Seven years in the army will change a guy. But after a shoulder wound ends his career as a sniper, Jackson Worthington finds himself back home, fighting a battle that’s all too familiar: keeping his hands off Lily Hastings. She’s still her rich daddy’s little angel, innocent, impossibly lovely, as squeaky-clean as Jackson is dirty. And she’s still his stepsister—forbidden but not forgotten, not after the soul-melting kiss that got him kicked out of the house at eighteen. He couldn’t resist her then. How the hell can he resist her now?
Lily is about to marry a man she doesn’t love, and commit to a high-stress job she hates, all to please the father who controls every waking moment of her life. On top of everything, her teenage crush is back, with a sleek, chiseled body and a trace of the rebellious boy whose lips sealed her fate. Jackson’s timing couldn’t be worse . . . or better. Because Lily’s all grown up, too. She’s aching for another taste. And for the first time, she’s ready to be a bad girl.
Praise for Bad Romance
“Addicting from start to finish! A sexy, emotional, steamy read, Bad Romance has it all.”—New York Times bestselling author Addison Moore
“Bad Romance was my first book by Jen McLaughlin and I couldn’t be happier for that. I enjoyed her writing immensely and she made me crave more of it. I can’t wait to read her next book.”—Collectors of Book Boyfriends and Girlfriends
“Rec this? Absolutely yes! If you love an angsty, really well written romance with characters that come to life, this is a great add for your TBR.”—The Book Hookup
“Bad Romance was well written, with an interesting storyline, some really steamy scenes, well-defined characters and backstory, and few surprises. I enjoyed reading it and definitely recommend it.”—Ms C’s Diversions
“Fast paced and utterly romantic.”—Book Angel Booktopia
“A fun, light, and sexy read.”—A Bookish Escape
Includes an excerpt from another Loveswept title.
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
Seven years ago . . .
Walt, my stepfather, frowned at the letter in his hand. “Yale said they would take him, despite his bad grades. I have to buy his way in, but I will.”
“They did?” Mother gasped, smiling.
“‘He’s’ right here,” I said drily. “And doesn’t want to go to Yale.”
Neither of them noticed.
“At least he can amount to something, unlike his father.”
Mother smiled even wider. “Thanks to you, Walter.”
“You’ll go at the end of the month,” Walt said, not even looking at me, even though he clearly spoke to me.
The hell I was. “I don’t want to go to Yale. I’m joining the army.”
Walt laughed. “Not in my house.”
This was bullshit. Everything about it was. Mother was married for the millionth time, and this time to a man who quite clearly didn’t want the extra kid that came along with her. No big shocker, there. His new wife didn’t exactly want me, either.
She never tried to hide that fact from me.
Had told me, straight up to my face.
But to have some pompous prick all up in my business, telling me what I had to do with the rest of my life as if I needed to listen to him, was the last straw. I was eighteen years old. I didn’t have to listen to Walter Hastings. Or to his wife.
Screw them all.
They’d only been married a few months, and he wasn’t my damn stepfather, no matter what he thought. I mean, he was. Legally. But I didn’t need him.
I didn’t need anyone.
So I stood up, fisting my hands at my sides. “I don’t want to be a lawyer. I already told you that.”
Walt laughed. “And I told you that, under my roof, you do what I tell you to do, and that’s that. You’ll do it, and you’ll like it. I won’t budge.”
“Neither will I, Walt.”
“Don’t call me that,” Walt said, his voice low and seething. His name was Walter, and he hated it when I called him Walt . . . which was why I did it. “My name is Walter, or Mr. Hastings, or sir. No one calls me Walt. Learn some respect, boy.”
I didn’t answer. Just smirked.
Walt could kiss my ass.
“Jackson, dear . . .” Mother fidgeted. “It’s a good career. You’ll be lucky if you live to see the other side of twenty if you join the army. Listen to your father. He knows what’s best for you.”
I stiffened. I might not know my father, but I knew one thing. Walt wasn’t him. “He knows shit, and he sure as hell doesn’t know me because he’s not my father. He has no idea what’s best for me, or who I am. Or what I want. I want to—”
“Watch your mouth, young man, and how you speak to your mother. You’re going to law school, to Yale. That’s final, so get it into your head. End of discussion.” Walter picked up his newspaper, addressing his wife. “And if he wants to continue living here, he will stop annoying me.”
I gritted my teeth, because he was a tight-suited asshole. “Then I’ll leave this house. Go out on my own. Make my own way.”
“Over my dead body. You’re part of this family now, and while you are, you’ll live up to the Hastings name. And that’s all that will be said on this matter. You may go,” Walter said dismissively, flicking a hand my way. “I’m finished with you.”
There was so much I wanted to say, but why bother? I knew it was a waste of my time, so I walked away from them both. He wouldn’t listen, and, really, it didn’t matter even if he did. Officially, I was an adult now, so I didn’t need their approval to sign up for duty, no matter what they seemed to think. End of discussion. What the heck was that, anyway? The discussion was over when both parties decided it was. Not one.
As I left, I heard Walt sigh. “Honestly, Nancy, I don’t know what to do with that boy. Are you sure his father won’t take him off our hands? He’s nothing like my Lilly.”
Ah . . . Lilly Hastings. Fifteen. Rich. Smart. Sweet as hell. And gorgeous, to boot. Walter didn’t deserve her, and it boggled my mind that she was the old man’s daughter, because she was nothing like him. Everything she got, she must’ve gotten from her deceased mother. That was the only thing I could figure.
I initially tried to hate her on principle, but the thing was, I couldn’t. From my first day here, when she brought me chocolate chip cookies because they were my favorite, till today, she’d been nothing but kind to me. She was the only person who made life in the Hastings household bearable. And because Lilly was the total opposite of her father, no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t hate her.
And believe me, I tried.
“Walter, you know he ran as soon as he found out I was pregnant. I had to raise Jackson by myself, and you know how hard that was on me,” Mother said, her voice low. She shouldn’t have bothered. I heard her, anyway. “But if you would consider letting him . . .”
I walked away, knowing how this conversation would end. Walt refused to accept that I had all but joined the army—all it needed was a few signatures, and it would be done. I passed all the tests, filled out the papers. It was a done deal, and I would be leaving soon. But once I was gone? Yeah, he’d get the picture pretty damn fast.
“Psst,” Lilly called out, holding two bottles of Coke. I would rather have a beer, but she wasn’t into rebelling. Not that badly, anyway. “Come here.”
I walked over, my heart thumping against my chest the closer I got to her. I might be three years older than her, but we connected on a level that couldn’t be ignored or explained. She just got me. And I got her. “What’s up, little girl?”
She flushed. “I hate it when you call me that.”
“I know.” I tapped her on her nose. “It’s why I do it.”
She stole another quick glance at me from under her ridiculously long eyelashes and bit down on her lower lip. My heart rate increased in response, but I ignored it. It was no secret that she had a huge crush on me. I liked her from day one, and I’d tried to keep that concealed as it wasn’t so much a sexual thing for me. Well, okay, she was a babe, so obviously I appreciated that like men did . . . but my feelings toward her were really more of a protective “I’ll take care of you” thing, if that made any sense at all.
At least we weren’t blood.
And thank God for that. I’d kill myself if I were a Hastings like that asshole in the other room. We were a family unit by marriage and legality only. And Lilly was pretty much my only friend, which made her my best friend, and a guy didn’t mess around with his best friend.
She was too young. Too pretty. Too clean.
Too good for a guy like me.
I graduated high school a month ago, five months after our parents married, and she was about to enter eleventh grade. I might only be eighteen, but I’d seen and done shit she had no clue about. And I intended to keep it that way.
“Don’t listen to him,” Lilly whispered. “He doesn’t know what he’s talking about. He never does.”
I smiled, because she was trying to make me feel better, and I wanted her to think it was working. She always tried to cheer me up after Walt went on one of his asshole binges with me. “I know. What’s up?”
“Come here. I want to show you something.” She held her hand out to mine, watching me with those bright green eyes of hers. “Alone.”
Just the way I liked it.
Walt laughed from the dining room, and his deep voice boomed as he said to his wife, “The boy is doomed to fail.”
I knew he talked about me. Just like I knew he hated me. Just like I knew the one way that I would be guaranteed freedom from his overbearing grasp. And it was through his Lilly. . . . Ah. He loved his sweet, innocent Lilly. Everyone did. If I took her, and dirtied her by making her mine, he would flip his shit. Never forgive me. And I would finally be free of his annoying interference in my life.