Serendipity - Version Bravo

by Lubrican

Chapters : 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | Epilogue

Chapter Fourteen

"I'm really sorry," I said, as an opening.

"Oh, can it," she said. "You're a man. All three of them are babes. You don't have a sorry bone in your body."

"That's not true," I said. "If this causes pain between us for the rest of our lives, I'll be sorry for the rest of my life too. I love you."

She stared at me for a few seconds, and then looked around.

"Not here," she said. I didn't know what she meant. She looked toward the kitchen. "There," she said, but I didn't think she was actually talking to me.

She went to the kitchen, where she picked up the cup she'd apparently used before, and poured herself another cup of coffee. She sat down at the table and looked at me.

I sat. Coffee was the last thing on my mind.

"Do you remember Danny Trimble?" she asked.

I was completely confused. I had no idea what she was talking about.

"No," I said, carefully.

"Seventh grade," she said, and then took a sip. "He cornered me under the stairs and felt my boobs. Remember now?"

I thought back. I did remember now. I got expelled because of Danny Trimble.

"Yes," I said.

"When you found out what he'd done, you were so mad. We were supposed to get on the bus, but you went and found him and beat the shit out of him."

"Yes. He shouldn't have touched you."

"Why?"

"What?"

"Why shouldn't he have touched me?"

"You were my sister!" I said.

"Exactly. And why did you warn every boy I ever dated not to lay a hand on me?"

"Um ... you were my sister?" I thought this should all be obvious, but was getting a feeling that there was an undercurrent here I couldn't put my finger on.

"Yes. No boys were allowed to touch me, because you were my big brother."

"Okay," I said, carefully.

"So what was I supposed to think?"

I was really confused now.

"I don't know ... that I loved you?"

"Exactly!" she shouted.

I sat there and looked at her.

"You are so stupid!" she shouted.

"Why?" I groaned. I didn't understand anything.

"I was twelve," said Hannah. "I didn't understand anything about boys."

She took a sip of coffee and put the cup down so hard that it slopped over. She ignored that and leaned towards me.

"Except that my big brother loved me and didn't want any other boys to touch me."

Her emphasis on the word "other" gripped my mind like a rat terrier and shook it.

"Could you maybe talk about that a little more?" I asked.

She looked at the ceiling.

"Now he asks," she sighed.

"Hannah," I moaned. "I'm trying here. I really am, but I'm very confused right now. What you're saying almost sounds like ... except I don't want to jump to any wrong conclusions."

"I loved you," said Hannah, softly. "You were my knight in shining armor. I was your princess. You were supposed to carry me away and we were supposed to live happily ever after."

"But you were twelve," I reminded her.

"Yes, and then I was fourteen, and fifteen, and so on, and you still tried to keep other boys away from me."

"But not so I could do things to you myself," I said.

"I know that now. I figured that out in college. But back then I kept waiting for you to come to me and demand my favors, to claim what you had been defending all those years. I dreamed of how it would be when I gave you my virginity. And, at the same time, I knew it could never happen. You were my brother, after all, and brothers and sisters aren't allowed to love each other that way. So I knew it was all just a fantasy."

"Okay," I said, feeling better. "Good. You went on to fall in love and get married. I'm so sorry we lost him, but at least you had that for a little while."

"True," she said, sadly. "And I tried to find another man, but I compared them all to Chad ... and you ... and I finally gave up. I decided that particular dream just wasn't for me any more."

"That's sad," I said, reflexively.

She stared at me.

"And then I find out that my daughter got to live out my fantasy."

I blinked. That cattle prod nudged me again.

"It wasn't like that," I said.

"It was exactly like that," she replied. "While she sat there, trying to convince me that all this was okay, I heard my dream playing out in intimate detail."

"She gave you intimate detail?" I asked, breathlessly.

"Of course not," snorted Hannah. "She didn't have to. I'd dreamed about it enough times that it all came flooding back." She stared at me. "And three at once?"

Her eyes went to the coffee cup as she lifted, and took a sip. When she put it down, she looked at me again.

"You're quite the stud."

I leaned back in my chair. The world wasn't topsy turvy any more. It was like one of those paint shakers they have at the hardware store.

"I'm sorry," I said, helplessly.

"It wasn't your fault," she sighed. "You were oblivious. I knew that back then on some level. And it was just a silly fantasy."

She leaned back in her chair.

"I think that's what makes this so difficult. I didn't have the courage to tell you how I felt when I was having all those feelings."

Suddenly she stood, and started pacing.

"But Caitlin did."

I didn't know what to say, so I stayed mute. Apparently that was the right thing to do, because she went on.

"I understand how Caitlin could be attracted to you ... could have the same kinds of fantasies. But she did something about it. She had the courage to make that dream come true."

She stopped and looked at me.

"And you responded."

"I'm sorry," I said again. It seemed to be the only thing I could come up with.

"Are you sorry you made her dream come true, or that you got caught?"

That got me. How do you respond to something like that?

"I'm sorry that you got hurt in the process," I finally said.

She paced again.

"Do you have any idea how often I thought about you after Chad died? Do you understand how many times I wanted to come to you for comfort ... to feel your arms around me ... to ... to feel that kind of love again?"

"I don't know what to say," I sighed. "I'm beginning to get some idea."

"What makes me so mad ... so frustrated ... is that while you obviously didn't feel that way about me ... you decided it was okay to do this with Caitlin. Why didn't you think about doing it with me?" she cried.

"That's easy," I said. "I did think about it back then. I tried dozens of times to figure out a way to see you naked. But I felt guilty about it. I knew it was wrong for me to feel that way about you. And the thought of those guys pawing you made me furious. If I couldn't have you, I didn't want anybody else to have you either. But I couldn't do anything about it. I was your brother."

"What changed?" she asked.

"You mean Caitlin? That was an accident. I didn't plan that. And even though I thought about her just like I'd thought about you, I didn't do anything about it."

"You most certainly did," she countered.

I groaned. "What I mean is that I don't know how this all happened."

"You seduced them," she suggested.

"I didn't intend to seduce them," I said.

"They seduced you?"

"I don't think that was what they planned either. Not really. They just wanted to see what some things were like."

"And things got out of hand," she said.

"Exactly!" I agreed.

"Because you're a man," she offered.

I looked at her. Things were better than they had been. They were better than I could have dreamed they'd be, under the circumstances. I felt like I should take all the blame ... but each of the girls had chosen to do something ... taken some action without my urging them to.

Was it all my fault?

If I'd turned down their very first request, when they so innocently asked if they could skinny dip in my pool, none of this would have happened.

Well ... not with me, anyway.

They still would have done all the things they'd done. Just not as soon, and not all with one guy.

Who was to blame?

Nature. That's who.

"Hannah," I said. "I'm not trying to make excuses, but this didn't all happen just because I'm a man. Some of it happened because they are women." That sounded pretty vague after I said it. "Do you understand?"

She stared back at me.

"I understand completely."

She got up and got a paper towel. She used it to wipe up the spilled coffee under her cup. Things had moved forward in a way that, to me, was quite positive. No call to 911 had been involved, for instance. And we had talked. I wanted to keep things moving forward, and I thought that the best way to do that was to give Hannah all the options. She hadn't had a choice in any of this, including the way she found out about it. So I thought letting her decide what to do might make her feel better. More in control, sort of.

"So what do you want to do now?" I asked.

That turned out to be too vague an option.

"I don't know," she said. "My mind is whirling. I haven't had time to process all this."

"I can take you both to the airport," I suggested. "Of course I'll pay for your tickets."

Her eyes seemed to be looking at something far, far away as she responded.

"I don't have to be back to work for a week. I planned on begging to go with the two of you on one of your famous adventures."

She blinked, and her eyes came back to the here and now.

"Looks like I got my adventure, huh."

She didn't crack a smile, but her lips didn't register sarcasm or anger either.

"I'm really sorry, Hannah," I sighed. "This was just supposed to be so they could experiment with a guy who wouldn't brag about it to all his buddies in school the next day. It wasn't supposed to go anywhere near as far as it did."

She took another sip of coffee and wiped the table again before putting the cup down.

"Caitlin told me it all started when you caved and let them go skinny dipping."

I felt something like déjà vu whirl around me as she mentioned the exact same thing I'd been thinking about less than a minute before.

"I was stupid," I said. "I tried to teach them a lesson."

"Oh?"

"I thought that if I demanded to be naked with them, they'd chicken out and give up."

She blinked twice, and her head tilted.

"You can't be that stupid, Bob."

I winced, but it was only a mental wince.

"Apparently I am."

"Did you know they'd been planning on asking to do that for two years before they actually did it?"

I felt like I should have been able to figure that out, and felt stupid because I hadn't. I shook my head.

"No. After other things happened, Kat told me some things about them that I should have known. I mean I should have seen it. Figured it out."

"If you had been trying to seduce them, you would have figured it out," said Hannah. "That's what makes me so conflicted about all this. I know you're a good man, a decent man. I can't believe you got involved in all this. When I walked in and saw you in bed, naked, with three girls ... three girls, Bob ... I thought aliens had replaced you with one of them."

She blinked.

"I mean I didn't actually think you were an alien ... but I couldn't understand how it could be you. And the way Caitlin ..." She blinked again. "I can't get used to you people calling her Kat. Anyway, when Caitlin wasn't ashamed, and didn't back down, and act like a little girl with her hand in the cookie jar, and pled her case ... your case ... so ardently ..." Her shoulders slumped. "I don't know. I know how I felt about you, so I guess I understand how she can feel about you."

I didn't respond. I wanted to let her get on with the processing she'd mentioned. She looked up at me.

"It just seems so unfair!" she said, stridently.

Now, I am fully aware (and was at that time as well) that laughter was not the appropriate response to her comment. Maybe the tension in me had to find an outlet, but the fact is that when she said those words, in the same tone and inflection that all the musketeers had said it at one time or another, it was just funny. It was like some hilarious universal truth had been unveiled before me.

And I laughed. Uncontrollably. I laughed so hard I had to grip the table to keep from falling off my chair.

Hannah, of course, did not share my amusement.

"What's so fucking funny?" she growled.

She had to ask that at least five more times, and the problem was that instead of halting my laughter, it fed it, because she started out angry, demanding an answer, and by the time I simply couldn't laugh any longer without passing out, her voice had changed to that of a woman begging, wheedling for something to help her understand.

I reached to grasp both of her hands in mine. She didn't pull away, which I interpreted as a good sign.

"Give me a minute," I gasped.

"You're acting very strangely," she said.

"I thought you noticed that already," I panted.

Her fingers gently returned my grasp. It was very slight, but it was the opposite of rejection, and I welcomed it. Finally I was able to explain.

"I think of them as The Three Musketeers. I've even mentioned it to them. Their whole attitude is one for all and all for one, and if one of them tried something, then the other two had to try it too, even if they wouldn't have chosen to do it prior to that. I can't tell you how many times I said no, and got, 'But it's not fair,' in return." I mimicked what I thought sounded like a high pitched female voice as I said the phrase.

I squeezed her fingers gently.

"Now I find out there's a fourth musketeer."

I thought I was making a joke. And it was a joke specifically about that phrase. It was all about "It's not fair!" in my mind.

But to Hannah, the interpretation of my comments took on a different aspect.

To her it wasn't a joke.

To her ... it really wasn't fair.

That turned out to be something pivotal in our relationship

We were still sitting there when the girls got back. I don't mean to jump all over the place, but there were several things going on at that moment which affected the future.

We weren't talking at that moment. I know that doesn't sound like something important, but it fits into the mix.

That was important because Hannah was just thinking about things. The adrenaline, and emotion of the situation had finally waned, and these few moments of silence gave her time to just think.

I was also sitting there thinking, but it was about the fact that Hannah hadn't reacted to my explanation of why I'd laughed, or my joke about the four musketeers.

Another thing that was important was that Emma and Ashley were still with Kat. They could easily have gone home, and escaped the tenseness that had filled my house. But they hadn't. I noticed that, and it took my mind off of Hannah's non-reaction. I wondered if they were still afraid their parents were going to become involved, and had come back to try again to stave that off.

I think another thing that was crucial at the time was that the attitude of all three girls was submissive, rather than argumentative or rebelling.

"Can we come in?" asked Caitlin, through the five inch crack in the door she had opened.

I looked at Hannah. It wasn't to give her the option, as I mentioned a moment ago. I think I just felt like she was in charge at the moment.

Hannah looked at the door.

"I suppose so," she sighed.

Like ducks in a row, the three girls entered the room. They looked scared, or worried, or unhappy. Maybe it was a mix of all three emotions.

"We don't know what to do," said Caitlin.

Hannah barked a laugh that had no humor in it at all.

"That's a first," she said.

"Mom," begged Caitlin. "We really don't know what to do. We didn't mean to get Uncle Bob in trouble. It was supposed to be just for fun."

"Was it?" asked Hannah. "Fun?" she added.

Caitlin blushed so furiously that it would have been funny under other circumstances. She actually bit her tongue.

"Never mind," said Hannah. "I know it was. Don't mind me. I'm still a little peeved."

I grabbed onto the adjective she'd used. Being a little peeved was a tremendous improvement over the way things had been a couple of hours ago.

"Emma and Ashley can go home if they want to," said Hannah. "Or stay. I don't care. I'm not going to call anybody's parents."

The relief that emanated from all three girls was palpable. Still, though, they stood in a tight little group.

"So you're the Three Musketeers," she said, her eyes ranging over the girls.

Ashley looked at Emma, who returned it. Caitlin was in front of them, and didn't have anybody to exchange a look with.

"Don't just stand there!" said Hannah, irritably. "Come in and sit down."

"Here?" asked Caitlin. "With you?"

"We have things to talk about," said Hannah.

"Oh," said Kat. The sense of relief fled the room.

There were only four chairs, and two of them were already filled. The musketeers divvied up the other two by the simple expedient of Ashley sitting on one, Emma sitting on her lap, sideways, and giving the other to Caitlin.

"It pains me to have to ask this question," said Hannah, as the girls finally got settled. "But I'm a mother, and mothers think about these things. Did you use protection when Bob ... uh ... when things happened with Bob?"

"Yes," said Caitlin. I was positive, in that moment, that she would answer all future questions with what she thought her mother "wanted" to hear, whether it was true or not.

Ashley apparently thought some additional evidence was needed.

"I cleaned up a whole bag of them this morning," she said, proudly.

Hannah put her elbow on the table, and rested her forehead in her hand.

"Did you always use protection?" she asked, proving that she was aware that canned answers might be produced, in this situation.

Caitlin opened her mouth, and then closed it. I got the impression she was deciding which way to go. It made me proud when she told the truth, but I winced at the same time.

"Most of the time," she said. "Almost all the time," she edited.

Hannah left her head in her hand.

"So which of you might be pregnant?"

That one was met with complete silence. She raised her head and her eyes shot daggers at them.

"Answer my question," she demanded.

Three hands went up, very slowly.

"Why me?" she sighed, as her head went back down.

Nobody answered that one. Everybody was pretty sure it was rhetorical.

"That only happened once, for each of us," said Caitlin, trying to ameliorate the situation. Apparently it was back to fudging the facts.

"Once is all it takes," said Hannah, lifting her head again. "Obviously, we'll have to keep an eye on this issue. I'd like to be kept in the loop when the answer arrives."

"Yes!" said all three girls at once, trying to garner favor, no doubt.

Hannah leaned back.

"May I assume that this ... um ... relationship will continue when I take Caitlin back home?"

It was obvious she was talking to Ashley and Emma, but I was astounded that she'd ask that question.

"Um ... no," said Ashley, with that voice that kids use when they say "Well, duh!"

Hannah sat up straight. The interest she had in that answer was obvious.

"Why not?" she asked.

Ashley looked at Emma, and they both looked at Hannah.

"Caitlin won't be here," said Ashley. "We don't come over here when she's not here."

"So you don't want to have an extended relationship with Bob?" She pointed to Emma. "You. Emma. Why don't you want to keep doing this with him?"

Emma looked everywhere in the room except at Hannah. Thankfully Hannah gave her time to overcome her shyness and speak.

"I like him. A lot. I kind of love him. But he's old. I mean I love what he taught me. But I can't go on dates with him, or anything like that. And if Ashley and Caitlin aren't there ... I don't know ... it would seem like cheating?"

Hannah looked at Ashley. "Is that along the lines of how you feel too?"

Ashley nodded.

"If he invited the two of you to come over to ... um ... play ... would you do it?"

Emma looked at Ashley, but it was Ashley who spoke.

"Only if Caitlin said it was okay."

Hannah looked at me.

"I do not believe this," she said.

"It's true!" defended Ashley. "Honest! I promise!"

"Oh, I believe that's how you feel now, but I've been in this situation. You're going to have needs."

"Oh, we have a dildo," said Emma, helpfully.

"Just one?" asked Hannah.

"We share it," said Emma. She was trying hard to be helpful. "We share everything."

"So I understand," said Hannah, looking a little pale.

She was apparently finished with those two, and looked at her daughter.

"You and I will discuss this later."

"Okay," said Caitlin, meekly.

Now Hannah looked at Ashley and Emma again.

"I assume the three of you are in frequent contact?"

"We're on Facebook" said Ashley.

"All right, then," said Hannah, as if that settled something. "I'd like some privacy to talk to my brother and daughter now. Can you two go home?"

Emma stood up instantly. I think she was in a hurry to get out, now that she knew nobody was going to rat her out to her parents.

Ashley stood too, once her lap was free. They had happened to be sitting next to me, and what she did next was, I think, purely from habit.

She leaned down and kissed me goodbye.

Or tried to. I didn't exactly kiss her back. She stood up, looking uncertain.

"Bye. Thanks," she said. I think she was very unsettled.

Emma looked at Caitlin, and then Hannah and then at me. I knew what was running through her mind. She felt like this leave taking might be the last for us. And she wanted a goodbye kiss. I knew that to do this in front of Hannah would be hurtful, so I stood.

"I'll see you out," I said.

I took them to the back door and stepped outside with them.

"What's going to happen?" asked Emma, immediately coming to me for a hug.

"I don't know," I said.

"Am I never going to see you again?"

"You live next door to me, Emma. You almost have to see me every once in a while."

"Okay." That seemed to placate her.

"This is all fucked up," said Ashley, coming to squeeze into the hug.

"We all made decisions, and now we have to live with the consequences," I said.

"You're being pedistic again," groused Ashley.

"Pedantic," I corrected.

"Yeah, that."

"Hannah's not the only one who'd like to be kept in the loop," I said. "I'm not going to back out on my own responsibilities."

"Like what?" asked Ashley.

"I'd like to know the next time you have a period," I said.

"Ewwww! That's nasty!"

"If either of you is pregnant, I'm not going to run away," I said.

"Okay, but I'm not," said Emma.

I started to ask her how she knew that, but knew I'd get some off the wall answer, so I didn't.

"Go on home now. I'll see you later."

Maybe they thought that Hannah knowing about things meant that "things" were over. For whatever reason they insisted on getting their goodbye kiss, and this time I kissed them back.

What I didn't know was that Hannah had been watching the whole thing out the kitchen window.

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