Author: Elliott Silver (email@example.com)
Summary: In the midst of storm, where does salvation lie?
Provocative, Nature was.
As impetuous as a lynch mob, as extravagant.
Questionable motives more impossible to understand than quantum physics.
Simply, it seemed, like a woman.
Rain shuttered with xylophone intensity along the thin panes of warehouse siding. Paroxysms of water shuddering along the drought-splintered land like unruly caesura.
Quite a storm, more so because it was unexpected.
The warehouse quivered in the backlash, held. In the middle of nowhere, with only this storm, this silence.
He was alone, felt alone.
Surrounded by indiscriminate empty space and echoes, he waited for the storm to end. For the drought to end. For the earth to retrieve her flood-swept pieces and go on.
To let him go, flotsam and jetsam of the world.
The sound. Caught him unaware, as few things could.
Hidden and dangerous, encoded into the rhythm of the storm.
Kickback of knuckles on metal, the door.
Suspicion etched, chiseled undredgeably deep. Who would be out on such a night? A night not even he could escape from?
He unfolded, unwillingly let the hostile cold assault him. His muscles stiff, unyielding, unwarmed, as he stood over the table and hesitated, parlaying, tempering his initial reaction.
The sound. Rupturing, more insistent, separate yet indistinct from the storm.
Gunmetal, its glimmer black-cool in his hand.
Shadow, calico from his desk lamp.
His footfalls swept away, irretraceable. As if once imprinted invisibly on the pale concrete, he could never go back. If there had been choice, and maybe there hadnít, now there was simply chance.
He unlocked the door, something in the storm bold and brazen and trusting.
It swung wide, nearly clipped her in its haste to draw her inside. To him. With him.
She stood alone.
Her hand upheld, strung and suspended in midair over a now-invisible barrier.
She let it fall, let it fall without a safety net, and encircled her waist.
Rain rebounding off the pavement, ricochet like rocketsí iridescent glare.
She stood in shadow, avoiding the faint gleam of the halogen streetlight. Her hair gessoed across her face, a sweater too large engulfing her pale fingers, jeans dyed a stiff rigid indigo by the currents. The faintest hint of rose along her cheekbones, the truth in her eyes, honest and far too dark.
Maybe less, maybe more.
No movement, stillness like an atomic bomb.
Air and space and disbelief suspended, between them.
Gusts blew drizzle at him like childrenís fluttering mischievous tongues. Rain sizzled off her body in crescendo waterfalls.
A snare-drum of thunder hissed above them.
She didnít move. Didnít drop her eyes from his.
The loden sweater stretching over her fingertips, thin fibers pulled stringent across her chest. The jeans, slick over her thighs. That body, her body, leaner, trimmer, more tensile than he remembered.
But never fragile.
"Can I come in?" A light crackled through her eyes, a heartbeat attached to a monitor.
Suspicion flared sloe-black, and thick.
But this time, hope, only by way of simple faith.
He knew what she was asking.
He knew it wasnít about leaving the storm behind, nor was it about coming in from the rain. This, she, was no short-term deal, dethroned come morning like the storm giving way to grey dawn.
This, she, was not easy.
But he knew the woman she had been would never have come, or asked at all.
And he knew the man he had been, so few minutes ago, would not have answered.
She stepped in.
He shut the door, locked out the elements. The storm and otherwise. A safe haven, safe harbor. At least for a little while. But never, not ever long enough.
This, he, too, was not easy.
The drip of water on cement, leaking from her sweater like a bleeding heart. Like sweat off dynamite.
She followed him to the center of the space, space enough for infinity, yet only sparsely populated, furnished and outfitted Marine-proud.
Her footsteps, wet, mingling with his.
He stopped abruptly, and she had to swerve to avoid collision, as he bent and retrieved a worn leather bag, rummaged through it for her warmth. She sidestepped him and went on, to the desk and computer, the finished red notebook, the Delaware-addressed envelopes.
"Here." He thrust forward a white dress shirt, his eyes dark and unsure, yet something behind that, trusting, wanting to trust, willing to trust her and risk. Something blindingly light and certain. Certain now that she had come, and trusted him as he had always wanted to trust her. She took the shirt, laid it on the loden wool-blanketed cot.
All the spoils of his life. DSAs, Pez, newspaper clippings, and a few pictures.
Now her. For as long as he would have her.
Thunder called for reckoning and she glanced up at the ceiling, at whatever malevolent deity they had so enraged. At whatever deity had seen fit to keep them so far apart, yet never so far away.
The scramble of clothes like eggs in a skillet. Wisps of cold water frescoed around her throat, between her breasts.
She shivered, wondered if he noticed.
Wrenched her arms from the cast-iron sleeves, unstuck the material from her body, dragged the heavy weight over her head and let it sink to the floor in a wet puddle.
She didnít hear him.
Hidden and dangerous, encoded into the rhythms of the storm.
His fingers melted into her bared back, its wet gloss shine. The rough red skin, rippled and upturned like an earthquake, new. Left, right below her ribs.
Her body stiffened at his touch, the new-old familiarity, and paradoxically relaxed when it wasnít relieved.
A branch clattered clumsily on the roof, storm-tossed.
Without direction, a compass.
His hand shifted with his body, slid along her damp skin until he was facing her, and his fingers above the bulletís exit.
The ratchet of thunder, invisible lightning.
Her upper body completely nude, stunning. His body, close, so close, shadowing her, but not overshadowing her, indescribably male.
The beat of their hearts, visible, beneath the translucence of their chests.
The air suddenly all heat, latent and absorbing.
The pulse of their lungs, white-water rapid, parting their lips for leverage, for breath.
Ozone and damn sparking electricity.
It happened all at once. The simultaneity, the snarl of thunder, the cadence of the rain, each moving into the other.
Her eyes closed even before she moved, reaching for him and knowing without question he would be there. Her hands light on his waist, tailoring their bodies together.
His arms, snugged around her back, his chest welded to hers, legs tangled indecipherably.
Her lips child-light with his, sucking briefly the corners of his mouth, inhaling his outlines and contours, tracing them with her tongue as if with carbon paper and blueprint.
He opened his mouth, learning her as she had done him, until they broke, literally gasping for air.
Want to touch you.
A hint of mischief, a promise of pleasure. At peace with consequences, acceptance. Sealing tomorrow, the grey dawn.
Their clothes cast away, his black shirt floating lazily on the floor, her wet jeans shucked.
Two bodies, glistening.
Slow motion, as his body covered every inch of hers. A poultice.
And complete stillness, a vacuum free from storm and wreckage.
Two bodies, held.
He knew that was what she had been asking.
Not about herself, no. Nor about him, either. About both, together.
It wasnít about saving, rescuing. It was about reclaiming, recovering.
And he had answered.
Dawn came as the storm broke, found them irrevocably together, the thick wool blanket tucked around them, tucked into each other.
Captive in each other.
Free at last.
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Disclaimer: The characters of "The Pretender" are not mine; they rightfully belong to NBC, MTM, and Pretender Productions, as well as the actors and actresses who give paper and ink a life and a voice. I am making no profit from these writings; imitation is the highest form of flattery.