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Bo Dunne

Delia's Taboo Heart

Eighteen-year-old Delia has hidden her secret desire for her big brother Greg all her life, and now she's delighted to have him from the Army. He has been her hero ever since he saved her from a violent attack. Now she persuades him to take her skinny dipping at a river like old times, but now she yearns for him to make her dream come true. Nightmares have plagued Greg since he came back from the war, but he will take good care of his little sister no matter what. He's about to find out that giving Delia what her heart desires can lift up his life, too.

~~~~~ PG Excerpt ~~~~~

“What do you think, big brother?” Delia gave him another hug and a big kiss on the cheek. She ached to ease whatever was bothering him. Like Mom, she had worried about him every day during his time overseas, but having him home and not acting like himself hurt her more in some ways. Now his suffering was right in front of her, immediate and specific even though it was still a mystery to her.

Given the heat and humidity of summer in northern Florida, Mom had raised them here in the GatorTail Trailer Park without worrying about nudity. The little window air conditioner in the living room couldn’t keep up with the heat; it rumbled away like a giant blender but never quite finished the job in summertime.

As Delia grew up, sometimes they had all rushed around nude or partly dressed in the mornings to prepare for the day, and then happily stripped down to near nude after returning home in the evenings. Mom had taken them out skinny-dipping as kids and teens, not to mention the times they had sneaked out to a friend’s pool when the adults were gone and they skinny-dipped in secret.

Of course the boys had taken notice of her body, too, but they were neighborhood friends. They were no more worrisome to her than her own curiosity about them.

Their father, a county road worker, had died a hero when she was a baby, while he was pushing a pedestrian out of the way of a speeding car, so she had never known him. She knew that in some ways, she had shifted her girlish love for a father to her big brother—and he had never let her down.

“A swim! At the beach or at Big Shoals?” Delia asked Greg. “This time of year, what could be better?”

“I’m fine here,” said Greg, still staring into his cereal as though it held answers to his unspoken questions. “Whatever you want, just go ahead.”

“But–“ Delia started to argue that he needed to get out more, then realized her mistake. She changed her tone to a baby sister’s plea. “Greg, would you take me to Big Shoals? I haven’t gone in a long time. I’d feel safe with you.”

He raised his head for the first time.
29 printed pages
Original publication
2018

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