I placed the last stack of cards inside the Trivial Pursuit box before closing the lid. The game was old, like everything inside Hollingbrook, earning it a spot on the donation pile. I was focusing on the game room that day, searching for letters and organizing clutter. We weren’t allowed to get rid of anything just yet, but we were boxing up stuff as we moved from room to room.
The Game of Life was tucked away on the bottom shelf. I pulled it out, brushing an inch of dust from the top of the box. My grandparents gave it to me for my tenth birthday. I smiled as I recalled the hours spent playing that game with my best friend. We would fantasize about what our lives would be like, and how many children we’d have. Not one of my childhood friends came to the funeral. It was possible they’d all moved away.
I stared at the tiny pink and blue plastic stick figures, my mind wandering to the day before in the stables. Harland didn’t wear a condom. I knew he was bare, and I didn’t stop him. If that had happened with anyone else, I would’ve raced to the pharmacy for a morning after pill.
I took Plan B after my stepfather raped me. It was horrible. I puked my guts out on the bus to Rochester. Nobody would sit near me. I thought the driver was going to kick me off the bus at one point. Then my periods were all messed up for a couple months. I had such a heavy period, I sometimes wonder if it was actually a miscarriage.
It wasn’t too late. I could still take the pill. But it was too early in my cycle to get pregnant anyway.
You’re a millionaire now. You can afford to have the baby you’ve been yearning for.
I wanted the whole package though. The husband to go along with the babies. A dog and a cat and a white picket fence. Everything I missed out on. A normal life. My stepbrother didn’t fit the profile. He was a wealthy Wall Street guy before his billionaire father died. His life was in New York City. He’d never be content living in my dream life.
I placed the lid back on the box and returned it to the shelf. This was going to take forever. Maybe Ellie found all of the letters. I pulled Risk from the pile, lifting the lid with a heavy sigh. When I opened the game board, an envelope fell out with Harland’s name scrawled across the front.
Ellie said all of the letters she located were addressed to her. It seemed unlikely that she only found the ones meant for her eyes. Was she lying? And if so, why?
I turned the envelope over in my hands. It was sealed. I set it on the table and continued going through the board games.
Harland went to town to do some errands and pick up Ellie from camp. I headed out to the foyer when I heard them come in. Ellie was telling a story about her day, gushing like a normal twelve-year-old.
I smiled. It was so nice to see her being a kid. Because she was a kid. She wasn’t supposed to be advising her father on the day-to-day operations of his corporation and making sure the board members didn’t find out about his dementia. That was too much responsibility to put on a kid. Regardless of their intelligence level.
“Hey there,” Harland said when he noticed me standing near the base of the stairs. He strolled over and pulled me into his arms, kissing me thoroughly while Ellie looked on.
“What are you doing?” I whispered.
“Kissing the girl I like.”
“We aren’t supposed to do this in front of Ellie.”
“I will allow kissing,” she said sternly. “But anything beyond that should be kept behind closed doors.”
“Yes ma’am,” Harland chuckled.
“Can I talk to you in private?” I asked.
“Absolutely. Let’s go find a closed door.”
“Gross!” Ellie shrieked. “Don’t forget the prophylactic!”
“I missed you,” Harland murmured, pulling me into his arms the second the door closed behind us.
“You were only gone a couple hours.”
“I’m kind of addicted,” he said, slipping a hand under my t-shirt.
“I have something you might want to see.”
“It can wait.” He flicked my nipple through the lace on the front of my bra, his mouth trailing light kisses down my neck.
“I found a letter.”
He straightened up, his hand still on my breast. “What did it say?”
“I don’t know. I didn’t read it.”
“It’s addressed to you.”
“Yeah.” I pulled the envelope from my back pocket.
“I wasn’t expecting that.” He took the envelope from me and settled behind the desk, retrieving a letter opener from the drawer. “I have a notion to put it directly in the shredder.”
“I can understand that.”
He stared at the letter for a long time before slicing it open and pulling out a piece of dog-eared graph paper. He shook his head as his eyes skimmed over the letter.
“Do you want some privacy?”
I stood awkwardly in front of the desk while he read the two page letter, his expression turning dark just before he crumpled the sheet of paper, tossing it into the trash can.
“I need some air,” he mumbled, rising from the chair.
“Are you okay? What did it say?”
“It’s in the garbage,” he snapped. “Help yourself.”
I watched him storm out of the office. I’d never seen Harland that angry before. I retrieved the letter from the trash, smoothing it out on the desk.
My dearest son,
If you’re reading this I’m either dead, or in a care home having my ass wiped by sexy young nurses. I need to tell you something while I can still string words together. I know my mind is slipping, more everyday. It’s a horrible feeling to know you’re losing your faculties.
I want to leave this world with a clean slate. I have a lot to atone for. Too much for one letter. I’ll write another one later. It’s important too. So is this. I was a bad man. The worst. I did things that are unforgivable, my boy. I’m glad I never had to face you.
You see, the thing is, I did things I shouldn’t have. Hurt people. Put my own needs ahead of theirs. Looking back, I realize I was sick. It started out with household staff. I thought I could do whatever I wanted. Fuck whatever pussy I desired. The younger the better. Don’t misunderstand. I’m not a pedophile. I waited patiently until they were sixteen at minimum.
I closed my eyes, sucking in a big gulp of air. I knew I should stop reading. But I couldn’t help Harland if I didn’t know what the letter said.
I went through a prostitute phase when I was in my thirties. But most of them were too old for my liking. I purchased a mail order bride from Russia. Sixteen. That’s my favourite age. They’re fully developed, but still innocent. And so tight. But I accidentally knocked her up. Oops. She ended up miscarrying. She was so distraught that one night she overdosed on antidepressants. I was bored with her anyway. Problem solved.
“What a horrible bastard,” I muttered.
“When I hired your mother to work at the club, I knew I wanted to break her in. She was eighteen. And I was pissed when I found out she was a whore. I did a terrible thing, son. I bent her over my desk and raped her. She begged me to stop. But I didn’t. And when she told me she was pregnant, I decided I wanted you. So I paid her off. And she took it. She could’ve said no. But she wanted the money more than she wanted you.
I met Susan in Bangor. She was in the supermarket with Kinley the first time I saw her. And I knew right then, the day that girl turned sixteen, she was gonna be mine. She was so beautiful. Not her dimwit mother. Kinley. I married Susan so I would have access to her daughter. Don’t get me wrong, Susan was pretty young then. Twenty-five with lots of fuckable years left in her. But Kinley. She was the one I wanted.
I waited patiently until her sixteenth birthday. I knew it was wrong. She begged me to stop. But I was so obsessed, and I’d waited so long to spread her legs and take her sweet virginity. I couldn’t stop myself. And when it was over, I wanted more. I’m the reason she left.
I hope you can forgive me. I wrote Kinley a letter. Make sure she gets it. And look for your other letter. There’s important stuff in there that you need to know.
The letter slipped from my fingers, tears welling up in my eyes. He hurt so many people. I was just one in a long line of victims. Including Harland’s mother. Did my mother know the truth? That her husband only married her to get to me?
I shivered at the thought of him watching me all those years while I went through puberty under his roof. He was waiting for the day he could rape me.
Poor Harland. Confirmation that you were conceived during rape must be a horrible thing to hear. His mother hinted at it at the funeral, but the letter was confirmation.
I folded the letter and placed it back in the envelope. Ellie didn’t need to read that. I went upstairs to my bedroom and tucked it away in the nightstand.
“What’s going on?” Ellie asked when I found her in the kitchen with Joanne. “Harland was really upset.”
“Do you know where he went?”
“If he’s not in the stables, he’s probably down at the lookout. He always went there when he was a kid and he needed to think.”
“I don’t remember how to get there,” I said.
“I’ll draw you a map,” Ellie offered.
I started up the path, my mind still spinning with the contents of the letter. Orland Hollingbrook was a horrible man. He was a sexual predator. And he never had to pay for his crimes. It wasn’t fair.
The lookout wasn’t that far. A fifteen minute walk from the stables. I grabbed a blanket on my way by. Harland was there, just as Joanne predicted, staring out across the gorgeous valley with the mountains in the distance.
“Hey,” I said quietly.
“Hey,” he responded without turning around.
“I can leave if you want to be alone.”
“I brought a blanket,” I said, spreading the red checkered stable throw out on the grass.
“I’m so sorry, Kinley.”
“For what my father did to you.”
“It wasn’t your fault.”
“He was sick.”
“Yes, he was.”
“I don’t want to read any more of his letters. Any we find, we burn.”
“Agreed.” I held out my hand to shake on it.
He yanked me down, falling backwards in the grass. Our mouths came together, desperate and hungry, our tongues tangling as our hands worked to remove clothing. He rolled me over onto the blanket, tugging my shorts and panties down in one swift movement before running his fingers through my slick folds.
“I need to be inside you, baby.” He pushed his own shorts down, kicking them off while spreading my thighs apart, pushing my legs back against my chest as he positioned himself on his knees. “Brace your feet on my chest.”
I pressed the soles of my feet against his pecs, my ass lifting off the blanket as he rubbed his cock up and down my slit.
“Are you ready?” he asked.
“Yes,” I panted.
He nudged at my entrance, pushing forward with one hard thrust. The position he had me in allowed him to go deep. He drove in and out of my pussy, maintaining a quick steady rhythm while our flesh slapped together, his grunts mixing with my cries and carrying across the valley.
My orgasm was quick, tearing through my pelvis a second before Harland’s cock exploded inside me, filling my unprotected womb for the second day in a row.