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Willa is happy to be the maid of honor in her dad’s upcoming wedding. Not as happy about the best man being her soon-to-be stepbrother, the infuriating—and infuriatingly gorgeous—Finn McCain. Every time their paths cross, the attraction simmering between them grows a little harder to ignore. Willa knows Finn only wants what he can’t have. But Finn is determined to prove to Willa that happily-ever-after will always be worth the risk
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What's a girl to do with a super hot new step-brother? No way. That would be awkward.
Willa is happy to be the maid of honor in her dad’s upcoming wedding to uber-celeb Mia McCain. Not as happy about the best man being her soon-to-be stepbrother, the infuriating—and infuriatingly gorgeous—Finn McCain. Every time their paths cross, the attraction simmering between them grows a little harder to ignore. Willa knows all about guys like Finn—they only want what they can’t have. What’s between them isn’t real.
Finn has never felt anything more real than what’s developing between him and Willa. Sure, her dad warned him to steer clear, but it’s not just about forbidden temptation. He’s determined to prove to Willa he’s not going anywhere—and that happily-ever-after will always be worth the risk.
Disclaimer: This Entangled Teen Crush book contains a wedding so crazy it’ll make you laugh, a stepbrother so hot he’ll make you swoon, and a heroine so real she’ll make you cry.
Emily McKay is a life-long fan of books, pop-culture and anything geeky. She has a black belt in Tae Kwon Do and baking cookies. When she’s not kicking-ass and scooping cookie dough, she’s watching videos from Screen Junkies (her favorite Youtube channel) or Pemberely Digital or Classic Alice. Okay, she has a Youtube problem! She’s seeking help. Really. Though, she may also have a slight problem with procrastination. When the internet is down and there are no chocolate chips in the house, she does write books – everything from Harlequin romance novels to post-apocalyptic YA. Though her interests may appear broad, the common denominators are swoony heroes and snarky humor.
It is a truth universally acknowledged that when your father is getting married to one of America’s most famous actresses, family dinners will be painfully awkward.
Especially when your soon-to-be stepbrother is as undeniably hot as Finn McCain.
Tonight’s dinner was not actually that bad. Mia—of the aforementioned acting fame—had really taken the pressure off by spending most of the meal babbling about wedding plans. She and my dad sat side-by-side, mere centimeters apart, on the side of the dinner table that overlooked a breathtaking view of Lake Austin. Finn and I sat opposite them, facing the rest of the kitchen, with as much room between us as the six-foot-long farm table would allow.
(And, can I just tell you how much fun Christmas dinner was…not.)
When Dad first came home from his latest gig as a cinematographer and told me he was going to marry Mia McCain, I freaked. I’m not proud of it, but I’m woman enough to own it. I used to dread these twice-weekly family dinners. I used to resent Mia for changing my entire life. I used to resent my father for dating Mia without ever telling me.
I used to resent Finn, too. For a variety of reasons. Partly because he is both hot and completely unattainable. Partly because he’s so smooth you never really know where you stand with him. And also, because I knew in my gut that he was not any more excited about the marriage than I was, and I never understood why he wouldn’t just come clean about it.
Admittedly, these are not great reasons to dislike someone. But I am trying to be mature and sensible about things, and that means owning my mistakes.
And I am also trying—really trying—to be a good sport about the wedding, which is only three weeks off in late January.
They have only been planning the wedding since October. Less than four months is not long to plan the most glamorous wedding Austin has ever seen—even I know that. However, money and fame make miracles happen.
This is, once again, obvious, as Mia describes some snafu involving pavilion tents being shipped in from Dallas. I listen politely and eat my eggplant Parmesan.
Mia pauses in the story, and to show that I’m paying attention and excited about the wedding, I say gamely, “Thank goodness your wedding planner is on top of things. It sounds like she’s doing a fantastic job.”
Mia tips her head to the side and smiles mistily, as if I have just complimented the beauty of her newborn baby. “Thank you. She is doing a great job.” Then, Mia unexpectedly hops up and scurries over to the desk. When she returns to the table she’s carrying four leather-bound three-ring binders, each of our names embossed on the upper right-hand corner of the covers. She hands them around.
I pause, a bite of food partway to my lips.
“Oh,” Dad says awkwardly. “Well, haven’t you been the busy little bee.”
I set the bite down and flip mine open. The first page is written like a letter of introduction from the wedding planner, Lucinda. I flip through a few more pages.
“They are individualized detailed agendas for the next few weeks,” Mia chirps.
Dad clears his throat. “I can see that.”
I know this tone. From the time my mom died when I was eleven until two months ago, it was just the two of us, Dad and me. Us against the world. He may have fallen in love with Mia, but in many ways I still know him better. And I hear the disapproval in his voice, the underpinning of rebellion.
Dad may keep to schedules at work, but in his personal life, he doesn’t like being so regulated.
To smooth things over, I say cheerfully, “These are great! Absolutely fantastic!” I can hear the peppy exclamation points in my voice. They’re clearly not going over well, because both Dad and Finn frown at me. Dad looks confused. Finn looks like he wishes he were close enough to kick me under the table. I dial it down. “I mean, sure, these will be useful the day of the wedding.”
Dad’s frown deepens as he flips through his folder. “I thought we said this was going to be a small wedding?”
Mia’s smile stiffens almost imperceptibly. “It is small. Relatively.”
I hastily flip through the pages in my folder. The first page is a master calendar. January twenty-eighth—the day of the wedding—is in bright purple ink. Each page after that is an event I am scheduled to attend. They have titles like Cake Tasting and Dancing Lessons, and list time, location, and expected appropriate attire. (i.e. trendy casual for the cake tasting and knee–length skirt, heels—at least three inches for the dancing lessons.) Also included is a list of family members expected to attend. I see my name and Finn’s together a lot. This does not bode well.
It’s not that Finn and I don’t get along. We do. We live right across the hall from one another. It’s rather that Finn makes me uncomfortable. In a top-of-the-roller-coaster-and-about-to-drop sort of way. I really, really don’t want to have to spend this much time with him over the next few weeks. Really.
And, for the record, I’ve been known to throw up on roller coasters.
“Is this actually necessary?” Dad asks.
Finn, who has been quiet until now and is busy flipping through his own folder, gives a strangled sound that’s somewhere between a snort of disgust and choked laughter. I can’t tell if he’s more annoyed or amused.
That’s part of the problem with Finn. I can never tell what he’s feeling. And I am always afraid that what he’s feeling is amusement at my expense.
“Dancing lessons?” Finn asks. He flips his binder closed, leaning back in his chair and stretching his legs out in front of him. He’s tapping his thumb on the armrest of his chair, the way he always does when he has too much nervous energy. Finn isn’t the kind of guy who’s made for long family dinners. “I can dance. That’s not something you have to worry about. Trust me.”
I keep my gaze pinned to the pages in front of me, hoping that no one will glance my way. I can make no such boast.
Oh, I can stand on a high school dance floor and shuffle around a bit. I am not, however, ready for celebrity-wedding-level dancing.
As she’s looking at her son, Mia’s smile softens. “Yes, I know you can dance. But if you look at the footnote at the bottom of the page, ‘see Day of Wedding page twenty-three,’ you’ll understand why I want you to have lessons with Willa.”
I hastily flip to page twenty-three myself. It’s the page title: Day of Wedding—After Receiving Line—Dancing. Beneath is the following paragraph:
Immediately after the receiving line, Matt will lead Mia onto the dance floor for the duration of the song “At Last” by Etta James. Within five seconds of that song ending, Finn and Willa will join them on the dance floor for Dean Martin’s “Ain’t That a Kick in the Head.” The two couples will remain dancing for a minimum of three point five songs or until at least 25 percent of the dance floor is full.
“What the—” I cut myself off, remembering that I’m trying to be open-minded about this. Really, really trying. When I realize Finn, Dad, and Mia are looking at me, I force a smile. “What a great idea. Dancing lessons! And lots and lots of dancing!”
Shit. I’m doing it again. That thing where I talk in exclamation points, hoping people won’t notice I’m nervous. Or lying.
This time, instead of fumbling to repair the damage, I press my lips closed and say nothing. I don’t know that there’s any way I can fake thinking this is a good idea. If it means my dad will be happy, I am 100 percent up for dancing lessons. But dancing lessons with Finn? That is another matter entirely. Three and a half songs sounds like a very long time to dance in Finn’s arms.
Then I see Mia looking worried. And Dad frowning.
“We never talked about a live band,” he mutters.
“It is Austin,” Finn points out. “You can’t go to the grocery store without hearing live music.”
This is actually true. The local Central Market has music all weekend. So Finn’s argument is valid, but I see Dad’s point as well. For someone who isn’t any more graceful on the dance floor than I am, that’s a lot of dancing.
“You’re going to have The Derby create a signature drink?” Dad’s voice has the faintest note of scorn in it. Before anyone can comment, he goes on. “This guest list has got to have over—” He drags a finger down a column on one page, then another and another. “At least two hundred people on it.”
I haven’t seen a guest list in my copy of the notebook, but when I glance across the table at Dad’s notebook, the list is staggering. There is so much star power among the invited guests, I nearly go blind without protective eyewear.
Dad is shaking his head. “This isn’t what we talked about.” Flipping through the pages of his own notebook, he’s too focused on what he’s reading to notice Mia’s expression. He is just being his normal, practical self. He doesn’t see the spark of delight that’s slowly dying in her eyes.
But I see it. Suddenly, I wonder what her first wedding was like. All I know is that she married young and that her husband ended up being a total ass. On-screen, Mia has had more beautiful, flamboyant weddings than almost any woman alive. Has she ever had that in real life? Something tells me no.
And if my dad has anything to do with it, she won’t have her dream wedding this time around, either. It’s not that he doesn’t love her, it’s just that he’s too practical to realize this kind of thing is important to her.
If I’m honest with myself, it’s weirdly important to me, too. Since my mom died, there are so many girly things I missed out on. Talking about boys, shopping for clothes, learning to apply makeup and style my hair. Having The Talk. (Do I even need to explain how awkward it is to have your dad buy you tampons and show you how to open a condom wrapper?)
It isn’t that I want to do any of those things with Mia, either, but maybe having her hyper-feminine influence will…I don’t know, maybe balance out my geeky-awkwardness.
Not that I’m not proud of being a geek. I am. But even I can see I could benefit from a little stepmother/stepdaughter bonding time.
“Mia, I think this sounds like the perfect wedding,” I say. Finn may be sitting too far away from me to kick, but Dad isn’t. I give his shin a nudge. When Dad glances up I shoot him agree-with-me eyes. “Don’t you, Dad?”
“Maybe if we had two years to plan it. Not two weeks.”
“We have three and a half weeks.” I have to resist kicking him harder. “Besides, I’m sure Mia has hired the best wedding planner in the city.”
Dad leans back in his chair. “I’m just not sure we’re going to have time to do all these things.”
“We’ll make time.” Why is he fighting me on this? There was a time when Dad and I knew each other so well that he would have picked up on my cues by now. Since he isn’t, it’s time to pull out the big guns. To play the card he won’t be able to resist. “Besides, we’re going to be doing it as a family.”
I’m not much of an actress myself—writing is my thing—but I haven’t watched a gazillion movies over the years without learning a thing or two about timing. So I pause and let that sink in.
Dad looks surprised. Mia’s smile instantly blossoms. Only Finn shows the faintest hint of suspicion. His steel-gray eyes narrow.
“Isn’t that what you’ve said you wanted?” I ask cheerfully. “For us to spend more time together as a family.”
“Yeah, kiddo,” Dad says, as he and Mia exchange a look. I can tell she takes his hand under the table. “That would be great.”
I don’t worry that maybe I’ve overplayed my hand until after dinner when I’m loading the dishes in the dishwasher. Mia has a private chef who does most of the work in the kitchen, but he clocks out at five. We could leave the dishes for him, but as long as I didn’t cook, I don’t mind doing the dishes.
Mia and Dad are out on the balcony having a glass of wine, so I think I’m alone. Until Finn walks up behind me and slides a glass onto the top rack.
“So what’s your plan?”
I glance over at him as I scrape food off a plate and into the disposal. “What plan?”
“With Mia. Why are you suddenly being so nice?”
“There’s no plan.”
“I don’t buy it,” he says. “For months you’ve resisted the idea of them getting married. Now you’re suddenly all over it. What gives?”
I slide the last plate into the dishwasher, then rinse my hands as I think of an answer. “First off, it wasn’t months.”
“You hated the idea of our parents getting married.”
I dry my hands, then turn to face Finn. “Yes, I admit it. I haven’t always been a fan of them getting married.” He snorts in derision, so I hold up a hand to cut him off. “And, yes, I’m aware that’s an understatement. But—”
“But—” I don’t give him a chance to cut me off again. “I’ve changed my mind.”
Finn quirks an eyebrow and presses his lips together in an expression that might have looked like a smirk on another guy. On Finn it looks smart and wry all at the same time.
“Our parents are good together. That’s what’s important. I want them to be happy. And if that means playing along with Mia’s elaborate wedding plans, then so be it.”
“What’s in it for you?”
I shrug. “I don’t know what you mean.”
“I know how busy you are at school right now. If you’re suddenly playing the part of the perfect daughter, it must be because you expect something in return.”
“What?” I’m so indignant it takes me a while to think of anything else to say. “You think I expect Mia to…what? Give me things?”
“Do you? She gave you a car already. She’s offered to take you shopping. Buy you expensive clothes. The other night at dinner, didn’t you say something about needing a new computer?”
“I was just talking. With my dad. Mia wasn’t even in the room.” I’m practically sputtering now. And then I take a breath and I remember who I’m talking to. This is Finn, who is always suspicious. And who is super protective of his mom. All the time. “Look, I know you come from a world where everyone wants something from you because you’re Mia’s son. And where everyone wants lots of things from Mia. And that you feel like you have to protect her. I get that. Because I feel the same way about my dad.”
Finn’s gaze skitters away from mine and I can practically hear the “Yeah, but—” in his head.
I don’t give him the chance to finish the thought, to dismiss me. Instead, I do something neither of us expects. I step up to him. I get close, right in his face. I ignore the buzz of electricity that skitters across my skin every time I’m near him. This isn’t about that. This is about convincing him. Still, I keep my tone gentle.
“You don’t have to protect her from me. I just want this wedding to go well. For both of them. I don’t expect anything in return. Not a car or computer or clothes or money. I just want them to be happy.”
He still doesn’t look at me. Which irritates me. Because if he’s going to accuse me of manipulating Mia, he should at least look me in the eye when he does it.
So I reach up and nudge his jaw until he looks at me. “Got it?”
In my mind, when I do this, it comes out sassy and clever. Spunky, even.
I don’t know how it sounded in real life, because when Finn does look at me, standing this close to him, my brain sort of short circuits and I’m instantly lost in his stormy gray eyes.
Abruptly, I drop my hand and take a step back, before whirling around toward the kitchen sink. For a second, I just stare at the dishes. Then I attack them with such ferocity you’d think doing this chore would solve world hunger.
I scrub the dishes and try not to wonder what I’ve gotten myself into. I want to help with the wedding for Mia’s sake, but Finn is right. School is a nightmare right now. I’m the lead writer for the web series our entire senior seminar is working on. A lot of people are depending on me. And that’s just one class in a schedule where I can’t afford to let anything slide.
Of course the wedding is only a few weeks away. The problem is, even a few weeks feels like a lot of time to spend having quality family time with Finn.
Sure, Finn is about to be my stepbrother, but being around him makes me feel crazier than any other guy I’ve ever known—including my boyfriend, Damien.
When I’m with Finn, I do not feel sassy. I feel weak-kneed and silly. Because I should know better.
Finn is not the kind of guy mere mortals can toy with.