tagIncest/TabooThe Winter House

The Winter House


Max Sorensen was sacked out on the leather couch in his office watching the flat screen TV. It had been installed so he could show building plans to clients, but it was also good for wasting time. He was an architect based in Denver, with a very successful, thriving practice. Lately, though, he'd found himself looking for any excuse to avoid work. And watching his daughter on TV was the best excuse of all.

He was so proud of her. A banner on the bottom of the screen identified the peppy blond reporter as "Casey Sorensen, KABC-TV Los Angeles." She was positioned with a mike in the foreground, as wildfires burned in the distance behind her. The orange sky made her look even more beautiful than usual, since it highlighted her tawny skin and light blue eyes. Of course, he was prejudiced, but anyone would take one look at her and know she was destined for bigger things than local TV. She was simply stunning.

Casey's mother had been a tall, Swedish model when he met her, with perfect, sculpted features, startling blue eyes and hair so pale it looked white. It was evident that Casey would take after her from the moment she was born, though as she grew up her beauty morphed into a softer version of her mother's—her eyes a gentler blue, her hair deepened to a rich honey blond, and an overall sweetness that was lacking in the original. There was no other word for Casey than angelic, especially when she smiled.

"Ok, back to you in the studio, guys."

Max turned it off, telling himself there was no point in watching anymore.

He walked over to his desk where blueprints waited for his approval, but when he got there he just sat, drumming his fingers, wondering what to do. Normally he loved his work, couldn't wait to get to the office, but in for the past few months, ever since his second divorce had been finalized, he'd fallen into a major funk. He told himself it wasn't a depression. He did not get down or depressed. Rather, it was just some kind of low energy, low libido thing.

He'd never had this kind of problem in his life. Sex was never an issue with his wives. On the contrary, it was always one of the highlights. Right up until the end, he'd had a very active, awesome sex life with Janet, his second wife. It was everything else that got screwed up.

He'd anticipated a bit of a slowdown period, after the divorce. That was natural. But the "recovery" was dragging on much too long. He had plenty of opportunities to date—and plenty of opportunities for sex, for that matter—but for the first time ever he just couldn't work up the interest. His cock wasn't the problem, thank god. He had just turned 50 and was still waking up with morning wood. He occasionally jerked off in the shower. Everything was in perfect working order, except the desire.

It bothered him, tremendously. He hadn't ever realized, until now, how vital his sex drive was to his quality of life. It was only now that it appeared to be waning that he saw how much he'd relied on it, even taken it for granted. It wasn't just sex, either; the slowdown was affecting everything. And of course the more he brooded on it, the more of a problem it became.

He might have sat there brooding for the rest of the afternoon, if his secretary, Patti, hadn't buzzed him.

"Max? It's Casey. You want me to send her through?"

"Yes, please."

"Hey! Great timing. I was just thinking of you."

"Hi, Dad."

"Uh oh," Max said, immediately feeling panic at the tone of her voice. "What's wrong?"

"I'm sorry. Nothing bad. It's just . . . Doug and I broke up," she said, with a teary voice.

"Oh, I'm sorry to hear that, honey."

Doug was—or had been—Casey's live-in boyfriend. Newscaster at the same station. Nice guy.

"What happened?"

All he could hear on the other end of the line was crying for a minute.

"I don't want to go into it, now. I know it's late, but I was thinking, maybe, of coming up there . . . for Christmas," she said, with a squeak.

"Of course! Hop on a plane. Do you need money?"

"No, it's ok. I just . . . I'd love to spend some time with you at the house. I miss it."

"Well I'd love to have you. Tell you the truth, I think it would do me some good, too."

"Really? What's going on with you?"

"Nothing at all. I'm fine. I just want to see you, that's all. It's been a while."

"Ok," she said, sounding better. "So . . . I'll be arriving tomorrow, the 23rd. I'll let you know all the details later."

"Fantastic. Hang in there."

"Thanks. I love you."

"I love you, too, sweetheart. Can't wait to see you."

Max clapped his hands, suddenly energized. Well! This was a nice surprise, he thought. Now all he had to do now was whip up a Christmas in two days.


By the time Casey's plane started a slow descent into Denver, it had begun to snow. She had just left a heatwave and wildfires in Southern California, and here she was heading into the first snowstorm of the winter, and it looked to be a big one. It was nice, though, she thought, as she watched the lights of the city come into view. She'd made this trip many times as an undergraduate at UCLA, and she always felt like she was being whisked away to a wonderful, magical place. She was 25 now, with her own life in LA, but Denver would always be home, and she needed it now, more than ever.

"Damn it," she thought, as her eyes filled with tears.

It wasn't just Doug. It was that yet another relationship had bitten the dust. That's what bothered her the most. How many times had she gone through it? The last argument with Doug had given her horrible déjà vu. It was the same argument she'd had so many times, with the same complaints. It might as well have been Mark, or Craig, or Joe. Clearly, she had a problem. And a pattern. Was she picking the wrong guys? She felt like a complete failure, and she just couldn't sweep it aside, not this time. Doug was perfect. There was no reason it shouldn't have worked out.

"Stop it," she whispered to herself. The plane was just pulling up. She didn't want Max to see her crying.

Her mother lived in New York. Casey was close to her, too, but she just didn't have the time to see her as much as she did her father. She'd spent most of her holidays with Max and Janet for the past few years. This would be the first time it was just the two of them, and she didn't want to be a drag. She wanted to have a nice time.

When she spotted Max anxiously scanning the crowd for her, the rush of love she felt for him, the feeling of relief at last being home, nearly caused her to burst into a fresh wave of tears. They'd always been close, and she always loved seeing him, but this was different. She just wanted to curl up in his arms and stay there, forever.

"Aww . . . there you are," Max said, as he drew her into a big bear hug.


"Jesus, it's good to see you," he murmured against her neck.

They made a very attractive pair. You could tell they were father and daughter. Both were tall and blond and blue-eyed, with the striking good looks of Max's Scandinavian roots. They were both dressed expensively and professionally, and immaculately groomed. Casey had on a full face of make-up, as she usually did.

"When did this happen?" Casey said, pulling back to look at him.

Max grinned and ran his hand over his new beard.

"Don't you like it?"

"Hmmm . . . I do."

She meant it. Of course, to her he had always been gorgeous and perfect, but the beard really suited his rugged good looks. She liked how it had grown in a darker blond than his hair. She reached up and tousled the pale shock of bangs on his forehead.

"Ahh . . ." Max laughed. "She approves."

"How was the flight?" he asked, as he put his arm around her and grabbed her bag.

"Fine. I love coming up here. Just in time for snow, too."

"Yep . . . looks like we're really going to get hit," he said, glancing at the heavy storm clouds.


"I hope you're up for cooking."

"Oh, you didn't have to do that."

"What are you talking about? Of course I did. Went shopping today."

"Thank you," Casey said. She leaned over and gave him a kiss. "That's very sweet."

"You're welcome," he said, his gaze lingering on her for a minute. "You ok? You want to talk about it?"

"Not now. Really. I'm just glad to be with you."

"Well alright, let's go."


They had an hour's drive to the outskirts of Denver. Before long the city was a glittering sprawl beneath them, as the roads grew steeper and narrower with each turn, and pine forest grew thicker on one side. When she was little, Casey had always liked to imagine they were going back in time as they made this drive, to a place more primitive and wild. Every landmark along the way made Los Angeles and Doug just melt into nothingness.

"So what's going on with you, Daddy?"

"Daddy?" Max said, making a fake moan. "Oh, music to my ears. . . "

Casey laughed, and blushed a deep red. "Sorry. Old habit."

"Better not let that slip on TV. You'll start getting stalkers."

"Come on, really. How are things?"

"How am I doing--hmm. Well, I'm learning a lot about Southern California. Terrible wildfires you're having down there."

"Don't you have anything better to do?"


"It's just small stuff. It must be so boring!"

"Never miss a town council meeting. I love it."

"And the divorce?"

Max looked at her. "My daughter the reporter."

"Well, it is my job."

"Ok. Uh . . ."

Max suddenly found himself uncomfortable under her gaze.

"Can I plead the fifth? No, really, things are fine. You know," he shrugged. "It happened . . . "

"I'm sorry. We don't have to talk about it."

"No, it's ok. Just . . . maybe, not now?"

"Deal," she said, smiling.

"Thank you," he said. "Oh, here we go, here it comes."

Snow was now falling heavy and thick. It was so pretty.

"You want to do some skiing tomorrow?"

"Oooh, I'd love that."

They chatted about their plans as Max slowed down and took a turn off the highway down a dirt road that hugged one of the hills. After a while, in the distance, his house came into view. It was impossible to miss. The futuristic structure, made of glass and white stone, jutted out from a hilltop in radical, haphazard angles, seemingly suspended in the sky. At the moment, the windows of the glass façade reflected the fading atmospheric light in iridescent shades of pink.

Casey didn't know she had grown up in an architectural marvel. Only later did she find out that it had a name—the Winter House, and that it had been featured in architectural magazines all over the world. The house had made Max instantly famous. It was his baby, the love of his life. To her it was just home, but she loved it every bit as much as he did, especially since it was exactly as old as she was.

"How's Freja?" she asked.

"Well come on and find out."

As soon as they got inside, Casey yelped with delight as a fluffy white form jumped at her, panting and barking.

"Ooh!" she laughed, as the beautiful Finnish Lapphund licked her face.

"See? She missed you."

"Oh, I missed you, too, baby," Casey cooed. "So much."

As Max retrieved her luggage, she took off her coat and walked around the house with an excited Freja at her side.

In contrast to the dramatic exterior, the interior was a masterpiece of classical order and balance. It was calming, soothing, and peaceful. The exposed building materials were all natural but luxurious—blond ash wood, pink granite, white marble, maple and walnut polished to a gleaming shine, while the furnishings were done in shades of ivory and cream. The centerpiece of the first floor was the large sunken living room, with a polar bear rug in front of an enormous fireplace. There were Native American tapestries and artwork on the walls, along with Max's framed sketches and vintage black and white photography. And uniting it all, the bank of windows with the incredible view into the valley. It was immaculate, perfect. Not a thing had changed in as long as she could remember.

When she went into the kitchen, she had to laugh. Max had everything laid out in military precision on the counters—spices, cans, pots and utensils, and a number of cookbooks with tabbed recipes, all ready to go.

"What?" he said, when he saw her smiling.

"Oh, just thinking how nothing has changed."

"Well why should it?" he said. "The best is the best."

Casey raised an eyebrow at him, but let it slide.

When Max brushed past her, he couldn't help noticing, though he tried not to, that her sweater clung like a second skin to her large, firm breasts, and that it was in a shade of powder blue that both matched her eyes and complimented her honey hair to perfection. Of course he knew Casey had a tremendous body, just like her mother, but it had never before had it hit him with such visceral force. It was impossible not to notice the hint of exposed, taut belly above her jeans, which looked painted onto her smooth, curved hips.

"Great," he thought. "The first glimmer of excitement I've had in months . . ."

"I'm going to take a shower, get settled in," said Casey.

"Alright. I'm going out to the wood pile, then I'll be doing the same."


"The best is the best."

Max's old refrain stuck in Casey's head as she washed her hair.

Yes, her father liked nice things. Perfect things. He was precise, orderly, and always in control. But he was an architect. They couldn't afford to make mistakes. And the things he liked were nice. It was just part of his personality. It had never particularly bothered her, but she knew it had bothered her mother.

That's why she'd left, Casey had later learned. She felt "stifled," "like she was always being judged" and that she "could never live up to his ideals."

This was when Casey was much older. At the time of the divorce she was 13, and it had been extremely hard on her since she loved both her parents, equally. They'd made a point of not criticizing each other in front of her at the time, so she never really heard her mom's side of the story until she was in college. Casey did not doubt her; but at the same time, she'd always felt so loved and accepted by Max that she just couldn't understand her mother's complaints.

They came back to her, now, though, because of some of the things Doug had complained about. And her other boyfriends. . .

She scrubbed and scrubbed, annoyed. She hated that! She didn't think of herself as controlling at all. She wasn't a neat freak or a perfectionist, like Max. She just wasn't.

She changed into a pair of sweats and headed back down. At the top of the stairs, though, she paused, her attention drawn to a window, to her right, which was positioned across from Max's bedroom. The snow was so heavy and thick outside it had blocked all light, and turned the window into a mirror reflecting a clear view into his room. Max was there, in nothing but jeans, toweling off his hair. It would have been the easiest thing to walk away, but she stayed, intensely curious. She had always loved his body. It was so big and cuddly and bulky, with broad shoulders, a wide, flat stomach, and heavily muscled thighs. And he looked so manly with his new beard.

He turned around, and she got a good view of the rippling muscles on his back, illuminated in yellow light, and his nice, round ass. That is just how a man should look and move, she thought—kind of animalistic, like a bear or a horse or something. It was very pleasing.

She was lost in thought, contemplating his butt, when he reached for his belt. She felt a ripple of guilt, but she simply couldn't look away, especially when he turned around. Her gaze fixed on the trail of dark blond hair on his belly as he began to undo his buttons and zipper. She was mesmerized.

It was a bit more than she expected, however, when he pulled down his jeans, and revealed he wasn't wearing underwear, and she got a full view of his long, thick cock dangling from the heavy bush of hair sprouting from his groin. It swung, with his balls, gently back and forth as he kicked off his pants.

She might have stood there frozen in shock if he hadn't suddenly lifted his head. She immediately fled down the stairs, terrified he might have seen her.

"Jesus, get a grip on yourself, Casey," she whispered aloud, her mind full of the image of his cock and balls swaying between his legs, like a bull's. For some reason it seemed worse, more of a transgression, that he had been soft and flaccid, rather than raging hard.

She barely had time to compose herself before he was there, standing next to her, in front of the windows. She gave him an overly sunny smile.



They didn't speak for a minute as they watched the snow fall, with Denver in the distance.

"I thought you were going to make a fire," Casey said, eager to get her mind off what she had seen.

"I was. I brought the wood in. But then I thought it might be nice to save that for tomorrow. Something to look forward to."

He wrapped his arms around her shoulders, as she clasped his hands.

"We'll do some skiing . . . eat some pie . . . and have a nice Christmas Eve in front of the fire."

"Sounds heavenly."

Again they were silent, watching the snow.

"We're quite a pair, aren't we?" Max said, squeezing her tighter.

"What, you mean the whole 'alone and single' thing?"

"Well, no, we're not alone. Just 'single.'"


"You know, you are the most successful relationship I've got going. 25 years and counting."

"Me, too," she laughed. "Is that sad?"

"Eh, ask me in another 25."

"How are things really going, Daddy?" Casey said, turning to look at him.

"Oh, god. Again with that. Are you trying to bribe me into giving up my secrets?"

"No," Casey laughed. "I just want to know."

"Tell you what—if you help me in the kitchen, I'll talk."

"Now who's being bribed?"

"Come on."


A while later Max had her peeling and chopping vegetables while he made the crust for an apple pie.

Casey got a kick out of watching him weigh ingredients on his kitchen scale. He bent down so he could get exactly at eye level. Not one grain more or less. She knew there was absolutely no difference in his mind between making a pie, or a whole Christmas dinner, and building multi-million dollar homes.

"So what's your newest project at work?"

"New Orleans City Hall," Max replied, his eyes never leaving the scale.

"Oh, yeah."

"Yep. I'll be going down there next week as a matter of fact."

"Hmm. So how did Janet feel about your traveling so much?"

That made Max look away, finally. Casey stared back at him.

"Cute," he said. "Are you practicing?"

"For what?"

"The Casey Sorensen Show. New at 11."


"Really? What's your pitch going to be?"

"Holding Powerful Men to Account."

Max laughed, nearly disturbing his perfect mound of flour.

"Ooooh. There we go. Ok, now for the butter. The trick is keeping it cold, which is why I need these," he said, pointing to a bowl of ice chips. "But you don't want to add too much liquid . . . "

"So, you were saying?"

"Alright, alright. I give up," he said, eyeing her. "I'm an open book. Ask me anything you want."

"How are these?" she said, showing him her sliced carrots.

"Perfect. Continue."

"Ok, I want to know two things. First, why do you think the marriage broke up?"

"Hah. You call that a tough question? I expected better from you. The marriage broke up because we wanted different things, in the end."

"That's such a cliché. What 'different things?'"

"I wanted to stay married, and she didn't."

"Stop joking."

"Ok, alright. I mean, you'd really have to talk to her. She could probably explain it better," Max said, with the first hint of real emotion.

"She had issues with me. My personality." He used air quotes around the last word.

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