We will not fulfill any book request that does not come through the book request page or does not follow the rules of requesting books. NO EXCEPTIONS.

Comments are manually approved by us. Thus, if you don't see your comment immediately after leaving a comment, understand that it is held for moderation. There is no need to submit another comment. Even that will be put in the moderation queue.

Please avoid leaving disrespectful comments towards other users/readers. Those who use such cheap and derogatory language will have their comments deleted. Repeat offenders will be blocked from accessing this website (and its sister site). This instruction specifically applies to those who think they are too smart. Behave or be set aside!

Too Sweet: Chapter 1



Cars line the curbs on both sides of the street: everything from flashy Ferraris, all-out American muscle to a baby-pink Fiat and even a yellow school bus some senseless moron parked at the bottom of the driveway, blocking the way.

Kids swarm the street, booze in hands, not enough clothes on their backs, and way too loud.

More are coming, flocking, fucking crowds of them.

Half the college football team strut up the driveway in purple jerseys, cockier than cocky, their arms around young babes in bikinis or miniskirts. It’s sixty-five degrees outside, but cool evening air doesn’t stop them from flaunting their lean bodies.

I rock back and forth in the driver’s seat, looking through a narrow gap between the mass of bodies for any free space on my driveway.

There’s none.

It’s packed.

Twenty-odd cars are parked all over the place as if the valet for the evening parked them wearing a blindfold.

I inhale a deep breath, shift into reverse, and whirl around the kids, trying not to run anyone over, even though I really want to when a drunk prick steps into the middle of the street, his hands outstretched.

I have no choice but to stop.

Why did I agree to this again?

Instead of honking, I rev the engine. The deafening roar of the V8 startles a few babes, who break into infantile giggles, twirling their long, platinum locks around their fingers. Two even wink in my direction.

Don’t fucking bother.

“Shit! Get off the road, you idiot.” Someone yanks the kid off my spoiler. “You know who this is?” he says, his hushed voice still audible through my open windows. “Don’t piss him off, dude.”

At least they know.

Of course they fucking know.

Everyone knows whose garden they’re raiding tonight.

They step aside, and I release the brake, reversing further down the street. Anger warms my chest until I’m talking myself out of reaching into the glove box for a pack of smokes. I quit four weeks ago—the seventeenth attempt during the last three years—but I ponder lighting one up twenty times a day.

Five minutes later, after leaving my shiny toy way too far from my house, I’m back on the driveway.

It cleared a bit.

Not of cars, though.

Fewer kids linger out the front, most in the garden by now, where a new-age techno beat pumps through a dozen tall speakers, making my bones shake. It took my brothers and the DJ the entire afternoon to connect the sound system.

I jog up the concrete steps to the main door but halt halfway there, catching movement in my peripheral vision… a porn clip in the making. One of the football jocks rams his dick into a drunk brunette who’s spread-eagled on the hood of my brother’s Mustang. Boobs, barely covered by a skimpy bikini bra, threaten to bounce out every time the obnoxious asshole rams into her like a machine gun.

He’ll have a goddamn coronary if he keeps up that pace much longer.

I should tell them to get the hell out of there before they dent Cody’s car, but if I say a word, he will, too. And that will count as an excuse to make him bleed.

I’m on a tight schedule. No time to throw punches this evening. My fuse has been way too short since I quit smoking. It’s never long, but it’s been almost nonexistent lately.

Better not to get involved.

If Cody didn’t want his car serving as a fuck-bench for the night, he should’ve parked in the garage. Although, he probably pulled the short straw with Colt and Conor, who form two-thirds of the Holy Trinity: identical triplets.

The garage has five spaces, but I own three cars, so one of my brothers parks under the clouds. They don’t complain. They can’t. I let them move in with me the summer after they graduated high school, so they could spread their wings like teenagers should, away from our overprotective mother’s watchful eyes.

That was two years ago. They’re twenty now, and that sure makes me feel old. I still remember the day they were born. They’re turning twenty-one in a few months, but Mom still treats them like they’re five at most. Maybe because they came as a surprise nine years after my parents decided four sons were enough kids to have.

Or maybe because they’re wild.

I insert the key into the lock and take a deep breath to cool my jets before I turn it, rather proud I didn’t smoke.

Stick to the plan.

Fifteen minutes. In and out. Shower, change of clothes, then out again, away from the mayhem till it passes, and my garden will be mine again by tomorrow.

I push the door open, and I’m fuming again.

Last year, after the triplets threw their first Spring Break Inauguration party, I remodeled the ground floor. Not by choice. The damage their idiot friends caused forced my hand, so this year, I set hard rules.

The main one: don’t let anyone inside the house.

Looks like that’s too much to ask for because the door to the guest bathroom down the corridor stands wide open. Conor is there, leaning against the frame. A puzzled expression taints his features, and he’s cluelessly scratching his chin.

Colt’s taking two steps at a time, almost flying down the stairs with a travel-sized bottle of mouthwash, toothpaste, and a toothbrush in hands.

And then, I hear it… someone’s puking.

“What the fuck is going on?” I boom, halting Colt at the bottom step. “Why are you here?”

He shifts his weight from one foot to the other, an argh, fuck look crossing his face. “Sorry, bro,” he says, but there’s nothing apologetic about that sorry. “There’s been a small incident, and Mia—”

“You brought a drunk chick in here to puke?!” I toss the keys into a decorative bowl on the side table by the staircase. “This is the last party you’re hosting in my house. Get her the fuck out of here before I do.”

He lunges forward, clamping his jaw as he drops everything he held to the floor to free his hands. He grips a fistful of my shirt, shoving me toward the living room, his eyes narrowed, chest heaving. “She’s not drunk. She’s scared, so you better shut up and let us handle it.”

I glance at where he holds me, wrinkling the fabric. That’s the first time he dared to get in my face. I can’t decide if I’m proud he’s got the balls to threaten me or if I’m pissed off he’s got the nerve to touch me.

I think, most of all, I’m confused. “Scared? She’s puking because she’s scared?”

Colt nods, opening his fist before stepping away, his back arrow straight. “Just give us a few minutes to calm her down, alright?”

How scared does a girl need to be to throw up?

A few scenarios fill my mind. The anger stirring within me like a thunderstorm morphs into a full-blown tornado.

Maybe someone died: drowned in my pool, and the cops are on their way, led by my eldest brother, Shawn.

“What the hell happened? I swear, if you tell me someone died, you’ll be packing your shit in five minutes.”

“Died?” Colt’s eyebrows shoot up, and he snorts a derisive laugh. “Drama Queen much? No one died.”

“Then what got this puking chick scared?”

“Brandon forced her into his lap. She elbowed his face and broke his nose. Just get on with whatever you came here for. We’ll calm her down and get her out of here.”

I imagine a tall, overweight woman with a black belt in karate because there’s no way any other woman could take on Brandon Price. He’s a quarterback. Built like a true quarterback, too.

Relieved as I am that no one’s leaving the party in a body bag, I can’t draw a link between Brandon’s broken nose and the girl’s fear. She should be proud.

Colt’s gone before I ask any supporting questions, and I realize that I don’t give a fuck. My focus is on leaving the house as fast as possible without looking out the windows to assess the mayhem in my garden.

So that’s what I do. My phone rings when I’m halfway up the stairs. I slide my thumb across the screen, pressing it to my ear. “I need fifteen minutes, Theo.”

“Hurry up,” he yells, excited like a kid on Christmas Eve. “We’re on our way.”

Since Theo married Thalia, Logan knocked up Cassidy, and Shawn adopted Josh, we rarely catch up. Now that we finally planned a night away from the usual bullshit, I’m buzzing at the thought of spending the evening with my brothers.

It’s been too long.

I climb another flight of stairs to my bedroom. It spans the whole second floor of the six-bedroom house: my private bachelor pad with the largest bed money can buy, a showcase shower, and a stand-alone bathtub.

This space used to be a recording studio for some up-and-coming-never-made-it pop star, so it’s soundproof. I hardly take advantage of that fact because I don’t bring women home often but considering all the chicks my brothers fuck in their rooms one floor down, a soundproof bedroom is a blessing.

I hit the shower, then squeeze into a gray, long-sleeved t-shirt, pairing it with black jeans. A silver watch, bracelets, cologne, sneakers, then an AirPod in my left ear, my Spotify playlist soothing my mind on low volume.

My job—my life—is overly demanding. My thoughts rush at a hundred miles an hour, never stopping. Music is the only thing keeping me relatively sane. The only thing that keeps me grounded. Without it, I would’ve ended up in the looney bin years ago.

I force my hair into submission, raking my hand through it on my way downstairs. The second I exit the comfort of my soundproof bedroom, my temper flares, flashing bright red inside my head.

Someone’s playing my piano.

The two hundred grand Model C Steinway in the living room. The piano my mother bought, hoping I’d keep playing after I moved out of the family home ten years ago. She has seven sons, but to this day, she claims only I inherited her musical talent. The story has it I crawled onto her lap before I could walk, watching her fingers glide across the keyboard.

I call bullshit. It’s a tale my mother made up as a means of encouragement so I’d sit through those torturous lessons. I love the sound of a piano, but I hated playing, and when the time came to get my own house, I stopped.

Deep breaths, man. Calm down.

Yeah, as if that’ll work. Anger dances in my gut, stewing like a wasp trapped in a matchbox.

My mother and the older gentleman who tunes it once a year are the only two people allowed to touch my piano.

Normally, I’d unplug the sound system, scream my head off at the triplets and kick every kid out of the garden, but before I reach the stairs that’ll take me to the ground floor, the anger bubbling in my veins fades, leaving no trace.

A piano does that to me. It quietens my mind to the point where I don’t need an earphone, and this song could drag me out of the darkest place.

The melody flowing from downstairs overwhelms the new-age electro beat blasting in the garden, and “Fantasy” by Black Atlass playing in my ear.

Whoever is there, touching my fucking piano, is talented. Each note wraps itself around my tortured mind, soothing my frayed nerves. Whoever is there plays better than my mother, and I never thought that anyone, save for the songwriter, could play this song better.

Ten seconds later, I’m in the living room doorway, the AirPod in my hand. Cody sits at the foot of the corner sofa, toying with his cell phone, wearing nothing but yellow shorts, his chest bare. Dark sunglasses are pushed on top of his head, digging into the man bun Colt and Conor mock daily. He tucks the phone away when he sees me resting against the doorframe, my attention centered on the girl playing John Lennon’s “Imagine” of all songs.

“Hey, bro,” he whispers, crossing the room. “Sorry about this. Mia needed to calm down. Piano does the trick.”

Mia. The puking chick. Not a six-foot-tall karate champion. Far from it. She’s petite, her face hidden behind a curtain of dirty-blonde waves cascading down her waist.

Normally, that’d be my interest down the drain, but I can’t tear my eyes off her fingers gently skimming the keys, transitioning from one note to the next with effortless precision. A surge of liquid heat flooding my system eases the ever-present tension seizing my bunched muscles.

It’s almost fucking unnatural not to feel my ribs cinched around my lungs, not to hold my fists clenched, not to lock my jaw and grind my teeth.

My body gives into the calm melody, switching off the high-alert mode I’m always in, and I pull down a deep breath, filling my lungs with ease for a change.

She broke Brandon’s nose?” I ask, mimicking Cody’s hushed tone.

I don’t want to talk. I don’t want to disturb her, but I hope she’ll turn around. She doesn’t.

She doesn’t acknowledge me in any way, as if she hadn’t heard me… as if she’s alone with the piano.

“Yeah,” is all Cody says.

So helpful.

By the look of her, she’s five-foot-nothing and less than a hundred pounds, making the nose-breaking incident hard to comprehend. Snapping a bone requires strength. I’d know.

“How did she manage that?”

A proud smirk crosses Cody’s face as he turns to Mia, a warm glow in his eyes. The bitter stench of beer wafting in the air tells me he’s had a few, but he’s sober enough not to swoon. And yet, here he is, dangerously close to looking like a love-sick puppy. “We’re teaching her some self-defense moves. She’s getting good.”

Good? Great, if you ask me. Taking on Brandon Price is an accomplishment. Especially for a pocket-sized girl like Mia. Bragging rights earned until the end of college and every reunion going forward.

“Where’s Colt and Conor?” I ask, watching Mia’s hands flit down the keyboard. She wears at least a dozen gold rings, some low where they’re supposed to be, others higher, above the middle joint.

“They’re kicking Brandon out.”

As the song nears the end, I wait for Mia to turn around, but she morphs the melody into another: “Can’t Help Falling in Love” by Elvis Presley. A nagging curiosity burns me up from the inside out, leaving a smoke of question marks behind.

Who is she?

A pastel pink skirt she wears, sprawled over the stool, falls to her knees, and the white of her blouse peeks between her thick, wavy hair. I glance at the cream rug where she rests her feet, dressed in pink heels with little bows at the back.

Seriously, who is she?

She’s at a Spring Break party. Ninety percent of girls in attendance wear bikinis, and she’s dressed in pink.

Fucking pink.

“What did Brandon do to scare her?”

“He’s got a thing for Mia. She keeps shooting him down, so he’s growing impatient. He forced her onto his lap, and she elbowed his face.”

“Colt told me that much.” My voice is almost a whisper. “I’m asking what got her scared enough to throw up.”

“She always pukes when she’s scared.” He shrugs like it’s not a big deal. “She doesn’t do well with confrontation.” He looks at her, his voice back to normal level when he says, “I’ll get you a drink, okay? We should head out soon, Bug. Will you be okay to go back on stage?”

She must be one of the dancers hired for the party. It’d explain her pink skirt.

Cody grabs a bottle of wine from the drinks cabinet, pours half a glass, and tops it up with Sprite.

White wine spritzer at a Spring Break party?

Beer in red solo cups is what college kids got me used to. Mia might’ve soothed my agitation with music, but it’s back twice as strong. I can’t make a single assumption about her. It’s unsettling… the not knowing. Curiosity sprouts inside me like a magic bean, growing fast until I think I’ll crawl out of my fucking skin if I don’t see her face.

Turn around, Mia.

“Last one,” she utters quietly, the words like both a plea and a promise.

“Yesterday” by The Beatles reverberates through the living room. My skin breaks out in goosebumps as pleasant shivers slide down the length of my spine. She’s too young to convey the emotions as if she’s McCartney himself.

The melody is overcome when someone calls my cell. Mia doesn’t startle, doesn’t flinch, and doesn’t stop playing at the interruption. Nothing calms my fucked-up mind like piano music, and that’s probably why I remain rooted to the spot instead of taking the call out in the hallway.

“Rise and shine!” Theo booms. “You ready yet?”

No. I need to see this girl before I leave. “Five minutes.”

“Hurry up, bro. We don’t have all night! Logan’s got a two am curfew, so move your ass. We’re waiting outside.”

I cut the call, watching Cody cross the room with purpose, shoulders tense, eyes not veering from Mia. The newly acquired muscles on his back flex when he pumps his fists. It’s a nervous gesture. I know because I do the same fucking thing when I’m trying to compose myself.

He stops on Mia’s right, a step behind the stool: an oversized shadow ready to protect her. The melody fades. The room falls silent save for the techno beat blaring outside, and Mia slowly rises to her feet.

Too bad Cody’s blocking my line of sight.

Move, Cody.

I don’t know why I want to see her, but I do. I want to see the face behind the talent. The face responsible for Brandon’s humiliation. The face of a girl who wears heels with bows and pukes when she’s scared.

“Is Brandon still here?” she asks.

Cody wraps his arm around her, and the single click of her heel on the tiled floor tells me he pulled her closer.

That’s interesting.

My brothers don’t usually date, but his hold on Mia clearly shows she’s more than just another fuck. It’s in his stance—the protectiveness.

“Conor and Colt are trying to get rid of him. Don’t worry, even if he stays, I won’t let him anywhere near you, Bug.” He dips his head, and though I only see his back, I know he stamped a kiss on her hair. “Are you sure you’re okay?”

Move, Cody. Show me your girl.

As if he hears my screaming mind, he lets go of Mia to fetch the wine, and finally, finally, I see her.

She looks like a senior… in fucking high school. Her white off-shoulder blouse is tucked into that layered tulle skirt sitting two inches over her knees.

It’s modest.

It’s girly.

It reminds me of candy floss, but somehow, it’s inappropriate because my mind runs wild, imagining everything she’s not showing.

She stands thirty feet away, yet her large eyes are so green the color is unmistakable. Skin like honey, small nose slightly upturned at the end, and those lips… natural, I can tell. Heart-shaped, bee-stung, so full it borders on ridiculous.

No fillers.

No makeup, either. Nothing. No lipstick, lip gloss, eyeshadow, or other stuff women use.

A soft glow of pink brightens her cheeks when she looks past Cody. She toys with her rings, tugging and twisting when our eyes lock. I have the urge to say boo just to watch her flinch. She looks afraid of her own shadow but holds my gaze despite her cheeks growing hotter. It’s cute. I’m sure she’d rather let the ground swallow her whole.

“Hi.” A hint, barely a suggestion of a smile pulls at the corners of her pouty mouth before she bites her cheek to keep it in check. “Thank you for letting me finish.”

Words somehow fail me for the first time ever. I don’t know what to say… You’re welcome? No problem?

Nothing sounds right.

“You’re gorgeous,” comes out instead. I smirk internally when her lips part into an inaudible oh.

Cody’s head snaps to me, a hard edge to his narrowed eyes. Yeah, I might’ve crossed a line, but fuck if that’s not true.

Mia shakes off the initial shock, using both hands as she tucks dirty-blonde strands behind her ears. “Um, thank you.”

“Don’t thank me.”

She blushes harder, tugging her bracelets, and shifts her attention to Cody when he catches her hand, interlocking their fingers.

“You ready? Six is probably growing impatient.” He waits for Mia to nod. “Good. Say bye.”

“Bye,” she mouths, following it with an awkward wave.

Cody leads her out of the room, sending me a warning glare full of threats as if he’s afraid I’ll drag Mia upstairs to fuck the shyness out of her system.

He should know better.

I don’t waste time with college girls. Pretty and tight as they are, they’re too young and too clingy.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


not work with dark mode