“Did you ever try to find your mom?” Danny asked me. She’d insisted on coming downstairs for lunch the next day.
“Sip slow,” I told her, handing her a cup of chicken broth.
“No. I never tried to find her.”
“Do you ever think about it?” she asked, taking a couple crackers out of the box I set on the table.
“No. She took off on me. I don’t want to force my way into someone’s life who doesn’t want me there.”
She made an, “Mmm,” sound, nodding and staring into her mug.
“What about you?” I asked. “Have you talked to your mom?”
Danny was taken away. Her mom wanted her, but she couldn’t take care of her. When we were with Striker, she’d make wishes on stars and dandelion fuzz and birthday candles for her mom to take her back home, but her mom never got her shit together.
“A couple years ago,” Danny said, “Striker told me she overdosed.”
I put down the glass of water I’d poured her a bit too hard, with a thunk that echoed. “She’s dead?”
“That’s what he said.”
I watched her take a sip of her broth, hesitant to say what I was thinking. But it was Danny, and she’d have already thought it, too. “Was he lying?”
She shook her head. “I looked it up online at the library. Found her obituary. It didn’t mention a daughter.”
I sank into the chair beside her and took her hand. “You know what sucked the worst about my mom leaving me? She didn’t want to know me anymore. I mean, it was fucking shitty of her to abandon her kid, but after that, when I was alone at night in the dark I thought about how she didn’t know I liked to draw.”
“You lived to draw,” Danny said, squeezing my hand.
“Yeah, and she had no idea. She didn’t know that when she left the lady next door made me sleep on an old dog bed infested with fleas and sprayed me off with the hose instead of letting me shower.”
“How can people be so cruel? You were a little kid.”
“We were both little kids, Dan. People are fucking animals. They take care of their own and screw everyone else.”
“Not everybody,” she said.
I thought about Mike. “No, I guess not everybody. Most people.”
“I thought my mom wanted me,” she said. “I thought she’d try to get me back. When they took me away, she cried and promised she’d do everything she had to so we’d be together again.” She looked up at me with watery blue eyes. “She lied. She never tried to get me back.”
The pained expression on her face gripped me inside and twisted. I hated her mom. I hated Striker. I hated my own mom. How could they all do this to us? Then it hit me. I promised to go back for her, and I never did. Just like her mom.
I leaned forward, pressing her hand against my chest and my lips to her temple. “I want you, Danielle. I want you in my life. I always have. I was selfish and caught up in setting things right first, but I never forgot about you.”
She turned to me and stroked my cheek. Her eyes roamed my face, her sorrow of past memories gone. She watched her fingertips grazed my lips and lifted her eyes to mine, asking permission.
My heart drummed. I took her hand away and cupped her face, bringing her close enough to feel her breath on my cheek. I ran the tip of my nose up and down the ridge of hers before tilting her head and securing my lips against hers.
It was like breathing in life. Like I’d only been keeping myself alive with air in my lungs, food and water, but this—Danny in my arms with our lips seeking and discovering—this was really being alive.
The tip of her tongue edged along my bottom lip and started a fire in my gut. I dropped my hands from her face and wrapped my arms around her, pulling her onto my lap. Our tongues darted in and out, shy and bold at the same time, learning the feel of each other. How could Danny—my Danny—still have part of her for me to discover?
The thought sent my mind south of her navel. Danny wasn’t the girl she used to be. If I were honest, I’d admit to myself that I’d noticed it when we were teenagers. She’d gotten hips and breasts and a firm, round ass. By the time she was fourteen, it was hard to look at her like she was the same little girl anymore. I never thought of her as a sister. Maybe if we’d lived in a house that was like an actual family instead of an abusive nightmare.
Sitting here with her ass pressed against my crotch and her lips and tongue slick and hot against mine, I was so fucking happy I’d never thought of her as my sister, or I’d be in for some serious guilt. There was no way I was turning back from being this close to her.
I wanted more.
I wanted closer.
I wanted inside her.
She parted her lips from mine, panting, and looked at me with hazy eyes. The last thing I wanted was to pressure her, scare her. “Should we stop?” I asked, hearing the deep rasp of lust in my voice.
She gazed into my eyes for a moment before shaking her head and falling back into our kiss.
I stood, picking her up in my arms, and carried her upstairs. In the bedroom, I laid her down on the bed and straddled her, sitting on my knees with my hands on either side of her head. “I need you to tell me if you don’t want to do this,” I said. “Or if you want me to stop.”
She gave me a sinful smile and looked up at me with those lusty, hooded eyes. “I’ve wanted this for as long as I knew what sex was, Tyler.” She ran her hands up my thighs. “I wanted this to take away what I didn’t want. To replace it with you. Someone who cared. Someone safe.”
Kelli Maine is the erotic romance author of USA Today Bestseller and #1 Nook book, Taken, and the Give & Take series, along with the Dolls & Doms novellas and Chains. She lives in Northeast Ohio with her husband and kids. When she's not writing, Kelli enjoys watching reality T.V., getting lost in random Wikipedia pages and searching online ads for vintage muscle cars.
Favorite Author: Diana Gabaldon
Favorite Food: Japanese
Favorite Superhero: Spiderman
Favorite Place I've Been: Yucatan Peninsula
Writing Must Haves: Coffee and chocolate
Plotter or Pantser: Proud Pantser
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