Her Brother Ch. 01

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My girlfriend had the sexiest mouth. Nice smooth lips, natural deep pink, full and soft with an impish little smirk lingering perpetually at the edges even when her expression was neutral.

She also had gorgeous eyes – warm hazel with little flecks of green and gold. I thought I could die for those eyes.

I was sure there was no butt in the world cuter than hers – round, perky, perfectly grabbable. When she wore something snug, I had a hard time tearing my eyes off of that cute behind.

Even her name gave me pleasant shivers. Lisette. Lisette Labelle. Her family was from Montreal. She’d moved here as a child and had just a faint whisper of a Francophone accent. I didn’t know more than half a dozen words of French, but Lise told me once that “la belle” means “the beautiful”, and for a long time I had a habit of calling her “Lisette the Beautiful”. She certainly was.

We met in college. It was easy to hook up then, easy to get along. We spent so much time embroiled in classes and papers and part-time jobs to pay tuition that we had to pack as much fun into our limited free time as we could manage – at least, that was Lisette the Beautiful’s philosophy, and I would have agreed with nearly anything that came from her irresistible lips. She took me to friends’ parties, to pubs and clubs, anywhere loud and boisterous and alcohol-fuelled. I was never a party kind of a guy, nor was I much into drinking culture, but I would have followed Lisette to the ends of the earth, and getting a bit tipsy made it easier to cut loose and be social in the way she wanted me to be.

I would have liked to stay in and cuddle, maybe watch a few good movies, but she was restless, wanting to get out into the world and splurge after the drudgery of classes and paper-writing, and thought movies were antisocial. I suppose she never really asked me what I wanted to do, but I didn’t mind. She was radiant and full of life, and I was unremarkable in every way possible. I was a fade-into-the-backdrop sort of guy. There was nothing special about me, nothing exciting, and I wasn’t much to look at either. We were the sort of couple about whom people would say, “How did a schlub like him manage to score a knockout like her?” I had no idea how I managed it, but I was thankful every day she wanted me by her side. I wore whatever she wanted to dress me in and cut my hair according to her recommendations. I suppose I became more socially acceptable thanks to her influence.

My girlfriend let me have sex with her, and for this I felt undeservedly privileged. I was a virgin when we met, and had always considered myself a loser. We didn’t do it often, but it made the times we did do it all the more special. Sex with Lisette certainly wasn’t like it was in the movies or on the Internet. She didn’t touch me a lot, or put her mouth on me. She mostly just lay back, closed her eyes, and waited for me to finish. I never complained – how could I? I was lucky just to be able to see her naked, and she even let me put my penis inside her. I never expected it to be like it was in porn. Everyone knows that stuff is completely unrealistic, and I had also heard that in real life, sex isn’t nearly as big a deal to girls as it is to guys. I thought she was sweet to indulge me.

My family never liked her, nor did most of my friends. This should, perhaps, have been a red flag for me early on, but I assumed no girl would ever please my family. As for my friends, I saw less and less of them, and instead ended up with Lise’s friends most of the time. A couple of my oldest friends once took me out for coffee just to warn me, intervention style, that Lisette was a “user” and a “pathological narcissist” – that she only kept me around because I worshipped her. Instead of considering whether there might have been truth to this, I felt deeply hurt on Lisette’s behalf and parted ways with buddies I’d had since primary school. Lise told me I’d done the right thing in cutting the “poison” from my life, and I believed her.

I couldn’t tolerate people speaking critically of my girlfriend. I thought she was an angel, and she made me feel like the luckiest guy in the world just to be near her. I closed my ears to dissent. When she picked out all my clothes and styled me according to her taste, I thought it was love. I wanted to be her toy to dress up. When she audited all of my homework, I thought it was love. She wanted me to get good grades so I would have a more promising future. When she told me what to eat or what not to eat, and put me on an exercise program, I thought it was love. She cared enough to help me be healthy, and it was true I needed to lose a few pounds. I wasn’t crazy about what I saw in the mirror. Maybe, with Lise’s help, I could be a better man. There was a lot I could stand to improve about myself, and she helpfully pointed out all the ways in which I could do so.

We graduated at the same time – her degree was in Communications, and mine was in Microbiology – and she straightaway picked out casino siteleri an apartment for us to live in. We’d never discussed moving in together, but of course I wanted to. She had been doing an internship with a Public Relations firm, and they hired her on full-time straight out of school, so she felt very secure and pleased with herself, as she had every right to be. I was fine with her picking out all of our furniture and everything. She was the one with the impressive, high-powered career. I had a humbler job, working in Quality Assurance for a factory that produced bottled water and other assorted beverages. Lise liked to tease me that I had the most boring job in the world. She was probably right, but I enjoyed it well enough – I found the work to be tranquil and strangely rewarding. I supposed that meant I was just a boring kind of a guy, and was all the more grateful to be with such a dynamic, charismatic woman as Lisette.

I had thought our life together would be bliss. She was a natural leader, and I was content to follow. It seemed we complemented each other – yin and yang. It was, of course, not quite as blissful as I had envisioned. At first I blamed myself, and Lisette probably blamed me too.

She caught me watching porn once, during the first two weeks of our cohabitation. I knew she wasn’t comfortable with porn, and I felt guilty every time I watched. I was feeling wound up – we hadn’t had sex once since moving in together, and I had been looking forward to doing it in our own bed we shared. She simply hadn’t felt like it. Instead I caved and turned to the Internet.

“How could you do this to me?” she shrieked, bursting into tears instantly. “How could you?!”

“Lise… I’m sorry,” I whispered, feeling as bad about making Lisette cry as if I’d run over a kitten with my car.

“It’s cheating! Don’t you understand it’s cheating?” she sobbed. “You’re being unfaithful to me!”

I shook my head slowly, not necessarily to deny her judgment of the situation, but simply at a loss and bereft of words. She thought I was arguing with her.

“Yes, you are!” she insisted, pulling my iPad out of my hands and pointing at the screen. “You’re cheating on me with this disgusting, fake slut! Is that who you want me to be, Cody? Is that the sort of girlfriend you expect? Some kind of pornstar with fake boobs who will perform for you, and slaver all over you like a dog?!”

“No – no!” I replied quickly, my voice trembling with panic. “Sweetie, you’re perfect. You’re the most perfect girl I could ever ask for. You’re so much better than I deserve. Everyone says so, and I know it’s true. I’m weak, and I’m sorry. I screwed up. I’m so sorry I hurt you. Lise… please forgive me. I love you. I love you so much.”

She gritted her teeth and flung my iPad across the room. It hit the corner of our mantelpiece, and a network of cracks spread across the screen. “Bastard! How can I love you right now, when you take me for granted like this?” She sniffled noisily and wiped at her eyes, smudging her makeup. “How can you expect anything from me? Forgive you, really? I don’t know, Cody. I need to think seriously about this. I need some time.”

I hung my head, paralyzed. The thought of losing her was unbearable. I would be so alone without her. I would be nothing and nobody, without a home or friends or even an identity. “I… that’s fair,” I stammered. “I guess I don’t have much right to ask forgiveness. Please… I don’t want to hurt you. If there’s anything I can do to make it up to you, I’ll do it. I promise. Just tell me what to do.”

She sighed and sobbed a few more times, pacing back and forth across the room. “I’m going to have to think about that. And you should be thinking about it too. I expect you to be a better man.”

“I will,” I promised. “I’ll be better.”

I bettered myself as best I could. I didn’t complain once about my broken iPad, deciding it was fair for me to lose my tablet privileges. I made breakfast and dinner for Lisette every day from then on – all of her favourite healthy meals. I brought her roses every few days. I left her little love notes, and bought her cute trinkets. I did everything I could to show my affection and appreciation for her. I began to feel as if I were simply dropping stones into the Grand Canyon of her disappointment. Still, doing anything else was unthinkable. I had screwed up, and I had to put in my time.

A month in, we still hadn’t had sex. I felt guilty even about masturbating. I took to doing it whenever she went out in the evenings with her friends, or in the bathroom at work over my lunch breaks, as I couldn’t even get privacy from her in the shower – she might wander in at any time, and she thought it was suspicious if I locked the bathroom door. I felt like a cheater and a failure every time, but I still seemed to have to get off on a daily basis. If I didn’t get some kind of sexual release, I was even more miserable.

Things did get a little better. She stopped bringing canlı casino up the porn incident, and at least started giving me little hugs and kisses again. I would have given my right arm to simply have a nice, long cuddle, but she wasn’t ready for that much touching.

When I came home from work one day, she was talking on the phone in French, which I guessed meant she was talking to a family member. I knew she had strained relations with her family, and she seemed a little concerned, so I became concerned along with her. I sat next to her on the sofa and offered a hand to hold, but she brushed me off. I sat patiently and waited for her to need me.

After she hung up the phone, she turned to me, licking her lips. Such pretty lips. How was she so beautiful? Even now I felt dizzy, gazing at her.

“So my baby brother is going to move in with us for a while,” she said.

“Oh… what?” I stammered, taken aback.

“Well, not ‘baby’ – he’s eighteen now,” she clarified. “I’m not happy about it either, but mama’s moving in with her new boyfriend and doesn’t have room for him anymore. He’s going to school here, so it’s a convenient place for him. Hopefully he can find a good job and afford to live on campus maybe, but not yet.” She sighed grievously and rolled her eyes. “I’ll have to be substitute mama. He might be handful, so be prepared. We’re going to need to be strict with him.”

I stared down at my hands, remembering how she’d talked vaguely about her brother in the past. I had a strong sense he was a bit of a troublemaker. “Oh. Lise… you’re really sweet to take on this responsibility,” I said softly. “Where can we put him, though? This place isn’t that big, and we haven’t got a spare bedroom.”

“Well, obviously he’ll have to sleep here on the sofa!” she exclaimed irritably. She grabbed a notepad and a pen from the coffee table. “I’m going to have to make a new budget.”

I smiled a little. “You’re so good at that.”

“Speaking of budget, you didn’t buy lunch today, did you?”

My face fell, and my posture followed. “Yeah… I went out for a sub,” I admitted softly.

She dropped her pen and frowned at me. “What kind?”

“Meatball,” I mumbled.

She looked me over disapprovingly. “Oh, Cody, honestly! How can you put such gross stuff into your body? Look at you – you’ve already put on some pudge since graduation. Meatball subs aren’t going to do anything about that.” She poked one of my love handles.

“I know,” I sighed, leaning on my knees. “I was stupid.”

“I don’t want to have to buy you new clothes. Things are going to be tight for a while, with Julien around. You have to think about consequences, for heaven’s sake!”

I nodded. “Yes. I should know better. I’ll make my own sandwiches from now on.”

“You should be eating salads more. If you must have sandwiches, whole wheat bread only, no mayo, and I’m not buying you any deli meats. Those things are packed with chemicals. They’ll kill you.”

I nodded again. “Healthy sandwiches only. I promise.”

“You know I care about you a lot, right, Cody?”

I looked up, and she was smiling at me. That smile was such a rare treasure. Her eyes, they were so gorgeous! I grinned like a moron. “I know, sweetie. You take such good care of me.”

She kissed my cheek, and I felt the warm tickle of it lingering there long afterward. Every little bit of affection from her was a precious gift.

Lisette’s brother arrived a few days later. It was a Friday, and Lise had taken the day off to help him move in. I was uneasy as I drove home from work. Having a troubled young stranger sleeping on our sofa was an uncomfortable thought. I liked my privacy, and Lisette hadn’t even discussed the matter with me before agreeing to let her brother stay. Wasn’t it our apartment, not just her apartment?

I shook these thoughts from my head. Lisette was showing kindness to the most vulnerable member of her family – how could I be so selfish as to resent her for that?

I stepped inside our apartment and neatly hung up my keys and my coat as I regarded the unfamiliar pair of well-loved-looking Chuck Taylors nesting amongst our shoes. Immediately a very ‘Lisette’ type of thought occurred to me – he needed some new shoes, or at least to give those a good cleaning. It was a surreal sort of moment, as I recognized very quickly that I would never have had such thoughts without Lise’s influence. In fact, I used to wear a terribly worn but comfortable set of sneakers when we first met, and it took her no time to remark upon them. When I first realized that a gorgeous girl was paying attention to me, I had been more than willing to throw away my favourite shoes to please her.

After leaving my sensible work shoes next to our guest’s high tops, I entered the living area, following the sound of two voices chatting away in French. They paused their conversation and looked up at me with twin pairs of warm hazel eyes.

I was breathless. The resemblance kaçak casino between Lisette and Julien was startling. Julien was taller, thinner, paler, and with slightly shorter hair and a stronger bone structure, but he certainly had Lisette’s gorgeous eyes. His mouth, too, was like hers – soft, full lips with a natural pink blush, and a hidden smirk lingering at the edges. I looked at Lise’s mouth, and then her brother’s. Somehow, in some way I could not identify, his mouth was even more beautiful. He looked like someone who could trigger an apocalypse if he smiled, and so he carefully did not.

I felt dopey standing there, speechless, staring at a teenage boy, but he drew my eyes like a bright splotch of colour on a white landscape. His elegant, youthful features concealed far more than a smile. There was a whole world behind them, rigidly suppressed. I was slightly in awe of him, and simultaneously wary and tense.

“Hi,” he said at last.

“Hi,” I echoed. My eyes slid over to Lise, who was giving me one of her Looks – one I knew well. It was the Look she gave me anytime she expected me to act like a normal person and be sociable.

“Pleased to meet you,” I added at last, moving closer to him and extending a hand, though these things had never come naturally to me. “I’m Cody.”

“Julien,” he replied. His hand was thin, soft, and cool, and gripped mine with the delicate caution of unfamiliarity. “Um… thanks for, like… letting me stay.”

I almost told him it was his sister he should be thanking, but did not truly want him to think I was opposed to his presence. “It’s okay.” I shifted from foot to foot, glancing at Lisette again. She seemed to be disapproving in some aspect, but I could not guess what she was expecting of me.

“Why don’t I get started on dinner?” I suggested, needing to fill the silence. “You two can… keep on catching up.”

Julien glanced between the two of us. “Um, you guys… don’t have to feed me, or anything. I don’t wanna be a mooch – I can fend for myself.”

“Nonsense!” Lisette assured him. “I know if you’re left to your own devices, you’ll eat nothing but fries and gravy, or pizza. None of that filth in our household, right, Cody?”

She went on without waiting for me to respond: “There’s nothing but good, nutritious food in this household, and we’re going to keep you healthy and fed as long as you’re with us. It’s really no more work to cook for three than for two.”

I nodded. “Sure. I’ll just….” I let my sentence trail off as I retreated into the kitchen. The ambient noise of them continuing their conversation in French lulled me into a haze as I prepared dinner.

There wasn’t room enough in our little apartment for a proper kitchen table, but there was an island that, besides providing extra counter space, served as a separator between the kitchen and living room, and as an eating area. It had room for exactly three chairs, side by side. I felt like an outsider as we sat there in a row, with Lisette in the middle. They spoke mostly in French, though I realized belatedly that Lise was doing at least 75 percent of the talking. Julien was soft-spoken, kept his sentences brief, and seemed to give away little emotion in his voice, whereas Lisette was dramatic and her tone regularly climbed up to boisterous excitement and descended to bitterness or vitriol. Every time she took on that low, disapproving tone, I felt a knot form in my stomach.

I had prepared Lisette’s favourite rosemary chicken, with asparagus and yam on the side. Keeping in mind that Julien especially enjoyed fries, I’d cut the yams into little wedges, tossed them in oil and salt, and baked them to vaguely resemble fries. He devoured them with lots of ketchup, but only picked at the rest.

Lisette turned to me suddenly in the middle of their conversation. “You can get my brother a part-time job at your work!” she said brightly. Without waiting for a response, she turned back to Julien: “Cody’s job is pretty lame, but he likes it there. He can get you a position doing some general labour or something.”

I cleared my throat slightly. “I’m not sure of that, actually.”

She turned to me again. “What? Of course you can! Come on, Cody – we need you to do your part here.”

“Really, don’t…” Julien mumbled.

“It should be no trouble at all!” Lise continued.

“Sweetie,” I said patiently, “I’m just one of the guys that works in the QA department….”

“I know what your job is – I’m not an idiot!”

“No, I didn’t mean…. That is, I just have no say over these things. I can’t just… get people jobs.”

“Jeez, Cody! I understand you’re not the hiring manager!” She rolled her eyes with intense exasperation. “Is it so beyond you to find the guts to talk to your boss or something?”

I placidly chewed on an asparagus tip and swallowed before responding. “I don’t know, Lise. I’m not sure my boss even knows who I am. I don’t really, um… I don’t think it would be appropriate.”

“I swear!” she huffed. “You boys are so helpless!”

Julien and I met eyes briefly behind her back, and then returned to our plates.

“I can handle myself,” he said softly after a few minutes of silent eating.

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