Maddie shut her mouth, falling silent. She’d been chattering away since they’d walked away from the overturned truck in the ditch. Not that Rayna had noticed. She’d been too distracted to follow along with Maddie’s conversation. It didn’t help that she was cold and wet and exhausted and covered in mud. To make it worse, she’d had a pounding headache since they’d begun walking and her hand was throbbing. She wanted nothing more than a hot shower and a bed to fall into right at that moment. Though not necessarily in that order. But more than anything, she wanted to strangle Deacon for putting them in this mess. If it wasn’t for him…
“Mom—Mom?!” Maddie’s voice interrupted Rayna’s thoughts. She turned to her, acknowledging her.
“What baby?” she asked.
Maddie held out her hand pointed ahead with her finger. “The cabin. That’s Deacon’s truck,” she said. Following her direction, she confirmed both statements herself. Relief coursed through her and she nodded.
“We’re here,” she said in agreement as they continued forward. As they reached the wrap-around porch, walking to the door, she glanced through the windows. There were no lights so she couldn’t see anything. Reaching the door, she raised her hand and knocked, then looked down at Maddie as they waited. Less than a minute later, Rayna raised her hand again, impatiently knocking harder on the door. “He probably can’t hear with the storm,” she explained. Stepping back, they waited again.
Seconds later, they heard the sound of the locks being unturned, then the door open moments later, Deacon filling the doorway. Rayna saw his eyes go wide as she made a quick assessment of him. As far as she could tell, he looked none the worse for wear. He had beads of sweet on his forehead, his flannel shirt was rolled up to his elbows, and he had mud splattered on both the shirt and his jeans.
“What the—Rayna? Maddie? What are you guys doing here?” he asked after getting over his initial shock, his eyes questioning as his gaze spanned back and forth between them.
Rayna would have spoken, but Maddie took it upon herself to answer Deacon. “We wanted to make sure you were okay,” was her reply. “They said on the TV that this area was getting the worst of the storm the worst and I couldn’t get ahold you. I tried calling a million times,” she informed him.
Rayna heard him curse under his breath as he reached into his back pocket and pulled out his phone. The screen was badly cracked. And muddy as well. “Damn it,” he said as he held it out for their purview. “Sorry. It got smashed when I was trying to fix the generator,” he said. “You guys didn’t need to drive all the way up here because of that though,” he said.
Maddie shrugged. “We were worried,” she said.
He smiled down at her. “That’s okay,” he said. “I really appreciate that sweetheart.” He turned to Rayna next. “”Thanks,” he added softly. She just nodded and shrugged her shoulders. And speaking of her shoulders, it was only then that he noticed all the mud that was splattered on her clothing, and Maddie’s, too. He narrowed his eyes as he peered over Rayna’s shoulder, his eyes furrowing with perplexed questioning and curiosity. “Um, wait a minute. Where’s your car?” he asked, looking back at Rayna. “How did you guys get here?”
“Well, “ she started, “That’s kind of why we’re here. We had a little accident on the road back there.”
His eyes went wide, than narrowed down to slits again. ”What exactly do you mean by “little”, he asked.
She glanced at Maddie so she didn’t have to look in his eyes and answer that. “It’s nothing,” he said. “It’s not a big deal. The hillside must be having a lot of erosion since the road is pretty much washed out. We just happened to got caught up a bit of a flash flood,” she said. “But it’s nothing, just went off the road a little bit.”
Maddie scoffed at that, causing them both to turn and look at her. She gave her mother a look. “Mom, c’mon, it was more than that.” She looked up at Deacon. “We flipped into a ditch and had to literally crawl out through the back.”
Deacon’s stomach churned and fell at that. And again, she heard him curse under his breath. “God, I’m so sorry. Are you both okay?” he asked, genuinely sympathetic…And worried.
“We’re okay,” Maddie answered for the both of them.. “Mom just cut her hand on a rock as she was climbing up, but that’s about it,” she said.
At that, he turned to Rayna. “Is that true, Ray?” he asked her. “Show me,” he said, indicating he wanted to see her hand. “It’s nothing,” she said, her tone reflective and defensive. “Just humor me, would you? Let me see.”
She sighed then held it out to him, turning it so it was palm-side up. She gasped then, seeing it for the first time by herself. What she expected to see was a nasty cut, but rather, it was gaping gash that the bleeding steadily. Still.
“Rayna, you call this little?” he asked, sarcastically. “Damn it, you two get in here. I’ve got to take care of that hand before you catch an infection or something,” he said, stepping back to allow them through…