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I smelled him the moment he stepped in through the door. Like how the hunted catches a whiff of their predator and bolts. I should have bolted. Because for all intents and purposes, he was dangerous. But it was his scent that kept me locked in place, imprisoned without the bars. Cigarette smoke and Aqua di Gio in a half-assed attempt to cover it up. But also snow and damp, like he carried the storm inside him. He pounded his boots on the mat like they had done something to offend him and handed off his jacket to his girlfriend, my half-sister, Carmen. She took it, without any trace of the smile she’d had the last time they visited. Was that really two Christmases ago now? She looked different. Skinnier. I wasn’t even in the entryway and the cigarette smoke that was freed from under his coat snaked around my throat, threatening to close it if I didn’t inhale. God, I’d missed the illicitness of the scent, my nose like a bloodhound sussing out others who hadn’t given up on the habit as easily as I had and taking advantage of the free rush. I gave into it, let its tendrils inside my lungs with a deep, calm breath. It undid the months of quitting I’d endured, but it was worth it as the mint and nicotine wormed their way through my nervous system, releasing the holiday stress that had accumulated. My shoulders were still tight, but I could breathe again. Funny how carbon monoxide and hydrogen cyanide made that more possible than clean, fresh oxygen and a blended family shoved under one roof. Carmen rolled her eyes at me, shoving his balled-up jacket in my arms when she passed. “Don’t even,” she quipped. “I just can’t right now.” Don’t even what? I knew better than to ask her about her relationships, and I knew damn well enough to shut my mouth entirely at Thanksgiving. Why the fuck did we still put on the fake faces and pretend to like each other? I was pretty sure we’d all rather be anywhere else. Like, literally, anywhere else but there. I, for one, wished I was at a bar. One where they still allowed smoking. Thanks to Everett for that. Everett who came in smelling like lost dreams and looking like he’d either just done some pretty kinky stuff, or he was still going for the outdoorsy thing. I liked it, thought he was sexy in a bang-you-in-a-tent-at-the-bottom-of-a-canyon kind of way. Did Carmen know he still smoked? She had to, right? If she did, there’s no way she would approve. Because the only definitive thing I knew about my half-sister was her disapproval of anything off the rack when it came to fashion, and that her “body is a temple.” “I’ll take the coat,” Everett offered, with all the enthusiasm of a dog being led to have his balls chopped off. He took the jacket, and I nodded and led him to where he could hang it up. He’d only been to this house once before and it was cavernous with its nooks and crannies filled with shit, or designed to store other people’s shit. “Sorry about that,” he said. “We’re going through some stuff.” His voice was heavy, like it was lined with regret, or something too thick to swallow. My stomach flipped despite the immediate response from my brain telling me to back off. He was taken, sex-laced voice and all. “You don’t owe me an explanation. Certainly not an apology. Especially if you have a cigarette I can bum.” The first smile I’d seen on the poor guy tipped the corners of his mouth up. Not quite, but almost enough to look real. He reached back in his jacket and procured the small foil box I’d missed as much as the habit itself. He put a finger to his lips, miming silence. I wasn’t about to turn him in. Not when he offered the only sanctuary I’d get all day. I mimicked the gesture and added a wink. There it was. His crooked smile, on full display. I always wondered what a guy like Everett was doing with Carmen. He was her polar opposite, and not in a “look-how-much-better-we-make-each-other” kind of way. He was rugged, unkempt. She looked like an airbrushed Instagram post even when she went to check the mail. They’d met at some crunchy granola seminar. Carmen was there to hawk her all-organic line of makeup, and he was there to rig his VW Vanagon with the latest all-weather camp tires and gadgets. He’d left empty-handed, but for Carmen's number tucked in his pocket. Or at least that’s how she told it the first holiday she’d brought him home. He’d barely said two words to us that weekend, deferring to Carmen to tell their meet-cute and resulting move-in two weeks later. I could still recall the dimple in my stepdad’s cheek, evidence of how well he took the news that his youngest daughter was shacking up with a guy she just met. He bit down hard on the inside of his mouth, presumably to stop himself from a knee-jerk dad response that ended up coming out anyway, just in time to ruin dessert. Like he had any right. He’d married my mom a month after meeting her. They were pregnant with my half-brother two months after that. I was fifteen. “Wanna sneak outside?” I asked Everett. His eyes glinted with mischief. “We won’t be missed?” He peered around my shoulder. I followed his gaze to the kitchen, where Dave, my stepdad, Carmen, and Nick, my half-brother were all huddled, admiring Nick’s latest iPhone. “Doubtful. C’mon. It may be the last opening we get before the storm rolls in.” I didn’t mean the actual one that pelted the front door with what was now more ice than snow. I was more worried about the shitstorm that this dinner would turn out to be. We made it as far as the garage, the angry wind and ice foes we weren’t willing to brave, even for a smoke. I cracked the door to the side patio just enough to let the smoke out. A few rogue flurries raged in, stuck to the concrete floor until the ambient temperature melted them to nothing but small puddles. “I thought Carmen made you quit.” It was more a statement than a question since she’d broadcast her herculean feat all over Facebook. Not one of us cared that she and Everett were “getting healthy together for the new year,” or whatever crap she spouted to that effect. He lit the cigarette that was already pressed between my lips, his gaze meeting mine. How hadn’t I noticed before today that one of his eyes was slate gray, the other a dark blue? My stomach lurched again, this time sending a wave of heat through my chest and straight down to my sex. Not cool, Maggie. Not when he’s practically engaged to your sister. Half-sister, the half not related to her screamed. No way was I taking ownership over that woman more than I had to. That part of me was apparently a horny slut who had no shame. “She did. But she lost the right to tell me what to do when she slept with her boss. Well, when I found out she’s been sleeping with the arrogant ass since summer.” He lit his own cigarette and inhaled deeply, closing his eyes. He exhaled and looked right at me, saw through my amazement to my shared hurt. “Sounds familiar,” I said, taking a drag and blowing the smoke out into the snowy abyss. I felt it release a knot deep inside my chest, like the oxygen I’d been breathing in and out the past few months was toxic, not the habit I’d tried—and failed, apparently—to quit. “Yeah, I noticed you were solo this year. No Mark?” I shook my head. “Nope. He’s with his secretary. We’re a couple clichés, you and I, aren’t we?” “Seems like it. And sorry. I know she’s your sister and all. I didn’t mean to dump this on you.” I shrugged. “Half-sister.” It sounded the same coming out of my mouth as it did in my head a few minutes ago, and I felt the heat transfer to my cheeks. I tried for an easy smile, but felt the strain in my lips. Every time I said the word, it brought back why Carmen was there in the first place. The cheating, the evasiveness, the resulting pregnancy. The apple hadn’t fallen far from the tree, had it? Either way, this wasn’t where I wanted our conversation to go. God, I sucked at flirting. “I forgot about all that. Sorry. Anyway, what happened with Mark? Was the secretary before or after you?” “During. And after, I guess. She’s twenty years younger than him, too.” Everett bit the corner of his mouth, flicked his ash into the wind. “Shit, sorry,” I said. “I know there’s an age difference between you and Carmen, too. I just meant that I’ve been replaced by a younger model and it pisses me off. You guys are lucky. You get distinguished when the gray starts to take over your hair. Like, George Clooney distinguished. Women just look old.” I ran a hand through my hair, sucked at the last of the slow burn of the cigarette. I didn’t want it to be over. I wasn’t ready to go back inside. “I’m rambling, sorry. I didn’t mean any offense about your age.” He shook his head, took a step closer to me. When his hand reached out and brushed my cheek, my body erupted in flames. His skin was softer than it looked, especially given the amount of time the man spent outside. “Ash,” he said. “I didn’t want you to get burned.” My skin felt branded where his had grazed it. I wondered what that touch might do to the rest of me. “Ha. Too late for both of us on that count, huh?” “Touche.” But he laughed, and hell if it didn’t sound genuine. He stubbed out his cigarette, tossed it atop the piled snow against the garage. I did the same with mine, imagining my step-father’s face when he found the butts in Spring. “I’m done. You?” “I am, but…” I let my words trail off, not sure how to finish them. I couldn’t look Carmen in the eyes right now and manage to keep my mouth shut. After she knew what I’d been through with Mark and how she’d consoled me? No way would I be able to hide my feelings about Carmen’s indiscretions. And like a magnet, I didn’t want to be pulled away from Everett just yet. Shared disappointment drew me closer, but once there, his musk—smoke and mint—changed the terms of my attraction to him. I wanted him, plain and simple. My chest swelled with lust, each breast aching independently of the other. It had been a long damned semester without Mark. The dating dry spell that followed didn’t help, either. Maybe that’s why I kept imagining Everett’s hands on my body. That and his scent. “But you don’t want to join the family, yet, do you?” “Not yet. I mean, how could she? If I go in there now…” I felt the tremor in my throat, how it shook the words free, changing their pitch to damn near a screech. I don’t know why I felt so strongly about Carmen cheating on Everett, other than the fact that it made her a hypocrite, calling Mark a two-timing asshole when she and I had gone for drinks in September. I’d just found out and not even a fifth of Jack and all the mud-slinging we’d done had made me feel any better. “Then let’s not.” He pulled out two more cigarettes and handed me one. I grinned; the conspiracy we shared added to the pull I felt towards him. He drew in closer to me than he had before, this time bracing an arm over my shoulder on the doorframe. He flicked the lighter, the small flame not near as hot on my skin as Everett’s breath. Fuck, I wanted to taste the menthol on his lips, swirl my tongue around his mouth and suck the smoke right from his lungs. Kill two birds, one stone. He didn’t push back after lighting my cigarette. His proximity reminded my body of each day I hadn’t had a man’s hands, breath, lips, on it. The tension in the air wrapped around both of us, wove between the mere inches that separated our faces. It was cold with the door cracked, but the chill that shuddered through me had nothing to do with the weather. I don’t know who made the first move. I honestly don’t. I only know that one minute I was taking a pull from the cigarette, and the next his lips were on mine. His tongue teased my mouth open, and smoke wafted around us, a blend of both our exhalations. He tasted exactly like he smelled—exactly like I’d hoped. Like mint and smoke and desire. The kiss was hot, just mouths exploring, while our hands still held the lit cigarettes by our sides. Then it was over, the inches back between us, feeling more like miles now that I’d tasted him. It hadn’t alleviated the craving, but rather made it worse. An ache settled on my still-damp lips, tingled my tongue. I wanted to know more, wanted to know everything about this man, off-limits or not. My tights were wet with proof of everything I wanted. When my vision cleared, I saw a bulge in Everett’s pants that pretty much told the same story. Then why had we stopped? Besides the obvious, of course. “I’m sorry, Mags.” My nickname rolling off his tongue was like a thumb pressed to my clit—I flooded with moisture thinking what else his tongue might be capable of making me feel. “I don’t know what happened. But I know for damn sure I didn’t mean to offend you. It’s just… It’s just that when I walked in and saw you tonight, I thought maybe everything would be okay. Then out here, swapping stories, I just, you know. Lost control. I’m really sorry.” Well, the lid was already off the can, so to speak. No use in only sinning halfway. It was that driving thought—that and the desperate need to taste the rest of Everett—that had my body pressed against his, my hands fisted in his hair before I could overthink the whole thing. I sucked his bottom lip into my mouth to nibble on and sate my ache. The moan that followed had my hips rocking into his, my pelvis thrusting as close to his bulge as I could get. “Jesus, Maggie. Can we really do this?” His voice was breathy and uneven. I nodded into his neck, trailing my teeth along the sensitive flesh beneath his earlobe, sucking that into my mouth as well. Like I said, I wanted to taste all of him. I used my foot to shut the door behind us and pressed my palms to Everett’s chest until his back was against the floor-to-ceiling cabinetry my step-father had installed for his “tools”. Only my mom and I knew it was filled with golf stuff and all his trophies from his “glory days” in Villanova on their football defensive line. He hadn’t so much as built a shelf since he moved there. This was a much better use for them, I decided. I mimed a pressed finger to my lips, and he nodded his agreement. With that, I moved my palm over his now-fully-hard cock, rubbing over his jeans while I slid my other hand under his shirt and rolled his nipple in my fingers. He growled, low and heavy. I shook my head, no. He had to be quiet, or we couldn’t do this. Getting caught wasn’t an option. I undid the top button on Everett’s jeans, slid his zipper down, frustrated by the layer of cotton boxer briefs he wore and how it separated me from what I wanted most. Everett’s cock in my mouth. My tongue tasting his skin, his desire, his cum. I pulled his jeans down as far as they would go with the rugged work boots he still donned, and tugged the underwear down to them. His cock sprung free, dark hair nesting at its base. It was short, but thick, and I imagined it filling my pussy later that night. The moisture that had soaked through my panties through to my tights now ran down my leg. Goddamn, it had been too long. I knelt down in front of Everett, my prize at eye level and I grinned up at him as my tongue swirled around his tip. “Christ, Maggie. This is too much.” Not even close. I’d show him too much. He’d endured a cheating partner, and even though we technically weren’t any better, there was an added sweetness in our tryst because it served as the revenge fuck we both needed. I wrapped my hand around Everett’s cock, my mouth close behind. He tasted like salt and the hint of mint from the menthol still on my lips. He was fucking glorious. My hand and mouth closed around him, sliding over his shaft while he thrust with his hips. I slid a finger along the area between his ass and balls and felt the tremor of the growl he swallowed as it rolled through him. I sucked on his tip, letting the drip of his cum linger on my tongue. I heard the door to the garage open, and my hand cupping Everett’s balls felt them tighten. I didn’t release his shaft from my mouth, but slowed down, trailing my tongue along the ridge on the bottom of his penis. His legs shook, but I knew we were protected by the ridiculous raised truck my step-father bought with the house. The tire hid us from view. As long as whoever was there didn’t come around the front of the truck. I looked up at him, and his gaze pleaded with me. He mouthed, “Stop,” but I shook my head as much as I could with his cock still half down my throat. I sucked hard on his tip, grazed it with my teeth. “Everett?” Shit. Carmen. I felt a bubble of laughter building in my chest as I imagined her walking around the garage to find her boyfriend fucking my mouth. That would make for interesting over-turkey talk. “Jesus, it’s cold in here. Dad, you need to get, like a space heater in the garage or something.” Her voice faded and the door closed shut. I felt the strain release in an exhale from Everett’s chest. I let his cock slide out of my mouth, still dripping with my saliva, and gave him a hand job while I used my free hand to shimmy my tights down around my ankles. “Fuck me,” I instructed, turning around and placing my forearms on the wheelbed. “Good God, Mags, you’re so fucking hot. If I’d have known Thanksgiving could be this fun, I’d have come prepared. But I don’t have a—” “It doesn’t matter. I’m covered.” I rocked my hips back, dancing my bare ass over his cock. I slid the back of my pussy along his shaft, until his hands wrapped around my hips. They slid under my shirt, cupped my breasts over my lace bra. When he pulled down the thin fabric and squeezed my bare flesh, I whimpered with delight. He was right—who knew Thanksgiving could be so damned fun. His tip teased my opening and I shivered with aching need. I wanted him inside me. I bucked my hips against him, teasing him in further. He took control then, thrusting his cock as deep as he could go. God, he was thick. He didn’t hit my walls all the way in my center, but he stretched me, consumed what he could, and damn if it wasn’t just the right amount. If he’d been long as well, it would be too much to take. This, I could work with. I moved my hips so that he slid in and out of my now-slick pussy, felt every nerve ending as if his cock was the only thing that could ignite them. I moaned with appreciation. “Shhh,” he reminded me, putting a finger on my lips. I drew it in my mouth, sucking on it. It was thick and stubby like the shaft that fucked me from behind. He withdrew it, saliva thick on the tip of his finger. He pressed it to my clit and rubbed slow at first. Then, he moved quicker, matching the pace of his thrusting. I groaned, barely audibly, but it was all I could do to swallow the scream of pure pleasure that built in my chest as my breasts filled with want and a climax rolled through my stomach, slid south. His hips pounded into my ass, pressing my pelvis against the cool metal of the truck. “I’m close,” I warned him. My pussy echoed that, clenching around his girth. “Me, too,” he whispered into my back. The heat of his breath was in direct opposition to the chill of steel on the outside of my pussy. The whole experience was a test of sensation overload, one I was enjoying every minute of. His cock convulsed through an orgasm and warm liquid slid down my leg as his finger worked my clit into an orgasm of its own. He reached around and covered my mouth with his palm as he thrust twice more, hard and deep. I cried out against his flesh, my pussy sated and throbbing. He slid out of me. His length was still pressed to my ass, wet and half-hard when he leaned over me, one hand bracing himself against the truck, while the other wrapped around my waist, absently fondling my breast under my shirt. “That was fucking amazing, Mags.” I nodded, my breath still coming in spurts that matched the pulsing of my clit. “Tell me we can do that again tonight.” “We can,” I said. “You know, when you need a smoke break.” I laughed, his weight heavy on my back, but not uncomfortable. Liquid still poured out of me. “Is that what we’re calling this now?” he asked, his finger gliding between my folds. He pulled at my clit, rubbed his thumb hard against it. I shuddered as another orgasm built in half the time as the first. Jesus, he knew how to get my body to do what he wanted, didn’t he? “I think we should make our way back inside. What do you think?” he asked as his finger left me, our combined moisture on his finger. He rubbed it on his shirt. “So I can smell you on me at dinner.” I laughed and stood up, pulling my tights back over my hips that were bruised by his hands, branded by his pelvis. “Why don’t you head in first, then I’ll follow around the front. I know a secret way out of here.” He nodded, then bent down to kiss me, his tongue thrusting inside my mouth with the same ferocity as it had before we fucked. I wanted him again, the same inverse reaction as before—more craving the more we did. That might be dangerous. “I’ll see you soon. And hey, Mags?” He glanced over his shoulder at me. “Yeah, Everett?” “You have any plans for Christmas? I have a feeling I’m gonna have an empty room.” I smiled and my breasts filled with desire again. “I think we can work something out. Why don’t we talk about it tonight. Say midnight? I’ve got this strange craving for menthol in the middle of the night.” He smiled, winked and blew me a kiss. “It’s a date.” I left out the side door that we’d let the smoke escape from, feeling the holiday spirit for the first time in years. Maybe smoking wasn’t the healthiest habit to keep, but for the rest of the night, I figured it was worth the risk. KL Written by Kristine Lynn Kristine is a university English instructor by day, and a romance/erotica author by night. Her first erotic romance novel is due out in December, and in the meantime, she spends every free minute exploring her own writing and sexual limitations, as well as concocting happily-ever-afters for other strong, fierce women.