It's like a hurricane inside her
It's like a hurricane inside her room
It's like a hurricane inside her mind
Clear Water College - Stanfield Rental: 5 PM
Rayne pulled up hard in front of Wyatt's rental and sat there in the car while the rain slid down the windshield and the engine ticked and cooled. Someone had already moved into the place across the street, windows lighted against the late afternoon wet chilly gloom threw that yellow light into the puddles in the drive where her car used to be. It had been her place. It wasn't now. She didn't have a place now.
The long drive had drained some of her anger and she waited and watched the place where her brother lived and morosely considered how he was likely to react when she marched up to the door and announced that Gemma was the boogey man after all because Cooper gave Toad a contract. Cautiously condescending. Kind. Maybe he'd ask her if she'd been drinking, as if there was any doubt he'd ask that.
The front door opened. Jason and his girlfriend Kes dashed out into the rain, hanging onto each other and laughing as they cut through the carport. Those two were probably going to get engaged. How would Kestral manage all the shit that would come hurtling her way once Crux started to tour? Maybe she'd just go cook something. Maybe she wouldn't care. No, she'd care. Kes would care. Cade would care. As cool as her mother played it, she cared. And everybody got hurt because of women like Gemma Wilson.
She slammed the car door and hurried up the sidewalk to the front door and banged on it until Wyatt finally cracked it open. It was almost 5 o'clock but he looked sleepy and rumpled. And surprised. "Rainie? What are you doing here? Is something wrong?"
"We need to talk," peering past him, half expecting to see Gemma herself stretched out on the couch but the room was shadowy and empty and quiet. "Is Gemma here?"
Wyatt rubbed his face, staring at her, confused, and shook his head. "No, nobody's here, sorry I just woke up. You want to come in? What's going on?"
University - Academy Park: 5:30 pm
"Kind of strange weather," Wyatt remarked as he walked beside his sister through brush and trees, everything heavy and dripping. Rayne had insisted they get out of his house and talk in the damned park, so he had yanked on some clothes and here they were, in the park. He was wet and chilled and wanted some coffee and had begun to wake up sufficiently to realize this was really weird. "Uh, Rainie, this is far enough. What the hell's going on?"
She found a bench, sat down on it. He considered sitting next to her but damn, it was wet, so he crossed his arms and tried to shrug off the rain and waited, wondering if she was drunk or using. "Dad brought over a contract for Jimmy's band," she said, looking up at him through wet hair. "I pushed him as hard as I could about Gemma and he pushed back, he wouldn't agree to even consider offering a contract if she wasn't part of it. Wy, you know what he thinks about Jimmy, you know what's going on. You know he'd never give Jimmy a contract if he wasn't doing it for a woman."
Agitated and breathing hard, Rayne clenched her hands and looked down at the muddy trail. His first reaction was oh shit...maybe she was seriously unstable, or maybe she was going to cry. He drew a deep breath, sat down next to her on the wet bench and put his arm around her. Wyatt spoke in what he hoped was a calm and reassuring voice. "Rainie, if Dad gave him a contract, that's a good thing, isn't it? And Gemma's his agent, so she's going to get a piece of it. You know how these things go. Jimmy's got talent, maybe Dad thought about it and changed his mind." Wyatt considered what his father had been going through with the family. It was possible he was offering an olive branch, some way to begin mending fences. Wyatt frowned as he considered what Rayne believed.
Rayne slid out from under his arm and got up and stared at him, and now he wondered why he ever thought she was going to fall apart. Once she got something stuck in her head she wouldn't see past it. Rayne shoved her hands through her wet hair and glared at him. "What is wrong with you? Why don't you ever see what's right in front of you? You know what, I don't care anymore. Tell Gemma to change her sheets before you climb into bed with her, Wyatt. You are definitely sharing that bed with Cooper. Just don't say I didn't warn you."
Rayne turned her back on him abruptly and began to march steadily through the rain soaked leaves. His temper flared. "How the hell do you get from a contract to Gemma's sheets? You're being ridiculous Rayne! Just listen to what you're saying! How do you make sense out of this shit you come up with? Dad and Gemma...that's not happening! Rayne, damn it, wait!"
Oceanside - Palms Hotel: 7 PM
Intense rain hammered relentlessly against the window of Cooper's hotel. The slapping sound reminded him of a car wash beating a steady rhythm as it sprayed against the glass. He paced, his attempts at remaining calm slowly unraveling with each step. Cooper stared out the window; he'd realized in this kind of weather there was no way he could attempt to make it to Bay View on his bike so he'd ordered a car - it was late and so was he.
Swallowing his irritation he tried the lobby again. "This is Cooper Stanfield. Has my car arrived?" Pounding the toe of his boot against the carpet he listened as the desk clerk told him the same story once more, the storm had caused delays, traffic lights were out, they'd ring him as soon as the car got there, and did he want them to call the restaurant again. Angry, Coop barked at the receptionist that he'd make the call himself and slammed down the phone.
Increasingly frustrated and restless, he could feel anxiety gripping him. Coop had to get out of this hotel. Although the suite was ample in size, he felt caged in, chained where he did not want to be, in a prison of his own making. He needed to go home, needed his wife, his children and that realization hit him as forcefully as the storm that insistently battered the window. Why did he always fuck things up?
Swearing, he'd tried Beth's cell again. It was going straight to voice mail. Maybe the storm was scrambling the cell service or a tower went down. With this kind of weather anything was possible but he didn't want to consider the alternatives, wouldn't let the dark unease fill his head. Shoving down any doubts about Beth changing her mind and not showing up, Coop hesitated and then called the house. If she had already left - Coop was uneasy about the idea that the twins could get her a message - or even would.
"Hello?" A soft voice, a child's tentative voice answered.
His stomach clenched at the sound. "Hi baby it's Daddy, is Mommy still at home?"
"Mommy left cause she said she was going to find you and you know what Daddy, she took the car she says bad words about. And Daddy, NatenEric been fighting and Nate says there's a hole in the sky and it's gonna suck us up an' Eric hit him and made his nose all bleeding and he burned up all the popcorn but not on purpose. Daddy when are you coming home? I want you to come home. Why won't you come home? I miss you."
Cooper's heart splintered. "Soon baby, Daddy's going to come home soon."
From behind him lightning exploded followed by the deep roar of thunder, a sound Cooper was entirely sure may have come from within him. His kids were alone; he'd left them that way on the worst possible night. Trying to sound reassuring he asked Hugs to put Nate on the phone.
"Did you and Eric block your mother's cell again? And don't lie to me Nate. I've been trying to call her and she isn't picking up. In this storm I know she would answer." When his son assured him they couldn't block her cell even if they wanted to, Cooper demanded he have Eric call her.
When that call failed, Cooper's unease grew a thousand fold. Something was wrong and he could feel it in his bones. Cooper hesitated, stifled an expletive and then added, "Tell Hugs I'm on my way. Keep trying your mother and anyone else who might have seen her. I'll be there as quick as I can."
University - Miranda Taylor's Rental 7:15 PM
Pushing past his sister Nic hurried into the kitchen. Setting down the bag he rattled off its contents quickly while he pulled the jacket he wore, now drenched, off him. "There are extra candles in the bag just in case and I brought batteries but I never thought to ask if you had a flash light."
Tilting her head toward the counter where her flash light rested Randi replied, "I probably should have got an extra one but its fine. I talked to Will a little while ago. He said he was going to help get his parents to higher ground and I just got off the phone with Mom. She is seriously freaking out Nicky."
"I know. I just got off the phone with Dad on my way over here. His plane just landed and he is trying to get across the bay bridge before they shut it down like they did the ferries." Knowing his father Nic figured that he'd swim if that's what it took to get his mom and sister to drier land and out of danger. The surf was bad, crashing against the beach behind their house, rapidly threatening to flood the place. What couldn't be brought in or nailed down had quickly become flotsam.
Seeing the look on Randi's face he reassured her, "We'll be fine here; the worst of it will probably be the power going out. And don't worry about Mom. You know Dad will take care of her. This storm wouldn't stand a chance against him." Nic took a breath, smiled and then asked, "I should probably get back. You going to be okay here by yourself?"
Randi folded her arms and raised her chin in haughty response. As if he even had to ask, no storm was going to scare her. "I can take care of myself, don't worry."
As Nic was about to answer, they both heard pounding at the front door. He followed her as she went to answer it, hanging back as she braced herself from the wind that blew in. "Rainie! Get in here; you're soaked, are you all right? God you're freezing cold!" Randi tried to pull Rayne into the entry as she fussed over her while Rayne's eyes leveled on Nic standing in the archway.
Shivering, eying the two of them, maybe wondering or knowing that Randi had something strong she could drink Rayne pulled her attention back to her friend.
Rayne's voice, rough silk, managed to stop the barrage of concern pouring from Randi, "Can I stay the night?"
South Beach - Coast Road 7:30 PM
The first kick landed squarely on the door. Beth almost slipped and fell down the hill into the bay with the second kick. She'd hydroplaned, run off the pavement and dug herself even deeper trying to get back on the road. And she'd dropped her cell. It was lying somewhere down there in the rocks and the heavy surf, and if she didn't rein in her temper, she'd be down there with it.
Half a dozen cars sloshed by. Nobody would stop in this storm. She could walk. She could walk in high heels for over a mile and hope she didn't get hit by someone else who had driven too fast. Or she could sit here.
Trying to come up with something else, something that didn't involve walking, a car finally pulled up and stopped behind her, wipers batting furiously at the water, powerful engine shutting down. And against all hope and expectation, Rafe slammed the door, stepped out into mud, swore and yelled. "What the hell are you doing out here?"
She should have known. Defensive, prickly and wet, she tossed it back at him. "I'm meeting Cooper. I ran off the road. And I could ask you the same thing."
"I'm on my way home, and that's what you should be doing. You left your kids there alone in this storm?"
The passenger door opened and a tall man wearing a long leather coat eased out, hunching against the onslaught of rain and wind. Rafe conferred with him briefly and then together they stared at the car stuck in the ditch. He glanced at her, straightened, gave her an obvious thorough second look and grinned. "Beth Stanfield..."
Irritated and even more defensive, she bit back a retort; she didn't have to explain herself to Rafe. The other man...at first she didn't recognize him, and, when she finally realized who he was, it wasn't some wonderful happy moment. Superstar frontman for the band Flight: Alex Ferguson AKA Blade. Another arrogant musician. "Hi, Blade."
"My car didn't show; Rafe's giving me a ride," he offered as if he expected her to be overcome with astonishment and concern, and he was still smiling. Bright blue eyes, thick brown hair and a sprinkle of freckles that didn't quite jibe with the name Blade; the freckles reminded her of Ryan. What was it with these bad ass men and freckles?
"How nice for you," she tossed in his general direction and turned her agitated attention back to Rafe. "Rafe, I have to make it to The Iron Gate and I'm really late. Can you get me out of the ditch?"
"Yeah. Alex, give me a hand over here."
"I hear you and Coop split up. His loss..."
Was he, inconceivably, trying to chat her up in the middle of a storm while she was on her way to meet Cooper? Beth stared at him, literally speechless. "Cut the shit," Rafe ordered him, annoyed, "We've got a fucking car to move, you going to help me?"
'Blade' finally put his shoulder to the rear fender, and together they rocked the car until it moved forward out of the mud and back onto pavement. She watched, waiting for him to slip and fall face first in the mud, but he grinned at her and put as much muscle into it as Rafe, well almost as much.
Rafe slapped his hands on his muddy jeans, muttered another expletive, and turned back to her. "Turn this piece of crap around and go home. Your kids need you more than Stanfield does; he's probably not going to make it in this weather anyway."
Taking a couple of careful steps toward her, Blade said quietly, "If you need anything, give me a call. I've got a place right up the road, I bought it last week, I'll be there the rest of the month, maybe longer."
"Jesus man, drop it," Rafe growled, " she doesn't need anything you've got."
He shoved into his car, started the engine, and together they sliced through and vanished behind the wall of pounding water. She was wet and cold. Lightning hissed and struck, but if she hadn't been bitten by that electric snake yet, either it couldn't find her or no longer cared.
NEXT CHAPTER: Sessions Chapter 37
Author's Note: Bio for Blade provided here..