Victoria’s Summer

tagIncest/TabooVictoria's Summer

Victoria insisted that Charles meet her at Daisy's, their favorite bar, for a drink on Christmas Eve. She had something to tell him. The timing was not ideal, but Charles would have gone to even greater lengths to accommodate Victoria, his favorite (actually, his only) niece. As it was, the meeting at Daisy's allowed him to make excuses and skip a larger family gathering in favor of the impromptu rendezvous with Victoria.
She arrived before he did and saved him a seat at the bar, which wasn't crowded. They greeted one another with a quick kiss. Victoria had already placed a drink order for both of them. "Happy Christmas, Vic," he said as he sat. "Mmm. You too!" she replied. Victoria allowed no one but Charles to call her 'Vic" or 'Vicky' or 'V.' To the rest of the world she was always and only 'Victoria.'
They caught up on family gossip; Victoria brought him up to date efficiently, sometimes hilariously, on matters involving the extended family. Her briefing would come in handy the next day, at Christmas dinner at his mother's house, but Charles understood that was not why Victoria had wanted to meet. Victoria knew that he got it – he always did – and finally came clean.
"Charlie, I'm going to try to get pregnant." [No one but Victoria called him 'Charlie.']
He could not hide his surprise but tried to be upbeat. "Whoa! You're going to try? Or you're already trying? Who's the lucky co-conspirator? Someone I shall meet tomorrow, no doubt."
Victoria shook her head. "I'm doing IVF. With a sperm donor."
Charles was dismayed and instantly became serious. "But no, Vic…Well, wait, I don't mean 'no' – I mean, why?"
"I'm 29 and have no partner. I want to have a child before I get old."
"Vicky, are you kidding? You're not old…not even close. And what's this about IVF?"
"Well if I'm lucky I won't need the IVF, just the donor. Don't worry, I've been doing my homework. But I might need some help here and there. Will you help me?"
"Well, sure. Of course. But slow down, V. When did this start? What have you already done?"
"Well, I think I've picked a donor…"
"Who? I mean what do you know about him?"
"It's anonymous, silly, so I don't know 'who." But I know a lot about him. Donors go through a lot of screening – medical, personal, appearance, lifestyle… And, well, something about this profile hit me the right way."
Charles gazed at her with affection but was candidly skeptical. "Vic, shouldn't you wait a couple more years? You know, give our friend Cupid a chance? Come on, don't give up. You don't really want to be a single parent, do you?"
Victoria raised an eyebrow and smiled. "Oh, you mean like my mom. And your mom. They did okay, don't you think?" She patted his hand on the bar. "Charlie, I know I'm not old now. Now's not the issue. Even if I got pregnant tonight, when my child turned 21, I'd be 50." Charles began to protest but Victoria preempted him. "I know what you're going to say – 50 isn't old, either. But it is, sort of…I mean, it's old enough. I want me and my kid to be friends as adults, you know? Like our moms."
Now Charles raised an eyebrow. "Marie knows about this? She approves?" Marie was Victoria's mother, Charles's sister.
Victoria bobbed and weaved her head evasively. "Yeah, she knows. I wouldn't say she 'approves'…but she understands. She'll help if I ask. But please, don't bring it up tomorrow!"
A wry smile from Charles. "Okay. I'll help, too. You know I will."
"Hey, you're not getting any younger either, bub. If you'd hurry it up, maybe our kids could grow up together."
They talked for more than an hour more, through two additional drinks and endless background Christmas music. Charles made no further attempt to dissuade her; rather, he worked on persuading her that he would listen, be available, have her back. They visited some silly fantasies, such as him being her date and them dancing at her child's future wedding. As they left, she promised to keep him informed. It was nearly midnight. Victoria stopped him under a lonely sprig of mistletoe at the bar's exit and kissed him. "Thanks, Uncle Charlie." He hugged her back. "Happy Christmas, Vic. See you tomorrow."
*
Victoria grew up venerating Charles. She had been in love – some sort of love – with him for years, almost her whole life, whether she knew it or admitted it or not. Though they were uncle and niece, he was only three years older than she and they had grown up together. Charles was the much younger half-brother of Victoria's mother. He had never not been in her life. Her mother, Marie, and his mother, Liz (Victoria's youngish grandmother), were both single – one divorced and one widowed – and lived in the same town in Maryland. They raised their children together, almost as sister and brother. They were part of a larger extended family, but the nucleus was the four of them and the web of relationships was complicated, so they all went by first names. Summers on the shore cemented a thoroughgoing childhood familiarity – with swimming, boating, and camping; sleepovers, barbeques, and ice cream – that later ripened to sturdy affection and mutual admiration. As the younger of the pair of kids, Victoria always had something between hero worship and a crush for Charles.
They went to the same high school, three grades apart. Charles was smarter, funnier, and cooler than Victoria's girlfriends' boyfriends. He was an athlete, but not a 'jock,' and didn't flaunt it. As he matured, he became obviously, undeniably handsome. He was sophisticated yet unpretentious, especially in Victoria's smitten eyes. He was friends with everyone and no one. Her friends in ninth grade let her know that her 12th-grade uncle was hot. They teased her about him, but he actually was hot, and Victoria could claim, as much as anyone could, to be his best friend. She was proud of him. She accepted that all the girls were after him – naturally: he was Charles.
It was Charles who taught her to sail, to fly-cast, and to cook a perfect omelette. Charles who nudged her into political activism and nurtured her exploration of feminism. And it was Charles who encouraged her writing even as he gently critiqued it. When, some years later, her first story was published in an obscure literary magazine, he sent her a bottle of Chablis, Domaine Raveneau. She had to look it up, and for years it remained on her bookshelf, unopened.
While Charles was in law school and Victoria in college, they exchanged regular emails, and irregular, but long phone calls, by turns gossipy or serious or flirtatious. During Victoria's semester abroad in Aix-en-Provence, Charles found a way to visit briefly and share some sightseeing. As she approached graduation, Charles kept her informed about his social life; Victoria did not reciprocate and was confused to find herself jealous. On a couple of occasions she flirted with him suggestively, trusting that whatever Charles did – whether he seduced her or lightly rebuffed her – would be right. Charles was a gentleman and did the latter.
Victoria's regard for her uncle mostly blinded her to the virtues of other men. No one was compelling by comparison, even though the comparison itself was performed unconsciously. The idealized partner in her romantic fantasies was basically Charles – that is, an alternative version of Charles that wasn't her mother's brother. Some version of Charles that could be hers, and to whom she could belong.
They drifted apart for a few years when Charles married Ruth, a law school classmate, shortly after his graduation. Ruth was a year older than he, intelligent and witty, outgoing and ambitious. They moved into a townhouse in Bethesda and joined competing DC law firms. Though Victoria seldom visited, Ruth immediately sussed out her affection for Charles. Far from being threatened by it, Ruth found it amusing – 'cute' – and teased him about his 'fawning' niece. Victoria sensed Ruth's condescension, found it demeaning, and made herself scarce.
Had Ruth been someone else's wife, she and Victoria might have become friends. As it was, Ruth was something akin to an enemy – at least a rival – to Victoria, and Victoria was an afterthought to Ruth. After four and a half years of marriage, Ruth and Charles divorced amicably for entirely different reasons, mostly having to do with their professional competition. They stayed in touch after the divorce and occasionally even found themselves working for the same or related clients. They had many friends in common, none of whom was forced to choose sides. In short, they continued to interact with one another both professionally and socially. Further, Charles's mother Liz was fond of Ruth; she did not object to the divorce but enjoyed seeing Ruth at friends-and-family gatherings. Perhaps alone among her relatives, Victoria was glad about the split. After it became final, she threw Charles a small party with their single friends, which she privately dubbed the Ruth-less party. She gave him a sweatshirt with a quote from Robert Kennedy: "Now I can go back to being ruthless again."
About the same time as Charles's divorce, Victoria finished an MFA in creative writing and took a job teaching English at a K-12 boarding school on the Eastern Shore. She loved everything about the work except living on campus as a residential advisor in one of the rambunctious upper school dorms. She survived dorm life for three years while saving money for an apartment, writing stories and a little poetry, and securing two promotions.
By the time she and Charles met at Daisy's on Christmas Eve, Victoria had moved into her own place in Chestertown, a spot she loved. She was feeling suddenly, surprisingly grown up and couldn't stop thinking about having a baby and raising a child. She felt ready. She had outgrown her adolescent crush on Charles by then, but she still loved him. He was still her best friend, still the finest person she knew and, as she told him Christmas Eve, she had no significant other.
*
Charles made it a point to stay in touch after Christmas, despite being busy at work. Victoria welcomed the contact. She told him her doctor felt IVF was unnecessary – she would first try artificial insemination with the donor's sperm and hope for the best. In mid-January, she told him that everything was set – they were just waiting on her natural cycle. If she didn't get pregnant, they would try again, and again, and perhaps even a fourth time before reassessing.
When January and February passed without a positive result, Charles worried that perhaps something was wrong, and that even if nothing was wrong, Victoria might get discouraged or be unable to afford to continue trying. He checked in regularly to buck her up and get her talking about other things. Then at the beginning of March, she texted him a photo of a home pregnancy test stick with two vertical lines. Charles consulted the internet to confirm what she was telling him. In reply he texted a gif of an exploding, overflowing bottle of champagne and asked when he might congratulate her in person.
They met in Chestertown a couple of weeks later. Charles took her to dinner and joined her in abstaining from alcohol. They talked about everything. Victoria was upbeat and voluble; Charles was fascinated by her adventure and had many questions. Her due date? Around Christmas. Who else had she told? Only him so far. When would she go public? Maybe after her week-6 ultrasound, but maybe later (and no, her doctor wasn't concerned). Who's the doctor? Don't worry, she's great. Did she plan to learn the sex? She wasn't sure yet. Did she have names in mind? No, did he? The biggest surprise came from one of the most banal questions:
"So, how are you feeling?"
"You really want to know? Horny. Constantly."
Charles laughed. "That's new?"
Victoria stuck out her tongue.
Charles suggested that he go with her for the ultrasound, but Victoria declined the offer. She told him it wasn't that big a deal and invited him to visit the weekend afterward instead. She would be cooped up grading papers during her spring break. He could bring some work with him and they'd take breaks on the shore, maybe do some birding. Charles agreed to come and showed up the following Friday afternoon with an overnight bag and crab cakes he'd picked up for supper. Before they ever got to supper, they were making love.
It is fair to say that Victoria seduced him; certainly she wanted to have sex with him. She was already pregnant, so that was out of the way. And they were grownups; it was harmless. In any case, one might also say that Charles had been seducing her for years, whether he intended to or not. On that day she wore simple summer shorts and a loose T-shirt without a bra. Charles noticed the skimpy outfit right away but made allowances for a pregnant woman in her own home on a warm April afternoon. After catching up in the kitchen and refrigerating the crab cakes, they sat on the sofa and Charles asked about the ultrasound. She told him it was fine – perfect – and placed his hand on her lower abdomen, holding it there with her own. "They put the probe thing here, with cold jelly, and I got to watch on the screen and hear the heartbeat."
"Could you feel anything?"
"No. It's still way too small. But my body feels different, you know? Maybe I'm imagining it – it seems too soon – but like, my boobs are super sensitive." She moved his hand to her chest and held it there without looking at him. "And if you rub them?" She pressed his hand into her breast. "It just feels sooo good." She lifted her eyes to his and squeezed his hand. She waited a beat then lifted her shirt with one hand and drew his to her bare breast with the other. "And this?" she whispered, "This is sooo good."
Charles smirked but his eyes were smiling. "I think someone's still horny."
In reply she kissed him. When he moved his hand to caress her face, she returned it to her breast. They kissed without pause for a few minutes, then Victoria shed her shirt and leaned back into the sofa, pulling Charles into her. They kissed and kissed, wordlessly for ten minutes, before Charles moved his mouth to her breasts, licking and gently sucking her nipples. Victoria's arousal soared and she pushed one of his hands down to her shorts. She wanted to hurry up, but she also wanted it to last forever. As Charles licked her breast, she apologized matter-of-factly, "Sorry they're kind of small, but they're supposed to get bigger." Charles paused to look at her and laugh. "They're kind of perfect, Vic. And they'll get perfect-er." Victoria rolled her eyes and borrowed a line of Keira Knightley's: "I don't even have tits, I have pecs!" and Charles laughed again.
He let her undress him gradually, and as she did so Victoria understood it was really going to happen – they were going to have sex – and she was giddy. By the time she got his boxers off, Charles's penis was hard. Intimidating. Fiercely erect, and throbbing. 'Oh God, that's for me,' she thought, and electricity tingled in her nipples, down her spine and deep in her belly. She touched his cock, tentatively at first, as though to give herself permission, and petted it as they continued kissing. She marveled at its size and improbable hardness. Would she be able to take it? Charles would know what to do. Of course. She would caress him until he was ready and wait for him to show the way.
Charles stroked her cropped auburn hair as she explored his sex. She wasn't cute – she was beautiful. He had known it for years but somehow ignored or resisted it. In due course he removed her skimpy shorts and laid them aside. Victoria ceased her ministrations to watch him take over, to watch how he loved her. She had bought new panties – silk French cut, for him – that she intended to be sexy but not slutty. She saw him smile slyly when he noticed them and knew she could never pretend that she hadn't planned to seduce him. He stroked her through the panties without removing them. She was wet – soaking – and he teased her as though to point it out before peeling the panties off.
Once they were both naked, Charles descended to her pussy, licking and kissing, which raised Victoria to an agony of desire. Neither could wait much longer. Victoria permitted Charles to guide her to a culmination she had long desired and, finally, deliberately, planned. Poised to enter her, he paused, kissed her mouth and asked, "Are you sure, Vic?" She nodded with shining eyes. Charles closed his eyes and eased himself into her. Each felt the other's heat. Victoria winced, squeezed her eyes shut and moaned, then clutched Charles's butt to coax him deeper. She whimpered, "Please, Charlie. Oh God, please do it, Charlie."
Charles obliged. Victoria wanted him to lead, so he did. He was gentle; she was tight and he intended to go slowly. But each time he paused she opened her legs wider and tugged him urgently. Again and again, until she was full. Once they made eye contact, they never surrendered it. Each watched the other as – finally – they had eyes-open lights-on intercourse. Which is to say, they fucked. And loved it. They fucked, and it was glorious. They fucked and were alone in the world.
Both were damp with sweat when Charles told her he was going to come, so she could decide if he should pull out. He knew she didn't want him to. She clawed his buttocks, curled her toes, and wrapped her body around his, pulling him insistently into herself. Arching his back, Charles thrust once, twice… eight or nine times, each time spurting into Victoria's glowing pregnant body.
After deep breaths, they giggled and cuddled. Charles's cock never fully softened as they nuzzled and kissed. It was clear they weren't finished. Nevertheless, Charles pulled out and sprawled next to her with a sigh. For the first time, he noticed they had never made it, properly, to a bed but were still on the sofa. He looked to see if they had made a mess and was horrified to see blood on both of them.
"Oh God! Vicky, you're bleeding. That…that's bad," he said fearful for her and her baby. "I've hurt you. What time is it?! We have to call the doctor!"
Victoria was less alarmed but glanced down to inspect them both before lolling back on the sofa. "Hey? It's okay. Really."
"But V, you're pregnant! And bleeding! Come on. That's not normal. We can't just ignore it!"
Victoria replied calmly, "It may not be normal if you're pregnant. But it's pretty normal if you're a virgin."
Charles's jaw dropped. Victoria, delighted, laughed softly. "Aw, come on. Are you telling me you've never had a girl's cherry?" she teased.
"Victoria. You're a virgin?"
"Not anymore!"
"But… you're pregnant…"
She nodded. "Those artificial insemination thingies aren't big enough to tear a hymen, Charlie. But you are." She smiled and poked his bloody cock.
Charles came down from his state of alarm but remained shocked by the realization that he had taken his niece's virginity. All in an instant he recalled that Victoria had never claimed to have a boyfriend, not a steady, serious one. Evidently, she had never had a fling either. "Vicky, you're a virgin – I mean, you were a virgin. I mean, you never…"
Victoria nodded earnestly.
Charles reached for her hand. "Vicky, I … I am so sorry. I didn't know."
"I figured you didn't." Part of her was embarrassed by her virginity, but a much bigger part was over the moon that after so many years she had managed to give it to Charles.
"It shouldn't have been me, Vic. Really. It should have been someone special. I'm sorry."
Victoria's eyes welled up. "No, Charlie, I'm happy…" She stopped to master her emotion. "I think I kind of always wished it could be you, you know?" She began crying and laughing at herself at the same time. "I'm so… so freaking glad it's you!" A moment later she added, "Thank you." For a long time, the sofa bore a small stain that she never attempted to remove; seeing it there made her happy.

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