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Best kept secrets, p.1
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       Best Kept Secrets, p.1

           Evangeline Anderson
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Best Kept Secrets

  Table of Contents

  Title Page


  Chapter One

  Chapter Two

  Chapter Three

  Chapter Four

  Chapter Five

  Chapter Six

  Chapter Seven

  Chapter Eight

  Chapter Nine

  Chapter Ten

  Chapter Eleven

  Chapter Twelve

  Loose Id Titles by Evangeline Anderson

  Evangeline Anderson


  Evangeline Anderson

  Best-Kept Secrets

  Copyright © February 2014 by Evangeline Anderson

  All rights reserved. This copy is intended for the original purchaser of this e-book ONLY. No part of this e-book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without prior written permission from Loose Id LLC. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author's rights. Purchase only authorized editions.

  Image/art disclaimer: Licensed material is being used for illustrative purposes only. Any person depicted in the licensed material is a model.

  eISBN 9781623007775

  Editor: Maryam Salim

  Cover Artist: Reese Dante

  Published in the United States of America

  Loose Id LLC

  PO Box 809

  San Francisco CA 94104-0809

  This e-book is a work of fiction. While reference might be made to actual historical events or existing locations, the names, characters, places and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.


  This e-book contains sexually explicit scenes and adult language and may be considered offensive to some readers. Loose Id LLC’s e-books are for sale to adults ONLY, as defined by the laws of the country in which you made your purchase. Please store your files wisely, where they cannot be accessed by under-aged readers.

  * * * *

  DISCLAIMER: Please do not try any new sexual practice, especially those that might be found in our BDSM/fetish titles without the guidance of an experienced practitioner. Neither Loose Id LLC nor its authors will be responsible for any loss, harm, injury or death resulting from use of the information contained in any of its titles.

  Chapter One

  Josh and I used to be normal siblings—well, stepsiblings, I should say. His father married my mother when I was seventeen and he was nineteen. It was a whirlwind courtship followed by a beautiful wedding, but Josh and I were just amicable strangers at the time. The plan was for him to go off to the Mars U while I stayed with my mom and her new husband on the orbiting Earth station to finish my last year of prep school. Josh and I probably wouldn’t have had any relationship at all if it hadn’t been for the tragedy…

  Barely a month after they had been married, my mother and Josh’s father—both xenogeologists by trade—went off on a honeymoon-slash-specimen-collecting expedition to the Kuiper Belt, a region of the solar system just past the orbit of Neptune.

  They never came back.

  We got a few garbled transmissions of their last moment, and at least it looked like they were happy up until the very end. They only had seconds to see the rogue asteroid looming in their viewscreen before their ship was smashed to icy, floating chunks. In a single instant, Josh and I were both orphaned.

  I was devastated. My mother was everything to me, and now I was a minor on my own. I had only two choices: go into foster care for the final year until I legally became an adult, or go and live with my one remaining relative—Great-Aunt Gertrude. Foster care off Earth wasn’t a good option—there were rumors of abuse and slave trading. Ever since humankind had left Earth and struck out for the stars, they’d lost a great deal of their humanity. So I called my great-aunt.

  Aunt Gertrude was living on Titan at the time—Saturn’s largest moon—and I hadn’t seen her since I was six years old. She had dry, dyed blonde hair and unnaturally bright blue eyes, which had been surgically enhanced. In fact, everything on her had been enhanced from her artificially high cheekbones to her unnaturally large breasts. She was in her eighties, but she somehow managed to pull off the look of a hard forty probably because, as my mom had always said, she spent most of her wages on rejuvi treatments and plastic surgery. When I called her on the commu-link to tell her what had happened, she wasn’t exactly sympathetic.

  “Well, I suppose we can find some room for you somewhere, Cassandra,” she said testily, pursing her lips which were puffy from collagen treatments. Her face had the unnaturally tight look that only a laser face-lift can give. “Of course I won’t turn you away—Miranda wouldn’t have wanted that.”

  Miranda was my mother and just hearing her name brought tears to my eyes.

  “Thank you,” I managed to choke out. “I just…I don’t know where else to turn.”

  “Of course you’ll have to get a job and pay rent,” she went on. “Life on Titan is getting so expensive these days. What with the atmosphere dome always needing repairs and the tax hikes they claim are paying for it. Although if that’s so, why do I still have a liquid methane leak in my living room? Answer me that.”

  “I’ll help out,” I said humbly. “I’ll do everything I can. And don’t worry—I’ll take care of all the paperwork to transfer to my new school.”

  “You won’t have time for school—not unless you can squeeze in a few night classes,” she said sharply. “I told you, you’ll have to pay your way.”

  “I will,” I said hastily. “But—”

  “No buts.” Her weird bright-blue eyes flashed greedily. “Unless you have some special skills I don’t know about, you’ll have to take a minimum wage job for at least, oh…say ten to twelve hours a day. That should about cover your share. And all your wages are to come directly to me. After that you can go to school—if you can afford transportation to get there.”

  “But…I want to finish prep and go to college,” I protested. “That’s what my mother wanted for me. I was going to go into xenobiology.”

  “Well, life changes,” Aunt Gertrude snapped. “I’ll get the spare room ready for you. Oh, and you’ll have to get your own ticket here. I hope you can afford it because I don’t have a single credit to spare.” She patted her leathery cheeks. “It takes every bit I have to keep body and soul together.”

  “Especially the body, huh?” A new voice from the doorway spoke up.

  I looked up in surprise to see Josh standing there. He was leaning against the doorjamb, his muscular arms crossed over his broad chest and a frown on his face.

  “Excuse me?” Aunt Gertrude peered up at him from the screen of the commu-link. “What did you just say?”

  “I’m talking about your face, lady,” he said, motioning at her. “How much did all that cost, anyway?”

  “Why that’s…I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Aunt Gertrude sputtered. “I…I’ve never had work done.”

  “Sure you haven’t,” Josh said sarcastically. “So now, let me get this straight—Cassandra has to get her own ticket to Titan.”

  “Well, yes.” Aunt Gertrude fluffed her brittle blonde hair. “I’m not made of credit, after all.”

  “Right,” Josh said. “And once she gets there, she’s supposed to give up going to school so she can work ten to twelve hours a day at some mindless job for minimum wage.”

  Aunt Gertrude’s pink puffy lips worked, making her look like a fish out of water.

  “Well she’ll have to—”
br />   “And all to pay for the privilege of living with you in your shitty little rathole where it leaks liquid methane in the living room,” Josh interrupted, arching an eyebrow at her. “Is that right?”

  “How dare you speak to me like that?” Aunt Gertrude’s cheeks went purple with rage. “Who are you anyway?”

  “I’m Cassandra’s big brother,” Josh said, glaring right back at her. “And I’m not going to let you use her as a minimum-wage slave.”

  “She’s not welcome here, anyway,” my great-aunt snapped. She looked at me. “I’m rescinding my invitation. I’m sorry, but you’ll have to manage on your own.”

  “No, wait! Please, Aunt Gertrude,” I began but she had already broken our connection.

  I sat there in stunned silence for a moment, staring at the blank screen. Then I broke into tears.

  “Hey, hey…no, don’t be upset.” Josh sat beside me on the couch, looking alarmed.

  “Why shouldn’t I be?” I sobbed, putting my hands over my eyes. “Why did you do that, Josh?”

  “To keep you from getting stuck on Titan with no degree and some abusive old lady who just wants you to pay for her surgical addiction,” he said roughly.

  “At least she was offering me a place to stay.” I looked up at him angrily. “You know the rules about a minor living alone on the space station—it’s not done. What am I going to do now? Go into foster care?”

  He looked shocked.

  “No, of course not. You can’t do that. With all the stories you hear…” He gestured at me. “I mean, just look at you—you’re such a tiny little thing. They’d eat you up alive.”

  “Thanks a lot,” I said acerbically. My appearance was a major sore point with me. Due to prolonged time in low-g environments at critical times in my growth cycle, my physical maturation had been slow. Which is a nice way of saying that, even at seventeen, I was so flat the walls were jealous.

  Josh ran a hand through his thick, unruly black hair.

  “I didn’t mean it like that. I just meant you wouldn’t be safe—that’s all.”

  “Well, it’s not like I have a choice. I’ve got no place to go now—no place to live.”

  “Yes, you do. You’re going to live with me.”

  I wiped my eyes and looked up at him uncertainly.

  “With you? But…how? You’re going off to the University of Mars.”

  “Not for another year,” he said. “Not until you finish prep and you’re ready for university yourself.”

  “You can’t do that. You can’t just put your future on hold for me. I mean, our parents were married less than a month, Josh. We barely even know each other.”

  He got a stubborn look on his dark, handsome face.

  “That doesn’t matter. I promised your mom and my dad that I’d take care of you while they were gone, Cassie. I’m not going to break that promise—now or ever.”

  I choked back a sob.

  “But they thought they’d be gone a month. They didn’t expect to dump me on you forever.”

  “It’s not forever. Just until you’re finished university and you can manage on your own. Look”—he put an arm around my shoulders—“it’ll be okay. I’ll take some correspondence courses this year, and next year we’ll both be at Mars U—that was your preferred school too, right?”

  “Right,” I said uncertainly. “I mean, if I get in.”

  “You will. You’re incredibly smart.”

  “Thanks.” I gave him a tiny smile.

  “In fact, after you finish your last year of prep, we can even do some traveling like our parents. Mars U has a great field-research program—you can do a lot of your classes by correspondence while you’re out in the field.”

  “I’d like that,” I said. “Doing that—traveling around, seeing new planets, new cultures and creatures—that was one of my favorite parts of my life with my mom. I always went with her on sabbaticals during term breaks.”

  He grinned. “I went with my dad too. Guess we’ll be following in our parents’ footsteps. I’m going to be a xenobotanist, and you’ll become a xenobiologist like your mom wanted you to.”

  “That…that was what she wanted for me. I want it too,” I whispered.

  The mention of my mom made me want to cry some more, but I tried to hold it back. I didn’t want to make Josh uncomfortable again. He seemed to understand how upset I was, though, because he gave me a comforting squeeze.

  “It’s all right if you need to cry,” he murmured, stroking a strand of hair out of my eyes. “I still get choked up about my dad too. I think it’s better…better to let it out.”

  His kind, gentle words seemed to break a floodgate inside me. I leaned my head against my new big brother’s broad shoulder and cried like my heart would break—like it was already broken.

  Josh pulled me close, and I pressed my hot cheeks to the hard, warm planes of his chest. He smelled so good—like some indefinable masculine spice. The scent invaded my senses as I cuddled closer, drawing comfort from his strength and warmth. I didn’t know if it was just basic human biology or something special about Josh, but his scent made me feel better on a very primal level. I felt safe…protected. And I knew that even though I had lost my mother, I hadn’t lost my future. Josh was going to watch over me and protect me and somehow everything was going to be all right.

  * * * *

  After that, Josh took care of me, even though he was barely an adult himself. He was as loving and protective an older brother as could be, even if we weren’t related by blood. In fact, sometimes he was too protective—which was how I was able to reach the ripe old age of twenty-two and still remain a virgin.

  Some of the blame for my virginal state could be laid on the fact that after that first year together, Josh and I traveled a lot—taking most of our courses by correspondence so we could spend time in the field. It’s hard to put down roots and make new relationships when you’re zipping around from planet to planet all the time. But a good deal of it was the fact that whenever a man showed the least bit of interest in me, my normally sweet and mild-tempered stepbrother got angry and mean.

  Seeing this transformation from nice guy to caveman scared even the most determined suitors off. It didn’t hurt that Josh was a big guy—six feet five and very muscular with black hair and forbidding dark-blue eyes. He looked more like a bouncer at a club than a xenobotanist.

  I didn’t really mind my lack of social life, though—I was studying to become a xenobiologist as I had always wanted to. In the meantime, I acted as Josh’s research assistant out in the field—and in our line of work, the entire galaxy was our field.

  Spending most of our time in a small, two-man spacehopper going from planet to planet to study new plants and animals was fascinating. But as I said before, it limited our opportunities for outside relationships. It’s probably fair to say that we were close—much closer than most stepsiblings ever get. But there was never anything more than normal brother/sister affection between us.

  I complained about it to Josh but to be honest, I really liked our lifestyle. We were free to do whatever we wanted and go wherever we wanted at any time. Neither of us punched a time clock, and we had each other for company if we ever got lonely. Sometimes we stopped in spaceports just for some outside contact—and so Josh could occasionally get laid, although I never got the same privilege. The people we met were always surprised to hear we were brother and sister until we explained we were only stepsiblings. Probably because with my petite figure and long silvery-blonde hair, I looked the exact opposite of my stepbrother.

  I used to hate being so tiny and delicate—it’s not an asset in space, believe me. But then, after Josh and I had been together almost five years, my body finally caught up with my mind. Shortly after my twenty-second birthday, we spent an extended vacation on Earth. Humanity’s home planet was largely decimated, but there were a few research facilities left high in the mountains. It was there, while we were preparing for our next mission and long after an
Earth-standard woman would have stopped growing, that I finally got some curves.

  If I say so myself, they were really nice curves, which was only fair—I had been waiting long enough for them. Where once my figure had been flat and boyish, now I was an overflowing D cup with full hips and a rounded ass to match. My face filled out a little too, losing its waifish, angular look and becoming more mature and womanly. After years of being mistaken for a little kid, I finally looked my age.

  I was thrilled with my new body—it was so nice to appear like the woman I had been inside for ages. People spoke to me like I was an adult now, instead of dismissing me as a child. I got respect and more than that—I got attention and admiration. After years of being ignored by everyone but Josh, I found my newfound power to fascinate intoxicating. I loved the way men looked at me when we went out in public. Not that they got much past looking before Josh went into angry-overprotective-big-brother mode, but still…it was nice.

  But there was one small matter that worried me about my new appearance—I was anxious that it might make things awkward between me and Josh. And yes, I did catch him staring at me sometimes and then when he saw me, he’d always look quickly away. But he never said anything directly about my changing proportions, and he was the same sweet guy who could always make me laugh and gave me good advice. He was the one person more important to me than anyone in the universe. So our relationship stayed pretty much the same…until our trip to Svortza 6 where everything changed forever.

  Chapter Two

  My old grav-top was a little snug in the bust, and I pulled at it distractedly. But honestly, my new curves were the last thing on my mind as I stared at the viewscreen where another, much larger curve was spinning slowly in space. Our little spacehopper was orbiting Svortza 6, a planet with a wealth of exotic alien flora and fauna to explore and catalog. What we were mostly interested in, however, was a certain plant the natives called the lish k’lit—or truth plant. Supposedly it had properties that forced people to state or act on their deepest intentions and emotions—something I found hard to believe but interesting nonetheless.

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