“I hate these guys! I wish I never moved in with this family!" Cassie fumed, sitting cross-legged on her bed with her chin on her hands. How dare Rob talk to her like that?! Who the hell did he think he was anyway?!
She heard a heated argument downstairs between two of her roommates, who where also brothers–Rob, the oldest (and most serious) at 33 and Glenn (the funniest and most relaxed), who was the youngest at 21. She couldn’t quite make out what was being said, but she knew that she was the topic of the debate. Bryon, the middle brother at 32 (and always the voice of reason), was still at work as assistant coach of the football team at the local university which Cassie attended.
She had skipped class and someone had ratted her out to Bryon, who had called Rob. She suspected it was Judy, her arch nemesis. That girl had a serious crush on Glenn and would do anything to earn his attention. The bitch. Glenn was Cassie’s closest male friend and was very close to her and Judy did everything she could to cause them friction.
Cassie flopped onto her back, staring at the ceiling. She had been ordered by Rob to march her fanny upstairs to wait until his dad, Bill, came home from work as a celebrity sports commentator and national spokesman for the‘Staying In School’campaign. After throwing a screaming fit and telling Rob exactly what she thought of him, the 20 year old girl had stomped upstairs and slammed the door with a satisfactory bang, hard enough to make some pictures fall off the hallway wall.
Cassie fought back angry tears. This was the first time Rob had really raised his voice to her in such an imposing manner. Most of the time, he just grumped and stared her down until she caved. There was something behind his stare that made her uncomfortable. Bryon called it his‘game face’; it was the look he would give his opponents to make them question their sanity for being on the field with the large, powerful young man.
In general, the brothers tended to tiptoe around her because of her explosive temper, especially after her mother had passed away unexpectedly one year ago and she opted to stay with them in lieu of being alone. She had known her neighbors since she was eight, staying at their home more often than her own. Bill was the only decent male role model she had. They had met when Cassie was eight and she and her mother had moved next door. Bill, a widower, quickly stepped in to help the two girls and brought with him three large, strapping, well-mannered boys. The family had been good to her and her mom, and they had eagerly embraced them both with love and affection. Bill had been there through thick and thin, simply out out the goodness of his heart, and had tried to provide her with some direction per her mother's request. Cassie had to admit he hadbeen good her, but she never saw him as an authority figure. In truth, like her mother, he had let her get away with murder. Rob, though… He frightened her, he always had, and she didn’t know why.
Snarling, Cassie threw a pillow at the door. Why should she listen to Rob anyway? It wasn’t his body that made her tremble, but his face. She was used to the boys’heights and physiques; each had played football all through high school and most of college as sons of the famous Big Bill Johnson, star quarterback for the Dolphins. Both Rob and Bryon were huge, like their father, who was well over 6’4”. They had broad shoulders and slender waists, muscular arms and legs, beautiful dimpled smiles, honey brown eyes, and dark brown hair. Glenn was a kicker; he was shorter, long-limbed, slender, and had lighter hair that seemed to match his playful, boyish disposition.
No, it wasn’t Rob’s size. Bryon was right… It was that‘game face’that changed Rob’s normally warm, gentle gaze to hard, full-blown menace when he was challenged so directly. It clearly spelled trouble.
Cassie sighed, trying to calm her anger. Truthfully, she wanted for nothing. Since her mother's passing, Bill provided for everything and she didn’t have to worry about a roof over her head, food on the table, or clothes on her back. But she could only view her life in one way; she lived in a gilded cage with pain in the ass roomates who loved to try to control her. Except for Glenn…he understood her.
Footsteps on the stairs alerted her to Bill’s homecoming. He tapped on her door before peeking in.
“Cass? It’s me. We need to talk,”the big man said gently, walking in and quietly closing the door behind him. Cassie snarled.
“There is nothing to say, Bill. Rob already screamed at me.”
“I heard. And I wouldn’t say he screamed. What happened, kid?”he said as he sat down on the bed to look at her. She fought the sense of guilt. He really treated her well, and was very kind, so why did she like to make him so miserable? She shrugged.