Forget The World Tonight
Rayna sighed as she turned her body over in the bed for what seemed like the hundredth time in an hour so that she was lying on her back and staring up at the ceiling. Restless, she finally accepted that she wasn’t going to be getting much sleep that night…not with Deacon lying in a bed just down the hall from her and knowing that he was hurting because of a decision that she had made and a circumstance that, no matter what Deacon said, she’d initiated. He might have stayed with her of his own free will that night…but that was only after she’d kissed him. In fact, if her memory served, she’d practically begged him to stay and make love with her.
“Please, she’d cried. Deacon, I can’t stand the thought of him…of his hands touching me last. I-I can’t stand it…Please, Deacon…please…” She made a face in the dark, unable to completely quench the sense of humiliation that seeped through her at the thought of her pleading with him to stay with her that night.
He’d stayed. Of course, he’d stayed. She’d known he would when she’d asked. Truth be told, only part of it had had to do with wanting to replace the bad memories of what Luke had done to her with good ones as she’d confessed to Deacon in her plea for him to stay. The other part of it was that she’d wanted him to stay…she’d wanted him and what was. What had been and what should have been. For months she’d tamped down her feelings for Deacon…the ones she’d refused to deal with that had lingered since the accident, and after she’d given him back the ring at the site of their accident and turned her back on him and walked away…effectively ending their recently renewed relationship.
Apparently she’d developed a knack for ruining relationships as of late, she realized as she lay there and thought of Deacon and Megan. Her mind went back to the night of the music festival, before the horrible mess with Luke in the parking lot, when she’d approached Deacon after he’d finished his set. He’d been packing up his things and shutting the lid of his guitar case when she’d walked up from behind and greeted him with a smile. “Thought I’d gone back in time,” she’d said and he’d smiled that sheepish Deacon-smile that she’d always loved. She’d seen the light go on in his eyes when his phone had rung mid-conversation and it was Megan. Admittedly, it had thrown her a bit when she’d told him to go ahead and take the call and that he so readily had. Part of her—the part that had still been reeling from Deacon’s incredibly sexy, amazingly talented impromptu performance that had jolted her system and sent her back to days long ago—had expected him to shrug, press ignore on the phone, and tell her that he’d call Megan back later. When he’d told her he’d see her around and turned away to take the call, she’d been stunned by the small feeling of hurt she’d actually felt at the somewhat little rejection of him taking Megan’s call over continuing a conversation with her. It’d hit her then, after hearing his soft chuckle as he spoke on the phone from where he stood a few feet away from where he’d left her, that things between him and Megan really were serious. That, like it or not, Megan simply wasn’t just another insignificant fling of his that would soon join the ranks of all the other jilted, disappointed Deacon cast-offs. Rayna could tell that she was different. And it had unnerved her then, for reasons she couldn’t completely understand. Nor had she honestly wanted to. Instead, she’d shaken off the feeling and told herself she was being ridiculous--not to mention selfish—considering she had been moving on with Luke. Or at least she thought she had. The fact that Luke had turned out to be nothing like she’d thought, didn’t mean that Deacon’s happiness should suffer. And she’d already dragged him into her misery enough. Hell, she’d nearly cost him his freedom because he’d put her first and his own welfare second.
Her thoughts racing, she lay in the bed for another hour contemplating how she was going to make things right for Deacon. She was a natural “fixer”, so she physically couldn’t stand to do nothing. Especially after Deacon had done so much for her over the years. He’d always been there, no matter what. He’d been there when she’d needed a band leader and guitarist all those years, despite the fact that she’d left him in rehab and married Teddy and started a family without even so much as an explanation. He’d put aside his frustrations, along with his feelings for her, and became a cherished friend and confidant that had listened, been by her side, and helped her through many tough times, on the road and off. Anyone else would have written her off, but Deacon hadn’t. He’d stayed.
He always stayed.
Cursing under her breath, she sat up and threw the covers off. Swinging her legs over the side, she stood up and started for the door. She padded barefoot down the hallway, flinching at the cold hard wood beneath her feet, to the master bedroom. She stood at the door for a few minutes, trying to gather the courage to go inside and say what she needed to say.
Finally, with a sigh, she closed her hand over the door handle and turned, slowly opening the door and going inside. “Deacon?” she whispered in the dark. “Deacon, are you awake?”
Deacon inwardly sighed as he heard the door open and saw the light from the hallway stream in as he lay on his back on his bed in the dark. He’d been unable to sleep, knowing that Rayna lay just down the hall…so close, but out of reach…as per usual. He’d heard her climb the stairs not long after he had and the soft click of the lock in the door of the guest room as she’d closed herself inside the room. He’d known that she wouldn’t sleep downstairs…the memories of the nights they’d shared laying in each other’s arms in front of the fire would be too much for her, he knew. Just as they were for him.
He lay there quietly contemplating whether to answer or let her think him asleep and then maybe she’d go quietly back out the door and leave him to this thoughts—jumbled as they were. “Deacon?” he heard her whisper again and this time he sighed in surrender. “Yeah?”
“Can I come in?” she asked, even as she walked towards the bed.
He lifted up on an elbow and stared at her, his eyes widening in surprise when he saw her dressed in one of his old t-shirts that hung down and fell mid-thigh on her. She bit her lip nervously as she smoothed the shirt unconsciously, and then shrugged.
“I found this in one of the dressers in the guest room. I hope it’s okay that I wore it,” she said in explanation.
He nodded. “No…yeah, that’s fine. Of course. Um—what’s up, Ray? Something wrong with the room? There are more blankets in the closet if—“
She shook her head, stepping forward so that she stood right near the foot of the bed and toyed with the string of the blanket that lay folded there at the edge. “No, the room’s fine. I just—I couldn’t sleep, Deacon,” she answered after a moment’s hesitation, her eyes wide and glassy.
He sighed. “Look, Ray—“ he started to dismiss her, shaking his head.
She shook her head firmly. “Don’t, Deacon. Don’t push me away. Please…please just talk to me. I know you’re hurting and I know that it’s my fault. I-I want to try and fix it somehow. I—Maybe I can talk to Megan and explain that you didn’t mean for it to happen and that I pretty much guilted you into it and—“
He sat up then, staring at her like she’d grown another head. “Guilted me into it? Are you frickin’ serious, Ray? You think I made love to you out of guilt?” He swore hotly under his breath as he threw the covers off and got out of the bed, quickly making his way to where she stood at the foot of the bed and stopping just inches from her as he reached out to grip her arms. “Let’s get three things straight here, Rayna. One—I don’t need you talking to Megan for me and you won’t talk to her, got it?My relationship or lack of one with her or anyone else for that matter is my business. When or if I ever need your help in the area of my love life—which I won’t—I’ll ask for it,” he said firmly. “And two—you should know me well enough by now to know that I don’t do pity sex with women, Ray. It ain’t really my style,” he said, his tone just shy of annoyed.
“Jeez…you don’t have to be so cranky. I was just trying to help,” she said, scowling at him. “But just so I’m clear on all this….what’s the third thing?” she asked, her expression amused and her voice dripping with sarcasm, waiting for his response.
He swore under his breath at her deliberate insolence, while still holding back a smile at the familiarity of it. When she smirked and crinkled her nose in held-laughter, hot desire pooled in his veins. Suddenly, rather than wanting to throttle her, he wanted to lay her down on the bed just inches from them and do something far different…and far more pleasurable to them both. With all the restraint he could muster, he dropped his palms from her arms and took two steps back. “Ray,” he started, his voice gritty, “Go back to bed,” he said.
She bristled a little at his sudden mood-change and lifted a brow in confusion. “What? Why?”
He swore as he turned around and paced, running a hand through his hair in frustration. “Because it’s the middle of the damn night, Ray. Just—God, just go back down the hall…please,” he said, his voice almost pleading, strained.
She put her hands on her hips and stood her ground, shaking her head. “No. Not until you tell me why you’re suddenly pissed at me. And don’t say you’re not pissed, because I know when you’re mad, Deacon. What’d I do?”
He swore again, fiercely before he whirled around to face her…his restraint nearly breaking. “Damn it, Rayna. I’m not mad. Just go before—“ he shook his head, swearing.
“Before what, Deacon?” she insisted.
“Before I do something we both might regret in the morning,” he replied before he could stop himself, his eyes glancing at the bed before returning to hers.
Her eyes slowly filled with understanding and then surprise, before going dark with awareness. “Oh,” she whispered, her gaze dropping to the floor as her cheeks heated.
He groaned with embarrassment and nodded. “Yeah,” he practically growled in agreement. He turned towards the bed, hoping that she’d just leave and spare him anymore discomfort. It was bad enough he had to deal with what he already had. When he heard her footsteps moments later and took the silence as her departing the room, he turned around…only to find her standing just a few feet from him, her expression nervous, but knowing.
She wet her lips, then bit down on the bottom one…obviously nervous with him watching her so closely...the act alone sending shockwaves of lust through him. She cleared her throat and when she spoke, he could hear the huskiness in her voice. “You know…maybe a little regret isn’t such a bad thing…” she said softly, seduction in her eyes.
A few words…and he was a lost cause, he knew. “Ray…” he said, warning in his voice as he closed his eyes and shook his head, trying to rein in the remnants of restraint.
“Deacon…” she replied in turn, mocking him…He stood there, eyes closed, battling his heart and his body…both of which were telling him to go to her and take and give what they both clearly needed and wanted right then…against his head, which was telling him to be smart and walk away from what was bound to be another road of hurt and regret. Sighing, he made his decision and opened his eyes…and hoped like hell it was the right one…