Desert Rain

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Chapter 15

Reiley

The fresh scent of salty air and pine mixed together is one I never thought I would find comforting. From the swing on the back porch of Cadmar’s cozy, four-bedroom cabin, I watch the sun rise through the enormous redwood trees. A porch swing! Never thought Cadmar would own a place with such a thing. Really, I never would’ve believed he owned a cozy cabin, but he does, and it ended up being the very thing I needed.

I always imagined myself settling in some big city, in a huge, industrial apartment, the city too crowded and loud to hear my own thoughts. But this place is peaceful, quiet, comfortable, and the best medicine for my wounded soul. When Rae first brought me here, I thought I was going to hate it, thought the silence would drive me mad. She unpacked us after the three-hour drive and showed me into the wood-filled home. I picked a room without caring what size it was or what it looked like. Most of the house was filled with older décor, nothing like the modern suave Cadmar usually went for.

The first few nights were awful, especially when Rae tried to comfort me when the screaming started. The absence of Cadmar made it a million times worse, making it last longer than usual. After about the third day though, she stopped trying to comfort me at night and tried doing so during the day, when I was conscious. She went out and came back with a load of junk food and more comedies than could last us a month. I thought she might be trying too hard, but she supplemented the movies with talk of her and Cadmar, making jokes about how mushy he used to be when they first dated.

Hearing normal things, about how normal life could actually be, had hope blooming in my chest. And then the texts started coming from Kay. At first she would just check on me and let me know they were spraying the wall every day. Then she started making jokes about how grumpy Cadmar was, how he finally shaved his beard—which was a relief because he had started looking like a grizzly bear—and how Conner had this horrible habit of picking his teeth after he ate. She said she was slowly going insane with the two brutes. Her lighthearted banter brought a smile to my heart, something I wasn’t sure I would ever feel again.

They’ve been at their little project for almost two weeks, but can’t tell if any progress is being made. When I get that same update and a frown tugs at my lips, Rae usually finds a way to distract me from the anxiety with a good movie, or a pile of brownies. We end up painting our nails some obscure color while she listens to my stories about sneaking out of the castle with Payton. She even bought me a new iPod when she was out one day and filled it with thousands of songs she thought might help. Her taste in music is surprisingly good, which is a huge relief. With every day that passes, that she puts forth an effort to be what I actually need and not what she thinks I need, I have an easier time imagining myself living with her, staying with her.

“Coffee will be ready in a few minutes,” Rae tells me through the back screen door.

I take another deep breath of the fresh air, listening to the distant waves lap at the coast, the warm breeze blowing through the trees. I may still go to sleep at night with the fear I’ll wake up screaming again, but I wake every morning with this awesome sunrise, this constant hope blooming in my chest. My faith in Cadmar and Kadence to get Payton out of that place is ever growing. And maybe, one day, we girls can sit on this back porch swing together and soak up the peaceful air while making fun of Cadmar’s moodiness.

“I’ll be right in,” I call back to Rae with one last glance at that awesome sunrise.

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