Taboo Holidays: Easter Part 2

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Big Dicks

The Golden EggPart 1Kendall sat in the backseat of a chauffeured car she hadn’t ordered, turning a mysterious invitation around in her fingers. It was cream against a black background with elegant script under an embossed, golden egg.You are Cordially Invitedto the15th AnnualGolden Egg GalaThat would be more exciting if she knew what in the hell it was. Kendall had never heard of the event, and as an Alston, she knew all of the events. Unless, of course, it was one of the many adult-only parties the wealthy and bored were constantly putting on.Now that Kendall was eighteen and returned from her time at a Swiss boarding school, she would likely get more invitations to previously unknown parties. Excitement fluttered through her, but her curiosity was more prominent.The car sped her through the familiar streets of her home city. One she’d missed terribly over the past four years. Luckily, not much had seemed to change, easing all of her homesickness. After a short distance into the rural outskirts, the driver turned down a long lane where wrought iron gates stood open.Kendall could see a small team of cars dropping other guests off in front of a beautiful English manor. Men wore tuxedos, while women modeled the latest gowns straight off the Spring Fashion catwalks. She was less nervous about the mask that had arrived with her invitation when she saw that everyone else was wearing them, too.Masks, in general, weren’t anything new, but she’d never seen them with bunny ears before. Kendall had almost expected it to be a practical joke until she’d opened the invitation. It had been so easy to forget about the Easter holiday with all of her excitement from returning home.She secured her mask in place when the car came to a stop. After the driver helped her out, Kendall followed the other guests to the entrance, where a man was checking invitations. He wasn’t masked and wore white gloves like a butler. He promptly lifted a hand when she stepped forward and searched the sidewalk behind her as if looking for someone.”Where is your date, Miss?” he asked.”Oh, I don’t have one,” she said. “The invite didn’t say—””This is a couple’s only event,” he cut her off, folding his hands behind his back again as if it were ingrained. “I’m afraid, even with an invitation, I can’t allow you entrance unless you have a date.””I’m her date,” a familiar male voice said from inside as he approached the doors.Kendall’s gaze swept over the new arrival, taking in his black hair and blue eyes.”Cody?” she questioned.His smile flashed, surprise registering in his eyes like he hadn’t expected her to recognize him. Cody Ives had been her brother’s best friend since childhood. There was no way she could mistake him.”Very well, sir,” the guard approved, stepping aside to let Kendall pass.Cody took her hand and led her into the foyer. He paused and looked her over from head to toe.”Kendall Alston, all grown up,” he said.She wasn’t the only one. Cody looked so much like a man now, instead of the seventeen-year-old boy she remembered. Despite the evidence of male interest in his tone, Kendall felt nothing for him, nor did she wish to entertain whatever ideas he might have.”I should’ve known this was something you and Bryce cooked up,” she said with more concern than disappointment. “Is this even a real gala?””Oh, it’s real,” he answered with a mix of amusement and mystery.”Where’s my brother?” she asked because she was too conditioned to sigh.”Tending to his host duties,” Cody answered. “Come on. You need a drink.””You mean you need a drink,” she corrected, knowing better.”Fine, we both need one,” he amended.Cody led her from the foyer to a hall that ran toward the back of the manor. French doors stood open to the back patio, which led to an expansive white tent where classical music poured out of the open flaps to fill the night air.Kendall studied the large backyard with ground lights shining on statues, fountains, topiary, and hedges. She couldn’t tell how big it was because the shadows seemed to stretch further than her vision. Cody escorted her into the tent, which had to be at least three thousand square feet. There were buffet tables on both sides with an assortment of finger foods, a Sommelier on one end, pouring champagne on demand.Beyond that was a full-size bar, where drinks were being poured kocaeli escort and served by two more staff members. Round tables that could seat four guests each took up most of the room, draped in pale gold linen with centerpieces of sparkling black and white bunnies hopping around a nest of large golden eggs.Lastly was a dance floor capped by a small stage where a string quartet played the classical music she’d heard from outside.”Champagne?” Cody asked.”Yes, please,” Kendall agreed, deciding she might need it.It was hard telling why her brother had sent the invitation. He’d always been up to something when they were kids, finding new ways to harass her for his own entertainment. The most traumatizing had been his final practical joke right before she’d left for Switzerland. It had left her confused with unexpected feelings that, admittedly, she’d never gotten over.Kendall accepted the flute of champagne from Cody and took a hearty drink. Earlier, she’d been curious and a little excited. Now that she knew her brother was involved, all she could feel was nervous as hell. Her guard was up, her senses alert, robbing her of truly enjoying her surroundings.Everyone there seemed to be having the time of their lives, some people talking in groups while others flitted about from one conversation to the next. There was an undeniable excitement in the air that Kendall couldn’t quite grasp for herself. As if she were the only one there who was completely ignorant of whatever they were all anxiously awaiting.”Is this a charity event?” she asked Cody.”In part.” He nodded.”What’s the other part?” she hazarded.He gave her a wolfish grin and wink. “You’ll see.”Dread formed in her chest to accompany her nerves. Bryce, alone, was bad enough, but when he and Cody teamed up, Kendall was never in for a treat. Though Cody had never instigated any of the pranks pulled on her, he’d never hesitated to join Bryce in them, either.”I’m not sure I want to,” she muttered.Cody gave her a sideways glance, still smiling. “You’ll want to,” he said confidently. “Let’s mingle.”He wasn’t even trying to be subtle about knowing something she didn’t. The problem was that Kendall would rather die never knowing than be the punchline to another one of her brother’s jokes.The closer they got to the other guests, the easier it was to pick up on something else in the air other than just excitement. It was sex. Kendall may have been shipped off to a boarding school to learn how to be the obedient, well-spoken wife of someone important one day, but that didn’t mean she’d been in a convent.Teenage girls were resourceful when they wanted to break the rules and experience the things everyone was always talking about: mostly boys and sex. It was the topic in every book or magazine they read, every TV show they watched, every song they knew by heart. Romance was the epicenter of the teenage girl’s mind, an obsession they had to unravel as fast as possible.Unfortunately, the wealthy elite who paid to send their daughters to boarding schools expected them to return wholly intact and ready for a husband. So, Kendall and her friends had been stuck observing others to learn everything they could about the ins and outs of romance.As she watched the people there at the gala, she saw that no one was shy about checking each other out. Women ogled men just as openly as they were eye-fucked, and Kendall had an uneasy feeling that it had to do with the main purpose for the event that Cody was keeping from her.”I think I should—”Go. That was what Kendall had meant to say. But just then, she spotted the unmistakable wavy blond hair of her brother. He was moving through the crowd with some pretty brunette on his arm, her gown a shimmer of rose-gold satin and beaded swirls.Just as Kendall had found with Cody, Bryce was no longer a youthful athlete on the edge of eighteen. He’d played on the Lacrosse team throughout middle and high school, so had always been physically fit. Only now, he was taller with broader shoulders and a trim waist wrapped in a tuxedo. The youthful roundness of his face had given way to the chiseled jaw and hollowed cheeks of a man.When he turned to face the crowd of guests, his green eyes landed first on Cody, then immediately shifted to Kendall, and he stilled. The reaction that happened inside her kocaeli escort bayan was indescribable. It was like two chemicals that were never supposed to mix, splashing together, igniting heat in her core even as it made her bones shiver.Unlike Cody, who’d given her a once-over in less than a heartbeat, Bryce’s eyes made a slow crawl down her body. He only made it to her thighs before his gaze flicked back to hers, and he swallowed.Kendall wanted to retreat when he excused himself from his date and started making his way toward them. He was greeted by almost everyone he passed, pausing to shake a quick hand or laugh at a comment, but it didn’t delay him nearly enough for her peace of mind.Before she was ready, her older brother was towering over her, stealing her personal space like it belonged to him, and she was the intruder. It was too nerve-wracking to witness all the things that flashed through his eyes, many of which Kendall couldn’t even decipher.”This is your doing, Ives?” Bryce accused without looking away from her.”I needed a date,” Cody replied, unrepentant. “And you needed a do-over.”Kendall looked to Cody to ask his meaning, but her brother beat her to it, turning to face his best friend.”You’ve turned into a meddling old hag,” he growled quietly, jabbing Cody in the chest with a finger. “I should kick your ass and send her home.””But you’re not going to do either,” Cody said confidently, standing his ground. “She’s an adult—””She is standing right here, gentlemen,” Kendall cut him off. “And one of you could have the decency to explain why.””Decency?” Bryce repeated with a humorless laugh, turning back to her. His eyes swept over her anew as if he’d expected her to look different this time. Then, his intense gaze was pinning her to the spot again. “You’re not in Switzerland anymore, little sister. There’s no decency here.”Without another word, he pivoted on his heels and strolled back through the cluster of guests to rejoin his date. Some of the attention remained on Kendall and Cody, curious stares and whispered speculation. No one had overheard their conversation, but they knew there had been some kind of confrontation. Men and women paid closer attention to Kendall, realizing she was unfamiliar to them.She tried not to let her discomfort show, but pain radiated in her chest where Bryce’s latest rejection had reopened an old wound.”You sent the invitation,” she accused Cody.”I should have warned you that he didn’t know about it. I’m sorry,” he said. “I know he seems upset right now, but just give him a minute. He’ll come around.”The apology wasn’t as unexpected as his sincerity, but it didn’t matter. The damage was already done.Kendall scoffed quietly. “Bryce has never come around, Cody,” she said. “Why would he? Making me miserable has been his life’s work. It’s not enough that he…”She let her words trail off because it wasn’t the time or place to throw herself a pity party. She’d always envied her brother that he got to remain an Alston, that he wasn’t some pawn to be married off, forced to change his last name. He was the next in line to carry on the family legacy, while Kendall was expected to bear the heirs of a completely different one.”That he what?” Cody pressed.Kendall shook her head. “Nothing, just forget I said anything,” she said. “Can you at least tell me what you meant about Bryce needing a do-over?”Cody gave her his secretive smile again. “Sorry, that would ruin the surprise.””I don’t like surprises,” she pushed.”If I’m right, you’ll love this one,” he said.Frustrated, Kendall gave up. He wasn’t going to tell her anything. Not about his comment to Bryce and not about the real purpose of the gala. She could probably learn the latter from one of the other guests, but it would be too embarrassing to ask. Particularly now that everyone was aware she wasn’t one of them.There wasn’t a single wallflower in the place. All of the guests knew each other and were comfortable together. She was the only odd man out. Being on Cody Ives’s arm was likely the only reason none of them dared to approach her about it.The loud chimes of a fork tapping against a fluted glass interrupted the conversations, and the music stopped. All eyes turned toward the dance floor where Bryce stood with his date.”Thank you, everyone,” the woman greeted once izmit escort it quieted. “And welcome to the Fifteenth Annual Golden Egg Gala.”The guests clapped and whistled. The woman smiled but waved her free hand to quiet them again.”I know you’re all excited to get to the main event,” she continued. “I just wanted to take a moment to thank everyone for your generous donations…”The crowd chuckled.”It really does mean a lot and helps so many people who aren’t nearly as fortunate as we are to have such an amazing community of like-minded individuals. So, thank you. Okay, that’s all for the sappy, serious stuff. Now, I’ll turn the floor over to this year’s gorgeous host,” she concluded, gesturing to Bryce.He lifted a snifter of whiskey to toast them. “Cheers,” he said, which everyone returned. “As you know, while you’ve been enjoying the hors d’oeuvres and open bar, our favorite bunny has been hiding golden eggs all over the gardens. You’re only allowed to find one. Once everyone has returned here with an egg, we’ll tell you how to get to the hidden prize in the center. Happy hunting.””Come on, we can look together,” Cody said.He started steering Kendall out of the tent, but she couldn’t help glancing at her brother over her shoulder. It was a little unnerving to find him already staring at her, his eyes narrowing as he watched her leave.”I don’t like this,” she muttered quietly, looking forward when they cleared the entrance and stepped outside.”It’s going to be fun, you’ll see,” Cody encouraged.”The fact that you think that doesn’t make me feel any better, Cody Ives,” she remarked sternly.He was quiet as he guided her toward the right, where a massive garden inside hedge walls was now perfectly lit up. At least there were paths, and she wouldn’t have to try and walk in the grass with heels.”I guess I deserve that,” he admitted softly.Kendall glanced at him, surprised by the confession. He met her gaze with a slight smile and shrug of his shoulder.”What? I know I was a jerk sometimes when we were younger,” he said.”Sometimes?” she balked mildly.He looked uncomfortable for a moment, then expelled another rough breath. “It was the only way I could talk to you. Do you think Bryce would’ve let me be nice to you? He would’ve gutted me in my sleep.”She believed that, so didn’t bother trying to argue. Her brother was selfish that way when it came to things he felt belonged to him, even if it was something he wasn’t happy about having.”So, you decided being a jerk was better than sparing my feelings by not saying anything at all?” Kendall countered.Cody stopped walking and pinned her with a sober look. “You’re not the kind of girl guys can keep themselves from wanting to talk to, Kenny. Even then.”Surprised, Kendall could only stare at him for a moment. Had Cody been crushing on her the whole time?He seemed to read her thoughts and gave her a dubious look. “I haven’t been pining for you if that’s what you’re thinking,” he said. “Though, ouch.”Kendall couldn’t help but laugh a little at his playful tone. She was relieved to hear that and hoped he meant it because she could never feel that way about him.”Don’t act wounded. You have plenty of girls in your fan club,” she said as they started walking again.”That is very true,” he said smugly. “What I meant, though, was that you’re not only gorgeous but naturally approachable. Teenage guys love getting attention from girls like that. It’s like being a flame to a bunch of ego-feening moths.”Kendall laughed, earning more than one glance from the other guests heading toward the gardens with them. She didn’t care, though. It felt good to laugh, and more importantly, Cody’s explanation was helping soothe some of the old wounds from that time in their lives. Well, his part in it, anyway. She doubted there was anything he could say to heal the wounds Bryce had inflicted.”And as shitty as it sounds, even provoking you into anger or tears was still getting some kind of attention from you,” he continued more solemnly. “It was still an interaction we couldn’t stop ourselves from wanting because we weren’t allowed to be nice. Do you remember Heath Greer? He used to hang out with us sometimes after practice.””Not really,” Kendall answered.”He was the guy who made the mistake of inviting you to hang out with us by the pool, and Bryce ragged on him so hard for wanting to hang out with a little kid that he never came back?” Cody elaborated.Kendall’s cheeks heated at the memory. She’d been just shy of fourteen at the time, and too painfully aware of how cute…

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