Kaitlin Danvers stood on the tiny front porch of the bungalow that she had shared with her mother all her life. Main Street was just a couple of blocks away, a tourist mecca with shops, bars, and some fine restaurants. Seal Beach itself, with its excellent surfing, was less than a five-minute walk. Their house might be little more than a shoebox squeezed between apartment buildings and multi-million dollar houses, but it had been a loving home, which was probably more than those more expensive ones could claim.
None of that mattered right now, though. Katie fought back the tears once more. It was a constant battle these days. It had been for almost a year now, ever since the doctors diagnosed her mother’s breast cancer. Surgery, chemo, radiation, new drugs…none of them worked.
Her mother was dying. Her mother, her best friend, the woman that she had looked up to and emulated for a lifetime would be gone soon—weeks, perhaps days. Of course, no one could say for certain how long she had left.
However long it was, though, she was not going to miss a single precious moment of it. Just as her single mother had worked so hard never to miss the significant moments of her only child’s life. PTA, ballet, soccer, Little League, her mother had always found a way to afford those things on her measly income as a masseuse, herbalist, life coach, and sometimes psychic. Even more importantly, Joy Danvers had always worked her clients around Katie’s schedule. They had struggled financially when she was a child, but by the time she had entered high school, her mother’s ‘following’ had grown.
Hell, her mother was practically a guru of some damned sort these days. Katie sighed, which meant she had been forced to share these precious final days of her mother’s life with a string of needy, rich people putting an additional strain upon her mother’s waning energies. But that was Joy Danvers. Always there to help when someone needed her.
It was not just her wealthy clients, though. Katie smiled as she remembered how her mother always had an open-door policy for all her friends. Sometimes she wondered if it was more her mother’s welcoming smile, open ears, and homemade chocolate chip cookies, which had accounted for her popularity in high school, than her blonde All-American girl-next-door looks and sunny smile.
This house had been full every afternoon with half a dozen or more of her friends just hanging out, talking, and even occasionally doing homework. Most of them preferred coming home to her house than letting themselves into empty apartments or even expensive mansions.
A tear slid down her cheek as she thought of two of the regulars, Chance and Chase Logan. Identical twin brothers, who also happened to be the only children of a single mother. Their mother had worked two, sometimes three jobs, leaving the boys to fend for themselves. They had moved to Seal Beach when Katie was a junior in high school. For the next two years, they were her best friends and almost constant fixtures around this house.
She sighed as she remembered the last time she had seen them. It was the night of their high school graduation. They had all joined a bunch of their friends afterward on the beach for illegal bonfires. It had been the first time that Katie had gotten drunk.
Oh, she had tasted alcohol before. Her mother had never believed in sheltering her child, so from around twelve or thirteen, her mother had regularly offered her a half glass of wine with dinner. But that was a very different thing to half a dozen wine coolers, a beer or two, and even a couple of shots of tequila. To say she was tipsy would be a gross misrepresentation. She was wasted.
If it had not been for Chase and Chance practically carrying her home between them, she might have gotten into real trouble. She shook her head, not that she had not, even with her best friends. Especially with them. That night was why she never drank more than a single glass of wine ever, and usually not even that. It had been a disaster that had cost her the best friends she had ever had. Other than her mother.
She should go back inside and check on her mother now. Of course, Melody, the young hospice nurse was here, so this was supposed to be ‘her’ time. But to do what?
Sleep was impossibly hard coming. Even when it did, it was fitful. Katie usually slept in the chair beside her mother’s bed rather than her room, even though it was just next door. She never really made it to the deep dream-filled kind of slumber. She remained vigilant for even the tiniest moan from her mother to indicate that she needed a top-up of the morphine.
She supposed she could take a stroll along the beach. It was almost sunset, and that was usually spectacular. The cool breeze might even relax and soothe her a bit after the scorching Southern California summer heat. But the truth was that she did not want to be around that many people. There were sure to be loads on such a perfect summer evening like this one.
Katie had come to realize that she had inherited more than just her looks from her mother. Her psychic gifts as an empath, who could read the emotional turmoil of others as surely as some might read their thoughts, was more of a curse than a blessing. It had, over the years, turned her into a virtual recluse, who came straight home from her job as a kindergarten teacher, who rarely dated, and would do just about anything to avoid crowds. Unlike her semi-famous mother, Katie had never found a way to dampen those feelings – hers or others.
So instead, she stood alone on the front porch of the only place she had ever known as home and looked off towards the beach, just hoping to get a brief glimpse of the sunset. Much as she had always stood on the perimeters of life, watching others live, but too afraid to take those risks herself.
All except for that one night. That one time when she had been so drunk that she had jumped headlong into the deep end – and almost drowned. In them.
Katie cursed under her breath as she saw two Harleys turn off Ocean Avenue onto their tiny street. ‘Damn it,’ she could hear the low rumble of the machines already, and they were still a block or two away.
Why now? Just when her mother was finally getting the most restful sleep she had had in weeks, perhaps months. Why did these two jackasses have to take a short cut back to the Pacific Coast Highway to avoid Main Street that was probably incredibly busy, especially as it was Friday night? Or she thought it was anyway.
“Damn them! Damn them to hell,” she muttered aloud as she turned to go back inside the house and check on her mother.
Then the bikes came to a halt on the street right in front of the house. She frowned even more, probably more of her mother’s ‘groupies.’ Why, even now, did she have to share the woman with strangers?
But she knew that was not how Joy Danvers saw things. If her mother could give others comfort and solace in her final days, as she had always tried to in her all too brief life, then she assured her daughter that was what she wanted. So reluctantly, Katie plastered that same fake smile on her face as she watched the men get off the motorcycles.
Men did not cover it. Probably more of the Hollywood actor or model types, attired in tight jeans that clung to muscled thighs that left little to the imagination. They reminded her of the covers on some spicier erotic romances that peppered her tablet. They wore matching black leather jackets, but those only accentuated their broad shoulders that tapered to narrow waists.
She inhaled deeply; maybe she should sneak into her bedroom after she got these two settled with her mother. How long had it been since she had even masturbated? As for ‘real’ sex, that had never been high on her agenda. Then again, she had never been a raving beauty that could attract men like this.
Both men reached up to remove the black visor helmets that they wore. Her breath caught and froze halfway to her oxygen-starved lungs. It was if she had conjured them up out of thin air. Them. Them? She rubbed her eyes as if seeing a mirage.
Chance and Chase? It could not be. Now? After all these years. A decade or more.
They were even more stunning than they had been back then. The handsome athletes with their boyish good looks had become men. Hot men; men way out of her league. But damn were they sweet eye candy.
At first, she was shocked by the hair that curled softly almost reaching their shoulders and the thick, dark beards that, rather than hiding their masculine beauty, only accentuated it.
It was not what she would have thought of as military-style. Then she remembered that those types of regulations had been softened over the past decade as the U. S. tried to respect norms of other cultures, as well as provide what camouflage it could to its people deployed in hostile territory. Whatever reason, she had to admit it made the men look even hotter than the boys she remembered.
They smiled at her, and the years floated away. They might have changed, matured, but those smiles still held the boyish charm that always made her feel safe, secure, and protected. Then they moved, not quite ran to her, but it was close.
Without warning, they scooped her up as they often had, swirling her about and shuffling her back and forth between them like the footballs that they passed from quarterback to wide receiver. For a moment, it was like the years had fallen away, and they were best friends who knew each other’s every secret.
Well almost. A few secrets a girl kept to herself. She blushed as another memory flitted through her brain -except when you get too drunk and said and did things you should not. Not with your best friends. Not with both of them.
Even growing up with a mother that was a sexual guru of sorts, Katie had never been entirely comfortable with her sexuality. While she could accept the full range of sexual expression: gay, lesbian, transgender, open relationships, and polyamory, she had always felt a bit more constrained by societal norms.
Loving two men, brothers, might be great fodder for spicy e-books and even a wonderfully naughty fantasy to masturbate to. Still, she had never been able to reconcile it with the harsh realities of living in a monogamous world, even if that monogamy had degenerated into a serial form over the years. It was just a bit much for the repressed kindergarten teacher to handle.
Not that that was what she was focused upon as Chance drew her closer in one of his bear hugs, “Katy-did,” he smiled.
She felt tears threatening to explode like torrential rains upon a desert, not just at his pet name for her but at how right it felt to be back in this man’s arms again.
Before she could say a word, he passed the ball of blithering flesh to his brother to repeat the process, “Oh princess, do you know how much we have missed you?” Chase sighed as he buried his face in her neck.
His short beard abraded her skin and sent shivers down her spine. ‘Down girl, this is Chase,’ she reminded herself. It is not like that.
‘But it could be,’ whispered that little voice. ‘They were not the ones that called a halt to things that night, sister,’ it chided as her nipples hardened beneath the thin t-shirt as they came into contact with the soft leather of his jacket. The smell of it and the man sent liquid heat bubbling like lava in her panties.
She forced herself to draw back from the embrace that was more comforting than anything had been in so long that she had forgotten such things. “What are you doing here? I thought you were in the Navy.”
“Were is right, Katy-did,” Chance stepped forward, placing a hand on her lower back until she was practically sandwiched between them.
Her throat tightened even more at the feeling, which was quickly morphing from comfort to something much closer to need. A sexual need that she had only felt once before in her life. A need that had become her favorite fantasy. The one that never failed to get her off, whether she used just her fingers or her toy collection.
A vivid menagerie of memories and might-have-been. Arms and legs entwined, pressed between them, overpowered and taken. Desired, wanted, needed, and even loved as she had never been, probably never would be. ‘Damn it, girl. Stop. Before you fucking come just from their hugs.’
But that was easier said than done after a decade of hot, erotic fantasies fed by books of a dozen authors all extolling the joys of loving and being loved by brothers. Katie had been shocked when she first got her tablet and began to download raunchy ebooks to discover that her darkest fantasy was not as uncommon as she thought.
It was just that perhaps she had gotten a tad closer to reality than most women. She had had her own personal cover models since she was a teenager.
“What are you doing here?” she stammered. Did her voice sounds as breathless and sexy to them, she wondered. “Does Mom know you are coming?”
Chase shook his head as Chance answered from just behind her, standing so close now that she could smell him too. Was that his jeans brushing roughly against her bare legs?
“Not exactly. She messaged us a few weeks ago, but we couldn’t make any promises. I had some final business to deal with for Uncle Sam, and Chase was still recovering.”
“Recovering?” she frowned. “What? What happened?”
Chase smiled, and for the first time, she noticed that his tan skin was a bit paler than his brothers, his smile a bit tighter, the dark circles under those baby blues a bit darker. “We will have plenty of time to talk later, princess. The only thing that matters right now is that we made it in time. That we are here. For our girls, for both of you.”
“So, are you going to invite us inside?” rumbled a deep chuckle from the chest, which was now pressed against her back as Chance buried his face in her neck.
“Since when did either of you need an invite into this house?” came the incredibly weak voice of her mother from the doorway. Katie noticed that Joy was holding so tightly to her walker that her knuckles were almost white against the steel grey tubing.
Katie pushed against Chase’s chest as she broke free. She was surprised when he stumbled backward a bit. He might have even fallen flat on that tight ass in those painted on jeans had it not been for his brother’s hand grasping his arm and keeping him upright.
Chase righted himself quickly as they smiled and crossed the few feet to the doorway just behind her. “Hello, Joy,” they said in unison as her mother opened the screen door in welcome.
“Welcome home, boys,” her mother’s voice was still flat and weak. Joy’s smile was strained, but it was genuine. Katie wrapped her arm about her mother’s waist and would have helped her back to the bedroom.
Chance pushed her aside and lifted her mother’s frail body in his arms. “You did not have to get up to greet us. You should have known we would come as soon as we could.”
“I did. I just wasn’t sure if it would be in time,” her mother nodded as he placed her on the large sectional sofa that took up almost all of the open plan living space, which was a dining room, office, classroom, and living room all in one.
He sighed, “We weren’t either, to be honest. But I am glad we did,” he replied as he looked from where his brother had pushed the walker against the wall to Katie. “Really glad.”
Katie felt as if those blue eyes were stripping away not just her clothes but her darkest fantasies, looking into her very soul. She fidgeted uncomfortably next to Chase, whom she noticed was also looking at her oddly.
“Let me get you something to drink…eat?” she stammered as she sought an excuse, any excuse to escape those stares just then.
Her mother nodded, “Please, dear. That would be very nice. I am sure the boys are both tired and hungry after their journey. And I would like a few moments alone with them to catch up while I still have some energy left. You three can talk for the rest of the night, just like you always did, but this old woman can’t stay up that late chaperoning you. Then again, you are adults and don’t need one anymore.”
“Mother,” she scolded the woman, who had made a name and reputation as the New Age sexual guru, priestess, and alternative lifestyles advocate of the twenty-first century. “Be nice. You know it was never like that.” Katie stretched the truth – except in her teenage fantasies.
Her mother’s chuckle was as weak as the woman herself, “Go make food, while I talk to the boys.”
“Do you need any help?” volunteered Chase.
But she shook her head. No, she needed time alone to think and regroup. Time to breathe and make a plan for how she was going to handle things. Them. “How long are you staying?” she whispered.
“As long as you need us.” They both replied with that smile that sent butterflies skittering into flight and her scurrying quickly into retreat in the kitchen. She was in trouble, big trouble, twin fantasy trouble. And Katie knew it.