The whole of the extended Franks clan had shown up for Christmas Eve. There were Franks from Denver, Franks from Lincoln and Franks from Kansas City. Ironically there were no Franks from Frankfurt, Connor figured they couldn’t make it. Not that it mattered to him, less Franks meant less people to point and whisper.
He wasn’t the only one receiving a cold familial reception, just as much frostiness was reserved for the young woman who accompanied him. Rebecca looked the same at twenty-nine as she had at nineteen. Her gingery hair and soft brown eyes were just as striking now as they were ten years ago.
The way she filled out her maroon calico dress made him proud to have her by his side. She looked like some kind of hot farmer’s daughter, which he supposed she was.
“Connor and Becky, right?” A plump, red-faced man, who looked to be a few years older than his own thirty-two, grabbed Connor’s hand. “I’m your cousin Billy Franks, from your Dad’s side.”
“Hence the name, Billy Franks,” Connor said earning a giggle from Rebecca.
Billy’s almond eyes squinted as Connor’s quip sailed right over his receding hairline. He faked a shrimp-scented laugh and clapped Connor on the back anyway. “You’re the one who moved to Buffalo, right?” Connor nodded. “What about you sweetheart, where are you living now?” His breath was hurled Rebecca’s way.
“Buffalo,” she said blushing.
“Oh, must be convenient living so close to your big brother.” This time Connor’s face went scarlet. “How do you like it out there?”
“They have great chicken wings, nice and spicy,” Connor said.
“Ooh, I like spicy. I’ve been eating the heck out of that spicy shrimp your mom set out.”
“I can see that,” Connor said trying to keep a safe distance.
“Well, nice to talk to you again.” Billy smiled and turned, probably on the tail of some more shrimp.
“That’s why we can never have children,” Connor kidded his sister. “Do you want to see a double dose of those genes getting passed down?”
She looked at the floor and smiled.
Connor saw another of his cousins drag Billy away from the buffet. She whispered something in the fat man’s ear. Billy looked at Connor and Rebecca, his mouth hung wide open, ringed with cocktail sauce.
Connor took his sister by the hand and led her to the front door. He didn’t think his mother or older sister had ever blabbed about the two of them to anyone, but he couldn’t be sure. “I’m going to get some air,” he whispered in her ear.
Connor sat on the steps and watched as his breath hovered before him in a steamy fog, then dispersed in the winter air. The old farmhouse and barn stood out amongst the housing editions that were beginning to spring up all around it. Bulldozers and cement trucks sat motionless in the fields. Abandoned and snow-covered, they waited patiently for December 26th. White flight had found it’s way to the farthest reaches of Kansas, as Owens Mill was on the cusp of transforming from farm town to suburb.
So much could change in just ten years, he thought. Change could be scary, he imagined what this old place would look like in another ten years and shivered.
“Hi, I’m Lori, this is my brother Ryan.” The girl’s voice startled Connor, he hopped off the porch step. The boy waved and then stuffed his hands under his arms, it was freezing without a coat. Conner guessed that the boy was around twelve or so and the girl couldn’t be any older than ten.
He recognized them, he had met them at his big sister’s wedding. “You’re Jan’s step-kids,” Connor said. They both nodded.
“I guess that kind of makes me your Uncle Connor.” He rose from the porch stoop and offered his hand to each of them.
“Todd Junior couldn’t make it?” he asked.
“No, he’s spending Christmas with his real dad,” the girl answered.
“He doesn’t know what he’s missing,” Connor snickered.
“You must not be into the whole family thing either,” the boy, Ryan, said.
“Given a choice between being around those people and freezing my butt off…” Connor blew warm air on his raw hands. “Let’s just say I stand by my choice.”
“So what disease do you have?” Ryan asked. Connor wondered what those relatives had been telling the boy. “We have step-child syndrome, to be avoided at all cost.”
“Ah that. Don’t worry they’ll work up an immunity after repeated contact.” He sighed. “What I have, time apparently won’t heal.”
“Connor, honey,” it was Rebecca, “come in before you freeze.” She saw the kids and bit her bottom lip.
The rest of the night went the same way, other than a brief chat with his newly minted brother-in-law Barry, the rest of the family avoided both he and Rebecca.
Connor was in the kitchen after the party had quieted down. He was drinking a glass of water at the sink when Rebecca came in. “Connor,” she wrapped her arms around him. “Look what I swiped from Uncle Sandy’s stupid hat.” She held a sprig of plastic mistletoe over her head.
That was how this had all began. She had kissed him under the mistletoe that first time. He knew they shouldn’t, but could no more stop himself now than he could ten years ago. He bent down and pressed his lips to hers. She closed her eyes as they kissed. A hissing gasp from the kitchen door separated them.
Jan, their older sister averted her eyes as she carried an empty platter to the sink. “You promised you wouldn’t do that,” she said glaring at Rebecca. “What if mom sees you?”
“What if Mom sees? You think she doesn’t know? You think everyone else doesn’t know?! The way Connor and I feel about each other isn’t going to change, not ever.” Connor put his arm around Rebecca’s back.
“Fine, if you want to kill mom go right ahead. You can pull up your dress right here on the kitchen table and let your brother put a load in you.”
Connor looked at his older sister. “Jan, we’re not trying to hurt Mom.”
“Like you weren’t trying to hurt Dad?” Jan leveled a finger at Connor. “Was it just a coincidence that he had his stroke six months after catching his little girl in bed with his only son?”
“We’ll just go,” Connor said. He couldn’t deal with this anymore, not even for Rebecca’s sake.
“Wait, don’t,” Jan said. She looked at her little sister and started to cry. “I’m sorry. I don’t think I’ll ever accept what you two are doing, but I still love you, both of you.”
“Everyone who’s going is gone,” their mother said carrying a few trash bags full of discarded wrappings. She never asked what had upset Jan. Connor figured she knew.
She set the plastic bags on the tile floor. “Rebecca, you and Connor…You and your brother will have to sleep in the barn.”
“Because you think we’re animals?” Connor asked.
His mother’s eyes narrowed, she glared at him. “Because Jan and her husband and their children are using the guest rooms.” Rebecca pulled him outside, away from the brewing confrontation.
The insulated barn was a little more bearable than the frigid farmhouse. There were two cots set up, spaced several feet apart. A not so subtle hint from their mother. Connor pushed the musty old cots next to each other, then followed his sister as she climbed a ladder into the loft. Crates and boxes were arranged in dusty stacks. “I know the blankets are up here somewhere,” Rebecca said wedging herself between two huge crates.
“Maybe she wants us to freeze to death out here,” Connor said watching his sister’s butt through the maroon dress as she dug around.
“Maybe she thinks you’ll be enough to keep me warm,” she said wiggling that perfect bottom. She extracted a little wooden chest. “This looks promising.”
Connor came over for a closer look. “Don’t tell me you found the Christmas presents again,” he said.
The chest was filled with photographs. They were pictures of he and Rebecca together, spanning childhood to young adulthood. He had seen them all before, they were from the family albums that used to be in the living room.
Connor flipped through the pictures. He shuffled to a picture from the Christmas it had all started, he and Rebecca were sitting on the sofa together, she wore a pale green sweatshirt and he balanced a laptop computer on his knees. Their hands were on the cushion next to each other, touching ever so slightly, just hours removed from their first time.
“So she stashed all of our pictures up here?” Connor asked. “Does this mean we’ve been officially disinherited?”
Rebecca closed the chest and ran her slim fingers over the polished lid. “I don’t think so,” she said. “Look how much thicker the dust is on the other boxes up here.” She handed the chest to Connor. “I’m going to get ready for bed, I’ll get some blankets from the house.”
He opened the chest again and thumbed through the photos.
There was a sound below. “You forget something, Beck?” Connor called. The ladder creaked and a gray head peeked into the loft. “Mom?” Connor closed the chest.
“I left the blankets down on your beds,” she said climbing the rest of the way up. She saw the chest he was holding. “Your sister found that?” Connor nodded. “That figures.”
“Why, mom?” Connor started to say but a piece of dust caught in his throat. “Why did you hide our pictures up here, are you that ashamed?” More of that damn dust, now it was making his eyes water.
“Oh baby, no,” she said sitting beside him. “These are all copies, every last one of them. I have the originals in my bedroom.” She put an arm around her son. “They were supposed to be a gift for the two of you, so try and act surprised tomorrow, okay.” Hanson nodded dabbing his irritated eyes with the sleeve of his jacket. She pulled open the chest and extracted a picture from the very back. “Want to see my favorite one.”
She handed him the photo, it was of he, Beck, Jan and his dad together at the park. He was young, probably around three or four. Rebecca was still a baby and curled up in his arms. Jan and their dad were looking down as if it were the cutest thing they had ever seen. His mother reached down and touched the face of the boy in the picture, before placing it with the others. “You’ll always be my little boy,” she said as she climbed down the ladder and left him with his allergies.
“What was that all about?” Rebecca asked brushing back her ginger hair and unfastening her silver earrings. She must have passed their mother on her way back to the barn.
“We were just talking.”
Rebecca had on a pair of red flannel pajamas. He whistled. “You make one sexy lumberjack,” he said as he reached the bottom of the ladder.
She started to giggle. He asked if she was alright. “I was just thinking of all the times we almost got caught up there.” She pointed towards the loft. “Remember our secret makeout spot?”
“Up by the big window,” he said with a nod. “One of us always had to keep a lookout for Dad or Mom.”
Her smile melted. “I miss him, Connor. I miss Dad so much.” She cried as she came to his arms. “What if we did kill him.”
“Beck, don’t be ridiculous. Jan was just upset, she didn’t mean it.”
“You didn’t see him like I did that day Connor, you didn’t look in Daddy’s eyes. He found me in your bed and a little of him died.”
Connor shook his head. “Smoking and bacon are what killed him, you heard what the doctor said.”
“It’s been six years, why does Mom still hate us?”
“She doesn’t hate us, we’re her children.”
“She hates that we’re together,” Rebecca countered. “They all do.”
“Only Mom and Jan know about us. No one else, the others are still upset that we weren’t at Dad’s funeral.” He brushed a tear from her cheek. They had wanted to go to the funeral, but they had been too afraid.
She kissed him and went to stuff the earrings in her suitcase. The kiss had been electric, they always were. Connor tried to calm himself down as he changed out of his shirt and jacket and into a thermal undershirt.
“Oh Connor,” Rebecca was on the bottom rung of the ladder looking up toward the loft. She only had the top half of her pajamas on. Her butt, still perfect at twenty-nine, stuck out proudly in a pair of navy blue panties. “Take your little sister to her favorite spot,” she whined, climbing a few rungs as he got closer.
He stood below her and caressed her bare leg. Rebecca’s gold painted toenails twinkled in the fluorescent lighting. He craned his head and looked up her shirt, he could see her brown nipples harden and wrinkle as they rubbed the soft flannel. He let her get all the way to the top before he started after her.
She was waiting for him, on all fours, those dark blue panties jutted out from beneath the flannel. Rebecca was even more beautiful than she was ten years ago. He fell to his knees and waited for her crawl to him. She nuzzled up against him like a kitten. He reached down and unbuttoned her plaid top. She mewled as he reached inside the fabric and tweaked her erect nipples. She took the shirt completely off and gave him a naughty smile.
“Your turn.” Rebecca grabbed the hem of his thermal shirt and yanked it over his torso. The fit was tight over his broad shoulders and neck but she got it off. She glanced behind her, to the window that overlooked the house. The spot where the two siblings had made love numerous times, when they could find no other haven from their parents. “Carry me?”
She didn’t have to beg, Connor wouldn’t deny his baby sister anything. He got to his feet and gathered her half-naked body in his arms. “You’ve gotten heavier since last time,” he said.
She slapped his arm and then rested her soft hair on his shoulder as he carried her across the dusty floor. His bare footprints marked a trail to the spot where they would couple. Outside the big window, snow fell in the doomed fields that surrounded the farm. The lights in their mother’s house winked out, one by one. The lights in the barn would remain on for a while, Connor thought. When Rebecca got this worked up she always kept him up half the night.
He set her on a little bench in front of the window, one that he had nailed together specifically for this purpose. Good thing Mom never found out what it was for, it would have been thrown out years ago.
He bent his head close to the dark blue cloth that covered her treasure, a treasure no one else had access to. He inhaled her aroma, some things only got better with age, he decided. Connor leaned closer and took the delicate elastic waistband in his teeth. He tugged the panties down, his nose traveling through soft brown curls as he did. She lifted her butt and he slid the dark blue cotton all the way over her smooth, supple legs. He crushed the fabric against his face and smelled her heady scent.
“Still obsessed with my panties?” she asked.
“Still obsessed with you,” he replied.
“Oh Connor,” she whimpered as he pressed his tongue to her labia. He lapped her juices for a while, but he wasn’t content with just tasting her, he had to devour her. He worked his tongue inside of her channel, like it was a wriggling, slobbering phallus. She was sweating and tensing, he knew how close she was. “Connor.” She grabbed his hair and pulled him away. Even as he was being separated from her, he stretched his tongue out hoping for another taste.
“You can go down on me when we get home. This may be the last time we can do it properly out here.”
He nodded. Connor thought he must have looked like a deviant, kneeling there, with her moisture clinging to his chin.
Connor wriggled out of his jeans and jockeys. Rebecca leaned back and opened her legs wider. His butt tensed as he pressed against her opening. He leaned heavily on the bench, he remembered how he had scoured it with sandpaper after Rebecca started getting splinters in some very embarrassing places. He pushed in to the hilt. It was good to be home. He slid in and out of her snug channel, she fit him perfectly. They had had a decade to mold to each other’s every contour.
Her mouth worked like a fish as he thrust in and withdrew, a process repeated over and over. His shaft massaged her sensitive clit, she was moaning and panting just seconds from crossing the finish line.
Her tunnel tightened around his penis, milking and sucking. She was cumming, that was all the permission he needed to let himself go. He took Jan’s advice from this evening and ‘put a load’ in his little sister. Her pussy spasmed and pumped every last drop of semen from his wilting dick.
An hour and another session later, Rebecca finally relented to going to bed. They lay on the cots, pressed close together, bathing in the afterglow of their passion.
“Connor,” she whined, her hand traveled through the hairs on his chest.
“Beck, tomorrow is Christmas, we really need to sleep.”
“That’s not what I want, you dummy. I want to know what you got me for Christmas.”
“Oh, no,” he said. “I’ve finally got you this year, it’s where even your diabolical mind could never find it.” Every year of the past ten, she had found her present early and managed to trump it with a much more expensive gift, not this time.
“You’re such a dork,” she said.
Connor woke up just before seven the next morning. He pulled a wrinkled sweater and jeans out of his suitcase and made for the house. He sniffed the air, Mom was making waffles. “Merry Christmas,” he said, stepping into the kitchen. Jan, her husband Barry and their kids were finishing their breakfast. “Where’s Beck?”
“I was just taking care of your present,” Rebecca said walking in.
“You mean snooping for yours.” Connor pulled her into his lap as she shrieked and giggled. He saw Jan’s family staring at them from across the table and released her. He almost forgot where he was.
Rebecca sat in the chair next to him, scooting it so their legs touched under the big oak table.
“I really envy you and Rebecca,” his brother-in-law said through a mouthful of waffles. “I wish I was that close with my sister.”
“Why Barry,” Connor said, “this is a whole new side of you.” He thought he heard his mom and big sister suppress a snicker, he was sure that Rebecca did. Barry just nodded, oblivious, swirling a forkful of waffle in blueberry syrup.
Their mom set down a plate each for Connor and Rebecca. “I’m not very hungry this morning,” Rebecca said.
“I’ll eat them Mrs. Franks,” Barry said snagging the plate before anyone could object or consent.
The family gathered together in the living room. Barry’s large frame took up a full cushion on the sofa, making Rebecca press close to her brother. Her surprise was so realistic, when they received the chest of photos, that she could have won an award. Their mom came over to the sofa, tears in her eyes, and hugged them both at the same time. She whispered that she loved them and wanted them to be happy. Maybe it was just because of Christmas, maybe not.
Ryan opened a huge box from his parents. “Wow, a remote controlled hovercraft. This thing drives over water, sand, ice and snow,” he read aloud from the box.
“Well, we have two out of four,” Connor said.
“Uncle Connor, you want to come try it out?”
Connor was a little surprised at the invite. He turned to Rebecca. “Can I Beck?”
She rolled her eyes. “Don’t forget your coat.”
“This is so cool,” Ryan said as the miniature hovercraft zoomed over banks of snow and ice.
“Why don’t you let Lori take a turn?” Rebecca asked, holding the little girl’s mittened hand.
“No way, no women drivers,” Ryan said working the controls.
“You boys start early don’t you?” she asked, hands on her hips. Connor grinned. “Be that way, play with your little toy. Lori and I will stand over here and play Target: Connor.”
“How do you play that?” Ryan asked shutting off his toy.
“It’s easy, you just reach in the snow, and grab just enough to fill your hand. Then you squeeze it real tight and yell Target: Connor!” She flung the snowball, scoring a direct hit on Connor’s chin. The cold wetness dribbled down the collar of his coat and soaked into his sweater.
“Hey, cut that—” A much smaller snowball spattered on the arm of his heavy coat. “Lori!” he said, his voice full of mock indignity.
“Target: Connor!” the girl yelled a little late, slapping Rebecca a soggy high-five.
“Alright,” he said turning to Ryan. “Now we play a new game, called: use your Aunt Rebecca as a hockey puck. You get the skates, I’ll drag her down to the pond.”
Rebecca screeched as he went for her. Clouds of snow kicked up around her boots as she ran. He caught her in a gentle tackle and pulled her down to the snow. He desperately wanted to kiss her just then, but not in front of the kids. He just held her for a moment, until Lori came up to them. “Target: Connor,” she said, depositing a two-handed snowball in his face.
“Maybe this is why we can never have kids,” he said, spitting powdery snow out of his mouth.
“You’d make a great father.” She kissed him on his wet, red cheek.
“Hey, what did Uncle Connor get you?” Lori tugged on Rebecca’s coat. “Maybe we could play with that.”
“Adults don’t get toys for Christmas,” Ryan said rolling his eyes at his sister.
“He’s right, Lori. We get underwear and socks, and lot’s of ’em.” Connor looked directly at Ryan. “Enjoy it while you can, kid.”
Connor and Rebecca sat in the snow for a while longer, long enough to watch Ryan hand the controls over to the little girl. Connor smiled and Rebecca kissed his cheek again.
“Alright you guys,” Jan stepped outside. “Inside, and out of those wet clothes.”
“Aw mom,” Ryan protested.
Jan shooed her kids inside. “That goes for their Aunt and Uncle too.” She looked down at her younger siblings. “I’m sorry, for what I said last night.” She sort of laughed. “You know, I always thought you two were kind of like Romeo and Juliet, in a backwoods sort of way.” That was as much as they were going to get from Jan.
“So,” Rebecca said as they climbed out of the snow.
“So,” Connor repeated.
She was grinning wide. “So, I believe you still owe me a present. And it damn well better not be underwear.”
“Don’t worry it’s not underwear. I like it when you pick out your own panties, you have such good taste.” He pinched her butt through her slick snow pants.
They met in the empty kitchen, changed out of their wet clothes. There were dirty plates and glasses all over the counter, but at least they had some privacy. He saw his present, a box wrapped in gold paper. He handed her a little black leather pouch.
“You got me a shaving kit?” she asked. “Connor, really a Lady Remington would have worked just as well, I’m not that hairy.”
“Not the shaving kit, Beck. I hid your gift in my shaving kit.” She dug through the cologne and gel until she pulled out a black velvet box. His heart pounded, he finally got her this year.
She opened the box and saw the diamond bracelet he had saved all year for. “Oh Connor.” She breathed slowly as she examined it. She saw the marking on the inside of the box, she realized that it was not costume jewelry. “Oh Connor it’s real?! How much—”
He shushed her. “Only the financier knows for sure. Do you like it?”
“I love it, but—”
“I want you to wear it then, since you don’t have a wedding ring…” He fastened it around her slim wrist.
“Am I worth it?” she asked as she watched the stones glitter in the window light.
“You were worth it ten years ago and you’re worth it still.” He kissed her properly.
She took the gold box off of the counter and handed it to him. He tore through the paper and opened the cardboard flaps. He pulled out a baseball glove, a vintage blue infielder’s glove. “It’s a George Brett glove. I know he was your favorite.”
“Yeah,” Connor said giving her a little kiss. “Beats socks and underwear any day.” He pulled out the wadded newspapers she had packed the box with. “Is that it?” He didn’t mean to sound cruel or ungrateful, but she had built up quite a reputation for one-upping him in gifts.
She shook her head no.
Oh great, this was going to be a repeat of the laptop, or the leather recliner, or the plasma television.
She took his hand. “Beck if you got me another T.V. so help me…” She brought his palm to rest on her stomach. “Beck?” His eyes opened wide.
“You’re? I mean we’re! Beck!” he yelled, hugging her tight. Tears streamed down her face as he lifted her off the floor. “Oh, sorry, I’m sorry, I’ll have to be more gentle.” He put her down and kissed her, over and over.
“How are we going to tell mom? Are we going to tell?” she asked.
“I don’t know. I just don’t.”
“Our lives will change so much, Connor.”
“Change is good. This is good.” His hand felt her stomach again. He looked into her chocolate eyes and kissed her. Then he took her into the living room to spend Christmas with their family.