Storm Warning

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Torrent of Tears

Deacon took a preparing breath as he shut the door of the cabin closed behind him, taking in the storm for a moment. The sky was dark and the wind furious as it whipped through the trees and rippled the water across the top of the lake next to the cabin. So fierce was the wind that he could feel it shake the foundation of the cabin right through the wooden floor boards of the porch he was standing on. The old wooden porch swing a few feet away swayed in the gust, knocking back against the cabin—the sound swallowed up by the wind and steady stream of rain that poured down, the likes of which was turning the grass and ground to mud and muck. It was a great storm, one he hadn’t seen the likes of in years…one that reminded you of nature’s fierceness …made you stand back in awe at the sheer intensity of nature’s power. He reveled in it a moment, before reminding himself of why he’d gone out in the torrent in the first place. Rayna. She was a storm all on her own. She was his storm…

He had only to turn his head to find her…standing at the rail further down the porch, staring out into the storm as he had. She stood there, unmoving, her bare arms wrapped around herself. She stared absently out even as the wind and rain whipped her hair around her shoulders. He just stared as she closed her eyes and stepped forward, the spray of the rain mixing with the tears that fell down her pale, upturned face. A better man would have given her her space, allowed her that moment or two to fall apart…but he’d always been a sucker when it came to a woman’s tears…especially if and when those tears belonged to Rayna Jaymes. He couldn’t have turned away even if he’d wanted to...even if he tried.

It was that weakness that had him moving towards her, stopping a few feet or so away. “Ray,” he said, alerting her of his presence. She must have sensed him there, for she didn’t even flinch at his voice. Rather, she swallowed hard and unwrapped her arms, raising her hands to wipe at her tears with the pads of her fingers before opening her eyes.

He saw her lower lip quiver before she sighed and finally turned, facing him. “Deacon…for once, just...don’t…” she managed, clearly fighting to keep her composure.

“Ray…look, just come back inside,” he said. “It’s a mess out here. You’ve got to be freezing,” he said, stepping forward with the throw. She stopped him, raising a hand to ward him off. “Rayna, it’s fine. If it’s Maddie you’re worried about…don’t. I sent her up to bed. You saw her…that talk about not being tired…she was practically falling over in there. Plus, I promised to show her a new chord when she gets up, so I’m sure she’s crashed out already. So come on, coast is clear,” he said, gesturing towards the door.

She shook her head, turning away so she was looking back out at the storm. “No it’s…I’m fine. Just…go back inside, Deacon. I’m fine,” she said, her quivering lower lip belying the words the second they were out of her mouth.

“Don’t, Ray. That’s not going to fly with me, and you know it. You’re not fine,” he said matter-of-factly.

The teary eyes she flashed at him hinted of both a fire he recognized well--and a coolness that contradicted the glint of anger in her sapphire orbs--that he did not. “Damn it, you don’t know everything about me, Deacon. Not anymore,” she added, quieter.

“Try me,” he challenged, taking a step towards her. “What don’t I know, Rayna?” he asked, his voice rough. “I’ve known you since you were 16 years old, Ray. I’ve seen you at your best and some of your worst. I know what makes you tick, Ray. I know you. So don’t stand here and pretend otherwise.” He stepped forward. “Talk to me, Ray. Damn it, please just talk to me,” he said, his voice softening so his tone was pleading-almost, as he took another step closer. When she took a step back, he stopped advancing. The last thing he wanted was to push her away, especially when it was so obvious that she was trying her best to shut him out. Like he’d said, he knew her. He knew when to push, and when to pull back. And there was something in her eyes…something in her body language as she wrapped her arms back around herself and stared off into the rain—something…that told him to back off. So he did. As much it destroyed him to see her so closed-off, he did it. “Alright Ray,” he said, holding up his hand in a surrendering gesture. “You want space, I can give you that. You know where I am if you change your mind. Just…take the damn blanket, at least, please,” he said, holding the throw out to her.

She turned and stared first at the throw he offered her, and then slowly lifted her tear-filled gaze to him. In her eyes, he saw her confusion and surprise…and something else he couldn’t quite put a name to. “What—wh-why do you even care, Deacon?” she finally asked, though he could tell it cost her to speak the words.

Not liking the broken look he saw written in her features, he did what he always did—what he did best—and deflected. “Whether you freeze on the porch of my cabin? Well Ray…”

Again, the fire flashed in her eyes. Truth be told, he preferred it over the coolness he’d seen moments before. “Damn it, Deacon, don’t play dumb with me,” she spat. “You know what I mean. God, I—I wrecked your truck, Deacon. Hell, I took music away from you with your hand and—“

He swore, swiping a hand over his mouth and just stared at her in shock for a moment. He’d expected anger, not words of self-depreciation and self-blame or see the look of utter guilt in her eyes. He took a step towards her, wanting to throttle her as much as he wanted to comfort her. “You—you think I blame you for the accident, Ray—for what happened to my damn truck and my hand and—are you kidding me?!”

“Don’t you?” she responded. “Hell, it’s my fault. I did this. All of it, Deacon. Me. If I hadn’t lied to you about Maddie all those years—if I hadn’t—the drinking—I-I took her from you. Thirteen years of her life. From you, from her—and I know she hates me for it. I mean, I-I can’t expect her to forgive me for it, I can’t ask—I can’t—and you—you told me to leave you alone that night and I just, I wanted to fix it—to fix what I broke and I—then the accident and I should have been watching the road, I know it and I wasn’t and it was all my fault—“she dropped her gaze to his hand, the tears streaming freely down now as she continued. “And your hand…your music…it’s just another thing I took away… I just keep…”

He swore, moving forward so fast that she literally gasped when he reached for her, his hands hard as he framed her face with them on either side, forcing her to look at him and to hear his words. “Shut up, Rayna.

God, just…just stop. Right there. You didn’t screw up anything, Ray. Everything that’s happened, I did to myself. I’m an alcoholic, Rayna. I drink. I hurt myself. And Godknows, I hurt the people I care about….the people I love. And I have—there’s no good excuse for it. As for Maddie—you didn’t take those thirteen years from me, Ray. I lost them because of my own damn selfish stupidity. If there’s anyone Maddie should hate or blame—it’s me. Not you. God—you protected her. You saved her. Just like you tried to save me the night of the accident. You think I blame you? Hell, I don’t blame you—Ray. You almost died. And it would have been my fault. Not yours. Mine. I was the son-of-a-bitch that was drinking and fighting with you when—Hell, look Babe, whatever I’ve lost—everything thatI’ve lost—is my own goddamn doing. Trust me, Ray, nothing…you hear me—nothing is your fault…” he said, trying like hell to make her believe the words.

He saw the refusal in her eyes and as she opened her mouth, he swore and did the only thing he could think to stop her from saying the words he saw in her eyes…he kissed her.

His mouth crashed down on hers as the sky lit with an intense bolt of lightning, the storm’s fury mirroring his own furious need. The need to comfort and to soothe her ridiculously irrational sense of guilt yes, but also his immediate, overwhelming need to just have her. Every other rational thought vanished for him in that moment. The storm forgotten, his hands fell, spanning her waist seconds before he lifted her, sitting her atop the wide porch rail. He swallowed her little shriek of surprise as he stepped between her long legs. He grinned when she wrapped those sexy limbs around his waist even as he slid his hands up her sides to her neck, cupping her face as he plundered that sweet mouth of hers. God, how he’d missed that, dark-hot taste that was all RAYNA, he realized. He groaned as he slid his hand up and twisted his fingers in her damp locks, yanking hard and feasting on the pale, creamy skin of her neck. He lightly scraped his teeth against that spot just below her ear that always drove her crazy, allowing himself that moment of supreme male satisfaction when she let out a breathless moan and dug her fingers into his shoulders. Tugging on her hair again, he closed his mouth over the quick-pulsing spot at the base of her throat, nipping the sensitive skin and quickly soothing it with his tongue a moment later.

While he happily would have loved to stay there and devour her neck…and other parts of her…the wind shifted, blowing the cold rain towards them. Undeterred, he wrapped an arm around her back and lifted her as he whirled her around and backed her up against the side of the cabin. She gasped as her back hit the wood and managed to gulp in a breath before his mouth descended on hers once more. As their lips fused and tongues dueled, it was like a battle as old as time. One so familiar that it both comforted him and at the same time, fueled his desire for her to a near breath-taking level of intensity that it physically hurt. Every fiber in his being demanded he take her, right then and then, up against the side of his cabin, with the wind and storm ravaging around them.

But then there was all the emotional hurt that bubbled to the surface and had him pulling back. She unwound herself from his waist and slid down, breathing hard…same as he. She had the look of a ravished, albeit slightly-embarrassed, woman when she finally lifted her gaze to his a moment later. “Well um…yeah…um, Deacon…” she started.

He cut her off with a shake of his head. “I’m sorry. That was so out of line. I just um…guess I got a little carried away there,” he apologized.

She swallowed hard, smiling as she ducked her head and reached out, grabbing his wrist. She could feel the spike in the rhythm of his pulse there and inwardly sighed with satisfaction. Outwardly, she forced herself the haze of lust that had hijacked her senses and actions moments before, telling herself it was the storm. Or something. She gave Deacon a half-smile as she shrugged her shoulders. “It’s fine. It’s…let’s just chalk it up to the craziness of this storm and the night, okay? We should um—it’s late and the rain—I’m just um--gonna go bunk with Maddie in the extra bedroom…” she said in explanation, nervous nodding as she worked up the nerve to leave. “Um, yeah…” she said again, laughing at her silly edginess as she raised her hand to Deacon’s chest. “Good night, Deacon,” she said, and then went to move away.

He caught her wrist as her hand dropped, stopping her. “Ray—about the accident—“he began.

She shook her head. “I—Not tonight, Deacon,” she said quietly. “Please, just…not tonight…” she said, her eyes filling with those shadows again.

He sighed, nodding. “Soon then…” he said, his tone promising that they would most definitely be re-visiting the discussion again. Then, as if it were simple reflex or routine, he raised her hand to kiss the inside of her wrist in an intimate gesture that simmered the subtle coolness she emanated. “Good night, Ray,” he said, letting her go as he walked to the door and held it open for her as she walked through.

Luckily—for her—he was completely unaware of the shiver that coursed her and nearly had her turning back and finishing what they’d begun in the mist of the storm. Instead, and with every ounce of willpower she possessed, she walked up the stairs…and moments later, slid into the king-size bed beside their—Deacon had called it—blissfully unaware, sleeping teenage daughter…

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