26 May 2008

Chapter 2 of Connelly's Flame--unedited

Here is chapter 2. I know it's early, but I have a busy day planned for tomorrow. Enjoy and happy reading.

Her dark eyes grew big, “What do you mean you don’t know?” She questioned.
A void had settled over him as he saw the information he needed from afar in his mind’s eye and craved but it was just out of reach. “I mean, I don’t know who I am. I don’t know anything. I don’t know who you are or where I am.” He gripped the blanket between lean fingers.
“Easy, easy now. We were never properly introduced so you shouldn’t know who I am. Okay. Calm down, my name is Dezarae. Just take it easy.” One dark hand reached out to touch him in a comforting gesture but at the last second she decided against it and withdrew it to rest at her side.
He began to breathe a bit easier. His mind raced as he tried to figure out what was going on. If he could just remember one thing, anything... “So you didn’t ask me to test me, did you?” The dark head looked around her definitely feminine room and he asked, “You don’t know who I am either, do you?”
“No. I don’t.” A bit uncomfortable, she moved back away from the bed, cup in hand. “You should get some rest. It’s not like you can go anywhere, anyway.” For a brief second, she spotted a dangerous glint in his eyes before it was gone, masked under a face of indifference. “Your clothes are still being washed; that’s why I said what I said.” For the second time in a matter of an hour, she bolted from her own bedroom.
In the kitchen, she held her hand over her chest and tried to slow the out-of-control beating of her heart. Her gaze took in the rattling of the windows as the storm only increased in intensity. The phones were down, she had already tried to call the sheriff but she would go in the morning and see if anyone knew her mysterious guest. Assuming the weather would cooperate.
Eyes open or closed, it didn’t matter. All she could see was his chiseled body. He wasn’t a small man but he wasn’t huge, either. Full of defined muscles from his head down. Undressing him had been fun; if only he hadn’t been near death she might have enjoyed it even more. Even so, she had not missed eyeing over what he offered.

Back in the floral bedroom, the dark haired, gray eyed man fought his growing panic. He had no clothes save for the boxers he was wearing, no idea of where he was, how he got there, or what he was doing in this woman’s bed. Topping it off, he had no freaking idea who he was.
The more he tried to come up with his God-given name, the worse his head felt. Looking down his near-naked body, he frowned as he located a tattoo over one pectoral. It was of an anchor and a chain and the backdrop was a rebel flag. “Who am I?”
Well, she had been right about one thing. He needed some more sleep and so he snuggled down deeper into the plush mattress on the full-size bed and allowed the gentle smell of some flower he couldn’t quite identify to cocoon around him as he fell asleep.
He was sound asleep when she came back into the room.
Dezarae smiled as she took in the stranger in her bed. He had curled up against her stuffed tow truck. His face was finally at peace. Moving silently, she left the room and went to make herself some dinner.

While it was cooking, she took his clothes from the dryer, folded them, and placed them beside the bed where he still slept. Again, Dezarae reached out her hand like she was going to stroke his face only to again withdraw it. There was something about this man that called to her but she wasn’t sure what. It could have been the real fear she had seen when he couldn’t remember his own name but she didn’t know.
One more glance at his body and she slipped back out of the room with an extra blanket for her own use that night. As she was leaving the room, she didn’t notice the slate gaze that settled upon her retreating back watching the sway of her hips with considerable less mistrust in them.
Glancing at her watch, she knew how long she had before dinner and so, sliding on her coveralls, Dezarae went to the garage and began to work on her vehicle. She was restoring a classic. It was a 1967 Shelby Mustang GT500, obsidian black.
Her hands were gentle as they moved over the shell of the car. Restoring cars was her passion. She was good at it, as the shop next to her would suggest, but it was this car that she worked on in her free time. Little by little, savoring the experience, for it relaxed her immensely.
So, with a grin, she lifted out the dismantled engine and began to clean parts again, laying them out to dry after she was done. James Blunt played through her garage as she worked. When her watch beeped she stood up, degreased her hands, and unzipped the coveralls, draping them across one worktable, and tuned off the radio before going back into the warm house.
Her house was small, a two-bedroom, one-bath home. It worked for her but with the extra guest she was going to be sleeping on the couch. Which was fine, she had done it before.
Pulling the casserole out of the oven, she placed it on the hot pad on the countertop. The smell filled her kitchen as she walked to the cupboards and got down some dishes. As she turned around, she froze. Leaning in her doorway stood the man she had picked up along side the road.
He stood there like he owned the place. His body was dressed in his jeans that she had left folded beside the bed. No shirt and she could see the defined abs that disappeared below the waistband of those blue jeans. Her eyes traveled over the anchor tattoo that sat on his left pec. Suddenly the rebel flag didn’t give her shivers; well, it did, but not like it usually did.
He oozed sex as he leaned there watching her with those intense gray eyes. Eyes that roamed over her body again as if he owned her and the property rights to her. Up and down, slowly, his gaze moved. Burning her, branding her. It was as if he was learning her most private thoughts just from a look.
“I’m sorry I scared you earlier,” he said in a deep voice.
“How are you feeling?” Dezarae asked him, ignoring the trembles his voice hand delivered her body.
“Good.” He took a step towards her but stopped as she shrank back. A sad expression filled his handsome face. “I won’t hurt you.”

It was hard for him to explain how her recoil from him felt. It hurt but it was more than that. This feeling of wanting to make her feel safe and protected felt familiar to him. But she said they didn’t know each other.
Still, the fact that her beautiful sepia face would fill with apprehension at his forward motion crushed him. He didn’t want that expression anywhere near her face. So he stayed in the doorway. But his eyes never left her; he willed her to believe him.
How could she when he didn’t even know who he was or what he was? A groan of frustration left him as he realized this situation was bordering on hopeless.

Hearing the groan, Dezarae took a step towards him immediately concerned for his wellbeing. “Are you okay?” She walked up to him and realized just how much bigger than her he was. He stood about six feet four inches and all of it was well-muscled.
The man managed to contain the next groan that was about to slip out because of his body’s reaction to her nearness. He didn’t understand it. “Fine. I’m fine.”
“Do you feel well enough to eat something?” she asked as she retreated back to the cupboard and took down another set of dishes.
“I think so.” His gaze wandered over her butt as it was exposed from her reaching to the top shelf. Regardless of the circumstances that brought him here, his body obviously wasn’t broken as far as sexual reactions. She was making him feel some very intense sensations. And, considering his lack of memory, if there was a woman out there who made him feel something more intense it would kill him.
“Well, it isn’t fancy but it will stick to your ribs. I hope you don’t mind chicken casserole.”
“Not at all.” He kept staring at her, hoping she would turn and meet his gaze, but she steadfastly avoided his eyes. After she set the table, she turned and began to prepare a salad as the house shook from the force of the winds.
“Grab a seat,” she murmured, as she opened the fridge to take out the pitcher of cold water she had in there. Turning towards the table, Dezarae sent the man sitting there a nervous smile, wishing he wouldn’t stare at her so.
She dished up the food silently and put the plate in front of him. Turning her attention to her food, not the bronzed torso muscles he had. Concentrating on keeping her gaze firmly on the plate in front of her, she began to eat. Stay firm and concentrate on food. Girl, you know he is firm.

“Where are we?” he asked her as they were finishing up dinner.
“The middle of nowhere. You are about twenty miles from a town called Shadyville. In Montana.”
Shadyville. Why did that name seem familiar to him? Why can’t I remember anything? “Damn it,” he swore as his fist pounded on the tabletop.
Unable to help it, Dezarae jumped and squealed, an act that brought him to a halt.
“Jesus, I did it again. I don’t mean to scare you. I am just so frustrated that I can’t remember anything. I try but it is all just a complete blank.” His frustration was palpable even to her.
“I’m sorry. I am just not used to having a…a…a…” She had no idea of how to finish that sentence.
For the first time a half smile cracked that face. Firm lips twitched as he filled it in, “A man in the house.” He was glad she wasn’t.
“Well…yes, I guess.”
“Or a white man?” His eyes grabbed hers and forced a connection.
She nodded and said candidly, for if there was one thing about Dezarae Phoenix Kerry, it was honest. “Especially not a white man.” Even more, not one sporting a freaking rebel flag tattoo.
“Do you have something against white men?” The blunt question was asked as charcoal gray held dark chocolate. Please say no.
“Not that I’m aware of. Have something against black women?” she asked in return. On the other hand, do I want to know if you do?
“No, not at all.” If I ever did, I don’t remember it and I don’t now. I wish she wasn’t glancing at my tattoo so often.
“Well, at least we got that out of the way. I have to tell you,” she said as she cleared off the dinner dishes and set down a blueberry cobbler and a pot of coffee. “I don’t know if I will be able to take you to town tomorrow if this storm keeps going the way it is.”
“And you don’t mind me being here?” His head cocked to the side as he accepted the helping of warm cobbler and a hot mug of coffee.
“I’m not going to send you out in the storm, if that is your concern. You didn’t even have a coat on. And, while I don’t know you from a hole in the ground, I don’t want to send you to your death.”
“That’s good, ‘cause it would severely hamper our courting,” he said with a bone-melting grin.
A brilliant smile filled her face. “Our courting?”
“Well, I don’t always let women undress me down to my boxers, and let me sleep in their bed. So I figure we must be courting.”
Her body shook at some images her mind painted for her. “That is an interesting piece of logic you have there. What makes you think you I am interested in being courted by you?” She arched her brows and stared at the handsome stranger across from her.
He took a bite of the cobbler, washed it down with a swig of the coffee she had placed there, and never once released her gaze. “You just said you didn’t have anything against white men.”
“I don’t, but it doesn’t mean you are my kind of man, does it?” she questioned him.
There was a flash of something foreign in his eyes as they moved over her upper torso. “Oh, I’m your kind of man. I can see how you react to me,” he purred as he drew the fork slowly out of his firm mouth.
He is a tease. “So you are handsome, big deal.” It was a struggle to keep her true feelings off her face.
He shrugged. “Glad you find me handsome, and I know you think it is a big deal.” He winked suddenly. “I think you are enchanting.”
“You don’t know me.”
“True. Tell me about you.” His request came out more like an order.
Standing, she removed the dishes and put them in the dishwasher, got it set, and turned it on. “It’s late; you should get some sleep.” She put her hand out, gesturing for him to leave the kitchen first.
He acquiesced. His body was exhausted still, so he didn’t put up much of an argument. As he got to the entrance to the bedroom, he stopped suddenly. Turning to face the beautiful woman trailing him, he reached out one tanned hand and caressed her face. “Thank you for all you are doing for me.”
“Anybody would have done it,” she said, moving back, uncomfortable with the feelings his simple touch evoked in her.
I don’t think they would have. “Tell me something.” This time it was a request, not a command.
“If I tell you what you want to know, then will you go to bed?” Dezarae questioned.
“I’ll even let you tuck me in,” came his saucy reply.
How nice that could be. “Ask your question.”
“What is your full name?” One hand reached for her before clenching and remaining at his side.
“Dezarae spelled D-E-Z-A-R-A-E, Phoenix Kerry. Now, get some sleep.” It was a gentle push that she gave him to send him in the door. “Good night.”
Both trembled from the contact but neither responded to it. “Night.” My little firebird. He walked into the room, stopping by the bed to turn around and meet her gaze. “Sure you don’t want to tuck me in?”
“I’m sure a strong man like yourself can handle that,” she smirked, liking how his teasing brightened his whole persona, making him less severe.
“Glad to you know also think I am strong,” he teased back.
Dezarae refused to answer him, just left the room with a shake of her head.

The digital readout on the clock said 3:00 in the morning. Body not as sore but feeling just as disoriented, the man who had no name got out of the soft bed and padded silently to the door. His gray eyes easily adjusted to the dark as he stuck his head out into the hallway.
There was another door to his right and he cracked it open, looking for his hostess. Nothing in there but books and papers that were scattered all over the room. He walked past the bathroom door and, as he walked into the living room, he found her.
She lay on the couch sound asleep. A blanket covered her from toes to chin. I can’t believe she took the couch and let me have her bed. A gentle smile crossed his face as he moved silently into the room and knelt down beside her.
“Thank you for saving my life, Dezarae Phoenix Kerry. Thank you.” he whispered as his hand trailed down the side of her sleeping face, almost—but not quite—touching the skin that was smoother than silk.
When she moaned softly and tried to burrow deeper into the couch, he reacted. With ease, he slid his arms under her and lifted her off the couch and carried her back down the hall to place her in her own bed. She never woke.
After tucking her in, he brushed some wayward curls off her face, staring at her like he couldn’t get enough. “Sleep well, my little firebird, sleep well.” Before he did something he couldn’t take back, the man with the gray eyes left the room, carrying the blanket she had used on the couch, and took her place.

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