Chapter One

Insanity is her thing. But finding out that her ex- whom she apparently still has feelings for- is also her fiancé's half-brother is just too much. Especially when said ex apparently still had feelings for her, too.

Benjamin Lawrence was a very calm, accepting, laidback person. Not many things could unsettle him. He was the type of person that always took things in stride, no matter how shocking or absurd, and dealt with them in anyway that they needed to be dealt with. So imagine his surprise when one word could throw every bit of that carefully cultivated exterior right out the window. One very simple word. One simple word that every single man cringed at hearing, weather it was in relation to them or not. And hearing the word being uttered through the receiver of the cordless phone at his ear had his jaw dropping in surprise.


The word hung in the air for several seconds and, even if he was capable of thought at the moment, Ben had no idea what to respond to the horrifying word with. He had to have been hearing things. There was absolutely no way in hell that his little brother was getting… he shook his head, not able to even associate the two words in his mind. There had to be a mistake.

But the cheerful voice of his mother through the other line said otherwise. "Yes. Josh is really getting married. Isn't that wonderful?"

"It's…" He trailed off. Crazy, he thought. Josh was his baby brother. He remembered when he used to pee the bed. How could he be getting married? And to who? Certainly not that girl he had been seeing in college? That had been years ago. And hadn't they broken up?

"Ben? Are you still there?" Brought out of his thoughts once again by the sound of his mother's voice through the phone, he cleared his throat. "Yeah, I'm here." He cleared his throat again, "You're right, it's great mom. But don't you think it's a bit… sudden?"

"He's happy Ben. That's all that matters right now. Why don't you give him a call and congratulate him yourself? I'm sure he'd love to hear from you."

"Yeah, I will. Listen, I have to go. I'll talk to you soon, mom."

"Be happy for him, Ben. He's found a good girl who loves him just as much as he loves her. Sometimes that's all that matters."


"I'll talk to you soon. I love you."

"Love you, too." And with that he hung up the phone.

He leaned back in his chair and looked around his office in amazement. At twenty eight the simple thought of marriage, like every other sane adult male he knew, made him cringe and he couldn't understand how his brother, who was four years his junior, could not only be considering it but actually be planning on going through with it. Something was wrong with the picture and if his mother wasn't going to knock some sense into Josh, he would.

He picked up the phone and dialed through to his secretary. "Yes, hi, Janine. I'll need you to clear my schedule. I'll be out of town for the next few days…"


Lists were Thea's forte. It was one thing that she never failed to do when concerning her life.

Going shopping? Make a list. Planning a career? Make a list. Cleaning the toilet? Make a list.

It was just her thing.

There was nothing in her life that wasn't planned out perfectly. She figured that a lot less things got messed up that way. So of course, she had her list all planned out. File for her taxes, paint her bathroom, buy cat litter… but one thing that was not on her list, and one she had not planned on doing for a long time, was to become engaged to her boyfriend of two years. But here she was two weeks later, planned or unplanned she thought as she studied the square cut diamond on her finger for the millionth time.

She just couldn't believe it. She knew she would get married someday but never in a million years would she have considered it being now. It just wasn't in the plans. But when Josh had asked her, she had found herself saying yes without even really thinking about it. Her answer had just come naturally, it seemed. So to her surprise, she would have to make another list sooner than she had planned.

A wedding list.

Shaking her head, she started when a voice came from behind her, pulling her from her thoughts. "It's not going to disappear, you know." Turning around she stared into the face of her best friend and coworker, Leila Malloy. She was leaned on the cubicle wall, her long dirty blonde hair falling over her shoulders.

Confused, Thea raised an eyebrow. "Huh?"

Leila jutted her head toward her hand. "Your ring. You've been staring at it for the past two weeks. Did it sprout wings yet?"

Thea rolled her hazel eyes and swiveled back around to pick her coffee cup off her desk. "I guess I'm just still surprised I said yes."

Leila chuckled. "You ain't the only one, honey."

Thea frowned, looking at the ring once more. "Do you think I made a mistake saying yes?"

Leila settled herself on Thea's desk and focused her green eyes on her best friend, studying her intently. "Thea, do you love Josh?"


"And he loves you?"

"Of course."

"Then why do you doubt yourself?"

She sighed, running her hand through her chin length black hair. "I don't know. It just wasn't in the plans, you know?"

Leila laughed. "You and your lists, Thea. I'll never understand you. What's life without a few surprises?"

"Planned. Safe."

"Boring," Leila corrected. Thea stuck her tongue out at her childishly, making her best friend chuckle. Leila leaned back on her hands and grinned. "Live a little, Thea. It won't kill you." Thea watched Leila's eyes flicker above her head, and a look of annoyance flash on her sharp features. "Look out, Tigress coming this way." She warned.

Before Thea could turn around she already heard the voice behind her. "Well, look what we have here." At the sound of the prim voice, Thea closed her eyes silently cursing. Only one person could utter six words that condescendingly. Faye Abbott, bitch of the century and editor of the paper. And as she liked to remind everyone on a daily basis, mostly Thea, daughter of the boss.

Thea opened her eyes and plastered on a big fake smile before turning. "Hello Faye."

Faye stood in front of them, her manicured hand akimbo and her hip jutting out from her prim stance. Her red hair curled around her face, tickling her shoulder blades and her brown eyes narrowed as she studied the two of them. "Shouldn't you both be working?"

Leila smiled and answered, "Lunch break." Though their lunch break didn't start for another twenty minutes, Thea said nothing and smiled instead.

Faye, much to her frustration, couldn't argue with that and instead inclined her head facing Thea, "I heard you've become engaged."

Thea wasn't surprised. News traveled as quickly as they did in a high school at their office. "Yes."

Faye smirked. "I sure hope it doesn't affect your position here at the paper."

Thea's eyes frosted quickly. "And why would it?"

She moved her shoulders in a careless shrug. "Oh I'm sure it won't. But I know how distracting wedding preparations can be; you don't want your work falling behind."

Leila crossed her arms. "You would know something about that wouldn't you? What divorce are you up to now? Three, four?"

Faye sent her a scathing look but otherwise ignored her and turned back to Thea, who smiled politely, knowing the best way to get rid of Faye was to cut her down to size without her even really realizing it. Which wasn't that hard to do, Thea admitted. The woman had more air than brains in that head of hers.

Despite her thoughts, Thea continued to smile politely. "No it's a reasonable concern. A lot of women can't seem to keep their heads on their work." She let that hang for a moment, leaving no doubt to whom her comment was directed towards before continuing, "It's a good thing I'm not one of them, isn't it? Besides, my readers are always satisfied with my column no matter what goes on in my personal life."

Because they both knew it was true, Faye merely inclined her head once more. "You're right, that is a good thing. It would just be so sad if something disrupted your position here." She smiled cattily. "Well, I'd best be going, ciao ladies, don't work too hard."

Once she flounced away, Leila made a hissing noise at her back, mimicking a cat. "I could practically see her claws extending."

Thea smiled, sipping her coffee. "She doesn't scare me. She can make all the threats she'd like, we both know I'm not going anywhere and that's exactly what pisses her off so much."

Leila chuckled. "It's just so much fun to watch her try so hard to find a reason to make daddy fire you. And fail every time." Thea grinned but another voice from behind her stopped her before she could respond.

"Flores." Thea turned at the sound of her last name. Her boss, a slick haired man with a belt size that could fit two of her walked over to her cubicle. His gait was a bit sluggish from the extra pounds he had to cart around, his black suit impeccable. "Can I have a word?"

She pushed her chair away from the desk, casting a glance toward Leila who shrugged, and stood before making her way toward her boss. "Hello, Mr. Abbott. What can I do for you?"

"I wanted to speak with you about a story I'd like you to work on. As you know the World Series is coming up in a few short months. I want you there. Cover story."

Surprised, Thea gaped. "Me?"

Mr. Abbott raised an eyebrow. "Is there a problem?"

"No. No. Definitely not. You won't be disappointed."

"I know I won't. You're one of my top sports columnists. It goes without saying that I'll expect the best."

"Of course, sir."

With a nod he turned to walk away but paused, nodding toward her hand. "Congratulations by the way."

"Thanks." When he walked away, Thea grinned. Faye didn't have a chance.


Little had changed in the several months that Ben had been away. There were new billboards and a few new stores but essentially everything had remained exactly as he had remembered. Funny, he thought, that the town had remained nearly unchanged but the people in it had seemed to have changed overnight.

The whole ride there he had turned the idea of Josh getting married over in his mind but no matter which way he thought about it, it seemed out of place. He had called his little brother before he left New Orleans to tell him to meet him for lunch so he could talk some sense into him. And, finally, after hours of traffic he was waiting outside a coffee shop for Josh to show up.

Leaning against the wall, he pulled on the cigarette between his fingers taking a long sinful drag. "Still sporting that brainless habit, I see." At the sound of the voice behind him, Ben turned.

Josh stood in front of him, his lanky build shown off in khakis and a button up blue shirt that matched his eyes. His dirty blonde hair was still shaggy and his posture slightly slouched. Ben grinned, pitching his cigarette a few feet away. "Still scrawny as ever, I see."

Josh grinned at his brother, "Scrawny, my ass, I'll still put you on the ground."

Ben laughed. "Still stupid, too."

Josh laughed, allowing his brother to pull him into a hug. When he pulled back, he punched Ben's shoulder and studied his brother as they made their way into the coffee shop. He hadn't changed much; his brown hair was still spiked up, his tawny eyes accented by sharp features. He wore black slacks and a cream button up shirt, the first two buttons undone. There were faint smudges under his eyes, he realized as they took a seat at the counter, which showed his fatigue from the trip. But all in all he looked exactly the same.

When they were settled, Ben turned to look at his brother. "What is this shit I hear about you being engaged?"

Josh laughed. "No shit. I am."

Ben shook his head. "Are you crazy?"

Josh chuckled. "No. Just in love."

Ben stared at his little brother. "Yeah. Definitely crazy." He shook his head. "Who is she?" He asked.

Josh smiled, pouring sugar into the coffee the waitress brought him. "She's amazing Ben. Smart, funny, gorgeous. She doesn't pull any punches either. She says what's on her mind but in a way that you don't even know she's just put you neatly in your place." He laughed quietly to himself, realizing he had been babbling on. "She's perfect."

Ben leaned back, watching the emotions move over his brother's face. "You're really happy, huh?" he asked, awed.

Josh smiled softly, looking down at his coffee and back up. "Yeah, I really am."

Ben shook his head, not believing what was about to come out of his mouth. Letting out a breath, he smiled. "Then I'm happy for you. Even if you have gone insane."

Josh grinned. "Thanks, man. That means a lot to me."

Glancing around, Ben nodded. "Okay well, at least let me take you out to dinner tonight. Bring your… fiancé. I want to meet her."

"Alright. You're going to fall in love with her Ben, she's the best."

Ben grinned. "Then maybe I'll be able to convince her that she fell for the wrong brother." He joked. And didn't realize how true his words might be.


Josh made his way back to his car, his mood the best that it had been in… probably his entire life, he decided. The girl he loved had just agreed to marry him and now his brother, who he hadn't seen in months, surprised him with a visit. Maneuvering his way through the San Francisco traffic, he allowed his mind to wander.

He was ecstatic that the two people that meant the most to him were finally going to be able to meet for once. It had saddened him that they hadn't met sooner, but with Ben living in New Orleans and all of them busy with demanding careers it hadn't been possible. But the chance was here now and for that Josh was happy. Hopefully he would be able to convince Ben to stay for a few days. But even if he couldn't, at least he was finally going to meet Thea.

Pulling out his cell phone he dialed her number. When she answered, he smiled into the phone. "Hey baby."

"Hey." She answered, putting the pen down she was writing with. "What's up?"

"I've got some really good news,"

"Oh yeah? So do I." She smiled.

"That's great. Why don't we celebrate? We could meet at Credo's, and talk over dinner. I've got a surprise."

"Baby, that sounds great but can't we make it another night? We could celebrate at home. My feet are killing me. I just want to stay home and relax tonight."

"I know. But I really want you to meet someone. He's really important to me, Thea."

She sighed. It looked like the nice hot bubble bath she had in mind was going to be put on hold. "Okay," she glanced at her watch. "What time?"


Drained from a long day at the office, Thea made her way into Credo's stifling a yawn. She secretly wanted to burn the heels that adorned her feet and wished she had had time to run back to her apartment and change. But knowing traffic would be horrendous if she had, she had come straight from the office instead, leaving her stuck in her now least favorite pair or shoes.

A young hostess, no older than nineteen stopped in front of her. "May I help you?" She asked cheerfully.

"Yes," Thea hitched her bag more onto her shoulder. "I'm meeting someone. Connolly." She answered, giving Josh's last name.

Scrolling down the book, the hostess nodded. "Right this way."

They made their way through tables until they reached a small four seated table near the back. She could see Josh in the seat facing her, and a man with his back to her sitting in front of him. As she stepped closer, Josh caught her eye and stood. He walked toward her.

"Hey, sorry I'm a little late." She apologized and accepted the kiss from him.

Josh smiled. "Don't worry. Come on." Taking her hand he walked toward the table.

"I didn't get to change." She muttered, feeling self conscience in her black slacks and gray button up shirt.

"You look great." He promised and stopped walking once they reached the table. Squeezing her hand he gestured toward the man sitting at the table. "Thea I want you to meet someone really important to me. Baby, this is my brother Ben Lawrence. Ben this is my fiancé, Thea Flores."

Ben stood and turned around with a smile. And at the sight of his brother's new fiancé, the polite response on his lips faded away.

"It's nice to meet…" Thea's sentence finished on a gasp. Her thoughts began to cloud as she stared at his face. A face that looked so much like Josh's but so different at the same time. She looked from Ben to Josh and back so quickly that if Ben hadn't been watching so closely he doubted he would have seen her head turn. "Ben?" Her voice was a whisper.

It felt like he had a mouthful of sand. "Thea."

She looked back and forth between the two men once again, her eyebrows furrowed as floods of memories began to fill her mind. "But… you're… Josh… huh?"

And then she fainted.


A.N: I'm backkkk :) wow, does it feel good to say that. It's been awhile. Anyway, let me know what you thought please, I know it's been a long time since I posted anything on here so let me know if it's a little rough. Hopefully I'll post again soon because, trust me, if feels good to write again.

Disclaimer- anything branded, I do not own. And any names used in here are purely fictional, any coincidences are exactly that.

Please review!