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Tease Me: A brothers best friend romance (Family Ties Series - Book 1) by Scarlet Ellis (1)

1

Mandy

My mom puts a cup of coffee on the table in front of me, but I barely acknowledge her. I can’t take my eyes off of the tv. I notice when I glance towards her that she also can’t take her eyes off of the tv either and she sits down slowly on the couch next to me.

“What’s happening? Did I miss anything?

“No mom, they are still drawn. If they don’t do something really soon, then I don’t think they have a chance,”

You see, my brother Noah is a professional football player and I never miss a game if I can help it. I try and go to watch the games as much as I can, but I have to work at the bar today, and there isn’t time for me to get back in time. So I’ve no choice but to watch it on t.v. today.

It’s not just Noah playing today, but his best friend Lucas also plays for the same team too. It’s funny how things turned out really. My brother and Lucas were inseparable as kids, I can’t say that I can remember a time when Lucas wasn’t an extended part of our family. He was always at our house, and he and Noah were usually to be found causing absolute mayhem somewhere. They are a few years older than me, and I always remember looking up to them when I was little, just wishing I could join in their boisterous games.

Lucas’s own family life sucked. His father left his mother when he was only eight and never bothered contacting him ever again. Then, to make things worse, his mom was always really poorly which I think was why he spent so much time at our house. His mom passed away just before his college graduation, and so he kind of became an adopted member of our family.

Despite his life being kinda shitty, he never asked for or wanted pity. I always admired how he just got on with life, and since he was virtually a permanent fixture in our life anyway, my mom took him under her wing like he was one of her own.

Both Noah and Lucas were mad football players, and both got selected to play pro by a football scout while playing in the same game. They couldn’t believe it, and the rest is history really. The media love them and sometimes call them the ‘dream team’ because everyone knows they come as a pair and that as true on the field as it is in real life.

None of this stops me being utterly irritated by Lucas though. Seriously, he annoys the hell out of me. He always teased me mercilessly when I was a teenager, and we used to bicker constantly. We still do if I’m honest. I used to tell him he’s a loser and that my brother should get a better friend and if he ever argued with me, I’d argue back harder not wanting to let a boy get the better of me. Especially not Lucas.

But there is one teeny tiny problem with all of this. Lucas is hot. Like...really hot. Like...muscle rippling, blue-eyed giant hunk of a man hot.

I can’t remember when I started noticing him…you know what I mean, like, really noticing him. For example on hot summer days when Lucas and my brother would be shooting hoops out front with their shirts off, and I’d take them cold beers. I didn’t want to acknowledge to myself that it wasn’t really just because I was trying to be nice. It was purely just so I could get a glimpse of Lucas’s body. I couldn’t get enough of seeing his abs bathed in sweat which beaded down his muscular torso, making him shiny and glistening in the heat of the afternoon. I never wanted to lick the sweat off of a man so badly.

Even when he teases me, secretly I mostly love it. It’s like I’m center of his undivided attention, though I still try to give as good as I can back even now we are both adults. I kind of love the attention he gives me in some sort of twisted way, even if he is being mean to me.

And then there is the other problem. I can’t quite remember when I started having the really inappropriate thoughts about him, the ones where the glistening abs aren’t enough anymore, and I wonder what else I was missing out on.

The thing is, we do still bicker, and we still irritate the hell out of each other. But It’s like it’s just become a habit. We know each other's buttons to push, and we do just that. I don’t understand why it’s just how things are. My mind wanders back to concentrating on the game, I watch my brother and Lucas skilfully maneuver around the field, and it looks like my brother is setting up a win for him.

“Why does Noah always have to set up Lucas to take the glory?” I say out loud. “Is he so bad that he can’t do it by himself?”

“You know that’s not true Mandy, why would you say such a thing?” My mother scolds me. “The problem is, I think you two just love to hate each other,” she adds. “You just can’t help yourselves,”

“It’s not that exactly….” My words trail off. My mom is an incredibly perceptive woman, and I’ve never been able to lie to her. She catches me out in an instant every single time.

“Well, I know one thing for sure, you two are like oil and water. Somehow you just don’t seem to be able to mix, and you just rub each other up the wrong way,”

I take a deep breath and hesitate before I answer before deciding not to. She’s probably right, but I can’t help wondering if we really are opposites, or in fact, neither of us want to admit that we are frighteningly similar. We are both opinionated, and neither of us will ever back down from an argument. He’s the only one who will do battle with me rather than just dismiss me as a stupid girl who knows nothing. Anytime I think of Lucas or have to deal with his sarcastic remarks, I can’t decide which feeling is stronger. Hate or red-hot lust.

I stare back at the tv screen and watch as the football gets passed from Noah to Lucas and then….whaaaam.

What the actual fuck just happened? It looked like another player attempted to tackle Lucas and it went wrong. Really badly wrong, because Lucas is now lying motionless on the grass.

My mother shrieks out, we both move to the edge of our seat to get a better look at the tv screen, and I put my hand on my moms. I sometimes think she loves Lucas like he’s one of her own and now we are sat here watching helplessly as we have to watch the match get stopped and paramedics running to his aid.

I feel my mom squeeze my hand, we turn to look at each other, both of us looking equally as worried as the other. Lucas might drive me mad, but I don’t want this to happen to him.

“I’m sure he’ll be ok mom,” I say gently, but it probably doesn’t sound very convincing right now. We watch people pacing around him on screen and Noah bending down beside him. I can’t bear watching this, it’s awful, and I squeeze my moms hand tighter.

My cell phone starts vibrating on the table, I don’t feel much like talking to anyone right now. I don’t want to take my eyes off the tv, but I see it’s Isabelle, my older sister and so I pick it up, figuring she’s watching the game too.

“Oh my god Mandy, are you watching this? I can’t believe it!”

“Yeah, Izzy, It’s awful, I’m here with mom. Maybe it’s not as bad as it looks,”

“Oh god, is she ok? You know how she fusses over Lucas at the best of times!”

I turn and look at mom who’s still glued to the tv screen on the edge of her seat. I turn back to the screen and see Lucas being lifted lifelessly onto a stretcher.

“It looks like they are probably going to end up taking him to the hospital or something Izz. I’ll text Noah to see what’s happening and I’ll make sure mom is ok, and I’ll phone you later, ok?”

“Yeah, that’s fine…just make sure you do, I’m so worried. I hope Noah is ok too, you know how those two are inseparable!”

“Yeah, I promise I will, and don’t I know it Izz! Joined at the hip those two. Speak to you later,”

And I hang up just in time to see the camera pan to Lucas being carried off of the field on a stretcher. The game has to carry on for the next ten minutes, and I feel so bad for Noah. I know he’ll want to be with Lucas, but the match has to go on without him.

“Mom, I’ve got to head to work now, are you going to be ok? I’ll text Noah on my way, perhaps he can give us an update when he gets off the field,” I assure her.

“Yes Mandy, I’ll be fine. I just hope he’s going to be ok,” She looks worried even though I know she’d never tell me so and I feel awful leaving her, but I can’t be late for my shift at the bar. My boss hates tardiness and my brothers best friend being involved in a football accident wouldn’t be an acceptable excuse in his eyes. He’s the sort of boss where even being kidnapped by aliens, run over on the way to work or your house burning down last night wouldn’t be a good enough excuse. So I decided not to push this one on him.

I bend down and kiss my mom goodbye and grab my bag before heading out of the door.

As I walk down the street, I have time to think, and to process what just happened. I feel my heart beating faster as I replay the scene of Lucas being loaded onto that stretcher and being carried off the pitch. For a man who I don’t really like, I can’t quite understand these new and strange feelings of worry. If it were me, would he care so much?

Maybe it’s just the fact that Lucas has always been in my life for as long as I can remember, I was always Noah’s annoying kid sister, but I’m twenty-five now, and Lucas is the only person who doesn’t still treat me like a kid. The rest of my family just assume I have no opinions and even if they did, they’d just disregard them as silly.

Despite my conflicted feelings towards him, I can’t bear not knowing whether Lucas is ok or not. I feel like it’s going to be a long shift at the bar tonight.