Authors: Stephanie Brother
© 2015 Stephanie Brother
All Rights Reserved. This book or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express permission of the publisher except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.
This book is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, or places, events or locations is purely coincidental. The characters are all productions of the author’s imagination.
Please note that this work is intended only for adults over the age of 18 and all characters represented are 18 or over.
Cover image: Depositphoto/alessandroguerr
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Anya stretched to put the star on top of the Christmas tree just as Cade came up behind her. She drew in a deep breath as his body pressed against hers. Her hand trembled a bit when she surrendered the star to him, and she couldn’t resist leaning back against his muscular frame as he moved forward to put the star on the highest bough of the six-foot tree.
For just a second, she let herself savor the feel of him before the sounds coming from the kitchen reminded her they weren’t alone. She couldn’t lean against her stepbrother like that. She couldn’t even allow herself to think about him in any other way besides brother.
With a small sigh, she stepped away from him and bent down to plug in the lights. When she stood up, she caught Cade staring at her butt in the tight jeans, and the confirmation of their mutual attraction was both dismaying and satisfying. It boosted her feminine ego to know he wanted her too, even as it made it that much harder to resist the forbidden.
Pretending like it wasn’t impossibly hard to turn away from him, she left her stepbrother in the living room to join his mom in the kitchen, where Vivian was preparing the start of what would be the lavish Christmas Eve feast served later that night. As she worked silently, she reminded herself again why it would never work with her stepbrother.
He’d only held that status for five years, and he had already been in the Army when their parents married during her senior year of high school, but that was long enough for everyone to deem them family. They got along well and were friends, so his mother and her father considered their blended family a success.
Dad and Viv had no idea how she longed to run her hands over his taut frame, or how often she thought about him. How many times was he the image she masturbated to in the night? More importantly, how many nights had she lain awake worrying about him while he was in Iraq? He was home for leave, but he’d be going to Afghanistan after the New Year, and the cycle of worry would begin again.
She hated that he was a soldier, and she hated he was her stepbrother. Most of all, she hated that she couldn’t have the one man she loved because his mother had married her father.
It was after midnight, so officially Christmas morning, but it wasn’t the excitement of opening presents that kept Anya awake. It was the knowledge the forbidden man she ached for slept on the other side of the wall.
Finally abandoning the pretense of trying to sleep, she got out of bed and slipped on a fluffy red robe and matching slippers. The candy cane embroidered on the lapel gave it a festive feel, and she knew Viv would be pleased she had worn the silly gift she’d opened after dinner last night with the extended family. Either that, or she would revel in the perceived humiliation of her stepdaughter.
Christmas morning was just for their small family, and she padded down the hardwood stairs to the kitchen, wishing she could unwrap Cade. She hadn’t seen him in eleven months until his return home three days ago, and she had half-hoped she had recovered from her illicit crush.
Except she hadn’t, and it had been the longest separation yet. Seeing him again when her dad had brought him home from the airport had made it hard to breathe, and it had taken everything she had not to throw herself into his arms and kiss him with all the pent-up passion she’d been hiding for the past five years. Instead, she’d settled for a quick hug.
Still brooding about her situation, she almost collided with the object of her thoughts before realizing he was leaving the kitchen she was about to enter. Anya put up her hands to brace herself, and they found purchase on his muscled chest. He wore nothing but a pair of flannel pajama pants slung low on his hips, leaving the rest of his body free for her visual inspection.
She stared at his ripped muscles, unable to resist the compulsion to touch the dagger tattoo on his shoulder blade. “Did it hurt?” she whispered.
“A little, but some things are worth the pain.”
She looked up at him, her brown eyes seeking out his sparkling blue ones. Entranced, she reached up to touch the longish strands of blondish brown hair framing his face. “Aren’t you supposed to have this short?”
He lifted a shoulder. “Yeah, but things can get hectic in the suck. You don’t always get a chance to go by the barber on a regular basis.”
Her fingers continued to stroke his hair, as her other hand traced the point of the dagger to where it ended a couple of inches above his nipple. She knew she shouldn’t, but she couldn’t resist the urge to brush her fingers over the taut bud. “I like your hair longer. It’s sexy.”
He groaned, and his hands were suddenly in her long blonde locks. “I like your hair long too, Anya. I keep picturing it spread all over my pillow or covering my stomach as you suck my cock.”
She stiffened at the blunt words, but not from outrage. Longing coursed through her. “You feel it too?” she asked in a quiet whisper.
“Yeah, baby, I have since the first night I met you.” His blue eyes darkened. “I wanted to fuck you on that restaurant table while my mom and your dad were busy discussing wedding details.”
“Cade.” She exhaled his name more than speaking it as she lifted her face. His mouth was on hers a second later, his hand tangled possessively in her hair to tug back her head. He was forcing her to open to him, but she didn’t need coercion. She wanted to be his, and his touch gentled a moment later.
His mouth was gentle against hers as they shared their first kiss. She softened her mouth and parted her lips when his tongue stroked her. He tasted like hot cocoa and peppermint when he breached her mouth, and she stroked his tongue with hers.
Cade deepened the kiss as he backed her closer to the sink. She clung to him as they moved, whimpering slightly when her bottom collided with the counter. A second later, he lifted her up and set her on the Formica beside the double sink, positioning himself between her thighs.
“I’ve been dreaming about this for years.” He whispered the confession against her ear before biting her lobe carefully.
“Me too.” She gasped when his hand slid between her thighs, and then giggled when he made a sound of appreciation at finding her bare under the robe. “I always sleep naked.”
“Fuck, Anya, you’ve just given me jerk-off material for at least a month.”
Tentatively, she touched the bulge pressing against the flannel pants. “You don’t have to jerk off anymore, at least while you’re home.” Feeling a curious mixture of brave and shy, she buried her face against his neck and nibbled at the column of his throat as she dipped her hand into his pants to explore the velvet shaft waiting for her.
“I know we shouldn’t do this.”
It sounded like a token protest, but she echoed it. “I know. Our parents will freak. Your mom already barely tolerates me. If I seduce her baby—”
Cade groaned, though it was difficult to tell if it was because of the way she pressed against the V of his cock or from her words. “Are you kidding, baby? Bill would try to mount my balls on the wall next to his prize buck head.”
She shuddered slightly. “I hate that thing.”
He chuckled. “But what about my balls?”
Slipping her hand lower, she caressed his tender sac. “They’re still there, so maybe you’d like to use them?”
His large hand took firm possession of her chin, angling her face up to look at him. “If we do this, I’m not sneaking around. It isn’t some fling, and it isn’t a dirty secret. You’re mine, and I don’t care what other people think. Can you live with that?”
She nodded, not having to hesitate or think about it. “I don’t care what they think.” Biting her lip, she summoned her courage to ask, “Is this just while you’re on leave? Or do we have a future?”
She sighed, leaning against him. “Six more months.”
Anya lifted her head. “You have six more months in the Army, and I have six more months in college. After that, we can start our lives together.”
He froze. “You want me to leave the Army?”
She warred with her answer for a long time before slowly nodding. “I get so scared when you’re gone, and I don’t want to spend months at a time without you. If we’re going to do this, it’s together, and there can’t really be a together if we’re separated all the time.” She dipped her head, afraid to hear his rejection. “Can you think about that?”
A second later, he nudged up her chin to kiss her again. “If the choice is between you and the Army, there is no contest. I want you, Anya, and not just for tonight.”
A huge grin broke through, and her mood lightened. She grasped his cock more firmly. “But you can have me tonight too.”
“Oh, good.” His fingers were sure and confident when he untied the sash of her robe. Slowly, he peeled back the soft terry cloth to reveal her nude body. “The best present ever, Anya.”
She shot a cautious look toward the doorway of the kitchen. “Should we go somewhere more private?”
He muttered something as he buried his face into her hair. A second later, he scooped her up, and she instinctively locked her thighs around his hips to support herself. It was a bit of a shock when he carried her out to the sun porch, which was chilly. She shivered until he flipped on the gas fireplace and laid her near it on the plush rug.
It wasn’t exactly private, but she was beyond caring at the moment. All she could think about was finally having Cade inside her. He parted her thighs to lie between them, his fingers seeking out the sensitive bundle of nerves in her core as he began kissing her again.
She dug her fingers into his flesh, holding him as tightly against her as she could. His head moved lower to suck her nipple as he stroked her clit. She thrust against him, moaning with need that had been denied for far too long.
He seemed to coax an orgasm from her effortlessly, and she shook under the intensity, only vaguely aware of him pulling away just long enough to pull his cock from his pants. Her core was still contracting with pleasure when the head of his cock pressed against her folds.
His firm tone forced her to focus on him, and she pushed past the post-orgasmic euphoria still rippling through her. “Yes, Cade?”
“Are you on the pill?”
She shook her head. “I use the shot.”
He gave a sound that indicated his deep relief before his large erection surged inside her. He was bigger than anyone who had gone before him, but it didn’t hurt as he stretched and filled her to the point where she was whimpering with pleasure.
“You’re mine.” He spoke the words intensely, and she believed him.
Unable to find the ability to speak in the heat of the moment, she settled for wrapping her legs around him, grasping his buttocks in her hands, and pulling him deeply into her slick heat. As Cade made love to her, she surrendered to the ancient rhythm, cocooned by passion and the strength of his promise.
Six months later…
“Is it true?” She almost screamed the words at him through the haze of tears blinding her.
“No, dammit, no!” His pleading tone gave him away. “You promised me.” She hadn’t believed Vivian when the other woman had told her gleefully that Cade had re-upped for another four-year stint. He had promised to leave the Army behind, and he hadn’t uttered a word about having changed his mind in the four days he’d been home for her college graduation.
“Please try to understand. The Army means a lot to me.”
“More than I do obviously.” She scrubbed at the hot tears streaming down her face. “You promised.”
He licked his lips. “I really tried, but I can’t just walk away from my responsibilities.”
“Instead you’re walking away from me.” She glared at him. “It’s because of your mom, isn’t it? She’s been so angry since she found us on Christmas morning.”
“Bill hasn’t been easygoing about it either.”
She snorted. “As if you’d know. You’ve been gone almost the whole time. I’m the one bearing the brunt of their disapproval and lectures about how inappropriate our relationship is.” Unable to resist the impulse, she poked him in the chest. “I ended up moving out because they’ve been insufferable, but I never considered breaking up with you.”
He captured her hand. “We aren’t breaking up. We’re just giving them a little more time to accept we love each other. They’ll come around.”
Filled with bitterness, she jerked her hand from his. “No, they won’t. We’re through, Cade Jackson. I won’t wait another four years for you, and I won’t spend my life terrified about what will happen to you.”
“Anya, you don’t mean that.”
She glared at him, hardening her heart. “You promised,” she whispered. “You promised and you lied. It’s over.”
He did the worst thing ever. Even as her heart was screaming for him to fight for her, to convince her he still loved her though he had broken his promise about leaving the military, he said, “I understand. I love you too much to put you through that, Anya.”
She swallowed the thick lump in her throat, almost shocked by his words. It was the outcome she had braced herself for, but she hadn’t really believed they would break up. Not after fighting their parents’ objections for the past six months while counting down the days they could be together again.