Brad & 'Tanaya Ch. 03byMygypsy©
'Tanaya wiped the table over one last time before surveying the kitchen with a critical eye. She still felt as if there was some trace of the other woman who had been in her kitchen that day present even if it could not be seen. Stiff with irritation 'Tanaya tossed the cloth in the sink and headed for the lounge room.
Brad looked up as 'Tanaya walked into the room and sat down in the only recliner chair. Clearly she was in a bad mood the same as she had been last Sunday night after Janey and Nicolas had spent the day with him.
"Want to watch one of the video's I got out?" Brad asked.
"Might as well," 'Tanaya agreed. She was trying not to let her anger show but realised that Brad was aware that all was not well with her.
"So are you in the mood for an action movie or a murder mystery?" Brad asked as he got to his feet.
"Definitely a murder mystery," 'Tanaya muttered as she watched Brad pick up the two dvd's he had hired.
"Okay, murder and mayhem it is then," Brad said as he fed one of the dvd's into the machine and picked up the remote control before returning to the lounge. He quickly pulled it out so that it turned into a bed before tossing a pillow up one end and sitting down to remove his boots.
"Have you thought about asking if you can have Nicky without Janey around for a day?" 'Tanaya asked quietly, not wanting to make Brad realise how much she hated having Janey around.
'Tanaya considered Janey responsible for Brad and his friend Renegade going to jail, Brent and Matty getting Good behaviour bonds put on them and all the negative reactions from the town folks when they had moved here a year ago.
"Does Janey being here bother you that much?" Brad asked quietly as he looked at her, "I can take them to a park or something next weekend."
"Look, I won't deny she isn't my favourite person but I can put up with her for a few hours once a week." 'Tanaya said tightly.
"What is it you have against her?" Brad asked evenly despite the fact he felt like shaking her.
"She's the reason you and Ren ended up in jail! Or have you conveniently forgotten that fact?" 'Tanaya demanded angrily as she turned in her seat to glare at him.
Brad was silent for a few moments before looking at her once again.
"I done something damn stupid and ended up paying for it okay; you don't really know the full story so don't go judging." Brad said tightly before turning back to the movie starting on the tv.
"If she had just went home and shut up about what had happened everyone would have been better off!" 'Tanaya snapped as she got to her feet and headed to the kitchen to get herself a cool drink.
When she returned a few minutes later Brad was stretched out on his side watching the movie and didn't even glance her way as she sat down once again.
"Next weekend I think I'll go visit Ren while you have your time with your son," 'Tanaya said trying to keep her tone neutral.
"Ren'll be stoked to have a visitor," Brad commented, "you, Brent and Matty were his only visitors while I was inside."
"I might see if they want to go as well," 'Tanaya said quietly then asked, "did her visiting you cause any hassles with Ren?"
"My being the father is what caused trouble,' Brad said with a heavy sigh, "Ren has it bad for her. It hit him hard when she stayed with her boyfriend even after she had sex with Ren at the caravan park. He thought she felt the same way as he did, I guess she didn't."
"She's still with the cop isn't she?" 'Tanaya asked quietly.
"Look, if Janey coming here is a problem just say so okay; this is your home after all!" Brad said sharply.
"Her coming here isn't the problem, but unlike you I can't just forget what she done!" 'Tanaya said tightly, "Ren, your best mate; the guy who is like a brother to you is still in jail because of her."
"Neither of us are totally innocent; and before you ask, no I don't want to go into it." Brad snapped. Now he knew the full circumstances his actions haunted him.
"So she still got the cop boyfriend?" 'Tanaya asked after a few minutes silence.
"Yeah. Her brother James isn't too happy about it but he reckons she has to work things out for herself," Brad said sounding not to pleased.
"You think he treats little Nicky right?" 'Tanaya asked with concern.
"Janey said if she ever doubted he would treat Nicky right she would be out of there real fast and from what I've seen of him with them he treats them both real good." Brad said quietly without looking at her.
'Tanaya had the feeling that Brad wasn't too happy about the presence of Adam in Janey and Nicky's lives. It wasn't anything he had said or done since getting out of jail, just a feeling she got from observing him when he had talked to Janey about her boyfriend.
"I'll try to be nicer to Janey when she's here," 'Tanaya offered quietly.
Brad turned his head to study 'Tanaya for a minute or two then turned his attention back to the movie. He was staying in 'Tanaya's house until he could get his own place but he was very much aware of the animosity 'Tanaya felt for the mother of his son. This made the weekend access visits very uncomfortable for the three adults and he knew Janey was worried that 'Tanaya may one day take her dislike out on their child.
He had spent twelve months in jail for what he had done and his best friend Ren had another eighteen months of his sentence to go. Brad doubted that his friendship with Ren would ever be the same. Fate had played a cruel trick when Ren had fallen in love with Janey and she had ended up having Brad's son.
'Tanaya looked at Brad when he gave a heavy sigh. She could tell by the look on his face that his thoughts were very dark and tormenting, the urge to take his mind off his problems at least for a while stirred within her.
"You dance?" 'Tanaya asked suddenly.
"What?" Brad asked, she had startled him out of his thoughts and he had missed what she had said.
"I asked ... do you dance?" 'Tanaya said slowly.
"I can if I have to. Why do you ask?" Brad wanted to know.
"How about we ditch the movie and go to one of the pubs? They have live music tonight." 'Tanaya said getting to her feet.
"I don't feel like it tonight," Brad said with a shake of his head.
'Tanaya grabbed one of his hands and pulled in an attempt to get him to his feet, "Come on, I want to go dancing and I aim to get my way!" She demanded as she tried to get him up off the lounge.
"Go ask Brent and Matty, they'll make better company then me," Brad said as he refused to be moved.
'Tanaya let go of his hand and stood with both hands on her hips as she surveyed him for several minutes.
"Either you get up and come out with me or I get to join you on that fold out bed," 'Tanaya warned.
Brad looked up at her through narrowed eyes, he hadn't had a woman since getting out of jail and being around 'Tanaya was stirring up his libido. If she done as she said and ended up on the lounge with him he could guarantee that neither of them would be leaving the room any time soon.
Reluctantly he sat up and swung his legs over the edge of the lounge and got to his feet.
"Well come on then if you want to go out. But I ain't dancing," Brad warned as he looked around for his boots.
"Now that remains to be seen whether you get up and dance or not," 'Tanaya said with a grin.
"I wasn't aware that any places had live music of a Sunday night," Brad commented as he hopped on one foot as he pulled one of his boots on.
"Sunday?" 'Tanaya said dumbfounded, "Sunday! Damn! I was thinking it was Saturday!" she said angrily.
Brad tried to hide the smile he felt coming but his mouth twitched and the harder he tried to control his mirth the funnier it seemed until a hearty laugh erupted from him.
'Tanaya turned around with a frown to glare at Brad but the sight of him doubled up with laughter prevented her from telling him off for laughing at her. She had noticed he had seemed to have lost his sense of humour while he was in jail and to hear him laughing was wonderful.
"So glad to be able to amuse you," 'Tanaya muttered pretending to be annoyed but she turned away before he could see the smile twitching at the corner of her mouth.
Brad heard the hint of a smile in her voice and grabbed her by the waist, tickling her instead of holding onto her. "Laugh at me will you!" he exclaimed as she giggled and squirmed in his grasp.
"Stop it! That tickles!" 'Tanaya giggled as she attempted to get away from him.
Brad felt his body jolt to life as he pulled 'Tanaya against his chest as he attempted to keep a hold of her even though she tried to wriggle free. He felt his entire body tighten as the blood rushed to his groin sending heat pounding through his body. His jeans were suddenly too tight and uncomfortable as his body reacted to the feel of 'Tanaya wriggling against him.
He held her in his arms and lowered his head as he breathed in the light floral scent of her shampoo and the softness that was her unique scent. Realising what he was doing Brad let her go abruptly and moved away from her.
"Hey what the...!" 'Tanaya exclaimed started as she was released suddenly and staggered from the sudden withdrawal of support.
Slowly she turned around to face him. She saw the way he was watching her from heavy lidded eyes, the way his chest heaved with his heavy breathing and realised why he had let her go.
'Tanaya turned away; she knew if she approached him he would reject her outright. But there was more than one way to get what she wanted.
"Well I'll just have to take a rain check on that night out dancing then since it's Sunday." 'Tanaya announced lightly,
Brad watched as she walked towards the kitchen, he shifted slightly when she was out of sight as he tried to ease the tightness in his groin. He wondered briefly what 'Tanaya was up to; he had yet to see her pass up a chance to make him uncomfortably aware of her.
"Want a cold drink? It's only lemon squash but at least it's icy cold." 'Tanaya asked as she came back into the room carrying two cans of lemon squash.
"Yeah sure," Brad agreed taking a can and sitting down once again. He shifted uncomfortably; his body had yet to calm down and he was painfully hard.
'Tanaya sat back in her chair and glanced over at Brad, she was well aware of the state he was in and smiled when he glanced her way.
"You know I can make you feel much better if only you'd let me," 'Tanaya murmured softly.
"What? Don't you think things are complicated enough as it is?" Brad demanded tightly, "You bristle up every time I mention Janey or you see her."
"Are you trying to tell me that helping you release all your sexual tension won't help you? You're ready to explode two minutes after I walk in a room." 'Tanaya said calmly.
"Leave me alone," Brad growled as he looked away.
'Tanaya looked back at the tv broodingly as she opened her can of drink and took a sip. It didn't matter what she tried to lighten the mood between them it always seemed to backfire and make the situation worse. She felt bad about making Brad feel uncomfortable around her yet again.
"I'm sorry Brad, I know I'm only making the situation between us worse but I always seem to end up putting my foot in it and making things difficult." 'Tanaya said into the tense silence after what seemed like forever but was only five or so minutes.
"Maybe I should move over to the sofa at Brent and Matty's until I get a place of my own." Brad said evenly.
"I don't mean to pressure you and I really enjoy your company, please don't feel you have to leave because you're not interested in what I so stupidly keep offering." 'Tanaya said unhappily. She was starting to doubt the reactions she had noticed in Brad. Maybe he was getting aroused but just wasn't interested in her?
"And not many men say no to you," Brad said softly.
"I can handle that believe it or not," 'Tanaya said with a self depreciating laugh, "one moment I tell myself stop it, it'll just cause trouble and the next moment ... my mind screams 'go for it'."
Brad remained silent letting 'Tanaya take her time to say what she needed to. Finally when she didn't say anything further Brad spoke.
"You're a really good friend and at the moment I need all the friends I can get. It seems like the entire town is against me, this afternoon when I picked up the milk at the corner store some woman hurried her school aged daughter out of the shop and away from me as if I was about to turn into the Big Bad Wolf and gobble her up!"
"People act like that thanks to the lies Janey told!" 'Tanaya snapped angrily.
"I have had enough! You are going to get the truth about what happened between Janey and I!" Brad held up his hand to silence her as 'Tanaya opened her mouth as if to speak, " I had helped Janey out of a bad spot with a guy called Wilson and since I though she was Hawk's woman ... I figured she should be grateful but she was just as scared of me as she was of Wilson..." Brad paused for a moment as he took a deep breath. " I stupidly told her to show me how grateful she was to me, I figured she would tell me to stop or say no if it wasn't what she wanted. Janey didn't say stop, and she didn't say no. She was too scared to; Hawk had already done some pretty rough stuff to her for saying no. I guess I always knew in the back of my mind that she wasn't totally willing but somehow I chose not to face the fact. I was gentle with her, made sure she was enjoying what I was doing..."
Brad's voice faded away for a few moments as he struggled to find the words to express himself.
"...Afterwards I realised that she wasn't experienced. I started having doubts about her relationship with Hawk, I just never realised how bad it was."
Brad got to his feet and began pacing restlessly, he turned and faced 'Tanaya before speaking once again.
"I want to know my son and Janey is willing to let me be in his life, hell she wants me to be in his life. After all I done she doesn't hold it against me." Brad said sounding slightly stunned.
'Tanaya sat looking at him speechless, she had never suspected anything like what Brad had just told her.
"I believe you made an honest mistake Brad," 'Tanaya said softly.
"Nicky is not a mistake," Brad bit out between clenched teeth.
"No, Nicky is not a mistake. Nicky is a special blessing that came from a terrible trick of life." 'Tanaya whispered softly.
Brad nodded without saying a word, tears in his eyes. He watched as 'Tanaya got to her feet and approached him silently. Somewhere deep inside him was the fear that she would hold him responsible for what had happened just like he held himself responsible.
'Tanaya walked up to Brad silently, slipped her arms around his waist and leant her head against his chest giving him the comfort of physical contact. She felt him tense at her first touch then gradually relax; his arms lifted and after a moments hesitation he wrapped his arms around her and held her.
They stood in the middle of the room for a long time just holding each other and taking comfort from the contact.
'Tanaya felt her body begin to respond to the nearness of his body but forced the sensations to the back of her mind. The embrace was about offering compassion and understanding not physical release.
"I think we'd best turn in," 'Tanaya whispered quietly and stepped away from him. For a few moments there she had been tempted to confide in Brad why it hurt her so much to see Janey holding his child; or to even just see Janey knowing that she had given him a son. But that was a secret she held within herself not sharing it with anyone.
" 'Tanaya," Brad called as she turned to leave the room.
'Tanaya turned to face him without saying a word.
"Thanks for listening. I never voiced how I felt until now." Brad said softly.
"I can understand that. We all have our own crosses to bear," 'Tanaya said quietly before turning and leaving the room.
Brad turned and looked at the tv for several minutes not really seeing the movie that was playing, as he was lost in his thoughts. Finally he turned off the dvd player and the tv before switching the light out and climbing onto the pull out bed.
* * * * *
Brad took his key out and unlocked the door as he let himself into the house; he winced as the movement pulled at his shoulders and back.
The house was empty and silent as he made his way to the kitchen for a cool drink before heading to the bathroom to wash the grime of a days work from his body. His shoulders hurt as he removed his shirt and he frowned as he rubbed a hand over the sore muscle on top of his shoulder.
A near accident at work had seen him strain his muscles when a sudden gust of wind had hit the sheets of corrugated iron that he and Brent had been moving. The iron had been torn from Brent's grasp but he had managed to keep hold of his end and prevent the iron from being blown several feet away. Now his back and shoulders were stiffening up but he doubted that there was any real lasting damage.
The flow of warm water from the showerhead felt good on his back and shoulders as he stood beneath the water. After soaking for several minutes longer than necessary he turned the water off and got out.
In the kitchen he took meat from the freezer and prepared vegetables to cook later when it was closer to mealtime. If he was home from work before 'Tanaya he done the vegies ready for her to cook knowing she appreciated his help even if she refused to let him cook the meal.
Grabbing a cold can of beer he headed to the lounge room to watch tv and relax, hoping his back and shoulders would ease their dull ache.
He was stretched out on the lounge half asleep when 'Tanaya got home, his half empty can of beer discarded when he found a comfortable position and decided not to move to reach for the can.
'Tanaya peered around the paper bag filled with groceries at Brad as he lay on the lounge.
"I came across Matty in the supermarket, he told me what happened at work today. How do you feel? Sore?" 'Tanaya asked.
"A bit stiff and sore but I'll survive," Brad said with a yawn. "I put out the mince to defrost and there's vegies in the saucepan."
"You didn't have to do it but thanks," 'Tanaya called over her shoulder as she headed into the kitchen. She set about putting the groceries she had bought away before checking what vegetables Brad had prepared.
She smiled as she saw he had diced the onion for the mince and the garlic Brad had sat beside it ready to be crushed just before cooking.
'Tanaya went to her room and changed out of her work clothes before heading back towards the kitchen.
"An early tea sound about right so you can get settled before you get too sore?" 'Tanaya asked as she paused in the lounge room.
"That'd be great. Do you have anything stronger than aspirin by the way?" Brad asked as he sat up slightly.
"I'll be right back with something," 'Tanaya said and headed towards the kitchen.
Brad sat up when she returned with a glass of water and two tablets which he swallowed thankfully. He moved gingerly as he lay back down before she had reached the kitchen door. His shoulders where tight and stiff and his back up between his shoulder blades sore, it had taken quite a bit of strength to hold onto the sheet of iron when the wind had hit it.
'Tanaya set about cooking tea, Matty had told her how Brad had kept hold of some iron rather than let it fly loose in the wind towards where others were working.
When the food was cooked 'Tanaya served up two plates full and carried Brad's food and a cup of coffee into the lounge room to him.
"Why didn't you sing out? I could have come got it," Brad told her as he sat up stiffly so she could hand him the food.
"Just shut up and eat, you won't get pampered like this often." 'Tanaya said with a smile to take the edge off her words.