Kasey and Leon Set SailbyTheLonghorn©
I had always been close with all of my cousins. I've always been there for them ever since they were born. I've pretty much helped raise them and always had somewhat of a parental role in their lives, always offering advice and imparting knowledge and wisdom. I guess that's because I'm the oldest of all of us cousins? Or maybe it's because I have a deep seated passion to be a father someday? That in itself was born out of my own father's shortcomings and emotional vacancy.
It's my first born cousin Kasey, whom I have a special bond with though.
I was 11 when she was born, so there was always quite an age gap between us, and I guess my wealth of life experience which I developed whilst she was growing up has always helped me to stand out from the others and helped me to guide her on the right path in life -- I guess, correcting some of my own mistakes in life?
I absolutely adored her when she was a baby and couldn't get enough of her. Every time I saw my Aunt and Uncle I would basically spend the whole time holding her and playing with her. I took care of her. When she was a toddler, again, I couldn't take my eyes off her. She was my cousin, my only cousin at the time, and I was going to cherish every minute I had with her. I'd never had a little brother or sister, so this was the best I was going to get. We played for hours and often she wouldn't eat or sleep easily unless I was there in the room, or feeding her myself.
As she grew up she would always cling to me as if I were an extension of her own body. I would always take the time to play games with her and the rest of my cousins, and I tried to offer the same experience to the others, but she just kept on clinging to me, and I loved her all the more for it. I guess I made her feel safe and comfortable, even amongst other family. It made me feel special and it made me consider our bond an extra special bond.
Even in her early teens she would often be seen sat on my lap at family gatherings, just as she did as a child. Everyone knew it was all innocent and that she was safe with me. When the family parties went on into the late evening we would often be found in a corner somewhere relaxing in a big chair together, cuddling to keep warm and sometimes drifting off to sleep. It seemed I was her best friend in the whole world.
I was her protector as she began to date boys. I would offer her advice and give her insight as to the mind of a teenage boy and what he would be thinking, and often, the lengths he would go to just to get a bit of action. This prepared her well for adult life. She would stave off the troublesome boys and when things got out of hand, I was always on call to step in and sort the situation out. I never needed to raise my fists to a teenage boy, but my mere presence would often scare them off if they wouldn't take no for an answer from her.
And now, it was time. Kasey was about to become a woman. I sat in the back of my dad's car as the parents and I drove down to the capital City for Kasey's 18th birthday celebration. This was going to be a big do. Her folks were pulling out all the stops, and though they weren't rich, they were certainly marking this occasion with a bang. The whole family was going on a luxury boat trip, at night, along the river.
When we arrived it felt like I'd stepped out of the car into the Titanic movie. The boat was huge. I was expecting some sort of canal boat or a small yacht or something, but no, this boat was big enough to fit more than a hundred people on board. Not quite the size of the Titanic, of course, but to me it was huge. Not quite a cruise ship, and not quite a house boat, this was a "leisure boat", whatever that meant!
On-board were a large staff to control and navigate the boat itself -- I don't know the terminology for I'm not much of a fan of boats! Alongside the crew there must have been 30+ waiters and catering staff -- About half the total number of people in our family! And then of course, there was our entire family too. Even with all those people on-board they managed to cram in a live band to play music throughout the night.
There were enough band members there for it to be considered a small orchestra. There were jazz and classically trained musicians, there were rock and pop musicians and there was even a conductor and a small choir. It looked like there was certainly going to be a variety of entertainment throughout the night. I even noted a DJ booth at the side of the large dance floor on this "entertainment and restaurant" deck.
This deck was where most of the night's festivities would take place. This is where the food would be served at the tables at the back, and the jazz and classical music would play during dinner, then everyone would move to the dance floor to dance to the rock and pop performances, and then as the night went on, the DJ would begin spinning his tunes and playing all that embarrassing cheese-pop music that's normally saved for weddings.
On the top deck, a fireworks display was being set up and the whole place was lit with fairy lights and it all looked very extravagant. I felt slightly under-dressed in my shirt and black jeans and casual shoes. Most of the men were wearing full suits, some even tuxedos. The women were all in a variety of dresses, though the majority, I'd have to say were in ball gowns. This really was beginning to feel a little like the Titanic movie -- thankfully, I knew there were no icebergs nearby!
And then there were my cousins. You could always count on them to be the scruffy crew! This is where I belonged. I was still a child at heart -- perhaps that's because I've spent most of my life around children, helping raise my cousins etc.? I felt like a rock-star when I showed up. They all yelled out my name and charged towards me for a big ol' group hug. Always makes me feel great.
I started to check-in on the cousins, asking how they were and what they'd been up to lately, getting all the latest gossip from the kids, and then... There she was; the apple of my eye. Kasey stepped up from one of the lower decks. She had her long, wavy, natural blonde hair down, cascading over her shoulders; hair which, as with many of us in our family, was getting darker and more brunette as she got older. Her dress was...Slightly inappropriate for the event, but in keeping with her fashion sense. She wore a very, very short, sleeveless, open-chested black dress with a lace pattern from the shoulder straps all the way down to the middle of her back.
The bottom of the lace pattern, at the front of the dress certainly highlighted the open-chested look as she almost proudly displayed her cleavage, which was clearly accentuated by a push-up bra, as she only has 36a boobs - It's funny the things you pick up on when you spend so much time with someone. Her size 6 waist looked good in the dress, but I can't say the same for her thighs since it didn't cover much of them! She's only a slender girl -- a trait that runs in the family as I'm quite slim, myself -- but she makes it look good. Her proportions are perfect and if I had filmed her walking up those stairs in slow-motion it would've been enough to make hearts melt.
She also had on a pair of black, open-toe stiletto heels with a single strap around the ankle. These, combined with her single diamond necklace and silver chain topped off a breath-taking outfit. It was clear, as she was fondling the necklace, that it was new. Since it was a diamond necklace I presumed either our grandparents or her folks bought it for her 18th birthday.
She ran towards me in such an un-flattering fashion I was scared she'd stumble in those heels, but she managed it and dove right into my arms for a hug.
"I'm so glad you came! Look, it's an actual diamond! Can you believe it? Did you see the band they got me? Oh, oh, and the fireworks! Isn't this amazing?!" She seemed excited to say the least.
"Of course I came. Did you really think that now you're old enough to drink and gamble legally that I was going to just slip off into the sunset? Nuh-uh lil' lady, not on my watch! I'm gonna be watching you like a hawk from now on!" I joked.
"Perv!" she said.
"Hey! That's not very nice! After all I've done for you! Changing your nappies, feeding you goop, singing you lullabies..." I replied.
"Hey shut up! God, you're so embarrassing! I'm all grown up now!" she gestured to her body, inviting me to look at her fully grown self.
"Besides, it's all about 'what have you done for me lately?' anyway!" she continued.
"Well, that's why I have a present to give to you later. I came prepared. Ha!" I retorted, smugly.
She glared at me.
"Ok, well, can't I have it now?" Kasey asked.
"Um...No! Because you always demand to have stuff 'right now' and people always cave. It's time you learned some harsh life lessons now you're an adult" I answered.
"Really?" she seemed visibly upset. I couldn't resist the pouty lip and the puppy dog eyes. She knew what she was doing. She knew I hated seeing her like that.
"No, of course not! Geez, what, did you think I was gonna start acting like all the old folks over there? God no. Here... Happy birthday honey."
I handed her a lovingly wrapped present from inside my leather jacket -- again, not exactly formal attire, but I needed something in case I got cold. After all my efforts wrapping her gift, and tying the ribbon, she did her usual, and simply ripped into it. My heart broke a little bit after I'd made sure it looked so perfect.
"OH. MY-GOD! Are you serious?!" she reacted.
"You like?" I enquired.
"Like? No, I love it! Oh my God, thank you so much Leo! But why? Why two?" She genuinely seemed over the moon.
"One for you, and one for me." I said.
"You're coming with me?" She seemed confused.
"Duh." I said, implying the obvious reason why.
"...To Disney world? In Florida?"
"Um... Yeah. I'm not letting you go on your own so I can miss out on all the fun. No no, I'm going with you!"
I'm such a big kid, I actually wanted to go just as much as she had always wanted to go. Even though I've been a few times, I thought it would be a great experience for her, and it would be something really special.
"You're such a geek." She said playfully.
"I think the term is 'super-cool, kid at heart, awesome dude'!"
"Yeah...No, geek. But thank you SO much! How did you get these? How can you afford these?" she asked as she hugged me.
"Well, I saved up some points here and there, and then the offers were just timed right and...ah who am I kidding? They were far too expensive, but I figured, what the hell, you're only 18 once. That, and your smile is worth it."
"I...I can't believe this. Two flight tickets to Orlando, Florida and week-long passes to Disney world. Wow. I think this might even top the necklace."
"Well, probably in terms of cost, but it's a holiday for me too, so it evens out." I said.
"No, I mean, I have literally wanted to go there my whole life. I've only wanted a diamond necklace since I started becoming an adult. This, this is really special. I love it... And I love you!" she said as she hugged me again, kissing me on the cheek. She slowly pulled away as we awkwardly gazed in each other's eyes.
"Does everyone know about this?" she asked.
"Why do you think everyone's watching us from over there?" I said with a suave smile, pointing over towards the dance floor, where our family were gathering whilst everyone mingled, greeting each other.
"You... You're the best, you know that?" she said, grinning from ear to ear.
"I know." I said smugly as she ran off to show her parents what she got. From the other side of the floor I could hear part of the conversation.
"I'm going to America!" Kasey said.
"I know, isn't it lovely of Leon to take you?" Aunt Sophie responded.
"You need to find yourself a boyfriend as good as him, Kasey. There aren't many guys like your cousin left!" Ah, Uncle Frank - always pressuring her to get 'settled' ...whatever that meant.
"Will you stop going on about me finding a boyfriend, dad? Can't I just enjoy this moment, for once? Please? For God's sake I'm going to America!"
I chuckled to myself as I walked down the steps from where Kasey came, so I could explore the rest of the boat before we set sail.
It was some time after dinner and after the party was in full swing before I got to spend any more time alone with Kasey. We were about halfway along the river by now and pretty much all the adults were either dancing the night away or getting drunk at the free bar Uncle Frank had arranged -- I bet he regrets that decision! Kasey was on the top deck, looking up at the stars, all alone.
"Kase? Why are you up here on your own?"
"Oh I just needed a little break from everything down there, you know..." she replied with a sigh.
"You should know by now these get-togethers can always get a little too intense." I said.
"I know, I know it's just... Ah forget it. It's nothing." She waved off her concern and continued to look out into the vast space above us. I took my leather jacket that was draped over my arm and I wrapped it around her shoulders, gently caressing them from behind.
"What? Kasey, c'mon, you tell me everything." I enquired with a smile as she turned to me.
"Well, it's just my dad won't shut up about how I need to find a guy like you to be with and even though I keep asking him to stop, he's just ruining the night for me. I don't want to find a guy like you. I'm not sure I want to be with anyone right now." She said with a teary eye.
"Hey, hey, come on now Kase. No need to be so upset hon. Uncle Frank's just realising you're a grown up now and he wants the best for you." I said, holding her to me as her head nestled against my shoulder.
"I know, but the best for me is my cousin. There's no-one out there who can compare to you. Certainly not in my dad's eyes anyway." She continued.
"He's just talking me up because he's proud to be my Godfather... Not that he had anything to do with my upbringing." I said.
"I don't know why our dads keep a distance from each other. It makes it so hard for me to see you." Kasey said.
"Why, do you want to see me more often? Isn't there such a thing as 'too much of a good thing'?" I said with a joke. She laughed through her few tears.
"You know what I mean... I think he's right though. I don't think anyone ever will measure up to you. You've always been so good to me, Leo." She turned her head to smile up at me. As I saw her looking up at me from my shoulder, it sent me to a flashback of me holding her as a child; trying to get her to sleep while our family partied in the next room.
"And I always will be good to you, cuz. Besides, I don't think I'd ever approve of any of the clowns wanting to date you anyway. You can stay single all you want babe. I'll take care of you, whether your dad can take it or not." I kissed her on her forehead and she let out a little moan as she smiled and closed her eyes while I held her.
"Thank you Leon." She said as she squeezed our bodies together, crossing her arms around my waist and pulling me in tightly.
I heard a cough from the other end of the deck. I turned to see who it was and I saw a crew member, smoking, as he brought up some more equipment for the upcoming fireworks display. I glared at him, given the dangerous nature of his habit, coupled with the fact he was carrying explosives and as he swaggered his head arrogantly, he put out his cigarette and threw it into the river. My expression turned to disgust.
Just then, I heard Aunt Sophie calling up to Kasey.
"Kasey, it's time for the cake, sweetheart."
Clearly Aunt Sophie knew she'd come up to take a breather. I let Kasey go and she wiped the tears from her eyes. Luckily she was wearing waterproof make-up. I handed her a clean tissue so she could clean up any running, just in case it wasn't as waterproof as it claimed to be.
"You ready to go back down, kiddo?" I asked.
"Only if you'll stay with me and protect me from any more badgering?" she replied.
"Of course. Come on, birthday girl." I said, wrapping my arm around her shoulders as we walked towards the stairs. My hand slipped down her back as I let her go down first. As she took the first step down, my hand slipped down with her and ended up just touching her bottom. Clearly neither of us thought anything of it as she simply continued down the stairs. I took my hand away and followed as we went to re-join the party.
A little while later, I was searching for my jacket, which had disappeared sometime between Kasey's cake being brought out and the DJ beginning his set with "YMCA", to which Uncle Frank and our Aunty Lana danced confidently. Those two didn't mind a bit of light embarrassment. My search led me down to what would've been the cabin deck if this were a private boat. I knew I had been down there earlier in the night so wondered if I'd set my jacket down somewhere. I was surprised when I heard the flush of the toilet in one of the bathrooms and I turned to see Kasey emerging.
"Hey cuz. How you doing now?" I said.
"Oh a little better now, I think. Still a bit overwhelmed and confused about my future and stuff, but better...ish."
"So you had a glass or two of champagne then?" I cleverly deduced.
"I hate that you can crack my code." She said playfully.
"Does, er, your mum know you've had your first drink?" I asked.
"Nope." She said smugly. "And she doesn't know I just threw it back up in there either!"
"Right. Great. So, how drunk are you, exactly?" I wondered.
"Oh not that drunk really. I'm not like Aunty Lana. I haven't completely lost it. Did you see her and my dad doing the Dirty Dancing thing?" she said, wondering if I was part of the crowd watching as our relatives re-enacted the famous dance number from Dirty Dancing.
"I wouldn't have missed it! It's tradition! They've had the time of their lives!" I said, stifling a laugh.
"At least your dad's fairly straight-laced. My dad just lets loose and embarrasses the hell out of me all the time. This is why I think I'll be like you and not drink." Kasey said.
"What, not at all?" I enquired.
"Nope. If I have to throw up every glass of champagne I have at these posh do's, I'd rather stick to the tee-total stuff like you." She explained.
"Lovely visual there." I said, which brought out a laugh from the birthday girl.
Suddenly, the boat hit something; it was just a slight nudge, probably going over a buoy or something, but it was enough for Kasey to lose her balance a little and fall into me, with me against the wall of the narrow corridor.
"You ok?" I asked, as I held her by her waist while she regained her balance.
"Yeah, yeah..." she replied as she slowly stood up straight. As she brought her body up, her face came within an inch of my own and we paused like that for a moment, our eyes darting from each other's gaze to each other's lips and back. The moment was very tense all of a sudden. My better judgement was keeping me from doing something I knew I shouldn't. Kasey's, on the other hand, wasn't.
Kasey kissed me on the lips and all of a sudden, everything changed. She placed her hands against the wall either side of my head and leaned in to kiss me properly, so that she was almost pinning me in place. For a moment, I got lost in the kiss, but then I broke it off.
"Woah... Woah... What are you doing? What are WE doing?" I panicked.
"We can't do this." I said.
"Why not?" she asked.
"Because it's wrong, Kasey. We're family. And you're not thinking straight. You've had a tough night, you're feeling overwhelmed, and you're just seeking out some comfort." I explained.
"But Leo..." she said, with a begging tone.
"No buts, Kase. We can't." I got up close to her again and held her by her shoulders, saying it while looking straight into her eyes.