The drinks went down well. Ellie was occupied with one of Dillon’s cronies, a cute looking guy named Harry who was obviously into her. They had already exchanged numbers, and Tilly was jealous she’d ended up with Dillon. He was up his own ass, she had worked out fairly quickly. He thought he was the next best thing, arrogant and aggressive and nowhere near as attractive as he thought he was. He tried to run a hand up Tilly’s leg, which she slapped away. Playfully, apparently, because Dillon leaned in towards Tilly’s lips, and she moved back and smiled nervously. She glanced across towards Cory.
“Shall we go somewhere quieter?” Dillon asked her.
Cory and Paige drank and flirted and the drink was going down too easily. She laughed at something he said and finished her drink with a long mouthful. Something shimmered in her eyes. Cory glanced across to see TJ and Aimee making out in the kitchen. When his eyes returned to Paige what followed was a blur. She set her empty glass down with one hand and with her spare one she grabbed Cory by the neck and pulled him into her until their lips were locked. Cory, at first taken by surprise, then reacted and kissed back, slipping his tongue into her mouth. Paige’s sudden antics had attracted the room, which was now watched and whispered and cheering. Her tongue slipped in and battled with his in his mouth and as their lips exchanged pleasantries her body moved closer his, her breasts against his chest, the pleats of her skirt against his erection, and he felt something in his body take over, the male animal unleashed.
He took her by the waist and pulled closer.
He tasted the dryness on her lips, the anticipation in them, which had been building up all night and his hand moved to the small of her back and then to her ass, which was tight and firm and appealing. He squeezed and she squealed into his mouth.
Paige studied Cory’s eyes as they broke away from their embrace, and Cory studied the room. His eyes found Tilly almost immediately and then he glanced at Paige and her lips and he knew that the lips he had been kissing were not the lips he wanted to be kissing. Her lips were moist and he thought back to Tilly and the necklace and how his lips longed for hers, the aching and the dryness. He registered the sadness on his twins face, and she dropped her gaze and downed what was left of her drink.
It was insane, he kept telling himself. She was his sister, his twin sister, and yet the feelings he knew to have been supressing for so long were eating away at him like a disease. He was jealous of seeing his sister with another boy.
TJ hollered from the corner, and Cory heard him say: “Yeah, that’s my boy!”
Paige caressed Cory’s cheek and moved in for another smooch, but Cory brushed her off. He looked up to see Dillon leading Tilly away and he felt sick. The sickness turned to anger and the anger to bitter, unrelenting jealousy. By the time Cory had finished explaining that it was a mistake and that he shouldn’t have done that because he liked another girl, Tilly and Dillon were gone and Cory set across the room with something cold and ruthless in his eyes. It was not just the look of pain, but something more – it was the look of a jealous man. TJ came back from the kitchen to see Cory taking off, and just by the way he was forcing his way through people like a madman he knew something was up.
Tilly and Dillon were upstairs in the back bedroom. Her drink was on the nightstand and she was fingering the necklace again. She was no longer thirsty. The room was empty and he moved closer towards her. Tilly thought about Cory and Paige, and the way she held him and kissed him and the way he was holding her so effortlessly, showing her off so casually. She fought to hide the tears that threatened to flow. This was stupid, she was telling herself. He was her brother not her boyfriend, she shouldn’t feel like this. But the truth was that she did feel like this. Tilly wasn’t stupid. She knew what jealousy felt like and as she looked at Dillon, the mess of hair slicked back so clumsily and the rough, aggressive way he looked at her and tried to touch her, she felt even worse. He kissed her hard, trying to force his tongue into her mouth, and she kissed back but managed to keep his tongue at bay. She could taste the drink on his lips.
She had come in here, with him, because in the heat of the moment she thought that she wanted him. But you don’t, do you? Her internal compass said. You just couldn’t stand seeing Cory with that girl any longer. She felt drained.
She opened her mouth to tell Dillon that she had made a mistake when she felt the rough, forceful wetness of his lips inches from her own again. She reeled back, and he grabbed her arm and pulled her back towards him. “What’s the matter?” he was saying. “Just relax.”
He took his hands and started to slide them up Tilly’s legs, towards the golden prize under her skirt and she tried, and failed, to pull herself away.
“Let go of me,” she said. “I want to go.”
He ignored her and when she pulled away he slapped her, hard, across the face. He reached down to his belt and started fumbling with it. “Just shut up and enjoy it,” he said, forcing his hand further up Tilly’s leg.
Cory pushed his way past a crowd of testosterone-filled boys and girls laid passed out on the stairs and up into the back room where Dillon was putting his hands all over Tilly. He froze at the door, seeing his sister locked at the lips with this boy. Emptiness took over him and he turned away, hands starting to shake. Cory then heard Tilly say, “let go,” and he turned back, just in time to see Dillon slap Tilly, hard, across the face.
He pulled Dillon off and punched him so hard in the face that they both fell to the floor. Tilly cried out Cory’s name as Dillon hit Cory just above the eye with a hard elbow. Cory rolled back, shaking it off. Dillon, disorientated, said “what the fuck—“ and he hit Cory again as they scrambled to their feet.
“What the fuck’s your problem,” he said, bleeding from the lip.
“Touch my sister again,” Cory said, “and I’ll fucking kill you.”
“She was asking for it,” Dillon mocked. “It’s not my fault she’s a frigid cunt.”
Cory heard Tilly supress a sob, and he hit Dillon again in the mouth. He probably wouldn’t have stopped hitting him had it not been for TJ, who wrestled Cory from Dillon and held him back. “Leave it, brah,” he was saying in Cory’s ear. “He’s not worth it.”
A small crowd had formed at the door, and the obvious chants of “fight, fight fight,” and “frigid bitch,” were short lived when TJ told them all to back off. TJ was black, tall, with a fuzzy black Afro and he was built like a brick shithouse. If he said it was Thursday then it was Thursday.
“You just can’t stand seeing your sister get some action, can you?”
Cory tried to wrestle his way from TJ’s hold, but his arms were too powerful. “You fuck,” he spat and Dillon laughed and mopped up more blood.
“Get the fuck out of here, you pussy,” he said. “And take that bitch sister with you. The rumours are right; she’s too uptight and frigid to get with a boy anyway. There’d be more action in a fucking corpse than with that virgin bitch. No wonder she can’t get a proper boyfriend. She’ll be the worst fuck in the whole state anyway. She can keep her fucking cherry.”
TJ was escorting Cory away from the bedroom as Dillon continued his rant. “Fuck you both,” he heard Dillon call after them. Cory told TJ that he was fine, and TJ let go as Cory scanned the house for his sister.
“Where’s Tilly?” he asked one of the girls and she told him she’d left.
“Keep her,” Dillon mocked as he followed them downstairs. “Bet you only want her for yourself,” he laughed, and some of the girls stifled laughs too. Cory looked at TJ and TJ just stood back and shrugged.
“I’m done playing peacekeeper, brah,” he said with a wink.
“Go on,” Dillon continued. “Run home to your bitch sister and drunk as fuck mommy.”
Cory took one look at the room, and then he sparked Dillon out with another hard punch before heading out after Tilly.
She was standing at the corner of the street, shaking when he found her.
“Is that all I am to people?” she said, her voice breaking. “Someone naïve and easy to fuck? I thought he was into me, Cory. I saw you with Paige and Dillon had been talking to me all night and I was going to go with him. I thought he might actually like me and I was going to go with him. What’s wrong with me? Am I not slutty enough or not attractive enough or not fun enough? Is that why they just want to get into my pants, is that it?”
The knife that was his sister in pain struck him straight in the chest.
The words almost failed to leave his mouth, like they were stuck in his throat. And when they did finally come out they were almost devoid of sound, as if someone had snatched it from his lips. “There’s nothing wrong with you,” he managed to say.
“There is!” she almost yelled. “There has to be!”
She looked at him. “Do you know why I was going to go with him?” she asked and Cory shook his head. “Because I was jealous. You’re right. I was jealous of seeing you with Paige; they way she could kiss you like that and the way you could kiss her and hold her and show her off and they way that I can’t do those things.” She ran her hands through her hair. “God, I’m so fucked up.”
The silence lingered; cold and empty.
She threw her arms around in exasperation as she fought back the tears that threatened to spill down her soft, delicate face like a dam about to break its walls. “That’s why storms are named after people, right? Because they come into your life and they fuck everything up and then they just leave! They come into your perfect day and they shit all over it, they bring their dark clouds and their winds and they tear it all apart and then they’re gone and you’re left with the pieces in your hand like your life is a window and they’re a brick. Everyone in there thinks I’m this frigid little bitch now.”
Cory looked at her for a beat before something in him snapped. Which one was the storm? he asked himself. Paige or Dillon? He took her trembling arms and wiped the tears that started to flow down her cheeks and he held her there, in that look, for a moment. “Maybe, but every storm always runs out of rain. Look, Dillon’s a fuckboy. He’s always been a fuckboy and he always will be a fuckboy, but you’ll always be beautiful – beautifully Tilly. Beautifully broken, perfectly imperfect and tragically human and if you want to talk about storms then you’re a beautiful disaster. We’re all storms. But you’re beautiful the way a forest fire is beautiful. Look, we’re all flawed – every one of us. Nobody is perfect; we’re intrinsically flawed.” She looked at him, differently than before. Maybe it was the way he was holding her or maybe it was because he looked at her like nobody else ever had. Like he wasn’t saying these things to get into her pants, but because he loved her in a way she had never before understood. “But maybe storms aren’t named after people because of the destruction they cause; maybe they’re named after people because, like hurricanes, some people are all wind and rain and lightening – but if you get too close they’ll sweep you away.”
She looked at him, and he looked back at her and a clusterfuck of emotions and feelings exploded inside her, surging through her body, taking over her and sweeping her away like tumbleweed in the wind. She was crying freely now, streaming down her face.
“Every single female eye in that stupid party was on you tonight. You could have had any girl in there. You can have any girl you want. Why don’t you?” she asked. The sound from the party thumped in the night. “Girls talk about you all the time; how they want to date you and be with you and I know you know that. I see you flirting with them, with Paige. She was so into you and instead of making a move you’re out her with me. You could be happy with her, Cory. You could have spent the night with someone and yet you threw her away. And you’re not scared, are you, because you’ve been with girls before?”
“No, I’m not scared.”
“Then what? Don’t you want to be happy?”
The moment lingered. “Say I can’t have any girl I want, Tilly. What then? Do you know how cold it is just fucking girls and leaving them? Some guys can do that, but not me. Believe me, I’ve tried. But I’m not built like that. When I’m intimate with a girl it’s because I want to be with them, not because I want to get into their pants. If I wanted that then maybe I would make moves on these girls. Because maybe I am in love with a girl and maybe I don’t want to fuck around with any others because I only want her. But what happens when that girl, the only girl I am actually properly, truly in love with is the only girl in the world I can’t be with? What happens then, Tills?”
“What?” she said softly.
“What happens when the only girl in the world I want to be with, is the only girl in the world I can’t be with. Ellie, Paige, whoever. They’re not the girl I want. And you say you were jealous, well seeing you walking away with Dillon, well that made me jealous. The thought of another boy touching you… so don’t tell me you’re fucked up because I know exactly how you fucking feel, Tills.”
And then, in that moment, she understood. Later, they realised, they did not really know how it happened but suddenly Tilly was kissing him and Cory was kissing back and those feelings that they had been feeling suddenly made so much sense. It was soft and delicate and beautiful and passionate and then it was over and they gasped for air like it was their final breath, like it was running out and then they were silent, breathing heavy and looking at each other through the night.
Tilly turned, reeling back, moving away in shock but Cory grabbed her and pulled his twin back towards him, into his arms, determined to see this (whatever this was) through to the end. He kissed her like her lips were air and he couldn’t breathe; like it was the most complete feeling he had ever felt. And Tilly kissed back in every bit an equal, like their feelings were at equilibrium and like this feeling, which was so wrong, was the most natural thing in the world and these two broken siblings kissed and cried under the moonlight until their lungs were emptied and they clawed for air.