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Maddy thinks this is her fault? How do I even begin to explain to her how wrong she is?
“You just borrowed the sheet,” I tell her. “It's not stealing, Maddy. You're giving it back, right?”
“I borrowed it without asking, though,” she says, wide-eyed and innocent. “I'll give it back, though. Do you want it back right now?”
She starts to let it loose so it'll fall back onto my bed, which she's not sitting on.
“Uh, no. You're still, uh… you know…”
“Oh, right!” she says, mentally hitting herself. “I'm naked.”
“Yes,” I say. “You are.”
“And we had sex,” she adds.
“Yes,” I say. “We did.”
“Declan?” Maddy asks.
“Yes?” I feel like I'm saying yes a lot, but I don't know what else to say so let's go with it.
“Is that how sex always is?”
“What do you mean?” I ask her, slow. I decide to approach this cautiously for a lot of reasons.
“Like… you know, is sinful sex different from good sex?” she asks.
“Last night was good sex,” I say without thinking. Yeah, so much for approaching this cautiously.
“Wait, what?” she says, more than confused.
“I mean, it was, uh… we shouldn't have done that,” I clarify. Yes, that's a good start. “But I think the feelings from last night were the same as what it would feel like to have sex within the confines of marriage. That's what making love is like.”
“So… we made love?” Maddy asks, very slowly.
“I guess that's what I'd call it,” I tell her. “It's not like we fucked each other's brains out.”
Yeah, I'm super fucking terrible at this. I'm really sorry, but I'm trying. God, forgive me…
“Declan!” Maddy says with a gasp and a giggle. “You said fuck.”
“You just did, too,” I point out.
“Well, I'm a sinner, so…”
“Maddy, you aren't a sinner.”
“That's nice of you to say, but I am, and I'm sorry I made you a sinner, too.”
“Alright, look,” I tell her. “That's what we should talk about. I… I'm not as good as you think I am, and… I've, uh… I've done some things in the past. Not recently. It was a few years ago. When I went away to college, I wasn't exactly the best person.”
“I know,” Maddy says with a knowing nod.
“You do?” I ask. Wait, how's she know?
“You didn't go to church when you went to college. You only went when you came back home. That's not good, but I understand. That's why I wanted to work with Father Patch on doing the streaming internet sermons so it'd be easier. I know we're supposed to go to church, but I bet it's a lot harder when you go away. I understand, Declan.”
Yeah… so that just happened…
Alright. I can fix this. I can, uh…
“Maddy, I had sex in college. I masturbated, too. I drank. Alcohol, I mean. I didn't really smoke anything, but one time I had pot brownies at a frat party. Last night your brownies seemed familiar and I thought I recognized something about them, but I figured it was just my mind playing tricks on me since you made them and why would you make pot brownies? I realized it after, though. By then it was a little too late, but I suspected and I knew and I didn't say anything.”
Maddy stares at me hard. Her eyes narrow in on me, nose scrunched up, brow wrinkled.
“Are you just telling me this to make me feel better?” she asks.
“What? No! Look, I'm a terrible person, too. I went to confession with Father Patch and I've been trying to be a better person for years now, but it's not like my past just vanishes. Also, I don't want to ruin this for you, but a lot of people at seminary end up sinning. Like, a lot. Some don't even go to confession for it. Some don't care. It's not like they're going to become priests, they're going for other reasons, and God has a purpose for everyone, but, nope, they don't even go to confession.”
“That's so sad,” Maddy says, giving me a knowing look.
She doesn't sound actually sad. Just a kind of unfortunate sad, like, how can they not want to talk to God about their sins? That doesn't make any sense.
And, I mean, I don't know. Sometimes I don't want to talk to God about my sins, either. I still do it, but it's not like I want to. I can see why people wouldn't want to do it. It's hard.
“Sometimes I masturbate,” Maddy adds, just out of the blue. “It's alright, Declan.”
“You said you masturbated in college,” she says, giving me a look and a nod. It's not a sexy look or a sexy nod, don't worry. “I have before, too. I just didn't want you to feel bad or like you're the only one.”
I nod, trying to act casual. I mean, thanks, Maddy, but I kind of knew I wasn't the only one who masturbated?
I don't say that. I don't want to be a jerk about it or anything.
Instead, I just say, “Thanks, Maddy. That means a lot.”
“What about the sex, though?” she asks me, completely changing face.
She looks… intrigued?
“What about it?” I counter.
“Last night was my first time, so I don't really know. You said it was good, right? What about the other girl you had sex with?”
“Girl?” I ask.
“It was just once, right?”
“Yeah, uh… Maddy…”
“Can we not talk about this?”
“I just wanted to know if–so, I'm not asking if I was better, or if it was better with me, but–it was different, right? You said we made love, and I'd really like to believe that, Declan. Kind of. I mean, I love you… because you're my stepbrother, so… it wasn't the same as other girls, right?”
“Maddy, no. It was completely different. I don't even know how to explain it. Sometimes weed makes you horny, but it wasn't even that. That had nothing to do with it. Alright, that's not true. I don't think we would have had sex if we didn't eat those brownies, but the sex that we did have was completely different. That's the kind of sex you have when you're married and you truly love someone, and you want to spend the rest of your life with them. That's what we did last night.”
“I appreciate you saying that, but I don't know how it could be,” Maddy says, speaking softly. “I do love you, Declan, but I don't think we should be loving each other like that, and we're definitely not married. We can't spend the rest of our lives together. I'll always be your stepsister, but if sex like that is what married sex is supposed to be like, I don't think I'm ever going to get married. I don't think I'll ever find someone who made me feel the way you did last night.”
I want to say this is amazing, but it's not. It's like a confession of love, except I can't return it. Even if I wanted to be with Maddy, I really don't think we can do it. First and foremost, there's our parents to deal with, which is basically an insurmountable obstacle. I don't even want to “surmount” it or whatever word works there. Maddy's dad has been great to me and he's always treated me like the father I never had. He's strict, but fair, and I know he loves me in his own way.
I can't ruin that. I can't ruin Maddy, either. I feel like I already did and I really fucked up with that one, but I don't want to keep doing it. I can't.
“Maybe we should talk about this later,” I say. “Do you want to make breakfast together? I'll shower downstairs and you can use the one up here and we'll put clothes on and meet in the kitchen and–”
“Declan, do you love me?” Maddy asks, and my heart skips a beat. “Like family, I mean. Are you mad at me for what happened last night?”
“Of course we're family,” I say, forcing myself to smile, to deal with it all. “I'm not mad at you, Maddy. It was an accident and we both know it shouldn't have happened and it can't happen again. We'll just go to confession and talk to Father Patch and everything will be fine. We can do this.”
“Except Father Patch is on vacation in Aruba for a week,” Maddy points out.
Fuck. That's right. I almost forgot.
No offense, but why the fuck is this happening to me? Seriously, did I piss you off or something, God?
I don't know if God believes me. I don't know, because last night was the best night of my life.
Yes, we sinned, but how can I redeem myself if I don't regret it? I regret the circumstances leading up to it, but being with Maddy, being intimate and close, kissing her, feeling her body on me, around me, being inside her…
I know it's wrong, but I wish we could do it again. Different this time. More pure. More…
I don't know. I'm being stupid.
I shouldn't have agreed to take care of the church for a week. I can barely take care of myself.
Declan came clean, sort of. Except there's obviously more. Is he going to tell Maddy the rest? About his sordid past and about how he feels about her? Hmmm…
They might be sort of coming to terms with this soon, but I don't know how long it can last. I think something else is going to happen that'll throw them for a loop, but we'll see how that goes…
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