Whispers in the Dark Ch. 04bybrightlyiburn©
Chapter Four: When It Rains, It Pours
One would think that, this being the third time in a row, one would not trip on that damn last step. Granted, she was only carrying a tiny little tea light candle in the nearly pitch dark, but Savannah Crest wished she could be a bit more graceful. She shuffled along behind Anna (at least, she hoped it was Anna), relieved that there were no other steps down to deal with. One was enough, especially with people in front of and behind her.
It will be a great psychological study, she said, Savannah thought, rolling her eyes. Why, oh why, do I always listen to her? Anyone who saw her and Anna together generally stared. They were so different that it didn't seem as if they should be able to be friends. Savannah certainly seemed quiet and vanilla, in comparison to Anna. And yet here they both were at this…this…thing.
She hadn't quite believed Anna when she'd told her what the group was all about. Savannah couldn't picture her friend, or anyone else for that matter, telling sexual stories in front of a group of people they didn't know. So, even though she'd told Anna no when she'd first asked, she ended up attending the meeting with her friend.
Savannah settled down next to Anna and set her candle down on the little dish on the floor in front of her. She nearly jumped out of her skin when she felt someone sit down next to her. A glance to her side revealed a somewhat familiar profile, mostly hidden in the dim light of flickering candles. Him again, Savannah thought, chewing fretfully at her lower lip. They were allowed small breaks to stretch their legs (or smoke, if they did) and each time he said back down next to her. The first time she'd thought nothing of it, but now...
She'd caught herself wondering what he would look like in the light. Savannah was only able to see that he had somewhat longish hair and a narrow face with high cheekbones. The candlelight puts shadowy hollows beneath his cheekbones, she thought, glancing sideways at him. That's how I can tell. Sighing, she gave herself a mental shake to clear such thoughts from her head. Anna always told her she'd make a great psychologist if she could just get her dreaming head out of the clouds.
"You, you will tell us your story next."
It took her a moment to realize that she was being spoken too. As soon as she did, she froze like a deer in headlights. Me? Savannah thought, blinking. I can't tell them a story, I don't have one! I can't tell them that, though, either. Why on earth had she agreed to come with Anna? Oh, right...Anna.
"What about..." Savannah began, then paused. She couldn't name names, so, "What about the other woman who didn't finish her story yet?" She waited, holding her breath, and let it out in a heavy sigh when the Master turned away from her. Now there was only His Royal Mysteriousness to deal with.
Savannah made it a point to ignore the mystery man, and of course, failed. She listened to the current story with half an ear, not sure she could deal with hearing this sort of thing from her best friend, and glanced time and time again at the man next to her. It wasn't until he turned his head and stared directly at her that she stopped herself. Get a grip, girl, Savannah thought, feeling her cheeks burn as she stared down at the flickering candle. He's just some perv who likes to stare at me…that's all…
Somehow listening to stories about sex just isn't as exciting as the real thing, Jackson Marshall thought, as he stretched his legs and stamped feeling back into his feet. Well, except for when she starts looking at me. He watched the girl moving in front of him, following another out the door and into the dimly lit parking lot. Like all the others before her, she left her candle in a box outside the door. Jackson dropped his candle in the box, too, then followed the two girls across the parking lot.
"See you in school on Monday," the other called.
Dusty light from an old streetlamp spilled down on the first
girl's red hair. "Pfft, yeah! My first class starts at eight! Don't even talk to me!"
Laughter rang across the parking lot. The red-head stood, waving,
as her friend drove off, then began making her way across the parking lot with a sigh. Jackson followed, whistling softly. Well, his motorcycle was in that direction, after all. The red-head stopped and turned to look at him, puzzled. He stepped into a pool of dim light cast down by another street lamp and her eyes widened in recognition.
"Don't be alarmed," Jackson said quickly, holding up his hands.
"You just happen to be heading in the direction of my motorcycle." He indicated to the bike, which was only a few feet behind her.
She turned to glance at it, then looked back at him, her eyebrows raising. "Trying to attract women with that?"
Jackson laughed. That should teach me, he thought, walking past her towards his bike. Watch what you say to a woman with fire in her hair. She eyed him curiously as he leaned against his bike. Really, he didn't know why he was talking to her. Sure, he could see under the light that she was as cute as he'd suspected she would be, but that was no real reason to be talking to her. She looks vanilla, Jackson thought. Not really the type of girl I go for, usually.
"Gas is more than two bucks a gallon," Jackson explained. "This little baby makes good miles on less gallons than a car."
"Well, you should probably get moving, then," the red-head told him, turning away. "It's supposed to rain."
"Nice to meet you too," Jackson said, frowning. "Wait a minute…where's your car?"
She sighed and glanced back at him. Without a word, she gestured off into the dark, towards a part of the parking lot that was nearly impossible to see, due to the fact that most of the lights are out. Jackson frowned as she began walking off. Why the hell did she park out there? he wondered, following after her. She had to know it would be dark when the meeting was over, after all.
"What do you want?" the red-head asked, lifting her chin and
picking up her pace. "Go away."
"It's dark and late," Jackson replied. "I'm walking you to your car. So the least you could do is tell me your name."
"Savannah," she said, sighing. "Savannah Crest. And I don't need you to walk me to my car."
Jackson stopped, catching hold of her wrist. "What's your problem, anyway?"
She whirled to face him, pulling her wrist away. Even in the dim light, he could see that her eyes were a pale, cool gray. Jackson found himself smiling. Savannah paused, her expression changing to one of confusion. Hey, she's really cute, he thought, his smile widening. The way she looked at him made him want to laugh, although not in a mean way. He just found it hard to keep a straight face with those big, gray eyes staring at him as if he might just be crazy.
"What are you smiling about?" Savannah demanded, frowning.
"Sorry, sorry," Jackson said, back up a step. "Look, my name is Jackson. I'm not a creep…I just don't like the thought of you walking
down there in the dark."
"Not a creep, huh?" Savannah rolled her eyes. "Then what are you doing at this meeting? And you kept sitting next to me!"
"Hey, you were in there too!" Jackson shot back. "And I sat next to you because you're cute!"
Well, he hadn't really meant to say that out loud, but it did quiet her down. He noticed the way her cheeks turned red, and the smiled that tugged determinedly at the corners of her mouth. Savannah began walking again, but she didn't protest as he followed her. It really was dark further down in the parking lot. Jackson could eventually see the outline of her car; at least, he hoped it was hers. Clouds were quickly moving to obscure the moon, making it hard for him to see much of anything.
"I actually work afternoons at the 7-11 across the street," Savannah said suddenly, pointing to the small, brightly lit building across from the parking lot. "So I just left my car over here."
"Well, that answers that question," Jackson said, glancing at her. "So, are you going to tell me why you came to this meeting?"
"Are you going to tell me why you came?" Savannah shot back.
They stopped again, finally near her car, and looked at each other. Savannah's brows were furrowed in a scowl. A strand of red-gold hair hung down across her cheek. Jackson reached out, winding the strand of hair around his finger. She took a step towards him, her gaze caught with his. I suppose I could tell her that, he decided, shifting his body so that they touched when she swayed slightly. It's not like I have anything to be ashamed of.
"I'm in a band, actually," Jackson explained, letting her hair slip off his finger. "I thought it would be cool to write some lyrics
that were sexual. When I heard about these meetings, I mentioned it to the rest of the band. They told me it was a great idea and nominated me to be the one to go."
Savannah laughed. "Well, it was your idea. I'm just here to support my friend, Anna. She said she didn't really want to go alone. And I thought it could be a great psych study, too."
"As in psychology?" Jackson asked, his eyebrows raising. He leaned against her car and watched as she fumbled with her keys.
"Yeah, my major," Savannah replied.
Jackson nodded. "College girl. What year you in, then?"
"Freshman," Savannah said, turning her wide gray eyes on him and smiling sweetly.
Jackson almost choked. Freshman? he thought, frowning. She doesn't look that young. I would have thought twenty-one at least. Well, maybe she had gone to college late. Yeah, right, he could tell by the way she eyed him, a smug smile curving the edges of her soft, full mouth, that she was just as young as she claimed she was. Jackson sighed, then grinned down at her. He tried not to get involved with girls who were too young to drink, after one particularly close call, but it wasn't like anything was going to happen between them, anyway.
"I'm nineteen, in case you're wondering," Savannah told him. "Almost twenty, actually. I went into kindergarten a year late, because my parents had only just got back into the country. Before I was even born, my father had been transferred temporarily to Kyoto in Japan."
"So why didn't you go to school there?" Jackson asked. She was an interesting little thing, after all.
"I was horrible at learning Japanese," Savannah explained, pulling the door of her car open. "I still am. My father knew he'd be getting sent back to America soon, so he just waited, so I wouldn't struggle so much."
He realized he was actually enjoying his conversation with her. Jackson didn't often talk to girls; he found them to be generally boring. Therefore he was rather disappointed when he felt the first few drops of rain on his skin. Perhaps next time, he thought, sighing inwardly. I'd like to get to know her better…much better. He could admit that much of his interest in her was physical. And Jackson thought, or at least hoped, that she was attracted to him in the same
"I guess I'd better get going," Jackson said. "Before it starts to…"
There was a second of silence and stillness, then a loud roar. Above them the sky seemed to open up, sending down torrents of cold rain. Savannah shrieked, bringing her arms up over her head, although it did her very little good. Jackson groaned. I can't drive home in this, he thought, shaking his already sopping hair from his eyes. Not on my bike. He wasn't even certain he could have driven in a car.
"Pour?" Savannah asked, raising her voice to be heard over the pounding of the rain. "Damnit…get in! Before I change my mind!"
She slipped into her car and pulled the door shut, leaving him gaping at her. He couldn't even see her through the water sloshing down over her window. Well, it's better than getting soaked, Jackson thought, dashing around to the other side of the car. Not that I'm not already. He dropped into the passenger's seat and pulled the door shut. It was much quieter (and dryer, naturally) in the car, although the pounding of rain on the roof was still really loud.
"Mother Nature must be PMSing tonight," Savannah grumbled, flicking wet hair back from her face.
Jackson chuckled. "That's a good way of putting it. Um, hey…thanks. I can't believe it started pouring like that."
"I can," Savannah said, glancing at him. "It always starts to rain like that whenever I'm not under cover."
"Look uh…if you could maybe like…drop me over at the 7-11 or something," Jackson suggested hesitantly. "I can't go home until this
She went silent, staring down at the steering wheel. I didn't think that was such an outrageous request, Jackson thought, watching her. It's not like I asked her to take me home with her. Not that he would mind going home with her. Perhaps she was a little younger than he liked to get involved with, for reasons of caution, but he was intrigued. Savannah started up the car, then glanced at him.
"You shouldn't be in those wet clothes too long," she said quietly. "It isn't that warm…you'll get sick."
"Well, I don't have any spares," Jackson shot back, fighting back a grin. "I can't very well walk around naked."
"Not out in public at least," Savannah said, the faint hint of a teasing smile tugging at the corners of her mouth. "Just…buckle up."
Jackson did as she requested, even though the 7-11 was just across the street. As it turned out, though, they didn't stop at the 7-11. He glanced at Savannah, but she stared determinedly ahead. Is she actually taking me home with her? he wondered, his eyebrows raising.
"Just until the rain stops," Savannah said, as if she was reading his mind. "And if it stops before we reach my place, I'm going to turn right around and bring you back to the parking lot. So don't get too comfortable."
Jackson grinned. "Yes ma'am."
I know better than this, Savannah thought, as she led Jackson up to her apartment. I should not take strangers home to my apartment. She wasn't sure exactly what had gotten into her tonight. When he'd first approached her, for the very first second at least, she'd told herself that she was simply going to walk away. And then Savannah had caught sight of him beneath the light of a street lamp, and her mind had changed.
He was tall and slender, somewhat muscular. His dark hair was long, about at his shoulders, and completely wild, framing his face in total disarray. She thought he looked as though his hair stubbornly grew back over night whenever he got it cut. Jackson's eyes were a shade of dusty jade that she'd never seen before. As she'd seen in the candlelight, he had high cheekbones that balanced his slightly long nose and gave him a somewhat exotic look.
"Are you sure about this?" Jackson asked, halting beside her as she stopped in front of her apartment door. "I mean, it's very nice of you, but I could understand if you didn't want me in your apartment."
"I said you could, didn't I?" Savannah grumbled, pushing the door open. "I suppose if you really want, you can go stand out in the rain."
"No," Jackson said, grinning. "I'd really much rather be in here with you."
Savannah felt her cheeks heat. She left him standing in the middle of her apartment, dripping wet, and grabbed some towels from the bathroom. Hanging one around her shoulders, she brought the others out to Jackson. He took them from her gratefully, then paused, eyeing her. Grumbling beneath her breath, Savannah turned away and began toweling her hair dry.
Ick, she thought, picking at her soaked camisole. I need to change my clothes. She heard Jackson struggling out of his and sighed. As much as there was nothing appealing about wearing wet clothes, there was nothing appealing about getting out of them, either. Savannah hated that cold, clammy feeling.
"Hey, is this a chair?"
Startled, she turned around. Jackson wore only one of the towels, wrapped around his hips, and his back was turned to her. There was a tattoo on his back, some kind of gargoyle with its wings spread over his shoulder blades. And she could see a band of barbed wire tattooed around his arm. That's kinda…sexy, Savannah thought, biting her lip. I never thought tattoos were sexy before.
She glanced at the chair he was indicating, her papasan chair. It was wood frame, shaped like a basket, and settled on a pedestal. A large, fluffy blue cushion filled the chair. Savannah had gotten the chair as a gift from her parents on her nineteenth birthday.
"Yeah, it is," Savannah told him. "You can sit if you like. Although you might not get up again."
Jackson sank into the chair with a groan. "Ohh…I see what you mean. This is nice."
"Don't get too comfy," Savannah reminded him, grinning. "Remember, you're only staying until the rain stops. I'm gonna toss
your clothes in the drier, okay?"
"Yeah," Jackson answered quietly. "Hey uh…Savannah. C'mere a sec."
Frowning, she walked over to him. What could he possibly need her to come closer for? Savannah found out when his fingers closed around her wrist and he dragged her down into his lap. She shrieked and tried to pull away from him, but he had strong hands. After a few seconds of struggling she realize that he was laughing…but not maliciously. Confused and more than a little freaked out, Savannah paused and stared at him.
"I'm sorry," Jackson said through his laughter. "No…I'm sorry, Savannah. I was just…curious."
"About what?" Savannah demanded, scowling at him.
The corners of Jackson's mouth curled up in a grin and his eyes lit with mischief. "If this chair of yours would be possible to have sex in, actually."
She swore and punched him in the stomach. Jackson's breath came out in a short 'oof', but that didn't stop him from laughing. And what's so damn funny? Savannah thought, trying to climb out of his lap. The tilt of the chair made it difficult. Jackson's hands came up suddenly, cradling her face. She stared at him, her eyes wide, caught by the sexy, heavy-lidded expression on his face.
"Forgive me, Savannah," Jackson said quietly. "I wasn't serious. I'm just teasing you."
"Oh," Savannah said, blinking. "Oh…"
Of course, she thought wryly, of course he's not being serious. He already made a big deal out of my age, so… So then why was he looking at her like that? His hands continued to cradle her face and his thumb slid lightly over her lower lip. Savannah's lips parted at the soft touch. Something flickered in Jackson's eyes, and he pulled her down against him, lowering his head until his mouth was scant inches from hers.
"Maybe a little serious," he murmured, just before he kissed her.
Savannah had been kissed, but never like this. His lips teased and coaxed, his teeth nipped and pulled gently, and his tongue slid up against hers. Jackson's hands slid down to her back, holding her in place against him. She moaned softly, unable to resist, and not really wanting to. It was not at all like Savannah to get involved with a guy she hardly knew, but she was awfully attracted to Jackson.
"Savannah," Jackson murmured, pulling his mouth away from hers. "You have…haven't you?"
Savannah's cheeks burned. "Once. It…it wasn't a very good experience…so I didn't really hurry to do it again…."
A slow, sexy smiled curved the corners of his mouth. That look was so yummy that Savannah found herself licking her lips. She shivered as his hands slid to her hips, then up her sides, slowly lifting the wet camisole up. A few faint misgivings lingered in the back of her mind, but they were easy to ignore. She lifted her arms, allowing Jackson to pull off her camisole. His hands then slid up to cup her breasts.
"Well then," Jackson said, smiling. "I think you're due for a good experience, aren't you?"
She leaned against him, relishing the feeling of his hands. His mouth met hers again, his tongue sliding easily between her lips. Savannah moaned as his hands kneaded her breasts gently, his thumbs feathering lightly over her stiff nipples. She braced her hands against his chest and slid them down to the towel tied around his hips. Jackson didn't protest as she pulled the towel open.