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Unwritten Law (Steele Brothers #1)
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Being an identical twin doesn’t come without issues.
No one can tell us apart, not even our parents sometimes. We don’t usually use that to our advantage, but it comes in handy when my brother needs help breaking up with his boyfriends—which happens more than I’d care to admit. I know it’s enabling him, but I can’t say no to Anders. I will do anything for my twin. The breakups always go the same; they’re swift and simple.
He’s everything I’ve fantasised about but never allowed myself to have. When I give in to temptation and begin to freak out, it’s not because he’s a guy. It’s because he thinks I’m my brother, and I can’t bring myself to tell him the truth.
**Unwritten Law is a 52,000 word stand alone with a HFN/HEA guarantee and no cliffhanger. It contains a mistaken identity trope. Please check trigger warnings in the front matter.**
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Rejection sucks, but there’s something fundamentally interesting about the fragile male ego. Breaking up with people has become routine for me. So much so I can almost predict the words they’re going to say before I’ve even ended it.
Take this guy for instance. Being in a crowded restaurant won’t stop him from flipping his lid when I tell him we’re done. Public is best for a breakup, but that doesn’t mean it can’t backfire. I’m tempted to blow the tealight candles out. Not only because it makes the mood too romantic but because there’s a real risk of catching fire if he starts throwing things.
Paranoid, maybe, but it wouldn’t be the first time.
I examine the guy across from me, trying to figure him out. He’s young—still a teenager. Really pretty face, big blue eyes, pouty lips, and luscious dark hair any woman would be jealous of.
When it comes to picking the right words to let him down gently, it’s going to be hard. When hot, young play toys hear I’m just not that into you, it gets ugly.
This one is the type who doesn’t like to be broken up with. His actual feelings don’t come into play. Fooling around for a month is not a promise of forever, and I guarantee he understands this. He’s just going to be pissed he didn’t break it off first. He won’t grovel, promise to do better, or try to hold onto whatever he thinks he has with me. No, this is going to be a shit show.
He reaches for my hand on top of the table, but I reach for my glass of water instead and take a sip. We haven’t ordered food yet, and when the waitress comes by to ask if we’re ready, I send her away and tell her to give us a few minutes.
My date’s brows pinch together. “What’s wrong?”
“I don’t think this is working. You’re a great guy, and we’ve had fun, but you’re eighteen years old. You should be going out with guys your own age.”
“You’re only twenty-three. That’s barely an age gap.”
I almost choke. “Uh, I may’ve understated my age a little.” Or a lot.
“How old are you?”
“That doesn’t matter. We’re not suited. I want things you can’t give me.”
“I don’t see the problem if we’re still having fun.”
“Right. Uh, the thing is, I want to settle down, and I can’t do that with an eighteen-year-old.”
“Wait. You’re really breaking up with me?” His voice gets high-pitched.
Oooh boy, I know the signs. If I don’t defuse this, I could very well be getting slapped in a minute. It’s happened before. “It’s not you, it’s m—”
“Don’t even try to pull that bullshit line with me.”
In three … two … I fuse my eyes shut. And there it is—not a slap, but a glass of water dumped on my head. My predictions aren’t science, but they’re damn near close to it.
“You can fuck off, Anders.” He storms out, the sway of his hips accentuating his diva-like exit.
“You too, Kade …” Or is it Kale? Eh, can’t remember.
I grab the napkin off the table and wipe my face and shirt. All in all, not an overly bad breakup. There’s been worse.
Taking my phone from my pocket, I send a message to my brother.
You owe me, asshole. Coast is clear.
Not thirty seconds later, the real Anders sits in the seat across from me, and I don’t have to say a word.
“Law, don’t start. I’m buying you dinner to make up for it.”
“Are you also going to give me your shirt?” I nod at his nice, dry, blue T-shirt.
“And seriously? You told him you were twenty-three?”
“We could totally pass for twenty-three.”
“You have to stop with the hyperactive twinks, man. They’re getting too much.”
Anders winces. “Straight dudes aren’t allowed to say twinks.”
“Sure, we are. And thanks to doing your dirty work, I’m gay by association, so I’m definitely allowed to say it. This has to be the last time. I can’t keep breaking up with guys for you.”
My brother is the most confident guy you’d ever meet, except when it comes to conflict. He can flirt with anyone—which he shamelessly does—and get up in front of a room full of hundreds of people without breaking a sweat. But one-on-one, talking about the real stuff, he turns into a bumbling, shaky leaf. Using me to avoid dealing with it isn’t the answer, and I know I’m making it worse by playing along, but I don’t have much of a choice in the matter. I don’t want to cut him off and cause a setback.
Anders hangs his head and speaks low. “It’s easier this way.”
“Have you thought about going back to counselling—”
“Anderson,” I mimic back. “I’m done. How would you deal with this if you didn’t have a twin brother? I’m enabling you. I need to stand my ground this time.” Sure, because this is so different than the last time I gave him this speech.