I blinked slowly, my brain taking a moment to resume function. My pussy ached with need, my panties soaked with my arousal. I’d never experienced that type of discomfort before. Was this like a female version of blue balls?
Harland’s mother glared at me, making no effort to disguise her contempt. “Like mother, like daughter,” she said, snorting with disgust. “Spreading your legs for the rich boy. But for your own stepbrother? That’s really tacky, Kinley. And an hour after you buried your parents?”
“That’s enough, Mother,” Harland growled. “Did you follow us out here?”
“No. I needed a break from all the rich, phoney assholes. I used to come up here to meet boys when I worked here.”
“Right,” he muttered. “This is probably where I was conceived.”
She rolled her eyes, a dry, humourless laugh erupting from her throat. “No. Your father called me into his office one day. I’d only been working here for a few months. I’d just turned eighteen. He said he wanted to make me a woman. I laughed, told him a couple of the maintenance boys already did that. He was pissed. Then he bent me over his desk and fucked me. Nine months later, you were born. And you know the rest. He stole my baby and ran me out of town.”
“I need to get back,” I said, rising from the futon as I fought off the panic attack looming on the horizon. But Harland’s mother didn’t budge.
“Why?” she sneered. “This is way more fun.”
“Mother,” Harland warned.
“What? Isn’t this what a funeral is for? To reminisce about the dead person?”
I felt like an elephant was sitting on my chest. Sweat dripped down my spine. I had to get out of that treehouse. My breaths were coming out in rapid gasps, my vision going hazy as my knees buckled. Strong arms lifted me, placing me gently on the futon. I closed my eyes, trying desperately to block out the memories of that night. It was always the same thing. The chlorine, his voice, the pain. Coming back to Hollingbrook was a huge mistake.
“What’s wrong with her?”
“Just go back to the reception, Mother,” Harland barked. “Or better yet, go home. And do me a favour, and keep your big mouth shut for once in your life.”
“How dare you talk to your mother that way!”
“Go look up the definition of mother,” he snapped.
“Whatever, Harland,” she huffed. “It’s your life. If you wanna bang your stepsister, go for it. Far be it from me to tell you what to do.”
Harland knelt next to the futon, brushing my hair off my forehead. “Are you okay?”
I licked my lips, clearing my throat as I glanced toward the ladder. “Is she gone?”
“Did your father rape your mother?”
“I don’t know,” he sighed, shaking his head. “I’d never heard that story before today. I’m guessing my mother’s payoff included a gag order. Now that Dad’s gone, she figures it’s safe to start flapping her jaws.”
“What if she tells people she caught us making out?”
“How can you be so sure?”
“My mother never comes to town unless she wants something. Pissing me off doesn’t work in her favour.”
“What does she want?”
“A state of the art gallery.”
“What kind of gallery?”
“My mother is quite talented. She’s an amazing painter, and she also does pottery and glass blowing.”
“Yep. She has a small gallery in Portland. But she wants something bigger and better. She’s been trying to convince me to buy her a waterfront space for years. I don’t believe in handouts. I’ve been waiting for an appropriate piece of real estate to come on the market. I will buy it and lease her the space for next to nothing. She just has to pay her overhead. If it fails, I can sell the building and recoup my money.”
“Why do you think it will fail? I thought you said she was talented?’
“She is. But she has a short attention span. If she meets husband number fifty, and he wants to live somewhere else, she’ll be gone.”
I smiled, reaching up to stroke his cheek. “Thank you.”
“Did it work?”
“Yes. I’m feeling much better. We should really get back to the reception.”
He stood up, holding out a hand. “Hey,” he whispered.
“What?” I whispered back.
“You were very wet earlier. If my mother hadn’t interrupted, you would’ve experienced your first orgasm.”
“You don’t know that for sure, Harland. I probably would’ve dried up and gotten frustrated. That’s what usually happens.”
“Nope,” he declared. “You were totally in the zone.”
“I guess we’ll never know for sure.”
“There will be many more opportunities, sweetheart.”
“I hope so.”
I popped into the ladies’ room to clean up while Harland headed back to the reception. My hair was flat from lying on the futon. I ran my brush through it, freshening up my makeup before I went into a stall to pee. I stared down at my damp panties, smiling to myself as I slid them off and tucked them in my purse.
Why should I be uncomfortable for the rest of the afternoon? Going commando at a funeral would be considered extremely disrespectful by the blue bloods at this shindig. But they wouldn’t know. The only person who would be aware of my pantyless state was me. And maybe Harland. If I chose to tell him.
You tell him, you naughty girl. Tease that man. He almost made you come with just his finger. Don’t let him get away.
I met Gram in the hall on my way back to the reception. “Where have you been, girl?” she demanded.
“I stepped outside to get some air.”
“You and that boy disappeared for over an hour.”
“I went for a walk, Gram,” I explained. “I needed a few minutes to clear my head. It’s been an emotional day.”
She pursed her lips, giving me the famous Gram stare that told me I was busted. “Kinley Davenport, how long have I known you?”
“Um, thirty-one years?”
“And how many times have you gotten away with lying to me?”
“Never,” I conceded with a reluctant sigh. “You’re a human lie detector.”
“I know you were with him.”
“Gram, let’s not do this here,” I begged, glancing around her to make sure nobody else was lurking in the hall.
“You’re a grown woman, Kinley. I’m not going to tell you how to live your life. But think long and hard before you get involved with a man like that.”
“It’s not like that, Gram.”
“I was born at night, but it wasn’t last night, girl. That boy wants to give your kitty some milk.”
“Gram!” I hissed.
“You know what.”
“Just be careful.”
“I’ll be fine.”
I returned to the large ballroom full of strangers, scanning the room for a familiar face. People were laughing and joking while tuxedo-clad waiters walked around with trays of expensive hors d’oeuvres and flutes of champagne.
Who serves champagne at a funeral?
I turned to find a tall, handsome, redheaded man smiling down at me. He looked vaguely familiar. “Hello,” I said.
“I’m Robert Gardener,” he supplied. “We went to high school together.”
“It’s very nice to see you again, Robert,” I said, channeling phoney Kinley into service. “Thank you for coming.”
“You don’t remember me, do you?” he asked, raising one bushy, red eyebrow.
“Of course, I do,” I chuckled.
“Do you really?”
“No,” I sighed. “I’m sorry.”
“It’s okay.” He shoved his hands in his pockets, clearing his throat before laughing nervously. “How’ve you been, Kinley?”
“Pretty good. How about you?”
“Good. I’ve been good.”
“Where are you living now?”
“How long are you in town for?”
“Um, it appears I’m going to be here for several months.”
“Really?” His face broke out in a wide grin.
“Yes. I have a twelve-year-old half-sister. My stepbrother and I were assigned to be her guardians by our parents, but Children and Family Services has to evaluate us before the court makes it official. We can’t take her out-of-state, so I’m stuck here.”
“She’s an excellent speaker.”
“I know. Ellie is very intelligent.”
“I sort of have a confession to make,” he said.
“I kinda had a crush on you back in high school, Kinley. I was really bummed when you disappeared.”
“I didn’t disappear. I went to live with my grandparents.”
“You never came back for junior year. Nobody knew why you left. Your friends said you fell ill at your sixteenth birthday party, and they never saw you or spoke with you again. It was like you vanished off the face of the earth.”
“I was going through a rough time.” I glanced behind me, hoping for a rescue from an awkward conversation. Where did Harland disappear to? And where was Ellie? My grandparents? Anyone would be great.
“Would you like to go out for coffee sometime?”
Shit. Did Robert just ask me out?
“Uh,” I stuttered, scrambling for an excuse.
Why, Kinley? You could say yes. There’s no harm in a coffee date.
“Sure,” I heard myself say.
“Great,” he said, pulling out his phone. “What’s your number? I’ll send you a text right now. That way you’ll have my number as well.”
I rattled off my number. “I’ll call you once things settle down a bit.”
“Awesome. I look forward to hearing from you, Kinley.”
“Hi, there.” Harland came up behind me, resting one of his hands on my lower back while he extended the other one to Robert. “Harland Hollingbrook.”
“How did you know my father, Robert?”
“Uh, I didn’t,” he said, his eyes landing on Harland’s hand, now firmly wrapped around my hip, his thumb caressing me softly.
What was Harland thinking? We were stepsiblings. He couldn’t touch me like that in public. People would start talking.
“Will you excuse me, please?” I asked, pulling out of Harland’s embrace. “I should go find my sister.”
“Sure,” Robert said. “It was really nice seeing you again, Kinley. I’ll be looking forward to your call.”
I smiled and nodded before scurrying away.
What was that?
Harland was acting like a jealous boyfriend.
I searched the room until I found Ellie, deep in discussion with some old men. My sister was certainly unique. And she would never hide in the bathroom at a funeral reception.
Too bad I wasn’t that mature.
I slipped out of the room and headed down the hall. When I rounded the corner, Harland was leaning against the wall next to the ladies room door, his arms folded over his broad chest.
“The men’s room is over there,” I said, gesturing down the corridor.
“I don’t have to go.”
“Then why are you here?”
“I knew this is where you would end up.”
“You knew I would have to pee at some point? That’s quite the intuition you have.”
“You don’t have to pee.”
“How do you know that?” I scoffed. “Maybe I drank a lot today.”
“Why did you run away?”
“Why were you touching me like that in public?”
“I put my arm around your waist, Kinley. Big deal.”
“It felt too intimate for stepsiblings.”
“Are you really gonna go out with that doofus?”
“Why is that any of your concern?”
“I thought we had an arrangement.”
I glanced behind me. “I’m not having this conversation in the hall.”
He grabbed my hand, leading me down the hallway to the far end where he punched in a security code and pulled me into a storage room.
“What’s wrong with you?” I whispered.
“I don’t know,” he admitted, scratching his jaw. “What’s wrong with you?”
“I’m not wearing any panties.”
“Okay,” he said slowly, furrowing his brow. “Why?”
“They were wet.”
“Did you have an accident?”
“You did say you drank a lot today.”
“I didn’t piss my pants!”
“Good to know.”
“They were wet from what happened in the treehouse.”
He crossed the small space, backing me up against the wall. “Do you know how bad I want you?” he growled.
“I have a pretty good idea,” I gasped when I felt his cock pressing into my belly.
He devoured my mouth, his tongue plunging deep while his hand slid up my bare thigh, his finger stroking through my wetness. He teased my clit with light flicks of his thumb, my moans of appreciation filling the small space. I pushed away the negative thoughts trying to rise to the surface of my conscious, surrendering to the pleasure.
My phone chirped with a text notification. I felt Harland’s vibrate from his pocket a second later.
“Ignore it,” he whispered, kissing his way down my neck, his thumb rubbing my clit into a throbbing beacon of need.
“What if it’s Ellie?”
“Fine,” he grumbled, fishing his phone from his pocket. “These interruptions are really starting to piss me off.”
I reached for my purse. “Who is it?” I asked, rooting around for my phone.
“Oh boy,” I sighed when I read her text.
“What a kid,” Harland chuckled.
Proper funeral etiquette requires the family of the deceased to be present to accept condolences, not bumping uglies in a bathroom or closet, or whatever location you chose to host your inappropriate behaviour.