* * * * *
Copyright Oggbashan January 2007
The author asserts the moral right to be identified as the author of this work.
This is a work of fiction. The events described here are imaginary; the settings and characters are fictitious and are not intended to represent specific places or living persons.
* * * * *
Almost as soon as I got home from work that Friday I slumped in the comfortable armchair in my flat's living room, miserably clutching an unopened can of lager. It was the last can and would remain the last until payday at the end of January, a week away. I was broke.
I wouldn't be broke if I hadn't planned a weekend away with Joanna. I had bought a double ticket for the Valentine Dinner Dance in a town thirty miles away where we would be anonymous strangers. I had paid for a double bedroom at the venue for the Friday and Saturday nights, with breakfast and dinner on Saturday, and breakfast on Sunday. The cost had strained my bank account, already hit by Christmas.
But now? I still held the can of lager as I walked into the kitchenette. I put the can back in the fridge unopened. I'd keep it a few more days. I opened the food cupboard. I could eat for the next week if I didn't mind cooking. There were only a few instant meals. Most of my supplies assumed some preparation. As I wouldn't be going anywhere in the evenings, I suppose it didn't matter that I'd be spending time cooking basic meals for one.
If only Joanna had dumped me BEFORE Christmas. I could have saved on the presents for her; I wouldn't have emptied my bank account for a weekend that wasn't going to happen.
I was being unfair. She may have dumped me but she hadn't quarrelled with me until last week. She didn't know that we would break up. Her Christmas presents to me had been equally expensive. Her bank account was probably as sick as mine -- except for the Valentine weekend costs.
I couldn't cancel and get a refund. The hotel had a non-cancellation clause in their special deal for the Valentine weekend. I had spent hundreds of pounds and now I wouldn't even get a few meals out of it. What was the point of going to a Valentine event on my own?
I had assumed too much. That is why Joanna had quarrelled with me and why I was broke. I had thought that Joanna would be delighted at the prospect of a Valentine weekend away with me, the two of us sharing the dinner dance and then that double bed...
She hurled words at me like "commitment", "love", "partnership", "equality", and "trust". Each one stung as she lambasted me. What I had done was to put her in a position where she had to agree to something that was a step further than our relationship had reached. The stinging words were those I should have used, and attitudes I should have tested before taking such a dramatic decision.
When I told her that we were booked in as Mr and Mrs Protheroe, that was the end.
"So I have to lie, as well, do I? I have to pretend to be married to you, Graham, and lie? I'm not going to. You can go on your own. I hope you enjoy every single solitary minute..." She had slammed the flat's door as she left.
That had been a week ago. I had tried contacting her, directly and indirectly. I had made enquiries through mutual friends. The answers were clear. Joanna was still very angry with me and showed no signs at all of wanting reconciliation. If the Valentine weekend wasn't still booked I think she might have been more reasonable but I'd told her, in the heat of the argument, that I couldn't cancel. There was no way she could back down before that weekend. Afterwards? Perhaps we might slowly rebuild if she was willing, but before? No way that was possible.
I had bought the Valentine card to send her. I had written a grovelling apology in it and put it aside to post. Perhaps I should buy a less ostentatious card but I had no money left even for cards. Next week? Perhaps.
I began to make a mug of instant coffee, shaking the container to check that it would last the rest of the week. There was enough if I was careful.
The phone rang. I turned the kettle off and lifted the phone.
A female voice asked:
"Graham?" and then burst into tears. One word was enough for me to recognise my elder sister, Claire.
"What's wrong, Claire?" I asked. More sobbing was the only answer. Eventually she admitted that she too had been dumped by her long-term boyfriend, James. I invited her round to talk and then suggested that I collect her. She was in no state to drive.
Even when I arrived at her flat, all she could do was hug me and wet my shoulder with her tears. I drove back to my flat. It is small but private. Claire shares with three friends. Intimate conversation is only possible in a bedroom and even then has to be in whispers. The partition walls are very thin. Claire works shifts. This was an early week so her flatmates wouldn't be home yet but would be soon.
I rang the doorbell. Claire opened the door. I entered as she hurled herself into my arms. I hugged her as she cried on my shoulder. I pushed the flat door shut behind us. I stroked her blonde hair gently. I had always liked Claire's hair. Now her hairstyle was much shorter but her hair was still smooth and silky.
"Come on, Claire," I suggested, "pick up your toilet things. You can stay with me tonight."
She stopped sobbing and helped me pack. She was still sniffling. I produced a large white handkerchief to dry her eyes. She managed a small fleeting smile. She had insisted that I always should carry a clean handkerchief.
She left a note by the telephone to tell her friends where she was. It wasn't unusual for her to stay at my flat if she wanted an early night at the weekend. She said little while I drove the couple of miles across town. Once in my flat and drinking coffee she began to relax. My flat was almost a second home to her, a refuge when she found her flatmates' partying too much. Some of her clothes were still in the spare bedroom.
"What happened?" I asked when I thought she was ready to talk.
"I wanted some sign of commitment from James. He wasn't ready so we quarrelled."
"What kind of commitment, Claire?"
"An engagement..." She started sobbing again. "I thought it was time... I was wrong... I frightened him off..."
"How long have you been together? Five months? He should have been thinking about it, surely?"
"Perhaps he had but it's an awkward time for him. He might be promoted soon. I should have waited a little longer..." Claire started sobbing again.
I took the empty coffee cup from her hand, put it down, picked her up in my arms and sat down on the settee with her on my lap. I kissed her forehead. She kissed my cheek and snuggled against me.
"Have I disturbed your arrangements for tonight? Where's Joanna?"
Slowly I explained what had happened with Joanna. Claire nodded a few times.
"So we both wanted more than they could give? And you're broke? At least I can help with that. I have got a reasonable bank balance. You can have some money until you can pay me back, or I could give you a few pounds without needing repayment."
"Thanks, Claire, but it's the cost of that dance and weekend that really bothers me. I'm committed but there's no point in going. I want Joanna. I couldn't ask anyone else and I'd feel a fool going on a Valentine's weekend on my own. The waste of money really bugs me. I'm sure that Joanna and I will get over this, but we wouldn't if she knew I'd taken someone else away for a weekend sharing a bed."
Claire looked at me in silence for a few moments.
"She wouldn't object to you sharing a weekend with your sister..."
She left that statement hanging in the air. I started to think seriously about it. Claire kissed me.
"Well? Would you take your sister away for a weekend? You would be able to enjoy the money you've already spent and Joanna can't complain that you're with a rival. Neither could James. They would have to spend that weekend alone. That might make them think..."
As she talked, the more attractive the suggestion seemed. Then I thought of a hitch.
"It's a double-bedded room!" I blurted out.
"So? Who at the hotel would know I'm your sister? It's important that Joanna and James know, but the hotel staff? They don't matter. They would assume that many of the couples aren't married anyway. So what? It's the twenty-first century."
"Don't you like your sister?"
Her lips met mine, stifling my reply. I shouldn't have, but I responded to her as I would to any attractive woman who kissed me properly. My only excuse was that I was feeling miserable about my estrangement from Joanna. That kiss turned into a passionate embrace. Claire held me. I held her tight. She moved one of my hands to her breast. Her hand slid between my legs...
Several minutes later we broke for air.
"We shouldn't..." both of us said at once.
We kissed again. Slowly.
As that kiss ended I moved Claire from my lap to beside me.
"What are we doing for dinner?" I asked in as normal a tone as I could manage. I was still breathing hard.
"What have you got?" Claire asked, avoiding my eyes.
Claire stood up, took my hands and pulled me from the settee. We walked into the kitchen holding hands. I showed her what supplies I had in the cupboard.
"I can't do much with that," Claire said.
"I wouldn't be..."
"Except for the Valentine's weekend. I know. Now you're taking me. As for now, how about a take-away Chinese?"
"If you're paying..."
She ordered the meal on her debit card. It came with a free bottle of wine.
By the time we had finished and cleared away Claire looked and sounded much better. We finished the bottle of wine sitting side by side on the settee.
"Where were we?" Claire asked. "Oh yes..."
She wrapped her arms around me and kissed. As our lips stayed locked together she started to unbutton my shirt. My hands reached for her clothing. We interrupted the kissing to become naked down to the waist. I kissed her breasts. Her hands moved down to my trousers.
We moved to my bedroom and, naked, snuggled together under the duvet. I turned off the light.
In the darkness we behaved as if we weren't brother and sister but two people of opposite sexes who wanted to make love. As I rode her, her fingers dug into my back, pressing me close. My brain was screaming 'You shouldn't be doing this, she's your sister!'. My body reacted to her as it would to any naked desirable woman. The only difference was that I was slower to reach a climax. That pleased both of us.
Claire went to sleep with her head resting on my shoulder. A warm breast pressed into my side. The next morning I woke to find us in exactly the same position. My erection welcomed the morning. Claire's hand found it, grasped it firmly and fed it inside her. She rode me this time.
I was able to hold back until she was screaming in delight as orgasm after orgasm shook her body. I had rarely had such a response from anyone. Claire's excitement finally let me release into her. We subsided into a warm loving entangled heap.
Our breakfast was the best that my meagre stock could provide. Afterwards Claire went with me to the supermarket and bought a few basics.
We spent the whole weekend together enjoying the company of a loving non-judgemental person. We rarely spoke of our estranged partners. I drove Claire back to her flat on Sunday evening. She gave me a sisterly kiss at the front door.
From then until the Valentine weekend both of us were committed to different social activities. Claire phoned me to tell me that James had been in touch. She had told him that she would be away for the weekend with her brother. James had accepted that.
Joanna had made enquiries through mutual friends. She too knew that I was going away with Claire. I sent a different Valentine card, emphasising that I still loved her and would like to see her again.
Early on the Friday evening I collected Claire. We drove to the hotel and registered as Mr and Mrs Protheroe, although Claire's squiggle could have said Ms. She was wearing a plain gold wedding ring.
We have the whole Valentine's weekend to be lovers, and afterwards we hope we can resume our relationships with Joanna and James.
After all, there's nothing wrong with a brother and sister spending a weekend together.
Or is there?