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She lowered her face to his cock, and—her eyes still looking into his—licked the head experimentally.
Christmastime in Santa Barbara is a technicolor experience. The verdant palm trees lining its streets are encircled with spirals of white lights, and behind them, the sky is a florid kaleidoscope. In the evening, shades of peach and creamsicle and fuchsia spread against a canvas the color of the Caribbean Sea. Hardly holiday colors, admittedly, but the coffee shops and bakeries do their best to make up for it with an abundance of spiced treats that permeate the air with peppermint and cinnamon.

Hunter drove his rented convertible through the sun-washed streets toward his parents' house, the wind just crisp enough to dance through the light brown waves of his short hair and to validate the warm turtleneck he wore. As he drove, it was his sister that he thought of, his sister that he—in every sense of the word—ached to see.

Hunter had doted on Amy since the first moment he held her in his arms.

He hadn't expected to. He was nearly four when she was born, and yearned for a younger brother with which he could share everything. It had seemed like a flagrant betrayal when his parents had brought home a girl instead.

Until she looked at him.

Her eyes were immense, taking up easily the majority of her round face, and they had opened when he—a little reluctantly—accepted a chance to hold her. It lasted for little more than a second, but for the child he had been, there was an eternity in the moment when she looked up at him, her newborn gaze adorably unfocused.

Soon after that, she closed her eyes and slept contentedly, her little head pressed against his chest, her rosebud lips opening and shutting drowsily. He held her for as long as they would let him.

Amy returned Hunter's attachment tenfold. She was a happy baby and seeing her parents enter a room was enough to make her smile, but she lit up at the sight of her big brother. She watched him with a reverent fascination, like a flower reaching toward sunlight, giddy and worshipfully solemn by turns.

When Amy learned to walk, nothing made her happier than to stumble into her brother's arms, and then follow him around everywhere. He went through a phase, naturally, where her tendency to wander after him became as much burden as blessing. There were times when he just wanted to play with his friends, grateful to have a chance to go over to other kids' houses where he wouldn't have to go slowly and look out for Amy every instant.

But then he would come back, and her smile would turn as bright as sunlight, and he would realize he missed her.

Amy was a cute baby and pretty girl, but Hunter never felt overlooked beside her, as so many older children do. Indeed, it was Hunter who was the golden boy. Hunter, who most excelled athletically and academically. Hunter, of whom their parents endlessly catalogued virtues.

It was perhaps partly because Amy didn't particularly resemble either of their parents very closely. She didn't look entirely unlike them, exactly—no one who saw her peridot green eyes could deny that she was part of the Daniels family. But some pre-parental influence in her bloodline had clearly surfaced in the form of her petite stature, in comparison to the towering form of her parents. Somehow the fusion of their father's square jaw and their mother's elongated, gracefully tapering features had given rise to Amy's heart-shaped face. Somehow the ski-slope shape of their mother's nose and the broad, Roman shape of their father's had merged to form something pert and daintily upturned in Amy's countenance.

Nonetheless, their parents certainly couldn't deny that Amy had talents of her own. Indeed, she had several. She was lavishly artistic, frequently drawing and crafting.

Of particular note was her knack for selling. With her bouncy brown curls and dimples that sweetened her sunny smile, Amy could charm the money right out of their wallets. She won an award for highest sales nearly every time their school hosted a candy drive.

The proceeds from such awards were primarily what funded his sister's other special talent: finding, without fail, the perfect gift for any occasion. Hunter was of the firm opinion that his sister had to be the best gift giver in the world. She was barely eight when she first developed the habit of making her own cards for birthday and thank you notes.

On his twelfth birthday, when he loved baseball more than anything, there was a certain trading card he had wanted desperately. He stared at it in the shop window every day for a month, and his father promised it to him if his team won the final game of the season. He had never focused on anything in the world more than winning that game.

They lost.

Hunter sat on the stoop afterwards, watching the drizzly evening turn to night. Amy joined him, pink umbrella in hand, and the two sat together in a state of gentle quiet until their parents insisted they come inside.

The next day, he awoke to a gift from Amy. It wasn't the card he had sought so desperately but rather a large, hand-drawn replica she'd worked on all that night.

He was touched. It wasn't the same as owning the real thing, but no one other than his sister could have made a substitution mean so much.

And then few days later, as he got ready to climb into bed, he threw back his covers to find a large envelope laying on his sheets. His breath caught at the sight of his name written in loopy marker print, and he opened it slowly, a dreamy hope filling his head like mist. There was a smaller envelope inside, and inside of that, there was his card.

He found out later that his sister had spent the entirety of her candy bar sale winnings on the gift. Their parents had found out, of course. They had demanded to know where the money had gone, and Hunter had told them to spare Amy the brunt of their ire.

He was allowed to keep the card, however, and the tradition of secret gifts had been born.

When Hunter hit puberty, he grew more distant, but as much as his hormones upended his peace of mind, he couldn't quite transform into the surly, aloof elder brother he sometimes felt like. For the first part, they shared a bathroom adjoining both of their rooms, making it impossible to hide from her the way he often could from his parents.

For the second, the occasional impulse to hide from their parents was one that they shared, one that bonded them together. It wasn't that they felt ill-treated, not in the least. Their parents provided for them and cared what became of them, which is more than some children have. But every once in awhile, Hunter would want to avoid one of the serious discussions with his father about the right college to go to or the right sports to play. Discussions that, over time, made him feel more like a clone than a son.

Luckily for him, Amy was always there when he needed someone to make him feel like his own person again.

By the time he turned sixteen, playing the guitar had replaced baseball as his passion, and his favorite band, Starfire Stereo Club, had replaced sports icons as his heroes. As far as his parents knew, Amy had given him a customized guitar pick with his name and an image of the band on it for his birthday.

Secretly, she'd also arranged for him to have a private session in a professional recording studio and had his playing recorded on disc. That time around, she had gotten most of his friends to pitch in for the gift, but it was Amy who had organized everything.

Every year, there was something, and every year it was perfect.

All the while, Hunter watched her blossom into a young woman, and watched other young men watch her as well.

It wasn't that anyone took him as jealous, or even unpleasantly protective. He was never rude or aggressive toward Amy's litany of potential beaux, but his concern loomed like a cloud around his spirit. He saw her insecurities surge against her hormones when she was thirteen, and felt an intense pang of empathy as her body turned into a treacherous landscape, always shifting what it wanted with little concern for her convenience. He knew the feeling.

When Amy turned sixteen, things shifted once again. Amy's body, previously lithe with an abundance of ballet practice and recitals to send her metabolism into overdrive, filled out. Her curves rounded. She was still rather on the dainty side, but she was no longer the svelte creature he'd lived alongside for years. She suddenly looked womanly.

Her voice lost its high, breathy pitch as well. Its musical tones turned lower, velvety. The sound of her laughter grew more sensual, unintentionally insinuating. Now when she smiled at him, a strange tightness would fill his chest, as though something inside of it was struggling to break free.

Of course, she was still his innocent, soft-hearted little sister, oblivious to the thoughts that began stirring in him. And he would make sure to keep it that way. Hunter took to retreating to his room more frequently, and to taking cold showers. Their family wasn't Catholic, but he developed, almost without realizing it, a kind of system of self-punishment. Think about Amy's body: a cold shower. Get hard thinking about Amy's body: stay away from her for at least three hours. It was unpleasant, but it worked.

All the while, he had made himself into the model brother, and the model son. He took the right classes, joined the right clubs, went to the right college. He did everything his parents asked of him, and made silent penance for the lurking desires he kept secreted behind every hug or kiss on the cheek.

Now Hunter was twenty two, and as he stood on the porch outside his home, there was really only one reason he was excited to be there. He took a breath before he rang the bell.

After a pause, he heard the sound of swift, small footsteps on the other side of the door. When the door flew open, and a very small, very sweet smelling person threw themselves into his arms.


Her bouncy curls had softened to gentle brown waves that framed her rose and honey complexion. She smiled at him, pure and luminous as a sunrise, and he felt a familiar tightness in his chest. And elsewhere, when he saw how closely her white sweater hugged her full chest.

Their eyes were the exact same shade of golden green; their hair the same shade of light brown. Even their grins matched as they looked at one another, their eyes more communicative than words could ever be.

He went inside then, to accept his mother's doting hugs and his father's testosterone-laced shoulder slaps.

Christmas Eve at the Daniels' house was a meticulously planned occasion. The house was replete with wreaths, lights, and numerous resplendent depictions of the virgin birth.

Their mother had prepared a fruit salad with mint and lime simple syrup, and ham with an apricot glaze. It looked like a magazine cover, and Hunter's mother was delighted when he said so.

When it was time for them to open presents, their mother circled with a camera, already planning to send thank you notes to particular family members. Marilyn Daniels was nothing if not fastidious.

Altogether, it was a good day. Their mother gave him and Amy clothing, as always, exactly the sort she preferred to see them in. Their father gave him the newest version of the same gold watch he'd gotten the past five versions of over the years, impersonal and ostentatious as ever. Hunter put it on with dutiful immediacy, while his mother cooed over how proud he made them and how much they felt he deserved something nice. Hunter smiled and thanked them, but couldn't help his eyes from drifting to Amy, who never received such prosaic speeches.

Amy, true to form, gave their father a fine leather case for his smart tablet embossed with a tasteful anagram of his initials. She gave their mother an anniversary edition of her favorite classic romance film, complete with a photograph book dealing with how it was made. She gave Hunter a handsome, leather-bound planner—a completely normal non-secret gift—but when he opened it up he saw that this time, she had included a surprise within the first gift. In the flap two tickets peaked out at him with the words "Starfire Stereo Club" printed in bold, and in finer print Hunter could make out "Reunion Tour." Amy had pasted a light blue post-it with the word, "Shh," written on it directly beneath that.

Across from him, Amy's eyes were sparkling. He repressed the urge to grin back at her, and thanked her for the planner for their parents benefit.

This time, at least, he felt he'd matched her efforts. He leaned back, pleased with himself, as he watched his little sister unwrap his present to her.

"It's a book of Danielle Fontaine paintings," said Amy, joy glowing from her eyes and turning her already disarming prettiness into something radiant. She hugged him, and kissed his cheek just like she had when she was little.

The rest of their evening was planned, naturally, with a sober church service followed by what was traditionally a very un-sober dinner party. They had time to wash up and dress beforehand, and Hunter managed to give Amy nearly a half an hour before he succumbed to the temptation to knock on her door from their adjoined bathroom.

She opened the door so quickly it was as though she'd been waiting for him. "What do you think?" she asked, beaming at him and drawing him into her room by the hand.

Amy's bedroom always struck him as a space apart from the rest of the house, as though someone had removed the real room and left an oversized doll's room in its place. It wasn't very large, but the large window contributed to a deceptive sense of spaciousness. Sheer curtains the color of ballet slippers veiled the glass, but not enough to hide the darkening sky.

"The concert's next week," she said. "I thought we could pretend we were doing something else, just for old time sake, but if that's too juvenile for your law student tastes we don't have to." She dropped onto her bed, still smiling up at him. "The thing is," she added, with a impish glint in her eyes, "I still kind of like keeping secrets from them, even if I don't have to anymore."

Hunter let out a short laugh, "I know the feeling. Secret works for me. In the meanwhile—,"

"I get to open whatever it is you have in your pocket?" she asked, her dimples showing and her eyes bright with anticipation.

"Brat," he said, with a grin to match hers, and extracted the small, silver gift box from his pocket. He didn't have her knack for wrapping, but he knew her taste. There was a delicate, swirling design etched into the box, and rose pink ribbon tied into a simple bow wrapped around it.

Her eyes sparkled just as much as they had when she'd watched him open his gift. Presents were Amy's favorite way of expressing affection, and she loved receiving nearly as much as she loved giving.

Hunter watched her open the box, and extract the smaller jewelry case from inside.

She let out a small gasp of delight, lifting a pendant necklace from the box, its delicate chain glinting between her fingers. Dozens of minuscule pink gemstones glittered in a white gold setting, and Amy watched the crystals catch the light, enchanted.

"Oh, Hunter," she said, "This is too much."

Her face didn't say it was too much, however, and it was her face Hunter watched most closely. His heart seemed to grow another size when he saw the delight in her eyes. "I'll help you put it on," he said, and drew her hair to the side so that he could manage the clasp.

"Hunter, it's the best—The most beautiful thing anyone has—," she couldn't finish, and Hunter heard her voice fill with raw feeling in alarm. Hunter knew Amy's reactions by heart. He knew when her tears were happy, when they were sad, and when they were too complicated to be described entirely as either.

He lowered to a knee beside her bed, his eyes dark with concern. "Amy," he said, his tone hazing between concern and excitement. "What's wrong?"

"Trey and I broke up," she said, with a watery attempt at a wry smile.

Hunter shifted closer, his brow drawn, and took her hand.

"It just made me think of it," she explained, shrugging. "I don't know why. He never gave me anything like this—not that I expected him to. I don't expect jewelry all the time, but..."

She looked down, at their intertwined hands, and traced the lines with the fingertips of her free hand. "We...It happened after our first time. Together."

"Oh," said Hunter, sensing something dark grumbling somewhere deep in his chest.

"He said that I—," she chewed her lower lip delicately, painfully self-conscious about sharing something like this with him. "That I wasn't very good."

It took Hunter a moment to process enough of his own rage, bewilderment, and disbelief before he could manage a coherent thought.

"It was your first time!" he said, his voice harsher than he'd intended, feeling slightly strangled. They had never discussed these things so openly before, certainly not when it pertained to them. "You're not supposed to be good."

"Well, we fought, and it was really bad." He watched her blink back the emotion that brimmed in her eyes. "I know it was probably true, and probably not a big deal. Like you said—first time." She shook her head. "It's just that it was my birthday and it was supposed to be...special. It was supposed to—I don't know, but it wasn't, and Trey made it seem like it was my fault. And I know he thinks he can just say things like that and crook his finger later on and I'll just come running back—,"

"Amy," Hunter said, squeezing her hand, "Trey is an idiot if he takes you for granted, and I promise—," he struggled to find the words, ignoring the way searching for them made his face feel hot and his throat feel tight, "It's not always that way. The first time is usually awkward. It's not someone's fault."

"I just...," she laughed, embarrassed, and wiped away the threatening moisture near her lashes. "Sometimes I wish I could find a guy like you."

Hunter felt the painful constriction in his chest sharpen as though it had grown a razor's edge.

"Amy," he said, his face close to hers. Her eyes seemed so large, shining with unshed tears and devoted fondness as she looked back at him.

And then, so gently and easily it was as though it was the most natural thing in the world, his lips touched hers.

She tasted like powdered sugar and garden sunshine, like comfort and warmth.

He felt the gentle gasp in her kiss, the stunned surprise, and it might have been a punch to the gut for how hard it drove the reality of what he was doing into his awareness.

He wrenched himself away as though he'd been scalded, though it had taken the entirety of his willpower to do so.

"Oh," she said, her fingers touching her lips as though the texture of them was new to her. Her eyes were wide with shock when they met his.

"Oh," she said again.

He stood and moved to the wall, turning away so that she wouldn't see the realization and shame coalescing in his eyes, placing his hands against the reassuringly firm surface.

"I'm sorry," he said, his head bowed. The shiver that raced along his spine was not entirely horror, not entirely unpleasant, and that only deepened his guilt. "God, Amy, I'm sorry."

He didn't know how long he stayed like that. He didn't notice her move, but when he felt her hand on his arm, it didn't startle him. It just sent more shivers through his skin like a static current. He felt"Hunter," she said from his shoulder, "I didn't mind."

"Amy—," he said.

But Amy shook her head. She guided him back toward her, rose onto her tip-toes, and kissed him. This time it was more than comfort. It was like seeing stars, a cascade of sparkling lights behind his eyes. "I...the opposite of mind," she said, her voice low.

Looking into her vivid green eyes in that moment felt like falling into a peridot sky. Like losing himself and not caring if he ever came back. Photos He enfolded her in his arms, kissing her with the slow-building intensity of his every unspoken yearning, and she returned the kiss. Warmth spread through his body, tingling in his fingertips as he sculpted his hands around her curves, exploring every inch of her that he'd already memorized. He barely registered his own impulse to draw her sweater over her head, and yet over her head it came, with Amy's help. His hands felt slower than he was used to, woefully un-fluid and inefficient. He wanted to caress every inch of her, to trace the entire shape of her. His hands seemed determined to return to the same places, lips, her bottom, her breasts...for there they were, the pert nipples peaking through the delicate rose colored lace of her bra.

As he removed this too, a part of his brain tried to warn him, to remind him that it was sister, his Amy, and he'd worked so hard to hide this from her, to protect her. But the rest of him wasn't listening. It was too focused on the chance to touch her, all of her, and to show her how wonderful it could feel to be touched with care.

It was the most gorgeous contradiction: the way her body was utterly familiar and new all at once. Hunter knew that what he was doing was forbidden in every possible sense, but it felt...pure, somehow, spiritual. He worshiped at the altar of her body with his tongue and his lips, kissing her ears, her neck, her deep rose colored nipples.

When he lifted her skirt, Amy simply unbuttoned it and tossed it aside as well, but Hunter kept the task of her underwear for himself. They were lace, like her now discarded bra, but black. Not quite matching, yet still perfect. He drew them down her legs, revealing her hips, and the glistening pink lips nestled in a small patch of light brown curls.

He kissed her there, tasting soft, damp skin. She arched beneath him, cat-like and uninhibited. His tastebuds thrilled. She was delicious, fresh as honeydew, and when he lapped his tongue along the folds of her cunt, it was only the pleasure of doing so that he considered.

But she was gasping, and moaning in ways that sent his arousal into overdrive. His instincts were screaming at him to ram himself inside of her right then and there, but he wanted to be better. He would be better.

In his heart, he wanted nothing more than to show Amy that she was desirable. When he pressed his tongue into her, he paid attention to her every flex and moan in response. The dampness of her arousal swept through his senses.

"Hunter—," she gasped, "God!" She pressed her hand over her own mouth to keep from crying out. He'd found her clit. His tongue pressed the tiny, elusive nub of flesh, and he began to build a rhythm as he explored the succulent skin inside of her.

"Mmm! Mmm! Mmmm!" Amy was wiggling beneath him, frantic with pleasure. He held her firmly by the hips, and continued to circle her clit. Her juices were gushing into his mouth now, and he savored every drop even as he focused on her. The more delirious her reaction, the more readily he exploited the spot that incited it. All he wanted was more. More of her taste, more of her scent, more of her sweet moans dancing in the air above his head.

"I want to try something," he said, lifting his head to look up at her, "Do you trust me?"

Amy nodded, quivering with arousal, but unhesitant. Her fingertips grazed his cheek, the touch like petals against his skin. "Always," she said.


He lowered his mouth back to her pussy, to find the nub and work his tongue against the sensitive flesh. As he felt the little muscles tighten and spasm with new vigor, nearing orgasm, the hand cupping her bottom moved, finding the tiny hole he was looking for. Amy's eyes widened at the sensation, startled, but they never lost their absolute trust. Gently, so gently, he inserted the tip of his index finger just as her body rose on the crest of climax.

Amy's reaction was fierce. She arched her back and cried out into her hand, desperately muting the scream of passion even as he other hand seized his hair. The nectar of her orgasm swept over his tongue, a gushing onslaught of sweetness.

Hunter couldn't take anymore. He felt like he might explode. He turned, and drew his cock into his hands, hiding it from her and pumping it in his hand. But once again, he felt her behind him, and her breath against his ear. "Let me," she said, her voice soft and husky in a way he'd never heard before. Amy came around in front of him, and imitated his motions, massaging his length with both of her small, warm hands.

She lowered her face to his cock, and—her eyes still looking into his—licked the head experimentally.

Hunter trembled everywhere, his cock especially. He was sure for a moment that he would shoot off into her face, and he instinctively went to protect her eyes with his hand, but he regained control of himself before he needed to.

Amy seemed to take her inspiration from that, and she began to lick the length of his cock. It was a kind of arduous delight, a slow build for the already burning flame of his need. When she put her lips around his head, still gently pumping his phallus with her hands, he felt near to losing control again.

"Wait," he said, his voice hoarse, "Wait."

He lifted her to her feet and then moved back onto her bed, drawing her on top of him so that her legs straddled his. Her pussy brushed the tip of his cock, and he shivered, barely keeping control. "If we're going to do this, I want you to see—feel—how good it can be."

She nodded, her lids heavy with freshly kindled desire.

She eased onto his cock, letting out a soft, shuddering whimper as she felt their bodies settle into place as though they were designed to fit together. Her eyes rolled back in her head upon appreciating how deeply he had filled her, but when he lowered his back onto the bed, and began to move his hips, she refocused to guide herself into rhythm with him.

"Oh, god," she murmured breathlessly, and arched her back, tossing her hair behind her. "It's like--Oh, god."

Amy found herself moving naturally with his every thrust, riding him as gracefully as a sea-bird riding a tidal wind. When at last she came again, her rhythm was interrupted by the little spasms in her every muscle. Hunter felt them, felt her rise on the current of her orgasm, and he knew he couldn't hold out beyond that point.

"Amy," Hunter said in sudden alarm, "You need to get off. I'm going to—."

"It's okay. It's okay, Hunter. I'm can come inside me." She looked down at him, her expression tender, utterly loving. "Please."

And with that, the last bit of Hunter's restraint gave way. He felt his cum finally explode from him and coat the walls of his sister's cunt, even as her orgasm rippled around him, along the skin of his cock and in the way her little hand squeezed his.

Amy dropped onto his chest, and they lay together, panting, for what felt like hours. His entire body was subsumed with satisfaction. Her hair spread across his chest in glossy waves, and he played with the locks pensively before he found the words for what he wanted to ask.

"Amy?" he said.

She murmured drowsily.

"Was that more like what you hoped for?" he asked.

"Yes," she said, without hesitation, and lifted her eyes to look into his eyes. "I never thought—It never occurred to me that we might ever dare, but it was...It was everything. It was perfect. Even—When you touched my...," she paused, her face flushing. Hunter felt a familiar tightness in his chest, but this time recognized it for what it was, an aching, self-crushing love for her. "My bottom," she said, "It was..."

His eyes searched her face, and then he reached up to touch her cheek. "Good?" he asked, his mouth dry.

Her flush deepened, "Yeah," she said, her voice sweetly breathless with a strange, sudden shyness. "Could you...Could we do it again?"

Hunter's heart stuttered.

That was when he heard a knock at the bedroom door, and someone turning the knob.

Hunter reared up, panic searing away his better judgement, but Amy rose with him and put her fingertips to her lips.

"Amy?" their mother's voice said, when the door proved to be locked.

Hunter could see the plan whirl into shape behind his sister's green eyes.

"I'm not feeling very well, Mom," she said, making her voice sound a little raspy. "A little nauseated. I've been in and out of the bathroom since I came up."

Another mother might have insisted on coming in, on holding her daughter's hair herself or placing a cool cloth on her neck. Not Marilyn Daniels.

"Well, we only have an hour and a half until the evening service. You'll need to take some Bismuth now to get through it and make sure your hair doesn't look frizzy."

A string of sharp responses rose in Hunter's mind. Amy can't take Bismuth, Mom, it makes it worse when she's nauseated. Her hair never looks frizzy and even if it does, who cares?

He kept his mouth closed and counted to three.

"Okay, Mom," said Amy. She didn't seem to share his annoyance. Indeed, her eyes were glinting at him mischievously, and Hunter saw in her gaze what she intended to do a moment before she did it. She brought her fingers back to his cock, tracing the skin with teasing sweetness. Hunter inhaled sharply, repressing a gasp at the fresh flood of sensation that filled his body. His cock swelled beneath her caress, throbbing hopefully.

"And you should wear the green dress," their mother added through the door. "It brings out your eyes...and remember that Trey will be there."

Hunter shot an irritated glance toward the door.

"Okay, Mom." Amy said, still teasing his cock with an adorably impish expression.

Hunter repressed a groan. It was torment, excruciating and wonderful. He settled for promising revenge with his eyes, smiling even while he shook his head at her. It felt like a game, just like any other they'd played. But beneath his anxiety, Hunter realized that something strange and marvelous now filled his being: a sense of delirious relief and peace.

There was a quiet shuffling and a pause, and he sensed his mother's hesitation on the other side of the door, as only the very astute and very familiar can. He knew she felt a suspicion so vague and unthinkable that she couldn't properly identify it.

He waited, not sure why he was holding his breath or keeping so still, until he heard her walk away, her slippers soft on the carpeted floor.

He let out a breath at last.

Amy was grinning again, looking perfectly calm and amused.

"You brat," he whispered, pushing her down onto the bed. She giggled, covering her mouth, and Hunter kissed her neck, tickling out more laughter against his ear.

But then he drew back, because he could feel her smile fade, and worry cloud her eyes. "Hunter," she said, her brow drawn and her eyes every bit as full of concern as he knew they would be. "What are we going to do?" she said.

He looked down at her, his eyes solemn in turn. "I don't know," he said, and kissed her forehead softly, "But I know that I'll always be there for you. In whatever way you want me." He told her with his eyes that he meant it.That he would follow her lead, and forget any hope of ever touching her again if that was what she wanted. He would go back to being her doting brother and nothing else for rest of his life.

"Always, okay?"

A lifetime could have passed in the next moment, and Hunter wouldn't have minded. He was content to stay there, holding Amy and gazing into the green depths of her eyes for as long as she would let him.

"Okay," she said at last, and brought his mouth to hers. "Always."
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