tagIncest/TabooFamily First Ch. 01

Family First Ch. 01

byErrantZebra©

- Prologue -

Ray Henson let out a long, contented sigh as he looked out over the yard of his new home and sipped at a cold beer. It had been a long day of unpacking, sorting, arranging, and cleaning. There was still a lot to do, but his empty house was starting to look more like a home than it had when the moving vans arrived earlier that morning.

His wife, Diane, stepped up behind him and rested her head on his shoulder. "I think this place is really going to work out," she said.

"Me too," he replied, draping his arm over her shoulder and drawing her into a warm embrace. He rested his other hand on her round and very pregnant belly, hoping to feel a kick.

Ray and Diane had been high-school sweethearts. They attended college together where Ray excelled in computer science while Diane focused her creative energies on a degree in studio art. They married soon after graduation, and within a year she was pregnant with their first child, John.

Ray found a well-paying job in the IT industry, while Diane stayed at home, caring for their newborn. Three years later, Diane found herself pregnant yet again. Their two bedroom apartment was already starting to feel cramped with just the three of them, so, they decided it was time to purchase their first real home.

As they looked out over their new yard, Diane smiled and interlocked her fingers with Ray's. For several long moments, the pair stood there in silence, imagining all of the happy memories they would make together in their new home. Ray was already making plans to build a playset in the back for John and their unborn daughter. Diane, for her part, was making plans for her new garden.

They jumped in surprise as the loud ringing of the telephone shocked them out of their reverie.

"Our first phone call!" Diane exclaimed as an excited grin spread across her face.

"Henson residence!" she said as she picked up the receiver. "Hi Mary!... Yep, our phone lines work too... Hold on a sec, let me check with Ray."

She covered the receiver with her hand. "Mary and Tim want to know if we'd like to come over for some pizza," she said.

"Sounds good to me," he replied. "Let me get my shoes on."

Ray went upstairs to make sure that John was fast asleep, and checked to make sure the baby monitor was working properly. Back downstairs he grabbed a few cold beers out of the fridge before heading across the backyard with his wife. They knocked on the back patio door of the house behind their own and were greeted by Mary, who was tired and sweaty, but appeared radiantly happy nonetheless. Ray smiled and gave her a big hug and a kiss on the cheek. Diane did the same, giggling as her belly bumped up against Mary's equally large pregnancy bump.

Mary was Ray's sister. The pair had been closer than most growing up. Mary had always been the quiet type and had difficulty making friends, but Ray had always taken it upon himself to take care of his little sister and include her in his social outings. Even during the trials and tribulations of their teenage years, they were rarely seen apart.

The closest they ever came to serious conflict was when Ray started dating Diane. The two girls clashed at first, neither wanting to share Ray with the other. Once they got to know each other, though, Mary and Diane formed a strong friendship, one that persisted into adulthood.

When Ray and Diane left for college, Mary was finally forced to break out of her shell. In her freshman year of college, she met Tim. Their professor matched them up as lab partners in Geology 101, a subject both were spectacularly terrible at but needed in order to fill a credit requirement for graduation.

The pair couldn't have been more different. Mary was quiet, shy, and awkward, while Tim had a level of confidence that would have been obnoxious if not for his genuine smile and friendly attitude towards nearly everyone he met. Unlike Mary, he had a talent for quickly engaging people and putting them at ease, a skill he would put to great use in a sales career years later. Despite herself, Mary was instantly attracted to him, but when he asked her out to dinner she panicked and turned him down. Fortunately, Tim was persistent and kept asking. It only took three more tries before she finally agreed. Things progressed quickly from there, and the pair were not only a couple but married less than six months later.

His sister's hasty marriage had been one of the biggest surprises of Ray's life. It seemed to go against everything he thought he knew about Mary's quiet, conservative nature. Even so, he'd never seen her happier than she was with Tim, and at the end of the day, that was all that mattered.

Soon after Diane had given birth to John, Mary and Tim announced yet another surprise: she was pregnant with twins. Nine months later, Mary gave birth to Abby and Allison. Over the next two years, the couples learned to rely on each other even more and shared many of the responsibilities of parenthood. Soon after Diane announced that she was pregnant with her second child, Mary found that she, too, was expecting. They couldn't have been happier.

After much discussion and planning, the two couples decided to buy a pair of houses that were back to back with each other. They all liked the idea of living close enough that their children would grow up together. Ray and Mary hoped that their kids would be as close with each other as they had been in their own childhood.

As Mary lead them into the living room, Ray saw that his sister's house was in much the same state as his own. There were half-empty boxes strewn randomly around the living room floor and a stack of trash was piled haphazardly in one corner. Much of the furniture was still wrapped in clear cellophane and only the barest of kitchen necessities had been unpacked. Tim had arranged a makeshift dining area out of overturned boxes and some lawn chairs until the dining room table could be assembled.

The four of them chatted and joked with each other as they ate, each of them excited for the bright future that lay ahead of them. Despite all the work they still had to do, none of them could remember a time when they'd felt more content and happy. As Diane and Mary laughed along with their husbands, they rubbed their stomachs, each of them hoping their children would experience the same level of happiness one day.

- Nineteen Years Later -

Christina Henson and Danny Wheeler were more than cousins, they were best friends. Having been born within a week of each other, they had a closer relationship with each other than with their own siblings. For as long as either could remember, they'd done everything together. Whether it was summer camp, after-school clubs, sports or merely swimming in their shared family pool, they were always by each other's side. At the age of eighteen, a mere month away from their high school graduation, they remained as close as ever.

The pair had quite a few friends at school, but tended to prefer each other's company. Both of them were rather quiet and introverted, preferring to spend their Friday nights at home, watching a classic sci-fi movie together over going out to rowdy parties. They excelled academically and had both been accepted to one of the top state universities, which they would be attending together in the fall.

It was a Wednesday afternoon, and the pair were studying for an upcoming calculus test. While many of their classmates were struck with devastating cases of senioritis after receiving their college acceptance letters, Christina and Danny refused to let their academics slip. Normally, calculus was Danny's worst subject, but through lots of studying and tutoring from his cousin, he usually managed to pull out a decent grade.

That day, however, he was completely unable to focus. Whenever they started working a problem, he'd get a dreamy look on his face and zone out. He wasn't exactly getting more questions right, but he seemed to be a lot less frustrated by it than usual. It was weird.

"What's got you in such a good mood?" Christina asked.

Danny hesitated a beat before responding. It seemed to take a moment for the question to register in his head.

"This is going to sound crazy," he said, starting to blush, "but I think I might have been asked out today."

"You're right. That does sound crazy," Christina responded. They'd never been shy about discussing their relationships with each other, although there wasn't usually much to share. Neither of them had been in a serious relationship before, although Christina had briefly dated a boy on her track team earlier in the school year.

"Who are we talking about here?" she asked, her mind flashing through a list of girls she knew, none of whom had the personality or inclination to ask out her cousin. Danny was handsome, kind, and intelligent, but he was also painfully shy. He'd had several crushes from afar, but he could never seem to muster up the courage to act on his desires.

"Her name is Olivia Foster," he replied. "You might know her-she's in your English class."

"The new girl?" she asked. trying unsuccessfully to conceal her surprise. "She asked you out?"

"Trust me, I'm just as surprised as you are."

She didn't know much about Olivia other than that she was a gorgeous brunette, had a great figure, and had become instantly popular when she moved into town several months back. Christina didn't pay much attention to the social comings and goings of her high school, but she thought that Olivia tended to hang out around with the jocks. She began to wonder whether her cousin hadn't misinterpreted things.

"So what happened?" she asked, trying to keep the trepidation in her voice from showing.

"It was in first period Spanish class. We had another conversation day which I was definitely not prepared for," he replied, sighing in disgust. Next to calculus, Spanish was Danny's worst subject.

"Anyways, she walked right up to me and asked if I'd be her partner. It turns out that before moving here, she lived in Spain, and she speaks it really well. Apparently she moved here after the cut-off date for the test she'd need to take to opt out of the class, so she still needs the credit to graduate."

"I was pretty embarrassed when she realized how bad I am at Spanish, but she was totally cool about it. She even wrote down some things for me to say when Señor Cooper walked by. Believe it or not, it actually worked. He complimented me on how much I've improved."

"She sounds pretty cool," Christina said with a chuckle. "But what about the whole 'asking you out' part of the conversation?"

"Hold on, I'm getting there!" he replied, blushing slightly. "We kept talking until the end of class. She actually asked me about you." A look of surprise and confusion flashed across Christina's face. "I think she thought we were dating or something. She's convinced you're some kind of literary genius."

Christina rolled her eyes at that. "Probably because I'm the only one who ever even tries to answer Dr. Rao's obtuse questions," she said.

Danny merely shrugged and continued his story. "After the bell rang, we kept talking as we left class until we had to go in different directions. There was this really awkward silence, then she, totally out of nowhere, wrote down her phone number for me and said I should call her if I ever wanted a tutor in Spanish. And that's it."

"That's it?" Christina repeated.

"Trust me, she wasn't just asking if I wanted help in Spanish. There was some definite subtext going on there. There were like... vibes. Know what I mean?"

Christina wasn't at all sure that her cousin knew what he was talking about. In fact, she didn't know what to make of the story at all. She guessed that it was possible that Olivia was really going after her cousin-he was a great guy after all, but she also wondered whether Danny wasn't making a mountain out of a molehill. She decided to keep her concerns to herself, at least for the time being.

"So are you going to call her?" she asked.

"I don't know. Should I? I don't want to come off as being pushy or something. Aren't you supposed to wait like two days before calling a girl? And if I did call her, what would I even say?" He buried his head in his hands, sighing with frustration. "God, Christina, I really have no fucking idea what I'm doing here. This is way outside of my comfort zone. What did Brett do when he asked you out?"

She laughed out loud at the mention of her ex-boyfriend. "I wouldn't try to measure yourself against Brett. He basically just announced to me one day that we were going out and that was that. If my opinion mattered to him at all, he didn't let it show."

Brett Sampson was on the track team with Christina. She'd had a crush on him all through her junior year, and he finally made a move after a meet earlier that fall. It had taken her all of a week to realize that Brett was someone who was much easier to like from a distance. The relationship ended as abruptly as it had started. She'd been over it for a long time, but it was a topic that rarely featured in their conversations. She could tell Danny felt guilty for bringing it up.

"I think when you call her you should just be you," she said, smiling at him to show she wasn't upset. "It sounds like that worked out for you in class today, right? You're a great guy, and she'd be incredibly lucky to have you."

Danny's blush deepened, but she could tell he appreciated the compliment. "Ha!" he said, "You have to say that because you're my cousin. Seriously, though. She is way out of my league. Even if I did ask her out and she said yes, it's not like I'd know what to do next."

"Like I said, just be yourself. You won't know if she really likes you otherwise," she replied.

"Yeah, you're right. I'll wait 'til tomorrow so I don't sound too desperate and give her a call. Maybe she'll be free this weekend."

"Sounds like a plan," Christina replied. "Just make sure you actually have an idea of where you're going to take her. You can't let her do all the work after all." She glanced at Danny's alarm clock. "Shoot, I have to go," she said as she got up to leave. She was up and out of the door before Danny even had a chance to thank her.

***

As she walked across the yard to her house, Christina couldn't stop thinking about what Danny had told her. She knew that her cousin had a tendency to see the world with rose-colored glasses, sometimes to his detriment. She also knew from her experience with Brett that there were some serious downsides to dating the popular kids. She was worried.

After a quiet dinner with her parents, she went upstairs to shower and clear her head, but it didn't help. Her brain kept working through every possible outcome of Danny pursuing this girl he barely knew. She was so distracted that she shampooed her hair twice and only got out when the water started getting cold.

As she towelled off, she took a moment to admire her naked body in the full-length mirror. She was tall, with a slender, athletic body. Her wavy red hair hung in wet ringlets across her shoulders. It was the same shade as her mother's. Unlike her mom, though, Christina was blessed with light freckles that covered her face, shoulders, and the tops of her small, pointed breasts. Her eyes traveled downward, to a firm stomach that sloped down into the patch of red fur at the juncture of her thighs, continuing down to her long, muscular legs and pretty feet.

Not bad, she thought as she struck a pose.

She couldn't help but grin, exposing her white teeth. Her slight overbite, wide, green eyes and long, pointed nose lent a naturally mischievous quality to her smile. Few of her classmates would guess that such a vibrant, sexy woman was hiding behind the thick, black glasses she typically wore to school, and that was fine with her.

It had been months since she'd broken up with Brett, but the experience still left her jaded when it came to relationships. She'd only been seeing him for a few days when she realized that Brett only seemed interested in her when her friend Meghan was around. It was Danny who'd finally convinced her to break up with him, saying that Brett would have to be crazy to look at other girls when she was around.

Sure enough, as soon as Christina broke things off with him, Brett made a beeline straight for Meghan. Fortunately, her friend was smart enough to see how poorly he had treated Christina and turned him down flat.

She knew logically that not all of the boys at school were like that, but the experience had made her wary of pursuing relationships with any of her classmates, particularly this close to graduation. The truth was, Danny was the only boy at school that she had any desire to spend time with anymore.

She sighed in frustration as her thoughts circled back around to her cousin. She knew that she would need to talk to someone about it. Normally that person would be Danny, but clearly that wouldn't work in this situation. She decided to give Meghan a call instead.

Wrapping a towel around herself, she went to her room, closing the door behind her. She slipped on her pajama bottoms and an old t-shirt, grabbed her phone from the nightstand and dialed Meghan's number.

"What's up, Chris?" Meghan asked, confusion evident in her voice. They rarely talked on the phone, much less before bed on a school night.

"Not much. Just trying to distract myself from studying," she lied. "What are you up to?"

"Just finishing up some homework before bed..." Meghan replied. There was an awkward pause. Christina was suddenly embarrassed, and no longer sure that she wanted to give voice to her feelings.

"Look, why don't you tell me why you really called. We both know it wasn't just so you could check up on how I'm doing," Meghan said.

Christina smiled at Meghan's straightforward attitude. Much like her uncle, Tim, her friend had a way of putting people instantly at ease. Meghan usually knew all of the school's gossip, mostly because people couldn't resist telling it to her. "Okay, so it's about the new girl," she said.

"Ooh, interesting. Does someone have a crush?" she teasingly asked. Although she'd never dated a woman, Christina considered herself to be bisexual, something that was no secret to her friends.

"Nope, not me..." she replied, slightly embarrassed. "It's Danny."

"No offense, Chris, but your cousin getting a crush on a girl he'll never have the courage to actually talk to isn't exactly exciting news."

"That's the thing, though," Christina replied. "Apparently she was talking to him! She even gave him her number."

Christina went on to explain everything that Danny had told her earlier that afternoon. She felt a bit guilty for discussing it behind his back, but she had to talk to someone about it, and she knew from experience that Meghan was a friend she could trust.

"Something about it just feels weird to me," Christina said after finishing her story. "It's not that I find it impossible to believe that a girl would talk to him. I don't. She's just so... well... gorgeous. I just don't want to see him get hurt." Saying the words aloud made her wonder whether she wasn't being dishonest with herself. Could there be another emotion there that she wasn't ready to acknowledge?

There was another awkward pause before Meghan finally responded. Sighing heavily, she asked, "Do you want the bad news or the worse news?"

"Let's start at bad and go to worse," Christina replied.

"Okay, well the bad news is that Danny's study date is probably just that and nothing more. Olivia already has a boyfriend."

Christina breathed a quiet sigh of relief. She didn't know why, but the news made her feel satisfied in a way she couldn't articulate. She felt guilty knowing that Danny wouldn't feel the same way, but she did her best to put those emotions on the back burner, at least until she found out what other bad news Meghan had to share.

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