Sliding on the bright red lipstick, I blew the mirror a kiss.
I have to make a good impression, I thought, before I headed to a party at my mum’s house.
Celebrating my mum Tinja’s 50th birthday in 2018, it’d be the first time I’d meet Mum’s new man Juha’s son Samuli, then 23.
Mum, a laboratory assistant at a medical centre, had met Juha, then 56, at work a few months earlier.
Following a heart scan, Juha had asked the receptionist for my mum’s name and number… and the rest is history.
‘Girls, I want you to meet your new stepbrother,’ Mum said, introducing my sister, Minea, then 22, and me, 19, to Samuli when I arrived at the gathering.
‘I’ve always wanted a brother,’ I smiled, pulling him in for a cuddle.
Chatting over dinner, we clicked right away and spent the rest of the night twirling on the dance floor.
A few months later, my relationship of three years heartbreakingly fell apart.
‘I’m never going to meet someone,’ I sobbed to Mum.
‘Your person is out there somewhere,’ she comforted.
In 2019, Mum married lovely Juha – making him officially my stepdad and Samuli my stepbrother.
Almost two years later, in January 2021, my roommate Eevi, then 22, and I were having drinks in our apartment.
Scrolling through social media, I came across a photo that Samuli had just posted of him and a friend.
‘You’ll love Samuli,’ I told Eevi, inviting him and his friend Niko over.
We hung out for hours playing board games.
I’d seen Samuli at family gatherings, but we’d never spent much time together otherwise.
But we all got along so well, the four of us started to spend loads of time with each other.
Sitting across from one another a few weeks later, I felt Samuli’s gaze on me.
I got lost in his kind smile, noticing his beautiful blue eyes for the first time.
What am I doing? What if someone notices? That’s so weird! I thought, blushing. He’s my stepbrother!
The more time we spent together, though, the more our chemistry grew.
‘He makes me laugh,’ I told Mum of our budding friendship.
A few weeks later, Eevi, Samuli, Niko and I were hanging out in my apartment when Samuli placed his hand on my upper leg.
Freaking out, I pulled him onto the balcony.
‘Whatever this is, it can’t go any further,’ I told him.
‘I agree. I’m sorry if I crossed a line,’ he replied.
But no matter how hard we tried to fight it, our feelings continued to bloom.
One week later, we drove down to our parents’ cottage one-and-a-half hours away.
After a few drinks sitting in the hot tub, Samuli’s hand found mine beneath the bubbly water.
Jumping out before anyone saw us, we ran behind our parents’ car parked behind their cottage a few metres
‘Whatever this is, it can’t go any further.'
Before I had a chance to talk myself out of it, Samuli leaned towards me and his lips met mine.
‘It feels so right and yet so wrong,’ I told Mum the next morning.
‘Follow your heart, sweetheart,’ she advised.
Quickly falling in love, Samuli moved in with me shortly after.
‘I’m the happiest I have ever been,’ I confided in my workmate.
‘He’s your stepbrother! What are you doing?’ she scoffed.
‘The whole situation is just wrong,’ one of Samuli’s friends said another time.
But we didn’t let other people’s opinions on our relationship get in the way of our love story.
‘It’s me and you against the world,’ Samuli smiled.
Falling more in love every day, we both knew we couldn’t live without the other.
‘It feels so right and yet so wrong.'
So we researched whether marrying your step-sibling is legal – and it is.
After six months together, we went on a special date night in the city.
Swaying on the dancefloor, Samuli pulled me close.
It was the perfect moment to ask him to spend forever with me.
Only he had the same idea.
‘Let’s get married,’ we exclaimed in unison over the music.
The next morning, we picked out an engagement ring at the jewellery store.
Driving to our parents’ house the next week, I couldn’t wait to tell them our good news.
‘We’re getting married!’ we screamed, as I stuck my ring finger in the air.
Our parents showered us in love!
Now I couldn’t wait to marry the man of my dreams.
‘I finally got my happily ever after.'
Thrifting old lace curtains from a second-hand store for $10, I sewed them into my dream dress.
On July 30 this year, gathering at Mum and Juha’s cottage where it all began, we married in front of our closest friends and family.
Walking down the aisle in my princess dress, I locked eyes with my man and walked a little faster.
‘I finally got my happily ever after,’ I smiled.
‘I always knew you two would end up together,’ Mum beamed.
‘A perfect match just like your mum and me,’ Juha said.
Sharing our love on TikTok @matildae1, we hope to change the conversation around siblings by marriage relationships.
This is the best thing that has ever happened! one lady messaged, adding she was in the same situation.
Now I know I’m not alone, another person commented on our video.
If you follow your heart, all roads lead to happiness.