09 June 2008

Chapter 3 of Connelly's Flame--unedited

Well first off let me apologize for not putting up this chapter last Monday, there really is no excuse for my lapse.

I hope you enjoy this chp of Ross/Dez's story.

Dezarae woke to the sound of a tree branch snapping. Well, we either have an ice storm or it is still snowing out. Sitting up, it took a second to realize that she was in her own bed. “What the hell?” Turning on the bedside light, she glanced around.
There was no stranger in her room. She wore the exact clothes she had been wearing when she went to sleep on the couch.
The couch.
So why was she here? Did I sleepwalk?
Swinging her feet to the floor she slipped into her slippers and headed for the door. The clock had 6:30 displayed on it. Where is my mystery man? A bit hesitant, she moved up the short hallway and stopped.
Sleeping on her couch, which was too small for his big frame, was her gray-eyed southern stranger. He was crammed onto her furniture in a way that didn’t look very comfortable.
Her dark eyes started at his feet, moving up until she halted for staring back at her were those intense gray ones of his. Blinking rapidly, Dezarae moved into the living room, stopping before him.
“What are you doing out here?” she questioned.
“Watching you watch me,” he replied smoothly.
Dezarae tried to ignore the spread of heat in her cheeks. “I mean, I went to bed here. I left you in my bed.”
Those eyes darkened as he muttered, “My little firebird, if we were in bed together you wouldn’t be leaving.” In a louder tone that she could hear he said, “I moved you back there around three.” He sat up exposing his muscled torso to her, which made her knees weak until her eyes hit that tattoo. “You shouldn’t have to give up your bed for me.”
She was still having a hard time pretending she hadn’t heard his comment. But she had and now that image was burned into her brain, overriding her aversion of the tattoo on his chest. “I took the couch because I can fit comfortably on it,” Dezarae stated.
“I’ve slept in way more uncomfortable places than a couch that I am too long for.”
“Really?” came the skeptical question.
“Yes, really,” he assured her.
“Great, that’s great!” she said, her dark eyes wide and her hands spread.
Raising a dark brow, he responded sarcastically, “Nice to know my uncomfortable sleeping situations are amusing to you.”
Dezarae shook her head as she crouched down in front of him, her darker hand covering his lighter one. “No, that’s not it. Not at all. You remembered.”
His eyes widened as the truth of her words sank in. “I did. I did!”
“Anything else?”
“No,” he said, disappointed even as his body reacted to her touch. “I don’t know how or where I know it from, but I know for a fact I have slept in worse conditions. It’s just not clear.”
“Well,” Dezarae spoke as she stood and retrieving her hand. “It’s a start. Let’s go see if we can find you something to wear.” ‘Cause I keep looking at your chest and I may find myself looking at that flag in a whole different light. Then again, I already do.
Dezarae led him down the hall towards her spare room. She had to lead or all she would think about would be how good he looked. Not that walking in front of him changed those images.
It worked out, though, because her visitor was enjoying the view of her in front of him. As he ogled her, she opened the closet to show him a few stacks of folded clothes. “I think you should find something in here that will fit you.” Dezarae backed up so he could walk in. “I’m gonna make some breakfast. Feel free to use the shower; there are clean towels in the cabinet.”
Why in the hell do you have men’s clothes in your home? Why, for that matter, do I care? “Thank you.” He turned towards her in time to catch her heated glance as her dark gaze took in his half-naked body.
“You’re welcome.” Then she was gone.
While the quiche cooked, Dezarae bundled up to go outside. There were still practically whiteout conditions. There hadn’t been a snow in the area like this in years.
Standing on her porch, she realized there was no way she was going to town. She could get to her workshop and CB the sheriff at least. That way they would know she had a visitor and would be aware of the accident.
Grabbing the rope, she made her way slowly across her yard. It was a bit of a struggle to force open the side door against the seemingly gale-force winds but soon she was in.
She hit the lights, silently thanking her foresight in having backup generators installed so the building was always warm, and headed for the CB radio that was at the end opposite to where she was, by the main doors.
Turning it on, she began transmitting. “Sheriff, you out there? This is Phoenix, come back.”
A very deep voice reached her waiting ears. “Phoenix, you okay up there, girl?”
“Fine, Dale, fine. Look last night on my way home I passed an accident. There is nothing left of the car except pieces. There was a survivor. He’s here w—”
“He? Damn it, Dez, you know better than that. Who is he?”
Dezarae smiled. Sheriff Dale Ship was her surrogate father. He was sixty and didn’t look a day over forty. He took her well-being very seriously.
“As I was saying,” Dezarae began again. “He is here with me. He is about six four, one hundred ninety, dark brown hair cut short and gray eyes. Oh, and a tat, an anchor, and a chain sitting on a rebel flag.”
“Why are you telling me this? Are you sure it was a rebel flag?”
“I know what a rebel flag looks like. Yes, I am sure. I am telling you because he doesn’t remember his name. He had a head wound and I didn’t find any form of identification on him. See if anyone reports a description like that. I will check in with you later today.”
“One more thing.”
“Go ahead.” She waited for him to say what he needed to.

He walked through the house looking for the woman who had taken him in. Showered and dressed in a pair of clothes he found in the closet, he wandered around her home.
“What would a woman like her be living alone out here for? Where is her man to take care of her?” He looked at all these pictures on her wall of cars. Antiques, classics, they were beautiful.
Dressed in jeans and a sweatshirt, he moved to the door and looked out into the dark. He could barely make out the glow of a light from across the way. As the smell of cooking food filled the air, he grabbed a thick jacket and stepped out into nature’s wrath.
Eyes squinted against the wind, he grabbed the rope that was secured to the porch and began to follow it. His feet were freezing as he finally made it to a large building. Opening the door he slipped inside, grateful to be out of the wind and cold. The place wasn’t hot but it was tolerable.
He brushed the snow from his hair and his ears picked up her voice. It sounded like she was on the other side of the building or in a room, for it was muted. When he heard a man’s voice, his gray eyes narrowed.
Stepping out to make his presence known, he took two strides and stopped dead. There were four cars under the lights in various stages of rebuilding. They were classics; they were astounding.
In amazement, he walked closer to the first one. It was cobalt blue and gleamed under the bright lights. “Jesus,” he muttered.
“It’s a 1965 Aston Martin DB6 with a Vantage engine,” a feminine voice said.
He looked up to see her weaving her way across the building to his side. “Whose are they?” One hand gestured to encompass all the vehicles in there.
“Clients. I’m almost done with this one. I’m just making sure the triple twin-choke carburetors and pumps are working properly.” She moved down the line.
“This is the same thing, only a convertible. Both of them are five-speed manuals. They only made 215 of the convertibles. I have a bit more to do on him.”
Gray eyes took in the black convertible. The top was removed and he could see that the gears and wheel were on the right side of the car. The interior was leather, wall-to-wall carpeting, lots of gauges and a wood/metal steering wheel.
“You do this?” the incredulous question came.
“Yep. I do.” With a smile, she took him farther into the shop to the next car. A dark green color. “This is a 1964 Ford Fairlane. And down here is my latest addition to the garage.”
Wordlessly, he followed her to stop in front of a whit car. “What is it?”
“An Oldsmobile Toronado. A 1966 Toronado.”
“You repair cars,” he stated.
“No, I restore cars. My business is Phoenix Restorations and Rebuilds.”
“And you do all this by yourself?”
Chocolate eyes narrowed as she crossed her arms and leaned against the car. “Why are you snooping around out here?”
He seemed taken aback. “What are you talking about? I was looking for you.”
“What difference does it make if I do this myself or not?”
“Hey, I was just asking. Why are you being so defensive?” He took a step towards her.
Even though she was scared, Dezarae refused to budge. “Because you are asking a lot of personal questions and I don’t know you.”
“I am not going to hurt you.” He tried again.
“Look, nothing overly personal, but I have been having some trouble with a few of the locals and I am not inclined to totally trust a man who has a rebel flag tattooed on his chest.”
His eyes hardened. “Nothing personal?” He shook his head, “You tell me you are judging me because of a tattoo but I am not supposed to take it personally. How exactly should I take it?”
“Like it is. Fact. I am just getting a bit nervous here.” Her eyes moved from his tense body back to his eyes.
Taking a deep breath, he held out his hands. “I’ll go. I wouldn’t want you to feel uncomfortable.” He turned around and missed her shocked expression.
“You don’t have to go. I just don’t want to tell you everything about me,” she shouted as he walked away from her.
“Thanks for everything.” Within moments he was gone from the building.
“Shit!” Dezarae ran up to the door and out into the storm after him. “Hey!” she yelled into the wind. “Hey!”

Way to go, Dezarae, send a man to his death just because of a tattoo. She hurried into the house and found him walking out of her room wearing nothing but the clothes he had worn when she found him. Shaking the snow off her head, she held up her hand.
“You don’t have to leave.” She tried again.
“I think it would be best.” He kept walking towards her with sure strides.
“Look, you won’t survive out there,” she pled. I don’t need his death on my conscience.
“I’ll think of something.” He opened the door, after barely touching her, to get by.
“Fine!” She yelled, as he pulled the door shut after him. “Be an idiot, Johnny Reb, I don’t give a damn!” Ripping off her coat, she was totally unprepared for the blast of cold air that hit her as he shoved the door wide open again.
“What did you call me?” he growled, reaching for her and clamping a hand around her.
“An idiot,” she muttered.
“No, after that.” His eyes were fierce as they bore into hers.
“Um, Johnny Reb,” she said quietly, suddenly not as confident as she had been.
He dropped her arm and shut the door with one strong slam. “Johnny Reb, Johnny Reb…Jeb. Jeb, that sounds familiar to me. Jeb, I remember people calling me Jeb.” She was the recipient of a winning smile.
“My name is Jeb,” he said as he hugged her in gratitude.
As the smell of man surrounded Dezarae, she found her body trembling. How was it that one look, one touch from this man could set her to quivering this badly? She moved out of his embrace and smiled back. “Hello, Jeb, I’m Dezarae.”
“Hello, Dezarae, I’m, Jeb, an idiot, can I stay?”
“Of course you can.” She began to walk away but he latched onto her arm again.
“Hey, I’m sorry my tattoo bothers you.”
“I’ll be fine, don’t worry about it.” Your chest bothers me more. I’d like to lick warm chocolate and caramel off it. “Let’s eat. I have to get to work.”
Falling into step beside her, he asked. “Out in the shop?”
“No, I have some paperwork that I have to get done.”
“Let me know if there is anything, anything that I can do.” He fairly purred in her ear.
Swallowing hard, she managed to stutter, “I’ll do that.”

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