Storm Warning

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Sunburnt and Scolded

Hours Later…

Rayna sighed as she flipped over onto her stomach on the dock, setting the 20 minute time stop feature on the wristwatch she’d placed next to her on the towel. Maddie and Deacon had taken off hours before with food supplies and fishing gear, so she accepted then that she probably shouldn’t expect them back for a while. So she’d tried to keep herself busy in the meantime by tidying up a little around the cabin, reading some of the book she’d packed in her bag, and now she was sunbathing on the dock after a nice, short swim in the lake.

She’d only meant to close her eyes for a moment. After the night she’d had, she was so tired.

She woke an hour later to the sound of Deacon’s raised voice, cursing as he shook her awake. “Rayna! Shit, Ray, what the hell are you doing?!”

She lifted up onto her elbows, staring up at him, squinting through the glare of the sun beating down on her. “Deacon? Wh-what?” she asked, confused by the fury she heard in his voice.

“Damn it, Rayna, don’t you have any sense? Your back is as red as a damn lobster!” he scolded her.

She shook her head as she glanced down and picked up the wristwatch, checking the time. She bit her lip when she realized that sure enough, she’d slept through the 20-minute alarm she’d set so she wouldn’t get burned. According to the watch, she’d been asleep for nearly an hour. Still, she didn’t see what the big deal was…until she went to sit up and she felt the intense sting up and down her backside when she moved her limbs, that is.

Disoriented as she was, the pain from the burn and Deacon glowering over her so angrily, made her lose it. “It’s not like I meant to fall asleep,” she said on a sob as she hurriedly started gathering her things and then made a run for it towards the cabin, pushing past him on the way. Tears were streaming down her face as she ran up the stairs to the bedroom and slammed the door shut behind her. Making her way over to the bed, she gingerly sat down and sobbed into the towel she still clutched in her hands.

The sobs had quieted their way into intermittent sniffles by the time she heard a soft knock at the door nearly 10 minutes later. She inwardly groaned, knowing it was Deacon…whom at that moment, happened to be her very least favorite person. “Leave me alone,” she called out, knowing she sounded like a sullen teenager who’d just been banished to her room, albeit considering the way Deacon had scolded her out on the dock, she couldn’t help but feel like one. As if she hadn’t already felt all kinds of foolish for falling asleep in the sun, she then had to go and throw humiliation into the mix by running away from Deacon in tears. As far as she was concerned, things couldn’t get much worse. And the last thing she wanted right then was to face Deacon, or worse, stand there and be lectured at.

Naturally, he didn’t listen and opened the door instead, walking slowly into the room. “Hey Ray…” he began softly.

She turned her head away, refusing to even look at him. “I know, it was stupid to fall asleep in the sun. I get it. You don’t have to tell me twice. Now will you please just go away, Deacon,” she pleaded quietly.

He sighed heavily as he continued walking towards the bed. “Ray, I’m sorry, alright? I shouldn’t have flipped out on you like I did out there,” he apologized as he sat down on the bed next to her. “I just saw the sunburn and I reacted…badly. I know it’s gotta hurt like hell, or it will before long anyhow, and you know I hate seeing you hurt, Ray.” He sighed again. “Look, I even brought a peace offering to say I’m sorry,” he said, holding out a bottle of Aloe gel. “Come on, lay down here and I’ll rub some on ya,” he offered.

She finally looked at him then and saw the contrition on his face, then glanced down at the bottle of Aloe in his hands. She bit her lip as she considered his offer. She seriously contemplated saying no. After all, he’d been a jerk for yelling at her like she was a small, unruly child who’d stayed out in the sun too long. She wasn’t quite ready to let him off the hook so easily for that…or for him walking out and giving her the silent treatment the past week. If anyone was acting childish, it was him. After all, he’d been the one who’d insisted that they “talk” about things that morning in her room at Belle Meade. He’d barely given her a chance to explain her side of things before he’d stormed out and left. Damn it, if anyone had a right to be mad, it was her. She wanted to say no. She really did. But the thought of Deacon’s hands massaging Aloe into her backside did crazy, wonderful things to her and she couldn’t resist temptation like that. Granted, it’d only been a week since he’d touched her last, but it felt like forever. And the simple truth of the matter was that she missed him. Dearly. Cursing the sun overexposure for screwing with her defenses, she sighed and nodded. “Fine. But just so you know, I’m only agreeing to this because it’s too embarrassing for me to ask Maddie to do it and because I can’t reach to do it myself. Not because I forgive you for being a jerk earlier, because I don’t. I’m still mad at you,“ she said, hoping she sounded believable.

He bit back a smirk and nodded, gesturing towards the bed. “In that case, get comfortable,” he said, standing up. He reached into his pocket and pulled out a couple of white pills. “Here, take these,” he said, holding out his hand to her as he grabbed the water bottle she’d left by the bed.

“What are they?” she asked, grimacing as she reached out and took the small pills.

He shrugged. “One’s an anti-inflammatory, for the swelling, and the other’s a mild pain pill. The doc prescribed ‘em for my hand but I stopped taking ‘em months ago, so there’s plenty left over. Considering the amount of pain you were in that one time on tour when you got burnt bad like this, I figured you could use it,” he told her.

She nodded as she put the pills on her tongue and swallowed them down with the water, then replaced the cap and handed the bottle back to Deacon. “Thanks,” she said quietly as she turned and carefully lowered herself down on her stomach.

Idiot. Stupid, stupid idiot. Deacon silently berated himself in his head as Rayna lowered herself down on the bed, lying there for his perusal. And peruse he did. It wasn’t as if he could help himself. He was a warm-blooded man, after all. And the sight of the woman he’d loved and lusted after for more than two decades laying on his bed in nothing more than a skimpy white bikini…well, it did things to his body that would make a nun blush. The fact that he was about to rub gel all along her backside, touching her with his hands…

Stop it, Deacon, he mentally chided himself. There was nothing sexual about what he was about to do. Hell, she was in pain…or was about to be very shortly, once he got his hands on that nasty burn of hers. No, he wasn’t going to enjoy this, not one bit.

With a heavy sigh, he moved onto the bed so that he was kneeling beside her and grabbed the bottle of Aloe. Opening the cap, he held the bottle in the air over her back. “You ready for this Ray? It’s probably gonna hurt,” he warned.

She tipped her head to the side and looked up at him. “Ready as I’ll ever be. Just go…easy,” she said softly. “Please,” she added.

“Of course,” he answered as he turned his attention forward. He held his breath as he squeezed the bottle, squirting a good amount of the very cold gel onto her very red back. When she flinched and cried out a little, he felt instantly contrite. “Sorry,” he mumbled in apology. When he set the bottle aside and started to rub the gel across her skin and she cried out again, he stopped. “You know, Ray, maybe we should wait until the pain pill kicks in to do this, yeah?” he asked.

She shook her head. “No, please, you already started so you might as well just…get it over with,” she said, biting her lip as she put her head back down onto her folded arms. “I’m okay,” she assured him.

Not that he bought it. As red as her back was, he could only imagine how sensitive it had to be right then. The gel had to sting like a bitch against a burn like that. He worked as quickly and as gently as he could, massaging the gel into her smooth skin, untying her bikini top at one point to smooth the gel evenly across her back and upper shoulders. By the time he reached the backs of her thighs, she had either gotten accustomed to the pain or the pain pill had begun to kick in because he noticed she’d stopped wincing in pain and flinching at his touch. Squeezing a fair amount of the gel onto his palms, he started to massage the back of one of her thighs and she moaned. He stopped immediately. “You okay, Ray?” he asked.

She nodded her head slowly. “Mhm hmm,” he heard her mumble. A quick glance showed him that her eyes were closed and she looked relaxed. “Feels good,” she said softly.

He smiled then as he continued his ministrations. Yep, it was definitely the pain pill, he said to himself. He recalled fondly that Rayna had always been a lightweight when it came to pills and alcohol. She’d drink two glasses of champagne and she’d be tipsy, he remembered. And once, when they were out on tour, she’d fallen and twisted her ankle during a sound check. The tour doc had given her a shot of something for the pain and when he’d gone by her dressing room a half hour later to check on her, he’d found her sound asleep on her sofa, out for the count. They’d had to push back the show by an hour because she’d been so groggy after she’d woken up. But ever-the-professional-Rayna had gone out on the stage, injured ankle and all, and wowed the socks off of every person in that arena that night, himself and the rest of the band and crew included. It was just one of the many things he admired and loved about the woman: her steely determination and dedication to her fans. She was stubborn as hell, and though it drove him crazy more often than not, he wouldn’t change a damn thing about her. She was perfect. Even burnt red and slick with Aloe—and high on painkiller cloud nine—she was perfect.

“I’m sure it does, Ray,” he agreed as he finished up with her one leg and started on the other. He tried to ignore the effect her breathy little moans had on him—namely a certain part of his anatomy—while he massaged her leg. After a few minutes, he was finally done. To which his libido was certainly grateful. “All set,” he said, wondering if she heard the gruffness in his voice as clearly as he did.

Her eyes opened a slit and she actually frowned as she looked at him. “Already? It was just starting to get good,” she pouted.

Hell, the woman even looked sexy when she pouted, he thought to himself. He laughed awkwardly and nodded. “Sorry, darlin’, but my work here is done,” he told her.

“Mhmm, not nice Deacon Claybourne,” she whimpered. “Tease a girl…”

He laughed. “Someone’s feeling good with that pill, huh?” he asked her.

She nodded. “I feel really, really good. You’ve got magic hands, Babe,” she murmured as her eyes fluttered shut.

He chuckled. “Magic hands, huh? I’ll have to remember that for later, Ray. How about right now you try and get some sleep? I’ll check on you in a bit. Sound good?”

“Mhmm hmm,” she mumbled as she shifted to get more comfortable.

He smiled as he gathered up the bottle of Aloe and Rayna’s wet, discarded towel to throw in the wash for her and quietly left the room. Rayna, you’re something else, he thought. Sweet dreams, Darlin’…

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