So I’m working on rewriting Raven in the Storm, and wanted to share a little bit with my friends. Let me know what you think!
I rolled over and snuggled into the warmth beside me. I hadn’t slept so well in ages. Luke Connelly mumbled and threw his arm across my side. I smiled, and burrowed further into his gentle heat. The last time there was a man in my bed, there were all sorts of weird conditions and hoops to jump through. Not just strings but ropes and chains were attached to that relationship, and look where it got me. This, though, was something different. No strings, no pressure, just two people who liked each other and enjoyed each other’s company. I thought I could get used to this.
I was drifting back to sleep when I heard music: “What if I was Romeo in black jeans? What if I was Heathcliff? It’s no myth. Maybe I’m just looking for someone to dance with…” A second later, it repeated, and the warm lump in my bed moved away. I whined my displeasure, but he patted me on the hip. “It’s ok, Ceilidh. Be right back.”
He rolled out of bed and grabbed his jeans off the floor. He fished his iPhone out of his pocket and headed into the living room to take the call. I could hear him moving around, and caught snippets of his conversation. “Hey B, are you ok? . . . What? Well, not really . . . no, I’m still out on Kiawah . . . yeah, it looks that way, doesn’t it? . . . No, are you sure? I can leave now, be downtown in an hour. . .”
I stopped listening. He was leaving. I should have known waking up with Luke in my bed was too good to be true. I sighed, and reached over to turn on the bedside lamp. I pulled out a nightshirt from the dresser and slipped it over my head, then started padding around the room collecting his socks, underwear, shirt. I was on my knees looking for his other shoe when he came back into the room. He was still carrying his jeans, and he walked into my room like he belonged there, naked in my house.
“What are you doing down there?” he asked. “Did you lose something?”
“I’m trying to find your other shoe—everything else is there at the foot of the bed.”
“Why are you getting my stuff . . . Oh. Are you throwing me out? I thought we were having a nice time.”
“Yes, I mean no. . .I mean yes, we were having a nice time, but I just heard you say you were going back downtown, so I was going to help you get your stuff and . . .”
Luke reached a hand down to help me up. I took it and clambered to my feet, feeling awkward. “Silly Ceilidh,” he said, pulling me into his arms. “That was Bronte, my cousin. I told her I would come if she needed me, but she said she’d just see me in the morning. I told you before: she’s having a real tough time since Ruth died. She’ll be ok until the morning.” Luke kissed the top of my head. My hands rested on his shoulders and I stared up at him in awe and embarrassment.
“I am so sorry,” I whispered. “I’ve really acted stupid tonight. First there was the whole drunk subconscious talking thing, and now this.”
“Apology accepted.” Luke smiled, then yawned like a bear. “Now could we go back to bed and maybe forget about this? I was dreaming I had a sweet young thing curled up in my arms…”
I stepped back and smiled, then stretched up to plant a chaste kiss on his cheekbone. I crawled into bed, and slid to the far side, patting the mattress beside me as I settled.
“Uh, Ceilidh, are you going to wear that to sleep in? I hate to say it, but it kind of makes me feel like a child molester or something. If you have to wear something, why don’t you find something else while I go to the bathroom? Although I think what you were wearing earlier was perfect.”
I glanced down at my nightshirt, and blushed as I saw me as he must. The giant bear on the front had a great red heart on its belly and “Prepare to STARE!” was written along one side. I pulled the shirt off and tossed it onto the rocking chair by the dresser. I glanced over and noticed that Luke hadn’t closed the bathroom door all the way. I could see his long legs with their scattering of dark fine hairs, the excellent curve of his ass, and the strong lines of his back. His head was slightly bent forward, and I could tell he wasn’t far from falling back asleep. I felt a little bit bad for spying on him like that but this unguarded moment was so beautiful I couldn’t look away.
He tipped his head back and looked at the ceiling, then glanced over to the left, into the tub. His head started the slow path back down to looking forward, then suddenly reversed course as he looked into the tub again. “What the . . .!” I heard him mutter. I knew what he was seeing…probably for the first time. Skippy was in the tub.
I put the turtle in the tub for the party, partially because we’d missed our ritual bath time that morning, and partially so he could have a little party of his own while the grown-ups were having fun elsewhere in the house. I left him there because I couldn’t stand the thought of traumatizing him with what was going to be happening in my bedroom—he was too young to know what goes on between a man and a woman in bed! He was so curious, though, that I knew he must be trying to look out at Luke over the lip of the tub, stretched up on his front legs, bobbing his head up and down, maybe even making those clicking noises if he felt threatened. I didn’t hear anything, so Skippy probably thought Luke was ok.
A moment passed, I heard water running as Luke washed his hands, and then he slid back in bed. He pulled me back into his arms, cuddled with my back against his chest. “Mmm, that’s better,” he mumbled into my hair. We were silent for a moment, though I could hear the gears turning in his head.
“Ceilidh,” he finally said, “do you know there’s a turtle in your bathtub?”
“That’s Skippy,” I told him. “He lives here.”
Luke nuzzled my neck, and ran his hand along the curve of my stomach. “As long as you know,” he said.
His hand was tracing patterns across my side, between my breastbone and hip. “I thought you were tired, Luke.”
“Nope.” I felt his smile against my shoulder. “I said we should go back to bed. I didn’t say anything about going back to sleep.”
I wiggled a little to let him know I agreed with him, and reached behind me to lay my hand on his upper thigh.