Page 27 of Stepbrother Dearest

“What do I look like now?”

“You look flushed, actually. Are you feeling alright?”

In all honesty, she looked like she’d just been properly f**ked, and it made my dick ache.

“I’m fine,” she said.

“You sure?”

“Yep.”

“It felt so good to take a shower,” I said.

And by that I meant the two orgasms I gave myself thinking about an alternate ending to our dressing room encounter.

“I know what you mean,” she said.

“Do you need to dry your hair?”

“Yeah. Just give me a minute.”

I turned on ESPN and lay down on the bed.

About ten minutes later, she came out of the bathroom.

“I’m ready.”

Her hair was up, her neck was exposed in all of its glory, and I knew I was in trouble for the rest of the night.

I jumped up and turned the television off.

We walked down the hall, and the smell of the soap on her skin was invading my senses. I glanced over at her and wanted her to know how beautiful she looked when I said, “You clean up nice.” When we entered the elevator, I added, “I like your hair up like that.”

“You do?”

“Yeah. It’s how you were wearing it the night when I first met you.”

“I’m surprised you remembered that.”

I hadn’t forgotten one thing.

Not. One. Thing.

We’d started reminiscing about how I used to torture her and at one point, she said, “Well, you weren’t exactly as mean as you wanted me to believe you were.”

I returned that with, “And it turned out you weren’t that innocent.”

The tone in my voice made no secret of what I was referring to. We looked at each other with a silent understanding that the conversation needed to end there.

If I thought the night was going to get any easier once we entered the distraction of a nightclub, I had another thing coming.

***

We’d been dancing a lot. It was the most fun I’d had all night. The bass was blaring, and I could feel it pumping through me. Dancing bodies tangled together around us, but Greta and I kept a space between each other.

It was necessary.

At one point, I went to the bathroom and as I made my way back through the multi-colored flashing lights, I spotted a guy dancing very closely around her and talking in her ear.

When I returned to the spot where she was dancing alongside him, my conscience gave way to a primal and impulsive reaction. I wrapped my arm around her tiny waist and pulled her firmly back into me. She didn’t resist. My arm was still dominantly locked around her when she turned to look at me. I gave her a warning look. In that moment, we were the Elec and Greta of seven years ago. I was jealous, and I was once again making it obvious. Given the not so minor detail of my being in a serious relationship, it was unfair to expect her to accept things that I couldn’t, but she cared about me enough to let me get away with this somehow.

We didn’t speak about it, and eventually, my caveman moment passed. I let go of her, and we were back to getting lost in the music.

Everything changed, though, when a slow song had come on. People started scrambling to find partners while others left the dance floor. Somehow, it felt like we were the only ones left.

Greta panicked and started to walk away.

I couldn’t blame her, but what if tonight was it for us? I wanted this dance.

I grabbed her hand. “Dance with me.”

She looked scared but let me reel her into me anyway. A deep breath escaped me when her entire body melted into my arms. She closed her eyes as she planted her head on my chest. My heart was hammering against it as if to tell me that I was an idiot for not realizing that this was precisely what it wanted.

For the first time since we arrived at the casino, thoughts of Chelsea were completely buried by the intensity of my feelings for Greta. Needing to know if she felt it, I looked down and at that same exact moment, she looked up at me. I was losing my ability to breathe. I touched my forehead to hers and just knew. That was the moment I stopped lying to myself. I was still in love with her. I didn’t know what to do about it because I loved Chelsea, too.

Before I could think it through, Greta pulled away and started running off through the darkness of the crowd.

“Greta, wait!”

Within seconds, I’d lost her. I made my way to the exit and ran toward the elevators. The doors were closing, and I stuck my arm through the opening to stop them.

She was crying. God, what had I done to her?

“What the f**k, Greta? Why did you run from me like that?”

“I just need to go back to my room.”

“Not like this.”

Without thinking, I pressed the stop button.

“What are you doing?”

“This isn’t how I wanted our night to end. I crossed a line. I know that. I got lost in the moment with you, and I’m so f**king sorry. But it wasn’t going to go any further because I won’t cheat on Chelsea. I couldn’t do that to her.”

“I’m not as strong as you are, then. You can’t dance with me like that, look at me like that, touch me like that if we can’t do anything about it. And for the record, I wouldn’t want you to cheat on her!”

“What do you want?”

“I don’t want you to say one thing and act in a way that contradicts it. We don’t have much time left together. I want you to talk to me. That night at the wake…you wrapped your hand around my neck. It felt like for a moment you were back in that place where we left off. That’s sort of how I feel around you all of the time. Then, later that night, Chelsea told me what happened after you got home.”

What was she talking about?

“Exactly what did she tell you?”

“Were you thinking about me? Is that why you couldn’t perform that night?”

The f**k?

I had no words. The fact that Chelsea told Greta about that private moment actually pissed me off. I was speechless.

“I want you to tell me the truth,” she said.

She couldn’t handle the truth, and I couldn’t handle these feelings for her. But I was pissed that they’d been talking like that behind my back. On top of that, my whole life felt like it had been turned inside out in one night.

So, I lost it.

“You want the truth? I was f**king my girlfriend and could see nothing but you. That’s the truth.” I moved toward her predatorily, and she backed away. “I got into the shower that night, and the only way I could finish the job was to imagine coming all over your beautiful neck. That’s the truth.”

It should have stopped there.

Instead, I locked my arms around her as she leaned her back against the wall. I kept going. “You want more? I was going to ask her to marry me tonight at her sister’s wedding. I was supposed to be engaged right at this very moment, but instead, I’m in an elevator fighting the urge to back you up against this wall and f**k you so hard that I’ll have to carry you back to your room.”

My chest hurt. I dropped my arms. “Everything I thought I knew has been turned upside down in the past 48 hours. I’m questioning everything, and I don’t f**king know what to do. That’s. The. Truth.”

I released the stop button because any more time in here would have been detrimental, although being brutally honest for once felt like a huge weight had lifted off of my chest.

When we got to our floor, we both went back to our separate rooms.

Alone in bed, guilt started to really set in and prevented me from sleeping.

I was torturing myself by going through my pictures of Chelsea again.

She didn’t deserve this.

I’d tossed and turned, alternating between thoughts of Randy, guilt over Chelsea and my personal favorite: carnal thoughts of Greta. If I didn’t care about hurting Chelsea, I would have gone to Greta’s room that night. I knew with all of our pent-up frustration, it would have been the best sex of my life. But I wasn’t a cheater, and I wouldn’t go there. So, I let my imagination experience it.

At one point, the sexual fantasies had gotten so vivid, I tried to undo my sins with a text to Chelsea at 2 A.M.

I love you.

Immediately after, I sent a text to Greta.

If I knock on your door tonight, don’t let me in.

***

The cab was approaching my destination, so I thought that was as good a point as any to stop the story since I was going to have to greet my friends soon. It was painful to put it down.

I paid the driver and stuck my kindle in my purse. As I made my way inside Club Underground, the contrast of the darkness and bright lights caused a feeling of unreality. My head had been stuck in Elec’s story all day, and it almost felt strange venturing into the real world. It started to make me feel a little panicky with a bit of vertigo, which I got from time to time.

My nervous state improved as soon as I saw two of my coworkers, Bobbie and Jennifer, who greeted me as I entered the private room. A small bar was lit up in purple lighting, and I immediately booked it over there for a vodka soda.

I took a sip. “Is the guest of honor here yet?”

“No sign of Hetty yet,” Jennifer said.

Since Hetty wasn’t even here yet, I excused myself to go to the bathroom where I promptly picked my kindle up again. Don’t judge.

***

I still consider it a miracle that I made it through that night without f**king up. Greta ended up texting me that she was having insomnia. I immediately called her, and we talked until she fell asleep sometime after 4 A.M.  I stayed on the phone listening to the sound of her breathing.

The ride home the next morning was downright painful. A chainsaw wouldn’t have been enough to cut the tension in the air.

Greta was going to be driving me to the airport. We ended up stopping at her mother’s house first. Being back in the place where everything started was harder than I thought it would be.

Greta had served me some of her homemade ice cream. It was nostalgic sharing it with her out of the same bowl. For some reason, out of everything we’d experienced during our little adventure, that moment had meant the most to me and felt like goodbye all at once.

***

I had to put my kindle down when Hetty walked into the bathroom. She must have thought I was pathetic.

“There you are. We’ve all been looking for you!”

“Oh, I lost track of time. You hadn’t arrived yet, so I came in here to chill for a bit before the party started.” I hugged her. “Happy birthday, sweetie.”

“Thanks. You were reading?”

“Yeah.” I laughed and waved my hand dismissively. “You know how it is when you start a book you can’t put down.”

“Is it smut?”

I had to think about it. “Not really.”

“Right. Okay, well, come on! Almost everyone’s here now.”

I followed her back out into the club and immediately ran to the bar for another vodka soda. Vowing to not pick up the book for at least an hour, I worked the room and found myself looking at people’s faces but not really hearing what they were saying. Their mouths were moving, but my brain wasn’t processing it; my mind was still with Elec.

As soon as my self-imposed hour was up, I snuck back into the bathroom. My friends were probably going to think I was doing lines of coke, but I needed to finish the book since I only had a small percentage left. That way, I could get through the remainder of the night with no preoccupation.

I took a deep breath.

***

Greta wouldn’t make eye contact on the ride to the airport. All of the special moments we’d shared, and she couldn’t even stand to look at my face now. That was what it all came down to, and I couldn’t say I blamed her.

I was breaking apart at the seams and didn’t know what to say to her. We’d practically been to Heaven and Hell and back together over the past twenty-four hours and now, I was simply leaving her…again.

When we exited the car at the curb, the wind was wild. It was almost like a scene out of a movie. This would have been the sad part where you’d cue the dramatic music.

The thunderous sound of the planes taking off made it even more difficult to articulate what I wanted to say. What do you say to someone you’re abandoning for the second time?

She held onto herself and was looking everywhere but at my face.

Finally, I said, “Look at me.”

Greta shook her head repeatedly, and a tear fell down her cheek.

It was official now. I was the scum of the Earth.

My own eyes started watering because I couldn’t take away the pain she was feeling, because I couldn’t do the one thing that would have achieved that: staying.

She was waving me off. “It’s okay. Go. Please. Text me if you want. It’s just…I can’t do a long goodbye…not with you.”

She was right. This wasn’t going to end well, so why prolong it?

“Okay.”

She startled me when she leaned in and gave me a quick kiss on the cheek. She rushed back to the car and slammed the door before I could even process it.

The remnants of her saliva were stinging my cheek as I walked into the airport in a daze.

I wanted to look at her one last time, so I turned around. Big mistake. Through the glass, I saw that her head was on the steering wheel. I immediately ran back outside to the car and knocked on the window. She refused to look up and started the engine, so I knocked harder. She finally turned to me and got out, wiping her tears. “Did you forget something?”

Before I knew it, my mouth was on hers. My heart was doing the thinking at this point. I wouldn’t open my lips because I’d convinced myself that this was innocent so long as I couldn’t taste her. It was a firm, desperate kiss, and I didn’t even know what it meant.

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