Shaken out of his transfixed stare, he blurted, "I'm sorry, what?"
"Never mind," she said and returned to her reading. Unknown to Adrian, she was smiling inwardly.
The seeds had been planted.
Karen almost cried when Adrian was wheeled back from his radiation the next morning. Those lovely black locks that she adored, that silky mane she ran her fingers through all the time. It was gone. All gone.
She touched his scalp gently. It was smooth, shiny and completely hairless. His eyes looked at her, waiting for her to say something.
"I hope you remember how much I love running my fingers through your hair," she said, struggling to hold back the tears. "And how much you love it."
He smiled weakly, "Always Karen. I always remember."
The nurse helped him onto the bed and reattached the various tubes. Karen leaned in and tried to kiss his head, but he moved away. Her lips followed, but he used every ounce of strength in his depleted body to move away from her.
"Please don't," he said.
She brought her face down to his level and looked at him curiously.
"I'm not worth it any more."
Karen placed her hands on either side of his face to hold his head in place. Leaning in, she left a lasting kiss on his forehead and then moved upwards, kissing all over his baldness. Cradling his head in her arms she whispered into his ear, "You are worth the world. With or without hair."
She held his head long after he fell asleep, soothingly whispering into his ear. When she was confident he was asleep, she shed a few tears on his scalp and kissed them.
There was a soft prayer on her lips to make her love all right. She did not care if he was confined to a wheelchair forever and required someone to feed him and help him to the bathroom. Karen knew that she would gladly do it as long as it was needed.
With his future laid out for him, Adrian decided to have just one wild night before he was packed off to the ivory towers of Harvard. Just for one night, he wanted to feel what his father felt every night. He wanted to break free of his self-imposed shackles.
In retrospect, this was not his best decision.
Victor Carmichael was a consummate professional at indulging in a whole cornucopia of forbidden pleasures and still ending up on the right side of the law. He had a network of people around him at all times to protect him.
Adrian was a novice, going out of character for one night on a whim. He got together with a group of guys and girls from his class and decided to paint the town red for one night before they went their respective ways to college.
So, when he ended up in an underground rave party, stoned out of his mind and in a heap of bodies he barely knew, it wasn't a surprise. The surprise was when his drug induced fantasy was rudely interrupted by the entry of several men in blue, wielding guns and badges. He was still in a stupor as an officer escorted him to the precinct.
Finally, he came to his senses in the lock-up and realized what he had just done. The horrifying realization that his pristine record and entire career might have been derailed by this one incident jangled through him. It was only a matter of time before they came asking him to pee in a cup and then... he shuddered at what would come next.
He desperately tried to remember what he had taken. The party was only a collection of blurry images. He remembered someone offering him hardcore drugs. He turned them down. Then, his friends handed him something milder, some pot.
It explained why he was in his senses before everyone else, but it still would not be enough to save him.
He sat among his fellow party-goers in anticipation of his doom. Every passing second brought with it further possibilities. Would the press get hold of it? Would that slut from Channel 9, Judy Lynch, milk it for all it was worth in front of the cameras? He could see the headlines flashing before his eyes: BILLIONAIRE'S SON ARRESTED AT RAVE.
Wouldn't that please the recruiter at Harvard?
The more he thought about it, the further he slipped into the depths of despondency. All that he had worked so hard to build, all gone in one thoughtless night. He just wanted to see what it was that his father enjoyed doing so much, just for once.
Adrian sat with his head in his hands as a guard came up to his cell.
He looked up.
"Come this way, sir."
This was it - the beginning of the end.
Mechanically, he rose and walked towards the bars. The guard opened the door. He was escorted past a series of rooms where his friends (who were still intoxicated) were being tested. Soon enough, he would join them.
But he didn't.
The guard led him past all the rooms till he was standing in the waiting area. A familiar figure was waiting for him.
She smiled softly. Taking a few steps towards him, she engulfed him in a hug. Taken aback by this sudden affection, he reciprocated weakly. She brought her lips to his ear and whispered urgently.
"The guard will go for a coffee break for a few minutes. Take this," she said, slipping a Visitor's pass into his pocket. "Put this on your jacket and go downstairs. They are still processing the junkies from your party, so they will be too busy to check you thoroughly. Walk out of the building and go two blocks till you get to 44th. A car and driver will be waiting for you. A silver Porsche. Your cellphone and wallet are in the dashboard. It will take you home."
Quickly, she pulled back her face and gave him a peck on the lips. He just stood there, gaping as she hurried out. He took the pass from his pocket and attached the clip on his shirt. Sure enough, the guard at the gate went towards the break room.
Seizing the opportunity, he walked into the elevator. He had sobered up enough to pass for normal. He made a conscious effort to stand upright and not make eye contact with anybody. The elevator stopped frequently as other visitors, officers and staff got on and off. His heart jumped into his throat each time he saw someone with a badge entering.
Thankfully, no one recognized him till he reached the ground floor. There was still a milling crowd of inebriated goths shuffling through the lobby like a horde of zombies. The officer at the main gate barely gave him a passing glance before taking his badge and opening the door.
His low profile paid dividends.
He walked briskly till he saw the shining Porsche waiting for him at the corner of 44th and Lex. The driver took one look at him and opened the passenger side door. He got in fast and opened the dashboard. His phone and wallet lay inside, along with a large turkey sandwich. The napkin had a note on it- "I know this is your favourite and you must be really hungry. Love Karen."
He wolfed down the sandwich in three large mouthfuls as the car made its way home. The driver parked it in the garage among the rest of the fleet owned by Victor. He got out, still dazed by the happenings of the night, and walked up the stairs. His parents were sunning themselves on the French Riviera and did not have a clue about these events.
He walked into his room to see Karen waiting for him with a tense look on her face. It broke into a smile as he walked in and sat down. He had so many different things to ask her, that he could not even begin to form coherent syllables. So, he just blurted out.
Her smile became even broader as he struggled to form any more words.
"What? How..?" he mumbled incoherently, at a total loss. Karen giggled at this.
"There are many things on heaven and earth, Adrian, that are not dreamt of in your philosophy."
He continued gaping like a blowfish.
"In case you can't contain that curiosity any longer, you should know your father has several contacts in law enforcement who help him in case he ever needs it. I just used one of them. Called up Gavin Larkin and told him to extend the same courtesy to his son," she said nonchalantly.
Adrian stood up straight, his eyes wide.
"You called up Commissioner Larkin to get me out of a drug charge?"
"He was the first name on your dad's ledger. Turns out they are both members of the exclusive Metropolitan Club. That's a pretty strong fraternity. He was honour-bound to get you out of the station before they charged you."
He kept listening, his jaw hanging open.
"Brother Gavin called me up and got me in touch with the Captain at the precinct along with a few other friendly officers. The rest was a formality."
"But how did you know?"
She laughed and turned on the TV. Judy was there on screen, slutty as ever, reporting about a massive rave party that had been busted in Midtown Manhattan. Several high profile citizens had been arrested and were being processed. He saw people being escorted in front of the camera, too wasted to cover their faces.
"Your friends were driving to Midtown for a party. I knew."
There was one last question in his mind.
She paused for a second to consider her answer. Something told her the real answer to that question would freak him out, so she said, "Because I care about you."
Adrian silently walked up to her. They faced each other for a few moments, her eyes searching his expression for a hint. He embraced her tightly and buried his face in her shoulder.
"Thank you, Karen. It's the first time someone has done something like that for me. So, thank you. I owe you one."
She hugged him back, biting her lip from saying her actual feelings out loud. Finally, he released his grip on her and kissed her gently on each cheek before leaving. Karen smiled wistfully for several moments after he had left.
"Silly fantasy. He's my step-brother for crying out loud," she said to herself, not daring to listen to a very private part of her brain that suggested otherwise.
Even as she suppressed her urges for the time being, she knew they would raise their heads again at night. Once asleep, she was defenceless before the onslaught of primal desires about Adrian that manifested in the form of extremely lurid dreams.
She had been defenceless for several nights now.
Adrian's eyes opened slowly. It was still very early in the morning, the very crack of dawn. The imminent sunrise caught his attention. There was a vermilion tinge on the horizon. Looking to his other side, he saw an auburn mess of hair splayed across the pillow on the couch.
The first golden rays of the sun just peeked out. A thin ray came in through the window and fell on her face. She stirred as the room got gradually brighter.
"Hey handsome," she yawned, reaching over to caress his hand.
"Hey gorgeous," he replied, in a tone missing its usual cheer. It came with a lot of effort.
She got up, tousle haired and saw his face. He was missing his eyebrows as well. Now he was completely hairless.
Standing up at her full height, she slowly smoothed her hair behind her shoulders. She knew how much Adrian loved to see her hair flowing behind her.
The surly doctor came once again to check on him.
"We have seen no noticeable improvement yet, but we must keep trying."
Karen looked crestfallen, but Adrian did not even bat an eyelid. He had mentally prepared for his death. She looked at his deathly pale form, her lips quivering with a deep anguish. Sensing her turmoil, Adrian spoke as well as his battered body would allow.
"Karen, don't worry. I won't feel a thing. Just you wait and see."
This did little to assuage her concern. She sat down beside him and gently stroked his face.
"We will keep trying. And you will make it. You're a fighter Adrian."
He smirked, not knowing how much fight this fighter had left in him.
Strong arms gripped Karen's body. She lay, completely naked on her large four poster bed, her eyes locked onto the smouldering green irises just inches away from her. Adrian had an impish smile across his broad face. Their clothing lay in a heap on the floor.
"Yes, Adrian, squeeze them harder."
He willingly obliged by grabbing a handful of her full boobs in each palm and kneading them to his heart's content. She moaned and closed her eyes as he gradually increased the pressure on her breasts.
She reached up and passionately planted kisses all over his neck and shoulder. On occasion she even gently bit at his skin, causing him to draw away momentarily. His hands continued working on her breasts as they fondled her nipples. He clamped one between her fingers and tweaked it gently. The sudden force behind his tweak caused her to yelp in pleasure. Her open lips were covered by his forceful ones as he pushed his tongue into her mouth.
Their tongues duelled against each other, each vying for greater access to the other's mouth. The torrid intensity of their kiss built. Their tongues relentlessly assaulted each other as two bodies writhed together.
His hands continued attacking her breasts and now both hands were on her nipples as he tugged on them. Her eyes opened wide as she gasped, the new sensations radiating from her distended nipples to every nerve ending in her body. Her pussy was ablaze in the raw eroticism of the moment.
"I love you Adrian. Not like siblings. I love you like a woman is supposed to love a man."
Adrian moved away from her luscious lips and kissed downwards until he reached her erect nipple. His tongue gently brushed over the sensitive nub, causing a fresh burst of pleasure in her chest. She let out a moan as his tongue licked her areola and the grip of his other hand tightened on her free tit.
He alternated his treatment to the other nipple before he took the right nipple in his mouth and gently held it between his teeth. Flicking it with the tip of his tongue, he made her scream in ecstasy.
Her body was flailing from side to side. He removed his mouth and began kissing lower and lower, tantalizingly teasing her flat stomach. His skilled tongue tickled her, making her squirm. Soon, his lips reached her belly-button and he gently dipped his tongue into the depths.
The moans of arousal gave way to the gentle laugh of being tickled as his tongue began pushing into her. He took it out and gently scraped it along her stomach, down to her abdomen. A moonbeam came in through the skylight and illuminated her nether lips. The labia lay exposed and slick with the liquids of her aroused sex.
Adrian looked down at it and then looked her directly in the eye. She had propped herself on her elbows to get a better view of his movements. Smiling, he lowered his face to her damp sex and probed the inside of her slit with his tongue. The initial contact caused her to shudder. His tongue was doing things to her that she had not fathomed. None of her previous boyfriends compared to his virtuoso technique.
Karen's pleasure rose to greater levels as the speed and penetration of his talented tongue increased. He pleased her in ways no one else could. Holding his lush, black hair between her thighs, she arched her body from the bed to push it towards his roving tongue. Her nascent orgasm built quickly and was soon imminent.
He sensed this and raised his drenched face one last time from her lower lips and gave her a smile. Her expression implored him to give her what she desperately wanted and he did not disappoint. In one swift motion, he latched onto her thighs and plunged his tongue deep inside her. This finally pushed her over the edge. Her eyes went out of focus as a tremendous orgasm ripped through her body.
Karen woke up with a jolt. Two fingers of her left hand had involuntarily made their way to her sopping wet sex. Sweat was plastered to her skin and her breathing was shallow.
It took a few moments to catch her breath. After that she broke down in tears.
She had just dreamed of committing the hideous taboo of incest. And it had given her an intense orgasm.
"AHHHHHH!! MAKE IT STOP!"
The scene in Adrian's ward was utter mayhem. Doctors and nurses frantically running around. The most recent dose of chemo had caused a raging fever coupled with an intense pain all over his body. Karen tried soothing him, but he violently shook in agony.
"Baby, I'm right here. See."
He seemed oblivious to anything but the white hot pain searing through his body. The dose of chemo had been turned up a few notches in a desperate attempt to undo the damage done by the rampant carcinoma. It had heightened his fever. The painkillers proved too mild as the side effects of the chemo had him thrashing in pain and sobbing like a baby.
Two nurses held him down as the doctor gave him a paralytic. He was still in as much pain, but was now immobile. Karen gazed in horror at his frozen face as his eyes rolled over to look at her. That empty gaze held a lot of suppressed pain.
It was all too much as she rushed to the nearest washroom to retch in the sink. Staring at her reflection in the mirror, she saw an accusing figure. It accused Karen of being a mere spectator as someone tortured her love. All for a one percent chance.
A voice convinced her it was worth it.
Somehow the voice seemed weaker than the last time.
Karen was living in a twisted prison of guilt. Each time she looked at her step-brother, several desires reared their ugly heads inside her, each more debauched than the last. Sometimes he was licking her out in her bathtub. Sometimes he was standing in the kitchen while she was on her knees servicing him. Each fantasy was more depraved than the last.
The rational part of her brain castigated her over and over again for entertaining such ridiculous fantasies. Sure, Adrian liked her and looked good. But they were related due to her mother's drunken marriage. Even though they weren't related by blood, it was a taboo. An unforgivable sin.
She cried her heart out at the injustice of it all. She found the first man she had such feelings for, and by a cruel twist of fate, he was her step-brother.
"It's not fair. It's just not fair," she wailed inwardly ,as she made Adrian's favourite food for breakfast. She gave the chef was given the morning off, because she wanted to make her nocturnal fantasy his ideal breakfast.
Her heart stopped as she saw the sleepy figure of Adrian walk into the dining room. He yawned and stretched while he browsed through the paper. He cursed at the NASDAQ showing a decline on his latest investments. She smiled at his reading figure as he grabbed a cup of fine imported coffee. The brooding, contemplative look coupled with languid pose with which he reclined on the chair made him irresistible to her.
"How's the stock market today?" she asked, trying to get over her wet dream by making idle conversation.
"Bad. The company I invested in earlier tanked 15 points on a rough session yesterday. This does not look good," he grumbled into his cup.
Karen hung onto every word. She had never been so aroused just hearing someone's voice before. His rich baritone was an aphrodisiac to her as he went on about how the weak dollar had affected the market.
She shook her head and blinked. Adrian had caught her gazing emptily and smirked at her aimless expression.
"Earth to Karen. Are you there?"
"Yes, I'm here dummy," she retorted, blushing a bit. "I just got lost thinking about something."
"Now get me that turkey bacon that smells so good from here before I eat you instead."
"Hold on, Obelix. It's coming," she said as she picked up the plate of breakfast and put it in front of Adrian.
He dived head-first into the meat while she returned to settle the kitchen shelf. She bent over the table, setting the stirrer back. It exposed her perfectly round posterior to his gaze. He looked up from his food and his eyes were riveted to Karen's perfect ass. It swayed as she put away the utensils.