Awakened by a subtle movement from the lush form curved to his side, Ivan Cutter blinked and listened to the stillness of the house. The heater kicked on and he shifted carefully from his back to his side facing the center of the bed.
Cassie responded to his movement, snuggling closer to his warmth as she shivered. Wondering briefly if he was dreaming, he drew the blanket back up over her shoulder. She’d pushed it down in her sleep and her skin had cooled. He slid his hand under the blanket and rested it on her upper arm, sharing his warmth with her.
A flicker of something metallic caught his eye. He gazed sleepily at the Christmas snow globe she’d placed on the dresser in the corner. It’d played “O Holy Night” when she’d wound it up and placed it there the night before while decorating her house for Christmas. Even though they didn’t often sleep there, she’d still wanted the house to be festive for when her kids came home from college.
She sighed and murmured in her sleep and he leaned down to kiss her head as she stilled once more. Drifting back to sleep, he remembered a time when it would’ve been impossible to touch her like that, to share this precious space next to her…to share her love with the man who knew him better than he knew himself. His brother, and identical twin, Samson, who snored softly on her other side.
By their junior year of high school he’d honed the ability to hide his adoration for his brother’s sweet-spirited girlfriend. He could smile, joke, and converse with her in a crowded classroom, restaurant, or family living room without giving his secret away. He had no choice, because the idea of avoiding or ignoring her was just too painful. If he couldn’t have her at his side to gaze at with open affection like Samson could, at least she was still near him, sharing her soothing presence with him.
If he was competitive like Samson, he might’ve let her know how he felt early on and forced her to choose between them, given her “options,” but he wasn’t wired that way. He didn’t begrudge Samson that he had his heart’s desire at his side. But it didn’t change the way he felt about her, either.
During the December of that year, their mother had invited Cassie over for a fun night of Christmas decorating, something they’d discovered that she loved doing. Once they’d been old enough to hang the ornaments on the tree, Mom had always left the decorating to him and Samson. Their often lopsided efforts over the years had been fairly pathetic and likely would’ve driven anyone with OCD tendencies to a conniption—and then Samson had begun dating Cassie in their freshman year.
So Ivan had made a huge pot of chili and Cassie was on her way over, bringing tamales that she and her mother had made themselves at Rudy’s, the family restaurant her father and her uncles all owned together. Mom had gotten down a couple of jars of peaches she’d preserved earlier in the summer and had just put a peach cobbler in the oven when the phone rang.
Ivan tasted the chili as his mother conversed on the phone and had then hung up. “Your dad has to respond to a fire emergency. It’ll be a few hours, he suspects, before he’s done.” Their father was the chief of their local volunteer fire department and had been up at the headquarters all afternoon.
“There’s plenty of chili, and it’ll only get better as it simmers” he said, setting the spoon aside. He was slicing the green onions for a garnish when the phone rang again a few minutes later. Because his hands were damp, he let his mom grab the corded handset hanging from the wall.
“Hello?” she said with her usual cheerfulness. “Oh. Oh no. I’ll be there in a few minutes. It’s okay, the guys can hold the fort down for a little while.”
Five minutes later, Mom was wrapped in her heavy coat and out the door, on the way to their grandmother’s house to investigate a heavily leaking kitchen faucet. Their mom had been raised on a ranch and taught how to handle a wide range of mishaps on her own and was pretty handy with a wrench.
Samson was thumping around in the finished attic room upstairs, locating all the Christmas decorations when Ivan heard the dogs barking outside and the sound of a car door closing.
He went out the back door and found her reaching into the back seat of the old Mercury she drove with the dogs all gathered around her. “Shoo, mutts, shoo! Here, let me help,” he said as he reached for the foil covered roaster she was lifting out of the backseat.
She was wrapped up in her puffy blue jacket and was wearing a festive red and green knit hat with a matching scarf wrapped around her neck. Her warm, sherry-colored eyes twinkled as she smiled at him and held the roaster out.
He took the heavy pan from her and said, “Holy mackerel, how many tamales did you bring?”
She rubbed her mitten covered hands together and said, “Enough for your folks to enjoy for the rest of the month, besides what we can eat tonight. It’s my gift to your family.”
“Oh man, are you kidding?” She and her mom made the best tamales. “It feels like there’s enough here to keep us in tamales for a few months at least.”
“I’m trying to be creative with gifts, since I’m saving all my tips for college now.”
“Good idea. Come on in,” he said with a gesture of his head, and they went around to the back door, where the dogs were now begging to be let inside.
“Good boy! Good boy!” Cassie said as she squatted down to greet their conglomeration of mixed breed dogs. Her laughter as the dogs crowded in for her attention was contagious and he was glad his hands were already full. She didn’t realize how her position put her assets on display. His rebellious cock did, however. Sometimes being around her was a series of mental exercises trying to keep his dick in line. She wasn’t his but according to his libido that was neither here nor there.
The dogs jumped up on him when they caught a whiff of the tamales and he said, “Open the back door, would you?” as she laughed at his predicament. Their feet got tangled up with the dogs on the porch steps as she tried to pass him.
“Whoa!” she crowed as she grabbed him around his middle, trying to keep her balance. “Well, at least you’re nice and warm,” she added as her arms slid up inside his coat.
With the pan hoisted precariously over his head, he couldn’t help her, and chuckled to hide his groan as he leaned against the door frame and tried to shield her from the dogs. “Hold on to me, Cassie. Bad dogs! Bad dogs!”
His dick started tingling and he knew it was a matter of seconds before she realized what she was rubbing her hip against as she tried fruitlessly to turn the door knob. Her mittened hands kept slipping off the knob.
She looked up at him and laughed. “You okay with those? I’m gonna take off my mittens so I can get a better grip with my hands.”
You have no idea how much I wish you could!
The door suddenly fell open with a good, firm turn on that lucky knob, and they were inside along with half of the dogs.
“Out! Out, boys!” she said as she blocked them with her booted feet while he carried the pan into the kitchen and set it on the island.
After hanging up her coat and stuff, and washing her hands, she opened the foil on the roaster and began dividing up the tamales. “I thought that two dozen would be enough for the five of us tonight.”
“Better make it three, to be safe,” he said as he stirred the chili. The scent made his mouth water, and so did the sensual sound she made as she crowded in close to his side and looked in the pot.
“I can’t wait to taste it, Ivan. It looks and smells so yummy!” she murmured in a velvety voice that gave him a sweet shiver up his backbone. His mom had taught him how to cook a few things and he’d found that he enjoyed the process. He shared a love of cooking with Cassie, which was also very cool.
“Here. Taste it for me,” he replied as he handed her the spoon he’d been stirring with. “You’ll never believe what we got our hands on to watch tonight.”
“What?” she said as she lifted a spoonful. She parted her lips—and he licked his—as she tested the temperature with the tip of her tongue before opening her mouth wider to take a spoonful. She took in a breath and stilled as she moaned over the mouthful. She was refilling the spoon for another bite when she looked over at him and grinned. “What?”
“What?” he asked, blinking as the totally erotic sound she’d made over his cooking replayed over and over in his mind. Was that what she’d sound like if—
“What did you get for us to watch?” she asked, her cheeks filling with color as he continued staring at her.
“Oh,” he said, his breath catching in his throat a little. “Our cousin has pay-per-view on their big satellite dish and he recorded Star Wars for us. Samson and I thought you’d like to watch that tonight. If that would be okay?”
“Of course,” she said as she gazed into the pot and stirred, then took a blissful whiff from the fragrant steam.
He licked his lips as he watched her beautiful face, unobserved. God, I love you. “I mean, I guess we could always go see a movie, if…if it’s kind of lame to watch something on the VCR.”
“No,” she said with a shake of her head before tasting another tiny bit. “I want to stay here with you and your family. And who will decorate the tree? That’s why your mom invited me over.”
“She invited you over because she likes you, but yeah, if you don’t do it, I won’t be able to vouch for the results.”
She giggled, set the spoon down, and returned to unpacking the roaster. “I brought regular pork tamales, and see these here that are tied differently with a knot? Those are for your dad. They have jalapeños in them since I know he likes them. And these are the bean and cheese tamales for your mom. The rest are plain pork.”
“These smell fantastic, Cassie. Thank you,” he said as he turned to her, intending to give her a safe, brotherly hug. She smiled at him and put her arms around him, leaning in so her head nestled against his shoulder. He concentrated on the sweet scent of her shampoo to give himself something else to think about besides the way her plush breasts felt against his chest.
She gave him a squeeze as she rested her cheek briefly against his chest. “You’re nice and warm. You and your brother give such wonderful hugs. Did you know that? I always feel so safe with y’all, no matter what,” she added, her tone trailing off. Besides her mom, Ivan didn’t think she got very many hugs at home.
All thoughts of how damned good she felt were forgotten as he leaned back to look down at her. “Everything okay at home?”
She gave him a smile that didn’t reach her eyes and kept her lips pressed together. “Dad wasn’t all that happy that I was coming over here tonight. He wanted me to work a shift at the restaurant but Mom told him no, that I’d asked permission for this night off, and out, over a week ago.”
“So he decided to let you go?”
Her smile grew a little wider. “Mom helped me pack the roaster and told me to go on and have fun while he was in the restroom. She said she would deal with him.”
“Oh, man,” he said with a groan. “Does that mean he’s going to be mad at you when you get home? I hate the thought of him yelling at you…like he did that time in the restaurant.” Her dad had let her have it because she’d forgotten and seated them in a section of the restaurant he wanted to close off to clean. The whole restaurant had heard him ranting. He was just glad that soon enough she’d be off to college and out from under her father’s thumb. Unfortunately, that also meant he wouldn’t see her every day.
“Nah, Mom said she’d take care of it, and that he can’t expect us to work all the time—like he does. Thank you for being so protective, Ivan” She gave him one more gentle squeeze and then let go. “Your house always smells so good. Where’s Samson?” A thump came from above their heads and she said, “I’ll go help him get the decorations down the stairs. Where’s your folks?”
“Handling various emergencies,” he said over the clatter he made as he got bowls, plates, and utensils out for that evening’s meal. “Dad is on a fire call and Mom ran over to Grandma’s to help her with something. They should be home soon.”
He listened to the sound of thumping footsteps overhead, followed by a long pause, during which he could imagine his brother kissing his girlfriend. He knew that was what he’d be doing in the semi-privacy of the attic. He leaned against the counter, trying to get his ever-present half-boner under control. When she was in the room, he had to fight not to watch her every move, even as he hung on her every word, every reaction. It was a wonder no one had realized yet that he was in love with his twin brother’s girl.
While he stayed busy unwrapping the foil packages of tamales and arranging them on a small platter, making iced tea, and setting the table, Samson and Cassie brought down several boxes filled with decorations and ornaments to hang on the bare tree that was already set up in front of the picture window.
The phone rang while they were opening the boxes, and Ivan answered it. “Hello?”
“Ivan, honey, it’s Mom.”
“Mom, how do you always know whether it’s me or Samson?” She hardly ever got it wrong when she called home.
“I’ve always been able to tell you apart since you were babies. I could take one look or pause to listen and know instantly. Of course you’re easier to tell apart in person since your hair is longer now. Listen, I just talked to your dad over the two-way radio and the grass fire he’s working on is near that new subdivision. They were going to let it burn itself out but then the wind shifted, so he has to stay out there.”
“Where are you?”
“I’m still at your Grandma’s. When she called, she neglected to tell me that she hurt her hand trying to use the pipe wrench. I want her to get it looked at in the emergency room. I’m afraid she needs stitches, and you know what that means, right?”
“You’ll be up there all night, waiting. Want me to bring you a plate of food?”
“No, honey, but thank you. That’s another way I can tell I’m talking to Ivan. Always wanting to feed and take care of everyone.”
With a chuckle, he said, “I got that from you, you know.”
“Save us some tamales, and tell Cassie I said hello. Who knows, with any luck I could be home before midnight.” She paused before continuing. “You know I trust you both, but do you think it might be better if Cassie went home? I wouldn’t want her to get in trouble if it ever got back to her father that your father and I weren’t home while the three of you were there alone.”
“I’ll mention it to her.”
A few minutes later, after they’d sat down to eat at the dining room table, he did bring it up, but Cassie shook her head. “I’m not telling my dad, and I know that neither of you will, either. My mom knows I’m a good girl, and the two of you know—I mean—you know that, Samson. I feel perfectly safe with both of you. Far as I’m concerned, this is our secret.”
Her words registered over the buzzing in Ivan’s head. And that’s not the only secret. Or at least it wasn’t going to be, if Mr. Insta-Boner didn’t stop rearing his inflating head. Once he was able to think again, he noticed the flush in her cheeks, as well as the curious way Samson kept glancing at him.
The quiet during the rest of meal was interrupted only by compliments on the tamales and chili but the tension seemed to ease up a bit when Ivan got out the video cassette tape and turned on the VCR.
Still seeming a little flushed, Cassie sat on the floor in front of Samson and began unpacking the tree ornaments from one of the boxes and grouping them together on the coffee table as the opening music began. Ivan watched as Samson gathered her long, sleek waves of hair into one thick bundle and began twisting it. Her hands came to a rest on the coffee table as the chapter heading for “Chapter IV: A New Hope” began to roll up the screen.
Even though he’d saved the tape to watch with her, and hadn’t seen the movie since watching it in the theater, he surreptitiously kept his eyes on her. Cassie’s gaze was focused on the screen but there came a point when her attention turned elsewhere, evidenced by the gooseflesh that came in waves up and down her arms.
Samson continued playing with her hair, seemingly oblivious to her reaction, while he watched the movie. Or at least that was how he appeared. He toyed with the long rope over and over, tugging lightly as he twisted and released it, to start the process all over again. The ornaments forgotten, she slowly relaxed back against the couch between his feet and wrapped one arm around his calf and rested her hand on his knee.
Samson began gently pulling on the ends with the tips of his fingers, just a strand or two at a time, and though he was watching the movie, a slight smile appeared on his face when Cassie gasped and shuddered.
Action happened on the screen, drawing Ivan’s attention, and he was grateful for it when he saw Cassie turn her head to look at him. He kept his attention on the screen, thankful he had a throw pillow in his lap so she couldn’t see his rather crowded groin-al area.
Samson leaned down to her and she whispered to him, and then softly, but not so softly that Ivan couldn’t hear, Samson said, “No, baby, he doesn’t mind.”
Fuck, no. Why would I mind?
After that, they settled in to watch the movie and she arranged the multicolored lights on the branches and began putting the ornaments on the tree. He’d been excited to watch the movie again but it was no competition when she was nearby, moving around, reaching, bending, squatting, and then stretching as Samson lifted her by her waist to place the angel on the very top branch.
She tugged the hem of her sweater down after Samson had placed her back on her feet, and then hesitated only for a second when he beckoned for her to come and sit between the two of them.
He knew a few girls who might’ve taken that invitation to mean getting cozier and seeing where things went, but it wasn’t like that with Cassie. Samson might’ve enjoyed playing with her hair, but he didn’t push things by trying to feel her up, nor did Ivan expect him to. The guy had too much respect for Cassie, and for himself. He took the fact that she was in their care seriously, they both did.
At the mid-point in the movie, he got up and went to the kitchen to dish up the peach cobbler which had been cooling on the counter. He smiled when he saw their heads come together over the top of the couch. If she was his, he’d be sneaking smooches, too.
Samson paused the movie and they joined him at the kitchen island. After her first bite, Cassie said, “Think your mother would give me the recipe for this cobbler, Ivan? It’s so good!” She licked the juice from her lips and he almost forgot she’d addressed him until Samson waved a hand in front of his face.
“Oh, the recipe! Yeah, she probably would. I’ve tried to make it before, according to what she has written down on the recipe card but it never turns out the same for me. She has a secret she’s not telling.”
Samson groaned happily as he took another big bite. “Moms have magic hands. They touch stuff and it just makes it taste better.”
Cassie giggled. “Awww, that is so sweet. I’m going to tell her you said that. Maybe I can finagle the missing ingredient out of her, too.”
Samson smiled warmly at her and said, “Maybe you can.”
When they restarted the movie, she snuggled in between them and leaned against Samson’s shoulder. During the scene near the end with Darth Vader at his scary best, Cassie reached out to both of them at the same time and grabbed hold. Samson covered her hand with his and caressed the top of it as she cuddled closer to him and hid half of her face as Darth Vader fought Obi Wan for the last time.
Reminded of the difference in their sizes, Ivan looked down at the little hand covering his and wondered what to do, until he finally, slowly, cautiously turned his hand under hers and clasped their fingers together. He looked up into her warm sherry-colored eyes and blushed like a kid with his hand caught in the cookie jar. She squeezed his hand, and then turned back to the screen, wincing as Obi Wan fell under Vader’s fatal blow. “Oh no.”
The movie ended a little after nine o’clock and Ivan knew her curfew on Friday and Saturday nights was ten o’clock, unless special permission was given for sporting events or other occasions.
She got up and stretched when they turned off the VCR and said, “Well, I might’ve been able to get away from my Dad without him reneging on his permission for my evening plans but I definitely don’t want to push the curfew. Could I take some of the cobbler home for my mom to try?”
Ivan put two hefty servings in a Tupperware container, figuring that her father could try some, too, and maybe it would sweeten his disposition some.
“I’ll walk you out,” Samson said as he slipped into his coat and then held hers open for her.
She went to Ivan and gave him a hug and the soft sound she made was so sweet that it made his heart hurt. “Thank you for supper, Ivan, and for letting me watch Star Wars with you. I enjoyed it.” She patted his bicep and then went back to Samson who had her little knit hat perched ridiculously on top of his head. His expression was full of tenderness as he wrapped the scarf around her neck while she tugged on her mittens. She giggled as he slid her hat on and then she waved to Ivan once more and was gone.
Ivan leaned against the kitchen island, rubbing the center of his chest. Given the trajectory they were on, it was entirely possible that Samson and Cassie might be married after high school, either before or after he and Samson went into the Army. What a sweet, yet painful addition she would be to their family. His mom and dad thought the world of her. He worshiped the ground she walked on, from afar. And Samson was completely devoted to her. Was it more painful to have her in the family…or to never see her again? He never wanted to find out.
“You okay?” Samson asked as he closed the back door on the cold draft blowing through as he came back inside. He went to the sink and ran hot water on the dishes in the sink and put the stopper in the drain, preparing to wash them.
“Yeah. I think I’m going to go take a shower and hit the sack.”
“’Kay.” Right as he was about to enter the hallway, Samson said, “She’s pretty special, huh?’
Ivan could guess at the depths of how Samson felt. They were twins and had always shared a sort of twin’s connection. How he felt was in his eyes, his expression, and even in the inflection of his voice when she was the subject of conversation.
Ivan paused in the hallway opening. “Really special. You’re a lucky guy.”
“Yeah, I am. I think she thinks you’re special, too.”
Ivan grinned. “Yeah, I am. But I’m not dating you.”
Samson’s laughter rumbled over the sound of the water running into the sink. “G’night, asshole.”
His body was every bit as confused and twisted up as his mind was over Cassie. Why couldn’t he be attracted to some other girl? Why was she the only one he could see? The only one who made him feel so alive it was nearly painful. The hot water pummeled his head as he lathered his body and he tried to ignore his painfully hard cock. Thoughts of her had brought it to throbbing life as he’d removed his clothing and the thing just wouldn’t take the hint.
What he deserved was an ice cold shower for wanting his brother’s girlfriend, for wishing it was him holding her, kissing her in the dark, smiling at her like that, and for imagining what it would be like to make love to such an angel.
His resolve cracked as he imagined the feel of her soft, warm skin pressed against him. He slid his hand down his torso to his aching cock, drawing forth a hiss as he tightened his grip around it. He fantasized about not stopping at a smile and a hug, peeling her sweater and jeans off and her straddling him. Getting lost in all that silky dark hair of hers. His dick grew long and hard in his grasp, and he hurt with need for her—
He blinked his eyes and his breath caught as he realized where he was…and when.
She loomed over him in the shadows, her long hair falling cool across his chest and then his face as she smiled down at him. He realized his cock was fully erect, ready for action, and her soft, delicate hand was wrapped around it.
“That was some sexy dream you were having, baby,” she whispered before licking his bottom lip.
“This one is even better,” he whispered as he flipped her onto her back, jostling Samson awake with a snort.
Cassie giggled and squirmed under him, rubbing her pussy against his shaft. “Have I told you lately how much I love the way you wrap me up…both of you. I love how big, and tall…and solid you are. When you sleep, your skin gets hot and then you want to wrap me in your arms when you wake. There’s nothing sweeter than woobie lovin’.”
“Unless it’s double woobie lovin’,” Samson said with a gravelly chuckle as he leaned toward her and brushed a lock of hair from her beautiful face.
Giggling, she angled her head to kiss Samson as he turned onto his side and watched as Ivan clasped her leg around his waist and slid deep in one solid stroke, drawing a pleased moan from her.
From the top of his head to the tips of his toes, waves of heat shimmered over him, intensifying with each thrust within her honeyed, tight depths. Her slick heat encompassed him, growing tighter as she rocked with him, drawing him deeper and loving him harder, banishing the dream. Thank God that dream was over…and this one was so much better. She’d had a heart big enough to love them both all along.
The End…for now 😉
Gentle Giants, also known in Divine as woobies, are a special character facet in numerous heroes featured in the Divine Creek Ranch Collection. Beyond just the sheer size of them, woobies are all about their heroine’s safety and comfort. They’re at ease with themselves, and they unapologetically adore of their heroines. As laidback as they may seem, they are just as protective as any alpha and possess the uncanny ability to make the world go away within the circle of their big, strong arms. These are just some of the reasons woobie-ness is one of my favorite character traits to build into a hero.
It’s a Very Woobie Christmas in Divine, Texas (2014), my first short story of this kind was published on the Divine Tease last Christmas and readers seemed to enjoy it so much I thought I’d take a break from the actual writing of Cassie’s book, How Cassie Got Her Grind Back, to share a little taste of the Christmas holidays featuring the three of them. I thought it would also be a cool way to introduce Ivan Cutter, the newest woobie in Divine, to readers.
If you’re not already, subscribe and stay “up” with what’s going on in Divine, and with me. When I have a release date for How Cassie Got Her Grind Back I’ll be sharing it with readers on my blog as well as on Facebook and Twitter.
Until then, Seize the day, baby!