a few days.

She wouldn’t have missed this weekend for the world. If only she could get close to Matt, the weekend would be perfect.

“Well, we’re 25, not 5. No need to worry,” Ava concluded.

“Just wait until you see how much alcohol I’ve brought,” Lucy said with a laugh. “And you’re helping me taste them all.”

“Not a chance. I want a man, not a drink,” Ava said easily.

“Why not both?” Lucy suggested. “With your looks, hon, you can pick anyone you want,” Lucy said as she brushed Ava’s long brownish hair away from her shoulder.

“Both sounds even better,” Ava said and grabbed her friend’s arm so they could join the rest of the party.



A few hours later, the party was well underway. Everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves, and Ava could hear lots of people talking and laughing in between the music. At the other end of the living room, some people had even started dancing.

They had to move several large sofas to create the space, but it seemed to be very successful, allowing the people that attended dancing classes to show off their technique. Ava was not one of them, and she had briefly considered accepting a proposal until she realised they were dancing salsa.

That was way beyond her abilities, so she had reluctantly turned down the man’s offer and asked if he could invite her when next there was a slow one instead. That was more suitable for her dancing skills. Besides, if she ever tried dancing salsa, she would probably cause more damage to the people around her than to herself.

Lucy was enjoying her party and dancing elegantly with the man Ava had turned down. She would not see more of him this evening, judging by how well he got on with Lucy. Oh well, Lucy was her best friend and she deserved to enjoy her birthday party.

“Ava. Come and dance with us,” Lucy shouted and waved at her to come closer.

Ava just shook her head and lifted her glass to indicate she was happy where she was. It was not a great loss. Ava only had eyes for one man, and Matt hadn’t noticed she was here. She sipped her drink and looked around for his fair hair and listened for his laughter. It was easy to spot him, or at least the crowd that surrounded him.

She hadn’t got any chance to talk to him yet, but that was no surprise. He was constantly bombarded with female attention, and this party was no exception. Matt was his usual self. She wondered how she could ever get close to Matt and talk to him? Maybe it would have been easier if she tried during one of their family dinners that she sometimes attended.

Still, to start flirting with a man in front of his parents didn’t feel right. Ava was not that outgoing that she felt comfortable doing something like that. She did have some experience with men, but it was usually they that took the initiative. In Matt’s case, he didn’t need to make any effort. The women seemed to throw themselves at him, so he only needed to catch the ones he wanted.

If she was smart, she would have admitted defeat a long time ago and moved on. Trying to find another man to fall in love with. It would be much easier. She allowed her eyes to search through the crowd, trying to picture herself in the arms of any of the other men. No, there was no reaction in her body to any of them. Too bad.

Several of them were friendly and good-looking, but compared to Matt, they could never compete. She had talked to several of them during the day and particularly to his good friend Peter. He was a good man and she enjoyed his company, but he could never be anything more than just a friend.

She had seen in his eyes that he had wanted more, but luckily he had never pushed the issue. She was grateful for that. It always felt terrible when she had to turn someone down. It was easier to make it evident that they were only friends and hope that the man took the hint.

She emptied her glass before grabbing a few empty bottles from the nearest table and carried them into the kitchen. With so many people around, it would take some effort to clean up after them. Which made it preferable to tidy during the party instead of postponing it all until the morning after.

After all, she had volunteered to help Lucy with the tidying after the weekend, and she doubted that there would be many others that would volunteer.

As she walked into the kitchen, she saw the broad back of Lucy’s elusive older brother, Damon. He was just as handsome as Matt, but he was a more masculine version of his younger brother. He was dark-haired with a taller and broader body compared to Matt. Based on looks alone, Damon had the upper hand, but in personality, they were complete opposites.

Matt was outgoing and friendly while Damon was silent and controlled, barking out orders and expecting them to be fulfilled at every turn. He had a presence that made everyone aware of him and most people quickly realised that he was the last person you wanted to come up against.

He could be charming when he wanted, and Ava had always been amazed about the transformation in his face when he smiled. Still, when placed beside Matt, everyone’s attention turned to the younger, more easy-going brother. At least they did in a party setting like this.

Ava had never got to know Damon well. She had been friends with his younger sister since they were kids, but since he was six years older than Lucy, he had always acted the mature, conservative type that scowled and reprimanded them whenever they did something stupid. In the absence of their parents, he was the father figure and the natural leader just like any other older sibling.

Lucy loved to tease him while Ava had always thought he was a bit scary and too grown-up to make fun of. Still, as she grew older, she had become more appreciative of his qualities and the calm that seems to emerge just knowing he was around and took charge.

It was no wonder he had built his own company and seemed quite successful about it. She could easily imagine his staff running around like minions whenever he gave an order. The man was so controlled that he probably needed to chill out more.

According to Lucy, he was more bark than bite, so she felt an inevitable need to nudge him a little and see if she could bring forth a smile on his face.

“So this is where you’re hiding, Damon?” Ava asked cheekily as she looked at Damon’s shirt-clad chest.

His expensive clothes didn’t quite fit into the kitchen duty, and she noticed that he had unbuttoned the upper three buttons in his shirt, revealing some tanned skin and a muscled chest.

Hmm, nice, she thought. No wonder he’s hiding out here. He was probably trying to avoid the more ambitious women that wanted a share of his wealth and his masculine body.

“Someone has to make sure people are fed,” he said. “Lucy could at least have included a few staff-members as well if she had bothered thinking.”

“Why do that when she has brothers? Hah, just admit that you’re hiding from the single women. No, wonder. You do look nice and yummy today,” she said teasingly.

He snorted. “What do you want?”

“Hey. At least I’m doing my share,” Ava said while she placed the empty bottles in the box.

“Fine. Just spread the word to the other lazy bastards. I have more important things to do than clean up after a bunch of featherbrained butterflies.”

“I thought you were here to celebrate Lucy’s birthday?”

“Some of us actually work for a living instead of sucking up to parents and posting nude pictures on YouTube,” he said and gave her a hard look.

She knew he had recognised some of the local celebrities that desperately tried to make a name for themselves by undressing in front of a camera.

“Ah, I guess you’ve seen the guest list?”

“Parasites,” he said harshly.

“Lucy invited them, so she likes them well enough.”

“Some people need to get a decent job and start living in the real world.”

“I will do that as soon as I get a job,” Ava retorted.

“And when is that? After you’ve spent the allowance your parents gave you? Or are you going to be a party-girl like some of those lazy friends of yours?”

Damon was always challenging Lucy and Ava to do something more than just live on their parents. Ava knew he meant well, but it could sometime come off as rough and annoying. Like now.

“Damon, relax. This is just a party weekend, so you don’t have to nag on me before Monday.”

“Well, someone needs to kick you in the butt once in a while.”

“Have you forgotten that I’ve just finished my studies? I will find a job, but I don’t have to starve while I do that.”

“Don’t tell me you’ve found a nice sugar daddy to buy jewellery for you?” he asked suspiciously.

“A sugar daddy?” Ava laughed heartily. “Why, Damon? You have a dirtier mind than I suspected,” she added cheekily.

He just lifted his eyebrows and challenged her to answer him. His arms folding in front of his muscled chest, making him seem even larger than before. She wanted to just bow her head and escape his scrutiny. He seemed to see right through her and see all her weaknesses.

She lifted her chin and looked him straight in the eye. She wasn’t a little misbehaving girl anymore, and she was not going to bend to his bullying.

“Absolutely not, Damon. I want a handsome man, not an ugly one that needs to pay for his pleasure.”

She shuddered as she pictured herself in bed with a man thirty years older than herself. Nope, never going to happen.

“Then you’re barking up the wrong tree. Matt won’t inherit until he’s 30.”

“Oh, I don’t care about his money. There are more basic needs that take priority and must be fulfilled first.”

She grinned at him and gave him a wink. She had never talked like this to him before. It had to be the alcohol that gave her the added confidence to tease him and wait for him to react.

“So good looks is the most important feature in a man?” he asked icily.

“No, I didn’t say that. I was using another part of my body when I came to that conclusion.”

He carefully studied her body, letting his eyes rest on her breasts for a moment too long. She could feel her heart rate jump as he seemed to judge her the same way he would judge a racehorse before he started bidding for it. Ooh my, she thought. Where had that idea come from?

She had better stop at once and rein in her stupid thoughts. This was Damon, the parent-substitute. Always treating her like a silly child instead of the grown woman that she had become.

“Don’t forget to use your brain when choosing a man, Ava.”

“I’m not a teenager, Damon.”

“I know that. But you can still do stupid mistakes that cannot be undone.”

“Yes, yes, Damon. I’m behaving. Just watch me.”

Ava grinned at him, feeling the buzz from the alcohol reduce her nerves in front of his stern look.

“You should take care, Ava. Matt’s attention seems to go in another direction,” he said.

“Thanks, Sherlock. My eyesight must be declining since I didn’t notice that. I don’t care. He will come around once he’s ready to settle down.”

“He will never make you happy, Ava. You’re too different. You should look elsewhere.”

“Oh, should I?”


“Sure. I can always go to a bar and pick up a new hotshot every weekend. But no, not my style. Besides, some of those hotshots are probably just lousy in bed.”

“Practise makes perfect, they say.”

“So does STD’s.” She giggled loudly.

“Just be careful,” he said and gave her a stern look.

That sobered her.

“About what?

“Too much alcohol can lead you to a pity fuck instead of the one you want.”

“You’re not my brother, Damon. I’ll do what I want.”

“I can still put you over my knee if you do something stupid,” he said in a voice that sounded like a warning.

She retreated a few steps and laughed at his words. She lifted her finger and waved it in front of him as if to say ‘No’.

“Ha! You will never dare to do such a thing, Damon, so it’s no use giving empty threats.”

“Just keep that in mind, and we won’t have to find out what I dare or not.”

“Huh,” she said and turned to walk away from him.

“What sort of job are you looking for?” he suddenly asked.

“A normal job with a paycheck once a month. I’m not turning to striptease or sugar daddies yet,” Ava said.

“Give me a call before you become desperate.”

“What for?”

“I might be able to help.”

“With a decent job or offering something else?” she flung at him.

He stared at her as if he was contemplating how much she could handle.

“A job. A normal job where you can work your ass off for little money.”

“Doesn’t sound very tempting. Maybe I prefer the sugar daddy, after all.”

“It’s the reality, and it’s about time you face it instead of acting like a pampered princess.”

“No, thanks, Damon. Don’t wait up for my phone call,” Ava said while she grabbed the nearest plate with food and started carrying it into the dining room.

“It’s better than selling your body.”

“I wasn’t planning to do that.”

“You might reconsider when you need the money,” she thought she heard Damon say behind her.

“Never,” she said haughtily.

“Ava?” He raised his voice slightly. She stopped and turned around. “Can you promise to call me before you do something stupid?”

“I’ll think about it,” she said as she left him.

As Ava returned to the party, she walked over to Lucy.

“How come one of your brothers got all the charm, and the other didn’t get any?” she asked her friend.

“Have you spoken to Damon?” She laughed. “What did he say this time?”

“He threatened to spank me and offered me a job.”

“Nice. You should accept both.”

“Yes, as if I’ve always wanted to know what a good spanking feels like. I don’t think so.”

“Why would he offer that?”

“I got a lecture on STD as well. And alcohol.”

“Don’t worry. It’s Damon’s way of saying that he cares.”

“Yes, he’s probably adopted me as a kid sister by the sound of it.”

“Oh, I wouldn’t be too sure about that. What kind of job? Anything interesting?”

“Desk job, I guess. He mentioned low pay and plenty to do.”

“Still, it’s easier to land a job if you already have one. But he didn’t offer anything more interesting?”

“Nope. Only warned me away from sugar daddies. He takes immense pleasure in insulting other people.”

“No, he usually doesn’t care enough to do that. I think he likes you.”

“I don’t think so. He turned almost sickly green when I mentioned getting a job as a stripper.”

Lucy laughed. “Oh boy, I wish I could have seen that. But there might be another reason why he didn’t like that idea, you know.”

“I know. But those things require plastic surgery, and I need a job to earn that sort of money.”

“No, I think he wanted a private show.”

“Excellent. Easy money, here I come,” Ava said ironically as she grabbed her friend’s arm and pulled toward the rest of the party. “Come along. I think I need another drink after the thought of undressing in front of Damon. He would probably laugh his head off if I did.”

“Let’s get one of those umbrella drinks first,” Lucy said.



“I didn’t know you were into BDSM, Damon?” Lucy said as she entered the kitchen a while later.


“Ava wasn’t exalted by your charm, you can safely say.”

“Charm can only get you so far.”

“Matt seems to be doing all right.”

“Yes, I’ve noticed,” Damon said and concentrated on putting away the clean dishes.

“It might work better if you tried to charm her instead of threatening to spank her.”

Damon just gave his sister a stern look before he continued on his task.

“Stay out of this, Lucy.”

“And let you make a mess of it all?”

“That’s my decision.”

“No wonder you’re single, Damon. Most women prefer to be wooed, not spanked.”

“It was a bit of friendly advice, that’s all.”

Lucy laughed.

“Nice try, bro. I’ve never had any of my male friends offer to spank me before. Unless they wanted something else entirely.”

Damon ignored her.

“All right. Have it your way. Let’s just hope that it won’t take too many years before her attention turns from Matt to you.”

“Forget it, Lucy. She’s not interested anyway.”

“You have to make a bigger effort then, so she knows you’re interested. Right now, she doesn’t even know about it.”

She could see that her brother seemed to understand that. The stubborn fool. With his pace, he would never get anywhere. Maybe it was time to give them both a little push in the right direction, Lucy thought.