“Aw, shit, can’t she just stay in her office for once? She’s patrolling these damn grounds like she is a prison warden.” Sage sighed as she leaned back against the tree, a small smirk quirking the edges of her mouth up at her non-biological sister’s comment. Milané was sitting on one of the tree branches about six feet above Sage’s head.
“Oh, and look, she’s brought a Kardashian with her. Who do you think the unlucky bastard will be who gets to go home to an empty mansion today?” Sage couldn’t keep the bitter edge out of her voice. Being thrown into the system at the age of three would do that to a person. It turned you cynical, even at the tender age of sixteen. When they were supposed to be excited about parties over the weekends and summer holidays, she and Milané were rather worried about making it through another week together. They’d been separated a lot when new ‘parents’ came in to adopt a kid, but they had a few tricks up their sleeves—being as difficult and as stubborn as a teenage girl could get. It often resulted in them being sent back to the care center so all was well that ended well. Most of the times. It didn’t always end well for Sage. Milané never knew what exactly she did to piss off her foster parents so much, maybe she just always got the shitty people, but more often than not, Sage would have to make a pit stop at the hospital on her way back to the care center. This last time was no different, that was the reason why she was sitting on the ground leaning against the tree. She had a cast on her ankle and three stab wounds in her lower back, which were taking a painfully long time to heal. Thankfully, this time, Sage had enough damage done to her to have the fucking piece of shit locked up for a very long time. Too bad the bastard still chased her around in her dreams at night, with that stupid fucking knife of his. They watched silently as the two women walked slowly across the grounds, deep in discussion. They hated it when the matron showed people around. They would always be tense until some poor kid was picked, while others were running around, trying to be as cute as possible in the hopes of finding that elusive place to call home. Not Sage and Milané. They would be as rude as possible and try to melt into the background, be as invisible as possible. Apparently being invisible wasn’t working so well this time.
Sage looked at the woman walking with the matron like she was the devil incarnated and Milané couldn’t blame her. She looked like the typical pretentious bitches who came to adopt kids to lift their social status. Thanks to all the celebs, adopting kids was the new ‘in’ thing to do. For some reason Rich Bitch has focused on Sage and was making her way over determinedly.
“Hello.” Her voice was soft and gentle, unlike her strong features and obviously strong personality that radiated off her in waves. Sage didn’t even bother to answer her; she continued to pluck at the grass in front of her, not even looking up at her.
“I’m Mariana.” The matron looked about ready to faint at Sage’s rudeness and Milané decided it was time to make Sage smile again. She jumped out of the tree and landed lithely on her feet. “What’s up?” The matron gave a startled gasp and stepped back but Mariana’s smile widened instantly.
“So, what’s your name?”
“What’s it to you?” Milané asked, leaning against the tree, placing her one foot flat against the bark and crossing her arms.
Mariana wasn’t even offended. “Just wondering.” She shrugged nonchalantly and sat down on the grass in front of them despite her obvious designer clothes.
“So, what are you guys doing?” She tried striking up a conversation again. Sage finally looked up and the matron took a deep breath, knowing that when Sage had that look on her face it never ended well. The look that clearly said, “Fuck off and mind your own business.”
“Well, we were on our way to smoke a joint, but you kind of interrupted us.”
“Listen here, young lady…” the matron started but Mariana raised her hand slightly and waved it off.
“Do you mind if I join you?” The matron and Milané had to gasp at that, but as always, Sage wasn’t shocked or surprised. She was sixteen and nothing in this world could shock her anymore. She’d seen it all.
“What are you doing with weed?” Milané was curious as always.
“Skin cancer. It helps with the pain.” She shrugged as she stood up and held out a hand to Sage, which she surprisingly took. Milané quickly handed her the worn crutches leaning against the tree.
“So, if you’re dying, why are you here?” Sage’s voice was a bit bitter at the thought of someone wanting to adopt a kid only to send that same kid back to the orphanage when they died. Give them hope, give them life, and take it away again. It was cruel. It was the life of orphaned kids.
“My brothers are just so stuck up and boring and I’m dying and now they’re sad as well. I just want to spend my last few years with people who want to have fun. I just want someone around me who likes to laugh, you know?” Her voice was dreamy and wistful and they were all too familiar with it.
Then Sage laughed. There was nothing to laugh about, but she laughed; a happy and carefree laugh that was rarely heard. Milané knew in that moment that Sage was going to go with Mariana, but before the thought could depress her, Sage’s hand closed over hers.
“I’m Sage and this is Milané, my sister, and just so you know, neither of us is going to be left behind.”
Sage tried not to let her jaw hit the soft carpeted floor of the extremely extravagant limo they were riding in. Damn, she’d once seen a small bit of the movie Richie Rich through the crack in the door of the foster home, but the house on the television had nothing on this one. The mansion before her was imposing, two stories high with large oak doors in the center of the ground floor and beautiful balconies with large glass sliding doors decorating the second floor. The driveway was lined was large white rosebushes and wide green lawns spread as far as the eye could see with fountains at strategic places, cherubs, and gorgeous Grecian women pouring the water into the fountain lending the landscape an almost colonial atmosphere.
“Here we are, girls.” Mariana’s voice was excited and coated with childish enthusiasm.
“Lady, I knew you were loaded; I didn’t realize that you were on the Forbes’ Top Ten list!”
Mariana’s tinkling laughter rang through the large space in the back of the limo. “Oh, sweetie, it’s been in the family for so long, me and the boys simply decided to fix it up a bit.”
“Fix it up?” Milané’s eyes were still wide and focused on the glorious home in front of her.
“You know, make it a bit more modern. Heated indoor swimming pool, home theater, and we gave every room its own en suite. The boys insisted on a gym in the basement while I insisted on a fully stocked cellar.”
“My kind of girl,” Sage mumbled beneath her breath but somehow Mariana caught it, but instead of commenting she merely patted Sage’s hand and smiled at her. Sage liked that about her, she knew when to shut the fuck up. The driver opened the door for them and with a strangely nervous heart, Sage followed them out of the car. The inside of the house was just as imposing and grand as the outside: marble floors, high ceilings, everything picture perfect including the grand golden chandelier and the sexiest man alive at the top of the staircase. Wait, what?
“Mariana?” Oh, she was so royally screwed, Sage thought to herself as she felt a shiver run up her spine at the deep baritone of his voice.
“Caleb.” Sage picked up the slightly nervous quiver in Mariana’s voice. She recognized the sound, for her own voice had that same quiver when she was younger and a foster parent was either high, drunk, angry, or all of the above.
“This is Sage and Milané.” Mariana pointed toward them, but Sage only saw the handsome man’s eyes narrow suspiciously.
“And who might Sage and Milané be?” He was descending the stairs slowly, like he was a hunter stalking its prey, conscious that any sudden, unexpected move could frighten them away.
“They are my girls.” Mariana’s voice was firm as she said this, her chin tilted proudly and a protective light shining out of her eyes. Oh, yeah, she was in full momma bear mode and she hadn’t even spent a day with them. Sage may just come to like this lady after all.
“Your…” His voice trailed off as his eyes roamed over them, first at Milané, from her dark and untamed curls, over her face where her mouth was firmly set, and down her swimmer’s body. Sage frowned as she felt a slight sting of jealousy go through her upon his close appraisal of her sister, but it died down instantly as his eyes focused on her instead. Her dead straight nearly pitch-black hair fell down her back, nearly reaching her bottom. Her eye was not swollen anymore but still slightly bruised from her last foster home eviction, as she had come to call it over the last few years. She could feel his eyes focus first on her bruise and then on her lip where a small split was still visible. Those beautiful dark brown eyes trailed slowly down her body, the overlarge T-shirt, more fading bruises and scrapes on her arms, down her legs wrapped in skin-tight jeans all the way to her foot that was still in a cast. His eyes flew back up to hers and she saw the silent question in them. Instinctively, she lifted her chin just like she saw Mariana do only a few moments ago.
“I fell down the stairs last week.” Her voice was strong, her eyes blazing up at him and she felt Mariana place a soothing hand on her shoulder.
He opened his mouth to say something but one glance at Mariana and he firmly closed it again.
“They will be using the third bedroom in my wing, if that is all right with you?” Mariana questioned him. He simply nodded and stepped aside to let them pass. Milané followed shortly after Mariana, knowing that Sage would bite her head off if she offered her some help up the stairs.
Sage took a breath, as deep as her ribs would allow, and adjusted her crutches. She made it up three steps, glancing up to see Milané disappear around the corner at the top, and then her one crutch slipped. She braced her knees for the impact, but it never came as she felt strong arms grab her from behind. Her heart stuttered and her breath caught in her throat as she dared to glance over her shoulder. Caleb was right there, his body flush against her. His hair was midnight black, nearly reaching his shoulders and curling in a way that had her hands itching to tangle in the tumbled tresses. His eyes were of such a dark brown that it was nearly black, his nose was straight, his jaw wide and firm, and for fuck’s sake! Couldn’t there have been a flaw somewhere in his appearance? He was tall and from what she could feel, his body was big, strong, and fucking rock-hard muscle.
“Sage!” She blinked as she saw his lips move, but his voice was oddly distorted and slightly high-pitched. So there was a flaw in the Adonis after all!
“Sage!” Why the fuck was he shaking her like this; it did not feel as good as it did a few seconds ago.
“Wake up, Sage!”
Her eyes flew open and she looked around her for a second. She was on an airplane and it was all just a dream.
“Wow! Thought you died there for a second.” She glanced at Milané and groaned.
“Fuck! My head hurts.” Sage rubbed a hand over her face tiredly.
“Yeah, I know; this is usually the results of our Vegas weekends.” She took the bottle of water and pills Milané held out to her gratefully and swallowed the two Advils quickly.
“We’re about ten minutes out so I figured you’d like to be awake for the landing this time.”
Sage rolled her eyes but sat up straight, quickly took out some breath mints from her handbag, and reapplied her lipstick. She glanced out the window and could recognize the scenery below.
Back to New York. Her heart thumped at the thought. She was not looking forward to it, but then again she was never looking forward to it. Mariana died just after the girls graduated from high school and her idiot high-society brothers decided it would be best if the girls were shipped off to some small ass community in Europe to finish their studies there, but the girls got expelled within a fortnight and made their own way to England to stay there. They’d lived in London while Sage studied art and Milané got her business degree. Caleb and his younger brother Lazario never liked the idea, but since the girls were of legal age, had inherited a bit of cash from Mariana and got accepted to the colleges, they couldn’t do a whole lot about it. The girls had traveled back and forth during their summer breaks but they would always stay at Mariana’s penthouse in Manhattan rather than at the mansion or they’d be bumming with friends, going to Vegas or L.A. or Miami or wherever the hell they wanted to go. Mariana’s will gave them a pretty nice monthly allowance, that is of course along with their thirty percent shares in the Mega Telecoms company Caleb and Lazario were currently running. Today was the day they were returning to New York to settle down and Sage had a feeling that this time, unlike the past six years of their lives, they wouldn’t be able to avoid the brothers anymore.
“Hey, Sage?” Milané yelled. Sage was just outside the apartment making out with the guy who volunteered to carry their boxes for them. They’d decided that the best way to avoid the two overbearing and egotistical men who thought they could run their lives was to move out of the penthouse and get their own place, and of course forget to tell Caleb and Lazario where they were living.
“What?” Her head poked around the corner but she didn’t look annoyed.
“Can’t we just get rid of all this stuff and get new things? I’m thinking new life, new decor!”
Sage jumped up and down. “Awesome idea! I have to go pick up Hector anyways.”
“He’s here?” Milané smiled at Sage’s joy. She had been waiting for Hector all year.
“Yes! I can’t wait to finally feel that sexy beast between my legs!”
“What the…” a deep male voice suddenly exclaimed before the typically tall, dark, and handsome man in his mid-thirties suddenly entered the room, quickly followed by his brother, another stunningly handsome man with similar features. The only difference in their appearance was that one had longer curly hair, while the other had short hair, neatly cut, and had piercing emerald eyes. Both were scowling at the two women, who both immediately crossed their arms and frowned right back at them. Caleb and Lazario had barely changed in the past six years, although Sage had to admit, the salt and pepper hair really did something for Caleb’s rugged good looks.
“Sage, who the fuck are you talking about?” Caleb demanded.
Sage threw back her head defiantly, flicking her pitch-black hair over her shoulder. She saw Caleb’s eyes narrow on the tattoo she had just below her collarbone; her off-shoulder top showcased the ink proudly. She wondered fleetingly how the brothers had found them so quickly; they’d only been in the city for nearly two days, but she knew better than to question them. The arrogant sons of bitches probably got their forwarding mail address from the doorman at the penthouse. Old man Carl never really knew when to keep his big mouth shut.
“I was going to pick up Hector, after Milané and I went shopping for new decor.”
Milané’s eyes never left Lazario’s face and his piercing gaze took in every detail of her appearance. From her gorgeous chestnut curls, down her toned body dressed in a skin-tight white strapless dress, to her perfectly manicured toes.
“Yes, we decided to make a fresh start and would rather not have any reminders of the last horrible six years…”
Lazario looked away with a frown between his eyes. “I’m sure ‘horrible’ is a bit harsh? Besides, you were the ones who disappeared from the college where we enrolled you.”
Milané’s face flushed with anger. “You wanna go there? Really? You two,” she pointed angrily between the two of them, “didn’t want to handle us after Mariana’s death so you merely sent us to some small forsaken town no one has ever heard of and forgot about us, because that was the easy way out of something that your sister committed to but was rather unwanted for yourselves!”
Sage nodded in agreement. “So, don’t think you can stroll in now and suddenly start throwing your weight around and demanding answers about our lives. Do us a huge favor and kindly fuck off!” She grabbed Milané’s hand and pulled her out of the apartment. Out in the hallway they only made it a few steps before they heard Lazario’s angry voice call them back.
They glanced quickly at each other and despite the high heels, they sprinted down the corridor, past a few surprised faces, down the stairs, since Milané was claustrophobic and couldn’t stand being in an elevator, and out of the building laughing like carefree children. Someone grabbed Sage’s arm and pulled her back while Milané’s steps faltered. Apparently Caleb didn’t have the same problem with enclosed spaces.
“Just go! I’ll meet you at our place in an hour!” Sage urged her to keep going, knowing full well that Caleb’s hold wouldn’t loosen easily. As soon as Lazario appeared, Milané didn’t need to be told twice. She sprinted toward the parking lot and disappeared around a corner. Sage smiled smugly, but the smile died quickly as she saw Caleb’s murderous expression. He dragged her back into the building and before she could protest they were inside the elevator on their way back up to the apartment. She tried to pull away from him but he tightened his hold on her arm and gave her a silent, but lethal glare. She pressed her lips together firmly to keep from cussing him out like she wanted to, but she’d give him a piece of her mind as soon as the apartment door closed behind them! He dragged her down the hallway, closed the door behind them angrily, and before she could even comprehend what was going on, she was thrown onto her bed and the bedroom door slammed shut with a resounding echo. She was breathing heavily from struggling to get out of his vise-like grip and she rubbed her already sore arm lightly, pushing herself off the bed.
“Dude! What the fuck is your problem?”
“Who the fuck is Hector?” Sage stepped back quickly; that was the second time she’d ever heard him curse. It was threateningly sexy.
“It’s my Honda, okay? Just chill the fuck out!” Relief was evident on his face, before anger clouded it again.
“What kind of a Honda?” he asked softly and she swallowed; she knew that tone of voice and she was very apprehensive upon hearing it.
“There is no fucking way you are getting on a motorbike!” His voice roared and she cringed before squaring her shoulders. She wasn’t a scared little girl anymore and no man would scream at her or make her scared of him that easily again.
“Why not? I paid for him six months ago and besides…” She smiled smugly; she already knew he had thought Hector was a guy she couldn’t wait to have between her legs—if he thought so little of her, why not taunt him some more? “I’ve had meaner things between my legs, providing me hours of pleasure.” She licked her lips slowly just like they said to do in Cosmo; it was supposed to turn men on. She did not expect it to work, neither did she expect what happened next. The words had barely left her lips before she was pinned against the wall, Caleb lifting her leather-clad legs around his waist, his teeth biting the tattoo on her collarbone harshly, making her gasp.
“Meaner things, yeah? Baby, I’ll be the meanest thing you will ever have between your legs.”
She gasped as he started grinding against her; she could feel he was rock hard and ready to go and the small barrier of their clothes did little to hide that fact. His lips trailed along her collarbone, biting and sucking the flesh, leaving goosebumps in its wake, scorching her body from the tips of her toes to the roots of her hair. His lips explored the column of her neck before he bit the lobe of her ear and she gasped before she gave a quiet moan. His mouth traveled down the slender column of her neck again and reached the top of her bra. He gave a frustrated growl before she heard a ripping sound. She felt the cold breeze hit her breasts before a surge of victory roared through her veins. She caused that… she had managed to render him so out of control that he was literally ripping her clothes off! His hand was suddenly inside her pants and pushing her drenched panties to the side. He circled her clit as he suckled her breast and Sage thought she could see stars appear in her vision. The sensation was amazing and overwhelming all at the same time. She has never experienced such a euphoric rush before in her life. She was so close to reaching the top of that ever elusive cliff, before he removed his fingers completely.
“Wha-at…” She cleared her throat and tried again; just because he was playing with her pussy didn’t mean that she had to sound like one. “What are you doing?”
He was only looking at her; his cheeks had a slight pink tinge to them unlike, she was sure, her own flushed appearance.
“I’m thinking.” His voice was low and deep and it made the burning deep in her abdomen blaze like a torch.
“Thinking? Are you fucking serious?” She tried wriggling out of his hold, acutely aware that her legs were still wrapped his body firmly.
“You should watch that mouth of yours, Sage; curse like that again and I’ll make sure your mouth is so full that you can barely breathe.” The threat was very sexual and very real and Sage could only moan as he accentuated his threat with a few hard and fast thrusts of his rock-hard arousal against her overly sensitive pussy. No need to wonder what he would use to stuff her mouth with.
“Still trying to turn me into a proper lady, Caleb?” she smirked slightly as she rolled her hips against him. He groaned and clenched his jaw.
“Fuck that.” His lips claimed hers savagely and she could only moan into his mouth. His hands trailed down her body lighting the fire in her veins even higher. She barely had time to catch her breath before his hand was inside her pants again and without hesitation two of his fingers were thrusting in and out of her. He swallowed her cries but soon his lips were exploring her body again. She arched her back as he bit harshly into one hard nipple.
“Fuck, Caleb!” She thought she shouted it, but it was only a harsh whisper. She came around his fingers just as someone knocked on the door. Caleb slowly set her down on her feet and although she felt shell-shocked that she had this intense reaction to him, she hid it well and put her ever present smirk on her face. Caleb handed her a shirt that was lying on the bed and she slipped it on.
“You should stop swearing so much,” he said quietly before, to her utter shock, he lifted his hand and licked his fingers like he had just finished a very delectable meal. “Delicious,” Caleb murmured before he turned and left without another word or a backwards glance. Sage sank down on her bed. She felt a lot of emotions rushing through her, but only one stood out the most.
And since she wasn’t supposed to be cursing so much, she merely decided that whatever that was, it was freaking epic!
Milané got off the subway and made her way toward the bar on the corner of the street. She hoped Sage was okay; she hated leaving her like that but the look on Caleb’s face was nothing compared to the outraged anger evident on Lazario’s face. She would usually love a bad ass face-off with Lazario but she and Sage had only got in late last night. Their friend, Beau, had collected them from the airport and they came straight to his bar to drink even more. They had to pack their stuff at the apartment this morning, so no sleeping in and attempting to avoid the killer hangover. Oh, no… They were supposed to be responsible now…
She chuckled softly at that thought as she opened the door and walked into the dim lighting. She glanced around the near empty bar, smiling as she saw Dave in one corner messing with the sound system or something. Beau was behind the counter scribbling in one big ass book, while checking through slips. He glanced up as he heard the bell attached to the door chime.
“Hey, Mills. What’s up?”
“A double?” She sat down and checked her phone for the hundredth time. What the hell was keeping Sage? She had a mind to go back and punch Caleb in the face! But that would mean facing Lazario. She groaned, the pounding in her head increasing. Beau put the glass in front of her and she took a grateful sip. Nothing like alcohol to take away the aftereffects of alcohol…
“So, where is Sage?” Milané smiled at him. Sage and Beau were… Well, she didn’t actually know what they were; they met about three years ago and were always sneaking off to hook up or something.
“She’ll be along.” She bit her lip and hoped this would be true. Dave, Beau’s best friend, sauntered over and Beau handed him a beer. Milané looked from one guy to the other. She knew why Sage liked Beau, he had that typical bad ass demeanor: tattoos, played lead guitar and was the vocal in a band, owned a bar, and he was wild. Sage’s kind of guy… Dave was also really sexy with his blond good looks; he also had a few tattoos but not nearly as many as Beau. She wished she could fall for a guy like him… Uncomplicated, young, still working hard for his money and enjoying the simple things in life.
But oh no, she had to get heart palpitations when a certain rich, older bachelor with an ego the size of New York state entered the room. She sighed and ordered another drink. She jumped when her phone rang. Sage! Finally! She nearly dropped her phone when she recognized Lazario’s number on her screen. The doorbell chimed again and she glanced up at Sage storming into the bar and heaved a sigh of relief. Thank goodness. She shoved her phone back into her purse and waited for Sage to reach her. As always, Sage was in black skinny jeans, with an almost oversized crop top that exposed her toned stomach, but constantly slipped off her one shoulder. Sage was definitely more of a rebel than Milané, especially in her clothing—always opting for ripped jeans, skinny jeans, even some bad ass leather pants, but, like Milané, never without her heels. Milané on the other hand loved dresses: mini dresses, maxi dresses, sweetheart dresses. To be honest, she thought she only wore pants in the winter.
“Will you fucking look at this shit?” Sage slipped her shirt off her shoulder and showed Milané her tattoo. Actually, she showed Milané where her tattoo was supposed to be, but at the moment it was covered in red and purple bruises.
“OMG! Sage! What the hell…?” She grabbed Sage’s shoulder with both hands and narrowed her eyes as she took in the pattern of the markings.
“Sweetie, is that… Hickeys?” Sage took Milané’s glass and downed it quickly. “Did Caleb…”
Sage’s head shot up and her cheeks tinged pink. “Let’s not go there, huh? Beau?”
“Yeah, babe?” Beau smiled at her and hell, even Milané’s knees turned weak at that glorious smile.
“Storeroom?” Beau immediately put down his pen and closed his books and before Milané could utter another word, they’d disappeared. She sighed and smiled gratefully at Dave, who was now behind the counter and handed her another drink. She took her phone out of her purse and glanced at the screen warily. One new voice message. Taking a big gulp of her drink, she put the phone to her ear and waited; goosebumps erupted all over her body as his voice drawled softly in her ear.
“Don’t think you can keep running from me. I won’t hover in the background this time.” His voice was thick with threat, or was it promise? Milané was so confused! For as long as she could remember, she’d had a crush on him, but she had always assumed it was like idol worship, the kind teenagers got for boy bands. But ever since they came home that first summer when they were seventeen, she had felt his gaze following her around constantly and he would touch her softly, inconspicuously when walking past her. He made her nervous, but he also made her long for… something. Something more than what she was used to.
“Everything good, babes?” She looked up at Dave and for some reason she was suddenly angry: angry at Lazario for making her confused and insecure, angry at herself for feeling confused and insecure… Hell, she was even mad at Dave for being so freaking perfect, but not being the one who gave her freaking butterflies! She downed her drink and stood up. Fuck this shit, she needed to feel something else and she needed to feel it right now. She walked over to the closed storeroom door and banged on it with her fist. “Sage! I need to get out of here now!” She and Sage had become slight adrenaline junkies, varying their stunts from extreme sports to rebellious, sometime a bit childish, acts. The rush always made them feel better, more alive and in the moment. She turned on her heel and started toward the door, knowing Sage would have caught up with her before she reached the door. They understood each other like that. Sage’s arm looped through hers just as she pulled the door open and they stepped into the midafternoon sunlight.
“What’s up?” Milané handed her phone to Sage, who obediently listened to the voicemail, a smirk lightening her face as she handed the phone back. “You know, I think he likes you.” Milané rolled her eyes. Typical Sage: rebel by nature, romantic at heart.
“Whatever, he’s kind of my uncle and do you really think the circles they roll in will allow us to be a part of it?”
“She wasn’t really our mom, Mills, so the uncle thing is just you putting up barriers.”
“Don’t pretend you don’t do the exact same thing, but yeah, I know and I don’t want to feel this way, so can we please do something?”
She hailed a cab as a thoughtful look crossed Sage’s face and she snapped her fingers. “We’ll pick up Hector and get some supplies. I have a great idea!”