Cannon, p.12
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       Cannon, p.12

         Part #3 of A Step Brother Romance series by Sabrina Paige
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  Screw feeling guilty.   I take a condom from my wallet and roll it onto my length, looking at Addy's face as she watches me.   I'm rock hard because this girl makes me crazy.   She's the fulfillment of every fantasy I've had since I was seventeen.

  I try to be gentle with her.   I try to take my time, licking and sucking her breasts and nipples until she's arching up on the bed, her breath coming in short pants.   But she pulls at me, tells me she wants me now.   Begs me.

  Her pussy is slick when I put my fingers between her legs, yet I still hesitate, feeling the need to be careful with her, until she grips the base of my cock.

  "Please, Hendrix," she whispers, guiding me toward her entrance, and I rock into her slowly.

  When I press the tip of my cock inside her, it's all over.   She's so fucking tight, so warm, so wet, that I can't think anymore.   Shit, I can hardly breathe.   She grips my ass cheeks, pulling me inside her and letting out a soft moan as I fill her up.

  Moving gently, I watch the expression on her face change until it's no longer anything except pleasure.   Until she claws at my back and begs me.   "Harder," she whispers.   "Fuck me, Hendrix. "

  "Always trying to take control," I say, as I pin her hands above her head, using them for leverage to fuck her harder, with short thrusts as I feel myself getting closer and closer, bringing her to the edge.   I fuck her wordlessly, listening to her gasps in the still silence of the room until I'm sure she's close, her pussy swollen around me.

  "Fuck me, Hendrix," she whispers, bucking harder against me with everything she has, wrapping her legs around me.

  I try to mute my groan, but hearing her beg me is too much.   I whisper to her, hoping my words aren't audible outside the bedroom doors.   "I love fucking you," I say.   "I love the way your pussy feels, the way you grip my cock when you're so close to coming.   Because I know you're close, Addy.   I've thought about how you would feel coming on me for seven fucking years. "

  And she comes.

  She comes, and it's everything I fucking thought it would be.   Her orgasm triggers mine, her muscles milking me of every last drop, and I mute her scream with my mouth, swallowing her moans.

  Afterwards, neither of us speak.   There's nothing left to say.

  And for the first time in years, I sleep.

  FOUR YEARS, ELEVEN MONTHS AGO

  "Addison!  Over here!  Will you sign my t-shirt?  Oh my God, it's really her!" I catch snippets of the words from the crowd who line the back exit of the stadium.   I wave and smile, surrounded by bodyguards but conscious of all the photos that are being taken.   I'm wearing giant sunglasses that cover my red-rimmed eyes and the dark circles from last night.   I wish I could say I was partying, but I wasn't.   I was getting shit-housed and blaming myself for not saying what I should have said to Hendrix before he left.

  And now I might never see him again.   The thought pops into my head, and it stops me in my tracks.

  "Ms. Stone," one of the bodyguards says, taking my arm.   "Are you okay?"

  "Yes," I nod.   "I'm just tired from the show. "

  Page 47

  "Addison Stone, are you seeing anyone?"  Someone yells, a reporter most likely, and I turn in the direction of the voice.   The crowd cheers in response, and then I catch a glimpse of him.

  Hendrix, standing there in the middle of the crowd, giving me that same cocky grin he always has.

  When I blink, it's not him.   It's just someone who vaguely resembles Hendrix.

  "Ms. Stone, are you okay?" the bodyguard asks.   "We really should be getting you into the car. "

  "Yes. Yes, I'm fine," I say numbly.   "Of course.   The car. "

  "Did you want to stop to sign something for someone?" he asks.

  "No. "  I shake my head.   "There's nothing here I want to see. "

  PRESENT DAY

  I wake to sunlight streaming through the windows in the bedroom, and I close my eyes, drawing the covers up over my chest and nuzzling deeper inside their warmth.   Then I realize that the reason I'm warm isn't the covers.   It's Hendrix, his arms wrapped around my waist and his face nuzzled into the back of my neck.

  Fear grips my chest as I lie there beside him, not moving.   Shit.   I slept with Hendrix.

  My bodyguard.

  My stepbrother.

  Under my parents' roof.

  The morality clause in my contract.

  The thoughts come rushing into my head, shotgun-style, one right after the other, and with each thought, I have an increasing sense of panic.   My heart thumps wildly in my chest, so loudly I can hear it in my ears.

  Shit.   What did I do?

  What I just did with Hendrix flashes in my head too.   Except those are images, like watching a movie reel.

  Hendrix with his face buried between my legs.

  Hendrix's cock in my mouth.

  Hendrix thrusting inside me as he pins my hands above my head.

  Heat runs through my body at the thought of what happened between us, and it makes me feel claustrophobic.   Hendrix murmurs something in his sleep, and when he pulls me tighter against him, I break away from his arm and practically run for the bathroom.   Splashing water on my face, I'm in full-on panic mode.   I have to get Hendrix out of here before our parents catch us.

  I stand at the sink, breathing deeply in and out and counting by sevens.   Lucky number seven, I remind myself.   I count until I reach seven hundred seventy seven, before I've calmed down enough to go back.

  Hendrix is awake and he's sitting on the edge of the bed, with his jeans already on.   "You jumped out of bed like a bat out of hell," he says softly.   He looks at me accusingly, and I think I see disappointment in his eyes.

  "I had to pee," I lie.   I don’t know what to say.   I didn't think through the morning-after scenario.   There's not supposed to be an awkward morning-after situation, not with Hendrix.   He's not supposed to be like some random hookup, the next day walk-of-shame-and-forget-it-ever-happened thing, but that's the way he looks at me right now.   I think he's looking at me with regret in his eyes and I clench my jaw, trying to quell my disappointment.   "You should get out of here before our parents or someone else catches you. "

  Hendrix stands up, and I swallow the lump in my throat as he crosses the room and slides his arm around my waist.   "Or we could just say 'fuck it' and do it again. "

  I want to say yes.   I want to toss everything aside, all my worries and concerns about what might happen.   I want to shut the door and lock away the outside world.

  But I don't say that.   I don't say anything, and Hendrix exhales heavily and shrugs.   "Yeah, I thought as much.   Listen – it's nothing to get stressed out over.   I'll sneak out of here and no one's going to catch me.   It's not a big deal.   It's like it never happened. "

  "Hendrix, I – " I start, but he's already at the door, pulling it open a crack, and I hold my breath as I watch him stick his head out the door, and then disappear.   I close the door behind him, and I sink back down on the bed as doubt starts to creep into my mind.

  It's like it never happened.

  "I know you said on the phone that you were under the weather," Grace says, holding up a grocery bag.   "So I brought chicken soup and a movie and – hey, you don't look sick.   Oh my God, were you blowing me off?"

  Shit.   Busted.   I glance down the hallway in the direction of Hendrix's room and his closed door.   As soon as we got back from our parents' house, after the awkwardly long and silent drive here, I feigned a headache and holed up in my room, listlessly browsing the internet and reading tabloid articles about my friends.   Trashy, I know.

  Page 48

  I should talk to Hendrix about what happened.   But what do I say?  He seems to be fine with acting like it never happened.   "I wasn't blowing you off," I lie.   "We went to mom's last night.
"

  "Oh, God," Grace groans.   "I try to stay away from that place as much as possible.   Say no more.   I totally understand. "

  "I'm just tired," I say, taking the bag from her as she steps inside.   "Where's Brady?"

  "Mama needs an evening of peace," she said.   "There's an exhibit at the science museum that's open late tonight, and Roger is taking him to see it.   And I thought I'd come over and talk to a real-life non-toddler for a change. "

  "Well, I can't promise that talking to me will be all that much different from talking to Brady. "

  "Will you throw yourself on the floor and scream incoherently because I cut your chicken nuggets into bite-sized pieces instead of allowing you to attempt to swallow them whole?" she asks.

  I laugh.   "In fact, I can promise that won't happen.   But only because you brought soup and not chicken nuggets. "  I take the containers out of the bag.   "Ooh, chicken tortilla from my favorite Mexican restaurant. "

  "I'm the best sister in the world," she interrupts, sitting on the barstool across the kitchen counter.

  "You are," I agree.   I open one of the cabinets and take out two bowls, pouring soup from the containers into the dishes.

  "Where's Hendrix?" she asks, and my hand slips.   Chicken soup pours over the edge of one of the bowls.

  "Shit," I say, scrambling for a paper towel to clean it up.   "I don't know.   He's probably in his room.   I haven't seen him.   I mean, I saw him last night.   At mom's.   Only at dinner.   Nothing else, though. "  I can feel the heat on my face as I ramble, my words making me sound both stupid and guilt-ridden.

  "Are you talking about me?"  Hendrix enters the kitchen, looking just as sexy as when I woke up with him in bed this morning.   Except now he's wearing clothes, jeans and a white t-shirt, which should be completely unassuming.   In reality, they make him look hotter than a damn model.

  "Hey, sweetie!" Grace runs over to Hendrix and hugs him.   His arm around her, he looks at me, and it makes my cheeks flush.   I pretend to be busy with the chips and avocado and cheese, opening the little containers to sprinkle the contents on the tortilla soup.   "I brought soup.   I thought Addison was sick, but it turns out she was just lying. "

  "Oh?" Hendrix asks.

  "She told me about you guys going to mom's last night. "

  "She did, did she?"  Hendrix asks, and I sputter, choking even though I'm not eating anything.   I think I see Hendrix smile, and for some reason, the fact that he can be so cavalier about what happened makes me more upset.

  "Yeah, I'd have a headache too if I had to deal with our mother for anything more than a few minute conversation," Grace says.   "Which is why I have to limit my time with her.   You want to do dinner and a movie with us?  It's a girl movie, but we could watch a thriller or something. "

  "Hendrix is probably going running, right, Hendrix?" I ask.   There is no way I'm sitting through dinner and a movie with Grace and Hendrix after what just happened between him and I.   Grace is the sister version of a bloodhound, brilliant at sniffing out secrets, and the last thing I need is her figuring out what happened.

  "What?" Grace asks.   "Oh, don't do that.   Skip your run and stuff your face with us.   We have soup.   And chips and queso, too.   I've barely seen you since you've been here.   And I'm Brady-less. Roger took him to the science museum. "

  Hendrix gives me a long look.   "Yeah, I'm going running," he says.

  "But you're not even dressed in running clothes. "  I can feel Grace's eyes on me, and I turn around to throw away the paper towels in my hand, grateful for an excuse to do anything else.

  "I won't be that long," Hendrix says.   "It's just ten miles. "

  "Just ten miles," Grace scoffs.   "Fine, go be fit or whatever.   We'll snarf soup and watch girl movies. "

  I pretend to be nonchalant as Hendrix goes back to his room, changes, and then leaves the house for his run.   I'm chatting with Grace, gossiping about stupid things, until the door shuts, and Grace stops mid-sentence to look at me through narrowed eyes.

  Page 49

  "Do I have something in my teeth?" I ask.

  "No," she says.   "Spill the beans. "

  My hand feels shaky as I bring my spoon to my lips.   "I have no idea what beans there are to spill. "

  "Bullshit," Grace says.   "I'm your sister.   And you guys are weird. "

  "What are you talking about?" I ask.   "Hendrix is weird.   He's been gone for five years.   I don't even know him anymore.   There's nothing weird.   You're weird. "  I stop abruptly, aware that I'm doing that thing where my voice gets high-pitched and squeaky.   Totally indicative of guilt.

  Grace's eyes go wide as she stares at me.   "Oh. My. God. "

  "No, no.   There's no Oh my God.   There's nothing to Oh My God about. "

  "Yes there is. "  She inhales sharply, bringing her hand to her mouth.   "You and Hendrix. "

  "No, no, no. "  I shake my head.   "There is no me and Hendrix. "

  "There so totally is you and Hendrix!" She points at me.   "You're guilty.   I can see it all over your face.   I should have guessed.   You guys were always so close. "

  "What?" I squeak.   "We were not close. "

  "Yes you were, you lying liar," she says.   "Or should I call you a dirty liar?  I thought you guys were doing it when you were in high school, actually.   You weren't?"

  "No!" I squeal.   "Last night was the first time!"  I immediately cover my mouth with my hand.

  Grace cackles hysterically.   "You can't hide anything from me, Addison Stone.   Dish.   Did you go all the way?  Blowjob?  Hand job?  A little under the shirt action?"

  "Oh my God, I'm not telling you anything.   This is really, really uncomfortable. "

  "So, all the way then?" she asks.

  I throw a pillow at her, and she collapses with laughter, then stops abruptly.   "Was it good?"

  "You have no comment about the fact that it's – oh, I don't know – fucking Hendrix we're talking about here?" I ask, my voice becoming more and more shrill by the second.

  "We are talking about fucking Hendrix," she says, snorting.   "And I can tell by your evasiveness that it was good. "

  "What?  My evasiveness means nothing. "

  Grace raises her eyebrows.   "So it was bad?" she asks.   "I'm shocked.   Rumor was he was quite the manwhore in high school, and I assume that hasn't changed.   I mean, did you see him now?  He's like, completely ripped.   He's gotten hotter over the years. "

  "Don't you have a husband?"

  Grace cocks her head to the side.   "I'm speaking objectively, not because I personally find him attractive.   It's a factual statement.   Hendrix is a hottie.   And you fucked him. "

  "Please stop saying that," I groan.

  "This calls for wine," Grace says, standing up and heading for the kitchen.   I sit on the sofa, melting into a puddle of abject humiliation, while she returns with glasses and a bottle.   I watch as she promptly pours a large quantity of wine into my glass.

  "Grace, that's nearly half the bottle. "

  "I know," she says.   "And I'm pouring the other half into this glass.   I think this situation calls for half a bottle of wine each, don't you?"

  I take a very large sip from my very large glass.   "I don't know what happened, Grace. "

  "You screwed Hendrix," she says.   "Let's start with that. "

  "He's our…brother, Grace. "  I feel sick to my stomach even speaking the word.

  "Don't be a total idiot," she says.   "He's our stepbrother.   We're not related at all. "

  "He moved in when I was a junior in high school. "

  "So?" she asks.   "It's not like we grew up together.   We're not related, Addison.   Seriously.   Is this what you'
re wound up about?"

  "You don't see anything wrong with it?"

  "Like, morally or something?" she asks, her forehead wrinkled. "No, of course not. "

  "It feels weird. "

  "It feels weird because it's Hendrix, and you've always been head over heels in love with him. "  Grace takes a sip of her wine, looking smug as hell in the loveseat across from me.   "Oh, close your mouth, Addison.   Don't look so surprised.   Of course I know you loved him.   You've never been hard to read, you know.   The question is whether you love him now. "

  Page 50

  FOUR YEARS, NINE MONTHS AGO

  I stand in formation with the other recruits in my company in the middle of the parade deck at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot listening to the Marine Corps Hymn play.   It's hard not to swell with pride in this moment, when I'm about to be a Marine.   How much can one person change in thirteen short weeks?

  I'm positive my father wouldn't even recognize me, with my buzz cut in place of the dyed hair, the earrings gone now.   I've gained twenty pounds, gotten stronger.   I've also gotten more sure of things.

  Except about leaving Addy behind in Nashville.

  That I'm not certain about at all.

  I scan the faces of the crowd sitting in the bleachers, friends and family wearing shorts and sundresses in the San Diego sunshine, watching the final ceremony where we'll finally be called Marines and not recruits.   Most everyone else has family here.   I half-expected the Colonel to insist on attending, just so he could break out his uniform and strut in front of the Marines here, look down his nose at them and call them a branch of the Navy.   But he chose not to grace the rest of us with his presence, instead sending me a letter a couple weeks ago.   A huge music event of Addy's was his excuse.

  I'm glad he's not here.   But I still find myself looking for Addy's face in the crowd.

  Later, I tell myself that I should leave her behind.   I'm reporting for duty in Okinawa.   If seven thousand miles of ocean between us doesn't help me forget about her, then I'm totally fucked.

  PRESENT DAY

  I say I'm going to run ten miles, but I wind up running thirteen, keeping my pace long and slow.   I'm going to run this damn girl out of my mind.   This morning was fucked, completely.   It was the most fucked anything's been in a long time.   It was exactly the opposite of last night.

  Last night was everything it should be, being with Addy after years of thinking about her.   I can still smell her.   I can still taste her on my lips.

 
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