Closer Than Cousins Ch. 02bySabledrake©
Author's Note: this story is a sequel to "The Neglected Son, Ch. 01-05," set eighteen years later. Feedback is always appreciated.
Kit lay restless in the dark, unable to get comfortable in his own bed.
A single sheet felt too heavy, scratchy, and hot. But without the sheet, he was cold, his skin hunching up in goosebumps. One pillow left his head too flat on the mattress, making him feel like he was tilted backwards. Two pillows gave him a crick in his neck.
With pajamas, he was stifling and constricted. Without them, he was too vulnerable to relax and go to sleep. Music from the small bedside radio irritated him, even when tuned to the normally soothing classical station. Silence, though, was oppressive and forbidding.
Arousal stiffened his loins, but he could not seek relief. Whenever he tried, the fantasy images he conjured turned to scenes that left him guilty and ashamed. He tried thinking of Marianne Devereaux, his dream girl for as long as he could remember.
For a moment, he saw her in his mind's eye. Marianne, blonde and beautiful, her clothes falling away to reveal full rosy-tipped breasts and a puff of downy gold barely hiding the pouting pink lips of her sex. Marianne, opening her arms to him, sapphire eyes both an invitation and a challenge.
And then it wasn't Marianne at all. Another face, another body. Taller, slimmer, graceful, a swirl of long fawn-brown hair, pert little breasts …
Kit groaned, and snatched his hand away from his groin. He wasn't supposed to think about that. He was supposed to ignore it, the way she did. To act as if it had never happened. That was their unspoken agreement, after all.
At the window, distant light flared briefly behind sheer curtains at his window. Several seconds later, the flash was followed by a low, muted rumble.
A thunderstorm. Rolling nearer to Pinewood.
He knew, with a sudden sinking dread, what that could mean. What it usually meant, or had meant for most of his life. But things were different, now. Things had been different for weeks.
Since that day. The day they had never talked about. The day he wasn't even supposed to think about. The day that should never have happened. The day everything in his life had changed.
It didn't show on the outside. Oh, no. On the outside, his life was the same as ever. He seemed to be the same Kit, too smart for his tutors, too sickly for school. Accepted by the country club crowd because he had the good Hollister name and the better Hollister fortune backing him, but at the same time never quite accepted because he was not really one of them. Not in the ways that mattered. He didn't play tennis or polo. Didn't go yachting or sailing. Wasn't bronzed, fit, and athletic.
Despite a lifetime of poor health, he knew that he wasn't ugly. But he was a pale, strange Phantom of the Opera compared to the rest of them. Golden girls like Marianne Devereaux preferred to be seen with the likes of Brad Vandermere, who could have stepped living and breathing out of a sports car commercial.
Of course, Kit was sure that when the time came, he wouldn't have any trouble getting one of those golden girls to marry him. He lived at Pinewood. Half of the Hollister fortune would be his someday. Hell, for all he knew, his sickly nature might even count as an added attraction to a marriage-minded gold-digger. He'd be much more likely than Brad Vandermere to die early, and leave a wealthy young widow.
Love didn't have anything to do with it.
At least, that was how he thought it worked. What did he know? He'd never had parents to provide him an example. His mother had died shortly after Kit's birth, and he'd never even known a father or grandparents.
There was only Uncle Chet, who had stepped in when tragedy struck the rest of the family.
Uncle Chet …and Swan.
She danced into his mind like a vision. Gauzy white skirt fluttering around her long ballerina's legs, the contours of her lean body outlined by the snug white second skin of a leotard.
His cousin. His mother's sister's daughter. They had been born bare weeks apart. Both fatherless orphans. Adopted and raised by their uncle, who had cared for them as if they were his own dear children. They'd been more like brother and sister than cousins.
Right up until that day.
That terrible, wonderful, damning, unforgettable day.
He never should have gone into her room. He should have known better.
Swan didn't care about modesty. She never had. She was a nymph, always flitting through the house in as little attire as she could get away with. Uncle Chet and the housekeeper lectured her again and again, but never to any avail. Swan didn't do what she did out of any sort of rebellious pushing-the-limits. She only did what she did to feel free, unfettered. Spritelike, she hated to be confined.
Innocent, lovely Swan.
She hadn't known it was wrong. Kit was sure of that. The very idea that it might not be proper to let her cousin see her nude in the bath had simply never occurred to her. Nudity was as natural to her as breathing. She couldn't have known the effect it would have on him.
Kit himself hadn't been prepared for the effect it had on him, either. He still couldn't get over it. He couldn't stop seeing her there, hair pinned up, gleaming teases of skin peeking through sudsy foam.
Thunder rolled again, a muttering sound like the crowd in a theater waiting for the house lights to dim and the curtain to rise. It was coming closer. Kit clenched his fists. He thought about locking the door. But getting out of bed and crossing the room seemed like too much work. Besides, even if he did, he'd have to get up again anyway when she knocked.
And she would knock. She'd call to him. He'd hear the anxious tremor of fear in her voice, and his resolve would blow apart like so much spun sugar. He couldn't be that cruel to her. Leave her to face the storm alone? What kind of cousin was he?
No … he would leave the door as it was. If she came to him, she came to him, and he wouldn't turn her away.
Swan was terrified of thunderstorms. She always had been. It was the only thing he had ever known her to be afraid of. It was an inexplicable thing, the way some people feared heights, or closed-in spaces.
He knew that whenever lightning stitched the sky with jagged white, and thunder crashed, and hail pelted down in stinging torrents, Swan would seek him out and huddle in his arms. Her head would press into his chest and he would hold her, feeling her shivers, hearing her whimper with fright at each loud blast.
Eventually, exhausted from her fear, she would fall asleep in his bed, still clinging to him.
But how could he do that now? How could he welcome her into his room, into his bed? After what had happened between them the day of the bath? Like nothing had happened?
As far as Swan was concerned, though, it really was like nothing had happened. She hadn't mentioned it since, hadn't so much as given him a funny look. There were times when Kit wondered if it really had happened, or if he had dreamed it in some fevered delirium.
But it had! He was sure of it! He had gone to her bathroom, and she had been there, naked and soapy.
Remembering it only made things worse. He couldn't stop thinking of the way she had looked. Or what she had done.
Kneeling there on her rug, spent from his urgent masturbation … only to look up and see her there … watching him. And not just watching him. Touching herself. Knees drawn up and apart, letting him see everything.
Kit threw himself onto his stomach and buried his face in the pillow, trying to blot out the memories. His erection was pinned between his body and the mattress in a maddening friction.
Her hand on him …
He bit the pillow. His hips stirred of their own accord. Pushing against the firm surface. rubbing.
It had been wrong, damn it! It was still wrong, thinking about her like this! But he couldn't stop thinking about her. He saw her every day, Swan, so carefree and happy, not a worry in the world. Like there had never been anything untoward between them. Oblivious to the way her very presence sent blood rushing to his loins. Swan, chattering brightly and unaware of Kit barely able to keep a coherent thought in his head for wanting her so much.
Nights were no better. Nights were worse, in fact, because there was no escape. He tried reading from Pinewood's selection of erotica. He tried looking at magazines. He tried thinking about Marianne and other girls. But always, fantasies of Swan took over.
There was nothing he could do to stop it. No one he could turn to for help. Kit had no close friends to confide in – not that this was the sort of thing he could have confided even to the closest of friends. He certainly couldn't talk to Uncle Chet about it. The very idea made him cringe.
Kit flipped himself onto his back. He swallowed. His mouth and throat were dry. His eyes stared unseeing into the darkness, blinking only when the brightest-yet flash lit up his window. The thunder now was a rolling boom.
Any second, Swan would be tapping at his door. Then opening it to let herself slip, wraithlike, into his room.
He couldn't let her find him like this! Not with the sheet tented up around a rock-hard erection.
But the damned thing wasn't about to go away on its own. Some perverse part of his mind was whispering that Swan would be here, Swan would crawl into bed with him and snuggle up. Swan would probably be wearing hardly anything. She'd be soft, supple, cool, limber.
What was he thinking? He couldn't let that happen! Couldn't let her get in his bed when he was like this. He'd go insane. There would be no stopping it. He'd snap. He'd grab her, attack her.
Which was a joke, really … Swan was fitter than him, stronger. One kick with those dancer's legs, and she would leave him broken on the floor. It was absurd to think that he could possibly force himself on her.
Even so, he couldn't very well have her come in here while he was like this. He had to do something about his erection. It was to the point of being painful, now … a stiff throb that almost did not even seem a part of his body.
He gripped it, and sucked in a breath through clenched teeth. It'd be quick, so quick, over in a matter of seconds as keyed-up as he was.
If he did that, she might walk in on him again. And even if she didn't, there would be the musky scent in the air, the stickiness on the sheets.
Kit lurched from the bed. He'd take a cold shower, icy cold. He'd probably get pneumonia; Mrs. Reilly, the housekeeper, always warned him never to go to bed with damp hair or he'd be sure to get pneumonia.
Right now, though, pneumonia seemed a small price to pay to put an end to this torture.
He flicked on the lamp. In the mirror over his dresser, he saw himself and recoiled. His face was pale but marked with hectic red blotches. His eyes, vivid turquoise, were wild. The eyes of a psychotic killer. His dark hair stood up in twists and snarls.
The room suddenly lit up, far brighter than any radiance given off by the single bulb. Almost at the same instant came a horrendous crashing of thunder.
Ears ringing in the aftermath, Kit nonetheless heard light footsteps in the hall. He cursed in agonized despair and struggled into the pajama bottoms he'd previously discarded. The fly was unbuttoned. His cock, as if with a malicious intent of its own, stuck out through the hole. He tucked it back inside, did the button, and just had time to jump into bed and yank the sheet up into his lap before the door opened.
Swan hadn't knocked, and she didn't ask if she could come in. Her breath was quick and shallow, her velvety brown eyes wide. She saw him, and swept the door closed behind her.
As he'd suspected, as he'd dreaded, she was hardly dressed. A white stretch-lace camisole top clung to her breasts and ended midway down her flat belly. Her nipples, rigid from either fear or cold, poked against the lace. A pair of sheer white panties, the kind that were cut high on the hips, barely concealed a silky vee of fine brown hair.
"The storm," she said, with a faint, apologetic smile and shrug.
"Swan, I –" Kit said. His throat was still dry, his voice a croak.
Thunder slammed again. The windows rattled. Swan all but flew across the room. A lithe bound, and she was on the bed, crowding against him.
"You don't mind, do you?" she asked.
"I …" He couldn't talk. The words jumbled senselessly. He knew that he needed to tell her to go. She'd cry. She was so scared. But she couldn't stay here. Not like this.
The lamp went out, but the room was hardly plunged into darkness because a series of blue-white forks stutter-flashed across the window.
Swan yelped. In one smooth motion, she snatched the sheet, blanket and comforter up to her chin and shot her legs down alongside his. She hid her face against his bare shoulder.
Kit gritted his teeth. He angled his body so that at least the offending bulge was pointing away from her, with less chance of any accidental bumps. An accidental bump, or brush, would be the last straw.
He held himself rigid as a statue. Not moving. Not daring to move. Each time the thunder sounded, Swan whimpered and squeezed closer against him, as if she was trying to meld her flesh into his to escape the storm. Each time, he eased away from her, until he ran out of bed and had to stop at the edge or else tumble to the carpet.
A colossal blast ended with the rending crack of what had to be a tree being split asunder by lightning. Swan flinched and slid down, pulling the covers all the way up over her head. Her breath blew a warm draft over Kit's skin. He relented – she was so scared, and it hurt to see her like that – and curled his arm around her.
She was trembling. He could feel the jut of her nipples through the thin, stretchy lace of her top. The long smoothness of her bare legs, separated from his only by the fabric of his pajama pants, was maddening.
He thought he would pass out from lack of blood to the brain. It all felt clogged in his groin, throbbing there with the pressure of a blocked geyser.
What would he do if Uncle Chet came to check on them? Or Mrs. Reilly? How would he explain? What would he say? Oh, they knew about Swan's fear of thunderstorms, sure they did. Everyone in Pinewood knew. But at eighteen, they were a little too old for her to seek comfort from her fears in his room. It could hardly be construed as innocuous, even though it was innocuous as far as Swan was concerned.
Thunder, and she almost climbed into his lap. Kit bent his left leg at the knee and raised it, successfully fending her off. His body quivered with the effort of restraint.
After what seemed like hours, the duration between the flashes and the crashes grew longer. The storm had passed over Pinewood and was moving on.
Swan gradually stopped shaking, but remained hidden. Her face was pressed to his chest. Her voice, when she spoke, was muffled by the blankets.
"What's the matter, Kit?"
"Nothing." He could barely get the word out.
"You're so tense."
"I'm … I'm fine, really."
Again, the lightning and thunder grumbled distant in the night. Swan cringed, but stirred.
"Something is the matter." She clawed the blankets back and surfaced, blowing a strand of hair out of her face as she did so. "Pff. What's wrong, Kit? Are you mad at me? Lately, it's seemed like you're mad at me."
"I'm not mad at you."
"Swan, look … this isn't right. Okay? We're not kids anymore. You … you shouldn't be coming into my room, my bed, like this."
He could feel her gaze on him, trying to study him, and was glad for the concealing darkness.
"Is this about what happened the other day?" she finally ventured. "In my bathroom?"
She did remember! But then … what? Had she been ignoring it? Acting like it didn't matter? Did it matter? That was dumb … of course it mattered.
"We shouldn't even talk about that. We should just pretend it didn't happen," Kit said.
"I thought you liked it," she said in a small, meek way. "I thought it made you feel good. I'm sorry. I didn't realize I upset you."
It tore his heart in half to hear the hurt in her voice. "No, Swan … I did like it … I mean, it did feel good … but it was wrong. Don't you get it? What we did was wrong. You're my cousin. I never should have been in your bathroom. I never should have … done what I did, you know, when I thought you'd left."
"Really, Kit, I didn't mind. I liked watching you. Didn't you like watching me?" She flinched again as the window briefly brightened.
"That's not the point!" he said.
"Why's it so wrong, anyway?" she asked. "We're eighteen years old. We're grown up. It's only natural to have those kinds of feelings."
"But not for each other. We're cousins!"
She tipped her head to the side. He felt the whispery tickle of her hair trailing across his chest. "So?"
"So? So, it's wrong. It’s … it's incest."
"All I did was touch you." She giggled. "It's not like you put your penis in me."
Kit's fingernails sank into the palms of his hands almost hard enough to draw blood.
"And even if you had," Swan continued blithely, "we are only cousins, remember. In the olden days, people used to marry their cousins all the time. Especially in the royal families."
"This isn't the olden days, and we aren't royalty."
"I think you're making way too big a deal out of it," she said. "Is that why you've been so strange? Because you're all worked up about what happened? Kit, that's silly. It's harmless. Perfectly natural and harmless."
"No, it isn't! You're my –"
"Cousin, I know, I know! But I love you, Kit. I know you would never hurt me, and I don't think anything we do together can be wrong. Not when we care about each other."
He was having trouble breathing. "Swan …"
"I mean, I've been out with other guys," she said, turning her head so that her chin rested on his shoulder. "They're all rude and awful, and not one of them has ever made me feel the way I felt that day, when I was watching you masturbate."
"It was so exciting," she went on. "I've never been excited like that before. And I never wanted to touch any of them the way I touched you. It was good, and right, and wonderful."
"But it can't be right," he said.
"Don't you feel the same way? I think you do. I think that's why you never asked Marianne to the dance. We love each other. We always have. And I don't think there's any reason why we shouldn't show it."
"I do love you," he said. "Of course I do. But we're talking about two different things here, Swan. What we did the other day, that was … sex."
"They go together," she said, and gasped as another far-away thunderclap growled.
Now that light and dark weren't playing strobe effects with his vision, his eyes had adjusted to the gloom. He saw the breathtaking line of her jaw as she turned her head anxiously toward the window. She wore an expression of wary trepidation, as if she thought that the storm might only be waiting for her to let down her guard before it pounced in renewed force.
"You're so beautiful," he said, the words wrung from him like some painful confession. "Just being around you … it's … I want to …"
"All sorts of things."
"Yeah," he admitted.
"No! Swan, damn it, we can't!"
"You keep saying that, and I keep telling you, it's silly. Why shouldn't we be able to kiss if we want to?"
"Because … because …"
She leaned over and kissed him, sealing her mouth to his. He felt like the lightning had struck again, not outside in the blameless sky but sizzling through him in a white-hot bolt. He tried to pull back and Swan wouldn't let him. She rose up in the bed, the covers falling down around their waists, and held the sides of his face in her hands.