“Rough night, Harland?” Joanne asked, refilling my coffee mug.
“You could say that.”
“One day at a time, son. That’s all you can do.”
I glanced up at the woman who’d worked for my father since before I was born. Joanne practically raised me.
I only had a nanny until I was six. Correction. I had nannies. Several. They never stayed long. After last night, I had a pretty good idea why. They were all young and pretty. Did my father rape them? Hopefully, they ran before it got to that point. Did my father’s long-time housekeeper know he was a sick predator? Probably not, or she would’ve left years ago.
“The loss of a parent is never easy,” she said. “Regardless of their age. When our loved one is ill, at least we have a chance to prepare. Their death is a relief, an end to the suffering. But when they die in an accident, it’s much harder to deal with. You didn’t get to say goodbye, or resolve lingering relationship issues. I don’t know what happened to keep you away for so many years, Harland, but I know your father loved you. I’m so sorry the two of you never had the opportunity to reunite.”
“Me too,” I mumbled. I’d kill the son of a bitch with my bare hands. “Where’s Ellie?”
“She already ate. Your sister is an early riser. She’s probably painting.”
“Oh yes,” she gushed. “She’s very talented.”
“Yes. Her paintings are all over the house.”
“My dad let her hang up her artwork?”
“Look behind you, Harland.”
I turned around, studying the landscape hanging on the wall behind me. “She didn’t paint that,” I laughed, my eyes going to the bottom right hand corner.
“Holy shit. She’s talented.”
“Good morning.” Kinley stood in the doorway dressed in black yoga pants and a tie dyed t-shirt.
My father was probably rolling in his grave. We always had a dress code growing up. When you showed up at the table, you were expected to be dressed for a meal at a five-star restaurant. Even at breakfast. I glanced down at my athletic shorts and ratty grey hoodie, grinning with satisfaction.
Fuck you, old man.
“How are you feeling this morning?” I asked after Joanne disappeared into the kitchen to prepare Kinley’s breakfast.
“Listen, Harland,” she said quietly, fiddling with her napkin. “I never should’ve told you all that last night. You didn’t need to know that your father was a monster. He’s gone, and I feel horrible that I interfered with your grieving and tarnished your memories. Regardless of what he did, he was still your father.”
“I’m glad you told me. I needed to know.”
“Why? He’s dead.”
“Can you look at me, please?”
She raised her head, her gorgeous green eyes swimming with sadness, dark puffy circles marring her porcelain skin. I pushed down the anger that had been building since her revelations the night before. My father was dead. There was no point. He died without facing the consequences of his actions. I could yell and throw things, but it wouldn’t change anything.
“If I could go back in time to that night, I’d stay home. I wouldn’t go off to the party or wherever I went that night. And I would protect you from him. But I can’t. All I can do is offer to help you undo some of the damage he did.”
“I really appreciate the offer, but I don’t think sex with the son of the man who did that to me is going to help my cause. It will just bring back the horrible memories of that night.”
“Not necessarily,” I said. “I did some research last night after you fell asleep. You need to have a positive sexual experience in order to move forward. I’m assuming none of those guys knew what happened to you?”
“The one that stuck it out for a couple months knew. He tried what you’re proposing. It didn’t work.”
“He wasn’t me.”
“Exactly. He wasn’t the son of the man who attacked me. You look like your dad, Harland. You have his eyes.”
“You’re saying I look like an old man?”
“I’m not my dad.”
“Will you at least think about it?”
“It’s a bad idea, Harland. Sex causes lots of problems, regardless of the relationship between the people. We have to put Ellie first. The last thing she needs is her brother and sister fighting.”
“Who said anything about fighting? We did that for years, and we picked up where we left off yesterday. I thought we turned over a new leaf last night?”
“We’ll take things very slow, and you can back out anytime you want.”
“I don’t know, Harland,” she said, laughing nervously.
I pushed back my chair. “Come with me.”
“Joanne is making my breakfast.”
“We will only be gone for a minute.” I grabbed her hand, linking our fingers together as I led her outside on the terrace. The pool house wasn’t visible from that side of the house. It wouldn’t be a problem much longer anyway. “I want to kiss you, Kinley.”
“You know, where two people put their mouths together?”
“I know what kissing is,” she sighed, shaking her head.
She blinked, those gorgeous emeralds penetrating me with so much vulnerability and fear that I wanted to go down to the funeral home and yell at my dad. Spit on his dead body.
“I’m sorry, sweetheart,” I said, backing away from her. “The last thing I wanna do is pressure you or upset you.”
She took a step forward, closing the distance between us before leaning up on her toes to press her lips against mine. Her mouth tasted like toothpaste mixed with strawberries, her lips soft and pliable when I kissed her back. I ran my tongue along the seam of her lips, expecting her to pull away. She surprised me when she opened up, her tongue darting cautiously into my mouth.
I brought my hands up to her head, burying my fingers in her silky hair as I tilted her head, deepening the kiss. She moaned softly, locking her arms around my neck while our tongues stroked together. It ended too soon, both of us panting when we finally parted.
“Told ya so,” I whispered.
“One kiss doesn’t prove anything, Harland. I’ve kissed lots of guys without any problems.”
“Have you ever experienced a kiss as hot as ours?” I tilted her chin up with my thumb, grinning at the sight of her flushed cheeks. I so wanted to ask her if she was wet. I’d bet money on it. But I had to tread cautiously with Kinley. I didn’t want to scare her off. If that kiss was any indication, there was a horny woman buried inside that sexy body, desperate to experience the pleasure I could bring to her.
“Of course, I have.”
“I’m not going to sleep with you, Harland.”
“We’ll see,” I chuckled.
I tried to put in a few hours of work, but I couldn’t concentrate. My partners could handle any issues that came up with my clients for the next few days. They ordered me to shut down my computer immediately. When was the last time I took one day off, let alone several in a row? Never. My business was my life.
I glanced around my father’s office, my mind going in a million different directions. Did Ellie find all the letters? I couldn’t leave until I knew for certain that every last one had been located. That could take months. And we couldn’t even hire someone. We had to do it ourselves. I couldn’t risk any of the letters falling into the wrong hands.
I leaned back in the leather chair, closing my eyes to try and get my thoughts in order. One problem at a time. We had to get through the funeral first. Then we had to sit down with the lawyers. The social worker had to come and interview us and observe us with Ellie. We had to decide what we were going to do with the house.
My thoughts turned to Kinley. My stepsister was hot. I hadn’t been able to get that kiss out of my mind. I could still taste her strawberry lip balm. My cock hardened at the thought of her spread out beneath me, moaning with pleasure while I fucked her. I could make her come. There was no doubt in my mind. I just had to find a way to get my asshole father out of her head.
How did I go from hating Kinley to lusting after her in twenty-four hours? Was I fucking crazy? Maybe the stress of this entire situation was messing with my judgement.
I needed some sex. That was my usual go-to when something was bothering me. Back in New York, I had several lady friends I could call on. I didn’t have that here. The only pussy available in butt fuck Northern Maine was my stepsister. And it came attached to a troubled woman who claimed she was frigid and unfixable, courtesy of my sick old man.
If I could help Kinley overcome her sexual dysfunction, it would alleviate some of the guilt I was feeling. I knew it wasn’t my fault. I didn’t know my father was a rapist. And my younger sister needed a strong female role model to guide her through her teenage years. Kinley would be happier if she could find someone to share her life with. She stood a much better chance of that happening if she was able to have a sexual relationship.
I closed my laptop and ventured out of the office, wandering through the game room on my way out to the pool terrace. The pool table was covered in dust. Board games were stacked neatly on a shelf, also covered in dust. When was the last time anyone used this room? Why didn’t the staff dust and vacuum in there? My old Super Nintendo sat next to the television. Maybe we could have a retro game night with Ellie.
I stared at the pile of bricks and concrete that used to be the pool house. A bulldozer scooped up a load, dumping it into the waiting dump truck.
The contractor approached, wiping the sweat from his brow with a dirty rag. “We should be able to have most of this cleaned up by the end of the day, Mr. Hollingbrook.”
“Excellent. Thank you for coming on such short notice.”
“No problem,” he said. “I’m real sorry about your father and stepmother. Please accept my condolences.”
“That pool house was old. Needed to come down, or have some major reno.”
“Yes. I foresee a lot of renovations happening here in the very near future. This estate has been neglected.”
“Call me,” he said. “I can have a crew out here with a couple days notice.”
“I have to go over some legal matters first,” I explained. “But I’ll definitely keep you in mind.”
“She told you?”
I turned to find Ellie standing behind me, her eyes narrowed as she took in the demolished pool house. “Let’s go inside. I don’t want to discuss this out here.”
“Let’s go to Father’s office,” she suggested.
I followed my sister inside, closing the door behind me. “What are you doing?” I chuckled when she sat in his chair and gestured for me to take a seat in one of the arm chairs in front.
“What do you mean?”
“Why do you get to sit behind the desk?”
“What are you, like five?” she asked, sounding more like a girl her own age for a change.
“No. I’m in charge now.”
“I read the entire document from front to back, and I do not recall seeing that stated anywhere.”
“You do realize you’re twelve, right?”
“Why does everyone feel the need to keep reminding me of that? Father never did that. He treated me like an adult. An equal.”
“Father was suffering from dementia, from what I understand.”
“Why did you have the pool house taken down? Mr. File said we couldn’t do any work on the house until he transferred control of the maintenance fund over to us.”
“I paid for it with my own money.”
“You still need permission.”
“I want Kinley to feel comfortable here.”
“She told you?”
“She said she didn’t want you to know.”
“Ellie, this is an adult problem. I don’t think it’s appropriate to be discussing it with you. But I assure you, I plan to do whatever I can to help Kinley while she’s here.”
“I’m twelve, Harland. I know what sex is, and I know what rape is. Don’t treat me like a child.”
“You are a child, Ellie.”
She pushed up from the chair, bracing her hands on the desk while she glared at me with the trademark Hollingbrook scowl. “You are a child, Harland,” she growled before storming out.
Well, well, well. My little sister isn’t as poised and in control of her emotions as I thought she was. And I don’t give a shit how smart or mature she is. She’s still a kid.
“What was all that about?”
I turned to find Kinley standing in the doorway. Was she always that beautiful? I guess I was so preoccupied with making her life miserable, I didn’t notice her developing into a gorgeous woman. Too bad my father did.
“She’s upset that I had the pool house taken down without consulting with her first.”
“You tore down the pool house?”
“Yes,” I replied hesitantly. “Well, not me personally. I hired a crew to take care of it.”
“I wanted you to be able to use the pool this summer.” I rose from my chair, taking care to stay out of her personal space. “I wanna see you out there sunbathing in a sexy bikini.”
“I can’t believe you did that,” she whispered.
“I meant what I said. I want to help you, Kinley. Whatever it takes.”
“Thank you, Harland. You have no idea what this means to me.” She crossed the room, throwing her arms around my neck.
I ordered my dick to stand down. Now wasn’t the time to get a boner. But Kinley felt so good pressed up against me. So right. And she smelled fucking delicious. Her vanilla scented shampoo wafted up my nose, escalating the trouble in my shorts. I slipped my arms around her waist, caressing her back with my thumbs.
She pulled back, her eyes meeting mine with a heated stare. I lowered my head, taking her mouth with a long, slow kiss. She moaned softly, running her fingers through my hair while I explored the inside of her mouth with sweeping strokes of my tongue.
“You’re a really good kisser, Harland,” she murmured while I kissed along her jaw to her ear.
“I’m really good at other stuff, too,” I whispered, sucking her earlobe between my teeth.
I lifted my head. “Okay what?”
“I’ll have sex with you.”