A US love and relationships writer has revealed she and her stepbrother had a month-long affair when she was at college - and she has no regrets.
Writing a personal essay for Medium, Amy Sharke explained that she first met her now-stepbrother Tim when her mother and his father began a relationship. At the time, Sharke was going through a brutal breakup and went home for the winter break to heal.
"When my mom suggested she cheer me up by taking me on her date with this new guy she was seeing and his son, I couldn't find a good reason to say no," she wrote.
Sharke says she joined them for dinner and a movie.
"I don't remember what the movie was, just that Tim sat next to me in the theatre. He turned towards me during the pre-show ads, asking me questions about myself, offering me popcorn and candy, sharing his story.
"Tim was much cuter than I'd envisioned... but he was intelligent in a human sort of way. He had a friendly and humble air that I wasn't used to, and for how cute he was with his dark, curly hair, chiselled jaw-line, and strong build, he put me at ease.
"Throughout the movie, he leaned close to me whispering commentary and asking for my thoughts about in my ear, his voice a gentle, low hum. It sent shivers to my toes and I felt my sadness and anger at the recent loss of my boyfriend melting in his presence."
Sharke writes that back at her mother's house, they all had a cup of tea in the lounge, before their parents went to bed, "leaving me and Tim to our own devices".
"I froze for a moment as my mom's bedroom door clicked shut, wondering if I should go to bed, leaving Tim to his bed for the night, but he didn't miss a beat before offering to get more hot water for my tea.
"I accepted and we sat together late into the night talking. He asked me about my writing and when he suggested we write a collaborative poem, taking turns writing lines, he had me.
"We passed a notebook back and forth, our hands brushing, our bodies inching closer and closer to each other until simultaneously, we leaned towards each other for a kiss.
"And it was good - really good."
Sharke wrote that she and her soon-to-be stepbrother ended up spending the entire winter break together, going for walks, staying up late and having dinner.
"Eventually, he stopped sleeping on the couch and joined me in my bed, setting his alarm for 3am so he could return to the couch before his dad got up for his 5am shifts."
While it seems strange their family didn't notice their bizarre behaviour, Sharke puts it down to her mother and his father being "so enraptured by their own new romance".
"Connecting with Tim that winter was gentle and sweet and exactly the sort of friendship with a splash of romance I needed to help through the difficult transitions that were going on: graduating college soon, losing my long-term boyfriend and my parents' divorce."
After the break ended, Sharke returned to school, and dated other people. She eventually moved to Chicago where she met her current partner.
"Tim and I kept in touch here and there throughout the years, but less and less. Since being back in the area, I see him when my mom and now step-dad have the families over for dinner."
Sharke says she and her stepbrother enjoy hanging out, "though it's a little bit sad".
"I still find him attractive and maybe even sometimes want him to press me into the counter to steal a breathtaking kiss, but there's no acknowledgement of what transpired between us.
"Tim flowed into our new dynamic as naturally as he flowed into our previous one."