Skye groaned as she stirred. She could already tell by the light filtering through her eye-lids that it was too early to be awake.

There was a steady, persistent pounding in her head that, when combined with the sickening twisting of her stomach, only confirmed for her she wasn't getting any younger. At twenty-six she was past the days when she was able to drink alcohol without suffering the consequences. Even one glass of wine gave her a sore head in the morning.

Her current state was a far cry from the one she had predicted the evening before. Satisfied, satiated and relaxed she was not. But, she had to admit, as she snuggled deeper into the covers and felt a warm, heavy arm wrap about her, Ben's bed was a more comfortable place to be suffering the after effects than her own.

His hand slipped across the smooth skin of her stomach, caressed over the rough lace of her knickers at her hip before travelling up again to rest just below her breast. His chest pressed against her back and his slow, even breath tickled the skin beneath her ear, the expelled air feathering across her neck and jaw.

Skye smiled to herself. They'd originally said it would be only the once. It was an unspoken agreement, but an agreement all the same. But there was no harm in it being more than once, was there? Not when it had been so good.

Picturing parts of the evening before in her head and remembering the taste and feel of him, she wondered why she had waited so long to agree to Ben's offer. All that wasted time.

She shifted, freeing her arm from beneath his, and reached behind her to thread her fingers through his hair.

He murmured his agreement, nuzzling closer. "Skye," he breathed.

Skye's eyes snapped open.

That wasn't Ben.

No, in fact it was a voice she knew well, but not Ben's.

She sniffed cautiously at the air, the covers, her pillow, but nothing smelled like the owner of the voice. It didn't particularly smell much like Ben either for that matter.

Had she misheard?

Skye tried to twist and look behind her but as she moved his arm tightened and he shifted closer. It was then that she became very aware of a very male part of 'him' – whoever he was – at her lower back.


She winced.

Nope. It wasn't her imagination. Sleep roughened and husky, it was definitely Tanner's deep voice that caressed her ears.

Oh hell. Humiliation flooded her, it wasn't unlike the time she'd wet herself at the age of five in assembly. This was right up there on the mortification scale.

She'd aimed for Ben – easy going, not into commitment, and a completely willing partner Ben. She'd headed into the act with more confidence and enthusiasm as she would normally under the impression that it had been Ben. Instead she'd somehow gotten hot, sexy, serious, out of her league, and forbidden older brother of her best friend, Tanner.

Even as dread welled up in her, she felt her body respond to his voice. Her skin tingled and tightened, goosebumps erupting over her arms and the back of her neck. She fought against the near over-whelming urge to lift the covers and peek at the muscular body she'd often admired over the years, the body she had lavished with attention under the cloak of darkness. She'd rarely had the chance to see him without a shirt.

"Yeah?" She aimed for nonchalance but heard her voice waver under the weight of her anxiety.

"Not that I'm complaining, but do you want to explain last night?" There was no note of accusation or anger in his voice, just curiosity and – was that amusement?

"Err . . ." She bit her lip. Grateful now, as a blush flooded her pale skin, that Tanner had prevented her from turning to face him earlier. "You know how I said I always end up embarrassing myself under the influence of alcohol?"

He remained silent behind her and so she continued, "And you said I don't, that I'm great fun with a few drinks in me?"

Tanner chuckled, his quiet laughter caressing her skin with soft puffs of air. "I still stand by that. I can't think of a better word to describe last night than fun. Well there are several words that come to mind, but we'll go with fun for now."

Skye pulled away from him, manoeuvring onto her back, and keeping the covers pressed tightly to her bust. The move caused his arm to wrap tighter about her, something she was trying to ignore.

Tanner propped himself up on one elbow, his head resting in the palm of his hand. His thumb at her ribs rubbed small circles. "Why did I never know how you felt? I never got the impression you liked me in, well, this way." He motioned to them in the bed, shrugging with his free shoulder.

"Er . . ." How did she say that, while it's true she had always found him attractive and would very much have liked the opportunity to end up where they have, it was far from intentional? "Well it's not exactly easy is it? You can't just walk up to someone and say . . . and say . . ."

His eyes followed her flush down her neck and across the swell of her chest before the red blush was lost beneath the white cotton.

"I don't know. If you did come up to me and say that you wanted to go to bed – my bed – I'd be pretty damn happy about that."

"Really?" She asked, sceptical. "You wouldn't think 'oh, damn Skye, this is awkward, I don't feel that way.'"

Tanner thought about it for a while before tipping his head towards her. "Okay, I'd probably be shocked for a while. I haven't really thought that way about you before. Didn't dare to, not with that pack of guard dogs you have. But I can say without a doubt that waking up and realising it was you definitely excited me."

Skye frowned then as a sudden thought came to mind. "You weren't expecting me." Which was obvious considering it was Ben that had been.

Tanner frowned, looking suddenly wary as though he was afraid he was walking into a trap. "Should I have been?"

"No, but er . . . you didn't stop me or ask me what the hell was going on, or even who I was? You just went with it."

"I thought I was dreaming to begin with. Who am I to argue with a make believe hot woman with only one thing in mind, especially when I get so much out of it? When I realised I wasn't asleep anymore . . . well, I'd already figured out it was you by that point."

Tanner sat up. "I must admit I was a little relieved to find out I wasn't having sexual fantasy dreams about my little sister's best friend on her wedding night, that's enough to kill the conscience."

"Instead you were actually having sex with your little sister's best friend." Skye replied slowly. "That makes sense."

"Hey," he said as he swung his legs out of the covers. "At least I get to share the guilt this way. People will be up shortly, they'll have breakfast ready up at the hall soon."

She watched him rub at his face, his back to her. The word 'guilt' echoed in her head ominously. She had bucket loads of that right now. She felt guilt towards Ben for mistaking Tanner's room for his and leaving him hanging – that's if he hadn't gone and gotten another girl anyway – towards Ivory for betraying that trust, and most of all to Tanner, who she really liked as a friend and had known for years, for mistaking his room for Ben's and landing them in this mess.

Should she be forthright with him? Should she confess that what happened between them had all been one giant and humiliating misunderstanding? But then what guy would take that well that they'd been well and truly ravished under the pretence that they were their cousin?

How did she end up in Tanner's room? She'd counted meticulously.

"Erm." She bit at her lip as she thought carefully. "It took me a while to find you. I thought you had one of the rooms down stairs. How come you're here?"

"I swapped with my cousin Jason. He's trying it on with Violet's mate in the next room." Tanner replied. He sat on the edge of the bed, the duvet only half draped over his nakedness as he tugged on his boxers. "Oh, did he tell you I was here? They were already making eyes at each other when I left last night, I'd imagine by the time you came calling things might have been quite awkward."

"Ye—no." She changed her answer hurriedly, hoping that he hadn't caught her slip up. She couldn't say that he had or what would she do if it was ever brought up in conversation? "No, it was just the process of elimination."

He'd swapped rooms with Jason.

Jason? So where the hell was Ben's room?

He leant down and when he sat back up straight he was holding the strap of her bra between his fingers, dangling the garment in front of him. "This is what you were wearing?" Tanner said in a strangled voice. "Damn but I wish I'd seen that."

He swung back into bed and reached out for her, pulling her close into his side. "Do we have to go to breakfast? Can't we stay here and . . . you wear that?"

Skye snorted. His playful insistence amusing to her. "No. Do you want everyone to know? Can you turn your back please?" She snatched the bra out of his hand and, still with a death grip on the covers, edged away from him to her side of the bed.

He frowned at her nonplussed. "What, I don't get to look? You know with the sex we had last night that seems to be a bit odd to me. I don't get to see them, but my mouth has –"

"Turn please."

He grinned at her and rolled onto his side, facing the window. "Fine. But I'm still up for staying here, I'm sure they'll all find out soon anyway."

Skye paused in the act of reaching for her chemise on the floor beside her side of the bed, and turned to face him. "What? Why would they?"

"They have their ways. They always know."

She didn't have to ask who 'they' were. He meant his sisters. He meant Hazel, Violet, and . . . Ivory.


Tanner rolled over to face her, obviously having thought that she had had plenty of time to re-dress and was treated to the pleasant sight of her in her underwear. His eyes swept over her, but he wasn't distracted enough to drop the conversation. Now there was a blow to her pride.

"What did you think was going to happen, with you turning up here last night?"

"Well." She paused.

She was thinking that the girls had all pretty much dared her to hop into Ben's bed, thinking that if anyone had seen her between her own room and his it wouldn't be a big deal. But she couldn't say that to Tanner.

"Strawberry daiquiris, you know?" She shrugged, noticing and not displeased at his gaze following the rise and fall of her bust with the movement. "What was it you called them? Lethal?"

"Strawberry daiquiris?" He sat up with a frown. "Well they looked lethal, but they're harmless aren't they?"

"Not when you drink them at the rate the girls were," Skye said with a wry twist to her mouth.

She reached down to grab the chemise off of the carpet and Tanner dived towards her.

"No, no, no." He gripped her wrists easily, his large warm hands wrapped about her skin. "No getting dressed. We can have fun."

Skye laughed and slipped out of his reach, taking the duvet with her as she shuffle stepped backwards and pulled the garment on.

"I don't have any drinks in me, I'm afraid I'll be totally dull." She threw his own words, albeit ones meant as a joke, back at him with a grin.

"I'm willing to test that theory." He responded not skipping a beat. He reached for her and it was then she realised he was serious. Her smile dropped.

"No, Tanner." She moved out of his reach, the duvet still gripped tightly between them and acting as a cushion barricade. "I really don't think it's a good idea. It should stay the one time."

"One time?" He dropped his arms, looking thoroughly put out. "A one night stand? I don't do one night stands, Skye."

She swallowed the lump in her throat. She knew that, and ordinarily would never have put him in this position, but then she hadn't been after him. She couldn't tell him it was a mistake, a case of mistaken identity, wrong room numbers and the lack of stupid light pollution filtering in through the curtains at night.

"I know," she said softly. "But I do stupid things when I drink too much; I didn't think I drank enough last night to make such a monumental mistake but . . . Ivory's . . ." She shrugged helplessly and looking up at him imploring.

His sister's name appeared to have the affect she had intended on him for he took a step back away from her. He scraped a hand through his hair, agitated. "Ivory, right."

"We should just forget this ever happened, shouldn't we?"

"I don't think I can just forget a night like that, Skye." He sounded pained and his face was taut. "I don't know if it's just the thrill of being woken like that, but it was . . ."

"Look, I'm just gunna go." Skye reluctantly dropped the quilt she held between them and hurried into her dressing gown, very aware of the way his eyes moved over her in her rich burgundy silk chemise until it was hidden from view beneath the fluffy material, much like he'd appreciated her appearance out on the lawn last night.

"Damn, Skye." He groaned turning away from her and walking a few steps back towards the bed, before returning quickly to his previous position. His boxers didn't hide anything. "I didn't even get to kiss you."

"What? Of course . . ." But no they hadn't, had they? They'd kissed necks, chests, and even thighs but she hadn't kissed his mouth and now that he'd brought it to her attention it was all she could think about. What did those lips taste like? What did they feel like? A deep craving in her stomach urged her to find out, to lean in and take what she wanted. And that was her cue to leave.

Tanner stepped closer, obviously having other ideas. Skye swallowed, for what felt the umpteenth time, and swayed away. Her back hit the solid wood of the door.

"I don't want a night like that being a once in forever, Skye." Tanner's voice was rougher, deeper than it had been as he stepped up to her. His body flush against hers, his fingers trailing her jaw.

She took a deep breath. Her blood boiled at the look in his eye. "It can't be more." She said in a much steadier voice than she felt she could muster.

Tanner's grey eyes dropped to her mouth. "Can I at least have a kiss?"

Skye wanted to give in, more than anything, and the longer she hesitated the harder it was to resist. "I-I don't think that's a good id—"

His mouth pressed against hers. Soft and hesitant, but enough to kick start the heat she had felt the night before and then some. It was sweet, innocent, and lingering. It shouldn't have had her heart beating a billion times the rate sleeping with 'Ben' had, shouldn't have had her seriously contemplating taking him up on the offer to skip breakfast.

It was exactly why she had to leave. And now.