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Ashlynn Sweeney has been in love with Reese for ten years, which would be no problem were he not her stepbrother. Being near him is unbearable, but Ashlynn likes to think she plays it cool, and his living on campus definitely makes life easier.
When Reese comes home for spring break, Ashlynn does her best to avoid him. Yet temptation’s hard to resist, and discovering the object of her affections masturbating to pornography is about as tempting as it gets. Though she flees before they can lock eyes, Reese isn’t about to let Ashlynn off that easily. Instead, he suggests they watch the rest together.
Ashlynn’s low on options. She can either face the forbidden with her head held high or brace herself for uncomfortable family gatherings. Either way, her life’s about to change...she just doesn’t know how much.
First official day of spring break. Ostensibly, nothing had changed in the house, but the air felt different. Alive. Electric. Ashlynn likened it to the sensation she experienced before giving an interview, or facing a class full of students during oral presentation week.
Granted, the world seemed different whenever Reese was around. Her stepbrother normally left within five seconds of walking through the front door, but he'd come home from the dorms on Friday and spent the night. If that weren't enough, he'd then shocked the crap out of her by staying through the weekend. Usually, he hit the road with his friends for excitement, alcohol, and scantily clad women. But for whatever reason, he hadn't followed his usual script.
Reese--even his name tasted delicious--was home.
Home, rather than anywhere else. Home, where Ashlynn, two years his junior, still lived with her mom and Reese's dad. Where she spent most of her free time trying to keep her thoughts as far from Reese as possible. Right now, sharing a roof with him again for however long, she couldn't shake the fantasies so easily.
Perhaps he would stay throughout the entire break. Here. Alone with her.
How should she feel if he decided to stay? She loved having him home almost as much as she dreaded it. People said girls matured faster than boys did, but Ashlynn didn't think that meant crushing hard at age nine, from the moment she laid eyes on him. Childhood crushes were supposed to have an expiration date; they weren't supposed to grow into an unhealthy obsession of catastrophic proportions.
His absence had made the past two years more tolerable. Although she missed him, Ashlynn had an easier time focusing on her own college preparations and social life with Reese away at school. She could pretend to show mild interest whenever someone asked her out, which happened often. Ashlynn Sweeney had been blessed with classic girl-next door looks--strawberry-blonde hair, a curvy hourglass figure, dimples and a winning smileóand she appeared invisible to no one except the one person whose attention she most craved.
But that craving was wrong. Reese had been her brother for over a decade now, and lusting after someone the law declared "family" violated all kinds of social norms.
Still, she missed him when he was gone, even if she had no idea what to do with herself when he came home. For the last few days, she'd wandered around in a stupor, trying to come up with something dazzling to say to him, and feeling lame whenever he asked her a question and she had to struggle for a coherent thought.
Today, the folks had vacated the premises; Ashlynn and Reese were alone.
Well, Ashlynn wandered the house alone. Feeling lame. Reese remained in his bedroom. Avoiding her. Being cool Mr. College and likely chatting up some skanky sorority bitch.
Ashlynn sighed, pausing in her trek down the hallway to cast a forlorn glance at Reese's bedroom door. Not a morning guy, he'd stay in there until at least three o'clock. She'd better find something to do. Something beyond wishing Reese would look at her and see anything but his annoying brat sister.
And God, she hated the word "sister." She and Reese shared zero strands of DNA. Their parents had married one another: end of story. Granted, Ashlynn hadn't minded. She'd loved Reese immediately, just for the wrong reasons. Reasons that would never cross Reese's mind.
Ashlynn turned to continue downstairs, but something caught her ear. She paused once more. A voice? A nearly indiscernible sound, so soft she thought she'd imagined it. The sound came again.
A very womanly moan.
"Oh, you gotta be kidding me," she muttered, turning on her heel. If Reese had brought a date into the house right under her nose . . . .
Though, she reminded herself, Reese had every right to his personal life. He couldn't know his stepsister secretly pined after him. His high school parade of girlfriends had all seen his room at one point or another. Ashlynn had endured more than one tearfully sleepless night, imagining him with other girls. Really, her stepbrother had every right to bring someone over. Hell, Ashlynn could bring home someone, too. They were both legally adults, after all. The time for sneaking around had officially passed.
On closer inspection, though, Ashlynn noted a definite absence of real-life girly sighs coming from Reese's room. The womanly sound she'd heard came from the television, which shouldn't surprise her. Reese was a healthy, red-blooded male and she knew he had a penchant for jerking it whenever the mood took him. When they had actively shared a roof, she had lurked outside his bedroom during his private time. Listening in was a sick fetish, she knew, but nothing got her hotter than hearing his faint whimper and moan, her mind conjuring images of what her eyes couldn't see.
Apparently, old habits die hard.
"I'm sick," Ashlynn murmured, wandering toward her stepbrother's door. "I need help, because I'm sick."
As she drifted closer, the sounds on the television became more prominent, and the cheesy music and the heavy moans left little room for mystery.
Porn. She'd never watched porn, but she had enough street knowledge to know what it sounded like. Plus, and more to the point, her eavesdropping had long ago revealed Reese loved porn, although she'd never caught him actually watching any. Perhaps he kept the sound muted to spare the folks' sensibilities. He had not muted it today.
He also hadn't closed the door all the way.
Just walk away. Turn around and walk away.
But she couldn't walk away.
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