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Tem 21

Siblings Strip Away Past Notions (Remade)

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Writer’s Note: This is a rewritten and extended version of Siblings Strip Away Past Notions. There are significant changes to the plot and character development.

Originally Published: November 2018

Edited & Re-published: November 2021

Enjoy!

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Harder and faster, James pumped his strained forearm. His squinting eyes were on the empty bed across the room. No matter how violent his strokes, the only noise was the soft scraping of his knuckles against his sheets. The lack of squeaking in his wooden bed frame was just as exciting as the erotic vision playing in his mind. “Fuck yeah!” he grunted. “Nice!”

After the cum on his abs had been cleared with a tissue, James tightened the screws of the frame once more. He liked the idea of sharing a room with Austin but also liked knowing he could safely masturbate at night or have a girl over without being self-conscious about neighbors hearing them.

James was proud of his new living space. After chickening out last year, he and his closest friends took the plunge and moved off-campus for their senior year. An apartment at The Uptown Reserve was a dream, an expensive dream, but a dream come true nonetheless.

The Reserve complex was geared toward young professionals who wanted stainless steel appliances, modern design, and hardwood floors — and were willing to pay for it. But James and his friends crammed two beds into each bedroom to afford living there.

Even with having a roommate as a senior, James was grateful, for he never took anything for granted in life. He only looked forward to his final year and then going to grad school and then becoming an engineer. So, doubling-up rooms with Austin, Luke, and Harris and having less beer money for a year was worth the better lifestyle.

While the tan and soft blue buildings were pretentious, the other residents seemed cool and friendly. James had first stumbled onto this promised land when he helped his parents move his older sister in the year before. He remembered marveling at the enclosed parks, the grilling patios, the gym — with squat racks, the free wifi, and the clubhouse, which had a pool table and a projector screen. He never wanted to leave.

And, no… his opinion was not influenced in any way by stepping out of his sister’s third-floor balcony to see young women lining the edge of a large, heated pool, sunbathing. He knew his friends would love the complex, too.

On his first-floor balcony, looking out into the afternoon sun and eating a slice of cold pizza, James had to admit that he had a reason to finally be grateful for his sister.

A sibling living nearby may seem valuable to most, but James only signed off on the lease once he was certain his building was far from his sister’s. It wasn’t that he hated her, per se, it was more that he had come to realize a simple truth: She was a thorn in his side.

Aside from the normal bickering of siblings born twenty-two months apart, there was a much deeper problem. James forever lived in his sister’s shadow. She was the perfect child, the cute one, the funny one, the social butterfly. For her, getting her degree was a breeze. Meanwhile, James worked quietly in the background, with his nose to the grindstone, accomplishing his practical goals. He was neither the best nor the worst student, neither spectacular nor dull in social settings, and neither open nor closed.

The problem wasn’t that James had been mistreated or cast aside as a child. He was loved. The problem was that whenever he was around his sister, he felt invisible. Her personality and gifts cast too large of a shadow. He didn’t think she was being evil, but he did wonder why after a lifetime of supporting her and believing in her, she never used her gifts to shine some light on him. In the end, he just didn’t want to be around her and feel invisible again.

Regardless, he did have a reason to thank his sister now. If she hadn’t moved in first, there was no way in Hell his strict parents would’ve let him move into The Reserve. James may have been an adult, but he didn’t have a full-tuition scholarship to law school and a cushy internship at a law firm like his sister did, so he was still reliant on his parents’ tuition money, and therefore their judgment. When his parents finally agreed to let him live off-campus, they didn’t say it was because they trusted him but rather, “Your sister seems to think it’s a good idea.”

She got to move here without them asking her a million questions. God! That was so fucking annoying. She didn’t need someone in the family living here first. She just got to… Dude! Calm the fuck down. Who cares, man? You’re here! James thought, shaking his head in laughter.

He loosened his white knuckles on the railing and happily chewed his pizza. The lease was signed, and he was in paradise for a year.

There was a knock on the sliding glass door, and James turned to Luke, who was waving him inside with a muffled voice. “You gotta tipobet365 yeni giriş get in here! We’re setting up the living room, and Harris wants the couch against the wall like a fucking moron. He wants the Switch and the TV just sitting in the middle of the room.”

Used to being “the mom” of the friend group, James nodded and walked inside.

***** 1

The morning sun filtered through the white blinds and awakened James’s fluttering eyes. Austin was still asleep, but the room was unpacked and clean. It was home. A surge of possibilities made James’s cheeks bubble, for class didn’t start until Monday, and today was a blank canvas.

Over their breakfast of Cheerios, Harris stressed the need of throwing a football around. They had all joined the same intramural football team last year, only to get their asses kicked in the playoffs. According to Harris, it was a result of them “goofin’ around too much.”

“We might wanna hit the gym first, though. I did nothing all summer,” Luke confessed.

Slurping his milk, James added, “Yeah, we should. And we can go to the pool later. Maybe we will meet some neighbors there.”

The four young men at the table lit up with the same shit-eating grin.

“Sounds good,” Harris nodded. “I say we work up a sweat in the gym, toss the ball around, then do a cool-down dip.” They all agreed.

—-

Their bond didn’t last for long, as the post-breakfast activity was debating how to load the dishwasher. Austin explained the benefits of leaving a gap between plates, while Luke rallied support against it.

Ding! Ding!

They all ceased at the chime of their new doorbell, and they all looked at James. “I’ll get it,” he announced, already knowing they would look to him.

Through the living room, he walked into the small entryway and peeked through the peephole. The warped image was exciting and then disappointing. He scoffed at the sight of the grinning, young woman. I fucking knew they’d tell her to spy on me…

James slipped out through a crack in the door. “Hey, what’s up?”

“Hey! Oh my god! I can’t believe you’re here!” Wendy danced and hugged him on the stoop. “How’s everything going so far?”

“Good, good, you know. There’s a lot to do to get moved in, but we’re getting there,” James said to his sister, with hands tapping in his pockets.

“Is everything okay…?”

“Yeah, everything’s great. Why?”

“Nothing. You just seem a little uncomfortable or stressed out,” Wendy chuckled uneasily. Her eyes were scanning his stubbly face and messy, brown hair. “It kinda seems like ya don’t want to see me, heh.”

“That’s not true!” James snapped.

“Really? Cuz we’re still standing outside, and ya look a little eager to get back inside… hah. C’mon, we haven’t seen each other in, like, forever!”

James scratched his unruly bedhead, which was normally combed and flipped in front. “I know. It’s just, the move is stressful, and we’re not anywhere close to being done unpacking yet. You know, I don’t want you to see it and have to tell mom and dad how bad it looks.”

His older sister cocked her brow. “What do you mean? Why would I ‘have to tell mom and dad’ how bad it looks? Why the hell would I care?”

“No, I… I know you wouldn’t tattle on me. It’s just, I know that mom and dad will end up asking you a million questions about how I’m doing here, and you’re not gonna lie about that.”

Slowly, her cheeks rounded, until she burst out in laughter. “Why the fuck not? What do you mean? Why would I tattle on you? I’ll just tell them what they wanna hear. You think I wanna be on the phone with them for two hours explaining your apartment to them?”

Watching her shake and laugh was weird for James. Her cavalier attitude, and her casual cursing, caught him off-guard. Never would she have lied to their parents, especially if it concerned him. She never missed the chance to tattle on him, whether he was sneaking an extra dessert or setting off fireworks in the woods with friends — granted, in that case, it was probably a good idea.

As he examined her more closely, he realized she looked older, and that was because she was. It dawned on James that he had spent little time with his sister over the last four years. Sure, they went to the same school, but Ann Arbor was a sprawling campus with over thirty thousand students, and James had made no effort when she reached out to him to hang out his freshman year. Between that and his sister living in Detroit most summers for her law internship, when did he spend time with her? At Christmas?

“Well, anyway,” James said, “it’s chaos in there, and I’d feel bad inviting anyone in.”

“Ah. Gotcha…” Wendy nodded with disappointment. “I’ll swing by later in the week for the tour, then? I guess today I can just meet your friends on the porch and–“

“No!” He lurched. “I mean, I think they’re still eating breakfast, so you can just meet them later maybe?”

“Oh. Okay, then…” Wendy shrunk and smacked tipobet365 giriş her lips, unsure of what to say.

James said goodbye and returned to his friends, telling them how he had just told the maintenance guy that everything in the apartment was running smoothly so far.

***** 2

James, Luke, Austin, and Harris walked barefoot under a cloudy August sky, the grass lawn cool and silky between their toes. After working out and playing football, they had earned a trip to the pool.

Their feet found concrete, and they walked briskly down a short path through rows of drooping willows and arrived at the pool gate. Their shirts were soaked through and sticky, and they immediately found a reason to sweat more.

“I love this place, y’all,” Austin whispered.

They had yet to unlatch the metal gate, and already they were facing a pair of twenty-something women lying in chaise lounge chairs. Their lotioned skin glistened in the muted sun, as one was on her stomach, her bikini top untied. The guys felt an instinct to wave and say hello to the women, but they were hesitant because of their dark sunglasses. Was the reclining one with cute, small breasts asleep? It could wait. They had all year.

James walked across the pool deck with his friends in tow. He found a row of four open chairs and dropped his gym sack. Perhaps it was the cloudy weather, but the pool was sparse, with small groups and solo bathers here and there. It was nice.

It was finally time for James to take off his shirt and unveil his beach body, a moment he had been proudly waiting for. He had a lean frame with broad shoulders, a swimmer’s body despite not having swum competitively in years, and it deceptively made him appear taller than he was. It also made him easy to stay tone but hard to add bulk. So, when he muscled his way out of his damp t-shirt, there was hardly a difference from last year, but he felt there was. “Alright, I’m ready! Let’s go! I think we should–“

“Yo,” Harris calmly interrupted. He nudged his chin. “Six o’clock.”

Each guy took his turn glancing across the water, spotting the gorgeous Latina sunbather in her red bikini. She was oblivious to their interest, wearing headphones and flipping through a magazine.

“That’s why they can charge so much for rent,” James shrugged. His friends stifled their laughter.

“Welp, she’s out of all our leagues, so I’m gonna jump in before I die of heatstroke,” Luke said, dipping his foot in the blue water.

“How’s it feel? Please tell me they ain’t got the heater on.”

“Nah, Austin, it’s pretty nice. It’s like a cool bath…” Luke’s attention faded into the distance. “Guys, guys, guys, guys, guys!” His flicking head demanded attention. “I know what I just said, but Jesus Christ…”

Luke’s theatrics made James cringe, and he looked to make sure their new Latina neighbor wasn’t watching. “Oh, damn!” he heard Harris say. “I think I found her…” Luke dramatized. “I think I found the one.”

Recklessly craning his neck, James stared down to the end of their row of plastic lounge chairs. With her back supported, a book in her hands, and one knee swaying breezily in the air, was the silhouette of a young woman. Her body was tight and voluptuous, with ample breasts pillowing on her chest and a butt stretching the nylon straps of her slate-black bikini. Her skin was sun-kissed.

A reflective glint caught the edge of her gold aviators, and James and his friends jerked their heads away. Maybe too quickly. She sat up and removed her sunglasses, then used her saluting hand as a visor.

She had caught them looking, but instead of anger, her eyes popped in excitement. Her arm shot into the air and waved hello, causing three of the guys to straighten their spines and puff out their chests as they waved back. James, however, hunched over.

Suddenly, the five-six brunette had set down her book and was busting toward them. With each stride on the concrete, she bounced on the balls of her feet, making her breasts, rear, and ponytail bounce in turn. “Hey, James!”

Instantly, James felt entrapped by baffled, unworldly eyes. His friends were scouring their brains, looking at him like they had just learned he was a time traveler and had never told them. Of all the times James imagined the day his sister and friends would meet, it was certainly never like this. He felt dumb for ever thinking he could avoid this encounter. You gotta be fucking kidding me… “Hi, Wen,” he muttered.

“I’m glad you took a break from moving in to make it out to the pool!”

“Oh, we actually finished moving in yester–“

“Yeah, us, too.” James loudly cut off Austin. “We just got done playing football, so we figured we’d head here.” As his friends fumbled with their postures, James racked his brain to remember the last time he had seen his sister in a two-piece swimsuit. It was never. It had never happened. Wendy wearing a bikini to a public pool was inconceivable. Even now, if their parents found out, they would tipobet365 güvenilirmi lose their fucking minds. And James understood why.

“Gotcha,” Wendy said. Her voice was mature and easygoing, with an ever-so-slight drawl. “We’re in the same boat then. I just got back from yoga, and I thought I’d unwind before hittin’ the books.”

“You’re studying already?!” Luke interjected. He quickly shrunk, as if afraid of the gorgeous brunette.

“Yep! I’m a law-school girl. The work never stops for me.” Wendy scrunched her turn-up nose at her brother’s friend. “I’m going to take a guess…” she pointed. “Based on James’s Insta pics, I’m gonna say you’re… Luke?”

He nodded his curly, fair head in wonder as if his celebrity crush knew his name. Wendy moved on from the thin boy and pointed at the stocky blonde next to him. “And that makes you Austin?”

“Yes, ma’am.” Austin smiled, then winced at his reply. Wendy thought nothing of it and moved on to the final masculine face. Being her brother’s only lean, tall, black friend, Wendy had an easy time with the third roommate. “And that makes you Harris.”

“Yes, I am,” he voiced smoothly.

“Well, it’s nice to meet you all! I can see you’re here to swim, so I’ll get outta your hair. But, like I told James already, I’ll swing by and visit you guys later in the week, and we can hang out. Well… if I can get free from my schoolwork,” she added, with a roll of her eyes. The guys, minus James, laughed loudly.

As she turned and walked away, James braced himself for the inevitable onslaught, the same barrage of comments he had suffered throughout high school. As soon as she sat down, his friends turned back to him.

“Bro, I’m sorry, but your sister is the hottest woman alive.”

“How the fuck did we not meet her yet?”

“Do you guys have the same parents? Or is it like a half-sister thing?”

“Can I ask for your permission to think about her in the shower?”

“Dude, please tell me you’re fucking jerking off in the shower.”

“I just said I wanted to think about her. I didn’t say I was actually–“

“Please stop,” James moaned, knowing they wouldn’t. As he had learned in high school, buddies ragged on each other over hot sisters or moms, especially when they were in groups. James was guilty of it himself at some points, and this just needed to run its course, as it always did. “Let’s just swim.”

“Good idea, our erections will be easier to hide in the water.”

James groaned and jumped into the pool. The cold shocked his senses, but he allowed himself to sink to the bottom in the quiet darkness. One at a time. That was how he preferred his friends to meet his sister. When he was the only audience, who could his friends joke with? If his friends talked about his sister behind his back, what did it matter? He couldn’t hear it.

The air in his lungs was running thin, and James loathed the idea of returning to the surface, to the same tired innuendos and cliches. It seemed with age, his friends’ jokes grew more annoying. Perhaps it was a sign of maturity. Either way, he was human and he didn’t literally want to die, so he stood up in the pool.

“I don’t know, they have to be at least double-D’s.” “You think?” “Yeah, at least. They’re fucking melons. Look up how big Katy Perry’s are.” “How do you know what hers look like?” “From like TV and shit. Trust me, they’re like the same size.”

Ahhh! James massaged his eyelids. His friends were at least trying to whisper and subtly sneak peeks. But it was safe to say none of them were destined for roles in the CIA.

“God, did you see her walk away? How is James related to her?” “Her real mom’s gotta be black. That shit’s genetic. Yoga alone can’t do that.”

He was standing right behind them, and they were unaware and absorbed. That was the Wendy effect. It’s what she always did. Perhaps it was a result of not experiencing it for years, but it felt worse now. Drifting off into space, James tried not to catalog which friend uttered which irksome remark. He didn’t want to hate them. Why did I want us to move here? James thought.

When they were growing up together, James had easily scared off boys who were inappropriate around his sister. Sometimes Wendy would ask him to talk to a creepy guy for her, and James dutifully obliged. To be fair, she had been such a pretentious know-it-all back then that boys lost interest after speaking to her. It was kind of funny, but sad in a way. But this James’s first time dealing with his friends meeting a down-to-earth version of his sister — along with her more relaxed? dress code. There was a queasy feeling in his gut that the teasing would last longer than it did in high school.

“Did you hear about that freshman who ran into the bus on her scooter?” James interrupted. His friends turned around and were instantly engaged by the wild rumors surrounding the infamous, freak accident. Their eyes occasionally wandered back to the pool deck, but James was just happy to have his friends back.

—-

Wendy was nose-deep in her novel, but she could hear her brother and his loud friends making collision noises with their mouths and hands. She peeked over her book and noticed two of them glancing up at her. She was used to men staring. She understood it. And it rarely bothered her these days.

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