I deserve to be burned at the stake for taking so long with this update.




Casey felt the grain of the wood on the thick, polished, hotel door. Her fingertips rested on the brass doorknob. She'd been standing that way for at least ten minutes, knowing she'd have to go in sometime.

Images of her previous melodramatic escape kept playing through her head and she blushed at her own foolishness. She was always the adult, the responsible one in the family, and here she was running away like a little child. Hell, she still running away, scared. But what was she supposed to do? She and her stepbrother had…well they'd…she didn't even want to think about it, mostly because she didn't know how to feel about it. Part of her wanted to be revolted by Derek's touch, yet still part of her craved it. It was a sickening, confusing feeling that she simply couldn't shake off. Innocent moments would flash through her mind, images of his hand tapping her on the shoulder, or his fingertips on the goosebumps on her arm. Then she shriveled at the thought of housekeeping back in that French hotel finding stains on their old sheets – blood, or anything else.

For the first time in Casey's life, her head wasn't on straight.

Then suddenly, she jumped back as she heard the tumblers on the other side of the door shift and the knob jerk back as Derek opened the door, a few pounds in his hands.

He jumped back at the sight of her as well.

"Casey," he said dumbly.

"Hey," she responded softly.

"Uh, come in." He held the door open for her and followed her into the room, as though she was an unexpected visitor and not a roommate.

Casey sat down on a bed and watched as Derek walked over to the dresser. She felt like a guest, a stranger. The bed didn't feel like something she would be sleeping on. It had a feeling similar to being in a sickroom or a funeral home.

"Here." He tossed her a key to the room.


"I'm going to get a soda. You want anything?"

Casey frowned. She hated avoiding the subject.

"No, thanks. Can't you go later?" Casey asked, noticing how unhappy Derek looked at having to stay with her. She couldn't exactly blame Derek; he was well known as the guy who was good at getting girls in bed but terrible at the conversations that followed.

He sat down across from her. "So…?"

"We need to talk." The words felt heavy on Casey's tongue. She could feel the silence in the room and smell the acute, generic scent of hotel.


"Derek…what happened?" was all she could manage. It was difficult to look at him, but she did it anyway, while Derek looked out the window.

"I don't even know."

Suddenly Casey felt a flush of anger. "How do you not know?"

Derek shrugged. "I mean, we had sex. It's natural."

Casey gaped at him for a moment. How could he flat-out say that which she couldn't even formulate in her mind? The words seemed to hover above her dangerously, like bricks suspended by string.

"Derek, what do you mean it's natural? Se…well, that, it's natural for people that are in love, not-"

Derek threw himself down onto his bed, bored. "Casey, can you please cut the Virgin Mary crap about love?" He said the last word as though it was something completely imaginary, something he could pretend to pluck right out of the air and have it be real.

"It's not crap Derek! I don't understand where you…shit. I can't believe I did this." Casey looked out over Derek's body, staring despondently at the wall behind him.

Derek sat up in his bed. He hated having a drama queen for a sister. "Casey, it's just sex."

"There is no such thing as 'just sex'"

"Oh my God. Casey, get a fucking grip. We're not in biblical times and you don't have to be this bullshit angel you want to be so much."

Derek's anger was reaching a fever pitch, and Casey could sense this, but still she couldn't help but blurt out what she said next. "God, did your dad damage you so much that you really think that what we did is nothing?" Her voice was getting thick and her eyes prickled with tears. "It's special to me, Derek. I know that nobody has ever been special for you, but why do you have to ruin everything for me?"

"Why is everything my fucking fault?" Derek exploded, "What the hell did I 'ruin,' Casey? You can deny it all you want, you can make it into something wrong and ugly, but I know that you liked it!" he stopped to catch his breath. "And where the fuck do you get off saying that nobody was ever special to me? We may have lived together for a few years, but you still don't know shit about me!"

"You wanna know how I know? Because you are fucked up, Derek! Okay? You are fucked up! And you wanna know something else-"

"Fuck off, Casey!"

The insult hit her like a splash of cold water, and the next thing Casey knew, the door had slammed after him.

She sat alone for a minute, taking deep breaths, trying to rationalize. She tried to convince herself that he would be back, that they would forgive each other, but she couldn't calm herself down. Her face felt hot with shame and anger and her hands were shaking and her body had no way to expend the emotion other than with tears.

At first, Casey tried to stifle her silent crying, but when she found she couldn't, when she really lost all control, heavy sobs wracked her body.


Ten minutes passed, and Casey's emotions were starting to settle down. As her crying quieted, the silence of the room started to press in on her. Part of her expected Derek to burst through the door at any moment. Despite how she may have felt, he wanted him to come through the door, and apologize, and accept her apology, and kiss her the way he did the other night, and just hold her, to keep her from breaking into pieces. Another part of her didn't have time for Derek anymore, because she was too tired for him. As crying often does to people, Casey was exhausted. Her cell phone read seven o'clock, but she needed sleep.

She turned on the television. Not to watch, but to act as background noise; the silence in the room was starting to build into a physical pressure, like trying to squeeze through a tiny rubber tube.

With some British commercial humming in the background, Casey slipped into her pajamas and turned off all the lights. She crawled under her cool covers and finally turned off the TV.


Derek's touch was so warm, and soft. It felt like butter was gliding over her chest, her shoulders, her back. She was naked, gloriously naked, and unashamed of it. She was acutely aware of where every one of his fingers lay, because in a sense they were her fingers, too.

His fingers roamed over her breasts and sloped over her shoulders, where he started squeezing one of them urgently, nudging and shaking her.

"Casey, Casey…"


She opened her eyes and it was dark, and it took Casey a minute to realize that she had been asleep. The rest had relaxed her, and now she didn't care that Derek was sitting next to her and waking her up. She sat up.

"Derek, what's going on?" She squinted at him in the semi-darkness and could tell that he was excited, maybe even a little nervous.

Derek looked at her. His gaze was searching, and pleading, and even a little lustful, all at once. The intensity of his stare almost scared Casey. Her heart rate quickened in her chest. She was suddenly very aware of his breath on her bottom lip.

And then he kissed her chastely. Casey didn't care how mad she was at him; the contact was incredible.

"I think I get it," he murmured as they broke apart, still focusing in on her eyes, "Casey, I think I get it." He smiled broadly.

Casey smiled back. She was still a little groggy, but felt warm inside. It was a different kind of warmth than that of liquor though. It was the sort of warmth that came not from her throat, but from her very being.

"Good," she whispered as they kissed again quickly.

Derek then got off her bed. In the few minutes before Casey fell back asleep, she could hear some rustling as Derek changed.

She felt safe. She felt warm. And, though Derek probably wouldn't admit it for a long time, she felt loved.




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