tagIncest/TabooIsland of Desire

Island of Desire

byGlaze72©

Copyright 2017 Alana Church

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~~ All characters in this book are over 18. ~~

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"Connor! You won't believe the good news!"

Connor Flaherty sat up in his bed and shivered, pulling his blankets tight around his shoulders. One hand tried to rub the grit out of his eyes. He'd been up until one in the morning, gaming online with some of his friends. His alarm clock was now telling him it was 3:16. Jesus Christ. "Believe what, Brigid? And do you realize what time it is in Chicago?"

"Of course I do," his sister replied from across the Atlantic. "But I couldn't wait to tell you. I'm coming home! Well, and then leaving again," she added, sounding slightly deflated. "But I have the most wonderful opportunity! And so do you!"

"Me? What?"

"Oh, it's just fantastic. You won't believe it. How would you like to spend the next two years on a tropical island in the south Pacific?"

"It sounds absolutely awful," he said groggily, after taking a second to think about it. "I bet they don't have deep-dish pizza or high-bandwidth internet service or rec-league softball or decent beer or anything."

"Connor!" Her voice was exasperated, and even in his sleep-deprived state he couldn't help but grin. He could practically see her stamping her foot in frustration. "It's - oh, crap, I've got to board my flight. This happened in such a rush I barely made it to the airport on time. I'm at Heathrow. I'll be at O'Hare at noon. I'll text you the flight number meet me there gotta go love you bye!" she finished in a rush.

He stared blankly at his cell phone as the call disconnected, then slumped back into his bed, shivering in the pre-dawn chill. Winter had come to Chicago with a vengeance. Nearly a foot of snow had fallen over the weekend, and the forecasters on WGN were saying that the temperatures in the coming week would be lucky to get above freezing. Outside his condo in Hyde Park, he could hear the December wind howling through the trees

Actually, a tropical vacation sounds pretty good right now, he thought muzzily as he pulled the covers over his head. Too bad Brigid's crazy. I'm not going anywhere.

*****



When he woke the next morning he was half-convinced that it had all been an amazingly vivid dream. But the text on his cell phone was perfectly clear. Brigid would be coming in on American Airlines Flight 87 from Heathrow, arrival time 11:50 AM.

Shaking his head, he made the drive out to O'Hare, and was waiting on the concourse at the international terminal when his sister emerged from the gate.

She looked the same as ever, he thought. The porcelain-pale skin and fiery red hair, a gift from their Irish mother, which she constantly tried to tame, hadn't changed. The wavy mass was ruthlessly plaited into a thick braid that reached halfway down her back. Her green eyes were as bright as ever, though somewhat shadowed with weariness, and she was dressed in a conservatively-tailored but elegant woman's suit, now slightly rumpled from nearly nine hours on a plane.

She stopped in front of him. Her lips twitched in a small smile. "Hey, kid."

"Hey yourself."

She dropped her bag and hugged him, quick and fierce. "God, I've missed you!" Her voice was a harsh whisper in his ears. When she pulled away, her cheeks were wet. "Why don't you ever call, Connor? E-mails aren't enough. Is it asking too much for me to be able to hear your voice?"

"I know." Ashamed, he stared at his shoes, then bent and picked up her bag. "But Bucharest is like nine hours ahead of Chicago. And I work odd hours. I'm never sure if you're going to be asleep or working or at some fancy diplomatic function or what. E-mail just seems easier."

"Easier. Hah," she grunted, obviously unconvinced. From the look she gave him, it was easy to see she wasn't going to let the matter slide.

"So how much luggage do you have?" he asked as they made their way to the baggage claim area.

"Just one suitcase. It's enough to last me for a few days. I took the liberty of having the rest of my stuff shipped from the embassy to your place. I hope you don't mind."

"Thinking about moving in?" A cold fist seemed to clutch his heart. Despite how much he loved her, the last thing he wanted was his older sister as a roommate.

"Of course not. But where else was I going to send it? Now that we've sold the old place, I'm kind of a hobo, Connor."

"You're right. I'm an idiot. I'm sorry." He took a deep breath. "And you're welcome to stay as long as you like."

She leaned over and kissed his cheek. "I knew there was a reason why I didn't push you in front of a train when we were kids."

He forced a smile. "Thanks. Is that yours?" he said, pointing towards a familiar suitcase, battered and worn around the edges.

"Yup." She heaved it off the belt, handed it to him, and claimed her own carry-on bag in return. "Let's see this new place of yours."

*****



They made one stop, at a Culver's hamburger stand, at Brigid's insistence, where she ordered a double-cheeseburger and onion rings and a chocolate shake. It all disappeared in minutes. She leaned back in the leather interior of Connor's Tesla, the carry-out bag forgotten at her feet, and sighed gratefully. "God, Squirt, that hit the spot. There were times in the last few months where I would have traded all the fancy food at all the embassy receptions in the world for one good-old greasy-ass American meal."

He snorted as she called him by his old nickname, and she hid a smile. Her brother never changed. Double major in electrical and mechanical engineering, with an emphasis on renewable energy resources, tapped as a rising star by one of the largest energy companies in the country before he had completed his master's degree, and now an independent consultant at a salary that was almost obscene compared to her government stipend, and she could still push his buttons like she did when she was nine and he was six.

A few minutes later Connor pulled into his complex. They parked the car and entered the building, carrying Brigid's bags. She tried to keep her mouth closed, but it kept threatening to gape open, especially when a doorman waved them through the entrance with a tip of his liveried cap as Connor nodded absently. The foyer was ostentatiously low-key, as if it knew it could look outrageously expensive, but chose not to. An elevator sped them to the top floor, where it opened with a subdued chime. Once inside the condominium itself, her jaw flapped uselessly.

"This is ridiculous," she said, when she had regained her powers of speech.

Floor to ceiling windows looked south and west, taking in a large slice of Chicago's residential sprawl. Warm hardwood floors, easy on the eyes, stretched from wall to wall, interrupted only by thick rugs, obviously hand-made, and, just as obviously, extremely expensive. In front of her and to her right, a series of shallow steps led down into an entertainment area, the centerpiece of which was an almost ludicrously large flat-screen television. It was surrounded by dark leather furniture which looked sinfully luxurious. To her left was a kitchen with granite tabletops and stainless steel fixtures. To her immediate right, a hallway led down to what she assumed were the bedrooms and bathroom.

"Christ, Connor, you told me you were doing well, but I never expected this."

"This?" He looked around blankly, then shrugged. "Well, you save a utility company half a billion dollars when they decide to rebuild their entire infrastructure, and they might decide to throw a couple of nickels your way." He pulled off his battered leather coat and hung it from an equally dilapidated rack on the near wall, next to a filthy Cubs fishing hat. She eyed the rack narrowly, almost certain her brother had stolen it from their apartment in Champaign when he was an undergraduate, and she had been completing her master's degree in international business.

"But you still insist on dressing like you're a refugee from the nineteen-nineties," she said, taking in the worn jeans, the scuffed brown shoes, the faded beige t-shirt, and the checked flannel shirt. She fingered the flannel distastefully. "Weren't you wearing this the last time I saw you?"

"Maybe."

"Connor, it was a year ago. Can't you dress...I don't know...better?"

"Hey. I wore flannel before flannel was cool."

"Flannel's not cool. It hasn't been cool for fifteen years, Connor."

He held up a finger. "Fashion is cyclical. Flannel was cool once, so therefore it will be cool again. I am wearing flannel now. Ergo," he grinned infuriatingly, "I wore flannel before flannel was cool. The only difference is that we're talking about a future event in the past tense."

"Arrggh!" She threw her hands up. "I give up. Where's the bathroom? I need to pee and shower."

"You're probably tired, too," he said, leading her down the hall. "Do you want to take a nap?"

She shook her head. "If I do, I'll sleep for hours. Right now my internal clock thinks it's nearly midnight. If I fall asleep, I'll be jet-lagged for a week, and I can't handle that, not with an interview coming up on Thursday. I need to stay up until sunset at least, and have a decent meal.

"Once I hit that bed, though, I'm going to pass right the hell out."

*****



She emerged from the guest bedroom an hour later, showered and dressed in a pair of ratty old jeans and a thick, comfortable sweatshirt, feeling somewhat refreshed. She had removed her hair from its customary braid and the dark red mass was spread like a fan over her shoulders. To her surprise, her younger brother was industriously making sushi in the kitchen. A dizzying array of tools and ingredients was laid out in front of him. As she watched, he wrapped sticky rice around what looked to be shrimp tempura, then drizzled a dark sauce over the concoction, before slicing it into individual portions with a wickedly sharp knife.

The effect would have been impressive, if he had not been wearing what was obviously the sash from his bathrobe around his head in mocking emulation of the headband that genuine sushi chefs wore.

She shook her head, fighting back giggles, knowing Connor had done this just to make her laugh, but helpless nonetheless. "You're a goofball."

He slanted a quick smile over his shoulder. "Takes one to know one, Sis."

She wiped her eyes, unsurprised to find tears leaking down her cheeks. "Remember the Ohio State game?"

"My finest hour."

*****



Eight years ago...

"Why do you want to go to the game?" she had asked. "You don't even like football. And the team's awful. They haven't won a game since September. And Ohio State's like...really good. They're going to fucking destroy us, Connor."

"So what? I got good seats. Nearly field-level. The weather's supposed to be nice. We can tailgate, hang out together, and just...forget about everything else for a while." His eyes were dark with the memory of that terrible August day, only a week after classes had begun.

It was supposed to be all five of them, Brigid recalled with a shiver. Their parents had decided to take a vacation to celebrate their twenty-fifth wedding anniversary, and wanted their three children to go with them. Tickets had been bought and reservations made for a week of skiing in Wyoming. But their mother's job had delayed the vacation until August. Connor, a junior at Illinois, and Brigid, just beginning post-graduate work at Northwestern, had reluctantly decided to stay in Illinois, unwilling to miss a week of classes.

Driving to the airport in a rainstorm, the car had skidded on the wet asphalt, spun out of control, and had hit a bridge abutment at fifty miles an hour. Their parents had died instantly. Their sister Brenda, only fifteen years old and achingly beautiful, had lingered for six agonizing days before succumbing to her injuries. The three of them had been buried in a single ceremony. Brigid, unwilling to be parted from her only close relative, had transferred to Illinois the following week.

"This is stupid," she muttered, as Ohio State scored yet another touchdown. All around them, listless fans, numb from years of losing, began to climb to their feet and slouch out of the stadium. Their section, behind the OSU bench, was already nearly empty. "Come on Connor, let's go back to my apartment. We can order some Papa Del's and watch a movie. I'll even let you drink a beer or two."

"No." With an evil gleam in his eye, he pulled a brown paper bag out of his pocket. He slipped it over a bottle of Mountain Dew which he lifted from the inside pocket of his leather jacket. To the undiscerning eye, it now looked like he was drinking alcohol and trying to hide it, like a common bum on the streets.

"No," she said in a loud whisper, trying not to draw attention. "You are not doing Drunk Irish Uncle here." For years, Connor had been imitating their mother's uncle Patrick around the dining room table, usually with hilarious results.

"Of course not," he replied, sounding slightly insulted. But before she could relax, he went on. "I've got a better routine now. I'm going to be Flaming Gay Drunk Irish Uncle.

"Oh, sweet Jaysus," he bellowed before Brigid could respond, standing up and swaying slightly. His voice deepened, becoming raspier. To those who didn't know him, he sounded like a boozy man in his mid-fifties, closing down yet another neighborhood pub at one o'clock on a Sunday morning. "Who is that? That's the sweetest piece of ass me eyes have ever seen! What's his name? Lauren...Laushen...Laurenitis!" he exclaimed triumphantly, pointing to a beefy linebacker, only a few yards away from their seats. "Sure and it's a damn tongue-twister of a name, but I bet his tongue would be nice and twisty if he put his mind to it, wouldn't it?" Around them, people began to stare.

"Just look at that body, would you? He's like a great big piece of grade-A rump roast." From her seat, now prudently moved several feet away, Brigid could see that her brother's words were having an affect on the young football player. His hands began to twitch, clenching into fists. His teammates, on the other hand, were enjoying the show. Several of them were laughing and pointing into the stands. "And I'd roast his rump, you can be sure about that. I'd roast it over and over and over.

"God and sonny Jesus, what I would do to that arse," Connor continued, waving the bag and bottle dramatically. "I would pour strawberry marmalade all over it. And then I'd to tie his hands to the bedposts and lick it all off."

Through her tears of helpless laughter, Brigid could see the red flush mounting up the neck of the young man. Several of his teammates, meanwhile, had fallen to the ground, rolling back and forth.

"And his hair. God, it's so long and sweaty and greasy! I want to run me hands through it. I bet the oil in it could lube me up for a month. And boy, we would need lots of lube when we got into the sack. Nothing like a little grease to make the train go into the tunnel, know what I mean? Oh, I know you do, Jimmy boy. D'ye think he'd let me shave his head? I want to rub me feet all over the top of his noggin, and feel his skin on my toes. God and Mother Mary, wouldn't that be something to keep a lonely man warm on a cold night?"

Clutching her stomach, tears leaking out of her eyes, Brigid could see an approaching usher, wearing the neon-yellow vests that seemed to suck all the joy out of their souls. "Connor. Incoming."

The gray-haired man loomed over her younger brother like an ill-tempered crow. "Sir, I'm going to have to ask you to leave."

"Go ahead," Connor said, barely sparing the man a glance. "Jimmy. Jimmy!"

The young man on the field twitched, then reluctantly turned around, drawn by some unseen force.

All eyes on him, Connor held his hand up to his head, extended thumb and pinky mimicking a phone. "Call me, sugar? Please?" he simpered, batting his eyelashes winsomely. "My number's..." Connor rattled off a nonsense-string of digits, seemingly oblivious to James Laurinitis' teammates, who were howling with laughter.

"Sir?"

"What?"

"I said that I have to ask you to leave."

"Then do it, for fuck's sake. Then tell me exactly why."

Taken aback at his stone-sober belligerence, the usher paused. "Alcohol is not allowed on campus."

"I'm not drunk, and there's no alcohol here. Go on. Take it," Connor snarled, thrusting the bottle at him. "Unless there's been one fuck of a change at Pepsi-Cola, there's no alcoholic content in fucking Mountain Dew."

"You're..." the usher stammered helplessly. "We ask that fans not insult the visiting student-athletes," he managed, obviously parroting words from some internal memo.

"Insulting? What was insulting about what I said?" Connor smacked his lips suggestively. "I was just telling my friend Jimmy down there all the wonderful things I wanted to do to him in bed. Or are you so stupid that you can't understand basic English? And a 'student-athlete?'" He snorted derisively. "That's no student. That's two hundred and fifty pounds of 'roided-up muscle. Do you actually think he's like the rest of us, who actually have to study? Look at those fucking freaks. Eighty of them there on the sideline, and I bet your ass ninety percent are Communications majors. That is, if they can actually communicate in any way besides grunting and farting."

"Fuck you, you little shit," the usher replied, stung by her brother's mocking disdain. "Come on, Mert," he said to another usher who had joined him. "Let's kick out this asshole." He twisted an unresisting arm up behind Connor's back and frog-marched him up the steps.

"Ah, I see how it is now," Connor shouted, his words holding an edge of manic glee. "See the violence inherent in the system!" he called out to the staring fans. "See the violence inherent in the system! Help! Help! I'm being repressed!"

"Bloody peasant!" Brigid bellowed, following him up the stairs.

*****



"You're damn lucky you didn't get suspended for that little stunt," she said, coming back to the present day.

Connor laughed and laid out plates, chopsticks, soy sauce in shallow dishes, and the now-finished sushi on the kitchen counter. "Shrimp tempura roll. Volcano roll. Eel roll. Cucumber roll." He pointed at each. A bottle of red wine was already out, and he poured a generous splash into a crystal glass, then passed it to her. For himself, he opened a bottle of beer and poured the contents into a frosted glass he pulled out of the freezer.

"To family," he said, raising his beer. For once, his face held no hint of mockery, and his eyes were grave.

"To family." Her eyes were misty as they clinked the glasses together.

She took a bite of her roll, her eyes rolling up in her head as the taste of crunchy shrimp, soy sauce, and vegetables mingled in her mouth. "When did you learn to do sushi?"

"A few months ago. I had a lot of free time after I finished up the job for Northern Illinois Light and Power, so I took a class. It was a lot of fun."

"So what are you working on now?"

"Just some free-lance stuff."

She fiddled with her chopsticks, dragging the tips through a puddle of sauce on her plate. "Don't you get worried, not having a regular job? I mean, I know the consulting stuff pays well, but...I couldn't do it. I need that feeling of stability. I can't imagine waiting by the phone, hoping someone will call."

One side of his mouth curled up in a smile. "Well, one benefit of being one of the half-dozen best renewable-energy consultants in the country is that you can pretty much pick and choose what jobs you want. If I wanted to, I could get a nice seven-figure job at any of the big boys. ComEd, Exelon, Duke, you name it.

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