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The Interview: Chapter 28

WHIT

“Oh, my goodness!” Polly’s enthusiasm knows no bounds as she takes the proffered bouquet. “How beautiful, but you really shouldn’t have.”

The sun streams through the bifold doors sparking off the stone countertops and white shaker kitchen units. The kitchen had a makeover a year ago and a big extension. I offered to buy Mum a new place, but she said somewhere else wouldn’t be the same because the walls wouldn’t be filled with so many memories. If you ask me, that’s reason enough to want to move, but not for her. At least she let me pay to renovate the place. When dad died, it was half home, half building site. The man was always tinkering with something.

“They’re just a little something,” Mimi replies, “just to say thank you for the invite.”

“The summons, more like,” I mutter, resisting the monkey noises I thought to make as I lift the carving knife from the chopping board. Whacking off the end of the beef joint resting on it, I tear into it with my teeth. “Mmm. ’S good,” I mouth around the tender piece.

“Honestly, you lot are like a plague of locust.” Putting the boxed bouquet on the countertop, Poll plucks the remainder of the beef between my fingers and sets it to the side. “Elvis can have that when he gets here.”

“The dog gets beef, but I don’t?”

“Yes, because he doesn’t help himself,” she says, exasperated. She turns to Mimi. “I’ve already had to hit Brin with the wooden spoon for stealing one of the Yorkshires.” She rolls her eyes as though she doesn’t secretly love that we all fall into old roles when we walk through the front door.

“Brin deserves it,” I say, eyeing the beef again. Polly slides the chopping board farther away as if that would even stop me.

Suddenly, her hand darts out and captures my chin. “What’s this?” she asks, turning my head sideways so my profile catches the light.

“An accident.” My lip is a little swollen, though nothing too bad. I think Mimi kissing it better a dozen times probably helped.

“What’s a Yorkshire?” Mimi’s gaze bounces between us.

“Yorkshire pud. Pudding,” I amend.

“Like dessert?”

Fuck, she looks like a dessert. Like a crème brulée. Sweet-scented and sugary, but deliciously decadent underneath. She makes me want to roll my tongue over every inch of her. Her pussy is the bowl of cake batter I want to lick clean.

“Yorkshire puddings are savory.” I realize Polly is trying to explain while my mind had checked into gutter town. “Though you can have them with treacle and cream, and they’re quite nice like that.” Mimi nods like she knows what Mum is talking about. “But not as good as when you have them with a roast. They’re a staple of a roast beef dinner,” Poll adds, “unless my mother made them. No one likes a soggy bottom.”

“Oh, I’m sure.” Mimi blinks, almost straight-faced.

“The problem is…” Mum swipes up a teatowel and begins to vigorously rub a plate from the drainer. “You can’t rightly tell until their bottoms are exposed.”

“Sounds plausible.” Mimi nods, though I notice how her lips twitch.

“What you’re aiming for is something rigid.” Mum makes a fist around the towel, her expression deadly serious. “It’s got to be hard before you put it in your mouth. Otherwise, it’s just not as satisfying.” I slide her a look, wondering if she’s been on the cooking sherry when her blue gaze catches mine. “Isn’t that right, Leif?”

“Your satisfaction at mouthing hard things isn’t any of my business, Mum.”

I’ve barely finished the taunting sentence when she’s whacking me with the teatowel. “Filthy animal!”

“If I have a dirty mind, it’s hereditary.” That earns me another whack. When I turn to Mimi, laughter dances in her eyes. “How do you think my parents had seven children?”

“The usual way!” Polly butts in.

“With an awful lot of practice in between.”

“Oh boy. You are in trouble.” Mimi presses her hand to her mouth, but it doesn’t hide the amusement from her eyes.

“I don’t know where I got you from!” Poll protests, throwing her hands up.

“Well, it wasn’t the cabbage patch, that’s for sure.” I don’t normally bring up the topic of her and Dad’s sex life in company. When just us kids are about, it’s fair game because we were the ones who had to live through those years of free and often loving. Free with each other, at least. As teenagers, we’d pretty much announce our imminent appearance in a room just to make sure we weren’t walking in on something. I saw my dad’s arse more times than I will ever admit. But it’s good we can tease her about it these days because for a while, there was no joy to be found in reminiscing. These days, Poll’s grief isn’t so sharp-edged. It’s become a little easier for all of us, I suppose. Not that you’d think she’s happy about it right now.

“Your father would turn in his grave to hear you,” she fake-wails.

“Difficult,” I retort, “considering he was cremated. Besides, you know he’d be encouraging me right now. Squeezing your bum and insisting he can’t help himself on account of you being so irresistible.” Mum’s expression softens, and she presses her hand to her cheek, almost as though she can feel the phantom of his lips.

“I miss him,” she whispers.

“We all do.” Stepping into her, I press a brief kiss to the crown of her head. “Oof!” I feign a cracked rib as she pokes me in them.

“And if you’ve got a dirty mind, it’s all your father’s fault, the randy old sod. Has he?” My stomach tightens when, as quick as a flash, Mum’s attention slides like a knife to Mimi.

“Has he what?” Mimi blinks back innocently, and surprisingly, there isn’t even a hint of pink to her cheeks.

“Oh, she’s good,” Polly says, her attention turning my way.

“A good PA? Yeah, Mimi’s great.”

Mum makes a noise in the back of her throat, cutting off further comment. “Definitely your father’s son,” she says in a tone none too complimentary.

“Leif’s not as bad as El.” Primrose comes to my defense as she appears in the kitchen.

“That was a compliment, Primrose, dear.”

“Oh. I thought you must be heading down the randy old sod route.”

“Takes two to tango,” I offer up. “And in our parents case—”

“Eww!” Prim protests, scrunching her nose. “Maybe you are as bad as El.”

“Why, what’s he done?” I fold my arms and lean against the fridge.

“Just the usual. Honestly, I’m not sure if he thinks I’m an idiot or a kid. He believes he’s speaking in code, but I know what a nosh job is,” Prim protests, slightly aggrieved.

I press a snicker into my hand, my eyes catching Mimi’s. She’s no idiot, and she’s no kid, but by her expression, she doesn’t know what that is.

“So what is it?” Polly’s attention swings between my sister and me. “I don’t know. Is someone going to tell me?”

“I’ve no idea,” I say, painting on a bland expression. We’re an open family, but there’s no way I’m discussing blow job terminology with my mother.

“Prim?” she demands. “Nosh is food, so what is a nosh job?”

“I’m not falling for that one,” she answers. “Last time you threatened to wash my mouth out with soap. Just so you know,” she says, turning to our guest, “there’s no swearing at the dinner table.”

“Most people aren’t heathens who need to be told that,” I point out.

“You must be Mimi,” Prim says, ignoring me. “Are your ears burning?”

“Hi, yes.” Mimi’s hands half lift to her ears before she catches herself. “I mean, no. Should they be burning?”

“Yeah, who’s talking about her?” I grumble.

“Everyone except Lavender. She’s talking to some boy on her phone.” Prim angles her head in the direction of the lounge.

Nosh jobs and Mimi? That had better not be the conversational flow in there.

“That thing will need surgically removing from her hand,” Polly mutters.

“Anyway, I’m Primrose,” she offers. “The sister whose personality is as sunny as her name.”

“And as you’ve probably guess, she is so modest,” I put in.

“The glue that keeps this family together,” she counteroffers, her arms held wide.

“We could use some of that glue for your mouth.”

True to her cheeky personality, Prim sticks out her tongue.

“Make yourself useful,” Mum says, swiping Mimi’s boxed bouquet up again. “Put these gorgeous flowers in Grandma’s vase.”

“That’s vase,” I say, ducking my lips to Mimi’s ear. From the outside, I’m sure it looks like I’m teasing her about her accent, mainly because no one can see the way I have my hand on her arse. The way I’m squeezing it.

Vase—vase,” she says, almost springing away.

“Why don’t you take Mimi into the living room and get her a drink?” Poll suggests. “Dinner won’t be long.”

“Can’t I help?” Mimi asks, almost springing from my hand.

“Want me to lay the table?” I ask, eyeing the mostly bare kitchen table.

“I already did it,” Primrose says. “We’re eating in the dining room today because we have a guest.” She dips an ironic curtsey.

“There’s just not enough room at the kitchen table,” Poll says, shooing us out of the door with her hands and into the darker hallway. “Go and open the wine or something.” With a weird flash of her teeth, she closes the kitchen door behind us.

“The dining room and wine. You should come more often.”

“I shouldn’t be here at all,” she says, trailing me into the formal dining room.

This time, I do make monkey noises, making her smile. She walks to the French doors overlooking the back garden as I decant a couple of bottles of Pinot Noir into the flat bottomed carafe. Mum has gone all out with the best china and silverware. The posh glasses she and dad bought at some French antique fair.

“You have a tree house.” Is it weird that I know she’s smiling?

“Technically, it’s a tree fort. Tree house was far too emasculating for our young minds.”

“Except you have sisters.”

“It became a house when they got their hands on it. They even hung curtains.”

“The height of domesticity,” she teases.

“Here.” She startles a little as I slide my hand to her jean-covered hip and hold out a glass for her in my other hand.

“Shouldn’t we wait for everyone else?” she says, still reaching for the stem.

“No one will know.” Her hand lowers as she intuits my intentions, allowing me to tip the glass to her lovely bottom lip. “Open wider.” I can’t help the sandpapery rasp to my tone or the way my cock perks up as she does, leaning her head back until it’s resting against my shoulder. I tip the glass, quietly pleased that she trusts me. Her tongue chases the taste from her lips as her attention returns to the garden and a sparrow hopping around the lawn.

“It’s like the secret garden.” Her hands crossed loosely at the waist, she continues to rest against me.

“It’s not that overgrown,” I say with a low chuckle. In fact, it’s in a better state than it was when Dad or me or even El and Brin were responsible for the garden chores, thanks to the gardener I employ.

“Like the book,” she says, angling her head to look up at me. “Kind of idyllic.”

It’s just a suburban London terraced house, but I suppose I know where she’s coming from. The house was built in the early eighteen hundreds and has all the charm of the Victorian period. Slightly gothic yet at the same time quite frivolous; ceiling roses and chandeliers, scalloped coving like a heavily iced wedding cake. The garden isn’t big, but it’s charming, I suppose. The vined arbor just coming into flower. The loveseat and the little wooden summer house where Polly can often be found sitting in the summer.

Her sigh sounds happy, and for a fleeting moment, I get a flash of a future that isn’t ours. Snow in the garden, ice laced on the windows, Mimi leaning against me just as she is now, her hair shot with silver, her face softened with age, but still so fucking beautiful.

“I can imagine you all running about the place, the girls in smocked dresses with pigtails and the boys in boater hats and sailor suits.” Her body moves with mine as I find myself stepping back in shock, I suppose.

“You’ve a very vivid imagination,” I say gruffly. I throw back the remaining inch of wine, putting the glass on the table behind me.

She rocks forward before turning on her heel to face me, her lips tipping mischievously. “Oh, but not as vivid as yours.”

“This might be true.” Despite my previous movement, I lean in, pressing my lips to hers. She tastes like wine and her skin is warmed like sunshine as I slide my hand under her sweater, gripping her waist as I deepen the kiss.

“Not here,” she protests in the spaces between our kisses. I trade a circle on her skin with my thumb, pulling her hips against mine as I grab a handful of her bum. “Whit, I don’t want…” Her soft sigh and her body’s response denies her words, my mind spinning through the possibilities of where I could take her. To take her? To fuck her. To scratch this near-constant itch.

This isn’t right. She deserves better than a quick fumble in the downstairs loo. Plus, there’d be no hiding it from the truffle hounds I have for brothers. I slow my kiss, then press my head to her shoulder. “Sorry.”

“Don’t be. I really like how you are with me.”

“How am I with you?” I pull back and note how her eyes look like hazy, smoked glass.

“Demanding. Spontaneous. You make my head dizzy and my insides kind of fizzy when you’re near.”

“And that’s why I’m not really sorry at all.” Even if I should be. “In fact, if I still had a bedroom in this place, I’d be dragging you up there and putting on some really loud music.”

“Like a teenage fantasy.”

“If I’d know you when I was a teenager—”

“Oh, honey,” she splutters, pressing her hands to my cheeks. “When you were a teenager, I was a little girl with skinned knees and pigtails.”

With a groan, I wipe my hand down my face. Connor, mate. I didn’t mean for it to feel this way.

“But if it helps, I can relate. Because when I was a little older, you were my ultimate teenage fantasy.”

If I’m going to hell, I might as well make it worth it as I slide my hand to the nape of her neck, registering her wide eyes the second before I press my lips to her ear. “I really want to see you touch yourself.” I want to taste that little gasp and swallow her soft moan. “I want a replay of those moment where you bought you lingerie in my name.”

“I don’t know—”

“Yes, you can, darling. You’ll do it for Daddy.”

“You are a wicked, wicked man.”

“And you are slut for the d-word.”

“I just don’t get it. It’s not like anyone would look at us and think is he her dad or her daddy? It’s not like you’re that much older than me.”

“Daddy is a mindset, darling. It doesn’t come with age restrictions.”

“Daddy is…” Her eyes slide over me avariciously. “So hot on you.”

Is it any wonder I want to bend her over every surface I see? But I don’t have time to dwell, not as the front door bangs open and the scratch of nails on floorboards heralds the arrival of Heather. And Heather already knows too much.

“That’ll be Ambrosius and Heather.”

“Your sister is married to someone named Ambrosius?”

“No, that’s the dog. Or one of them, at least. Archer is her husband, and—” I pull open the dining room door and nearly bump into a life-sized, scowling Tinker Bell. “Jesus Christ!”

“He would’ve been easier,” Heather mutters. “A white sheet, sandals, and a stick-on beard. Sadly, no one ever requests JC. Hello, Mimi,” she tags on before trudging in the direction of the kitchen.

“I thought you were done with dressing up,” I call after her. She waves her hand without turning, signifying an answer is either unwarranted or that she can’t be arsed.

“Don’t get her started.” Archer, Heather’s husband, appears at the end of the hallway with his faithful mutt, Elvis, trotting alongside him. “Or she’ll bang on for an hour about the feckless nature of theater kids and why hiring them always causes her grief. Who’s this, then?” he tags on, spotting Mimi. Despite his friendly tone and mild expression, I find myself bristling. Archer used to be a model, though he denies it whenever the topic comes up. And while I haven’t exactly got a face like a bag full of smashed hammers, Archer has cheekbones you can hang your shirt on. More to the point, women blush and fall over themselves when he’s near.

“This is Mimi,” I say. “She’s covering for Jody while she’s on maternity leave.”

“Ah.” So many meanings in that one tiny sound. I suppose it was too much to expect Heather not to tell him. “Nice to meet you.” Before Archer can proffer his hand, Mimi hunkers down to lavish the dog in a greeting.

“And who do we have here?” she says in an adorable baby voice.

“This is Elvis,” Archer beams.

“You are such a handsome boy.”

Archer’s gaze meets mine, thoroughly won over, but also amused. Elvis is anything but handsome. He’s got a head like a masonry brick that’s far too big for the foundation and is getting on in years, hence the gray muzzle. And don’t get me started on his slobbery death breath.

“Oh my!” One minute, Mimi is on her heels; the next, she’s on her arse and the recipient of Elvis’s doggy halitosis. “I love you, too!”

“Elvis, get off.” Archer hauls the mutt back by his pink collar.

“Should we open champagne?” Heather suddenly appears behind Archer. “To welcome Mimi to the family. I think it’s the least we can do, given she’s been tongued by two members of it.”


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