The Wrong Sister

By: Kris Pearson

At the end of the dance, he’d twirled her around in a circle and stopped her with his body. They’d bumped together and stayed frozen for a magic second or two, breast to chest, hip to hip. Then he’d dipped his head and kissed her softly on the lips.


“Nice to meet you, sister,” he’d said.

And devoted all the rest of his evening to Jan.

The memory of that teasing kiss had stayed with Fiona ever since. As they stood on the sunny lawn together, Nicola clutching her hair, she recalled the moment his lips had touched hers. He’d tasted like champagne and smelled like heaven. It had taken all her willpower not to kiss him back. She’d been both relieved and disappointed when he hadn’t danced with her again.

Jan and Christian had departed for their honeymoon that night, so she’d not seen them for a further six months. In late December she made a short, rushed Christmas visit home to her family. But who can get into deep conversation when everyone’s wearing paper hats, and the dog is being slipped slivers of turkey under the table, and old deaf aunties need to be chatted to over a huge hot dinner on a scorching southern hemisphere day?

Fiona felt she saw little enough of her sister, and Christian disappeared to go fishing or boating at every opportunity, so he was all but invisible. Each time she came home, it had been the same.

Three years went by, and Nicola was expected. Fiona and Jan managed a break at their parents’ beach-house on the Hibiscus Coast north of Auckland a few weeks before Jan was due to give birth.

Christian had flown to Asia to meet with clients—something financial this time, not cars. Fiona was gratified to have her sister all to herself for a few days as they strolled along the sand, and lazed for hours, reading and chatting.

And that was the pattern of all her visits. He managed not to be there.

She pushed her fingers through her hair to tidy it after Nicola’s attention, pulled her slightly damp T-shirt away from her too-warm back, and followed him inside to see what he’d produced for lunch. If it was anything halfway decent, she might as well admit defeat right now, and leave.

“I’ve moved the Merc for you.” His eyes were down on a banana as he cut it into small sections for Nicola.

Fiona murmured her thanks, relieved to find lunch was simply a collection of sliced ham, cheese, salad vegetables, and a crusty brown loaf.

“I’ll make you a sandwich,” she offered. She went to the fridge for mustard and mayonnaise.

“Grab some wine, too.”

She chose a Pinot Gris. Christian had two glasses ready on the table, and reached across to take the bottle from her. He opened it, poured, and set a glass beside her plate while she sliced the bread.

“Thanks for the car. I’ll be careful with it.”

He shrugged. He had so many absolute classics that one small modern sedan was apparently of no huge importance.

No wonder he can afford a house like this.

“It’s a brilliant view,” she said, gazing out over the sun-dappled harbor to avoid his eyes. She could still feel his big hands in her hair. Warm and gentle.

And his body pressed against her. Hot and hard.

“Jan liked it.”

She nodded, but could think of nothing more to say after that. She knew Christian had bought the spectacular house on the high Roseneath site as a surprise for his bride. Much of the surrounding land was steep and left to the wild natural vegetation of the Wellington district. Only the level areas close to the house had been cleared and laid down in lawn and paving and bright aromatic flowers.

Inside, Jan’s touches were everywhere—in the elegant shades of the furnishings that complimented the panoramic the diverse and fascinating works of art she’d found in the city’s myriad galleries and studios. Fiona had enjoyed visiting here last time. Because it had been Jan’s home, she’d felt wonderfully comfortable.

But now it was Christian’s, and imbued with whole new significance.

She watched him covertly across the table as she buttered the bread. His eyes were fixed far away over the water. Black-coffee eyes—lethal eyes when they needed to be. He’d already trained his fierce ‘get out of my territory’ gaze on her.

“How long will you be at the beach?” she asked as she concentrated on slicing a tomato.

“Planning on joining us?”

She shook her head. “No, I’m going to be busy all afternoon.” She laid a slice of ham on the bread.

“Suits me.”

“You made that perfectly obvious earlier.”

“Don’t mess me around, Fiona.”

“Me mess you around?” She bit her tongue and cast her eyes down to the table-top, knowing he had a lot to cope with and that she mustn’t annoy him.

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