The Wrong Sister

By: Kris Pearson

“Me do, me do,” she squealed, keen to make another all by herself.

Fiona smiled sadly. If only it were possible to distract her from her absent mother as easily.

She riffled through the listings for hair salons, chose one at random, and reached for her mobile.

“Hi, this is Fiona Delaporte. Is there any chance one of your stylists would have time to cut and color my hair this afternoon? I know it’s not much notice, but...”

She waited a few moments for the girl to check.

“Great! Past my shoulders but I want it shorter. And streaks or foils maybe? A whole new look.”

She wrinkled her nose as she disconnected. If they had an appointment free at such short notice, would they be any good?

She poured herself a cup of coffee, got juice for Nicky, and lazed in one of the comfortable loungers, enjoying the sun. Nicola soon clambered onto her lap and Fiona cuddled her close, thrilled the little girl was starting to trust her. They dozed together, unaware of the passing time.

Close to midday, Christian ran a cautious finger down Fiona’s thigh, past her knee, and trailed it along the side of her calf. She stirred.

He froze, ready to snatch his hand away in case she woke. He’d always thought she had sensational legs. Long, and smoothly muscled like a dancer’s. Lightly tanned. Presumably she got plenty of sun on her glitzy ship?

He indulged himself by repeating the soft caress...starting just below her white cotton shorts and running down until his fingers half-encircled her slim ankle.

He yearned to explore her all sift her hair through his be so close he could smell her own intensely personal perfume. He needed to drink her in through every pore. Dammit to hell but the passing years hadn’t lessened her effect on him by the tiniest fraction.

Of all the women in the world, she was the one he couldn’t have—his wife’s sister. And with Jan so recently dead that made it even less possible.

If he put any sort of move on Fiona, she’d surely misconstrue his motives. Presume he was a womanizer and that any woman would do. Or pathetic and sad and lonely. Or simply over-pumped with testosterone after the enforced celibacy of Jan’s decline.

But the truth was simple—she fascinated him. She burned with a brighter flame than anyone he’d ever met. Attracted him intensely.

He’d managed, with considerable willpower and careful planning, to avoid her for most of his marriage, but the next few weeks were going to be the toughest test of his self-control—and Jan was no longer even here to be faithful to.

He stood looking down, not touching Fiona again in case she woke. To be able to watch her openly when she was relaxed and vulnerable set his imagination into overdrive. And she cradled his child—a potent combination.

He wanted her but couldn’t have her. Sometimes life sucked. Worse than that, sometimes life dealt you an absolute double-whammy. Jan had died of breast cancer, so what were Fiona’s chances of avoiding it? And Nicky’s? He’d heard the gene, the genome, the DNA—whatever the hell it was—could thread its way through the female members of a family and wreak havoc for generations. Jan and her doctor mother had been into that stuff endlessly. He really hadn’t wanted to know…simply prayed it would go away. Her Mom had insisted everything possible had been done for Jan, but still it had got her.

He sighed with resignation, slid his fingers around Fiona’s warm ankle, and shook her leg.

“Lunch-time. Wake up sleepyheads.”

She started. She yawned. And found he’d set up a colorful sun umbrella to protect them both. Nicola blinked her bright eyes and wriggled to the ground.

“Hug Daddy,” she demanded, reaching her small soft arms toward him. He swept her up.

“Thank-you,” Fiona said, indicating the shelter.

“You’d have burnt to a crisp, both of you. Did you put any more sunscreen on her?”

She shook her head. “I didn’t expect we’d doze off.”

“You’re a great help, aren’t you… Lunch is ready.”

“What?” She lurched to her feet. The blood left her brain with the sudden movement and she almost fell, dizzy and hot and unsteady. Christian slung an arm around her for support and pulled her in close so the three of them swayed together. Fiona found herself held against his broad chest, only inches from his taunting grin, paradise and hell in the same instant.

His hipbone pressed against her groin, and she sent up a silent ‘thank-you’ she’d not stumbled against him front-on. It was bad enough feeling the pressure right there and knowing he was the source.

Nicola reached across and grabbed a handful of Fiona’s hair.

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