Chapter 13: Let it Rain

Tia

I was falling. Hard. In fact, I was falling so hard and fast that if I blinked I was afraid I was already smooshed against the earth and those crushed black eyes would soon ram into me with the force of a ten ton truck ramming into a chicken. That's good bye 3D and hello Mr. Squiggle.

Face it- this chicken was going to be eaten, whether it got its head back or not. Clearly, being of the headless variety is not a selective advantage in this case. Either way, Jae Huntington looked like he was ready to devour me whole.

I could almost smell the scent of my own blood in the air, and when a girl can smell her own incoming demise… she struggles. It would take more than a natural disaster to save me. Something along the lines of the whole world caving into itself within 10m radius of Jae Huntington might just be sufficient. On second thoughts, judging by my current situation, 10m was not an option unless I wanted to be sucked into the core of the earth with him. And heck, I didn't intend on providing everyone with charcoal chicken for dinner. Not without a fight, anyway.

"Tia?" mum's hesitant voice seemed to echo around the room.

I gasped, my mind spasming in periodic fits of oh crap- crap crap crap, crappity crap crap. And so on, and so forth.

Turning woodenly towards the door, I tried to flash my mum a natural smile.

"Yes mum?" I replied as I attempted to subtly wrench my wrists away from Jae's iron grip. Needless to say, after much twisting and squirming I did not receive my desired effect. It was like pitching a terrier against a pit-bull.

Mum brushed a strand of her pale blond fringe away from her eyes, probably in order to observe the scene better. I ran through the moment she would crack it in my mind… is that my rebellious daughter?! Dear lord, what has she done… she would shriek something of the sort and I'd hang my head in guilt, replying: Mother, I have failed you, I have- my thoughts were cut off as my so-called mother smiled, a semblance of realisation registering in her gaze.

"Tia, honey, you never told me you had a…" trying to find the right word, she motioned with her hands, placing the tips of her fingers together in the ultimate cringe-worthy action.

I twitched so hard I almost fell.

"Mum," I whined, "what are you talking abou-"

Her eyes were shining with excitement as she further contemplated the situation, her shining gaze shifting between us.

"Why, this is just wonderful dear!"

I tried to shrug off Jae's arm- which had somehow managed to snake around my shoulder in a false act of possessiveness. Striding across the room, mum tapped Jae's other arm with her chewed on ballpoint pen lid (why did I have to inherit her bad habits, of all things) and proceeded to launch into conversation with him. This was embarrassing. This was worse than embarrassing. This was-

My chain of thought was cut pitiably short as Jae flashed a confident smirk at me over the top of my own mother's shiny blonde hair.

What could I do? Tell my mum that she was cavorting with my would-be-murderer? Like that would go down well. Oh, hey mum… welcome back. And by the way, see that guy beside you? Yeah, well, he might act kind and charming but the truth is the sort of kindness he's portraying is actually the kind that wants to kill me. You know? Understand? So I'd recommended you get as far away from that guy as possible, preferably within the next three seconds. Cheers.

Gritting my teeth, I smiled at mum whilst purposefully digging my fingernails into the arm of one arrogant son-of-a-bitch, known to humanity as Jae Huntington, newly crowned bull-shitter extraordinaire.

"Well, Jae. This is my mum. Mum, this is Jae Huntington. My…"

My automatic spew inducer? My lying manipulative bastard? My ruthless mafia monster?

I paused, swallowing hard, "… boyfriend."


"When is Jae coming over again?"

For the past week, I'd been bombarded with persistent questions such as these from one overly enthusiastic mother. I'd also been asked several ridiculous questions to which I had to make up equally ridiculous answers.

"He's rather good looking isn't he Tia? But why is he getting tutoring sessions from you?"

"Mum!" I complained, "why do you say you in such a disbelieving tone?"

Just because someone's passable in the looks category does not mean they have brains. I mentally kicked myself as I was reminded of just how smart Jae Huntington actually is. Since the first time I saw him, Jae's always possessed the good looks and qualities of a brick wall, except relatively less amiable. This concept now leaves me with one critical question: since when did brick walls grow brains? I can handle people like Raymond, who have brains approximately the size of peas. I can disregard the existence of those types of people with ease. So why did Jae have to make everything so damn complicated by revealing the fact that he, in fact, possesses a brain the size of the Sahara desert?

I snapped out of my reverie at the sound of mum's voice, "Tia hun, help me cut up that celery."

Mum sighed, placing the fresh cooked peas (of all things) under the tap, "Poor Jae, he must be really in trouble to accept lessons from you."

Poor Jae? What is this? Did I hear right? My dear, disillusioned mother: "poor" and "Jae" do not go in the same sentence. Ever. Let me check again that you really just said what I thought I heard you say. Earth to Tia's mother. Key concept here being: you're MY mother. Shouldn't you be all supportive and protective of me?

"How old is he? He looks older than you..."

"Um, I guess around the same age as me? Us being in the same year level and all kind of gives it away mum."

"Hmmm, I'd prefer your boyfriend to be at least one year older," she responded, transferring the peas to a drainer, "but he seems like a reliable young man."

I choked. After my coughing fit died down, my relentless mother continued on her warpath.

"So, does Jae have a job?"

I nearly sliced off the tip of my finger at that question, but never mind- we are vigilant. "Uh… you could say so."

"Sunshine, you're being awfully vague about your own boyfriend."

Wiping my hands on my apron, I muttered, "Kind of hard fitting a sociopath who enjoys killing other people for money into a two worded occupation."

"Kill other people?"

Ah crap.

"I mean, uh, bill other people. Ahahaha… that's right, he bills other people."

"So what, he's a dept collector at his age?"

"Um. Yeah?"

Mum cast a suspicious look at me before going back to sautéing the peas.

"So, what do his parents do?"

An image of the huge Huntington Estate flashed through my mind, "Uh, they're involved in real estate. Look mum, I've got sooo much homework to do so I'll be heading up."

Hanging up my apron behind the sliding door I added, "Oh, I put the celery on the plate, it's to your left."

"Thanks darling," she replied, absentmindedly reaching for the plate.


"Tia!"

"Ommmph!" I mumbled in response to Tim's enthusiastic wrestle whilst trying to keep an adequate space between his preppy jumper and my nose.

When he finally let go of me and grabbed my elbow, he asked, "Have you… caught up with Liz today?"

Blowing loose strands of fringe away from my eyes, I noticed Tim's unusually worried expression. Something was gnawing at him, I was sure of it. Of course, I could have said something more sensitive, but being me- sensitivity failed.

"No, not yet… what's up?" Blunt and to the point. When would I ever learn to be subtle? I tried to focus on what Tim was mouthing at me, but getting jolted around by countless students scrambling towards their classes proved to be rather distracting. The early morning rush was definitely not aiding our little let's-stand-in-the-middle-of-the-hallway-and-block-the-throng convo.

I grimaced as some kid tried to push past me, his elbow digging painfully into my side.

A dangerously soft voice, "You really should grow a better sense of danger."

The second I felt Jae's lips against my neck I stiffened, pushing his supporting arms away furiously whilst Tim gawked at us.

Jae smirked, his dimple flashing in the most annoyingly cute manner. What?! Oh my God, erase that last thought, please. It never existed.

"Catch you later Adler," he practically purred, purposefully emphasising the word "later". The smug little cat that got the canary. Kind of makes you want to punch his face in, doesn't it? And then Jae was sauntering down the hallway, one hand raised as though in acknowledgement of something.

"Whoaa Tia," Tim's eyes were almost popping out of their sockets, "what was that about?"

"Uh… it's a long story."

It'd been two weeks since I started "tutoring" Jae Huntington, but I'd kept my mouth shut about it. It was an embarrassment to be tutoring someone who is actually smarter than you. There, I admitted it. It's even more irking when that said someone just happens to be the one person you despise. And to add to your rapidly climbing blood pressure and irritability, your own mother now thinks the said person is your boyfriend. Definitely not something to shout out in the middle of the school hallway.

Quickly, I changed the topic, hoisting my bag to my other shoulder. "So, Liz…"

"Ah, right. Tia- would you keep a lookout for her today? She's been worrying me-"

Before I could ask why, the second bell had rung, and we were being pushed in opposite directions. The last sight of Tim I caught was a mop of red hair and a twitching hand somewhere down the other end of the hallway.


Catching a glimpse of a neat blond ponytail seated at our usual table, I jumped in front of Liz, uttering cheerfully, "Miss me babe?"

Liz looked up, forcing a smile, then looked back down at her plate of pizza. How I envied that girl for being able to eat such foods as pizza without having to check the scales or the mirror.

"Hey… what's wrong?" I pulled out a chair and sat down, grabbing her hand in concern.

"Tia," was all she managed to get out before tears welled up and I grabbed her into a tight hug.

"It's okay… aw, come on Liz, I don't carry tissues on me, and what about your mascara?!" So, not the most comforting of words, but it was better than bursting into tears with her. It's not exactly been the best week of my life either.

She sniffed, pausing her tears to blink at me rather seriously, "Well then, I'm afraid I'm going to have to ruin the jumper your Gran knit you in grade five."

I grinned back at her, "Go ahead."

"It's just… I…"

I continued offering her the now proven-to-be-useful sleeve of my old jumper.

"It's- it's mum's death anniversary today. And I wanted to visit her but dad-"

Grabbing Liz by the hand, I didn't give her time to continue before towing her out of the cafeteria, and subsequently, out of the school.


Elderwood mansion loomed gloomily in the distance, but we had created our own patch of sunshine near a marble tombstone.

"Thanks Tia, for coming with me. If dad found out I ditched school for this, he'd be furious…"

I bit into my squished tuna sandwich and mumbled, "Hey, what they don't know, can't hurt 'em."

I sat off to the side and waited while Liz placed daffodils in front of the grave.

"Hey mum… It's been a while huh?"

I looked away awkwardly, not sure if I was supposed to be hearing this. Out of habit, I tucked a loose strand of hair behind my ear.

"It's been difficult, but I've finally made new friends. Mum, this is Tia…" Brushing crumbs off my jeans, I walked over to stand beside Liz.

"Hey, Mrs. Duncan."

Liz smiled at me before continuing, "Mum, she's been a really good friend to me. She talked to me when no one else would, and defended me when-"

I butt in, "Aw Liz, I wasn't that good. Anyone would've-"

"No mum, you don't know how grateful I am that she's my friend…"

Blushing, I arranged some flowers I had bought onto the grey slate, beside the bright yellow daffodils.

"Everything's well at home, but we- we still miss you," Liz looked down, picking at her fingernails. "Even after so long, it's still hard to come home and not have you there to ask me how my day was... it still hurts seeing the empty seat at the table. There are four seats you know, for you, me, dad and Danny," She choked, her voice strained, "And it just feels so wrong to see one empty. I'm worried about dad- he's not coping… you know him, always feeling the need to act strong in front of us. Danny's nearly finished elementary school now, he's really grown up- I wish you could see him."

Glistening tears were dropping freely now, as she traced her fingers lovingly across the name etched on the tombstone. I tightened my grip on her hand.

"Maybe dad's like me. Mum… I'm afraid… I'm afraid if I stop hurting… I'll forget you. And I don't want to forget you..."

"Elizabeth!"

My gaze focused on a pair of polished shoes, before I looked up to see a man in his mid-forties making his way towards us amongst crooked gravestones.

"Da- dad," Liz whispered, wiping away the tears with the back of her hand.

The man strode towards her, and then Liz was engulfed in a hug.

Feeling wetness on my own cheeks, I smiled, deciding it was time to take my leave.


"Hey Tim," I spoke into the mobile, "Yes, yes we're fine. Something came up so we had to leave. Yes, call her later- why are you asking me if you should? Do friends need permission to call? No! She's not mad at you… not everything revolves around you, you big headed twit! What?! Did you just say you have the right to be big headed?! Next time I get my hands on you- ah I gotta go. It's starting to pour."

Wiping away the large droplets of rain splashed across my LCD screen, I shoved my phone back into my pocket.

Looking around me for somewhere to take shelter, I ran into a very conveniently situated convenient store.

"I'll take this," I slammed the umbrella onto the table.

"Oh hey, you're…"

Looking up from where I was frantically searching for my wallet in my bag, I found myself staring into familiar green eyes, "Oh, hey Bruce!"

He grinned at me mischievously, "Do you need a bag for that ma'am?"

"I didn't know you worked here," I smiled, "and no, I don't need a bag for that."

"There's a lot of things you don't know about me," Bruce replied in a mock low and mysterious voice, handing me the umbrella.

"I might not know a lot about you, but I do know that it's going to start pouring any second now. Maybe you should get yourself an umbrella while you're at it."

I rushed out the door, catching a glimpse of the clock. Crap. I was going to be at least half an hour late. For the past two weeks, I'd met Jae every Friday after school to lead him to my house.

"I don't know about an umbrella, but I'd like to get to know you better… Tia."

Almost tripping over the mat near the electronic doors, I waved at Bruce absentmindedly, not quite catching his words. Jae was smart enough to wait at my house right? I mean, come on, helloooo brain the size of the Sahara Desert! He wouldn't be silly enough to wait at the school gates in this type of gloomy weather right? For all I knew, he probably decided to skip tutoring today.

Getting off the bus, I trudged down the road to my house. Strange, there was no sign of one incorrigible Huntington boy lurking around one innocent headless chicken's chicken coop. Shrugging, I stuck the key into the door and stumbled into my hallway... attempting, and failing to balance both my bag and new umbrella in one hand. As everything crashed to the floor, all I could think about was how hard it was raining.

Another note stuck to the fridge, the only difference being a heart instead of flower magnet this time:

Will be away for the weekend, meeting upstate. You know where the money's kept.

Love,

Mum.

Yes, well thanks mum, really appreciate you telling me beforehand.

Rain splashed against the window as time ticked by. I held a mug of steaming hot chocolate. The untouched liquid was luke-warm by the time I placed the mug against my lips.

Finally, my conscience won out. 5:30pm.

I just had to check if the idiot was still waiting- not that I cared- but he's kind of my responsibility at the moment. I am, after all, his tutor.


With one hand, I pulled my jacket closer to me whilst the other wrestled my umbrella into place against the wind and rain.

The school was strangely quiet, and as I predicted, there was no one at the gates.

See, Tia? Now look, you wasted your time running all the way here when you could have been safe and snug and actually WARM, all wrapped up in your blanket. Warm, but alone. To my surprise, I felt my eyes moistening at the thought.

There was a scuffling sound behind me and I jumped, realizing how the night had settled so thickly that I could barely see. My heart thumped painfully against my chest as the fear instinct took over from rationality.

"You're l-l-late."

I almost sagged in relief. Woodenly, I turned towards the husky voice broken by shivers. It was ironic that his voice actually left me feeling safer. But then, it made sense- why be afraid of mass murderers when I had Jae?

"Jae."

And then he lunged towards me, his arms around my shoulders and hands pressing desperately into my back.

I could feel the wetness of his shirt seeping into the sleeves of my jacket, and the warmth from his body as he buried his face in my neck. The coolness of his skin…

"So cold…"

Awkwardly I petted his hair. And then, time stopped. In slow motion, his lips touched my skin. My open umbrella fell to the ground and spun in centrifugal circles as I pressed my fingernails into his shoulder-blades in protest.

Like a trail of summer butterflies, his kisses brushed along the curve of my neck and towards my chin, sending deliciously cool shivers down my spine. I could feel every droplet sliding down my back; everything seemed intensified. I could smell the rain, the freshly turned earth, but most of all- my senses were filled to the brim with images of him. It was dark, but I could see him as though it was daylight. And I wondered... just when had everything about Jae Huntington become so clear to my mind- his eyes, his mouth, his voice?

His lips were so close now; I lifted my chin slightly. In the chill night air… our breaths came out as vapour. Slowly, he tilted his head, and I was trapped in those sinfully long lashes, unable to struggle. Water dripping from his fringe seemed to sear my skin as he cupped my face, and the rain ran in rivulets into my slightly parted lips. His long fingers were supporting my neck as he moved his body against mine; his lips burning onto my own with the force of a miniature inferno.

There was no escape.

I felt as though the very boundaries of reality were fracturing and cracking against the intensity of his kiss. It was different to last time… this time the kiss was so achingly tender, almost as though he was afraid I'd disappear. I bit his bottom lip playfully as his tongue teased the corner of my mouth. Vaguely, I tasted vanilla and coffee, suspended in the perfect balance between sweet and bitter. I ran my tongue along his teeth before responding to his curious advancements and becoming more daring, searching for a closeness that remained just out of reach. I could feel his wicked smile without seeing it. The harder he tried to withdraw and remain in control, the more demanding I became. The thirstier he became for the taste of my lips, the more I enjoyed pulling back.

I trailed my fingers down his chest.

In the rain, his hand slipped against my bare skin, threading through strands of my damp hair.

My arms were around his neck now, and I pressed myself against him. I could feel him tense up as I slowly pulled back from the kiss, holding a finger to his lips. He caught my finger with his teeth, rolling the tip of his tongue against my nail.

I wanted to hold him, and never let go.

Let it rain.

My mind was storming.


I balanced myself on the armrest of the sofa.

"So."

Jae leaned back against my sofa smugly, rubbing his freshly washed hair with a fluffy white towel and proceeding to lift an eyebrow at my attempt to break the silence.

I cracked it.

"What the hell was that about?!"

"Admit it, you enjoyed it."

"No, I did not-"

I blinked as he suddenly moved towards me, his face too close to my own for any measure of comfort.

"You're blushing."

Did I mention the boy was incorrigible?!

"Oh, so now you're going to ignore me?" he whispered against my temple.

"I didn't enjoy the fact that after you MOLESTED me you practically fainted and I had to half carry you to my place."

Seriously, was I that bad a kisser? Both time he kisses me, he manages to pass out- what exactly does that say about my technique? I grimaced, massaging my sore shoulder.

"I wouldn't call it molesting by the way you responded, Tia," he smiled the smile of the devil and slid his hand along my leg.

I grabbed the nearest cushion and bashed him over the head.

"Ow!"

Ignoring his obviously feigned shouts of pain, I continued battering him relentlessly with Mr. Piggy. Oh, in case you didn't know, all our cushions have names. It's like having old Mac's farm in your own living room. Just as suddenly, Jae wrapped his arms around me and fell back onto the sofa, eyes closed.

This- this wasn't normal. What the heck were we doing? Tia Adler and Jae Huntington fooling around on a couch?! A ten year old couch that screams to be replaced, no less.

"Jae?"

I sucked in a deep breath and tried to remove myself from his hold. Unfortunately his hold did not loosen by even a touch. I could smell the clean soapiness of his skin and hear the beating of his heart. His bathrobe was still slightly damp. Squirming, I tried to wriggle out of his uncomfortably comfortable embrace. Wait- does that even make sense?

"Jae?"

Still no answer.

For all I knew, the boy had probably fainted dead. Really a blow to my ego. Propping myself up on my elbows, I shifted to place my forehead against his. He'd caught a cold from standing in the rain for hours, rather like an idiot... and I wanted to make sure the medicine was working.

His closed eyes flicked open, and his warm lips caught my own briefly. Before I was even aware of what just happened, he was rolling himself, and consequently me, onto our sides.

And not even once, did his arms let go of me.

I was glad. For the first time since we'd moved, I didn't feel so alone in this house.

I contemplated this surprising piece of the ever elusive truth as I settled into his arms, and then promptly forgot about it.


Although sunlight was filtering across my face, it didn't wake me. Rather, I was woken by the sound of the doorbell.

Untangling myself from Jae- wait… WHAT?!

Okay, so it wasn't a dream. It wasn't a dream. IT WASN'T A DREAM?! Deep breaths, calm down Tia. Let's focus on something else first. Like… answering the door, for example.

Rubbing the sleep out of my eyes, I trudged down the hallway and pulled on the door handle. My whole body was aching from spending a whole night on a sofa with someone who possessed more muscles than flab. But that's just my imagination. It was all an illusion. My mind was playing tricks on me. No way could what I thought happened have happened last night.

"TIA!" Three bright and eager faces peered towards me.

It took a moment before I registered them.

"Asher Cartwright you mongrel! You didn't even give me a warning… Tania and Simon, you guys have got to tell me what's been happening! Wait, where's Steve?" I squealed with happiness, bombarding my friends with questions.

"My darrrling Tia, how you've grown and become so damn sexy. Steve will be dropping around shortly... oh, and by the way pumpkin, who's the spunky man in the bathrobe standing behind you?"

"Man in a bathrobe?" I repeated, confused. The last time I'd checked, I was still a woman.

A familiar but unfamiliarly sleep-laden voice solved my confusion. "Hey."

It was like someone just tipped a bucket of icy reality over my head.

"Ahahaha… you mean that man. Aha, aha, aha. He's my brother," I answered with a decent poker face.

Ash glanced at Tania and Simon as though to explain. "Right guys, it's her brother."

Well, that went down well.

There was a slight pause.

"Since when did YOU, Miss Tia Adler, have a brother?!"

Illusion shattered.


A/N: The story will be moving faster from this point on, I've actually changed my mind and it might be a chapter or two more than 20 chapters total. Look forward to it ;) Oh and if you review, I'd get the next chapter out within the month, I promise. But if no review, then no chappie… wahahahaha the authoress is mean and evil and resorts to threatening her readers. Aw, fine, you know I wouldn't threaten you because I adore you all too much. But I'd be very VERY interested to see what everyone thinks of this chapter- I'll be doing extra SPECIAL replies and possibly give out story hints to those who review. Tell me if you think I handled THE scene (you know which one I'm on about) well, or if you think I failed at it -tear- I'm impossibly bad at writing those kind of scenes...

Also, please check both the NEWS and STATUS section in my author profile for updates on how I'm going to progress with this story and my other ones.

Cheers and hope to see everyone in the next chapter,

eyesofahuntress


All signed reviews will be replied via the "review reply" function, but Anonymous reviewers can find their replies here.

Replies to my anonymous viewers, chronological order:

A: The story wasn't dead… just asleep for a very, very long time. Kind of like Sleeping Beauty if you will. I never give up on my stories, I may get writers' block, suffer from relationship problems, get trapped under a mountain of work… but I always come back to writing. Thank you for continuing to follow this story and enjoying my other one -gives cookies-

The one and only: Whoa! You read all 12 chapters in a day?! Gosh, I adore you! Thank you for giving this story a chance… even though the first chapter in my opinion was horrible. If you review this chapter I'll sic Jae on you -grins-

Rissa: Yes, I took quite a bloody long time didn't I? I give you full permission to kick my ass for that -grins- Congrats on finishing school and moving towards uni life… the next chapters for this story will certainly roll to the plan since holidays have started. Whoot! One whole month for me to do whatever I want (amongst a winter course, industry placement, car buying and trying to get my life sorted).

Jeya: Aw thanks for the encouragement, I really appreciate you taking the time to leave a review. Hopefully you'll join me for the rest of this story… there's still quite a few chapters to go –smiles-

REader: Thank you! I will indeed fight on… no matter what happens in life, I always come back to my writing because it's something I love doing. Thanks so much for the review, and I'm glad you think I've still got my characters. If you HEART the mafia, I HEART you for reviewing –hug-