Not The Man I Thought You Were
-A FEW WEEKS LATER @ THE NASHVILLE MUSIC FESTIVAL-
“Hey, c’mere babe,” Luke said to Rayna, his mouth descending on hers as he snuck his arm around her back to pull her close. Her response to the sudden kiss was a little slow, but she did start to reciprocate and kissed him back. When the kiss started to get a little heated, he backed her up against the side of her truck, smiling against her lips when she wrapped her arms around his neck and let him deepen the kiss. The sound of a car door slamming in the distance broke through her haze of lust, reminding her that they were right out in the open. Granted, the festival had ended for the night and the foot traffic had wound down enough to the point that there were only a handful of cars still in the outdoor lot, but even so…it wasn’t exactly the most appropriate venue for a hot and heavy PDA session. If nothing else—as Rayna James—mom and Queen of Country Music--she had a reputation to uphold. And, for that matter, so did he.
With that realization, she was the one to break the kiss. She laughed and then dropped her gaze, a little embarrassed. “Um, okay, we should stop…this really isn’t-let’s just go back to my place. My sister took the girls for the night, so…” she said, smiling suggestively.
He grinned and tugged her towards him again, pulling her by the belt loops of her jeans. “Let’s not…,” he said, a teasing glint in his eye as he once more brought his mouth down to hers.
Laughing, she placed her hands on his chest, pulling away again. “Luke…c’mon. We can’t do this here,” she said.
“Who says we can’t?” he asked, gesturing with his hands, indicating the lack of people around. Instead of loosening tightening his embrace on her, he held her more tightly when she attempted to pull back again. “There’s no one here to see. Just you, me, and the crickets,” he said.
She started to protest, playfully…then got serious when he continued against her wishes. A wave of uncertainty coursed through her as she pushed more firmly against his chest. “Luke, c’mon…Luke, no…stop…” she said, pulling her head back when he tried to kiss her again. She felt a twinge of fear when he didn’t listen to her and kept it up.
“C’mon Ray, be a little adventurous. Live a little. I want you, and I know you want me. Remember Tampa? You said you liked being naked with me….soooo let’s get naked and have a little fun,” he said as his mouth crashed down hard on hers again. The pressure almost bruising. She struggled in earnest then when he pushed her back against the truck—practically shoving his tongue down her throat even as he put his hand up her shirt and roughly squeezed her breast. He rocked his pelvis against hers…his arousal terrifyingly obvious.
Fear-based tears filled her eyes as she struggled harder to push him away. “Luke no…please…stop, Luke…” she cried, her voice breaking on a sob as he fondled her roughly.
“Enough games, Rayna,” he said, glaring at her as he started to get angry. “We’ve been doing this for weeks, so the whole “coy” routine doesn’t play ball with me,” he said.
She shook her head forcefully. “No. Luke, I don’t want this. Not like this, please,” she said.
He stilled, just staring at her. Then he grabbed the back of her hair and yanked hard, his eyes narrowing and furious. “Bullshit,” he said. “You know exactly what you’re doing. You should know better by now than to play with fire,” he said. “I’m not Deacon,” he informed her. “I’m not going to follow you along like some pathetic, sad-eyed little puppy dog. That might be what you’re used to, but it’s not how I roll. And I’m sure as hell not Jeff Fordham. He might have been desperate enough to try and reason with you, but it’s like I told him—what you really need is a man to handle you…to show you the error of your ways. Lucky for you—and me--I’m that man. So let’s play, Babe…” he said. She saw something flash in his eyes a moment later, and came to a realization of sorts.
“Jeff? What the hell are you—“ she swallowed hard, the fury building within her. “Oh my god,” she said, eyes wide. “You’re working with him, aren’t you? What is this—some kind of setup? What’d he do? Did he tell you to do this—to hook up with me so you could change my mind about leaving the label?” She asked, incredulous as her body went cold with understanding and her eyes filled with hurt and angry tears.
He grinned and shrugged easily. “Something like that,” he answered. “Though it was my idea to sweeten the pot with sex.” He shrugged. “Why not, right? I mean, might as well enjoy the perks when you’re given them,” he said with sadistic undertones.
She felt sick…literally sick to her stomach as she put it all together and realized what had happened. Tears streamed down her face as she lifted her gaze to meet his devious one. “You sick…bastard,” she managed.
He shrugged and chuckled. “We all have our crosses to bear,” he said dismissively. “So…where were we….” He asked, pulling her close. When she pulled back enough to slap him across the face—hard—he got mad.
He cursed harshly at shoved her hard against the truck. Then he roughly slid his hands down to her jeans, sliding his hand down inside the front, forcing his hand in her panties before roughly penetrating her with his fingers. She struggled, but she was no match for his strength. “NOOOOOO!!!” she screamed just before he slapped his free hand over her mouth, quieting her screams and cries of protest. She could only whimper softly as the tears streamed down her face while his hand roughly molested her inside her jeans. “Sorry doll, not even your precious Deacon can save you now,” she heard him say with a menacing chuckle. She squeezed her eyes shut against the hell that she knew was about to come and knowing she couldn’t do a damn thing to stop it. In that moment, she’d never felt as helpless as she did right then…
“…Look man, I don’t know how to thank you for doing this.” Gunnar said as he and Deacon put the last of their instruments and sound equipment into the back of Deacon’s truck. “I mean, this show tonight…you calling up your label exec friends to come watch—I’m in your debt, man,” he said, genuinely grateful.
Deacon shrugged as he closed the back door. “No need. You’re a talented artist with a hell of a lot of potential,” he stated as they turned and leaned back against the back as they talked. “So um—that whole business with you and Scarlett?” he asked, ginning. “How’s that going?”
Gunnar sighed and shook his head. “Ah, I don’t know man. It’s complicated and I—It’s just complicated…” he said, shrugging.
“Yeah, it usually is with Southern women,” he said in agreement. “But if there’s one thing I know about my niece, it’s that—“ he stopped mid-sentence when he heard something strange. He and Gunnar exchanged looks. “Did you hear that?” he asked. “Sounded like someone screaming didn’t it,” he said.
Gunnar nodded and together they both scanned the parking lot, finding the source nearly in unison, mere seconds later. Gunnar’s eyes flew to Deacon’s. “Isn’t that--?!”
“Mother Fucker!” Deacon replied as they both wasted no time in sprinting forward.
Deacon saw only red as he and Gunnar raced ahead. Reaching them, he grabbed Wheeler by the lapel of his shirt, pulling him off and slamming him against the vehicle, his fist ready and raised before connecting hard with the man’s jaw merely a second later. When Wheeler attempted a swing of his own, Deacon ducked, landing him another solid uppercut punch to the jaw, only to grab him again and throw him down to the ground. “You mother fucking bastard…”he cursed furiously, his voice like steel, then dropped to the ground, straddling the SOB as he landed blow after blow with his fists. And he would have continued to do so—to death probably—had Gunnar not intervened and pulled him away. Standing, Deacon glared at the younger guy, seething. “What the hell, Gunnar?!” he demanded. “Why the hell did you stop me?” he demanded.
“’Cause you’re about a punch away from attempted murder and throwing away that solo career you’ve been working like hell for,” he said, indicating Deacon’s bleeding hand. “Trust me, he’s not worth it,” Gunnar said. “I’ll take care of this prick, you take care of her,” he said, gesturing towards the truck.
Deacon’s blood was boiling with hot fury…that immediately cooled when he turned and saw her. Rayna. His heart broke as he looked at her. She was turned to the side, facing away from him, so he could only see her profile…but it was enough. She had her face in her hands crying and was literally shaking like a leaf. “Oh God, Ray—“he spoke softly as he moved towards her. She gasped and instinctively flinched when he reached out to her and went to touch her arm. Then she lowered her hands and looked at him for a long moment as the tears streamed down her pale face. “Deacon,” she breathed—her voice breaking on a sob—before launching herself into his arms, sobbing. He held her close. “It’s okay, babe,” he attempted to soothe her. “You’re okay. I got you,” he told her. And he wasn’t going anywhere he finished silently to himself as he held her.
NEARLY AN HOUR LATER…
Rayna sighed as she dropped her keys in the bowl on the stand by the door and turned to Deacon, who closed the door and turned back to face her. The pity she saw on his face unnerved her, especially since she’d just spent the last hour at the police station downtown, having to relay every horrible, humiliating detail of what had transpired in the parking lot of the festival between her and Luke Wheeler for her official statement. The humiliation was made worse by the fact that Deacon had been sitting there next to her. He’d held her hand the entire time, squeezing it reassuringly when she stumbled over some of the horrid details. As grateful as she was for Deacon’s presence…she almost wished he hadn’t been there with her…that he hadn’t heard every twisted thing that Wheeler had done and said to her. The questioning seemed to go on forever, it seemed to her. Towards the end, she’d started to choke up and probably would have had an actual breakdown if Deacon hadn’t convinced the detectives to let him bring Rayna home and take care of the paperwork aspect in the morning. He must have sensed how overwhelmed and desperate she was…either way, she was grateful. She had wanted to go back to get her truck, but Deacon had insisted on taking her home instead. She’d been too drained from the night’s ordeal to argue, so she let him.
She watched as he closed the door and gestured in the direction of the back stairs. “Are the girls home?” he asked.
She shook her head. “No…no…with the festival—I let Tandy take them home with her,” she told him. ”It’s just as well…I don’t want them to see me like this, you know? I just—I just want to be alone right now,” she informed him quietly. “Thank you for…well yeah—“her voice trailed. “It’s late. You should probably go home. I’m sure Megan will be wondering where you are soon, if not already, so yeah,” she said. “J-Just go home, Deacon. I’m fine,” she said.
He gave her a disbelieving look. “Ray, I know when you’re fine and you’re not fine…not that you shouldn’t not be after what happened tonight, but I know you, Rayna…so don’t even try to act like nothing’s wrong, because you’re not fine. I’m not leaving you all alone here. Besides, Megan’s out of town all this week doing depositions in D.C. I talked to her earlier,” he said. “I’ll stay.”
She shook her head firmly. “No…just go home, please. I’m a big girl, Deacon. I don’t need a babysitter. I mean, I’m grateful for everything you did tonight. Truly, but please, just go,” she told him, turning so he couldn’t see the tears in her eyes. He just stood there, narrowing his eyes at her.
“Ok, what’s all this really about, Rayna?” he questioned, his hands on his hips. “And don’t say nothing either. Why do you keep shutting me out? You won’t talk to me or tell me what’s going on with even the impersonal aspects of your life. When you drop off and pick up Maddie for lessons, you’re distant and shut-off. I know you’re stressed out with the whole label deal and your dad and stuff, but is that all this is? Or is it more? Talk to me, Rayna. Is this still about what happened at the cabin? Because I know we still have a lot to resolve as far as that’s concerned, but I really thought we’d turned a corner on all of that when we talked a few weeks ago. Was I wrong?” he asked with sincere concern.
She opened her mouth to say something, but apparently thought better of it because she quickly closed it and said nothing. She refused to look up and face him, a forced smile on her face. “No, no you’re weren’t wrong. It’s…we’re fine, Deacon. Really, it’s nothing,” she answered. “It’s nothing,” she repeated, almost like she was trying to convince herself. “It’s as you said, all this label stuff just really has me…not myself. I’m sorry. I just—I’m fine,” she said.
He closed the gap between them, grabbing her shoulders and forcing her to look at him. His anger dissipated when he saw the tears and the brokenness in her eyes. “Please,” he said softly, framing her face with his hands. “Just talk to me, babe. Please.”
She shook her head as the tears fell down unchecked. “I-I told you, it’s nothing. I’m tired. I j-just want to be left alone. I’ll be fine, I swear.”
He glared at her. “Stop it. Stop saying you’re fine. God, I hate that word. You’re not fucking fine. You were assaulted tonight, Rayna. That alone disproves your claim that you’re fine,” he informed her.
She swore softly. “Damn it Deacon, I don’t want you here. I don’t need you to fix me. I don’t want your help. I don’t want anything from you, except for you to leave right now. Just go away. Just leave, please,” she pleaded with frustration and a hint of desperation.
He watched her through narrowed eyes. “Is that what you truly want, Ray? If it is, then I’ll leave,” he promised. “Do you really want that?” he asked.
She bit her lip, nodding. “Yes…it really is,” she answered softly, walking to the door and holding it open for him…
TWENTY MINUTES LATER…
Deacon sighed as stood outside Rayna’s bedroom door, hesitating. After she had practically demanded that he go, he did. He made it halfway home before he swore and slammed his hand on the steering wheel in frustration, then did a U-Turn and went back. He let himself in using the spare she still kept hidden by door. Walking in, he didn’t see her in the kitchen where she’d been with he left. The lights were off downstairs, so he assumed she’d gone upstairs. He took the stairs slowly, playing over in his head what he was going to say to her. He knew she was probably going to be mad that he’d come back and tell him to leave again, but he didn’t care. She could yell and scream and demand he leave all she wanted, but this time, he was staying right where he was. Where he needed to be right then…with her. She could deny it all she wanted, but she needed him. And if Rayna needed him, well then…
Knocking softly before going into the room, he saw the light from the adjoining bathroom was on and could hear the sound of water running. He contemplated whether he should just wait for her to get out of the shower and walk back into the room—or if he should just go in there. He thought about it for a minute, and then decided to go with the latter, crossing the room to the bathroom. The door was slightly ajar, so he knocked softly before stepping into the room. “Ray?” he asked softly as he looked around. He cursed under his breath when he finally spotted her…huddled naked in the corner on the ground in the glass-enclosed shower stall…her arms around her legs as she openly sobbed. A better man would have walked out and given her privacy….but he didn’t. Hell, he couldn’t. After grabbing a towel from the nearly hook, he opened the glass stall door and reached in, shutting off the spray of water, then stepped in, reaching for her as he crouched down beside her, wrapping the towel around her shoulders. She looked up at him and he could see the anxiety in her features. Before she could say anything, he shook his head. “Don’t even say it. I’m staying right here, and I’m not leaving,” he told her matter-of-factly, standing his ground.
She searched his eyes with her tear-filled ones, and then nodded as she wrapped her arms around his neck. The towel fell and he swore, leaning down to grab it, but she stopped him. His eyes stared into hers as hers went dark and her gaze dropped to his mouth. “Deacon…” she breathed just before her mouth covered his. He lost himself for a moment in the familiar taste that was all hers as she opened to him, pressing her wet, naked body against him. It wasn’t until her breath hitched on a moan that he came to his senses. Though it killed him, he pulled back…telling himself to cool it. He kicked himself mentally and called himself all sorts of a sick bastard as he reminded himself of the hell she’d gone through. God, she’d nearly died in an accident that he’d pretty much caused. Then there was all the drama with the storm and at his cabin weeks earlier. Not to mention the fact that she’d been attacked by some self-entitled ass just hours before. The last thing she needed or probably wanted was sex right now. Godknows, it wasn’t what he’d gone back for. He’d gone back to make sure she was alright and to take care of her…not fuck her brains out in her shower. God, he was a bastard, he told himself.
“No,” he said. “God, Ray…I’m sorry…I shouldn’t have…” he started to apologize as he bent to pick up the towel.
“It’s not…Deacon, it’s okay, I want…” she started to argue, grabbing his hand and stopping him when he tried to wrap the towel around her again. “Deacon, I-I don’t want you to stop,” she said softly, finally raising her gaze to him. “I want this. Please,” she said, her hands falling to his shirt, undoing the buttons.
He swore under his breath, covering her hands, stopping her. “Ray—Rayna, babe…stop, okay? It’s not right…this…you don’t want this. You’re just…God, Ray, you were attacked tonight,” he said, hating how she winced at the reminder.
She nodded, wiping absently at her tears. “I know, God I—I know that and I—Damn it Deacon, I can’t stand the thought of him…his hands touching me last…I-I can’t stand it,” she sobbed. “Please, Deacon…please…” she sobbed, her pain gutting him.
When her hands fumbled again with the buttons on his shirt, he again stopped her. Only this time, he clasped her hands in his, raising them to kiss her knuckles. When she saw the acquiescence in his eyes, she dropped her gaze and tears slid down her face. He swore softly as he leaned down and kissed first one cheek then the other softly, his gentleness nearly her undoing. As he trailed kisses along her face and jaw, moving down her neck…literally kissing away the tears…he decided right then and there that this…this night…that it was about her and what she needed and nothing else.
Her pleasure was his pleasure, he told himself as he alternated suckling, nipping, and kissing that sensitive spot on her neck behind her ear that always drove her crazy. This apparently seemed to be working—that is, if her breathless moans were any indication. Her hands were fumbling with the buttons on his shirt again, so he gently pushed them away as he raked his teeth down her neck to her collarbone, nipping the creamy perfection, only to soothe seconds later. Her breath hitched with each little love bite, particularly so as he continued on path of content. As he moved along her collarbone, she tried to tug him up. “Babe…god, Babe, kiss me…” she said, her voice breathless.
He laughed as he avoided her mouth, bending her back over his arm just enough. “I am, Babe,” he said, just as he trailed his fingertips ever-so-softly across the top swell of one her breasts, the bare touch sending shivers through her. “Like…here…maybe…” he said as he brushed a calloused finger lightly across her already hardened nipple. “Unless you’d rather I didn’t…” he teased as he teased her sensitive peak between two fingers.
“N-No God…I mean yes…oh Lord Christ…” she breathed as he chuckled and dipped his head, taking her into his mouth. “Oh god yes…” she nearly sobbed as he suckled her gently at first, then with increasing pressure…just like she liked. He continued the sweet torture with one breast, then the other before he nearly had her coming apart…literally…in his arms. Without giving her so much as a moment to predict his next move, he pressed her against the wall, then dropped down to his knees right in the stall, trailing his tongue down her flat, quivering abdomen, flicking inside her navel quickly before continuing his downward path. When his mouth closed over her bare, quivering, hot core moments later, she nearly screamed. He grinned as he raised one of her knees, hooking it over his arm as he proceeded with his intensely intimate assault. He knew her body well, and so it was no surprise when her body started quaking moments later and she reached down, her hands gripping his hair tightly as she rocked into his mouth, making her pleasure assurances vocally known. He tasted her as she climaxed hard, pulling away only as her legs gave way and she literally slid boneless into his arms. When her arms laced around his neck and her mouth covered his, this time he didn’t pull away. He kissed her as she came apart, holding her in his until well after she started to come down from the after-effect climatic shakes. When she finally slid that sweet mouth away and let her head fall back, she was smiling. Her eyes were closed and she worked to get her breath back. Even so, when she opened those gorgeous eyes of her and looked up at him, he could still hear the breathless hilt in that angelic voice when she spoke. Well…she gave a breathless laugh actually, shaking her head as she stared at him with wonder. “That—was…Deacon…” she shook her head, at a loss for words as her lust-satiated-hazed-over eyes spoke volumes. “God…”
He laughed. “Glad you enjoyed it, sweetheart,” he said as he covered her mouth once more with his, kissing her softly and gentle…a far cry from how he’d kissed her only moments before.
“Enjoyed it hell…” she laughed against his mouth, a moan escaping as she deepened the kiss, her fingers weaving through his hair as she tugged him closer. “My turn…” she said as she lifted herself to straddle his lap, her hands going immediately to the buttons on his shirt. “Mhmmm…” She managed three before he stopped her. “H-Hey—“she started, pulling back and looking him square in the eyes. “What? Christ, Babe—why do you keep stopping me? Are you like afraid of being shirtless in front of me or something?”
He laughed, a rumble deep in his chest as he ran his hands up and down her arms, thinking the annoyance in her gaze made her look even hotter—impossibly—to him right then. “Nah, Babe, I just…I want it to be about you tonight. I want to take care of you, that’s all,” he said, giving her a pout when she gave him a frustrated look.
“You’re serious?” she asked, surprising him a little with anger in his voice, pulling back. “So that’s what that was? You gonna treat me like a doll or something and just…just placate me…make me oblivious, like I’m that stupid or…ugh, God damn it,” she said, pulling away.
He swore, totally at a loss for what was happening, but not about to let her just turn away from him. He grabbed her wrists, holding her in his lap. “Whoa, whoa—what are you—Babe—“
“Don’t! Damn it, Deacon, don’t “Babe” me…” she said, struggling to get up.
He let her go and she scrambled up off his lap. He, of course, followed her up. He grabbed her when she would have moved past him to leave the stall. Sensing she was just getting started and knowing how fired up she could get…he made a pre-emptive move and reached around her, turning on the faucets. A hard spray of ice cold water rained down on them both and they both shrieked. She tried to bolt, but he stopped her, pushing her under the spray along with himself…silently thanking the lord as the water quickly heated up.
As the steam swirled around them, he cupped her face with both his hands. “Damn it, woman—you want to tell me what the hell you’re mad at me for now?” he asked. “I thought—“
“That!” she said, slapping his wet shirt-clad chest. “You thought what? That you’d be so sweet and caring and gentle with me because what—that I’m so fragile—that I’m somehow like I’m broken or something and you’re afraid you’re gonna break me even more if you actually touch me…God damn it, Deacon!” she cried, tears sliding down her face.
“No. God, Ray, baby…I just…I wanted you to feel good…I wanted to make you feel good and forget about that sonofabitch and…” he tried to explain.
She put her hand over his lips. “You did that…God, Babe, you did that…and more…so much more…” she said, as she put her hands on his wet shirt and tugged hard, sending the buttons flying, moaning as she slid her wet chest right up against his, helping him rid himself of what remained of his shirt. Her hands were already fumbling with his belt and the zipper of his jeans when she leaned forward and licked his chest, nipping him none-too-gently as she raked her teeth down his wet body. “Now…” she started as he helped her shove and kick off what remained of his clothing and footwear. “Now, BABE, I want you… to fuck me. Not in a bed. Not nice and slow. I want you. Hard. Fast. Here. Right now…” she said, enunciating the words even as he took her mouth, pressed her against the stall glass, right under the spray…spreading her legs and lifting her while simultaneously filling her to the brink in one hard, jolting upward thrust.
“Like this…?” he asked, letting the question linger as he took her mouth again, swallowing her gasp. Ingrained, intrinsic chivalry had him giving her a moment to allow her body adjust to the sudden intrusion and accommodate his hard, full girth.
“Just like that,” she said with a smirk as she wrapped her legs around his waist. “Got any more of that, Babe?” she asked.
“Oh, I think I’ll come up with something,” he teased back as he shifted and pushed her back against the glass, thrusting up hard even as she ground her hips down. As she rode him and he her, neither give an inch of gentleness. He slammed up into her, biting down on her neck as she raked her nails down his nail and pulled his hair, biting his shoulder at one point.
An intense finish some time later left them both breathless, their pulses racing, and their limbs like jelly. As it was, Deacon had to muster all the strength he possessed just to keep them both from sliding into a boneless pile of tangled limbs to the floor of the shower stall. Panting, he braced his hands against the wall, giving himself a few minutes to get his bearings and some strength back. He and Rayna had had some pretty intense lovemaking sessions but that one—hell, that one took the cake. Whether it was the time apart or all the emotions that had been stirred up and swirling around the two of them for the past few weeks--ever since that day on his couch in his cabin—or what, he didn’t know. All he knew was that hell it’d been H-O-T. And that if he died right then, then one thing was for sure: he’d die a happy, satisfied man.
Scratch that. And a guilty one, he thought, suddenly thinking of Megan…