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Eden O'Neill

Beautiful Brute

Beautiful Brute

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 1456 5-Star Reviews

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A night with a handsome stranger should have been the best one of my life.

But it turns out he wanted so much more from me.

Stepbrother nightmare. That’s Jaxen Ambrose.

He’s beautifully vicious, lethal, the villain, and I’m nothing but the plaything that gives him his high.

He says I must pay for my sins. I do that or he’ll end me. He’s got it in his sick mind I’ve done something to him. That I’ve taken something from him but I’m no thief.

The only thief is him. My enemy, my obsession. He involved me in his wicked game without me even knowing. Before he was cruel, he was kind, a stranger who’d been gentle and sweet. I even believed him capable of love.

Only, that love turned out to be what I should fear most, his wickedest play of all. It’s true that his cruelty could break me.

But his love could destroy me.

Warning: Beautiful Brute is an NA stepbrother romance that contains graphic content and situations some may find triggering. It's recommended for readers 17+ and is a standalone novel with no cliffhanger. It's book three in a series of standalones titled Court University, which is a spin-off series about characters featured in Eden O'Neill's Court High books. Reading the Court High books first is not necessary for the enjoyment of Court University. The characters origin stories merely begin in Court High and can be referred to at any time if the reader so chooses. Enjoy!

*Hardcover and Paperback books purchased after 1/26/24 will include author's stamped signature

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Chapter One


A massive chest rose and fell with heavy breath beside me.
I slept… with a boy.
A giggle suppressed as I hunkered down, peeking at him from my pillow. He was beautiful in ways that weren’t right, hard body filling half my bed and long.
Holy crap, was he long.
His actual ankles hung off my full bed, sliding out of the sheets when he tugged them up and tucked them above his hips. A perfect V-shape lingered below chiseled ab muscles, his chest broad and golden.
I bit back a snicker at his dick hair. He gave me full-on dick cleavage, a smattering of dark hair at the base of his dick. I couldn’t see all of said dick currently, but his morning wood outlined my rainbow bedding like nothing else.
Oh my gosh.
A sigh in his sleep and he turned, perfection from his chiseled jaw line to his full lips. He had a deep cavity near his right eye, like an old scar from something. Outside of that tiny imperfection, he stunned with hallowed cheekbones cut from the gods and a pair of deep-set eyes that glistened when he laughed. He had green eyes when they weren’t closed, and though I’d only seen him in a dark club and my bedroom last night, they’d been awesome. They were like see-through marbles.
Utterly gorgeous.
I tried not to breath now for fear he’d wake up and see me ogle. And my God his laugh. He had such a rich tone, the lines around his mouth revealing he liked to do this often. He liked to laugh, a kidder and a jokester. He kept trying to find ways to bring it out of me last night, to poke and touch me.
He’d been perfect.
He was perfect from his body, to his smile, to his laugh. He had the looks of Chris Pine, his shaggy brown hair that curled and feathered only adding to his features. With the fun-loving personality of Chris Pratt and the height of a Hemsworth, he was absolutely all the Chrises.
All the boxes checked.
All goals met.
All virginity lost.
A reminder of that burn, that soreness, quaked between my legs, and I hoped I hadn’t come across as much of a virgin now as I did last night. I mean, I couldn’t have been a great lover, it being my first time and all that, but I hoped he hadn’t noticed.
He’d been good, slow, and it didn’t hurt once we picked up. In fact, I’d been so overwhelmed by sensory overload and the fact I’d come so quick last night, the discomfort hadn’t even bothered me.
This guy had made it easy, all golden and glistening with sweat. He’d enveloped me in a way that made me feel small but not in a bad way, his name, Brett.
Cleo Erikson-Fairchild had a conquest dadgummit.
The huzzah I kept internal. It was all I could do not to leave this bed and doodle his name surrounded by hearts in a notebook. He’d just been really sweet, and I definitely wanted to go out with him again. That was if he hadn’t picked up I’d been a virgin. I’d heard it could be a turn off for guys so I hadn’t mentioned it.
I need to call Kit!
My friend would want to know how I fared last night. We hadn’t gone to the club with intentions to lose my virginity, but I sure had been open to it. I’d wanted to head into my senior year of college a new woman, ready for the world and go beyond my comfort zone. I always stayed in that tight little box a lot.
I didn’t want to be in that box anymore.
Meeting Brett last night had come with opportunity, and though I started to reach for my phone to call my roommate and best friend since freshman year, I stopped when a hand came to settle around my hips. Brett hugged me to him, and I found a nice place there, his body heated and warm.
Lacing my fingers across his chest, I stared up at him, full well knowing I was all googly-eyed.
“So, um, I’m awake,” he drummed, a lid peeking open. He revealed one of those glistening green marbles. He grinned. “Just FYI in case you were wondering.”
Holy crap.
Stiffening, I tried to play the fact off. “Oh, okay. Cool.”
“Cool.” A chuckle when he peeled both eyes open, a translucent, sea foam green rounding his irises. He was an aquatic prince sans the trident, his arms stretched wide before he brought them around me again. “I just felt bad. You know, since you were staring and all that.”
My face heated. “I wasn’t staring.”
“Hmm.” An ass pinch before his big hand hugged my cheeks. “How does that lie go again?”
He pressed his mouth into my neck, and I thought I’d come right there, the burn tingling my lower lips. He jiggled my bottom, and when he got anywhere close to touching me down there, I giggled.
He pulled back, the grin sexy on his full lips. “You’re cute, you know? Sexy.”
A foreign term to me, but I drank it in as hard biceps surrounded me. Brett tipped my chin, kissing my mouth open, and immediate warmth settled in my tummy. Deep, his tongue dueled with mine, hot lava in his touch as he tugged the sheets off my body.
“So goddamn sexy,” he crooned, sliding his hand between my legs. I jumped, accidentally kneeing him, and he smiled. “You okay?”
Stop being such a virgin.
Okay, so I wasn’t a virgin anymore, but I still felt like one. All this was new, but I closed my eyes, trying to stay out of my head. This was all good until Brett explored with his thick fingers, thumb and forefinger brushing my sex. I jumped again on instinct, wriggling, but froze entirely as he entered my raw core.
His fingers retreated immediately, of course, lashes fanning up, and I nearly face-palmed myself.
I nudged his arms. “Don’t stop.”
“You sure?”
I cupped the sharp blades of his back for emphasis, bringing him down on me. A sexy grin and his lips returned to mine, my hands bracing his shoulders. He took us right back to where things left off, easing my legs apart. He actually got his entire digit in before my body protested and froze up again. I was just so sore, badly since it had been my first experience last night, and this time, Brett ignored my urge to keep going.
“Yeah, you’re not, okay.” He fell to his side, concern on his perfect Chris Pine lips. “What’s up? You’re not into this?”
So I was definitely into this.
But how did one tell this perfect fusion of, simply put, the best Chrises that she’d only been touched like once and that was by him?
“Er, um,” I started, and when his eyebrow raised, I sighed. “I’m just inexperienced.”
“Right.” Another grin before he pressed his mouth to mine, that big Hemsworth body all over me. “You’re funny.”
I wished I was. I wished it didn’t still hurt because he was fucking sexy and I wanted him inside me right now like I wanted ice cream sundaes. Like I wanted lava cake and snickerdoodles. Like I loved caramel corn.
Jesus, he makes me insatiable.
“This tight, little body isn’t inexperienced,” he said, moving a hand over my breast. He pinched a nipple, and I moaned. He breathed heat over it. “It’s sexy as fuck.”
Again, foreign to me, which was why I’d been so forthright at the club last night. I was tired of being the soft, inexperienced virgin. I wanted to have some fun and finally get out of my head. I let life hold me back a lot, and Kit amping me up last night only helped me out. She’d been having sex since high school, and my college roommate couldn’t believe I hadn’t had the same experiences yet. She’d called me sexy too before, I guess, but that was so not me in my shorts past my knees and calf-length skirts. I was mission trips and Netflix, not sexy woman of the world. That’d just never been me.
But Brett had made me feel that way last night, adventurous. He’d made me laugh, so hard I thought I’d barf a lung. His experience in the bedroom only added to the perfection he was. He’d made me feel so deeply, knew pleasure. Just like now.
Tweaking my nipple, he positioned a knee between my legs. He rubbed my sex, just a brush, but it tickled, and I squeaked.
I actually squeaked.
A slow eyebrow lift in my direction, and I literally did palm my face.
You suck, Cleo Erikson-Fairchild. You totally suck!
My fingers peeled away. “Okay, I have a confession.”
“All right.” A smirk before he played with my fingers, and I was glad he found this funny because I sure didn’t.
I bit my lip, completely embarrassed. “Uh, last night was my first time.”
“First time for what?”
I gave him a look, an obvious one, and his eyebrows jumped so far up his face I thought they’d shoot into his Chris Pine hairline.
Our fingers stopped the dance when he removed one. He twirled it in front of me. “So what we did last night…”
“My first time.”
“You’re serious?”
“As a heart attack.”
Reality moved over his face then, and when he lay back, looking completely freaking stunned, I knew I lost him.
Brett’s thick fingers shoved into his hair in silence, his sight dancing on my star-coated ceiling. I’d put up those corny, glow-in-the-dark stars when I’d been like twelve, but had been too lazy to take them down. We’d had to come to my childhood home last night since I was on break from school, but I didn’t expect my parents back until later today since they were out of town on business. My adoptive father—well, technically, my stepdad—was a congressman and my mom worked for him. I thought them being out of town gave me an opportunity.
But now, I was only embarrassed.
My heart beat like a jackrabbit during Brett’s silence, and I thought he’d literally run from my bed like I had a contagious disease.
Say something please.
Too many moments passed, too many of him staring at the ceiling. Wide-eyed, he looked like one of those memes where the guy is trying to calculate the most intricate problem. His throat jumped. “All right.”
“All right?” I asked, hopeful. I hoped it would be all right.
I really wanted to see him again.
He was nice, and though he was probably local, I was sure I could work something out to see him again. I was supposed to be going back to school tomorrow, but my university was only like an hour away. A long distance thing could work if…
Totally ahead of myself, I deflated. Especially when something hardened Brett’s features.
His eyebrows drew in, his stare calculated, cold. It was the opposite of how I’d seen him before.
He said nothing, the swallow hard in his throat. Turning, he schooled whatever that was before. He picked up my hand, lacing my fingers. “A virgin… all right.”
“All right?”
He nodded, but this time, he smiled. “I can be about that. No big deal.”
“Really.” No hesitation with his chuckle, that wonderful laughter that forced heat instantly into my belly. He’d gotten me drunk off that sound without a lick of alcohol last night. There’d been a reason I’d taken this guy home with me. He’d been so nice, easygoing.
He’d been gentle.
He was perfect now, wrapping a thick arm around me. He tugged at my chin. “Really, it’s not a thing. I’m okay with it.”
He was okay with it.
Tipping my chin, he kissed me, and suddenly, my vision was filled with wedding bells and “Here Comes the Bride.”
A growl and he had our fingers laced, dragging them up and above my head. He pressed his whole big body on me, and when I ground my hips into him, he blessed me with that deep laughter again.
“You sure you were a virgin, gorgeous?” he asked, biting my lips. I believed I’d been, but with him all hot and hard on top of me I wasn’t sure.
Turning the tides, I shifted, forcing him on his back. He let me be myself with him, be… sexy. He let me take control and when he gathered my hair, I bit back a moan.
“Hon! We’re home. Where are you?”
Holy fucking shit!
I fell off the bed, like literally rolled off the bed with a thud.
Brett scrambled to the side, eyes wide. “Shit. You okay?”
Mom’s voice traveled from somewhere in the house again. Meanwhile, I was on the floor flopping around on my purple shag rug. My childhood bedroom was literally like My Little Pony threw up in it, a fascination I had from my pony figurines on my desk to the artist renderings I bought from the internet and put on my walls.
It was a phase, okay?
“Honey?” My adoptive father, Rick, called from within the house as well. “Darling? Is everything all right? We heard something. Should we come up?”
Shit, he’s home too!
Neither one was supposed to be, obviously, since I brought a boy into their house and screwed him.
Oh my Goddd.
“Everything’s fine!” I called, hoping to God they didn’t come up. Scrambling, I got my naked butt off the floor, and I shot to the door. I locked it. “Everything’s good. I swear!”
“You’re sure?”
“Positive!” Panicked, I listened through the door, and when I heard nothing, I turned around, facing Brett. He’d gotten up from the bed.
And was gloriously naked.
His length hung heavy, thick and veiny. I’d been intimidated as hell by him last night, and his dick had been a huge part of that.
But then the rest of him.
Golden perfection, hard and chiseled everywhere he needed to be. A pair of thick thighs pulsed with muscular definition. This guy obviously worked out and frequently. He literally looked like Thor without the hammer, his fingers coming up and curling in his feathered hair. “Your, um… parents, I’m guessing.”
“Parents?” My lips parted in a daze with my sight on that body in front of me.
His smile righted. “Yeah. Downstairs.” He pointed a finger in that direction. “Should we do something…”
Oh, fuck!
Groaning, I gathered all his things. Like all his stuff from his shoes and shirt to his jeans. I threw the lot at him, but couldn’t find his boxers.
Where the hell are his boxers?
“Er, um.” Like he knew, he tugged them off my My Little Pony lamp.
If I could physically die in that moment, I would have.
A smile and he was bunching them up with the rest of his stuff. “I’m assuming I need to leave now.”
God, did I not want him to, but gathering a sleep shirt and a pair of shorts I’d worn the other night, I knew he needed to. I found my sports bra too and tugged all three on. “Yeah, and I’m so sorry.”
“It’s cool. So, um…” He gazed around, but when I pointed toward the window his eyes widened. “Wait. The window?”
I mean, I hadn’t tried it, but I figured it was possible. Mom liked to do gardening work out there when she was actually home. There should be some vines up the wall he could climb down…
A hand grappled my waist, like nearly my entire waist with how big it was. A cool smile and Brett was pressing his naked body up against me. He still hadn’t put his clothing on so I felt basically every inch of him.
“Cleo, I haven’t climbed out of a girl’s window since high school,” he said, so tempting. He buried his face in my hair. I hadn’t cut it in a while and the soft brown waves basically sat at my butt. He bunched it. “Can we do a little better than that?”
Oh, we could do way better, and that consisted of us hopping back in that bed while he made me melt. In fact, he dropped the clothes between us, his stuff hitting the floor, and when he brought both arms around me, I thought that’s exactly where we were headed.
That was until steps hit the hallway.
A heavy cadence, my dad, before a fist tapped on the other side of my door.
“Honey, you coming down?” Another tap. “We’ve obviously ruined the surprise, but we came home early.” A light chuckle. “We wanted to see you.”
Well, I was definitely surprised, and under any normal circumstances, I would have wanted to see them. Since Dad was a congressman, they were basically never home, my mom the same since she worked for him. That’s how they’d met, inseparable since. It’d been a surprise when they told me they were getting married but a happy one.
“We brought danishes for you too, sweetheart.”
My heart would warm had I not had a naked boy up against me, a boy whose gaze shot toward the door the moment my dad’s voice drifted inside.
And what a simmer it held.
Brett’s hand literally curled around my waist at the presence of my dad, his entire body stiff and rigid. The appearance of my father obviously bothered him, as it should because that was my dad on the other side of the door. My adoptive father had always been pretty laid-back, but at the end of the day, the man raised me, had been in my life since I was eleven, and I was his little girl. I was still that even at twenty-two and about to be a senior in college. Dad wouldn’t be happy Brett was in here at all, and I shoved Brett out of his stupor.
“You have to go,” I whisper-growled, picking up his stuff and nudging him toward the window. He stood solid, an impenetrable landmass, and my heart raced inside my chest. “What are you doing?”
“Actually, I think I’ve changed my mind.” His look peeled away from the door and settled on me. If my dad bothered him before, there was no tell of that now, his hands gathering my waist and tugging me to him. His nose graced my cheek. “Don’t make me leave, Cleo. I want you.”
Good fucking God.
Internally groaning, I obviously had a weakness for guys who gave off Chris energy. A kiss to my neck and I knew I was letting him stay. What I didn’t know was how I’d make that happen with my dad on the other side of the door. I patted his chest. “Okay. Just… get in the closet or something.”
He smirked. “The closet?”
“Yes, I’ll make up an excuse or something. Get them to run to the store real quick.”
It’d buy us more time if anything else.
He didn’t move, still holding me, but him hiding was not negotiable this time. I pushed him toward the closet, and by the grace of God, he moved his gargantuan-sized legs. I opened the walk-in, pushing him inside and when I stepped back to close the door, he smiled at me ever so innocently. He also kept his clothes strategically placed over his johnson, looking freaking cute as hell, and I seriously thought I’d melt.
“Hon?” Dad called.
I shut the door on his cute smile, knowing I’d have to do some fast talking to get my parents out.
I’d only been thanking the heavens above Brett hadn’t driven over here. We’d both taken ride shares out to the club, so when we left, we did the same back here. No way would I be able to explain a guy’s car in my driveway.
I was seriously screwed, something I knew because getting my parents out, even to go to the store, when they’d just arrived wouldn’t be easy. They’d come home early to spend time with me, and they hadn’t just come into town to see me off to school, but my stepbrother too. He was due to arrive later today and was my adoptive father’s kid from his previous marriage.
A long story, but I hadn’t actually met my stepbrother, Jaxen Ambrose, even though our parents had been married since we were both eleven. Jaxen’d chosen to stay in the Midwest with his mom while his dad obviously lived with my mom and me. I’d remembered being really sad about that when I was a kid, learning I had a step-sibling only later to find out I wouldn’t be seeing him. I guessed Rick and Jaxen’s mom had a rough divorce. I didn’t know the details, but hadn’t questioned it and definitely respected Jaxen’s decision to stick with his mom. Mine had been my rock since my own dad left.
It took me a real long time to get over that, my dad abandoning my mom and me. In fact, I still wasn’t completely over it, but I had moved on. That was made easier by the man who adopted me at the age of thirteen. Rick Fairchild had been the cornerstone of this family for a long time, and I knew he was really looking forward to Jaxen coming down here. Jaxen’d decided to come here to finish up his senior year, in college like me. We already had so much in common, and I was looking forward to meeting him.
I hadn’t had siblings in a long time.
My crap together and some clothes put on, I made it to the door, opening it up and seeing my dad’s face. He had his suit on, well partially. He hadn’t worn the jacket, but still presented as a congressman through and through. His tie was navy, an American flag pinned to it. A wide smile, and he gave me the biggest hug.
“I was starting to think something was wrong,” he said, pulling away. He had dark hair, naturally curly but always moussed it back for work. The man I called my father never had a single hair out of place, nor a five o’ clock shadow on his jaw. Not even during Christmas when he and Mom didn’t have to work. He just always had things together, which had been so important for me and my mom. We needed that a long time ago, thrived on it.
I hugged him again, super tight. I missed him whenever he and Mom were away.
“Nothing’s wrong.” Much. I only had a boy in my closet. A boy I had no idea how I’d let go. I released Dad. “Sorry. Just woke up.”
This obviously surprising him, his head tilted. “My daughter sleeping past ten? Wow, are you sure you’re my Cleo?”
Chuckling, I told him I was. He threw an arm around me in response, my dress definitely lazy today. He asked about that too as I usually came out of my room in workout clothes in the morning. I liked to run before five generally.
“Late start,” I said on our way down the hallway. I’d have to send them to the store for something, but if I led with that, he’d probably push and find that weird. After all, he’d just gotten here and that would be weird. I always liked to see both him and Mom when they arrived.
For now, I decided to let him lead me downstairs. “Kit took me out, so yeah, I was up pretty late.”
Dad and Mom knew all about Kit. We’d been roommates since freshman year, and funny enough, we grew up in the same town but didn’t know about each other until we’d been assigned our living arrangements. We’d been joined at the hip ever since, the girl my best friend. Like most people, I didn’t see many of my old friends anymore when we all parted ways after high school to go to college. We still kept up with each other in one way or the other, but for the most part, we didn’t talk a whole lot. A big reason for that was me. I wasn’t really about social media so much. I was more into activism and volunteering on campus. I’d even done a mission trip earlier this summer abroad, the time of my life.
Dad and I found my mom in the kitchen reading the paper. She was in a pleated skirt and white blouse, the perfect pairing to my dad. He’d just had his dress slacks and white shirt on, but his blazer rested across the kitchen island.
“Look who I found,” Dad proclaimed, kissing the top of my head. “Sleeping in past ten.”
“Who are you and where is my first born?” she asked, still saying that. It’d been years since my brother and she still called me her first born.
The first like there were others now.
Mom’s thoughts obviously hadn’t traveled where mine had. Her brown eyes warmed, same tone as mine. We shared a bright hazel as well as our brunette hair. Mom kept hers in a bun most days. She grinned. “Should I take your temperature?”
“Mom,” I groaned. Dad dropped his arm and I wandered over to my mom’s waiting arms. “Stop. I slept in. So what.”
“So what?” she eyed Dad behind me. “I’ve only been telling her that for years.”
Dad flashed nothing but his teeth. “I’m telling you, Invasion of the Body Snatchers. This isn’t our child.”
“Clearly.” She jostled me. “How have you been? You had a late night or something?”
Something like that.
My gaze drifted toward the ceiling, but with a nudge, my mom had me sitting on a barstool beside her.
My parents had a wide kitchen in our suburban home, the multi-level within only two miles of the beach. I grew up within a short drive of the Miami coast, but could count how many times I’d actually been to Miami on one hand. I loved the sun, but preferred our more modest-sized town and the childhood home I grew up in. When we were all here, my parents and I, the place was always full. Mom and Dad constantly had events, both family gatherings and business. I remember being a teen while they hosted dinner parties for the neighborhood, but no matter how busy they got, they always made sure to tuck me in. I had more than one nanny growing up, but never, not once, did my mom and dad make me feel like they didn’t care, like they weren’t there for me. They were off changing the world, my role models whom I respected and loved. Our house was such a family place, welcoming with its feel, which was why Mom and Dad said they’d bought it.
“We wanted a place for you to bring back your babies.”
Mom always said that, the home reserved to be filled up with grandchildren. Of course, I’d never slowed down enough to even think about that. I’d been ultra-focused on school and my volunteer work. I did orchestra for a time too before I got too busy.
Mom’s hand came to tug at my waist-length hair, the haircut definitely needed on my end. My mousy brown hair nearly hit my butt, and though it was completely unmanageable, I only liked to cut it after it was long enough to donate. I supposed with my parents’ work in politics and helping people, I’d always gravitated toward that too. I couldn’t do much in school, but always actively tried to help out where I could. My mission trip had been to Haiti.
Mom immediately started asking about that. I hadn’t seen them except for a drop-in here and there all summer, and they really did only come home now to see me off before going back to school. That and, of course, to be here when my stepbrother Jaxen arrived. From what I understood, his plane was scheduled to come in sometime this evening.
I might have asked them about that.
Had I not heard movement on the stairs.
Literally creeks and cracks, stopping all conversation.
Stopping me.
A glance and my family’s gazes made a beeline in that direction. Mom lowered her arm. “Is someone here?”
Oh no.
Dad actually started to go in that direction, but there was no need.
Because he walked right in the room.
Brett waltzed into the kitchen like he’d been frequenting it for years, his eyes following mine. He walked right up to the kitchen island. Joined my family.
What the fuck did he think he was doing?
My heart catapulting into my throat, I thought I’d pass out. There was no explanation for this. Absolutely no explanation that would excuse the fact that the boy I slept with was now downstairs and very much standing in front of my parents. I could explain all I wanted, and my parents still wouldn’t be about this.
Oh my God. Oh my God. Oh my God.
This had to be akin to dying, this feeling inside. Complete and utter dread filled me as my parents’ eyes twitched wide and my mom got completely off her barstool. Dad had come around from the bar at this point, maybe a foot away from Brett.
Holy fuck, he’s going to kill him.
It was like Dad knew what I did in his house, approaching him, but Brett… well, Brett was the only one in this situation who didn’t appear to be totally floored by the turn of events in front of him. He stood there, cool as a cucumber in front of my dad.
My mouth parted. “Dad…”
“Jaxen,” came out of my Dad’s mouth first, my eyes twitching wide.
But that’s what Dad had called him when he approached him, Jaxen. Dad put a hand out.
But Brett hugged him instead.
It’d been a sudden hug and one, clearly, my adoptive father hadn’t anticipated.
Dad froze, his arms slowly coming down around the hugger. “Son?”
My blinks rapid, the guy who hugged him merely brought an arm farther around my dad. The pair shifted, and I found nothing but green eyes in my direction.
They accompanied his smile.
“Hey, Dad,” the boy with the beautiful green eyes said, his words shocking me still. He hugged my father harder. “Good to see you.”

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