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Dressed in her black wedding dress with matching veil, Stelle paced among the gravestones behind the church, smoking a last cigarette. Even though she’d soon be walking down the aisle, approaching Hugh Mortis, her debonair groom, she didn’t feel ready to con him.
Mind you, until today, what Stelle did or didn’t want had mostly been irrelevant. She wasn’t a real person, had always felt fake, as if she were floating above her body, surveying her flesh with indifference. Yes, Stelle Marlowe was a clever secret, born into a con-artist family. Like sleight of hand, she was all illusion. Only Dahlia, her twin sister, had a birth certificate. Only Dahlia had been registered as alive.
Stelle was a trick. The first and last.
And this morning, she’d decided to be real.
She’d awoken at six, as usual. It was as if an alarm went off in her head, every morning at this very time. Her father used to say this was because of her thief’s instincts: When you bed someone in order to fleece them, waking early to make a swift getaway is never a bad idea. But that wasn’t it. After all, Stelle was usually the shadow who stole while the sex was happening. It was Dahlia who got the sex, brazen as she was.
Dahlia was sleeping next to her in the same hotel bed. It took Stelle a moment to remember that her father, their last remaining parent, had died three days ago. Her eyes watered, as they did each time she recalled her dad’s passing. She wanted to cuddle Dahlia for comfort, for peace. But over the last week, something strange had been happening. Something frightening and sublime.
Over the past few days, Dahlia had started to turn Stelle on.
Just seeing her sister undress in their hotel room, or even embracing her to wish her luck, made Stelle’s pussy burn. Last night, just before bed, they’d embraced, and Stelle felt Dahlia’s nipple pressing on hers from beneath the layer of her T-shirt. After, Stelle had locked herself in the bathroom and made herself come like crazy, biting her lip to keep from crying out. She’d never climaxed like this. In fact, she usually found it hard to come at all. And here she was, full of feeling and longing, smoldering like never before.
Now, in bed, Dahlia had her back to Stelle—her beautiful, tanned back, with the mole on her shoulder blade. (According to Dad, when Mum was alive, she’d threatened several times to have Dahlia’s mole removed so that Dahlia and Stelle were identical when naked. “The whole point of having a double,” Mum had said, “is that the world can’t tell the difference—moles and all.”) Stelle ran a soft fingertip down Dahlia’s tanned spine and over her mole, hearing her sister’s breathing change. Then she snuggled up close, letting a hand fall idly over Dahlia’s stomach. Dahlia stirred as Stelle spooned her. She ran her palm up the front of Dahlia’s satin nightie, tracing the swell of her breast and the hardness of her nipple. As usual, Dahlia didn’t push her off, and Stelle found herself wet between her legs, because, as she was beginning to learn, the few men she’d slept with were nothing compared to groping her sister and pretending it was a sleep-filled mistake.
She pressed her lips to the back of her sister’s nape. Just there, Dahlia smelt exactly of Dahlia, in spite of the fact that they shared creams and lotions. On Stelle, this body cream smelled dry, like expensive champagne. On her sister, it was floral, like jasmine in the heat.
See, the greatest irony was this: Stelle and Dahlia got on perfectly, and, to the untrained eye, were hard to tell apart. Yet they were also entirely unalike, right down to their scent. Stelle’s skin was oily, while Dahlia’s was dry. Dahlia loved sweet pastries for breakfast, while Stelle could only face toast. Stelle loved romance, while Dahlia loved murder mysteries. Stelle was all about dark red lipstick, yet Dahlia was a pastel girl, all pink and metallic plum.
And here, with Dahlia’s right-hand breast in her palm, shielded only by a slender layer of satin, Stelle felt that their breasts were different, too. Though Dahlia’s skin was tight, her breasts were soft and malleable, while Stelle’s were hard and high. Oh, how good Dahlia’s felt—oh, how wrong, so wrong. What if their dad could look down and disapprove? The frisson shot deep into her sex. Well, fuck it! She’d been raised as a thief. As her father had so often said, rules were for breaking.
Stelle kept on groping her sister’s breast, more hungrily now, savoring the swell of it, the surprising weight in her hand. God, Stelle could have rutted Dahlia right there, slipping her knee between her sister’s and fucking the backs of her thighs. If only they could use separate beds, the temptation wouldn’t be here—but they couldn’t. They weren’t twins—not really. They were only one woman—a woman who was never seen in public with an identical woman—a twin woman—because that would risk the secret. And the secret was everything.
Christ. Stelle was so damn horny, and they still had an hour before the alarm.
What if she could touch herself while she groped her sister? The thought made her pussy throb with need. Instead, she continued to stroke Dahlia’s hardening nipple—and the breast that surrounded it, so soft and warm—before stroking down her belly and the smooth slope of her thigh. Dahlia purred sleepily at that and grasped Stelle’s hand, pressing it onto her flesh. Astonished, Stelle wanted to whisper Dahlia’s name, just in case she was actually awake, but soon Dahlia’s sleepy sighs seemed to prove otherwise.
Dahlia was sleeping. And Stelle was assaulting her.
And what terrified Stelle most of all was how alive she felt, just now. Even after the funeral. No, especially after the funeral. But to rut her sister in secret? Stelle was beginning to hate “secret”! Sure, she had to play by the rules if they didn’t want to get caught, but “secret” meant silent. Her father had died silently and Stelle had lived silently. And she didn’t want to be silent any more.
Maybe that’s why, as Stelle lay there, longing to slide Dahlia’s strap down her shoulder and play-bite the freckles beneath, she decided it was time. Time to take her sister up on her long-term offer—an offer their father had suggested that she make. “You girls should swap skins,” he used to say.
Funny how, when someone dies, you can suddenly realize they were right.
Now, in bed, Stelle whispered, “Today we’ll swap.” But saying it aloud made her tremble.
This morning, she’d be a bride, of sorts. And maybe, after the ceremony, her groom would fuck her.
But, no. She wouldn’t go through with it. How could she? She played the ghoul, not the rising star. Besides, this wasn’t a low-stakes con. Hugh was, in her father’s words, “the cleverest double-dealer” he’d ever met. He carried a shotgun, and more to the point, he used it. Hugh had anyone who was valuable to him followed, and he happily poured money into such stalking. Plus, when he was double-crossed, Hugh had been known to murder. What’s more, he’d booked this hotel room for his bride. In monetary terms, this was Hugh’s bed they were sleeping in. The stakes were high. Too high for a change in roles.
Yet, four hours later, here was Stelle, hanging around behind the church, pulling back her wedding veil and lighting a cigarette. Her hand shook as she held the lighter. She felt so alive it almost hurt, and though it was scary, it was better than deadness. “So this is it,” she told herself. “You’ve found the limelight. Now use it.”
Con, Book 1 is available from Go Deeper Press: http://godeeperpress.com/?projects=con-book-one-by-lana-fox