"Do you want lunch?" I asked, trying to fill the empty space that lingered in the air. I glanced over at him because I could feel his stare on my face. Turning to face him, I couldn't help but giggle a little when I remembered the wads of tissue in his nostrils.

"You look ridiculous, you know?" I pointed to his nose, but he still didn't speak. What was his problem?

"Sorry, I was just… thinking."

"I swear, Derek, if you keep doing that, your brain will explode," I joked while grabbing cold cuts from the fridge. He laughed without humor and took a seat at the table.

"Please, please. Don't jump at the opportunity to help me out here,"

"Sounds good to me," He leaned back in the chair and began to pick the grubbiness from underneath his fingernails.

"Well, I guess I'll just go call Mom and tell her I'll meet her at the theater…" I said, while grabbing the phone off the hook. In an instant, he was up from his chair and his fingers were wrapped around my wrist. Leaning in close to me, he muttered under his breath,

"Don't you dare." He smirked lightheartedly and plucked the phone from my grip. But he didn't back off. Suddenly, the mood changed from light to intense in just a matter of seconds. Silence engulfed the air once more. I stared up at him vulnerably, knowing what was coming next. He leaned down and smoothly kissed my jaw, and slowly but carefully, he kissed his way to my mouth. His lips were like velvet, and they felt like they belonged on mine. The kiss deepened, but he didn't go too far. Unlike Sam had done when we kissed; Derek kept his tongue inside his mouth and didn't move it an inch. I was thoroughly satisfied. When he pulled away, I let out a chortle. The tissue was still in both of our noses. He caught on quickly and turned pink, before taking them out. I followed his action.

"What do you plan on doing this fine afternoon, Derek?" I asked, placing his lunch in front of him and a can of Pepsi as well. He shrugged, biting off a mouthful of his sandwich and washing it down with his drink.

"Whatever you want. I owe you, remember?" He winked, and shoved more of the sandwich into his mouth. Just another thing I had to get used to. Carefully, I ripped a piece of my lunch off and chewed it thoroughly, unlike my savage stepbrother.

Stepbrother.

The word, it was so contaminated and vile, it shook me at my foundation. Brother. Siblings. I paled and gulped down some soda.

"What's wrong?" He asked me, seeing the horrified expression I wore. I shook my head slowly and looked at him with wide eyes.

"Nothing, don't worry about it," I sputtered, squeezing the bridge of my nose in frustration. I knew this newfound relationship was too good to be true. Why had I totally forgotten the fact that we were related? Well, not technically, but…

"Are you sure? You look like you just saw a ghost or something," He asked, putting a hand on my arm. I twitched at his touch, not sure now on what to do.

"Okay, seriously. What is up, Casey? I thought you wanted this," He said sternly, removing his hand.

"Derek. We're siblings. I just…" I trailed off for a moment. What could I say? "I just didn't consider that before."

I noticed that he recoiled when I said the word sibling.

"It's our senior year. I mean, I know taking chances isn't really your thing, but do you really think anything will go wrong? What could happen? We're careful around Nora and dad, you know that. You're leaving at the end of summer anyways. I mean, if you don't want to take this chance, so be it. And this may not work out, either, but at least we'll have the memories, right?" His voice was soft, velvety, and almost enough to let him off the hook.

"What about moral ethics? Isn't this considered incest or something?" I spoke almost completely to myself in a worried tone. Incest was another word I definitely wanted to avoid.

"Casey. Please trust me, for once in your life. Everything will be alright."

I exhaled. He won.

"Fine. If we ever get caught, though, the blame is all on you." I ended, in a playful tone. His face eased a little, thankfully, into his normal blank expression. We chewed silently for a few seconds, feeling some tension in the air.

"I don't really feel like sitting in today," Derek thought aloud, before taking a swig of his Pepsi.

"Oh really? What do you feel like doing, then?" I pondered.

"I don't know, I just hate being cooped in the house like this on the weekend. We should… go bowling or something."

Derek? Wants to go bowling? That's different.

"Only if you want to, of course. I owe you." He added. I thought about this for a second. It would be nice to leave the house…

"Fine. But you're paying!" I playfully said as I rinsed my lunch dish.

We arrived at the alley shortly afterwards, and paid for our lane. That's when I remembered how bad of a bowler I was.

"I have to warn you, I'm kind of rusty at this game." I told him while lacing my shoes.

"Don't worry, I probably am too. Haven't played since sophomore year of high school." He laughed while typing in our names into the machine. He was up first.

He took the ball in both of his hands, and stood a foot or two away from the line. I noticed he was trying to calculate something in his head as he stayed in this position for a few seconds, his eyes focused on the pins. And then, almost effortlessly, he swung the ball backwards and rolled it in a professional manner. The pins didn't have a chance.

"Strike! Yes!" He exclaimed, jumping up and down as he trotted back to where I was sitting. "Haven't played since sophomore year of high school," my ass. He looked as if he played the game every weekend.

"Your turn," He told me. As I approached the lane, he caught my arm and gave me a kiss on the cheek, "Good luck."

I smiled, but doubted it. I took a medium sized pink ball and slid my fingers into it cautiously. Trying to focus as hard as Derek did, I sent the ball flying down the lane with all of my strength. Unfortunately, it veered off to the right almost instantly. Gutter ball. I pouted.

"Don't worry, you have another try. Here, let me help you out," He said as he approached me.

"You have to keep your wrist straight, like this," He took my wrist and held it in the right position.

"And your legs are in the wrong position," He continued, as I felt his hand touch my thigh and push it back a little.

"There. Now try."

I did, and I knocked down two pins. Better than none.

Most of the game went by just like this. He got a strike, I got a gutter ball, he got a spare, I knocked down three pins, etc. Finally, it was the last frame. Derek got a spare. And then it was my turn.

I walked up to the lane and concentrated as hard as I could. Legs in the right position, wrist straight, I hurled the ball down the lane. It rolled fast, straight down the middle. The pins went flying, and only one was left in the middle.

"You can get a spare, Case. Just concentrate." I heard Derek call from behind me.

I picked up the ball once again and followed the steps that Derek had taught me. And I did it. I got a spare!

"Yes!" I screamed excitedly, jumping up and down. Derek ran towards me and picked me up, letting me wrap my legs around his waist.

"You did it!" He exclaimed. I was so overcome with joy that I hadn't noticed Sam walk in with a brunette at his side. Luckily, Derek had put me down on the floor before Sam saw the display, but he did see us embrace.

"Derek?" He called. Derek jumped away from my body as if he received an electrical shock.

"H-hey, Sam. How's it going?" He asked nervously. I just stood next to him, mortified.

"Oh, just here with Cassandra," Sam pointed to the girl next to him, "You here with the family?"

"Oh, yeah. They're in the bathroom." Derek said, all too quickly, before realizing how dumb that sounded.

"All of them?"

"Yeah." He replied, looking like he was about to faint, "But hey, we have to go, man. Told the rest of them that we'd meet them in the car. See you later."

Derek and I were out of there faster than a bullet. As soon as we got in the car, we exhaled the breath we had been holding in that whole time.

"Wow. That was close." I said. We drove home in silence, as I thought about how bad that situation could have been. And that's when I realized how hard it would be for Derek and I. Always on the look out for people we knew, or our family. But I was willing to take that risk.

The next few months passed by in a blur. It was filled with secret meetings when the family had all gone to bed, rushed kisses, and sneaking around more than I ever had behind my parents backs. It was tough, but we stuck through it, and it almost seemed like the risk and the adrenaline rush brought us that much closer.

By now, it was summer. A month into summer, actually. And we were taking our annual trip to our cabin in Vermont. It wasn't my most favorite place in the world, but it was so traditional in our family that I didn't mind going every summer. The memories of that place will never leave me. I remember falling off our homemade swing in the backyard and breaking my arm, I remember when we would go fishing almost every day, and my dad always freaked my mom out with the fresh worms as bait, and I remember sitting on the porch swing, my head on my mom's lap, watching the sun set over the lake.

Now, since our family has doubled in size, it was a little cramped in that house but it was still relaxing. And now that Derek and I were 'together', I figured it would be a fun trip.

We arrived in the late afternoon, around five o'clock or so. We got situated in our rooms (Lizzie with me, Edwin with Derek, and my parents with Marti) before our parents announced they were going to the nearby convenient store for some food and cooking ingredients. The rest of us kids played card games on the kitchen table to pass the time.

The cabin hadn't changed a bit. Same porch swing, same creaky, wooden floorboards, and same sawdust smell. The staircase was still as narrow as it had always been, and the kitchen was so old fashioned that it seemed we were back in the colonial age. It wasn't a bad cabin, but as I got older, the place seemed to get smaller. I tried not to think about it too much.

My mom and George arrived home shortly after six o'clock, and they started on a simple dinner of macaroni and cheese. We sat around the small kitchen table, laughing and talking like a real family. It felt nice. The only thing that was bothering me, however, was the fact that I hadn't talked to Derek yet that day. And I really wanted to.

"Meet me near the lake after everyone is asleep," I whispered to him discreetly as we washed dishes. He grunted in response. We finished up the dishes and joined our family by the fireplace.

I lay awake in bed, excited to meet up with Derek for the first time that day.

"Lizzie?" I muttered quietly. No response. I anxiously got out of bed and snuck very carefully down the old stairs and out the door. Derek was already there, skipping stones on the water. I silently came up behind him and wrapped my arms around his stomach.

"Hey," He whispered, and turned me around so he could give me a kiss. His tongue slipped in with ease; this was not new to us anymore. His lips were sweet and his tongue warm, and it made me feel at ease. Breaking apart, we sat down near the edge of the lake.

"It's so nice out," I commented. The air was cool, the water was calm, and the sound of crickets was soothing. Derek nodded in agreement.

"There's something about this place I really like," Derek mumbled as he looked out onto the lake. I scooted closer to him so I could hear him better, "It's so different from home but it's almost relaxing."

"You're so cute when you're serious," I laughed and leaned in to kiss his forehead, and then trailed down to his lips. It started off very soft, but got to be more and more intense by the minute. Soon, I was lying on my back with him on top of me. My hands twisted in his hair longingly, and his were on my waist. His warm fingers touched the skin that had exposed itself between my shirt and pajama pants. I shuddered.

Carefully, he lifted my shirt a little, inch by inch. I didn't protest. Soon, he brought the shirt over my head and threw it to the side. I followed his lead, and uncovered his hard abs. I trailed my fingers down his bare stomach, feeling the crevices of his skin. His rough hands then did something they never did before, they pulled at my pants. I froze for a second.

"You okay?" He muttered into my hair. I thought for a second, and then nodded. Maybe I was ready to go on. And so he pulled them down until they were at my ankles, at which point I kicked them off myself. We continued kissing until I got the courage to return the favor. Carefully, I slid his plaid pants down with my shaky hands. I prayed that would calm down soon.

After his pants were off, we broke the kiss for a second to let our eyes glide down each other's bodies. It was then that I could see, and feel, his erection that hid in his boxers. I gulped. He reached behind me and unclasped my bra in one swift motion.

"Are you okay with this?" He asked, before going any further. I looked into his soft eyes. I knew I could trust him.

"Yes," I replied, this time knowing that I was ready to do this. He placed his lips on mine harshly and took the bra off from under me. When his hands touched, I almost felt a jolt between us. After what seemed like forever, he reached my underwear. Once again, he looked at me for permission. I nodded and reached for his boxers at the same time. And in just a few seconds, we were both stark naked.

We scoured each other once more, taking in every square inch that we could. And slowly but surely, he positioned himself over me. Everything that happened afterwards went by so quickly; I barely had time to react.

It felt like just moments later, we were a panting, sweaty mess, intricately intertwined on the ground. And that was that. My virginity was his now.

Just ten minutes later, we were giving each other our goodnight kiss and heading back to our separate rooms. I slept soundly that night.

The rest of the vacation went by without much incident. We fished, we told ghost stories, we laughed, and I felt genuinely sad when we had to leave.

As for Derek and I, we didn't have sex again until after we got back home. It felt a lot better the next few times after that because I knew what I was doing. I also felt a lot better mentally because it made Derek and I that much more inseparable.

--

"Casey?" I heard a voice call my name as I sat in the kitchen near the cleaning cabinet. It was Mark. Swiftly, I shoved the scarf in the cabinet and shut the door. I wiped the tears from my face just as he walked into the kitchen.

"What are you doing in here?" He asked, looking around.

"I didn't feel too good, I was looking for some Advil." I lied, not daring to look into his eyes.

"We ran out a week ago, honey. Come back to bed, sleeping will do the trick," He replied in a soothing voice. There was not much else I could do but nod and follow him back to our bedroom.

I had always felt so horrible looking into Mark's face every day and seeing Derek's. The truth was, Mark was such a nice guy, but I never loved him. He popped the question on me one day and I was extremely startled. But I couldn't deal with disappointing another person who was very close to me, so I accepted. That was almost a year ago, and I still keep postponing the wedding date.

We crawled into bed together and he took me in his arms and smoothed out my hair. The longer I sat there, thinking of Derek and his harsh words in the hospital, the more I drifted back to that night by the lake, when he had cradled me in his arms and stroked my hair just like Mark was doing now.

A/N: Wow, I am SO sorry I haven't updated in so long! I got so busy with other things, I just never had the time. Anyways, I hope you enjoyed, let me know if you liked it!