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I’ve read many books where the step-brother and step sister got it together, and I must admit, I’ve never really had a problem with any of them. The Mills and Boon Modern and Tender Romances that I sometimes read are littered with this particular plot device (as well as the dastardly secret baby plots *g*).

I was reading a story in an EC anthology called Passionate Hearts last night when I came across such a story. Apart from the fact that the heroine was called Vicky Vale (spooky Batman connection), the story was ok, it didn’t blow me away, but I certainly didn’t want to toss it either.

I think the author handled it quite well, because the two step-siblings had never met before, so it never actually entered my head that it could be considered incest by people, less liberal than myself.

That is, until I saw a a programme advertised on TV about step-siblings falling in love in real life. I think the programme was dealing with the issue of what the future would hold for such unions.

It got me to thinking, what if the step-brother and step-sister featured in the romance story, were actually brought up together? Does that make for a higher ewww factor, or would it not bother you either way?

I recall reading Christine Balint’s ‘The Salt Letters’ a few years ago. The book featured a romance between Sarah, the heroine, and Richard, who was her first cousin. I remember constantly skipping the parts where they kissed. The intimate scenes totally icked me out.

Personally, the step-brother/step-sister romance has never been an issue for me. I think this is due to the lack of real blood connection.

As for kissing cousins, yuck, yuck, yuck! Historically I know that it used to happen a lot, but knowing that doesn’t make it more palatable for me to digest.

So what are your thoughts on the matter?

33 Comments »


  • Jaynie R
    July 19
    9:02 am

    If they are bought up together as brother and sister then yeah, it has the ewwwww factor.

    I have no problems with the scenario you described. They aren’t biologically related and had never met as step-bro and sis. That is fine for me.

    I don’t really have a problem with them becoming step-bro and sis later in life, and falling in love that way, but I think it’s a pretty lazy plot device.

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  • Scott
    July 19
    10:18 am

    Heck, if it worked for Alicia Silverstone and Paul Rudd in “Clueless”, why not a romance novel? ;)

    Seriously, even in real society, it shouldn’t be frowned upon in my opinion. They are not related, only through a legal bound between one of each of their parents.

    I am currently reading a book (actually listening, it’s an audio book that I am still finishing after a long road trip) where two of the characters are brother and sister and get married! Talk about high EWWW factor. Not only that, but then their cousin has a baby the same time they do, and those two get married (the babies later in life)! Obviously not a lot of people honestly had a problem with it since the book won the Pulitzer for fiction.

    As much as I don’t read certain things because they don’t appeal to me, it will appeal to someone.

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  • Ann Wesley Hardin
    July 19
    11:42 am

    Hiya Karen!

    Curiously enough, before edits, Layover had something of a step-bro/sis theme to it. I had alot more language in there that implied they thought of each other as siblings. My editor warned me to watch for the *ick* factor so I took most of it out and changed it to *platonic* feelings.

    In the end I think Layover worked better without it, but I have no problem at all sith steps falling in love. If they can know each other that well and still love each other *gg* more power to ‘em!

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  • Angela James
    July 19
    12:35 pm

    I have step-brothers. Our parents got married when I was 19 and they were 10 and 11 respectively. I have never lived with them since I was in college by that time so we can’t be considered to have grown up together. That said there is a HIGH ick factor for me to even consider them as potential date material. Ew ew ew. They’re my BROTHERS! And we’re not, by any means, a close knit family but still… I can’t get past the ickies.

    Of course, I’ve read books that deal with this and mostly it doesn’t bother me but it’s not an entirely comfortable relationship.

    And it could never be as bad as ANY V.C. Andrew book you’d choose to pick up. Blech.

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  • Eve Vaughn
    July 19
    2:18 pm

    The step brother step sister thing never bothered me, I’ve even read books where they had a sibling in common, but I’m okay with it as long as there’s no blood ties. I once read a book from one of my fav authors. It was a harlequin presents, and the two people in the story were first cousins. I had to keep going over it to make sure I had read it correctly. Ewwwwww. Needless to say I couldn’t finish it. I think the cousin thing is kind of gross. It made me wonder if marrying one’s cousin is more accepted in other countries. Karen, weren’t Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip related in some way before they married?

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  • Desiree Erotique
    July 19
    3:42 pm

    Karen, step-sibling romance doesn’t bother me. As far as Kissing-cousins go, I guess I should be grateful there’s such a thing, or I probably wouldn’t be here, lol.

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  • Indida
    July 19
    4:35 pm

    It was always iffy with me, just too close to the edge. No blood relations is perfectly fine but it still bugs me, don’t know why.

    I have acquired the ability to ignore certain aspects of a story that make me feel weird if the story is good.

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  • McVane
    July 19
    6:24 pm

    The idea of having step-siblings together is a bit weird. I have an Australian friend who once married her step-brother and, as I understand, they divorced not long after because of their family and family friends’ reactions to their marriage. Their parents were quite devastated when their relationship came out in the open and subequently the marriage announcement. IIRC, she said her mother blamed herself so much that she had to get professional help to deal with her distress. Although they are divorced, the family isn’t the same again. Quite a shame, really.

    Frankly I find the idea of having a sibling marrying his or her sibling’s spouse more icky. Even if the sibling divorced the spouse or bought the farm. I’m sorry, but the idea of having sex with someone whom your sibling had sex with is so off-putting that I avoid all novels that feature this storyline.

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  • Kristie (J)
    July 20
    1:09 am

    Like everyone else, if they aren’t raised together it wouldn’t bother me to much.
    I was surprised at myself a few years ago though when I read The Grand Sophy by Georgette Heyer. Although I really enjoyed it, I was somewhat bothered by the fact they were first cousins – and rather astonished it even got published with that relationship.

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  • Marianne LaCroix
    July 20
    2:31 pm

    The step brother-step sister thing doesn’t bother me. No blood ties. The cousin thing…well, it used to be acceptable in society, so if I read a historical that has cousins falling in love, it doesn’t bother me. Back 200 years ago, it was the norm. Can’t apply todays standard to something that happened in 1814.

    However, if I read a modern romance of 1st cousins, I would probably not like it. I don’t read this type of thing, really. If I read a blurb saying cousins falling in love, I probably wouldn’t buy it.

    Ok, in commenting I see Britany all powder blue (with matcing shoes) and looking strange. What IS that skirt made of, vinyl? Someone needs to give her pregnancy fashion tips. Get that girl to Motherhood STAT.

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  • Maven
    July 20
    8:33 pm

    Well, My DH’s Maternal Grandparents are second cousins, soon to celebrate their 76th wedding anniversary. You have to remember,
    small town + no transportation + Great Depression = limited choice in mate selection. They made pretty kids though.

    Second or first cousins today, however, would probably get looked at a bit more oddly. Around here, most everyone is related in one fashion or another. The founding families have been here 100+ years and had 10 to 14 kids each generation. It can get tough to sort out the famillial connections, you just know you’re related through the
    “X Rhomer” line or through the “Walterscheids” if you date someone from your hometown.

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  • Monica
    July 21
    1:28 am

    The steps have no blood connection, so for somebody else I feel neutral about it. But I have two step brothers, and although I didn’t live with them much, it’s would be super-ewwwwwwwwww.

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  • Karen Scott
    July 21
    9:45 am

    Jaynie, I read a book by Dallas Schulze where the hero and heroine had been brought up together, and they fell in love, but I think it was beatifully written, and didn’t bother me one bit.

    Scott, I first read Virginia Andrews Flowers in The Attic many years ago, and till this day, it’s still one of my fave stories, I’m not sure why, seeing as the incest was definitely there, but I didn’t feel uncomfortable reading about the two siblings getting it together. Actually I think maybe the fact that they were forced to live together without ever seeing the light for several years may have made the difference. Also the cruelty they endured at the hands of their grandma may have taken the focus away from the incest.

    Ann, I’m glad you didn’t make them stepsi/bro, I love the best friends falling in love plot device, so it worked for me!

    Angie, I loved Flowers In The Attic, but I think I read the book when I was about 13, and maybe didn’t quite get it then, but I have to say, I still love it now. As for your step siblings, I’d feel the same if I had any!! Ewwww!

    Eve, Philip and Elizabeth were distant cousins, he was one of the Mountbattens, I’m not sure how distant a cousin he was though.

    Des your parents were cousins?

    Indida, I’m probably the same way.

    Maili, I am so with you on people marrying their siblings ex-spouses. That’s just wrong on so many levels.
    I can imagine that if your friend and her step bro had been brought up together, it would have caused quite an uproar within the family.

    Kristie, to me, first cousins getting it on is yucky!!

    Marianne, I can’t say I’ve ever read a contemp where first cousins get it on, but if I did, I’d probably fling the book down the toilet.

    Maven, I bet there are lots of people who have gotten married who are related in some way, and just don’t know it *shudder*

    Monica, if I had step brothers, I’d feel the same.

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  • Desiree Erotique
    July 23
    3:49 pm

    Karen,
    my maternal grandparents were first cousins. And my father’s grandmother’s people were often related via arranged marriages, sometimes with distant cousins. But that was acceptable practice at the time for the nobility.

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  • Anonymous
    October 12
    1:07 am

    I don’t know…I was only looking at this to see if it was legal for stepsiblings o marry…I had a crush on my stepbrother from the time I was five and he was twelve, but he wasn’t my stepbrother then. His mom and my dad married when I was 14 and he was 21…I have had that crush, and I knew even before they got married that there was never going to be anything between us…but I don’t have a problem with the idea at all…we never have lived together much because when we were livivng in the same house he was in college and so only was in the same house occasionally.

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  • Anonymous
    November 23
    6:04 pm

    I guess that all i can say is that first of all, to different families meet eachother the guy has a daughter, the other kid falls for her, and your mom ends up marrying her dad. So in other eyes, it used to be okay, but now it`s not? Personally i really don`t think that`s fare. I mean, she really isn`t the guys sister. But hey look, let`s say they get divorsed, than it`s alright again, that sounds a bit stupid to me. Besides, what if the one step sibling has a mom and dad, and sees them both, and vice versa, so they didn`t see eachother that often. Totally different parents, no blood relation, I`m fine with it. Now cousins, blood, that`s just wrong.

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  • Anonymous
    December 1
    9:07 pm

    I fell in love when I was 11 years old with a boy in the school the year above me – all of our friends knew that I liked him but I never discussed boys with my mum. When I was 14 she met his dad at church and before I knew it they had arranged to go out on a date. I had no justification to tell her not to go out with this man seeing as the boy was not my boyfriend and she seemed soo happy it would have been selfish. Within 6 months they were engaged and shortly after that were married.

    I, an only child, inherrited 5 older step siblings – the boy being one of them. I couldn’t make myself think of any of them as real brothers and sisters seeing as I have never had any and especially not him who I was still madly in love with.

    We lived in the same house for 4 years until he went to university and nothing happened between us except for a real closeness which I never had with any of the others. Once we had both left home and were at different universitys we finally admitted our attraction to each other and started a sexual relationship. We nievlly told friends and family, most of which reacted as if we had commited incest which provented him from ever wanted to commit to me in relationship. Even though we still have an attraction to each other and multiple feelings, we can’t be together because he feels he would loose all of his friends and family.

    The ignorance surrounding this subject of Step sibling romance has prevented me from having an open loving relationship with this man and I just wish the world would open it’s eyes to the fact that each case is different and that nothing is just black + white.

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  • Rena
    May 15
    8:19 pm

    I honestly dont think theres anything wrong with it. If theyre not related then why not? Besides if they’re like 16/17 theyd proabably hate each other and not consider each other family anyway. I think it depends on how they see themselves. If they see themselves as family then of course they wouldnt consider it but if they dont then there just strangers who happen to live in the same house.
    By the way what show was that you were talking about?

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  • Marisa
    August 8
    8:51 pm

    Do any of you know of any books with stepsibs featured romanically? I’ve been looking for some, but I’ve never seen them!

    I don’t think there’s ANYTHING wrong with it. I actually have stepsiblings featured romantically in all my stories.

    I don’t have stepsibs(but I’ve always wanted them!) I’m getting a stepSISTER though(I’m a girl as well). I thought that was incredibly unfair. lol

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  • Shana
    March 8
    9:04 am

    Well I am personally writing a novel with something like that, stepsiblings big brother falls in love with little sister, hates himself for it, see’s her upset over a dead lover and comforts her in some standards. It doesn’t revolve around that however it is an interesting concept to me so I don’t have a problem with it at all seeing as I myself am using it. Love is love in my opinion no matter who it’s with. However I hate parent child romance relationships. It’s just not right, otherwise I’m good. If the person is like your uncle or aunt, or any higher up the family tree, no, no. so that’s it for me.

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  • Katrina
    April 7
    6:18 pm

    Well I actually came across this when I was just randomly surfing the internet. But I have always found step relationships okay. When I was five my mother and her husband got married. I had this incredibly large crush on my new step-brother George. However he was about 13 at that time and I knew that nothing could ever happen. (I was five after all) However I havent seen him in over five years and hes coming back to visit in a few days. I would find it slightly creepy if I had feelings for him now but I dont think that will be the case.
    However I have read a few books that hinted at step love. One book in particular talks about two siblings in love. There are a great many twists though and the book doesnt make me grossed out at all. (Even though they are supposed to be bro and sis.) Also maybe some of you have heard of the TV show Life With Derek (yes i have watched Disney channel) Well it is a family show but it involves two step siblings who absloutly hate each other. However everyone thinks they should get together! Just go on Youtube and type in “Dasey” A billion things pop up.
    So yes I would say I dont think there is anything wrong at all with this sort of love. Another topic or question. What about if you were adopted but grew up together? is that considered wrong? Nora Roberts once wrote a great book on two people falling in love who were adopted. Honest Illusions I think.
    -Katrina

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  • Well then! I was just surfing the net, trying to find Step-sibling romance novels and… Look-y here!

    I’m not aware if anyone still frequents this page, but if they do, this is what I’ve got to say about it!

    I especially find the LAST comment interesting because, I, myself have MADE videos on youtube for “Dasey”, as Katrina was talking about.

    So, obviously, I find NOTHING wrong with step-siblings being together.

    In my eyes, they’re just two people that are (sometimes) forced to live together.
    Sometimes, they aren’t even forced to live together.
    Things can get a little tricky if they’ve grown up together, but… I still don’t really see the problem, as long as the two involved don’t see each other as family.

    “Life with Derek” has quickly become my favorite show, (Starting at the age of 17 and it continues as I near my 20th birthday), and I’ve written a lot of fanfiction for Derek and Casey (the two step-siblings who “hate” each other from the show), and I’ve made youtube videos using clips from the show about them.

    I’ve even taken their characters’ as inspiration to write a separate novel about two other step-siblings who are in love.

    As for cousins, eh.
    To each their own, I suppose.
    I mean, I just really don’t care.
    I agree with whoever said, “Love is love in my opinion no matter who it’s with.”
    (I looked back to find it- Shana! You’re one profound person, whoever you may be!)

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  • Katrina
    January 2
    8:51 pm

    In response to what Emily said. I’m so glad someone else loves and knows Dasey as well! I think their a great couple — and it doesn’t hurt that they “hate” each other. (It adds a little spice!)I also write fanfiction for Dasey and I love how many people there are who support Dasey. Even the actors themselves have said that they wish there could have been a Dasey.
    I also find it hard to believe that there isn’t more step-siblings who may have met when they were older, and pretended not to like each other because of their family relationship. Honestly if you meet someone your attracted to, and find out your going to be living with them it brings up a lot of tension.
    Emily not sure if you’ve been on fiction press but there is quite a few step-sibling stories on there. One of my favorite is by Pundit. However she has taken it down and put it on another site. But I suggest that if you haven’t read it yet you should. It’s quite good!

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  • dmcgondel
    January 6
    4:08 am

    I too was surfing looking for novels on this subject. I was curious to see if there were stories or others who found themselves in a similiar situation. Our parents married when we were children but we did not live in the same house till our late teens. Then fell in love. We ended up marrying other people. (mostly because our families would never understand) 36 years later we meet again and the feelings are still there. And yes, I’m thinking of writing a book. Our story of star crossed lovers would make a fantastic romance novel!

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  • Kalypso
    April 17
    6:36 pm

    Lol. I’m like Emily up there; I found this blog on my frenzic quest for novels with just that sort of plot detail (the morally guilt ridden pair who secretly lust after each other; all that tension, that self loathing that eventually ends in a naked huddle. Love it! lol. If any of you gals could give me titles/authors of some of the good reads that you’ve had on the theme, I ‘d really appreaciate it. I mean really. lol

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  • Dezz
    April 18
    10:32 pm

    I happened to stumble onto this website by accident but find myself quite intrigued by this discussion. While I agree with everyone — I find nothing wrong with step-siblings get together, I myself could not see myself with my stepbrother. I have 3, all older than me, and 2 more ex- step brothers, both older than me as well. I can honestly say I view them as my brother’s and the ick factor is quite high when thinking about them as anything else.
    However I have (somewhat) of a similar situation. One of my brother’s best friends recently came back after being away for 3 years. He is now 23 while I’m 17 and since we haven’t seen each other in so long feelings have somewhat changed. However, he is like my family. He practically grew up at our house and eventually moved in with us when he was older. Now he lives with my brother and I still see him constantly. He works for my step-father and is eventually buying the company… therefore putting him in my life forever. When I say I’ve known him forever it’s true. I should view him as a brother but I don’t.
    A few months after he came back we told each other our feelings. However I’m to young and he doesn’t want to ruin anything. Basically we can never be together because of the family. So in a sense it’s slightly the same. And let me just say, it sucks.
    Kalypso, I saw you mentioned needing new books to read. I don’t read many of the Harlequin Romance books so I can’t give you many suggestions. However, a series that is not really centered around the sibling factor (but is quite good) are the Mortal Instrument books. It’s fantasy and more for teenagers but basically the main girl finds out that the boy she likes (and that likes her back) are brother and sister. It’s really very good and does manage to touch on that subject. As to any other books.. as Katrina mentioned, Honest Illusions by Nora Roberts follows two kids who grew up together and are now adults who find themselves attracted to each other. In fact the main guy believes his feelings to be “semi- incest” because they grew up together. My suggestion is to go on Fiction Press. There you can search for stories.. there are some really good ones. If you want suggestions feel free to ask! I would also like to read more, so any recommendations would be greatly appreciated!

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  • Angela
    February 27
    11:02 pm

    My best friend was 15 when her mom re-married. The guy had a son who was her age, but they never quite got along, mostly because they liked each other and were too stubborn to see it. Now, we are all 23 and they have been married for four years. Everyone was happy when they finally tied the knot because we knew it was inevitable. The parents don’t see it as wrong, but see it as bringing them closer together.
    So, in summary, I don’t see any problem with the step-sibling marries a step-sibling thing.

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  • HEATHER
    March 16
    3:42 pm

    My Father married my “step mom” when I was in my mid 20?s. I’ve never really thought of her as a “step mom”. I refer to her by her name when I speak to her etc.. They also live 4 states away and I only see my dad and her about once a year. She has 2 grown adult children. One of which i have never met. The other I met briefly when I was 17. The “step” brother that I had briefly met when I was younger has recently contacted me, and we have become romatically involved. I am now 37 years old and it has litteraly been 20 years since I had first met him and have had no contact with him since then. Is this wierd by sociological standards? I would like to know what people think of this situation.

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  • It depends on the situation. If they were raised together, it would probably give me the icks. Otherwise, they aren’t *technically* blood relatives, so it doesn’t bug me that much. I’ve seen similar plot devices on soap operas as well as sit-coms and other television shows–not just romance novels.

    That being said, My great-grandfather’s son from his first marriage ended up marrying his step-mom’s sister… so I probably have no room to talk. LOL

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  • Rachel
    December 4
    11:28 pm

    Can someone PLEASE tell me what the programme was called??? Would be much appreciated :) and yeah I’m cool with it. I think its weird at first, but then ok.

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  • Angie
    July 3
    8:26 am

    @Anonymous: I had a similar situation myself as a teen. I knew this boy for a short time, and always thought he was really gorgeous. I never really saw him that much, so I could barely recall his name. I was staying with my dad, and one day he brings home this woman, whom I’ve never met. The first day of meeting her was only a night or so after they had met themselves. She had her 3 sons all in they’re teens tagging along on this visit with her. We were being introduced, and there he stood the boy I had been so crazy about. I never thought much of the “parents” new found relationship because the divorce of my parents were still pretty fresh to me and my dad had been dating around a little. So I figured I would have time to get to know him and their relationship would be a dead end as all his others. Well despite my thoughts and own opinions me and him got to know each other, and I barely new the other two boys, actually whom I’ve gotten pretty close to the past couple of years. We fell in love, but so did our parents. Seeing as we were young teens, we were not able to get married before them, all though we had seem to have fallen a lot faster for each other then they. We both had very strong feelings for each other, they knew this before getting married. Our family already had known how close we had gotten and really didn’t mind. It raised an eyebrow or two, but I think it was mostly from concern, hoping that neither of us would get hurt by the other, because we would more then likely be seeing each other pretty often either way. But it was never weird for us really, lucky for us our families were only concerned for a short time, but then seen how much we truly felt for each other, and the issue has never horized again. Although we may get a questionable look here and there, it doesn’t bother us. We’ve been together since we were teens and are now hitting 20-21. We’ve been together for around 7 years now been married for around 3 years now and have a 4 almost 5 year old daughter and we’re still going strong, and so are our parents. So no matter what your situation, don’t let anyone talk you out of being together or make you ashamed of your feelings for the one you love or care about. Your no blood relation, and by law their is no problem or complication with it. It would be a bit different if you were actually related or grew up as babies together in the same home, then you probably wouldn’t have those feelings anyway.So, Good Luck! :) Hope everything works out!

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  • Angie
    July 3
    8:29 am

    @HEATHER: Not really that uncommon. This actually happens a lot more often then people think. :) Not weird, you didn’t grow up together and their is no blood relation.

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  • Angel.
    July 4
    10:59 pm

    I happen to be in a situation where i am in love with my mothers fiances son. We’ve been secretly dating for a while now. im so scared to take it public because im afraid of being scrutinized.

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