Page 23 of Stepbrother Dearest

When she fled to her room, I knew sleep wasn’t going to be possible until I’d at least made her smile again. I had an idea and grabbed her dildo I’d been hiding and took it to her room. I started to tickle her with it.

Eventually, she gave into the laughter. We spent the rest of the night lying in her bed talking. That was the first time I’d really opened up and made the mistake of admitting my attraction to her.


She tried to kiss me, and I relented. It felt so good to taste her mouth again and to not have to pretend that it wasn’t real. I grabbed her face and took control of it. I told myself that nothing bad would happen as long as I could draw the line at kissing. I’d almost had myself convinced when she floored me with words that would ruin me.

“I want you to show me how you f**k, Elec.”

I freaked out and pushed her off of me. It was the hardest thing I ever had to do, but it was necessary. I explained to her that we could never let things go that far.

I tried really hard after that to distance myself. Still, those words rang out in my head at night, in the shower, pretty much all day. I lost interest in other girls and preferred jerking off to explicit thoughts of fulfilling Greta’s request in ways she could have never imagined.

***

Weeks went by, and I became desperate to connect with her in some way again. I decided I’d let her read my book. After she finished it, she’d written me a note that she sealed in an envelope. Afraid to see what it said, I put off opening it.

Then, came the night when everything changed.

Greta had gone out on a date. I knew the particular guy was harmless, so I wasn’t worried about her this time. I was worried about me. Even though I couldn’t have Greta, I didn’t want anyone else to have her, either.

I watched him from the window as he walked to the door with flowers. What a twat waffle. I had to do something. When he came upstairs to use the bathroom, I accosted him in the hallway. I gave him a pair of her underwear and told him Greta had left them in my room. It was a dick move, but I was desperate.

It pissed me off even more when she left with him. When she texted me from the car, I asked her to come home. She thought I was kidding. I wasn’t. I’d just lost my willpower for a second.

Soon after, the phone rang, and I was sure it was Greta.

Dread set in after I realized it was my mother.

She called me to say she was back in California, that she’d been released from rehab. I panicked because she shouldn’t have been alone in her state of mind. I didn’t know what to do because I knew I had to go back right away now.

I didn’t want to leave Greta.

But I had to go.

I texted her to come home from her date, that something had happened. Thankfully, that time she listened.

I knew I had to tell her the truth about why I was leaving. When she came to my room, she looked so beautiful in a blue dress that hugged her tiny waist. I wanted to take her in my arms and never let her go.

I told her as much as I could about Mami that night because she needed to know that it wasn’t my choice to leave.

Everything was happening so fast. I told her to go back to her room because I couldn’t trust myself. After much coaxing, she finally listened. It really was my intention to do the right thing and stay away from her that night.

I was alone and missing her already even though she was just in the next room. I decided to open her letter, expecting to find some grammatical corrections and small critiques about my book.

She said things in that letter that no one had ever said to me in my entire life, things I needed to hear: that I was talented, that I inspired her to follow her own dreams, that she respected me, that she cared about me, that she couldn’t wait to read more, that she fell in love with my writing, that she was so proud of me, that she believed in me.

Greta made me feel things I never had before. She made me feel loved.

I loved this girl, and I couldn’t do anything about it.

Without thinking it through, I knocked on her door and decided to give her what she’d asked me for.

I could go into details about all of the things that Greta and I did that night, but to be honest, it’s not something I feel comfortable writing about because of how much it meant to me. She trusted me enough to give me something that no one else will ever get. That night was sacred to me, and I hope she realizes that.

The one thing I will say is that I will never forget a certain look on her face. Her eyes had been closed, and it was the way she opened them and looked at me the very first moment I was fully inside of her.

To this day, I still haven’t forgiven myself for leaving her the next morning. I’d never felt so attached to anyone. She had fully given herself to me. She was mine, and I threw her away. I let guilt and some deep-rooted need to protect my mother in order to justify my existence win over my own happiness.

I don’t think Greta ever realized that I loved her long before that night.

As I write this, what she definitely doesn’t know is that a few years later, I came back for her, but it was too late.

CHAPTER 19

He’d come back for me?

My hand covered my chest as if it were going to keep my heart from leaping out of it.

It was now mid-morning, and the hustle and bustle of the daily grind could be heard from my window. The sun was pouring into the apartment. I’d already called out of work earlier because I needed to finish this book today.

Tonight was a 30th birthday celebration for a co-worker at a downtown nightclub, and I wasn’t sure if I’d even be able to put it down long enough to go.

I walked to the kitchen to have some water and forced down a granola bar. The energy would be much needed to get through this next part.

He’d come back for me?

I curled back into the couch, took a deep breath and turned the page.

***

You have to treat addiction to a person the same way you would a drug problem. If I couldn’t be all in with Greta, then I couldn’t have any contact with her at all because that would have caused me to spiral out of control.

Even calling or texting wasn’t going to be possible. It seemed harsh, but I wouldn’t have been able to handle even the sound of her voice if we couldn’t be together.

That didn’t mean that I wasn’t pining for her every single day. That first year was hell.

Mami was no better than before I’d gone to Boston. She kept interrogating me for information about Randy and Sarah, stalking Sarah’s facebook page and accusing me of being a traitor after I admitted that my stepmother wasn’t all that bad once you got to know her. I couldn’t even mention Greta’s name because I didn’t want my mother to look her up or suspect anything. Mami was back on sleeping pills, and I had to watch her like a hawk.

I was right in my assumption that she could have never handled even the thought of my being with Greta at that time. It was a sad irony: Mami was obsessed with Sarah, and unbeknownst to her, I’d become obsessed with Sarah’s daughter. We were quite the f**ked up pair.

Not a day went by without my having a thought about Greta with another guy. It made me crazy. I was so far away and powerless. Ironically, there was a side of me that wished at the very least, I were able to protect her as my sister even if we weren’t together. Sick, right? But what if someone hurt her? I wouldn’t even know about it and couldn’t beat him down. And forget about the thought of her f**king another guy. I’d actually punched a hole once in my bedroom wall just thinking about that.

Then, one night, I lost control and texted her that I missed her. I asked her not to respond. She didn’t, and it made me feel worse. I’d vowed never to repeat that mistake.

My life had gone back to exactly what it was before I moved to Boston: smoking, drinking and f**king girls I didn’t care about. It was empty. The only difference from before was that now, somewhere deep beneath the filth was this longing for more…for her. She’d given me a taste of the type of human connection my life had been missing all along.

I expected the gnawing feeling in my chest to go away over time, but it never did; it only intensified. I think that was because deep down, I also sensed that wherever she was, Greta was thinking of me, feeling the same way. I somehow felt it, and it ate away at me for years.

***

Two years later, Mami’s mental state had finally improved after she met a guy. He was her first boyfriend since Randy left her. George was Lebanese and owned the convenience store down the street from us. He was over the house all of the time and would always bring pita bread, hummus and olives. For the first time ever, her obsession with Randy seemed to have waned.

George was a great guy, but the happier she was with him, the more bitter I became. I’d given up the one girl I ever cared about because I thought it would devastate my mother beyond repair. Now, she was happy, and I was still miserable. And Greta was gone.

I’d felt like I made the biggest mistake of my life.

I needed to talk to someone about it because my anger was eating away at me day by day. I had never mentioned what happened with Greta to a single soul. The only person I could trust was Randy’s friend, Greg, who’d become like a second father to me.

He gave me some inside information that day during our phone call: Greta had apparently recently moved to New York. He even had her address from their Christmas card list. Greg tried to convince me to fly out there and tell her how I felt. I didn’t think she would want to see me even if she still cared about me. I hurt her so badly that I didn’t understand how she could ever forgive me. Greg felt that going to see her in person would make a bigger impression. Despite my fears, I booked a ticket the next day, which happened to be New Years Eve.

I told Mami I was going to visit a friend I’d met years ago to celebrate the holiday in the city. I wouldn’t tell her about Greta unless this worked out.

The six-hour plane ride was the most nerve-wracking experience of my life. I just wanted to get there. I just wanted to hold her again. I didn’t know what I’d say or what I was going to do when I laid eyes on her. I didn’t know if she was even with someone. I was going in blind.

This was the first time in my life that I ever put myself first and followed my heart.

I hoped it wasn’t too late because I really wanted the opportunity to tell her all of the things I should have told her three years ago. She never even knew I loved her the night she’d given me her virginity.

If the plane ride took an eternity, the subway ride to her apartment complex seemed even more frustratingly long. As the train swayed, every single memory of her flashed through my head like a movie. I couldn’t help but smile as I thought about some of the shit I pulled on her and what a good sport she was. She made me happy. Mostly, my mind drifted to that final night when she’d given me full ownership of her body. The train stopped; there was a slight delay. Getting to her soon felt urgent now.

I needed to get to her.

When I finally made it to her building, I double-checked the address I’d jotted down on a small piece of paper. Her last name, Hansen, was written in pen next to apartment 7b on the listing inside the main entrance.

There was no answer. I nixed the idea of calling or texting her because I worried she’d say she didn’t want to meet with me before I had a chance to see her. I came all the way here. I needed to at least see her face.

The restaurant downstairs served as the perfect waiting spot before trying her door again in another hour.

I knocked on that door every hour on the hour from four in the afternoon until nine at night. Each time, there was no answer, and I’d just go back to Charlie’s Pub and wait.

The time was 9:15. I’d never forget the moment I got my wish.

I got to see her.

But it wasn’t the way I wanted it to happen.

Greta.

She was wearing a thick off-white parka as she came strolling into Charlie’s. She wasn’t alone. A guy—who looked a hell of a lot more put together than me—had his arm wrapped around her.

The greasy food in my stomach started to come up on me.

She was laughing as they took a seat in the middle of the restaurant. She looked happy. She didn’t notice me because her back was facing me as I sat in a corner booth.

Her hair was tied up in a twist. I watched as she unwound the lavender scarf she’d been wearing, revealing the back of her beautiful neck—the neck I was supposed to be kissing tonight after I told her how much I loved her.

The guy leaned in and kissed her gently on the face.

A voice inside of me screamed, “Don’t touch her!”

His lips mouthed the words, “I love you.”

What was I supposed to do? Go over there and say, “Oh hello, I’m Greta’s stepbrother. I f**ked the shit out of her once and left the very next day. She seems happy with you, and you probably actually deserve her, but I was hoping you could step aside and let me take over from here.”

A half-hour went by. I watched the waiter bring them their food. I watched them eat. I watched the guy reach over a dozen more times to kiss her. I’d close my eyes and listen to the sound of her sweet laughter. I didn’t know why I stayed. I just couldn’t get myself to leave her. I knew it was likely the last time I’d ever see her.

10:15: Greta got up from her seat and let him place her coat over her shoulders. She never once looked in my direction. I hadn’t considered what I would have done if she noticed me. I was too numb to move or even think clearly.

I watched her every second until the door closed behind them.

That night, I wandered the city and eventually ended up with the masses in Times Square watching the ball drop. Amidst the confetti, noisemakers and cheering, I wondered how I’d even gotten there because I was still in a daze since leaving the restaurant.

A random middle-aged woman grabbed me and hugged me when the clock struck midnight. She couldn’t have known it, but I’d never needed a hug in my life more than that moment.

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