All of us have crossroads in our lives, when you either make a choice or a choice is made for you, and the resultant chain of events drags you into either Heaven or Hell, or maybe some wasteland halfway between.
For me, it was the summer of 1999, the year I finished college and my parents announced they were going their separate ways: so much for the myth of happy marriage they’d rammed down my throat since early childhood. My mother planned to at last explore her enthusiasm for abstract painting, whilst my father had accepted a highly lucrative three-month contract ensuring the French division of a major high street bank would be immune from the so-called ‘millennium bug’ — leaving yours truly out in the proverbial wilderness, emotionally numb and effectively homeless till I left for Birmingham University in the autumn.
However, I’d figured without my parents’ exemplary forward planning: soon as they put our home in Oxford on the market, I was to stay with my aunt and uncle in South Warwickshire. Joining me in this domestic bliss-krieg would be their daughter Maria, my cousin and the girl who’d really make this a summer to remember.
* * * * *
My uncle Derek possessed by far the fattest wallet in my immediate family. Back in the early 1970s, he’d inherited a country cottage from his maternal grandmother, cashed it in and made a series of extremely astute investments on the London Stock Market. By the time he met my mother’s elder sister, Derek’s bank account was already closing on seven figures, and he’d effectively retired by his mid-forties.
Not that he ever threw his wealth in people’s faces. He was — and still is — an extremely nice guy, but it was quite a culture shock to move from my rather poky bedroom in Oxford into one half again as large as the lounge back home. As for their back garden, it put me in mind of the park near my old primary school, except the council neglected to install a swimming pool and a hot tub. Pissed off as I was about my parents’ break-up, I certainly couldn’t deny that yours truly had personally fallen on his feet.
The first few days were a little awkward, of course. Aunt Teresa and Uncle Derek bent over backwards to make me welcome, but there’s no argument I arrived encased in a cloud of gloom, better left confined to my new quarters. Maria spent most of the first two weeks hanging out with her girlfriends, our occasional encounters at mealtimes leaving me in no doubt that whilst she might be sympathetic to my situation, she really didn’t like anyone else being the centre of attention.
Sorry, that makes Maria sound selfish, which is unfair. At nineteen, she was less than a year older than me and we’d always been really friendly as kids, but I can understand how my sudden arrival now could throw a monkey wrench into her carefully-constructed social machinery. After all, she could hardly drag me along with her when the girls got together, though at least she occasionally offered to drop me off at the local pub when she headed out to one of the town centre nightclubs.
* * * * *
So let’s fast-forward to the end of my first month in the wilds of Warwickshire. My aunt and uncle were spending a long weekend at a country hotel about fifty miles to the north, though I couldn’t for the life of me believe it’d be any more luxurious than the surroundings they were accustomed to at home. Maria had gone to a birthday party on the Friday evening and, despite promising her parents to be home no later than midnight, had yet to reappear when I finally hit the sack around two in the morning. I guess I could have phoned the hotel and ratted her out, but she’d been pretty decent to me during my stay and I was actually more worried than irritated.
Truth told, I cared for Maria, and not always in the way cousins should. Although I’d had a couple of girlfriends by that point, the furthest I’d ever got sexually was a furtive exploration of the second girl’s bra and a slap on the back of the wrist when I tried to get my hand inside her jeans. Small wonder, then, that having an extremely attractive nineteen year-old blonde wandering around the house tended to distract me more than a little. To worsen matters, we shared a bathroom, and every so often I would find a pair of knickers poking out of the laundry basket; I’d be a liar if I claimed I’d never thought of taking them back to my room for a crafty wank, but fear of getting caught always led me to chicken out.
Anyway, around half-three, I heard this almighty clatter from the kitchen, which was right beneath my room. I’ve always been a fairly light sleeper, but this cacophony could have awakened the dead, so I jumped out of bed and was down the stairs in less than thirty seconds. Needless to say, it wasn’t Britain’s most inept burglar, but Maria, who was sprawled across the tiled floor, surrounded by the saucepans she’d knocked off their rack as she’d blundered through the back door.
Her expression was priceless: shock, embarrassment and the first hints of a laugh at the corner of her mouth, no doubt mixed with a significant quantity of alcohol. For once, I felt like the adult in charge.
“I.. erm.. Matthew, I’m so sorry,” she whispered, as though she thought her parents might still hear from fifty miles away. And as Maria looked up, I knew there was no way I could be angry with her, even if I’d wanted to.
“Don’t worry, nothing’s harmed,” I said as I helped my cousin to her feet. “You didn’t drive back from the party, did you?” I had visions of her father’s Lexus IS200 parked halfway up a tree.
“No, I got a lift home from Aimee and Gwen. I’m really, really sorry, honestly.”
I put on what I hoped was a reassuring grin and threw a supportive arm around her, then we began the slow stagger up the stairs to her room. Because I’m still extremely fond of Maria, I won’t soil this story with an account of the fifteen minutes we spent in the bathroom, me holding her hair whilst she communed with the toilet bowl. Afterwards, I made sure she got safely into bed, but thought better of suggesting I help remove her outer clothing: the situation was uncomfortable enough as it was, without me coming across as some kind of pervert. Which, having developed a hard-on whilst pressed up against her in the bathroom, I certainly felt like.
* * * * *
The window next to my bed faced north-east, so it was less than three hours later that sunlight began to pierce the curtains. I tried pulling the duvet over my eyes, but eventually gave up and headed off for a shower before wandering downstairs to clear up the mess from the night before.
I was watching breakfast tv and toasting a couple of bagels when I heard Maria’s soft footfall on the kitchen tiles. As I turned, she flashed me an apologetic smile, not to mention a fair amount of cleavage from the gap in her dressing gown. She’s your cousin, you idiot, I thought and quickly retargeted my eyeline at the toaster.
Four steps later, Maria was at my side, her head resting against my right shoulder and her left arm snaked around my waist. “Matthew, thanks for being so kind to me last night. It’s not the way I normally behave, I promise you, but I drank a bit more than I should have and… Well, you know the rest.”
I turned my head, gazed down into those soft brown eyes and then did something which, even now, all these years later, I cannot for the life of me explain. Brushing the blonde hair back from her face, I leaned down and kissed her lightly on the forehead.
I’d no sooner done it than I realized I’d crossed some unspoken line, but rather than recoil in horror, Maria stared back at me with a look which was one part surprise, two parts confusion and one which I couldn’t quite read. Pleasure, perhaps? “I’m going for a swim to get rid of the cobwebs,” she said, her voice perhaps a little more breathy than usual. And then she was gone.
As I sat in the kitchen, spreading creamcheese on my bagels, I listened to the occasional splash from the pool and mulled over what had just happened. Although my cousin hadn’t actually slapped my face, she had retreated moments later, and whilst her own face had looked slightly flushed, that could as easily have been anger as excitement. And anyway, what the hell was I expecting to happen? That we’d suddenly rip our clothes off and fuck each other senseless right in front of the crockery cabinet? For all I knew, Maria had probably had lots of boyfriends, real boyfriends, the kind she’d let stray south of the belt buckle, so she’d hardly be interested in an eighteen year-old virgin prone to less than honourable fantasies regarding a member of his own family.
There was only one sensible course of action open to me. I’d go to my room, nail the door shut, stay there until my aunt and uncle returned on Tuesday and pray Maria contracted short-term amnesia. That way, she needn’t feel guilty about coming home drunk from her friend’s party and I could go back to secretly using her for an added spark when playing with myself in the privacy of my own bed. Just keep my head down for three days and everything would return to…
“I’ve fired up the hot tub. You want to join me?”
Maria was standing on the patio, silhouetted by the sunshine and framed in the rear doorway. Her hair cascaded across her shoulders, and the occasional waterdrop fell from her powder blue swimsuit, momentarily catching the flare behind. The image was a cross between a Madonna video and a cheap porn flick, and my heart skipped a beat at the sight of it.
They say the road to damnation is paved with good intentions, but it works just as well with bad ones. I paused for an instant, swallowed the piece of bagel I’d been distractedly chewing for several minutes, then replied, “Sure, why not? I’ll need to go change first, though.”
“No need. Those’ll do okay.” She gestured vaguely in the direction of the shorts I was wearing, which I’d wisely chosen because they didn’t have an aperture at the front. “I’ll see you outside.”
* * * * *
By the time I’d cleared the dishes away, gathered my thoughts and walked across the garden to the canopy under which the hot tub was sited, my cousin was stretched out beneath the frothing water, her arms spread so that her hands rested upon the concrete surround. She looked a million miles away, though her eyes flickered open as she heard me approach.
“You were ages. I began to think you’d changed your mind.”
“I didn’t want to leave the kitchen in a mess.” I’d no sooner let the words slip out that I regretted them: Maria broke eye contact and muttered, “I’m so sorry about last night”.
As I slipped into the tub opposite her, she pulled her feet back. “I’ve told you already,” I said, “there’s nothing to apologise for. You’d have done the same for me.”
She cheered up at this, arched her back slightly and relaxed against the fibreglass wall whilst I tried to get used to my uncle’s latest toy. I’ve always preferred showers to baths, and it felt even weirder to be sharing one with a cute blonde in a bikini.
“Do you remember the last time we did this?”
I looked up, completely bewildered. “What?”
“When you and I were about two or three, our moms used to stick us in the bath together.”
“Ah…” Yeah, like that was going to relieve the tension.
I threw my head back and extended my legs across the floor of the hot tub. Since it was barely more than seven feet across, this meant placing them either side of Maria’s own, which both remained bent at the knee.
Taking care to appear casual, I allowed my gaze to sweep from shoulder to shoulder, noting with no small exhilaration the way she filled out her bikini top these days. Fortunately, my cousin seemed to have drifted off again, her eyes remaining shut as she exhaled deeply and straightened out her legs under the water.
At first, I thought I was myself dreaming, but a split-second later I realised that Maria’s right foot was now resting against the front of my shorts, pressing ever so gently upon my groin. It was as though someone had just poured a glass of ice-cold water down my spine, but I just as surely knew that over-reacting would only embarrass her. Soon as she sat back up, the weirdness would pass, probably without Maria even being aware of the situation we’d found ourselves in.
Only, she didn’t sit up. If anything, my fellow hot tubber stretched her leg another half-inch forward, with the foot angled so that the toes lay level with the tip of my cock. My mouth felt dry and a rivulet of sweat ran down the right side of my face, and I knew neither had anything to do with the temperature of the water.
Maria’s eyes were still firmly closed and I would have sworn she was asleep had I not felt her toes begin to gradually slide to and fro across my shorts. It was as though my genitals had just been hooked up to the National Grid: I went rigid and time slowed to a crawl as the soft friction rapidly got me hard as an iron bar.
Surely she couldn’t be unaware of the effect this was having? Part of me wanted to get out of that tub before this really got out of hand, but another part — and I bet you can guess which one — was screaming at me not to blow this and just hang on in there for the ride. And all the time, Maria’s foot was continuing to rub right along the length of my cock through the slick cotton, cranking up the pressure building in my balls.
And then my cousin did something which convinced me she had to be fully conscious. Using only her big toe, Maria began to massage just above the ridge of my cock with a gentle circular motion and it was as though she’d flicked every switch in my teenage libido. I could no more have stopped the impending explosion than hold back a shattered dam or an active volcano: her toe maintained its near-painful pleasuring, took me over the edge and I felt boiling cum jet up through my cock and spray the inside of my shorts.
As the last spasm subsided and I took in a breath for the first time in what seemed like hours, Maria gave a near-inaudible sigh, opened her eyes and resumed her earlier position. “Wow, I forgot how relaxing this can be. Have I been asleep long?”
I might have been in shock, but I knew she was testing me, checking that I was prepared to go along with her cover story. “Only a couple of minutes. Guess I wasn’t very entertaining company.”
“Nonsense.” She stood upright and I noticed my cousin’s nipples were quite prominent through the fabric of her bikini. At the time, I was inexperienced enough to be puzzled by this, since I’d always heard it was the cold which affected girls that way, not a steaming hot tub. So young, so naïve.
She was a couple of steps down the garden path when I heard her ask, “Are you coming in?” and swivelled in the water to answer.
“Just give me a couple of minutes, okay?”
“No worries.” And as Maria turned to walk back towards the house, I swear I saw the faintest indication of a smirk, as though she knew there was no way I could get out of the water till I’d slipped my shorts down and given their contents a thorough sluice.
* * * * *
By the time I stepped back into the kitchen, Maria was nowhere to be seen, though I noticed her bedroom door was firmly closed as I returned to my own. As I stretched out on the bed, the crisp sheets cool against my back, I replayed the events of the previous hour. Just how insane was this? She might have pretended she was dozing, but we both knew that was a lie, and in any case I’d been fully awake and a willing beneficiary.
It was going to be a long three days.