Once upon a time, when her dad married Sage’s mom, Daisy was thrilled to get a bright and shiny new sister. But Sage was beautiful and popular, everything Daisy was not, and she made sure Daisy knew it.
Sage didn’t have Daisy’s smarts—she had to go back a grade to enroll in the fancy rich-kid school. So she used her popularity as a weapon, putting Daisy down to elevate herself. After the divorce, the stepsisters’ rivalry continued until the final, improbable straw: Daisy married Sage’s first love, and Sage fled California.
Eighteen years, two kids and one troubled marriage later, Daisy never expects—or wants—to see Sage again. But when the little sister they have in common needs them both, they put aside their differences to care for Cassidy. As long-buried truths are revealed, no one is more surprised than they when friendship blossoms.
Their fragile truce is threatened by one careless act that could have devastating consequences. They could turn their backs on each other again…or they could learn to forgive once and for all and finally become true sisters of the heart.
Adam was taller than he had been in high school, and broader through the shoulders. He looked like he worked out.
She sat at one of the stools at the kitchen island as he measured tequila into a blender and added lime juice, simple syrup, orange liqueur and ice. While the blender worked its magic, he collected glasses from the freezer.
Less than a minute later, she had an icy margarita in her hand. Adam poured one for himself and sat next to her. He touched his glass to hers.
“To old friends.” One corner of his mouth turned up. “By that I mean friends who knew each other a while back. I’m not saying you’re old.”
“Good, because then I’d be forced to hit you really hard and as you wouldn’t hit me back, you’d be stuck.”
“You telling me I’m not allowed to hit a girl?”
She grinned. “I’m saying it’s not your style.” She wasn’t sure why she assumed that, but she did.
“You’re right,” he said with a heavy sigh. “It’s a thing.”
“Do you want to be able to hit women?”
“No.” He sounded shocked. “Why would you ask that?”
“And you prove my point.” She took a sip of the drink. “Nice. How did you know where I worked?”
“I asked your mom.”
“I’m surprised she told you.”
“I threatened to cut off her internet if she didn’t.”
“Can you do that?”
“Only if I unscrewed the connection at the cable box, which is kept locked. So not easily. But I figured she would believe me.”
“And she did.” Sage swung her chair to face him. “Now you know where I work, what do you do?” “I put companies on the cloud.”
She thought about her phone and how it backed up when she plugged it in to charge. “That’s like off-site storage, right?”
“Sort of. Do you want a detailed explanation?”
He chuckled. “Good to know. Companies hire me to get them on the cloud. I’m an independent contractor, which is why I work from home.”
“Do you like what you do?” she asked.
“Does it pay well?”
One eyebrow rose. “Looking for a loan?” He winced. “That came out wrong.”
She eyed him. “Yes, it did. I’m making adult conversation. It’s nice to have work you like that also pays well.”
“You’re right and yes, it pays well.”
He got up and pulled a bowl of guacamole out of the refrigerator, then emptied tortilla chips into a bowl.
“I have chicken taquitos I got from a little place I know, if you’re interested.”
Her stomach growled. Somehow she’d missed lunch.
“I love a taquito.”
He put several on a cookie sheet and set it in the oven, then started a kitchen timer in the shape of a tomato.
“Want to go outside?” he asked.
She nodded and picked up her drink, along with the bowl of chips. He brought the guacamole, his drink and the timer.
His patio was much larger than her mom’s, with Mexican pavers and a big covered area. Along with the desk where he worked, there were a couple of lounge chairs, a round table and four chairs. She took a seat. Adam settled across from her.
She turned her head and looked across the low fence. “Why do houses always look different when you see them from someone else’s perspective?”
“It’s just a trick of the light.”
She smiled, then squinted slightly at the rear view of her mom’s house. “Is that my bedroom?”
She faced him. “You can see into my bedroom?”
“I can and while I’m more mature now, I will admit that as a teenager, seeing into your bedroom was always the highlight of my night.”
She thought about how many hours she’d spent there, doing homework, talking to her friends, changing her clothes.
She swung her head between him and the window. “You were spying on me?”
“And desperately hoping you’d take off your clothes.”
“Sometimes.” He leaned back in his chair. “Those were the days. You were my favorite masturbation fantasy.” He held up his drink. “I was sixteen at the time, so I say that with knowledge that my behavior was wrong and sexist and I would never do it now.”
“Masturbate or stare through my window?”
His mouth twitched, as if he were trying not to smile. “Stare through your window.”
An honest man, she thought, knowing how rare they could be.
“So you’ve seen me naked.”
Something flashed through his eyes. “Not in a long time, but yes.”
“I’m not sure how I feel about that.”
“Flattered?” he asked hopefully. “You’re very beautiful. The next naked woman I saw was much less impressive. Of course she was interested in having sex with me, so she could have looked like a tree stump and I would have been delighted.”
“Are you more discerning now?”
“I am, and you still remain the standard against which all my lovers are judged.”
She winced. “Don’t do that. No adult woman should be compared with her sixteen-year-old self.”
The timer dinged and Adam went to get the taquitos. Sage wondered what quirk of biology and sociology created a society where women were valued for their beauty and men were valued for strength and power. She supposed it had something to do with procreation, but while it might have worked ten thousand years ago, it was less appealing now.