Storm Warning

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Talk To Me-Part Two

“ Deacon…hey…”

He gave her an apologetic shrug. “Sorry for that,” he said. “I didn’t mean to startle you. You seemed pretty focused on that phone,” he said. “Interesting text?” he asked conversationally with a smile.

She scoffed and gave him a smile that didn’t reach her eyes. “Something like that,” she answered. Glancing around, she furrowed her brow when she settled her gaze back on him. “So where’s Maddie? Grabbing her stuff?” she asked.

He gestured to the house. “Oh, she’s still inside. She asked me to come out and ask you to come in for a minute actually,” he said.

Rayna sighed and shook her head. “Oh right, the new guitar. You know what? Can you just tell her I’ll check it out next time? I really have to—“

“Stop making excuses?” he finished for her, giving her that narrowed-eyed Deacon look that always unnerved her. “Stop avoiding Deacon?” he asked, referring to himself in the third person. “Have it out with me about what happened that day at my cabin? You know, you can stop me anytime here, Ray…” he supplied.

“What are you talking about?” she asked, feigning innocence.

“Nice try, Ray,” he replied. “You want to tell me what’s going on here?” he asked.

“Nothing, Deacon. I just don’t have time to visit, that’s all. There’s things I have to do,” she said, hating how easily he could read her.

“Like ditch your sister and run out in the middle of lunch?” he suggested. When her mouth dropped open with surprise, he nodded. “Yeah, Tandy called me. She was looking for you and wanted to know if you’d picked up Maddie from her lesson yet. When I told her you hadn’t, she sounded worried. She wouldn’t go into detail, just said you ducked out in the middle of lunch. That you were upset and you weren’t answering her calls or texts.” He reached out before she could stop him and brushed away a wet smear of mascara from her cheek. “You’ve been crying,” he said matter-of-factly and she cursed herself for forgetting to slip her sunglasses back down. She’d pushed them to the top of her head when she’d been about to text Tandy back and Deacon had showed up at her window. “You want to tell me why?”

She swallowed hard, then looked away, shaking her head. She pulled down her sunglasses and her defenses went up. “Not particularly, no,” she replied.

“No?” he repeated, then nodded before turning. As he walked away, she figured he was going to leave it at that. Instead, he went around the front of the car to the passenger side, opened the door, and slid into the seat beside her. Again—before she could react or predict what he’d do, he’d reached over and shut off the car, taking the keys, and pressed the button to lock the doors. Slipping her keys in his pocket, he turned in the seat to face her. “Okay, let’s try this again. So Ray, you want to tell me why you’ve been crying?” he repeated, his voice mocking.

“Uh—“ she managed, mouth gaping open. “You did NOT just take my keys and lock my doors, Deacon Claybourne!” she admonished. “Have you completely lost your mind? What in the hell do you think you’re doing?” she asked.

“Getting some answers. And I don’t think anything, Ray. I am going to get you to talk to me. I’m not leaving this car until you do,” he said, crossing his arms as he stood—nee sat—his ground.

“That’s—do you have any idea how ridiculous you sounded right then, Deacon? What is this? Some sort of intervention? I don’t know what my sister told you, but we had a simple disagreement, that’s all,” she said briskly.

“And the tears?” he asked.

“I got something in my eye and was rubbing it. You’re overreacting. Don’t go creating drama where there isn’t any, Deacon,” she said, her tone clearly defensive.

“Bull,” he responded. “I know when you’ve been crying, Ray. All the makeup in the world isn’t going to hide that from me. So tell me what’s going on with you. And don’t you dare say nothing, either. I’m so tired of hearing you say that. I know when something’s bothering you. I also know when I’m being avoided. And you’ve been avoiding me,” he said. “Now, I’m not an idiot. I know things are different now since the cabin. Only a fool would expect that they wouldn’t be. And I may be a lot of things, but I’m no fool, Rayna. So enough with the excuses and getting all defensive with me. Talk to me,” he demanded.

She glared at him through furious eyes. “You know what I’m tired of, Deacon? People telling me what to do and assuming they know what I need better than I do. You want me to talk…well, tell me what you want me to say, Deacon. Hmm...what is it you want to hear?” she asked, her anger obvious and growing by the second.

He stared her down, taking her anger and not backing down. The last thing he’d wanted was to anger or upset her, but if that’s what it took for her to open up and talk to him—well, then so be it. He’d take it. He might be smarting a bit after—but he’d take it. “You’re mad,” he observed.

She scoffed, then nodded. “That’s putting it nicely, but yeah Deacon, I’m mad.”

“At me. Because of the cabin,” he stated, nodding.

She sighed. “No, because of a lot of things, Deacon. Because the label I practically built from the ground up would rather monopolize on the fact that I nearly died than support an album I put my heart and soul into. And because they decided to hire a complete jerk that makes me feel like I’m old and outdated whenever he opens his mouth. Then there’s the fact that just when I finally start to work things out with my father, he gets brought up on criminal charges and arrested. And Tandy—Daddy’s shining star—suddenly has nothing to say on the matter. So I’m the one who has to go in front of a judge and make a plea for his release so my girls don’t have to grow up without their grandfather in their lives. And let’s not forget that my ex-husband just went and married the woman he had an affair with while we were married…who also happens to be pregnant. Yeah…” She sighed, emotionally exhausted as she looked up and faced him. “Deacon…I know we have to talk about what happened at the cabin…I know that. I’m truly not trying to be difficult here. I just…it’s just—I literally can’t handle anything else right now,” she said, totally oblivious to the tears that were falling down her cheeks.

He cursed under his breath and reached out, brushing away a tear with his thumb. The sweet gesture nearly undid her and he knew it. As she choked back a sob, he leaned towards her and wrapped her in his arms. Surprisingly, she didn’t pull away. Instead, she clung to him. He held her and gave her a minute to pull it together before pulling away, tucking a stray strand of her hair behind her ear and softly tracing the curve of her jaw with the barest touch of a finger. “You know, Ray…you don’t have to do it all on your own. Asking for help doesn’t make you weak…I believe you said something along those lines not too long ago. Maybe it’s time you take your own advice,” he suggested, his tone gentle.

“You don’t understand…” she started.

He smiled. “Probably not. But I do know a little about what it’s like to feel like you have the world on your shoulders. I’m here, Ray. And willing to listen. Granted, a lot has changed--and godknows we have a lot that we clearly need to still sort out between us—but we’ve always been friends, Ray. I’d like to think that that—at least--hasn’t changed. Am I wrong?” he asked, searching her gaze with his expectant, hopeful one.

Resolve between us

He saw something sad flash in her eyes for a brief second before disappearing as quickly as it had appeared—as if it were never there. She smiled and shook head, taking his hand. “No, you’re not wrong. Thank you, Deacon. Truly…that means so much more than you know,” she said.

“So we’re good?” he asked. She laughed. “We’re good,” she answered, allowing him to hug her once more. When he pulled back, he was smiling. “Good. Now wipe that pretty face of yours and come inside with me. Someone just wrote a song that she’d just love for her Mama to hear,” he informed her with pride shining in his eyes.

Rayna sat back, her eyes going wide. “Wait. What!? Maddie wrote a song? My Maddie?”

Deacon nodded, laughing. “Unless you know another one. But yes, she sure did. You’re going to love it, Ray. She’s…god, she’s absolutely amazing. She’s you. She’s all you,” he said tenderly. And meant every word.

It didn’t take any more convincing for her to get out the car. She was grinning as she made her way around the car. Deacon met her on the sidewalk, tossing her the keys he’d pocketed as he held her “hostage” in her car while pressing her to talk.

“Ha, thanks,” she said, smiling as she caught the keys and slipped them into her jacket pocket. Using her fingers, she swiped them across her cheeks to wipe the traces of tears that remained, then turned towards Deacon. “How do I look?” she asked.

He grinned and reached out, brushing his thumb at a spot under her eye. “Perfect. Gorgeous as ever, Ray,” he answered before hooking his arm in hers. “Ready to hear a damn fine song?” he asked. “Heck yeah,” she replied, smiling wide as they started for the house.


Walking in, Rayna looked around the living room for Maddie, finding her strumming her new guitar softly on the couch, humming a little melody Rayna hadn’t heard before. She stopped strumming and looked up when she heard them come in, a smile spreading across her face when she saw Rayna with Deacon.

“Mom, hi…how was your lunch with Aunt Tandy?” Maddie asked.

Rayna spared a quick, nervous glance at Deacon, who squeezed her arm in reassurance. She turned back to Maddie, smiling. “It was fine, baby. Hey, is that your new guitar?” she asked, showing interest and changing the subject as she walked around the couch to sit beside her. “Oooh, you were right. It’s really neat,” she commented. And expensive, too, she added silently as shot a glance at Deacon who’d taken a seat in the loveseat across from them, giving him a disapproving look that he just smiled in response to. She was no guitar connoisseur like Deacon, but she’d been in the business long enough to recognize an expensive musical instrument when she saw one.

“Neat? Mom, it’s a Gibson. A Gibson Hummingbird Quilt, specifically. I mean look at the etchings. Isn’t it beautiful? You know, hummingbirds are my favorite bird, so it’s perfect,” Maddie corrected her, clearly still in awe.

Rayna smiled, nodding. “I do know hummingbirds are your favorite bird, baby. That’s really thoughtful of Deacon, really,” she said, emphasizing the word as she looked over at him, tears in her eyes at his sweet gesture. She didn’t know how he’d done it, but he’d totally captured their daughter’s heart and it tugged sweetly at hers.

Deacon shrugged. “It’s nothing, really. I remember she mentioned hummingbirds being her favorite to me once and I saw that downtown…I’m just glad she likes it,” he said, smiling.

Rayna turned back to Maddie. “Well that must be one pretty special guitar, sweet girl. Especially since I hear you wrote a song on it today,” she said, grinning.

Maddie returned the grin, nodding anxiously. “Yep. You have to hear it, Mom. It’s so good. Even Deacon said so.” Maddie laughed sheepishly. “Well, since he co-wrote it, I guess he’s a little biased, but still…it’s good. Right Deacon?”

Rayna raised a brow and looked over at Deacon, who’d grabbed his own guitar to play. “Is that so? A co-written song, huh? You didn’t mention that part, Deac,” she said.

He shrugged. “I just helped with the melody a bit. The rest is all her. And it is good…bias aside, little lady. You want to give it a go? You start, I’ll come in…like we practiced?”

Maddie nodded with excitement and repositioned the guitar, grinning at Rayna before taking a starting breath. With a flick of her leather-bangled wrist, her fingers began strumming. From that moment, Rayna was awe-struck.

I don’t remember how I got here

When my rose-colored glasses disappeared

Sometimes my fingers, they can lose touch

And start letting go of everything I love

When I get the feeling that my prayers have hit the ceiling

On those darker days when my faith has lost all meaning

You keep me believing

My fears are safe here, held in your hand

When I’m broken you put me back together again

All that I once was, all I could be

When I’ve forgotten, baby you remind me

When I get the feeling that my prayers have hit the ceiling

On those darker days when my faith has lost all meaning

You keep me believing

If ever you’re at home, you start feeling blue

If you ask me, baby I’ll come back for you

When I get the feeling that my prayers have hit the ceiling

On those darker days when my faith has lost all meaning

You keep me believing…


By the time they’d finished the song, Rayna had fresh tears streaming down her face…which didn’t go unnoticed by neither Deacon nor Maddie. Though Deacon was smiling and knew the reason for the tears, Maddie set down her guitar on the cushion beside her and turned to Rayna, putting a hand on top of Rayna’s that lay in her lap. “Mom, you okay?” she asked, worried.

Rayna smiled through the tears, nodding as she reached out and wrapped Maddie in a sweet hug. “I’m fine, baby. I’m just so happy and proud that you’re my daughter. That was…sweetheart that probably the most beautiful song I’ve ever heard. I’m so proud of you,” she said, kissing the top of Maddie’s head before releasing her.

Maddie sat back, smiling with pleasure. “You’re such a Mom,” she said with a laugh. “I’m glad you like it. I guess it’s a good thing I’ve got you and Deacon for parents. Gosh, I’m so lucky…” she said with a pleased sigh, her voice trailing off as she picked up her guitar again.

Rayna glanced over at Deacon, whose smile mirrored her own. He had tears in his eyes as well and she could see the pride in his features. She nodded at Maddie’s words. “That you are. A very lucky girl for sure…” she said, the words intended just as much for Deacon as they were for Maddie.

And she meant them…very much…in more ways than one…


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