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The forgotten, empty frying pan smoked on the stove, but the pot of soup was worse— thick, black plumes rose from it. The acrid smell made my eyes water.
“Shit,” I muttered, looking around frantically for a pot holder or oven mitt and seeing neither. “Shit, shit, shit, shit, shit!”
Joe reached past me to the stove and turned off the burners. I grabbed a nearby tea towel and moved the smoking pots off the hot elements.
“Jesus, Mary, and Joseph,” Joe muttered as he threw open the back door. A fresh breeze blew through, moving the menacing clouds around. “What the hell was that?”
I peeked into the scalded soup pot. “Tomato soup?” I offered weakly. The need to cry sprang up again. I brushed back my tears with a frustrated little pout. “I’m making you lunch.”
Joe laughed but instead of joining him, I only felt worse. An angry surge replaced the tears. I threw the tea towel at him and stomped my foot.
“What are you makin’ me soup for anyway, darlin’?” Joe asked, dodging the airborne tea towel with smooth dexterity. “It’s the middle of July—it’s pretty near thirty degrees out.”
“Lilly said your Mum always makes a hot lunch,” I mumbled by way of explanation. I crossed my arms over my chest and glowered at him, angry that he found it all so amusing. “I was just trying to do the same.”
“She doesn’t always make a hot lunch,” Joe chided softly. He crossed the kitchen to wrap his arms around me before he chuckled again into my hair. “Not in July anyway. I don’t need a fancy lunch Rhi; don’t think you have to do that for me. A sandwich would have been just fine.”
I pouted into the musty, dirty front of Joe’s shirt. His broad chest still shook with the occasional chuckle.
“It’s not funny,” I muttered mutinously.
“It’s a little funny,” Joe teased. He cupped my face in his hands and tilted my chin up until I looked at him. “How in heaven’s name can you mess up soup? The burner wasn’t even on all that high. How’d you manage that disaster?”
“I don’t know,” I whined petulantly, feeling hurt. “I opened the fucking can and slopped it in the pot and put in on the burner. I think there’s something wrong with the stove.”
Joe looked over my shoulder where the empty soup can sat on the counter. “Did you put water in it?”
I shook my head. “It’s soup Joe. It’s already liquid.”
He laughed harder.
“They make it concentrated to fit in the little cans darlin’, you’ve got to add water to it. Didn’t you think it was a little thick? Didn’t you read the label?”
I didn’t answer him; I just pouted more. I didn’t feel hurt anymore, I felt stupid and that was worse.
Joe leaned down and kissed me, nipping at my protruding bottom lip. “You’re so beautiful when you’re angry,” he teased. “Maybe you should burn dinner too…”
I punched him in the arm, but Joe only laughed harder. His hands wove into my hair, keeping my head still. He kissed me with a little more passion, but for a moment I resisted. When the tip of his tongue teased and flitted at the corner of my mouth, I melted, too tired to put up a fight. Joe’s kisses were too good to turn down anyway, although I’d never admit it to him.
He made me dizzy instantly, the good kind of dizzy. Every time he kissed me, the surprise of it made me gasp.
“Maybe I’ll just have you for lunch,” Joe groaned, pressing himself against me. The hardness of his erection between us made me grin.
“You smell and you’re filthy,” I reminded him with a flirtatious giggle.
“Get used to it, darlin’.”
“I just showered,” I added.
Joe moaned and his fingers flittered down my neck and across my collarbone. “I know,” he said thickly. “You’re all soft and warm and you smell amazin’.” He played with the edge of my robe, pulling on the fabric, burying his hands in the terrycloth.
His lips hovered over mine with an enigmatic smile.
“Aren’t you hungry?” I asked as Joe tugged at the belt of my robe.
“Not for soup and sandwiches,” he chuckled. The cool air felt crisp against my body as Joe pulled my robe off my shoulders. The heavy terrycloth slid from my shower-warmed skin to pool at my feet.
“Joe,” I chided, taking a step back over the discarded robe. The greedy glint in his beautiful blue eyes made my knees weak. “Don’t you have to go back to work?”
His broad hands settled around my waist and kept me from backing away any further.
“What are you doing?” I giggled.
“What I’ve been thinkin’ about doin’ all morning,” Joe growled.
I laughed. I’d never met a guy who kept up with me in the bedroom like Joe did. He laughed along with me when I told him that.
“Who said anything about the bedroom, darlin’?” Joe’s sapphire eyes were dark and sexy as hell.
“Here?” I glanced around the kitchen. The countertops were covered in drying dishes waiting to be stacked back into the now clean upper cabinets. I hadn’t yet had time to tackle mopping the floor so its cleanliness was questionable.
Joe reached up and pinched halkalı escort a nipple, smiling when the sensation made me gasp and arch against him. The kitchen was all great and fine, but I could think of more comfortable places to misbehave.
“What? Don’t tell me you’ve never done it in the kitchen?” Joe taunted His left hand captured my other breast, garnering the same reaction as his attention to its twin.
My mind tried to think back over all the crazy places I’d had sex, but it was difficult to concentrate with the rough pads of Joe’s thumbs stroking my nipples slowly and deliberately.
“I can’t say I’ve spent much time in the kitchen,” I confessed.
Joe chuckled and bent his auburn head to nibble at my neck. “I noticed,” he whispered in my ear.
“I am trying,” I pointed out, but it was hard to sound pissed off with Joe kissing the spot behind my ear that made my insides melt.
“So am I, darlin’,” he said huskily, “but you keep interrupting.”
I started laughing as he rained his kisses along my jaw.
“Won’t your dad be expecting you back soon?” I murmured. The rough scratch of his stubble along the sensitive underside of my chin made me squirm and gasp.
“Oh, probably,” Joe said in a low rumble. His hands drifted down from my breasts to my hips as he kissed me. His tongue delved into my mouth drawing a loud moan from me.
“Don’t worry, Rhi,” Joe promised when our kiss ended. “I’ll be quick.” And before I could register what was happening Joe spun me about to face the cupboards.
I laughed dizzily as Joe’s hands moved slowly over the curve of my ass. My legs spread automatically and leaned forward to brace my hands against the edge of the countertop. I knew what he wanted without him having to ask. My breath came fast and loud. I moaned every time Joe’s caresses neared the juncture of my thighs. How could I get so excited, so fast?
“Joe,” his name was more of a sigh than a word. He chuckled lustily. He dipped his fingers lower; we moaned in unison as he found my wetness and heat.
Vaguely, I heard the distinct sound of a zipper being lowered, but the sensation of his fingers against my clit distracted me. I didn’t fully comprehend Joe’s intentions until his hard cock pressed between my legs.
“Rhiannon,” Joe groaned and then he was inside me. The slick heat of my pussy clenched greedily around him, drawing him in. I wailed in pleasure.
Usually Joe was gentle and slow, but this time he was determined to make me come in the shortest time possible. I couldn’t do anything but hold onto the edge of the countertop and remember to breathe.
Every pull as Joe withdrew was torture. Every push as he reentered was bliss. I couldn’t form coherent words, wasn’t capable of anything other than a constant, inhuman cry of ecstasy as Joe fucked me as only Joe could. When he reached around to find my nipple I came so hard I saw stars. Joe’s own grunt of pleasure came swiftly after, each spasm of his finish answered one of my own.
I rested my head on the kitchen counter with a very unladylike groan and laughed with disbelief as I tried to catch my breath.
Joe patted my hip with a satisfied growl and slid himself from inside me; the sudden empty feeling made me whimper.
“I’ve got to sit down,” I muttered. My knees quaked. Sex only made the dizziness stronger, more pleasant, but stronger. I turned around and sunk down to sit naked on our kitchen floor. Joe chuckled and tucked himself back into his pants.
“That was…” I struggled with words, unable to wrap my tongue around syllables. Everything tingled.
“Good?” Joe supplied with a grin.
I nodded. “And unexpected.”
His smile grew wider. “Been thinkin’ about that all morning while I cultivated the west field.”
I cocked an eyebrow. “Shouldn’t you be concentrating while you plough? Heavy machinery and all that?”
Joe shrugged. “Yes an’ no. It’s a great time to think while you’re out there, alone; nothin’ but you and the open air. Best time to clear your head.”
My own head was such a messy jumble of post-orgasmic foolishness that I couldn’t fathom being able to think clearly. “Hm, maybe I should give it a try,” I said with a giggle.
Joe laughed and reached past me to the forgotten sandwich ingredients still lying waiting on the counter. He stuffed a few pieces of cheese between two slices of bread. “Any time you want a demonstration, I’ll be happy to show you.” He took a big bite of makeshift sandwich and smiled before bending to kiss the top of my head. “Thanks for lunch, Rhiannon.”
“You have to go back already?” I sounded disappointed. I was disappointed. That surprised me more than I thought possible.
Joe chuckled. “A week ago you didn’t want to have anything to do with me,” he teased.
“That’s not entirely true,” I retorted with an echoed grin. I held out my hands and Joe took them, hauling me easily to my feet. taksim escort “I can think of plenty of things to do with you.” I gave him a quick kiss and my best smile.
Joe’s arms came around my waist and greedily he took another kiss.
“Are you sure you don’t want to stay a little longer?” I purred, pressing myself against him. Joe groaned, he wanted the same thing I did. Our quickie in the kitchen had only given us tempting little taste.
“Wish I could, darlin’,” Joe said softly. He reached around and cupped my ass, squeezing possessively. I smiled. “But I thought I’d stop by the house and talk to Mum and Dad. Break the news to them.”
My face fell. “So soon?”
“Well I can’t keep you a secret forever, not now that Lilly knows. Might as well tell them sooner than later or Mum will pop by some Sunday afternoon and find me making love to you on the livingroom floor and then we’ll really have some explaining to do.”
I sighed as my stomach churned nervously. “Do you want me to come with you?”
He kissed me on the forehead. “I appreciate the offer, but I think this is something I should do by myself. Not exactly sure what the reaction is going to be, to be honest. I’m sure Mum’ll be down to see you the first second she can though whether its good or bad, so although I never thought I’d say this, you probably should put some clothes on.” His gaze wandered over my naked body and the happy gleam came back into his eyes. I knew he was nervous despite the lusty grin. The tension in his arms and grim line of his mouth gave it away.
I nodded. “Good luck,” I offered, unsure of what else to say.
“Thanks darlin’,” Joe patted my ass, a gesture which was oddly calming and made me smile. He made his way to the back door. “And thanks again for lunch.”
I laughed. “But I didn’t have anything for you!”
Joe turned and shot a sexy smile over his shoulder. “I wouldn’t say that.”
I got dressed and curled up on the daybed in the sun porch with one of the tattered books from the rickety old bookshelf. The cottage boasted a surprising selection of books, most of which must have been left by the ever changing tide of renters who’d come and gone over the years. I’d chosen a murder mystery of dubious quality and I drifted off to sleep before I even got one chapter in.
The gentle knock on the porch door woke me some time later, but when I looked up it wasn’t Mrs. Tanner’s pretty face on the other side of the glass. It was Violet, Joe’s little sister. I sat up, still sleepy as motioned for her to come in, which she did with a tentative smile.
Vi looked remarkably like Lilly, only ten years younger and somehow cooler. She certainly fulfilled the requirements of the youngest ‘wild-child’. A bright blond streak rebelled against her red hair and she’d had her tongue pierced a few months earlier. There’d been such uproar in the Tanner household over that one that Lilly and I had laughed for days. Her wardrobe usually raised a few eyebrows too. Vi had great style: a little punk-rock, a little vintage-retro. She was the only redhead I knew who pulled off bright red lipstick. She was a cool kid.
“Hey,” she said softly, closing the door behind her. “Sorry to wake you up.”
I shrugged. “No worries. I seem to be tired most of the time these days.”
Violet’s smile was shy and sweet. She knew the truth.
“How are things up at the house?” I asked, a little afraid of the answer.
Vi smiled. “Chaotic.”
I curled my feet under me as Vi sat down at the other end of the daybed. “I’ve put a little hiccup in the Tanner family plans, huh?”
She giggled. Her big blue eyes were such a twin to Lilly’s that it was a little disconcerting. It made me want to open up to her the way I wanted to with Lilly, but felt I couldn’t.
“I’d say it’s more of a big hiccup,” Vi confessed. Her smile was sheepish. “I’m happy for you though.”
I returned her smile but I didn’t like what Vi had left unsaid. I could just tell things hadn’t gone well with Joe’s parents.
“We wouldn’t have chosen to do it this way,” I explained. I’d always liked Vi; I thought she was a good kid. I hated to consider that she thought less of me.
She tossed her hair nonchalantly over one shoulder and grinned. “These things happen. Probably the best thing that’s ever happened to Joe. I was starting to get worried that he’d never settle down. And you’re already like one of the family. It’s perfect! I think it’s very romantic.”
I laughed. Violet was a great kid, but she was so young sometimes. Romance didn’t factor in to it.
“So things didn’t go well?” I ventured. I was dying of curiosity.
Her pretty face fell. “Not really, no. Mum and Dad will come around. I think Mum might be pretty excited underneath, but Dad’s reaction wasn’t great. And although she always sides with him at first, she’ll work on him, you’ll see. By the end of the summer they’ll be pleased as punch.”
I thought about how şişli escort closely Joe worked with his dad every day, how much his family meant to him. It made my chest ache to think I caused any discord between them. It was just one more cosmically unfair consequence of the night that probably never should have happened.
Vi looked as if she might say something, but then the rumble of a car coming down the lane drifted in through the open windows. Both our heads shot up to see a rusty old blue car come to a squealing stop. There were two redheads in the front seat, both wearing big grins.
“News travels fast in the Tanner clan?” I teased as Chuck and Matt came bounding across the porch and burst into the cottage. Vi laughed.
“Dude!” Matt said enthusiastically while leaning down to give me a big kiss on the cheek. “Congratulations!” Chuck echoed the sentiment with an eerily similar smile.
Matt immediately cracked open the beer fridge. “Do you mind?” he asked me as he poked his head inside and brought out two bottles of beer.
I shook my head. “Go on, but it’s not my beer.”
Matt passed a bottle to Chuck before the two of them settled down in the arm chairs opposite Violet and I. “Hey, the big brother owes us. It’s the least he can do. We covered for his ass all weekend. None of us knew where he was! I guess it’s fair to assume he was with you, huh?”
I nodded, laughing. “Yeah, sorry about that.”
Matt and Chuck shrugged in unison. It was a very Tanner gesture and it made me smile.
“Don’t worry about it,” Chuck said in his soft voice. Of all the Tanner kids, he was the most like Lilly: book-smart, shy, and quiet, with the sapphire gaze that didn’t miss anything, just like their dad. Matt and Vi seemed like their Mum, big vibrant personalities who filled the whole room and made you feel comfortable, included. And Joe was just… well… Joe.
Matt took a pull on his beer and smiled at me. “Hell, I’m still tryin’ to figure out how the big, ugly brute scored the hottest chick on the island.”
I actually blushed. Vi laughed. Chuck just shook his head, looking chagrined.
“I’m sure he has a few tricks up his sleeve he could teach you,” Vi kidded.
I thought about all the tricks Joe did have up his sleeve and blushed even more. I looked up to see Chuck watching me with a small smile.
“We’re really happy for you,” he said. “Even if Mum and Dad aren’t.”
Matt shot his brother a dirty look which made me wonder if they weren’t all trying to keep something more from me. I was about to ask when Vi interrupted.
“We’ll talk about it later,” she said, patting my knee. “When Lilly gets here and Joe’s home.”
“Lilly’s coming over too?” I asked. My head spun, filled with too many things. I hadn’t expected multiple Tanners, I wasn’t mentally prepared for it. They spoke their own language of looks and gestures which I’d noticed in the past but never paid much attention to. They were a close-knit bunch, but it was a little like magic the way they could just look at each other and communicate without saying much. I was jealous of it actually, they were all so comfortable with each other and since I’d never had siblings, it was an intimacy I didn’t understand.
“Of course,” Vi said off-handedly. “We can’t have a Tanner Sibling Conclave without Lilly.”
“She’s usually moderator,” Chuck explained. “She keeps us from killing each other if we don’t agree, plus she’s bringing more beer.”
I was confused and must have looked it because Matt winked at me and grinned. “Whenever there’s big news or something major happens, we all get together and talk it over first, without Mum and Dad. Gotta stick together, ‘united we stand’ and all that,” he explained. “And seeing as you’re one of us now…”
Vi grinned and practically bounced up and down on the daybed beside me. Her excitement was contagious. I smiled back at her. I’d never been included in family things before, not like this, and it made me feel happy.
“Joe’s probably pissed, huh?” I ventured.
Matt winked at me again and toasted me with his half-empty bottle of beer. “Joe’s getting the good end of this, no matter how you slice it,” he said with a laugh. “He’s got you to come home to, I doubt he cares much what Mum and Dad think.”
I wasn’t so sure I agreed with him, but I kept silent. Chuck’s own expression was slightly worried. He more than likely agreed with me rather than Matt.
“I told you,” Vi reassured me with another comforting, sisterly pat on the knee, “Mum and Dad will come around. They always do.”
“Especially if we gang up on them,” Matt chuckled. “We’re a pretty difficult bunch to stay mad at. Besides, deep down they love you. You’re practically a Tanner anyway, only now it’s official.”
“Not quite official,” I reminded Matt gently. I wanted to tell them that I hadn’t agreed to anything yet, that I didn’t seem capable of making up my mind about it all. I wasn’t sure how to say that, so I left things alone. Chuck sized me up again with his sapphire blue eyes and I had the distinct feeling he had guessed where things lay between me and Joe.
“So what does a Tanner Sibling Conclave entail exactly?” I asked, desperate to change the subject.
“Beer,” Matt said.
“Food,” Vi chimed in.
“And a few arguments,” Chuck added.
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