Hannah bore her beloved husband beautiful daughters, half-fae, and many were touched by magic. Stronger still than his own fae blood, the prince's oath was in them too. Hannah's daughters were from then on known as oath-takers, promise-makers. A Macallan would never break her pledge. It was like they couldn't. A Macallan woman's word was very nearly her life.
For fae kind, a human that could be trusted to her word was a special thing. It meant bargains could be struck, secrets shared, pacts made. Over generations, with what they learned and with good hearts, the Macallan family did great deeds for mortals and fae alike. And in time, even Brighde, Great Mother of all the Isles, came to the Macallans because, every once in awhile, even a goddess has a favor to ask. It took all the clan to grant it, and still only the firstborns could carry Brighde's immense boon - seasamh in aghaidh ama."
"Standing against time," my sister whispered.
"Yes. And with it, the Macallans defended all the Isles against the dangers Brighde sensed coming. And Eire knew peace. The End." I scratched my sister's neck. "Happy?"
"Your version is way better than Gram's."
"You mean you didn't like, 'Somebody fucked a faerie and now we're all fucked too, so suck it up and quit crying'?'"
We both laughed hard enough that we were wiping our eyes afterwards.
"Good old Gram," Tabby sighed finally.
"Yeah. Hey, how about some coffee?" I changed the subject quickly.
Not because Gram's death still hurt. In fact, she'd gone out like I wanted to someday. Seriously, you piss off a grumpy old Irish woman at your own peril. Trying to hijack her 747 and crash it into a shiny white federal building full of innocent people had made her mad.
No, the real reason I was eager to get out of bed right then was that Tabby's last several fidgets had rubbed her nipples against mine again, sending tingles up and down my spine that felt so good they nearly hurt.
"Wait... awww... Molly..." Tabitha whined, patting the warm spot on the bed I'd fled too quickly for her liking.
But I was already wrapped in my robe and toeing into my slippers. "How about French toast for breakfast?"
"...cinnamon." I finished for her. "Trust me, I know how you like it, sis." I leaned down to peck her forehead and tugged up the blanket that was drifting dangerously down her tempting chest as she sat up. Her smooth, lightly tanned shoulders were trouble enough. "Get up when you're ready and come let me mother you a little. Just put on some more clothes, okay?"
"Heh, for French toast I'd put on a ball gown." She grinned as I left and flopped back down on her back.
I padded into the kitchen and made the batter for the French toast. I let half-a-dozen thick bread slices steep then made coffee and started slicing some strawberries. It had probably been awhile since my vagabond sister ate anything healthy. When that was done, I heated a pan and started cooking.
"Tabby?" I called several minutes later when I was halfway through.
No answer. Meh, she'd probably fallen back to sleep. I finished cooking.
Still no answer.
I nuked a bottle of maple syrup to take the chill of from the fridge then filled my coffee cup and drank my way halfway through it. I picked up a fork and put it back down.
Finally, I'd lost my patience, "Dammit Tabitha, breakfast is getting cold!"
Still nothing. It wasn't that big of an apartment, she had to have heard me. Was she okay?
"Fine," I sighed and closed my eyes tight, gripped the smooth edge of my breakfast table, and kicked off my slippers.
Don't ask me why, but it's easier when my feet are bare, easier still when they touch water. In the olden days, many a Viking ship had turned right around and paddled for home after they learned what a line of Macallan women waiting for them in the surf meant. The doors to Valhalla wouldn't open for a Norseman who died between heartbeats without a fight. So I understand the symbolism of the water, but not the mechanics.
It's kind of embarrassing to admit, but I've just never been that good with magic and Gram didn't have enough patience to drill it into my thick head. The word for "moron" in Gaelic is óinseach and she yelled it at me a lot.
Understanding wasn't required for what I was going to do next, it was just a matter of being an eldest Macallan daughter. And I was one. Lucky me.
Sitting in my modern little American kitchen on the hills of San Francisco, I listened for a funny rubbing sound, a very, very old one that I've heard running behind my ears since the day I was born. Turns out that it's just the small, constant friction of the world going by. Mom and Gram had to explain to me when I was little that we were the only ones that could hear it.
Luckily, I didn't have to wait long. I heard what I was hoping for almost right away; a little knot on what I had always pictured as a giant silk rope that's constantly sliding by. Flaws in the rope, like the one coming, made a slightly louder rubbing sound as they draw nearer.
When it got came enough, I gripped the little knot, in my head, not with my hands, and pulled hard on a few looser threads that I could feel, just enough of them for the space of my apartment. I had only a little piece of that giant rope, but when I gripped the threads tightly it was like a sudden tug-of-war with a championship sumo wrestler.
For a few moments it was me against my little corner of the world. My stomach rolled and my head pounded as I heaved mentally. Finally the threads came free. They stayed with me, unwinding reluctantly from the silk rope as it continued its constant sliding.
I opened my eyes and everything, everything, was frozen.
I can stop time. Mom could too. And Gram. And her mom. And hers. Hers too. And so on, back to a little village on the windswept coast of northern Ireland where fae things once dwelled. And part-fae things like Macallans.
Nifty huh? Yeah, right up until it kills you. It's how my mother died. It's how we usually die. There are strict rules. Break the big one -- no fucking with the whole rope of time -- and you pay with your life. That was part of the promise our family made to Brighde, Great Mother of Ireland, eons ago in exchange for the power of seasamh in aghaidh ama - standing against time. And in the Macallan family, promises are a serious thing.
I shook my head to clear it, let my stomach settle, and trotted off to find my only sibling to see if she'd managed to hurt herself somehow or if she was just being a brat and ignoring me. I'd probably be ticked either way. And because I know Tabby a little too well, I brought the bottle of warmed maple syrup with me on my search. Odds were good that I'd get to use it.
I pushed open my own bedroom door and found my kid sister still tucked cozily in my bed.
Damned brat. Like everything else, she was motionless. Her eyes were squeezed shut but it didn't matter, she couldn't see me either way.
This may sound crazy, but, exactly as I expected, she was masturbating. Yep, masturbating.
Both of Tabby's arms were under the sheet that was tented between her spread knees. Her face had that unique, mixed look of concentration and bliss.
"Jesus, Tabby," I muttered. I'd been catching her like this since... well... for a very long time. My kid sister had a ridiculous sexual appetite and wasn't above a little self-served snack now and then to tie her over until her next nookie session.
Usually, I would slip back out of the room and leave Tabby to her privacy, but sometimes, like today, I'd treat myself a little and mess with her. I could only go so far though because there were promises about that too. Strong promises. Blood promises.
In a few steps, I was standing next to my young sister lying comfortably in my bed. Her small lips were parted, nostrils flared, cheeks flushed a light pink with her excitement.
"What is it with you and touching yourself in my bed, girlie?" I wondered out loud as I leaned closer to her. She couldn't hear me either.
She'd be nude under the blankets. My fingers toyed anxiously with one corner of them. I hadn't seen Tabitha naked in a couple of years.
In high school, with three varsity sports plus gymnastics on the weekends, Tabby's body had been insane, almost impossible. The same girl isn't supposed to have six pack abs and perfectly round, C-cup breasts, but Tabitha did. She'd looked like some sort of cartoon supergirl. The high school boys were practically beating each other to death just for the privilege of taking her to the movies.
Her body had softened a little bit since high school. She'd given up sports in college to focus on her studies, majoring in photojournalism. Her body changed, becoming less chiseled and more natural, more feminine and, to my eyes when I got my last peek back then, even more attractive.
We'd shared a bathroom one weekend at the beach during her senior college year a couple of years ago. She was so casual about her naked body while pulling her bathing suits on and off, wandering around naked. It had been hard not to stare.
I don't look bad in a bikini. I'm long and lean with narrow hips, a respectable tush from running, and small, high-set breasts, but I'm definitely not shaped like Tabby's fit and luscious hourglass. Not many women are.
I wondered what she looked like now and fiddled with the edge of the sheet a bit. I only had to lift it to see, but the sheet felt heavy. It was weighed down by your conscience.
"Oh Tabby, we're getting a little old for these games, kiddo." I said it to myself more than her.
"These games" were complicated because the first promise Mom and Gram bound me to was an oath when using the family gift: never to do ill to family. We'd even shared blood in the oath and that fed more magic into it. A blood promise is nearly as strong as a heart promise, breaking it is torture.
Touching Tabby in a sexual way without permission definitely qualified as "doing ill to family" and I'd never figured out a way to ask permission. It would be an awkward question, "Hey sis, mind if I feel you up a little while I'm using the ole' family gift-slash-curse?"
Still, I could have a little fun. I dribbled a bit of maple syrup onto a finger and dabbed it at my sister's lips. They were soft and warm. I dipped into the syrup and did it again, painting a good sweet gloss on her lips that she'd taste later. She'd know I did it. She had gotten used to my pranks over the years. Besides, the sensation of my finger on her lips, in fact any touch sensations that happened now, would catch up with her the moment time restarted.
I let my syrupy finger linger at her lips, feeling wronger as I lingered longer. The blood in my veins tickled its oath-warning. I ignored it and pressed a fingertip into her mouth so she'd taste maple the moment she woke up. It was even hotter and softer inside her mouth; small too because her lips were barely parted. My thoughts, already teetering on the sexual, tumbled deeply into the gutter as I brushed her little tongue with my fingertip. My blood tingled a stronger oath-warning.
How many men? How many men had she had in her mouth? I knew she swallowed, but then again I did too. We'd traded that sordid bit of truth one night a few years ago over a good bottle of wine, sitting in front of my fireplace.
And how many women? How many women had she pleasured with these lips, this tongue? She'd openly admitted to liking girls that very same night after we'd polished off a second bottle of wine, "S'not so bad, Molly. You just need to find the right girl and get a little brave." She'd said it with the same sweet smile that I imagined her using to lure men and women into her bed.
A little brave. Yeah. Sure. I sighed and pulled my finger from Tabby's tiny, warm mouth. I'm not brave. Not like Tabitha, anyway. And I have promises to keep. My blood stopped tingling.
I backed away from the bed, savoring one last look at my pretty sister from my bedroom doorway, and made a mental note to change my sheets before going to sleep tonight. Tabby tended to leave a bed more than a little soggy when she masturbated. Even worse than I did.
I was back in the kitchen and sitting in my chair when I let go of the silky time threads. They had already starting tugging at me with increasing urgency, pleading to be released. They needed to rejoin their rope. It was time to let them go.
When everything restarted, my stomach lurched then quieted.
I sipped coffee and heard my sister giggling loudly from the bedroom as soon as she realized what I did to her. Then there was quiet. Then there was some very soft moaning.
A couple of minutes later, I heard the bathroom sink running and that made me smile. Well, at least she had enough sense to wash her hands before she came to the breakfast table.
"The maple syrup was a nice touch," she chuckled as she bounced happily into the kitchen and took her seat, pouring syrup onto her stack of French toast.
"Thanks, I thought so too." My eyes flicked down her body then back up. "And nice lingerie," I added tartly.
She'd finally rummaged in my pajama drawer. The slinky pink babydoll she was wearing was mine and it looked better on her, naturally. The light color softened her tan and the fabric clung to her hips and chest like a second skin. She was naked under it. Her nipples poking at the front and the absence of any panty line at her hip made that clear.
My sister grinned and apologized for her pilfering through a mouthful of French toast, "Sorry, but I've missed girlie clothes. It's been nothing but fake, polyestery stuff for the past two months camping in the desert. And you've got a killer lingerie drawer by the way."
"Fine, at least you can't ruin that with your superhooters," I needled. Her chest had stretched out some of my favorite sweaters when she borrowed them while we were growing up and, like a good sister, I never let her live it down. "Make you a deal Tabs, I'll forgive your mooching if you eat some of these strawberries. There's these things called vitamins in them and they're good for you, sis."
"Okay, mom," she rolled her eyes even as she munched happily on a chunk of strawberry. A drop of juice slid from the corner of her mouth and rolled down a little before she lapped it away quickly with an agile dart of her pink tongue.
It made me wince. Even when she doesn't mean to be, Tabby is sexy. She doesn't realize it because it's natural for her, like breathing and walking.
Brighde help me.
"You're going to make some guy, or some girl, very happy some day, Tabby," I nudged her knee with mine.
"Mmmm... why not both?" she mused playfully, stuffing more French toast into her face.
We caught up over breakfast. No news for me as usual, I was still grinding out life as a junior associate at a big law firm. The partners thought I could do miracles, which was partly true -- just not the kind they thought. You can have the answer to a lot of legal questions if you can steal twenty minutes here and there without anyone knowing. Yeah, yeah, it's cheating, but I'm a lawyer. Turns out that it's okay when we cheat. We call it advocacy.
Tabby, meanwhile, had spent the late fall in the high Nevada deserts, chasing wildlife and men. Oddly, I realized, she hadn't mention any women. In fact, come to think of it, she hadn't mentioned any for awhile now.
"You off girls now, sis?" I asked out of the blue.
My question brought her up short and she twitched her nose as she looked at me, "Nah, just, I dunno... getting more selective I guess. Boys are for fun, Molly," she sighed, "but girls... girls are for love. There's something so much more intimate about... "
"Whoa," I stopped her with a hand on her arm, a heat already spreading across my cheeks the way it often did when she talked about girl-girl things, "wait 'til I've had a drink or two to go into the girl-on-girl details, huh?"
She smirked as she rose from her chair with her already empty plate. "Fine, then wanna go drinking tonight? We'll pick up some of your local talent. When's the last time my prim and proper sister had herself a little naughty, naked fun time?"
I laughed in spite of the jab, I'd always liked the way my sister put things. "I'm fine, Tabby. I don't think I have the same kind of needs you do. Besides, work keeps me busy. And happy."
She patted my shoulder then picked up my breakfast plate too. "You do, Molly. Have needs, I mean. I promise. The Eire fire burns on in you too, sis. I can tell. It's just buried under... I dunno... something." She fiddled with a few of my curls. "How about we stay in for a movie night then? I vote for pizza and wine. Red, please. I can fetch movies."
"Mmmm," I considered, "sounds a bit better. All right."
We spent the day working. Tabby started in on two months worth of dirty laundry and attacked her giant e-mail inbox. I logged into the server at my firm for some much-needed document review.
By late afternoon, we were both antsy from being inside all day and I decided to lure Tabby out for a run on the wicked San Francisco hills.
"We'll go slow, I promise," I lied blatantly, "I know you've been jogging perfectly flat desert trails the last few months. C'mon, don't be a sissy."
The sissy thing always works. Even my goody two-shoes sister has enough pride to rise to a challenge. We dressed and stretched on my front porch. I watched Tabby bend forward limberly to clutch her toes, and tried not to look too long at her easy flexibility.
Tabby would not only be gorgeous naked, she'd be bendable and twistable in bed too, you could just tell.
Brighde save me.
She looked up at me so quickly I was worried she'd heard what I was thinking. "You're running outfit's super cute, Molly. I bet the guys on your street appreciate the view."
"Of your butt, silly. You've always had a good tush for running shorts. All sleek and sporty. I think I've been getting a little hippy lately."
"Hippy?" It made me smile. "You're not hippy. Besides, trust me, when you run, nobody's looking at your hips, sis. For the boys, it's all about those boobies." I hopped up. "C'mon hippo, let's get started already." I pulled her to her feet.
"Hey," she prodded my shoulder with good humor when she was up, "I was trying to be nice."
I trotted off a few steps, "Pfffh, nice is for wussies. Move it."
I led her on my longest loop, a ten-mile torture test I hadn't braved in months. It was even worse than I remembered. By the time we staggered back, I was panting so hard I could barely talk and Tabby looked like she was about to throw up. We were both dripping with sweat but at least I could stand up without swaying. It was a petty victory but at least I could beat her at something.
"Shower," Tabby wheezed, falling through my front door onto her knees as soon as I opened it. I watched her heart-shaped rump wriggle a crawl towards the bathroom. The way my sister's ass flexed and moved so tautly, it looked... squeezable. Yeah, really squeezable.
I shook that ridiculous thought from my head and followed her exquisite body as it continued dripping sweat onto my hardwood floor with her crawling.
"Please.... cold shower," she begged. "For the love of Brighde, I thought the desert was bad."
"We've got way more humidity. Plus, these fucking mountains the sick bastards insist on calling hills. And don't take Her name in vain."
"Whatever, I think I kinda hate California now," she whined weakly.
"Beats Maine," I argued, "Remember freezing our butts off for seven months out of the year growing up?"
"My butt was a lot smaller then. And right now, I'd kill to freeze for awhile," she gasped.