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The word idyllic didn’t do justice to the countryside as I sped through pale-coloured hills, alongside ancient orchards and past hidden wineries towards the busy suburb of the city where Mark and Elaine live.
My taxi pulled to a halt at the side of the street. I paid it off, took my journalist’s bag from the back seat and walked up the short stone-paved path. I knocked on the blue painted wooden front door and as I waited for it to be answered, took stock of my surroundings.
I was in a very pleasant, traditional suburb of a beautiful French city where the houses, whatever their age, looked as if they had stood there for centuries. There were fruit trees in front gardens, there were faded shutters on windows to match the equally faded doors. There was warmth and dust in the afternoon air.
My attention was jerked back to the house where the front door was being quietly opened. To my relief, the face that appeared was instantly recognisable from the pictures we had exchanged over the internet. I was in the right place.
A tall, slim man I placed in his early thirties stood in the doorway. His large dark eyes, handsome features and short brown hair combined to produce an even more attractive individual than I had expected and for a second I was wrong-footed.
“Rachel?” he asked with an engaging smile.
“Hi Mark,” I replied. “Sorry I’m a bit late.”
“That’s no problem. Time works differently here,” he grinned, opening the door wide. “Come in.”
As I followed through the doorway and into the house, its contents took me by surprise. I had expected a quaint traditionally French interior with lots of wood and old tiled floors. What I found was modern, minimalist and for a city girl like me, familiar in style. It was attractive, functional but from an atmospheric point of view, rather disappointing.
“Elaine and the kids are in the garden.”
Mark ushered me through tall, glazed doors and onto a rear patio which in turn opened onto a large garden. A game of football was taking place between four young boys, all of whom were shouting to each other in fluent, locally accented French.
“Those two are ours,” Mark grinned as the game became heated. “The two trying to break each other’s legs.”
A very pretty, slender woman with the same dark hair and eyes as Mark and dressed in a short, embroidered, white cotton summer dress rose from her chair to greet me.
“Hi,” she said with a warm smile. “I’m Elaine.”
The introduction was unnecessary after our Skype call, but it was nice to feel so welcome. She offered me her hand. I shook it then we kissed awkwardly on both cheeks.
“When in France…” Elaine joked, gesturing to one of the old wooden chairs that surrounded a large rustic table.
I placed my bag on the floor and sat, accepting the long cool glass of rose wine that was offered. It tasted wonderful; clean and clear in the heat of the afternoon.
“How was your journey?” Mark asked, settling into a chair opposite me.
“Surprisingly smooth,” I replied. “And what a place to come to.”
We chatted lightly and pleasantly for a while about travel, about the area and its incredible beauty, about the city with its history spanning millennia; about what my husband and I might do for the next couple of days on our holiday.
Everything seemed perfectly normal. Mark and Elaine seemed a perfectly normal, perfectly pleasant couple. As we sat and talked it became harder and harder to believe that I was actually there to interview two criminals, hiding from British justice.
But in the UK at least, the perfect family life I was witnessing could have resulted in imprisonment for Elaine and Mark, and their children being taken into care.
For Elaine and Mark are brother and sister.
“Perhaps we should get the formalities over,” I said.
The second glass of wine had been poured and the atmosphere had become even more relaxed. I picked up my satchel and pulled out a plastic sleeve containing two copies of a closely-typed document.
“This is exactly as we agreed,” I said. “It’s binding on us all. You promise to tell me only the truth; I can’t publish anything you tell me without your prior written agreement. Everything would be anonymised.”
I placed my passport on the table before them. Elaine picked it up and turned to the picture page as I signed both copies of the document before them. Then she compared the picture to my face and the signature on the passport with the fresh one on the document.
“Looks okay,” she declared, smiling.
In response, Mark passed two passports to me along with two other documents. The passports were British and in their real names; the photos matched the two faces before me as well as passport photos ever do. The surname was the same on both.
The other documents were certified copies of birth certificates in identical names to those on the passports. Each bore a date the same as the passports and showed that the individuals concerned had been born in the same English town to exactly the same parents. bursa escort
There was no doubting that the couple before me were full blooded brother and sister.
There was barely a year’s gap between their dates of birth. To my surprise and despite appearances, Elaine was older.
“There!” she said, returning both copies of the document. I slipped one back into the plastic sleeve and returned the other to Elaine.
“Now we can all relax,” Mark smiled, raising his glass.
For a while we sat quietly in the afternoon sun wondering how to begin, watching the four boys tire of football then disappear to their friends’ house to play video games.
“They could be French,” I observed.
“They are French,” their mother smiled. “They were born here. We’ve been here so long they hardly know the UK at all. They only go there to visit their Grandma.”
“Does that happen often?” I asked.
“Not often. Mum usually comes here.”
“Because of the British authorities?”
“Partly,” Elaine replied. “They don’t know about us and we want to keep it that way.”
“But your mother knows everything?”
“She knows the important bits,” Mark replied.
“She doesn’t approve of course,” Elaine added. “That’s putting it mildly. But now we have kids she wants what’s best for all of us and she can see how well things are going here. I think she feels a little responsible too, so she does all she can to make things work.”
“So how do you want this interview to go?” Mark asked in a business-like way. “Now the kids have gone we should take advantage of the privacy.”
“Why don’t we start at the beginning?” I suggested. “Why did you get in touch with me in the first place?”
The two siblings looked at each other as if deciding who should take the lead. From their body language I suspected this sort of silent negotiation was routine in their relationship and spoke of a lifetime of familiarity. In the end it was Elaine who spoke.
“We follow a number of incest-oriented groups and websites,” she began. “It’s kind of a support network even though few of us know who the others really are.”
“I found some of your articles there,” Mark added. “You come over as genuine and sympathetic – as if you really understand what we’re going through. One article mentioned your stories.”
I kept silent, just nodding and smiling.
“Well, both of us enjoy reading erotic stories,” Elaine continued with a little embarrassment. “It’s not something we tell people about but we both enjoy your work, especially the incest stories of course.
“We looked for yours. They’re different from most; more like love stories than just wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am sex. You know, where the impossibly pretty daughter needs her Daddy to deflower her for no particular reason then turns instantly into a nympho?”
I nodded, delighted to learn that someone with real experience of the genre thought my work was special.
“Mark found you first, then he told me and, well, we’ve been enjoying them ever since.”
“It feels as if you have real empathy for your characters,” Mark joined in. “As if you had had some experience of our situation yourself.”
It was an invitation to share a little of my own history but it was far too early in our friendship to take up the opportunity.
“We thought you might like to hear our story,” Elaine resumed. “Confidentially of course. It might help the campaign, such as it is.”
“Campaign?” I asked.
“For equality,” Mark replied. “And if nothing else, it might be a good basis for an erotic story too,” he added with a grin. “You seem to like true tales.”
“I do indeed,” I confirmed.
“So we agreed I would contact you,” Elaine continued. “I did it through the erotic story site because I could do it anonymously. I could see if you were interested and if we felt we could trust you before giving ourselves away.”
“I was pleased to hear from you,” I replied. “I love hearing from readers, but your approach was particularly welcome. You did grill me though before letting me know who you really are.”
Elaine had asked literally dozens of questions about me, my life, my research and my writing of erotic stories as a sideline. She wanted to know where my interest in incest had come from and how I felt about ‘the campaign’ as she called it.
I had not told her the full story and suspected she knew this, but I had said enough to convince her of my honesty and integrity. We had exchanged many emails before speaking on the phone. A Skype conversation later we had agreed that we should meet.
The timing was good; my husband and I were overdue a few days’ break and Provence was somewhere I had always loved but hadn’t visited for some years. Dan was used to me disappearing for a few hours to do a little research, so he didn’t bat an eyelid when I asked if he minded me spending one afternoon with my new acquaintances.
I smiled; at that moment my husband would be doing what he enjoyed best; exploring the Roman ruins which were so very well preserved in that bursa escort bayan ancient city. No doubt he would tell me all about it when I joined him, whether I wanted to hear or not!
“I’m pleased you did,” I carried on. “Meeting you is great for my work, but I don’t quite see what the two of you get out of it.”
Elaine looked embarrassed.
“I could tell you that we want to play a part in the campaign to get sexual relationships between relatives legalised. And that would be true though I can’t see it happening in our lifetimes.”
“Partly we thought it would be exciting if our own lives appeared in one of your articles,” Mark added. “Or even in one of your stories. As Elaine said, we do enjoy erotica. But mostly we’ve never had the opportunity to tell anyone about ourselves before. You can’t imagine how frustrating it is to have such a secret and never be able to share it.”
I could do much more than just imagine their position, but it wasn’t the time to explain this.
“I hope I live up to your expectations,” I said a little anxiously, looking carefully at my new friends.
The resemblance was striking; the colour of their hair, the shape of their faces, the darkness of their eyes; all were almost identical. They even had the same shape of nose though Mark’s was larger and more angular. With their healthy outdoor tans, they made a very attractive couple.
“Okay, first things first,” I said, taking out my notebook. “Tell me about your family and your early life.”
As if relieved to get started, Elaine took a deep breath and began to talk. Her brother followed, filling in gaps.
For most of their childhood the two siblings had grown up quite normally in a pleasant, middle-class suburb of a big British city. Their parents had met when at school and had been together from then until their father had died unexpectedly when Elaine and Mark were in their twenties.
Elaine, their first child had been born when they were older than most of their contemporaries. Indeed, for a long time their parents had worried that they might not have been able to have children at all. But once their daughter had been born, their son had followed very soon afterwards, and the family was quickly complete.
Life had been normal for a long time; going to the local schools, playing with local friends, going on family holidays and visiting their remaining Grandparents in the small terraced house in which she lived.
Both parents had been loving and caring but had often been at work, leaving the two siblings together for long periods. At first this had been in the care of Grandparents but as they got older, the pair had been allowed to fend for themselves after school and eventually for whole days during the holidays.
“Did you have feelings for each other back then?” I asked.
They looked at each other and laughed out loud.
“You could say that. We hated each other,” Elaine said. “We didn’t get along at all. I thought he was a dirty, rude, insensitive pervert who leered at my friends.”
“And I thought she was a snotty, supercilious, bad tempered cow with a nasty temper.”
“And we were probably both right,” Elaine laughed again.
She had an infectious laugh that made her look younger and even prettier. Laughing made her brother look even more handsome too. He clearly adored her.
“So when did things begin to change?” I asked, forcing myself back on track. “And how? Was it sudden or did things happen gradually?”
Again they exchanged glances, deciding who should take the lead. In the end that duty fell to the older sibling again.
“I suppose it started gradually,” Elaine began. “But when things finally started, they progressed very quickly.”
There was another exchange of looks with a much deeper, more sexual meaning.
“You didn’t put up much resistance,” her brother interjected.
“You wouldn’t have stopped if I’d tried,” his sister replied. “You weren’t taking any prisoners!”
I would have loved to probe this comment straight away but knew it was better to let it unfold in good time.
“If I had stopped, you would have gone the rest of your life without letting me know how you felt,” Mark told her a little more seriously. “Think what a waste that would have been!”
“Please can we go a bit more slowly,” I laughed with them.
“Sorry,” Elaine grinned. “What do you want to know?”
I took a brief breath and looked at my notes before replying.
“I’m keen to understand how it all started. How a normal brother-sister relationship can become sexually oriented in the first place. Beyond that, I’d like to understand how that relationship can become physical then emotional too, but I’d like to take one step at a time.”
“Okay,” they chorused then giggled again.
“So you’re growing up in the same house, you’re going to school – the same school?”
They both nodded.
“From the age of four; Elaine was always a school year above me,” Mark explained.
“That’s quite an important age gap. Did you see each other much at escort bursa school?”
“Not really. We walked there together, or Mum drove us in the mornings, but Mark always had sport after lessons, so we used to come home separately.”
“Did you do much together outside school?”
“Quite a bit,” Elaine continued. “We both had friends outside school but neither of us was part of any larger group. During the holidays we mostly did family things. Mum was a Head Teacher so had the long holidays off.”
“She took you on trips?”
“Loads,” Mark took over the narrative. “We went to stately homes and galleries; all the cultural stuff. And we stayed with our Grandparents a lot so Mum and Dad could have a break from us.”
“I suppose that’s where it really began,” Elaine interjected.
Mark thought for a moment.
“Of course it was. Under the Sea!”
“Under the Sea!”
His sister repeated the words in a sing song voice obviously meant to remind them both of something they had seen or heard as children. I must have looked puzzled because they both looked at me and laughed.
“Sorry,” Mark apologised. “Under the Sea was a game we used to play as kids. Our Grandparents’ house was very small, so we had to share a bedroom. It was also dark and scary so when we were very young, we had to share a bed too.”
“Mark used to get very frightened of the shadows, so Mum taught us to play a game called ‘Under the Sea’ to take our minds off the dark,” Elaine took over.
“I forget the rules, but it involved hiding under the bed clothes and cuddling together and on the whole it worked. We were very young and there was nothing sexual about it at all, but it did mean by the time we were becoming teens we were used to being in the same room and the same bed and having a good level of physical contact, albeit completely innocent.”
“Surely things began to change then?” I prompted. “Around puberty I mean.”
“Too right,” Mark continued. “That’s when we began to hate each other.”
“Right,” his sister agreed. “As soon as Mark’s body began to change and he began to get interested in girls, I wanted nothing to do with him. He was an embarrassment.”
“I couldn’t help it any more than you could help what was happening to your body,” Mark objected. “Elaine became absolutely impossible to live with. She had a filthy temper – even Mum couldn’t put up with her.”
“I was horrible, wasn’t I?” Elaine confessed sheepishly. “But you weren’t much better.” She turned to me. “He used to spy on me and my friends when they stayed over.”
I looked at him, an eyebrow raised.
“Well, as we’ve just signed a contract promising to tell the truth, the answer is yes I did. I was a teenage boy remember, in a house full of drop dead gorgeous teenage girls. Of course I wanted to look at them.”
“Pervert!” Elaine said jokingly.
“They played up to it,” Mark objected. “They used to leave the bedroom door open and walk around the house in underwear or just a towel. Ellie wasn’t much better.”
“That was later, dumdum,” his sister joked.
“Please!” I interrupted with a laugh. “I’m struggling to keep up.”
“Sorry,” Elaine said. “I suppose things started to change in the way they often do; when someone else points out something that’s obvious to them but which you had never noticed.”
“I’m not sure I understand,” I said.
“Well, in this case it was when Mark was eighteen. My school friends started telling me how fit my little brother had become; how he had grown up all of a sudden and how they really fancied him.”
“How did you react?”
“I was embarrassed of course. My little brother was my little brother, not some gorgeous hunk worthy of all this female attention. I told them all to keep their hands off him!”
“I had no idea all this was going on,” Mark protested.
“Too right you didn’t,” his sister frowned. “You were pleased with yourself enough already. If you’d known all my friends fancied you, you would have been completely impossible.”
Now it was Mark’s turn to frown.
“Well the same went for Elaine,” he told me. “Only as an older sister, my friends had fancied her all along. I got into a couple of fights when they said what they wanted to do with her. One even told everyone he’d had sex with her already. I knew this wasn’t true so there was a bit of a bust-up.”
“It sounds like you were both very protective of each other,” I proposed. “Perhaps the feelings were beginning to develop then.”
“I think most siblings are like that,” Elaine replied. “Hate each other in private but defend each other in public.”
Having interviewed other couples and knowing what my own relationship with my brother had once been like, I wasn’t so sure.
“How did you both react when real physical relationships began?” I asked.
“Boyfriends?” Elaine asked.
“And girlfriends,” I said.
There was a short pause for thought before Mark broke the silence.
“I found it very difficult seeing my sister with other boys,” he began. “I suppose I knew only too well what boys think about girls and what they try to do. Ellie seemed to mop it up; even at the beginning. It felt like a betrayal. Okay I was quite young when I first saw her kissing a boy, but I still remember how much it hurt.”
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