General Fiction posted January 23, 2020

This work has reached the exceptional level
Families should be there for each other...

Come Hell or High Water

by Y. M. Roger

Someone Else Contest Winner 
The author has placed a warning on this post for language.

His lips were warm against mine… Oh. So. Warm. I inhaled between kisses… and he smelled heavenly. When his lips crashed back on mine, I opened willingly, reaching up to run my fingers through his hair. To hold him here…
Because it was one of those dreams that I really, really did not want to end.
Sneaking a peek, I was met with some of the bluest eyes I’d ever seen…
No, that wasn’t true. I’d seen them a few times. Aaah, at least now I knew from whence my mind had conjured this sexy dream: Brad. My twin brother’s business partner he’d brought to the lakehouse as recently as a few months ago.
I glanced down. Brad had looked really good in that Hawaiian shirt and sunglasses, but he was sure rockin’ this suit in my dream. I grabbed his tie and heard his grunt of approval as I pulled more of that man-mixed-with-light-cologne into my lungs. My body started its happy dance, the tingling beginning in all the right places.
“Braaad.” I breathed the name rather than said it.
His hand landed on the pillow beside my head and fisted in my hair. It seemed a tad rough for my usual, but…
“Baaaabyy, you know –” He was breathing heavier now too.
Mmmmmm,” was my answer.
“You know I have” – He started to kiss along my jaw – “have that early meeting” – His nose found my ear as his stubble scraped against mine…
Warning bells went off in my head about the time his hand made it down through the hair on my chest…
I bolted upright, knocking Brad in the nose. I didn’t have hair on my… oh, god! I reached down, over the covers, to find what that odd weight below my waist was…
“Oooow!” Brad stood up, holding his nose.
At the exact same time of Brad’s outburst, I yelled – or maybe it was more of a frustrated howl – unbelieving at what my searching hand found between my legs. Whatever name may identify the noise mattered not – suffice to say, it was horribly undignified…
And it was not my voice that had made it!
“Sean, what the hell?!” Brad’s voice sounded muffled since his hand was covering both his nose and part of his mouth.
He glanced at where my hand lay between my legs, and glared at me. Shit! I was not dreaming…
“Well, don’t look at me to help with that.” He turned away and walked to the bathroom and continued talking as I looked around my twin brother, Sean’s, bedroom. I rubbed my chest and abdomen in horror, my fingers sliding through the somewhat curly hair there. “You can take care of it yourself in the shower.”
He walked back and paused a few steps from the bed. He looked at me through narrowing eyes, his look transforming from one of aggravation to one of concern. A small smile tried to grace that gorgeous face. Oh, yes, Brad was a very handsome man.
But he wasn’t smiling at me, not really. He was smiling at Sean…
“Are you sure you’re okay, Babe?” He took the remaining steps to the bed, rubbing his nose and straightening his tie and other confining features of his suit pants.
“Yeah,” I managed to croak out as I ran my hand along my stubbled jaw, “just feeling ‘off’, I guess.” I tried like hell to return his smile as I continued  to explore the rough feel of my cheeks.
My voice – Sean’s voice – sounded so strange to me… what the hell was going on…?
“Look,” he said, all annoyance gone, his voice more soothing than anything, “I know you’re worried about tonight, but give your folks a chance. The few times I’ve been around them, it’s apparent they love you very much.”
I swallowed and I’m sure my expression was like a zombie: all I could do was stare…
“Are you sure you won’t consider asking Stacy to come?”
He sat on the edge of the bed, and, with my mind preoccupied trying to process all of this, I instinctively pulled the sheet up over my chest. Brad’s entire visage lit with the action, and I couldn’t help but return his smile.
“Okay, okay!” Chuckling, he raised his hands in mock surrender. “I get it. Hands off for now.” He leaned in and gave me a peck on the cheek. “But after dinner with your parents, it’s all hands on deck!”
I watched him stand, about ten thousand questions running through my head. The main one being…
“Where’s Jen?” To my horror, the words were out before I could catch them.
Jennifer was Sean’s girlfriend. In fact, he’d been hinting that he was going to propose to her when we’d last spoken. At least I’d thought that’s what he’d said…

“I’m thinking about making things permanent, Stace.” It was the first time he’d mentioned marriage in the almost three years they’d been dating. “I’m tired of dragging things out. I need things to be above board, you know?”
“Sean,” I’d poked a bit of fun as I usually did, “I’m pretty sure mom and dad are hip enough to realize that y’all haven’t been celibate for three ye–“
“No.” Sean had gotten that mischievous look in his eye. “We are definitely not celibate.” He’d laughed, and I’d laughed along with him.
He’d sobered and looked at me, really looked at me. Then he’d taken a drink of his eggnog and thought for a long moment before continuing.
“Hell or high water, right Stace?” His look was nothing less than pleading with, perhaps, a bit of defiance mixed in there. Gosh, I loved that man within an inch of my life. But he didn’t need my permission to marry Jennifer…
I’d smiled as my whole being had been suffused with warmth and memories of thirty-plus years of having a twin brother like Sean. I raised my eggnog in salute.
“Hell or high water, little brother.”
 “It was two minutes, Stacy.” Sean retorted softly with his usual eye roll.
And we’d laughed some more.
We’d both just stood for a few silent seconds, renewing a bond that we’d vowed would never be broken… come hell or high water.

Apparently, it had been one of those conversations between two people such that one person thinks they are talking about one thing and the other person is actually talking about something entirely different.
But, if my question about Jen threw Brad in any way, he didn’t let it show. He bent to pick up his briefcase where he’d left it beside the bed, that perfect physique on full display as he ran his hand through his hair.
“Greg took her and her boys to the concert in Nashville last night, remember? They were gonna make a weekend of it.” He smoothed his shirt and tie once more. “She’ll have the numbers all ready for Monday’s big pitch, Bossman, don’t worry.”
I nodded because what else was I going to do? Jennifer had a husband? And children?
My bewilderment must have shown on my face.
“It’ll be fine, Babe – all of it.” I felt my face flush with the timbre of his voice – my brother obviously had some deep feelings for Brad here. “Dinner. Monday’s deal. Us.” He stepped in for one more peck. “Always us, Seany. Love you.”
“Love you, too.” Did I sound convincing? I tried for convincing, but my voice was way too deep, wasn’t it? Or maybe that was Sean’s deep voice…
Again, Brad didn’t seem to notice either way, but he stopped at the door on his way out of the bedroom. He reached up and pulled a marker pen off a piece of Velcro beside a small calendar hanging there. He made an ‘x’ thru the next day in the line of x’s there and grinned from ear to ear. Again, I felt this whole body smile in response to that smile. Oh, yeah, Sean was bone-deep in love with this guy.
“Six weeks tomorrow, Handsome,” he said as, replacing the pen, his look went from satisfied to playful. He reached down to the bedside table and bounced his eyebrows amusingly “Then you’re mine.”
Before I could begin to guess what he was up to, he lifted a glass and pitched water in my direction. He disappeared, high-tailing it down the hall and laughing the whole way. I heard the door to the condo slam shut before I managed to extricate myself from the wet covers.
There I stood, in the middle of my brother’s bedroom, in all his hairy glory – junk and all. But as awkward as I felt physically, only one thing kept running on replay through my mind.
My brother’s marrying a guy.
So, showering, drying, and dressing was… different. There’s a whole set of considerations I’d never thought of… and, as I solved each new puzzle, I prayed I wouldn’t have to ‘consider’ them ever again. I kept hoping I would wake up or some bright light would flash, and I’d be ‘me’ in my little house in the suburbs again.
And I had about a sixty percent confidence level that I’d pulled a pair of underwear from the right drawer – they all looked the same to me except either Brad or Sean liked weird designs and the other liked solids. I shook my head to clear it for the umpteenth time: underwear preference was yet another in the growing list of details that were wa-a-ay more than I ever wanted to know about my brother.
Or my future brother-in-law.
I froze in place again and sighed. Why had he kept this from us? Was it because Dad was such a devout Catholic? Dad never seemed to lose his marbles when both of us stopped attending church in college. In fact, I hadn’t actually made it back yet, and he'd not so much as mentioned it. Hell, I didn’t even know if Sean – or Brad, for that matter – went to church.
Not that it made a difference. No, it didn’t make a difference at all. The issue here was that Sean had kept this from me for years! We were supposed to be close…
Frustration and more warred inside of me as I opened the first of two walk-in closets. Brad and Sean were about the same size, so how was I supposed to know which closet was whose? After finding the two ties mom had bought Sean last year that I knew he hated (but would never get rid of ‘just in case’), I finally discerned which closet was his.
When I located his warm-ups and t-shirts, I breathed a sigh of relief. Oh, yeah, there was no way I was stepping foot out of this condo today. Besides the fact that I knew next to nothing about website marketing and design, I had zero experience tying a tie! Let’s face it, warm-ups had ‘lounge around and binge Hulu’ written all over them, and that was going to be the extent of my activities for the day.
The phone on the bedside table began playing Craig Campbell’s ‘Working Man’. I walked over, knowing who it probably was, and checked the screen to be sure. Concentrating, I made myself cough and rolled my shoulders as I swiped to answer.
“Hel-lo. [cough, sniffle] Tammy?”
A gasp met my ear.
“Mr. Kellson, are you alright?”
Yeah, I’d probably panic, too – my brother hadn’t been sick in years. But that didn’t matter; I had to make this convincing. I grabbed a tissue and rustled it over the voice receptor.
“Yeah, Tammy. [sniffle, clear throat] But I think I’m just gonna sleep in today. [one more cough – don’t want to overdo it] Could you reschedule things for next week?”  Then I pulled the phone away and did my best to blow my nose that wasn’t stuffy. I think I did pretty good.
“No problem, Mr. Kellson.” Her voice dropped an octave and I could hear her breathing more distinctly. “Do you need me to stop by an–”
“No!” I tried to cover my outburst with another cough. Not no, but hell no, woman! I knew Tammy; she was old enough to be our mom – okay, maybe not really that old, but seriously…?! Sean had said she had the hots for him – guess he wasn’t kidding. I took a deep breath and continued, “I just need [sniffle, cough, rustle the tissue] to rest. I’ll be good as new by Monday.”
“Okay, Mr. Kellson.” She sounded disappointed. She needed to get over it. “You take care now.”
I tried to blow my nose again, this time without pulling the phone from my face.
“I will.”
I don’t know who hung up first, and, to be honest? I didn’t care. Sean and Brad were the freaking owners. Tammy, the receptionist who knew not the meaning of boundaries, would be fine.
My stomach growled. Yep, Sean always did like his breakfast.
I paused at that thought, my mood softening considerably as I considered its implications. I actually knew that Sean ate a big breakfast. I knew that his favorite color was purple and that he hated most metal music. I knew that if I went down to his car right now I’d find a pack of Dentyne Ice because Sean was paranoid about his breath. And, no, it could not be another brand or anything other than peppermint flavor because it would turn his stomach.
As I made my way to the kitchen, I chuckled. How many other sisters knew their brothers secretly loved their manicures and would only stand with their back facing a wall when they were lifting weights? Or liked only the Honey Nut Cheerios and would rather skip breakfast if there were only the Original ones? Or that he didn’t have a cat because he didn’t want it to be alone all day, but he wouldn’t get two because he would be worried all day that the cats would play and break one or some of his things? Oh, yes, my brother liked his things…
I laughed out loud at that as I prepared to raid his refrigerator. You know, amidst all the many aspects I knew about my Sean, there was one really big one that had always been true from the time we became aware of each other:  Sean likes his privacy. During the early years when we were closest and, yes, even when we were bearing our souls getting drunk together in recent years, there’s always been a part of Sean that he reserves for him alone. And, you know what? I have been and still am good with that.
What I was not good with was my current predicament. Oh, and food. I needed food.
My favorite part of Sean’s eating habits was that they were expensive and very, very delicious. I warmed some of the leftover crab dip in the fridge and had a big bowl of his gourmet cassava chips to help finish it off. Afterwards, I made myself a ‘TV nest’ on the couch, settling in with a fresh bag of his hand-drizzled caramel popcorn and an ice cold craft brewery root beer. Now, to find a good series to start on Hulu or one of the other services…
My fingers on the remote automatically turned to Game of Thrones because there are some seriously sexy guys… Nope! Scratch that! I quickly realized that me being turned on as Sean was not something I wanted to experience again – the word ‘disconcerting’ does not begin to describe it – so I switched over to The Big Bang Theory. Oh, yeah, nothing on there even remotely attractive, just some fun nerd humor for a biochemist woman stuck in her brother’s body!
Okay, so I’m gonna admit right here and now that, yes, I really slapped myself a few times in the face to see if it would wake me up. And yes, I was still waiting for that bright light to flash. You know, the one where I’d suddenly be sitting back at my forensics lab at the Institute, George Strait crooning his heart out in my headphones, and I’d pop back to reality and out of this daydream.
I laughed drowsily at the direction of my thoughts. That would be too easy, wouldn’t it? That bam! I would simply be at work and in desperate need of another cup of coffee. Sigh. As the title scene to yet another Big Bang episode began playing, I put my head back to close my eyes for just a few minutes…
The sound of keys in the front door jolted me awake. It was so much of a jolt that I knocked my bowl of popcorn – what was left of it – onto the floor.
“Oh, my goodness! Ms. Kellson! Are you okay?”
Wait, that was the sound of…
“Aaaaack!” I fell on the floor as Miss Tipton, my cleaning lady, peered over the back of the couch. Short and spry, Miss T was a hundred if she was a day, but she had the energy of a teenager.
Trying to overcome the disorientation I felt everywhere, I shook my head as I looked around to take in the fact that I was in my den on the floor surrounded by plain, buttered popcorn. I must have stared at her for too long because she began waving her hands wildly, like she was trying to get my attention from across a stadium…
“Ms. Kellson! Hello Ms. Kellson!” She walked around the couch, a little female gnome in a warm-up suit directing some jet out on the tarmac. “Do you see me? Heeeelllooooo!”
I started laughing as I reached up and found some of my hair hanging over one shoulder.
“I’m me, Miss T!” I stood quickly and unintentionally knocked Miss Tipton to sit on the couch. “I’m really me!”
I tugged on my hair and grabbed my breasts – had they ever felt so wonderful? I laughed again as my hand made a quick check further down. I nearly ‘whooted’ with excitement at the lack of...
“Look! Tits and no junk!” I spread my arms as I danced in a circle.
Miss Tipton smiled up at me like you would at an old person with dementia. There was pity clearly written all over those wrinkles that had wrinkles, and it shone through her impossibly large glasses. She stood, shaking her gray-crowned head slowly.
“Oh, my poor dear.” She took one of my hands in her aged ones, patting it with the other one. “How many of those brownies that I left yesterday did you eat? You know, even though it’s legal now, you still shouldn’t overindul–”
“What are you talking abo–” I removed my hand gently as I noticed the clock on the wall. Five forty-five...  I gasped.
“I have to change and get out of here, Miss T!” I ran down the hall to my room.
Miss Tipton’s almost strident voice followed me.
“You know you could get a ticket for DUI, Miss Tits and No Junk!”
I laughed even harder as I made the mad female dash to look nice in as little time as humanly possible. I had to be uptown at dinner at seven to support Sean!
“May I help you, ma’am?”
I’m thinking the slender maître d’ probably tried to pull off ‘cordial’, but it wasn’t working. No matter, though, because I had more important things to deal with.
“Yes.” I tried for the standard ‘nice’, but I was in a hurry. “Kellson party, please?”
He narrowed his judgmental gaze at me, huffing, as he scanned his finger down the clientele list.

Before he got halfway, I spied the backs of Mom’s and Dad’s heads and, just beyond, Brad’s face. I shook away the horrible image of kissing Brad from this morning. Oh, that so needed to be gone. Forever.
Not waiting for the off-putting man to give me his attention again, I strode past him and toward my family. Brad saw me first and his face lit with happiness mixed with a definite bit of relief. He nudged Sean’s shoulder, but no words were needed once Sean’s searching eyes met mine.
“Stacy,” Sean breathed, standing and striding to meet me with a big hug. “Gawd, it’s good to see you,” he whispered in my ear.
“Good to see you, too.” We both hummed in agreement.
“What are you doing here?” he asked as he released me and began to lead me to the table.
I pulled him up just short of the table and pretended to fix his lapel and then his tie.
“Because I needed to remind you that I’m here for you,” I paused, patted the tie, and leaned up to kiss his cheek and whisper in his ear, “come hell or high water.”
As I leaned back, I saw the sheen that had glossed over Sean’s eyes. I smiled at him, my eyes taking on a liquid brightness of their own.
Taking his hand and squeezing tightly, I finished with, “Little brother.”
He huffed as we turned toward the table. “It’s only two minutes, Stace.”
Chuckling, we took our seats. After some brief welcomes and other light conversation, Mom turned to Sean.
“Now, Sean, what was this important news you were about to tell us?”


Writing Prompt
You (or your character) wakes up and are someone different.

Someone Else
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