It was going to be the weekend from hell. I knew it the moment my mother called me to give me the news.
"Stephanie is engaged! We're having an engagement party for her this weekend. So you HAVE to come. I know you hate family functions, but you must be here!"
My mother's tone was stern. She was usually a sweet and lively woman, but when she demanded we do something, we better damn well do it!
I yawned. She'd woke me up at six that morning. I hated when people called me so early. I always forgot to turn off my phone. On a morning like this I wish I could have remembered.
"I guess I can make it," I said as I raised my body up slowly. My bones were aching from having played basketball last night with the guys.
"You GUESS? No sir, you'll be here. It's your sister's engagement party! She'd want you to be there."
I flopped back down on the bed. Didn't my mother know how heartbreaking this news was?
"Ok mom, I'll be there. Mom, can you not call me so early?"
"It's six, you should be awake and getting ready to go to class!"
I groaned. "I don't' have class until nine mom."
"Well then, get up to study. When I was going to college..."
I shouldn't have said anything about waking me up early. Now she was going to go on about when she was in college how she'd get up at five every morning to go exercise, study and have a good and healthy breakfast. I'd heard those stories over and over again.
"Ok mom. Uh huh. Yes mom," I simply replied to her.
"So remember, be here at least by Thursday night because I know you don't have class on Fridays. Stephanie will be here Friday."
"So why do I have to show up Thursday?"
"Landon! Just show up!"
I held the phone away from my ear. My mom could really get loud when she wanted to. "Ok, ok. I'll be there."
"Ok honey. See you then!" She sent me a kiss over the phone and hung up. It was strange how quickly she could change her tone.
I lay in bed for a moment. I knew I couldn't go back to sleep now. The news about Stephanie's engagement had really gotten to me. She'd been dating Caleb, who in my opinion was a really good guy. They met over two years ago when Stephanie and her long time friend Jamie opened up their own clothing boutique. Caleb walked in looking to buy something for his sister Lana. He says when he saw Stephanie; it was love at first sight. He asked Stephanie for her opinion on several dresses for Lana and soon they began talking. He asked her out and since then, they've been together. Caleb is a car mechanic who also runs his own business. He's hardworking, kind and very caring. He loves my older sister, but I can bet he could never love her as much as I do.
I close my eyes for a moment and try to recall when this infatuation with Stephanie began. Stephanie is five years older than me. She and I were close as we grew up. Sure, we'd fight like every bother and sister does. We'd get on each other's nerves, but deep down we loved each other.
I can't pin point when it was that I began developing this huge crush on my sister. Maybe it was the fact that my friends always harped on how hot she was. Maybe it was the way she hugged me on special occasions like holidays or my birthday. Maybe it was how she always watched out for me. She'd give me advice on school, girls, and life in general. Maybe it was the way she made my heart race when she wore certain clothing. Or maybe it was just all of her. Her smile, her laugh, her charming personality. Stephanie was everything I'd want in a female. She was smart, caring, fun and beautiful.
Her hair, which had never been dyed, was long, straight, sleek and chocolate brown color. Her eyes, hazel just like mine. Her lips pouty usually coated in lip gloss. Her eyelashes, miles long and her light olive complexion completed her total beauty.
The years went by and I fell more in love with my sister. Now here I was at 22 years old, finishing up my last year in college and still crushing on my sister. I rarely dated, and not because I couldn't get a date, it's just that none of the girls compared to my big sis.
I couldn't believe she was getting married. I don't know, call me strange, but it almost felt as if she was cheating on me. I knew I shouldn't have felt that way. I mean it's not like Stephanie ever led me on or teased me sexually. My sister was just my sister. Nothing incestuous going on between us. Nothing at all. And that pissed me off even more.
I arrived Thursday night just like my mom had ordered me to. I lived only an hour away from home on campus so it hadn't been a long drive or anything. I walked in quietly and my parents sat on the couch watching Nick at Nite. Mr. Ed was on I think. Or maybe it was I love Lucy. Who cares!
"Landon! Glad you got to make it!" My mom stood up and hugged me. She kissed my cheek leaving a trail of saliva. I wiped it off politely and hugged my dad who stood behind my mom.
"Landon! How's school going?" My dad asked in his usual boisterous voice.
"It's going good. I got one semester to go and I'll be a professional slacker."
My dad frowned. "That's not funny. My hard earned money is going towards your education."
My dad could never take a joke. I guess he figured my degree in Art could take me so many places.
"I have your bed ready for you upstairs. Go on up and unpack. We've already had dinner so you can just heat it up if you're hungry," my mom said to me.
I nodded. "Good deal." I went upstairs to my old bedroom. It was always the same. My mom never threw anything out. I still had MAD magazines on my bookshelf along with several comic books and Stephen King, Dean Koontz and Jack Ketchum books. My old drawings were still hanging on my wall. Even my horror DVD movies were neatly stacked next to my old DVD player. I threw my overnight back on the floor and threw myself on the bed. I could smell the cleanliness of Gain on my sheets. I stared up at the ceiling and for a moment I was taken back in time...
I was sixteen and Stephanie was moving out. She was going to grad school. She'd stayed living at home until age 21 simply because she refused to let our father pay for her school. At the time our father had lost his job and we were barely making ends meet. Our parents had a savings for her but she wanted them to use it for the family instead. She worked part time and went to school full time her first four years of college. Now she'd had some money saved up and finally decided to get a little help from our parents.
She had packed her bags that day and came into my room to say goodbye. I cried. I knew I'd miss her like crazy but at the time I didn't understand why I was crying so damn much. She hugged me tightly and kissed my cheek. She said she'd only be an hour away. She said I could go visit. She said she'd always be there for me.
I understood she had to leave. I just didn't want her to go. Once she was gone, it was as if a part of me was missing. The house was quiet. I no longer woke up to her singing along with No Doubt. I no longer smelled her perfume in the hallway. I got depressed that year. I think I've been miserable ever since.
The next morning what woke me up was all the commotion downstairs. My father's loud voice, my mother's squealing and ... Stephanie's sweet laugh.
I quickly raised my body out of bed and went to the bathroom. I did my morning routine and then took a quick shower. I wanted to get ready as fast as I could so I could go see my beautiful big sis. Too late. As I rushed out the bathroom, Stephanie stood there in the hallway smiling at me. It would have been ok, except Caleb with right behind her.
"Well! I see my brother's here," She laughed. Such a sexy, sweet laugh.
I felt myself turning red. I only had a towel wrapped around me. "Hey sis," I said. My voice sounded as if someone was choking me.
She leaned over and gave me a hug. I took in her feminine scent. I held her, wanting to kiss her. "How are you?" she asked fixing her eyes on mine.
I shrugged. "I'm doing ok. So you guys getting married huh?"
Caleb nodded happily. He would. That asshole. "We sure are. Nice to see you buddy." He extended his hand out to me. I wanted to hate Caleb. I really did. I just couldn't. He treated my big sis with the utmost respect and the way he looked at her, I could tell he loved her. It was sort of the way I think I looked at her. Just hope HE didn't notice!
"Well congrats to you both. When's the wedding?"
In another lifetime, I was hoping to hear Stephanie say.
"Two months," she blurted out cheerfully.
My heart sank. Caleb looked content. Stephanie was in love. I was just her little brother. Nothing else.
"That's kind of quick don't you think? I mean I heard you two just got engaged."
Stephanie gave Caleb a blissful smile. "I know but Caleb and I have been together for a while now and we think it's time. We already live together so why wait anymore right? Besides, it's going to be a small ceremony. I don't want a huge wedding. Mom and dad said I could have it here at the house."
"I'd make you my best man buddy but my best friend Chris from San Diego is going to be able to make it," Caleb said. As if I really cared to be the best man. I'd rather be the groom.
"Hey no problem. I hate being in weddings anyway," I said.
Stephanie looked hurt. "Even mine?"
I paused. "Well ... I thought you said no big wedding. I thought that meant no bridesmaids or ushers."
She giggled. "True but it's still a WEDDING. You can't expect me not to have at least one bridesmaid and one usher."
I narrowed my eyes at her. "Who are the bridesmaids?" I asked.
"Well, you'll be with Lana, Caleb's sister. Jamie's going to be my maid of honor."
I had dreaded that. Lana was pretty, but she could talk. I mean really talk. It's like she had Energizer batteries that kept her going and going.
I faked a smile. "Ok, sounds good."
"Well, we'll meet you downstairs for breakfast. You better go get dressed," Stephanie said and with that, she grabbed Caleb's hand and they walked down the hallway. I waited until they disappeared before I took a breath. I always found it hard to breathe when Stephanie was around.
After I got dressed, I went downstairs. My mom had made a huge breakfast like she always did when we had company. French Toast, Eggs, Bacon, fruit and biscuits. I hadn't had a good decent breakfast in a long time. Everyone was already eating by the time I got there.
I went to grab a cup and poured me some coffee. Everyone was busy talking about the wedding that it seemed no one even noticed I was in the kitchen. I served myself some eggs and bacon and grabbed some French toast. I took a seat next to my sister. She sipped her orange juice and looked over at me.
"Hey," she said softly.
"Landon!" My father's loud voice startled everyone at the table.
"Dad! Do you have to be so loud?" Stephanie asked.
"Landon here is almost graduating and he has no clue what he's going to do after college. I tried to encourage him to get a real job like you two but he wants to study art. What the hell are you going to do with a damn art degree?"
I was losing my appetite.
"You could work at an art gallery and make pretty decent bucks. You could do your own comic strip. You could be an illustrator. You could be a painter. Dad, don't you have any faith in your son?" Stephanie spoke up for me.
Dad looked uncomfortable. He slowly sipped his coffee. "I do. It's just that ... oh never mind. I just want what's best for my children is that so bad?" I swear his voice made the whole room shake.
"That's not bad daddy. It's just that you need to give him a break. He loves art. Why not study something you love? I believe he's going to be something big in life," she looked at me and winked. My heart melted.
"So ... have you bought a dress yet honey?" My mom asked my sister. She was good at changing subjects. I secretly thanked her for that.
"I have. It's simple but gorgeous. I won't go into much detail about it in front of my future husband," Stephanie playfully jabbed Caleb. Caleb laughed. I wanted to just get out of the kitchen.
After breakfast, my mom and Stephanie went into town to shop for some shoes and for my mom's dress. I was stuck at home with my father and Caleb. It was Caleb's idea to play some basketball. I was never good at sports. Why in the hell did he have to drag me into playing basketball? My father was all up for it. He had been a basketball player in high school.
We gathered outside by the garage where the old basketball hoop was hooked onto the garage door. My father had put it up there ages ago and he and Stephanie would play sometimes.
We played for what seemed to be an eternity. I barely made two baskets while Caleb and my dad made one after another.
"It's ok Landon. You did pretty good, I must say," my father said loud enough for the neighborhood to hear him. He slapped my back as a friendly gesture. I almost fell.
We went to the backyard to cool off. My father went to get some beer for us. Caleb slumped down on the lawn chair. "Phew! That was hell of a game." He was sweating.
"Yeah I guess," I replied dryly.
He frowned. "I can't believe you don't like playing basketball. It's such a great sport! I love it. Stephanie and I play each other every now and then. Sometimes she kicks my ass." He laughed, alone.
"But hey, it's cool if you it isn't your thing you know. I saw some of the drawings you did a while back. I must say bro, you are a hell of an artist. I liked the medieval drawings. The Dragon drawings were nice too but the ones I really liked were the futuristic looking ones."
"Yeah I call those 'The end is near' because that's how I envision the future," I said. I was finally glad to be off the subject of basketball.
"Yeah Stephanie brags about your drawings all the time." Caleb leaned back on his chair more. His put his sunglasses on and laid back. My father came out with the cold beers. Drinking would be good for me at a stressful time like this.
I couldn't believe Stephanie had bragged about my drawings. That only boosted my ego. Stephanie had always liked my drawings. I used to show them to her first before I ever showed anyone else. I did suddenly recall one incident where she saw certain drawings she wasn't supposed to see.
I had been drawing a female. Yeah she looked a lot like Stephanie. Ok, so it was Stephanie. Anyway, it was just before I left for college. I was drawing these really erotic drawings of Stephanie. Some she wore very little clothing. Some she wore NO clothing. The only thing though, aside from drawing her, I also drew myself. I made myself looking thinner and more muscular than I really was of course. I couldn't draw my beautiful sister with some ugly schmuck like me. I drew her and I kissing, and touching and making love.
The drawings were quite erotic I must say. I was getting hard just drawing them and decided I could live my fantasy out through my drawings. Being the dumb ass I can sometimes be, I had them laying out on my bed. I went to use the restroom thinking no one was going to my room. By the time I came out, Stephanie sat on my bed eyeing all the drawings. I froze in my steps. I could see her entire face flushed. She looked up and saw me and quickly gathered the drawings back together.
"Um ... yeah ... um nice drawings," she stammered.
I didn't know what to say. I felt nervous. I felt nauseous. "Uh sorry. You weren't supposed to see those." I said rushing to grab the drawings.
She bit on her lower lip for a moment. Silence was killing me. She knew it was her. She had to have known. The male on the drawing was me. Everything looked like me minus the body of course.
"The drawings were ... interesting," Stephanie said softly. "Don't tell me you want to do erotic drawings now."
I nodded. "Nah. These were just ... just for fun."
"Well," she finally spoke. She got up and I realized she couldn't look at me. "They were still ... nice. Very well drawn."
I blushed. "Thanks." I also feared that she wouldn't ask me if it was her in the drawings.
Thankfully she didn't. She quietly walked out my room and closed my door. I thought she'd never speak to me again, but luckily I was wrong. She knew it was her, yet she didn't get upset or grossed out it seemed. She simply shook it off and went on with her life while I continued to secretly love her.
"Well, there are plenty of houses for sale around these neighborhoods. I've seen plenty of the 'for sale' signs." My fathers piercing voice snapped me out of my flashback.
"We'd like to get a house. I'm tired of apartment living. It's ok for a while but then you figure you're paying all that money for something that you'll never own. I figure getting a house would be better. Stephanie agrees. She says she wants a house in case we..." Caleb paused and looked at me. I don't know why he did but he did. "In case we have children."
My father almost spit out his beer. "Children! I course you two are going to have children! I better get some grandkids. I'm not getting any younger."
"Yes sir. We definitely want a few rugrats of our own," Caleb said proudly. He looked over at me, "I bet you can't wait to be an uncle huh Landon?"
I shrugged. I quickly drank my beer. I needed to get drunk, fast!
After a torturous afternoon with my dad and Caleb, I went up to my room to listen to some music and draw. I needed to find some kind of escape from all the talk about marriage and children and buying a house. I was glad Caleb was staring his life but did it have to be with my sister? Couldn't he have found someone else?
The Foo Figher's "Everlong" played quietly in my stereo as I draw more medieval drawings.
I heard the knock on my door and recognized it was Stephanie's knock. She always knocked three times quickly. I stopped drawing. "Come in."
She wore short khaki shorts and a black tube top. Her hair was pinned up. "I knew I'd find you here," she said sweetly walking in and closing the door halfway. She walked over to my bed and looked at my unfinished drawing.
"What you drawing?" She asked.
"Just something. Nothing special." I closed my sketchbook. "'Did you enjoy your shopping?"
"Yeah it was tiring but I had fun. I bought me my wedding shoes. They are clear you know kind of like Cinderella," she laughed. She made me smile. "I also bought me some hair accessories and of course my dress. It's simple but elegant, an ivory Chiffon, spaghetti strap dress. I have to have it altered to fit me perfectly so I can't show you yet."
"I'm sure you'll look beautiful."
Stephanie blushed. "Thanks. Oh and be sure to come on back in about two weeks to have your tux fitted."
"Yeah I know but hey, you love me right?"
More than you'll ever know, I wanted to say. "Of course ... sis," the "s" word sounded hesitant.
"Well good! Then you'll do it for me. It'll just be one night of being uncomfortable I promise."
I agreed to do it. I'd do anything for her.
That Friday night, Caleb's sister Lana was coming to stay with us. She went to school in a nearby town as well. She was my age and was majoring in education. She said she wanted to teach junior high. The thought of teaching junior high kids was quite frightening to me.
Lana got to the house right after dinner. My parents were still in the kitchen with Stephanie and Caleb. I was watching old X-Files reruns in the living room when I heard the doorbell.
Lana stood there dressed in a blue jean skirt and a black tank top. She looked pretty, I had to admit. Her hair had gotten a lot longer. It was now past her shoulders. She had light brown hair with golden highlights.
"Hey Landon," she said and leaned in to give me a hug.
I hugged her back and could smell Ralph Lauren's "romance" on her. I knew that because that's usually the perfume Stephanie put on.
"Hey Lana. Come on in."
I step aside and let her walk in. She carried only a small overnight bag and her purse. Once inside the house I announced Lana's arrival. Everyone walked to the living room to greet her.
Stephanie hugged her future sister-in-law and Caleb gave his sister a huge hug almost lifting her off the ground.
"Caleb! Put me down!" Lana cried out while laughing.
Caleb set his sister back down. She was really short compared to him. She was just a bit shorter than Stephanie. I might have guessed around 5'1" or so.
"It's good to have you join us sis."
"I wouldn't miss your engagement party for the world," Lana replied sweetly.
Caleb put his arm around his sister." This is my beautiful, intelligent and amazing little sister," he stated proudly. I saw Lana blush.
"Glad you could join us sweet," my mom said. "You can sleep in the fourth room upstairs. It's right across from Stephanie's."
"Yes, it's always good to have family together," my dad said a bit too loud.
"Come on Lana, I'll show you your room," Stephanie offered.
They girls went upstairs. My parents headed back to the kitchen. Caleb flopped down on the couch next to me.
"Hey Landon do you want to come down to the blues bar downtown with Stephanie, Lana and me?" Caleb asked.
I kept my eyes on the TV. "I guess."
"C'mon now. It'll be fun. We're just going for some drinks and to listen to some live blues rock."
I had nothing to do that night but draw and think of my sister. "Yeah ok. Sounds cool. What time?"
"About an hour. The band doesn't start playing until ten."
"Ok, sounds like a plan." I didn't really want to go but then what else would I do besides hand out with my parents?
I ended up having a really good time at the blues bar. The band was playing a lot of Stevie Ray Vaughan and Jeff Healey songs. Caleb and I had a few beers and the girls drank Long Island Tea's.
"So you excited about your wedding?" Lana asked Stephanie.
Stephanie beamed. "Yes! I can't wait to marry your brother!" She grabbed Caleb's hand. I tried not to watch.
Lana cleared her throat. "Well I hope you guys are happy together. I know how much in love you are."
Stephanie nodded. "Yup, I love this man," she leaned over and kissed Caleb.
I quickly chugged my beer. Lana laughed. "Oh you love birds."
"So," Lana turned to me," are you excited too?"
I kept trying to avert my eyes from Stephanie and Caleb's make out session.
"I guess. Yeah I'm happy for them." I lied.
"Me too. I think they look good together." She sipped her tea. "I just want my bro to be happy. I think he deserves a good woman. Steph is so sweet. She treats him good and she loves him."
Suddenly I was getting depressed. It was true. They were very much in love it seemed. How could I ever even think my own sister would consider falling for me, her younger brother?
Lana's eyes looked a bit glossy or were they watery? I couldn't tell. Her eyes were on Stephanie and Caleb kissing sweetly. Maybe it was the smoke in the room. Maybe it was too many alcoholic drinks. Or maybe it was the fact that she was losing her sibling whom she secretly loved to someone else. She and I had a lot in common it seemed.
Saturday was a hectic day. After an early lunch, Caleb and I helped my dad bring in tables and chairs to put in the patio outside. We set them up while Lana and Stephanie helped my mom in the kitchen. After everyone showered and got dressed the party was about to begin.
It turned out to be a decent crowd that showed up. Lots of aunts and uncles and cousins. Both from our side and Caleb's family. The food was good, the music sucked but then again it was my mom who picked Celine Dion CD's to be playing during most of the party. Stephanie looked gorgeous in a spaghetti strap short red dress. I wore my khaki slacks and a green button up shirt. I was uncomfortable, but I was doing it for my sis.
Everyone was having a great time. The only thing that worried me was that I saw Stephanie drinking more than usual. She was drinking mostly wine, but still she was drinking quite a bit. Lana was cool sipping on iced tea and Caleb was drinking too many beers.
"Hey, you better watch it. I know how easily you get drunk," I warned my sister.
She laughed. I could tell she was already a bit drunk. "Oh Landon. You're sweet trying to protect me."
"I'm just saying because you don't want to get up with a headache tomorrow now do you?"