Tangled in Charlotte's Web

By Ashleigh Yates All Rights Reserved ©

Romance / Drama

Blurb

Twas the night before Christmas in a cabin is Aspen, When the worst possible thing, like ever, did happen. The stockings were hung by the chimney with care, But my Christmas had to be ruined, good God it’s not fair! The children were playing, no sign of a fight, When I was scarred by the most disturbing, appalling, horrid sight. I saw what I saw and now I’m traumatized at best, By the image of my sister and my best friend having sex! Mason Martinez is still coming to terms with his new family. On top of all the new life changes, he just turned thirty and is utterly alone. Enter Charlotte Moore. A broke Ph.D. student from Chicago who just wants to change the world for the better. They might be exactly what the other needs...but perhaps not. This is a spinoff of Atypical Heiress: The Penelope Marino Story. I suggest reading that first for context, although this can be read as a standalone novel.

Prologue

MASON

Twas the night before Christmas in a cabin in Aspen,

When the worst possible thing, like ever, did happen.

The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,

But my Christmas had to be ruined, good God it’s not fair!

The children were playing, no sign of a fight,

When I was scarred by the most disturbing, appalling, horrid sight.

I saw what I saw and now I’m traumatized at best,

By the image of my sister and my best friend having sex!


“Mason wait!”

I shuddered as I heard my sister calling after me. “Leave me alone Penelope! I can’t be near you right now!”

“Mason! Don’t be like that!”

I spun around and she crashed into me with a grunt. She stepped back and tied her flimsy silk robe more tightly around her waist. I clenched my jaw and felt bile rising into the back of my throat.

“Why didn’t you knock?” she asked quietly, looking down at the ground as she shuffled from one foot to the other nervously.

“Dad said you were napping and probably wouldn’t hear if I only knocked since you sleep like a rock. I didn’t know I was going to see...what I saw!”

I heard footsteps behind her and saw my best friend Brett come up behind his wife. He wrapped his arm around her waist and kissed her forehead. I saw red.

“I’m sorry you had to see that,” he said calmly. “But don’t take it out on Lupita.”

I’m pretty sure I growled aloud because Lupe placed her hand on my chest and pushed me gently. “Calm down, Mace,” she said, her voice barely above a whisper. “We’re trying for a baby and we have to uh...you know at specific times.”

My anger dimmed a bit. I knew they had been trying to get pregnant for a while and Lupe was taking it pretty hard. “I’m sorry little sis,” I said, suddenly feeling ashamed by my outburst.

She grinned. “I’m older than you.”

I scoffed. “By five minutes. And besides, you’re still short.”

“What did you want to tell me?”

“Dinner’s ready. And Malachi wants you.”

“Okay, we’ll be down in ten! Come on babe,” she said taking Brett by the hand.

He rolled his eyes as I glared at him. Brett Jacobson and I had been best friends for as long as I could remember. We had grown up together and he was there with me through all of my angsty teenage years when I was angry at the world. So why was I angry with him now?

He had been dating my twin sister, Penelope when I met her and for some reason, the thought of him being with her made me crazy. No clue why. Brett was a complete gentleman with women and had been nothing but amazing to little Lupe. They had been married for a little over a year and for some reason, I still couldn’t get over it. This angered Brett and placed a lot of strain on our friendship.

I sighed and headed back downstairs where my father was playing with Brett’s son Malachi and my little brother, Joseph. I smiled as Joseph toddled over to me and reached for me to pick him up.

My relationship with my father, Francesco, was complicated. For most of my life, I thought that he had abandoned me and my now deceased mother. Lupe had been searching for our mother and found out about me through our grandparents. Confronting my father and bringing him into my life had been difficult but three years after we reunited, we had finally hit our stride. Three months ago he finally retired and turned the company over to Lupe and I, right before our thirtieth birthday.

“Mason I have your drink." Serena, my stepmother came shuffling into the room and handed me a glass of scotch. “Where’s Lupe?”

“She and Brett will be down in a few,” I replied taking a swig of my drink and trying not to remember what I had seen.

She sat down on the couch next to my father and smiled at me. “I thought you were bringing a lady friend for the holiday.”

I shrugged. “Natasha and I broke up last month.” I hoped she wouldn’t ask more questions. Serena had a really nasty habit of prying and Natasha was a sore spot for me.

Serena’s face twisted into a look of sadness. “When are you going to settle down? I want some more grandbabies,” she said, pulling Malachi into her arms as he walked by.

He giggled and squirmed in her arms as she peppered his cheeks with kisses. “Abuelita stop!”

I smiled at the interaction in spite of the pain in my chest at Serena’s question.

Serena looked like she wanted to ask more but my father’s hand on her arm stopped her. I was grateful for the gesture.

“Why is it so cold up here?” Lupe asked with a shiver as she and Brett joined us in the family room.

“We’re in Aspen in December, honey,” Brett said with a laugh. “Go sit by the fire.”

“Mommy!” Malachi squealed, jumping into her arms.

I felt a pang in my chest watching Lupe, Malachi and Brett cuddled up by the fire. Maybe that’s why I was so irritated by Brett. I wanted what he had. A family of my own.

Lupe found me alone in the den after dinner. “You want to tell me what’s wrong? You’ve been quiet all evening.”

I glanced over at my twin sister. She was sitting on the couch with her knees drawn into her chest. Her giant sweater covered her tiny body making her look even smaller than normal. Her bright green eyes, identical to my own, stared back at me with intense concern.

“I’m fine.”

“Cut the shit, Mace. It’s me.”

I snorted. “You’ve got such a potty mouth.”

“I know. Now tell me what’s wrong or I’ll go get Brett.”

“Natasha broke up with me.”

“Serena told me.”

“I thought she was the one. I proposed to her and she said no,” I said sadly.

Lupe gasped. “That bitch!”

I smiled. Lupe was nothing if not loyal. She scooted closer to me on the couch and lay her head on my shoulder. “Natasha was definitely not 'the one'. You’ll find someone.”

“I’m not so sure about that anymore, Lupe,” I replied honestly.

“I am.”

“I hope you’re right.”

“I always am.”

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