Forced Ch. 02byCrucialTaught©
"Victor..." she said in a low, tentative voice.
It felt like his heart skipped a beat when she said his name. He turned back to her and took a few steps into the kitchen. "What is it, Jen?" he asked softly. He wanted to be close to her, feel her soft hair against his hand and the delicate skin of her cheek as he caressed it.
She looked up at him, arms still crossed over her chest. The way he was looking at her, he almost looked expectant. Maybe worried. "Um, is your back okay? How is it feeling?"
Still fairly drunk, he just looked at her for several moments, into her dark blue eyes rimmed with those thick lashes, and smiled a little. "It's okay. Still sore, but getting better."
Her breath caught in her throat as she felt his eyes on her. His gaze was so penetrating, she felt completely exposed and vulnerable, like he could look directly into her. She took a step toward him, relaxing a little bit. She let one of her arms fall from her chest, the fingertips of her right hand idly playing with the edge of the kitchen table. "Have you been icing it?"
"Not really...the bruises are kind of hard to reach, it's hard to keep the ice in place, you know."
"Victor, you should really be icing it. It will make it feel a lot better."
Even in his mild drunken stupor, the irony was not lost on him. These wounds were entirely inconsequential when compared to everything else that had been hurt that night. It didn't matter if the bruises and welts healed; he would still be left with nothing, and that was an injury that would never go away.
Going to the refrigerator and pulling open the freezer door, Jennifer said, "Here, sit down. Please. I'll put the ice on them and wrap an ace bandage around it to hold it in place. Take off your shirt." She could've kicked herself. She'd just asked her brother to take off his shirt, like he'd want to be disrobed to any degree in front of her. She continued as though it hadn't meant anything – which it didn't – and pulled a tray of ice cubes from the freezer.
Victor stood still for a few moments, trying to process what was happening. Why was she doing this? Wouldn't she want to stay as far away from him as possible? But he didn't want their time together to end. Grimacing, he pulled his t-shirt off and turned a chair around, straddling it and resting his elbows on its back, waiting for Jennifer.
Jennifer opened the drawer where they kept medicine and first aid supplies, and took out an ace bandage. She brought the bandage and the ice, inside a large Ziploc bag and covered with a clean dishtowel, to the kitchen table, seeing the wounds on Victor's muscled back for the first time. She was shocked. She had been expecting to see injuries, of course, but she didn't think they were going to be this bad. Thick, angry red welts rose from the middle of deep red and purple bruises where he had been hit with the crowbar. His back was a mess of bruises, in fact, of varying size and color. Green, brown, dark blue – he looked like he had been beat to hell, which he had. She was surprised he hadn't had any internal injuries, save for a couple broken ribs.
"Victor..." Her voice trailed off. She felt tears welling in her eyes.
He could hear the tremor in her voice. Was this too great a reminder? Was it too difficult to see him half naked again? "Jennifer, it's okay, you don't have to do this. Really, I'm fine," he said quietly.
Still transfixed by his bruises, she responded immediately before she could second-guess his meaning. "No, no, it's just...my god, your back." Her voice cracked and her tears spilled over.
Victor looked over his shoulder at Jennifer, seeing his sister's face crumple as she started to cry. He stood up and turned around, his sister inches away from him. He put his hands on her upper arms. He was desperate to pull her in and wrap his arms around her, the way he had done so many times following the death of their mother, but he didn't want to scare her. He would hold her head against his chest, gently rocking her until she calmed down and their breathing fell into sync. "Jennifer, I'm okay. They look worse than they are, I promise."
She looked up at him, tears streaming down her cheeks. "Victor...I'm so sorry," she said, bursting into sobs. She buried her face in her hands as her shoulders shook. Instinctively, he pulled her closer and wrapped his arms around her, one hand cradling the back of her head as she cried against his chest.
"Shh. It's okay. There's nothing to apologize for. We're safe now. We're okay." He kissed the top of her head, then rested his cheek on it. Closing his eyes, he savored how she felt, her soft hair against his skin, her light, clean scent. He was willing to stay like this forever. She was so warm, so alive in his arms. He didn't want to think about when this might happen again. Maybe never.
Jennifer's body was wracked with sobs, and relief flooded through her as Victor held her tightly to him. Even with all the crying she had done over the past several days, this was the first time it had provided any sort of cathartic release for her. She could hear his heart beating, her ear pressed to his muscled chest. His heartbeat was slow and steady, each rhythmic beat reassuring her that they were there, and he was with her, and they were okay. Her sobs weakened into occasional, soft whimpers.
Victor stroked her hair. He could feel her tears against his chest, hot between their skin. She pulled back and looked up at him. "Are you okay?" he said softly.
What a funny question. In almost every way she could think of, the answer was no. She nodded anyway.
"Jennifer...when you came in it looked like you had been crying. Did something happen tonight? Are you sure you're okay?" He pushed her hair behind ear and cupped her cheek.
She shook her head. "No, nothing happened. I'm fine, really. It's just, you know..." She swallowed and looked away.
"I know." He kissed her forehead, one arm still wrapped around her waist. His lips stayed pressed against her skin. Jennifer closed her eyes, basking in this moment, his grip tight around her. She took a deep breath and exhaled.
"Victor, I'm sorry, but...you really need a bath."
Victor pulled back and laughed in surprise. "Hey, cut me some slack, I'm not moving so good right now." He paused. "You're probably right, I think it's been a few days since I showered. I don't really remember."
She looked up at his drawn face, tired eyes and dirty hair. Here he was, comforting her as he was falling apart. "Victor...please, feel free to say no, but...let me help you. Let me at least wash your hair for you. Reaching up must hurt your shoulders. Then we can ice it."
How drunk was he? Had he heard her right? He furrowed his brow as he tried to process her words.
"Never mind. I'm sorry, forget it," Jennifer said, starting to pull away.
He tightened his arm around her waist and pulled her closer to keep her from leaving, then relaxed his grip, worried she would feel trapped. "No, no...please, I would really appreciate that. I could use the help," he said.
A hopeful smile broke across her face. "Okay. Okay. Well, go run the bath, I need to change and then I'll be in."
He smiled down at her. "Okay," he said, kissing her forehead again. "Thank you, Jen."
Jennifer stepped back as he released her, gathered her bra as he left the kitchen for the bathroom. She put the bag of ice back in the freezer. In her room, Jennifer changed into a pair of black yoga leggings and a pink tank top. She looked like hell, she thought, stopping by her vanity. Her eyes were red and puffy from crying – a new, permanent state, it seemed – and her hair was a tangled mess. She quickly pulled a brush through her hair, then headed for the bathroom.
Victor had gingerly eased himself into the bathtub, the water hot and steaming. He had drunkenly debated for a minute about adding some bath gel to the water, to create some bubbles and relieve them both of having to ignore his total nudity, and then did it. The bath had accumulated a thick layer of foamy bubbles. He heard Jennifer's tentative knock on the door. "Come in," he said.
Jennifer went in and closed the door behind her. She wasn't sure why, but it felt more private. Even though they were alone. Exterior doors locked, new alarm system activated. She pulled a towel from the rack, folded it, and put it on the floor next to the tub. "How is it?" she asked.
He smiled. "It feels really nice. It's nice to have you here. Thank you, again."
Jennifer smiled as she pulled the shampoo and conditioner from the separate shower. Drunk Victor was so nice and grateful. She grabbed a cup from the sink counter and returned to the side of the tub, kneeling on the towel. She didn't know what to say. She didn't want to freak him out. "It's the least I can do," she said softly, dipping the cup into the hot water. "Lean forward."
Victor leaned forward and closed his eyes as she slowly poured the water across his shoulders. He basked in her gentle touch as she ran a washcloth over his muscled back, careful to avoid the welts, barely touching his bruises. She took one of his arms at the elbow, his hand resting on her forearm, and lifted it slowly, using the washcloth on his underarm. She did the other side, then filled the cup again. Reaching across him made getting water on herself unavoidable as it trickled down her arms, and her tank top clung to her wet splotches. Despite the humid warmth in the room, the wet fabric was giving her a chill.
"Tilt your head back." Shielding his forehead with her hand, Jennifer poured the water over his thick, dark blonde hair, then ran her fingers through it. She did it again, studying Victor's face. She had always known he was a good looking guy, but he seemed different to her now. His strong jaw, wide mouth, his nose a shade too large for his face – he was really handsome. And his eyes, his kind, brown eyes and dark brows...her brother was gorgeous. Affection surged through her, seeing him in this vulnerable, weakened state, his trust in her. She squeezed some shampoo into her hand, then gently worked it into his hair, fingertips massaging his scalp.
"That feels so good, Jennifer," Victor said, sounding drowsy. "I love the way you touch me."
Jennifer froze, her heart in her throat. His words gave her butterflies. Would he say something like that if he hated her for what she made him do?Was he not cringing inside at her touch, a reminder of that night?
"Jen? I'm sorry, I didn't mean to scare you," he said, slurring his words just a little. "It just feels so nice."
She resumed working her fingers through his hair. "No, it's fine. You didn't scare me, Victor. It's nice to hear." He smiled, eyes still shut. She rinsed his hair, then applied conditioner. "Okay, wash your face."
With a groan, Victor opened his eyes. Jennifer handed him his face wash and waited while he washed his face, then rinsed the conditioner out. She stood and grabbed a towel off the rack.
"All right. It's time to get out." Jennifer held out a hand, which he grasped, and started hoisting himself out of the tub. She handed him the towel, avoiding looking at his body.
Victor toweled off, then put a hand on her shoulder as he stepped unsteadily out of the tub. He wrapped the towel around his waist, struggling with securing it at his hip. "Shit," he muttered, fingers fumbling.
"Here...can I?" Jennifer asked, reaching forward.
"Sure." Jennifer took the towel in her hands, tucking the top of one side into the other. Victor watched her hands, his gaze traveling up her arms, to her body. Her thin tank top was wet, and her nipples were hard and visible through her top. He couldn't stop from looking at how the fabric clung to her skin in semi-transparent patches, like it was shouting, "Look at what's under here! It's amazing!". She could feel Victor shiver as the backs of her fingers touched his skin, her breath catching and butterflies spreading through her stomach. She was disgusted with herself, with her response to his proximity. Abruptly, she pulled away.
Victor was breathing a little more heavily, being so close to Jennifer, feeling her hands on him. When she stepped back, clearly bothered and unsettled, his heart sank. She was afraid of him.
"Okay, uh, why don't you get in bed, and I'll go get the ice," she said, turning away from him and leaving the bathroom. Victor went to his room, stumbling a little on the way. After he had dressed for bed in his boxer briefs, he turned on the lamp on his nightstand and killed the overhead light. He was sitting on his bed when Jennifer came back in. She crawled onto the bed behind him, ice pack and bandage in hand.
"Lift up," she said, lightly touching his elbows. He raised his arms enough to allow her to circle the bandage around his torso. She gently pressed the ice pack against the worst of his bruises, a large, mottled beast to the left of his spine. Jennifer looped the bandage over it and around his chest several times, then over one shoulder, her fingers trailing across his still moist skin. "There. Try to sleep on your stomach, or at least your side, so it'll stay on for a while."
Victor turned around on the bed, facing her. "Thank you," he said, smiling. He wrapped his arms around her and hugged her tightly against him. He felt her soft, full breasts pressing into him, her nipples hard against his chest. He pressed his lips together and tried to ignore it, but he felt a heat rising throughout his center. He had missed her so much, talking to her after a long day, relaxing on the couch with a pizza and a movie at the end of the week. She was always so bright and cheerful, always happy to see him.
Except this past week. Jennifer had avoided him like the plague. She didn't want to be with him, and he didn't blame her. As that reality rushed back in, he released her. "Sorry, uh...I'm pretty tired, I think I need to get to bed," he said, looking away.
Jennifer felt a knot in her throat. She had gone too far. "Oh, sure, okay...well, I hope the ice helps." It was obvious from the look on his face that he was uncomfortable. She crawled to the edge of the bed, threw her legs over the side. "Goodnight, Victor."
Victor wanted to reach out and take her hand, but he didn't have the courage to do it. He wanted her to stay. He watched her stand and walk to the door. "Goodnight...thanks, Jen." She gave him a small, sad smile as she pulled the door closed behind her.
Jennifer went to her room and began taking off her sweatpants, sitting on the bed as she kicked them off her feet. She felt better than she had all week about their relationship, but she didn't know where they stood. Had anything changed? Victor, at least, didn't seem to mind being in the same room as her. She closed her eyes and tried to hold on to how it felt to have his arms around her, keeping her close to him. It was the first time she had been able to relax at all since the break-in. She sighed as the pain started to return, the anxiety set in, and the loneliness washed over her like a breaking wave. Their relationship would never be the same. It couldn't be.
* * *
Victor slept in, waking late with the smell of pancakes wafting into his room. His head was pounding and his mouth was dry, but he was ravenous. He sat up, wincing at the pain in his back. It did feel a little better than the night before, he thought. The ice pack had come loose at some point during the night and was lying next to him, the dishrag wet with leaked water. He grabbed it and stood, stopping in the bathroom to splash water on his face and rinse out his mouth before continuing to the kitchen.
Jennifer stood at the stove, tending to the pancakes. A small stack sat on a plate next to the stove. She was standing on one foot, hip cocked, her other foot tucked behind her heel. It was nice to see her there. Nice to see her at home, not running away from him. Victor's eyes trailed up her legs, resting briefly on her ass. She was wearing a thin pair of shorts and the same pink tank top from the night before. He knew images of her beneath him, or on her knees in front of him, or taking him into her mouth, came unbidden, but looking at her now, he realized he was starting to see her in a new way. Despite being well aware that she went through puberty years ago, he was only noticing her as a woman for the first time. The way her curves had filled in, a wonderfully round, firm ass, tapered waist, perky, full breasts – he saw these things now. He had never thought of her as a sexual being, never imagined what she might be like in bed. And now he knew, sort of. She had been an unwilling participant, but the way she arched her back, her breasts pressing into him as he thrust into her – it was overtly sexual. She wasn't just his sister, she was a woman in every sense of the word. Capable of being libidinous and passionate. He realized his dick was starting to harden a little in his boxer briefs. It occurred to him he might've put on some pants before coming out of his room. But they had never been the type of family to be modest about walking around in their underwear, especially first thing in the morning, before coffee. It was at that moment, of course, that Jennifer noticed him and turned around.
"Hi," she said, spatula in hand. "How are you feeling?"
"Oh, my head feels like it's ripping apart, and my mouth tastes like ass, but other than that, I'm great," Victor said, smiling.
She smiled, briefly. "How's the back?"
"It hurts. But it feels a little better." He stepped toward her, hoping she hadn't noticed the bulge in his underwear. "Do you need a hand? It smells great. I'm starving."
"Sure...can you cut up some fruit? Set the table? The bacon is ready and I'm almost out of batter here." As she turned back to the frying pan, her eyes passed down Victor's body. Was he kind of hard? It didn't matter. She focused on the pancakes.
"Yeah, of course." He grabbed a cantaloupe and set to work cutting it. "So what are your plans for the day?"
"Oh, uh...I was going to go shopping with Ashley, maybe go see a movie. Maybe go to a party tonight." Truth be told, she didn't want to do any of it. She wanted to be with Victor. "What about you?"
"Just work...a short shift, I get off at nine," he said, hoping maybe she'd be around if she knew he'd be home. Waiting for her.
"Um, I don't know, maybe you're going to be busy with work, but my graduation is next Wednesday. Downtown, at the convention center. If you want to come, I mean. You don't have to," she said, not looking at him.
He stopped cutting the cantaloupe and turned to her. "Jen, of course I'm going to be there. I would never miss it."
Jennifer glanced over her shoulder at him, saw him looking at her. A smile spread across her face.
* * *
Victor pulled into the driveway. He was disappointed to see Jennifer's car gone. He thought about their time together the night before, and that morning – perhaps it hadn't gone as well as he felt it did. Or it didn't mean the same thing to her as it had for him. She had seemed comfortable around him, mostly. Still nervous. Skittish, maybe. He had hoped she'd be there, and was sad that she wasn't. But not really surprised.
He went inside, dropped his keys on the table by the front door, and went to take a shower. Work had been uneventful, but he was tired and sore. He was looking forward to a bourbon and zoning out in front of the television.
After showering, Victor pulled on a pair of flannel pyjama pants and an ancient Led Zeppelin shirt and headed toward the living room. He stopped when he saw Jennifer there, sitting on the couch. He stood in the doorway, looking at her. His could feel his heart beating in his chest, butterflies in his stomach. He didn't fully understand why she was having this effect on him.