My fingers itched to reach out and touch Kinley. She was sitting next to me on the sofa, so close I could smell her peach body wash. It was absolute torture. Fortunately, I had a folder on my lap to cover my hard-on.
I couldn’t get enough of her. We’d been going at it like bunnies, sorry giraffes, since we came home from the lodge the weekend before. All I wanted to do was get between her legs and stay there. Instead, I was sitting across from the scowly-faced social worker. I disliked the woman. She rubbed me the wrong way right from day one at the lawyer’s office in Bangor.
“Thank you for coming today,” Ellie said, taking her position at the front of the library. “I’ve been working very hard to prepare this presentation. Please keep an open mind, and no questions until I conclude. You may open your folders now.”
“What is this about, Ellie?” I snapped.
Kinley released a pained gasp.
I stared at the smart board next to my little sister.
Sexual Violence in America
“Please hold your comments until the end, Harland.”
“Ellie, I think we should discuss this in private. You’re upsetting your sister.”
“I apologize. That is not my intention.”
“What is this about?” Kinley asked.
“I have prepared a detailed proposal regarding the future of Hollingbrook Estate.”
“Go ahead,” Kinley said.
I reached for her hand, holding it tightly while the social worker eyed us with an amused smirk. Why was she invited anyway?
“Every year, over fourteen million people in America become victims of sexual violence. The vast majority of those victims are women and children. And the aforementioned statistics only reflect the reported cases. Victims of sexual violence or abuse often feel isolated and scared.
The long term impact on physical and mental health can be detrimental, with victims suffering from post traumatic stress disorder, drug and alcohol abuse, depression, anxiety, inability to have relationships with men, just to name a few.
Sexual violence against women and children is so prevalent that several retreats have been established across the country. The restorative retreats are held in peaceful settings, providing a safe place for victims to gather. During the retreats, they are given the tools needed to facilitate healing and empowerment.”
I listened to my twelve-year-old sister go on about the impact of sexual violence on the victims for almost an hour. How long had she been researching this topic? What kind of kid does that? Most girls her age were probably Googling lipstick colours and the latest fashion trends while they hung out at the mall. Ellie was too young to be reading about this kind of shit.
I glanced over at Kinley. Ellie had her complete attention, but my girl didn’t look well. She didn’t need this. Kinley was a rape survivor. I was just about to put an end to this unnecessary presentation, when Ellie revealed her proposal.
“My father’s wish to keep his ancestral home in the family has created a dilemma. He gifted us a large estate, thirty thousand square feet with sizable acreage, with a stipulation that prevents us from selling unless we are willing to forfeit millions of dollars to charity from the sale of the property.
I considered that avenue at length, revisiting the charities my father supported. However, in light of the revelations that have surfaced following his death, I propose we turn Hollingbrook Estate into a retreat for victims of sexual violence.
The retreat would be for women and children only. I’ve completed in-depth research into every other similar program in America. You will find detailed financial information, including government funding and subsidies available, with cost projections and potential sources of funding to cover operating expenses.
You will also find recommendations on how to transform the estate and timeline projections for completion. The three of us would continue to maintain residence on the grounds, but in a separate dwelling. I’ve included floor plans that would meet our needs as a family of three, with sufficient living space for future children.”
I flipped through the folder, completely blown away. My sister was extremely intelligent. I obviously already knew that, based on the fact that she’d completed a year of college before hitting puberty. But this was high level financial shit. A complex proposal that would take months for a seasoned business executive to prepare. And my twelve-year-old sister completed it in, what? Three weeks. Did she start it the day we arrived?
I glanced over at the social worker, her miserable face twisted with disbelief as she skimmed through the folder.
Kinley hadn’t uttered a single word. I wrapped my arm around her shoulder, pressing a kiss to her forehead. Fuck the social worker. She wasn’t paying attention anyway.
Ellie joined us on the sofa, taking Kinley’s hand. “Are you okay?” she whispered.
Kinley glanced at me, her eyes filled with tears. She turned to Ellie, pulling her in for a hug. They stayed like that for a long time, their arms wrapped tightly around each other while they cried softly.
I looked over at the social worker. She was crying! I didn’t think that miserable bitch even owned tear ducts. The door looked pretty tempting right at that moment. There was far too much estrogen circulating in that room. But I stayed put on that couch while my half-sister and my former stepsister turned girlfriend bawled their eyes out. I was just waiting for Jerry Springer to burst through the door.
“I can’t believe you did this,” Kinley whispered.
“I want to create something meaningful,” she explained, grabbing tissues from the end table. She handed one to Karen and Kinley before wiping away her own tears. “I can’t undo the terrible things my father did. But I can help other people. We have the means to make a difference. To help victims like you, Kinley.”
“I had no idea such places even existed.”
“They didn’t back then.”
“Wouldn’t you like to help other victims, so they can go on with healthy, productive lives? The programs are designed to empower victims to take back control. A sexual assault shouldn’t define who you are or dictate the rest of your life. Monsters like my father don’t deserve that kind of power.”
“I don’t know what to say, Ellie.”
“Say you’ll consider it. If you look at pages twelve to fifteen, it discusses the remodelling and renovations. You would be in charge of that. Isn’t that what you do?”
“Yes,” she said, a small smile spreading across her face.
“And you said you didn’t want to live in this house. I don’t want to either. It’s not a home. This is a home.” She held up the detailed floor plan of the new house.
“It’s perfect, Ellie,” Kinley sighed, a fresh batch of tears trickling down her cheeks. “But it would just be us. Harland’s life is in New York.”
“He says that now. But he’ll change his mind. We’re his family.”
“We need to sit down with our lawyers before we make any decisions,” I said. “Our hands are tied until the estate is finalized.”
“I am well versed in estate law, Harland,” she snapped.
“I know that, Ellie.”
“If we decide to go ahead, we would require a therapist to sign on. We can’t run a retreat without one. I’ve put together a list of potential candidates.”
“We can sit down and go through your proposal.”
“Thank you, Harland.”
I stared at the ceiling, releasing a heavy sigh of frustration. My brain refused to shut down and let me get some desperately needed sleep. I’d hardly slept for the past three nights since Ellie’s presentation.
Kinley was out cold, sprawled across the bed like a starfish. I don’t understand how anyone can sleep on their stomach. Especially a woman. Isn’t that uncomfortable when you have breasts? And Kinley had some substantial tits. Not sure where she got them from. Her mother was flat as a board.
We needed a king-sized bed. Every bedroom in that house had a queen. Except for their room. And there was no way I was sleeping in a bed where my father fucked that skank night after night. Kinley wouldn’t even step foot in their suite. My stuff was still in my old room, but I’d been sleeping with Kinley every night.
Could I really go back to New York City? Leave the woman I love and my sister up in Maine? Sure, I could come home on weekends. Or I could continue to work remotely, but some of my clients still insisted on in person meetings. I hate to break it to them, but Zoom is the way of the future.
What about my penthouse? I had a life in New York. Could I really be content living on the estate? It was my ancestral home.
But a retreat for sexual assault victims? My father was definitely rolling in his grave now. I fully expected him to start haunting me after I hooked up with Kinley. And now his precious daughter, his little protege, wanted to turn his house into a haven for women and children to gather. She wanted to renovate the entire mansion into a cozy, peaceful setting.
If Kinley followed her design proposal, the house would be painted in light, warm colours, with comfortable, modern furnishings interspersed with only select antiques that we would keep out of respect for our ancestors. She wanted to sell a lot of it to make money to put back into the project. The house was full of valuable antiques. We’d net a sizable chunk of cash for sure.
I envisioned my fathers face, chuckling softly to myself. My mother would love the idea. Not that she had any say in the decision. But she was a victim of my father. Maybe I could hire her to do some paintings.
“Are you giggling?” Kinley rolled onto her side, staring up at me with curious amusement.
“Men don’t giggle, sweetheart.”
“What’s so funny?”
“Nothing, babe. Sorry for waking you.”
“You woke me up. Spill your guts.”
“I was thinking about my father.”
“Yeah. I don’t usually feel the urge to laugh when I have the misfortune of thinking about him.”
“I was thinking about what his reaction would be if he knew what Ellie wanted to do with his house and grounds.”
“He would be livid.”
“Without a doubt.”
“Seems like a good reason to do it,” she muttered. “I don’t believe in ghosts or spirits, or that you’re aware of anything after death. But it’s times like this, that I wish it were true. It would provide me with immense satisfaction to know that he was watching. He would hate that we’re together. And it would kill him to watch his home be transformed into a healing retreat for victims of sexual assault. Especially at the hands of his daughter, who he tried to brainwash into being just like him. Clearly, he failed.”
“I think we need to take some time to really think this over,” I suggested, pulling her into my arms. “It’s a big decision.”
“Since you’re awake,” I murmured, my hand slipping between her legs.
“You’re insatiable,” she laughed, lifting her leg onto my hip to give me better access.
“You’re just as bad, my little nympho.”
I was finally asleep. Kinley was the magic bullet. After I made love to her, I drifted off with her in my arms. I was in heaven. Until my phone rang, ripping me from my hard-earned slumber.
“Fucking fuck,” I grumbled, reaching blindly for my phone. “This better be important.”
I wiped the sleep from my eyes, staring at the call display. It was the lawyer’s office.
“Hello?” I mumbled.
“What’s up, File?”
“The judge is ready to make a ruling on custody.”