Off Limits

CHAPTER 1

Emily

"Emily...hurry up, or we're going to be late."

I groan as I hear my mother call up the stairs to me. I am just putting my jewelry on and glance at my Patek Philippe watch. I still have ten more minutes before we have to leave and I grit my teeth that my mother is so controlling.

Taking a deep breath, I repeat to myself, Just one more week, and then I'm out of here.

"I'll be down in just a moment, Mother." I try to keep my voice lilting so she won't sense the frustration I'm feeling toward her.

This summer has been absolutely brutal coming back to Boston. I had wanted to stay in New York after finishing my second year at Columbia but my mother insisted I come home so I could attend an array of political and social functions with them. My father, Congressman Alex Burnham, will hopefully be making a bid for the White House in two years and my life has been overtaken by my mother's need to present the perfect Presidential family to the press.

So, all summer I have been polished, shined and instructed on the best way to behave in front of the camera. I've had my clothes chosen for me and I've been assigned young, affluent bachelors to escort me to parties. My mother will not let me leave the house unless she approves of what I’m wearing and with whom I’m going to be.

And I am suffocating.

Just one more week, and then I'm out of here.

It's a bit surreal to think about how much I've changed in the past few years. I used to adore my life as a socialite with all of the fancy clothes, the snobby friends and the endless stream of parties. Now, I would give anything to just be a normal, college girl who could fade into obscurity anytime I wanted to.

I owe a lot of my change to my older brother, Ryan. Three years ago, he met and fell deeply in love with his one and only, Danny. I admit...I didn't like her at first and I'm equally as embarrassed to say that I decided not to like her without knowing a damn thing about her. My mother told me to hate her and so I did.

And it wasn't hard to follow my mother's orders. I mean, she told me that Danny worked in a diner, had dyed purple hair and piercings in her face. Skank-a-rific! Right?

Wrong!

Oh, how wrong I was.

I had never been that close to Ryan as we grew up. We were almost four years apart in age and he never was one to completely conform to my parents' dictates.

Unlike me. The rat that followed the Pied Piper.

At any rate, Ryan fell utterly and completely in love with Danny and I just didn't understand it. But it intrigued me and I decided I had to find out why.

It took two very important moments in my life to completely re-evaluate the type of person I wanted to be.

First, Ryan had an honest conversation with me explaining all of the reasons why he loved Danny. They were fairytale reasons...reasons I didn't believe were possible. In my world, people married because they were suitably matched on paper and if they were lucky, they grew to love each other. But not Ry...he wanted love first and to hell with everything else.

So Ryan told me that he loved Danny because she was kind, generous, witty and caring. Yeah, yeah. Easy for a guy to say if he's getting some, right?

Wrong, again!

The second thing that happened to change my life was that I