Saturday, May 16, 2015

Studio Time: Twenty Six

The Long Day's Drive

Despite the fact he found himself flipping pancakes in a kitchen he may have spent five minutes in, Duff was surprisingly content. Not wanting any distraction or interruption, he'd given the cook the day off. Many things would be changing now that Rayne was under his roof. 

She'd slept fitfully the night before and only for a few meager hours. He'd spent some of that time gazing at her portrait. The rest he'd spent watching her, caressing her hair, her back, and her long legs. He'd recognized her need for a champion the moment he laid eyes on the print. Her haunted expression drew him in, tempted him in a way he'd never experienced. The thought of her under his control, bending to his will, and placing implicit trust in him had given him a hard-on in the middle of the gallery where he had seen it for the first time. He hadn't bothered to hide it. 

He'd taken a huge risk pursuing her but the reward had been worth it. She was under his care for now, right where he wanted her. And needed her.

Balancing the hot plate, Duff started for the table, calling her name.  He expected her to quickly respond, not perhaps come when called but something close to it.  He heard nothing.  The waterfall in the front court might overwhelm a soft voice.  He set the plate down and, practicing patience, waited.

Thirty seconds.  He gave her sixty.  Rayne did not have a particularly soft voice, nor should she have had any difficulty hearing his.  He slid the plate along the table, annoyed, and started toward the stairs.  "Rayne!  Answer me!"

He had left her quiet and morose, picking through the little bag she had brought with her yesterday and toying with his watch.  The bag held practically nothing.  He had no idea what she found so interesting about the watch - perhaps it just gave her something to do with her hands.  She was not in a good state of mind.


She was not in the bedroom.  Duff stepped over a pair of his shoes, opened the bathroom door and there she was.  

There was no point in asking what she was doing or why she hadn't answered him.  

"I don't have my brushes or my makeup.  I don't like your toothpaste.  Your shampoo makes my hair a funny color."  Her voice shook.  She'd taken a bath and left a towel tossed on the floor - so she was not particularly neat.  After seeing her house, it didn't surprise him, but it wasn't important.  The housekeeper would deal with it.

"Your hair is not a funny color, cara.  I have other brands of toothpaste if you don't like what I use."

She still did not look up at him.  "I want my own.  And all I have is a lipstick, I don't know why I didn't bring anything but lipstick.  I don't have any clothes, either."

Sitting down beside her, Duff stroked her bare shoulder, not discounting her distress.  He traveled a great deal.  Familiar things were comforting in a strange place.  "I'll get them for you.  I'll bring your brushes and cosmetics and clothing. Tell me what else you want."  Some of the tension left her body but she didn't answer.  "You can wear something of mine this morning.  I cooked breakfast and I want you to tell me how good it is even if it's not."

Lifting her to her feet, Duff guided her into his bedroom, intending to pull out something for her to wear, but Rayne leaned into him, resting her head on his chest.  She was crying again.

"Do you think there's going to be a funeral?"

He took a deep breath.  This would probably continue for a few days.  He had to allow her some time to deal with her sorrow no matter how difficult it was for him - he didn't even know what to say. "That's for his family to decide."

Rubbing her wet cheek against his bare skin, she murmured, "If he had a family maybe he wouldn't be dead."

Now that was an arguable point.  His own family could drive someone to suicide, or murder, or both. "His family might be why he's dead.  Let it go, cara.  It makes no difference now."

"He had a sister," she insisted.  "There might be a funeral.  I want to go."

Duff would not be taking her to Jimmy Breaux's funeral, if anybody cared enough about that wasted rat to arrange a service.  Attending his funeral would do nothing but hurt her more.  He hesitated and decided that, for now, he would avoid giving her a definite answer.  "Perhaps.  For now I want you to dress and come downstairs."

It was a long drive to Sandy Point.  If he made that drive, he may as well take as many of her belongings as he could, all the valuables, all her family photographs, anything he thought worth saving.  Rayne had expensive and valuable guitars - one of them looked like Cooper's Martin.  He had seen maybe half a dozen last night and there were probably more.  Her clothes alone...

He was going to need a bigger car,

Shooter James had a bigger car.  He had a truck.

Shooter had several advantages - he was reliable, he was willing to pick up heavy things, he hauled his boogie boards and skis around in a large truck and he was generous with it, and he forgave, or forgot, the occasional small transgression.  There had been that issue with his girlfriend, the redhead whose name Duff did not recall.  He didn't bother to apologize and Shooter had not mentioned it.  The disadvantage - Shooter was a perpetual motion machine - he usually overlooked.  When he couldn't ignore it, he could walk away from it.

Shooter stepped into the line of sight from the open window.  "Hey man, I got the gear all loaded.  It's gonna rain though and there's only the one tarp.  I gotta go soon."

Duff walked outside to take a quick look at the truck and the stack of Rayne's belongings he was going to try to fit into his own car.  If he loaded everything very carefully, if he took nothing more, he might be able to drive and see at the same time.  

"I've been listening to the local radio and there's all kinds of excitement about Jimmy Breaux dying.  You got a girl claiming Rayne stole her man.  Somebody else saying she messed with the band, broke Jimmy out of rehab, a weirdo who thinks she cursed his cat.  Cooper's name's coming up." Shooter sounded as if that was amazing.  Wow!  Cooper and Jimmy Breaux and Sandy Point all together in one sentence!

"It's Sandy Point, anything is exciting, and Rayne is Cooper's daughter."

"Yeah but apparently Coop wrote a new crazy sweet contract - one of the guys in the band's asking about the money.  I guess he wants to keep part of it."

Taking the final step up the stairs, Duff cautiously opened the screen door.  He had cut his hand on the broken screen, cut it twice.  A generous new contract might be unusual, or even stupid for a band with an addicted front man, but if it had been for Cooper's daughter it made a sort of sense.  "It's none of my business how he wants to spend his money."

"I know but look, even for Rayne, you ever hear anybody call Coop sentimental?  Slim Savage sure as hell isn't."

Duff still had to take down those family photos.  He checked the rickety little table again, making sure he had taken everything he believed Rayne wanted.  He was tempted to sentimentality himself. He could save the little table for the memories it held.  Rayne might like that.  

"Maybe Cooper can get a refund."

Shooter turned away.  "Cold man, real cold."

In the dining room, Shooter banged the table, knocked his foot against something that rattled and looked at him apologetically. "Damn, did that break?  She's got a lot of junk doesn't she.  It's kind of weird - you know, we're here getting her crap and Alex was doing - I mean going with - her mother."

"They're her things, they're important to her. They're not junk even though I have to leave most of them behind." Alex's relationship with Cooper's wife had nothing to do with him.  Alex had been attempting to gaslight Cooper, a game Duff considered ridiculous, delusional, and he knew he wasn't the only one who felt that way.  "Alex was never serious about that woman: he used her."

Shooter rearranged fragile pottery on one of the shelves.  "I think the using was mutual and she wasn't serious either.  Everybody knows it."  He paused, then added, "Are you serious about Rayne?"

"I won't use her."  He looked around the crowded, pretty and feminine little dining room and smiled.  It wasn't a question he knew how to answer, but he knew what he would not do. "I'll never use her. She's safe with me."

"Yeah.  Ok."  A car pulled up, braked hard, then the driver cut the engine and slammed the door.  In the middle of summer the road would be crowded, people parking everywhere, but it wasn't the season yet.  Shooter stepped over more piles and looked out the window.  "We got company.  Randi Taylor, you know her?"

Duff had met Miranda Taylor a few times when he was out with Rayne.  They'd had dinner with Miranda and her boyfriend.  She wasn't someone easily forgotten, and she was also a Lombardo: Camilla's niece  "I know her.  She's Rafe's daughter."

"Yeah, they live up on the hill near me, she's in college so I don't see her around much. I guess we'd better go open the door before she walks right on in."

She did exactly that, walked in and let the screen door bang on its hinges behind her.  Addressing both of them before she made it through into the foyer, Miranda demanded, "What is going on?  Is Rayne here?"

Duff saw her recognize and then direct the force of her general Miranda Taylor presence directly at him.  "Duff? What are you doing here? Where's Rayne?"  

He hadn't expected to run into anyone and could not immediately come up with a response.  He thought he could keep Rayne safe and quiet, hidden in his house for a few days.  It looked like that wasn't going to be possible.

Stepping into the middle of it, Shooter  grinned uneasily.  "Hi, Randi."

Miranda looked him up and down.  "Hi.  What are you doing here?"

"Uh...moving things, moving them in my truck." 

An awkward silence followed.  Duff didn't know her very well but her resemblance to her aunt, to Camilla, was very strong and it was more than physical.

Shooter  turned away to clap Duff briefly on the arm.  "I'll call you later man and we'll work out what to do with all that shi - stuff - in the truck."

Duff wanted out of there.  It was a very long drive, he hadn't finished loading his car, and if it rained on the way back it could hold him up even further.  He aimed an unhappy stare at Miranda. "Thanks, later tonight when we both make it back, however long that might be."

Shooter left.  They stood in the foyer watching each other.   Miranda forged ahead. "I want to know how she is.  Where is she?"

It was too good.  She had stepped right into it.  He couldn't help it.  "In my bed."

She blinked.  

Miranda turned on the heel of her little sandal and headed for the bedroom.  "Your bed isn't here, is it?"

No, it wasn't.

Annoyed, hot and tired, he followed her into that bedroom again.  He had spent hours in Rayne's bedroom and bath and everywhere else in the cottage collecting her cosmetics and bath products, shoes, clothing and lingerie although he planned to discard and replace most of that, family photos, old trinkets, packing them in suitcases and boxes and hauling them out.  Despite the open windows the room was stifling. He wanted to get out of there.

" Are you actually moving her out?  She never said anything about moving - when did this happen? What are doing with all of her things? "

"It all goes with the house when we sell it."

"We?" Miranda arched an eyebrow, lifted and dropped a curtain and glanced outside at the ferry and the looming bridge. She shrugged her bare shoulders.  She was a beautiful young woman even though she seemed inclined to challenge everything that moved.  "Rayne never did really like it here."

"She definitely does not like it here now.  As I said, we're selling it."

She ran her hand down that sheer curtain and then shook her head.  "That might be a good idea if you could do it, but you can't.  You can't sell the house.  It doesn't belong to Rayne.  Her father bought it and he kept it in his name - it's his house."

He swallowed hard, folded his arms over his chest and let that particular piece of information sink in. Damn.  He wasn't likely to convince Cooper to so much as cross the room once he knew where his daughter was staying.  

He could move Rayne out and forget about the place although he was uneasy about it.  Keeping the house meant she could return.  She is not coming back to this piece of shit, he told himself.  You heard Miranda.  She never wanted to be here in the first place.

Duff walked out of the bedroom, slid up onto the painted deck rail and, with misgiving, balanced himself on the thing.  At least it was cooler out here; he could think more clearly.

Miranda followed him, still looking around as if considering the items he had left.  Rayne owned a lot of curtains.  Even out on the deck they blew and billowed in his face.  He could not possibly take the curtains.  Perhaps Miranda wanted the curtains.  Once again, she asked the same question she had been asking since she arrived, but this time with a twist. 

"Duff, is she all right?  She doesn't answer her phone."

He had asked Rayne to call her family and friends to let them know she was all right, although he had instructed her not to reveal where she was, not yet.  She had not called anyone but her father.  It was a choice she was free to make.  Duff had driven two hours over lousy roads and spent most of the day in a rundown house on a rundown island with nothing decent to even eat, and here he was, listening to a lecture from a girl who misunderstood him.   

"She hasn't been taking calls from anyone not even her family. What is this about Miranda?"

Miranda lifted her heavy black hair off her neck.  If he was uncomfortably hot, she had to be sweltering. "Rayne makes bad decisions about men."

A spectacularly obvious statement..."Yes, she's made at least one very bad decision. Isn't that why we're here?"

She shut up but she did not move.  She might come around; she was trying to protect a friend. "I'm worried about her Duff. How is she doing? Maybe if you let me see her I can help. She needs a friend right now." 

She had a point.  If Rayne did not refuse the company, it would be good for her to see her friend.  He could make that decision this evening after he saw how she'd weathered the day.  When he left this morning she looked morose.

His cell buzzed.  His first impulse was to ignore it, look at it later, but when the text came through a second time he slid it out of his pocket and read it.  


Before he left, he told Rayne not to call him to ask when he would be back, to request some item like milk, to make an idle comment on something she'd read or seen, not that he expected she would do any of those things.  

She had not.  The text said simply, Come back now plz Duff

His reaction was immediate and hard.  He caught his breath.  Something was very wrong.  Picking up on it, Miranda asked, "Is everything okay?"

'Leaving now cara' he tapped into the cell.  He tried to focus enough to answer her question and fell back on honesty.  "I don't know." 

Slamming through the door off the kitchen, kicking the thing, swearing, the handle breaking in his hand - he was done with this fucking house - Duff  yanked his keys out of the pocket of his jeans.

"Take whatever you want, Miranda. Rayne will not be coming back."


  1. I wish Duff would have told Rayne that Randi was there. But I guess if Rayne isn't answering her phone, then maybe she needs some alone time. I just hope he doesn't put up a fuss if she decides to go to the funeral.

    I'll miss that gorgeous beach house, but after Jimmy, Rayne does need a change of environment.

    1. I'll miss that house, too. Maybe somebody else can use it although it's hard to imagine who. Rayne knows Randi has been calling. She doesn't want to talk to anybody yet. I've been there. Duff will not want to go to the funeral. No. Rayne doesn't quite realize what she's gotten into - some of which she will appreciate, some maybe not so much.

      I've started reading again, too, which I'm going to really enjoy! Yours was the first on my list.

      Thank you for your wonderful, so appreciated support.

    2. Thanks for continuing to follow our story. Miss everyone in the community!

  2. Scary text. I hope everything is alright. Although, judging from Duff's reaction, he's fearing the worst too. It's nice Miranda came around to check on Rayne. Lol. Duff though is determined to keep his new found toy all to himself. At least for a while. Him and his control. Damn. And I just can't get enough.

    I feel bad for Rayne. She is really going through it. I'm hoping that having some (if not most) of her personal effects with her at her *ahem* new home will make her feel better; maybe safer and more secure. She's not likely to get over Jimmy's death any time soon though and that is not going to sit well with Duff. Nope. Not one bit.

    Cooper...hmm. Would I like to see a Duff v Cooper showdown? Yes. Yes I think I would :D

    1. Thanks so much for sticking with us and for commenting. Rayne is exceptionally fragile right now. Duff is right to worry.

      I can't wait for our Cooper and Duff showdown either.

    2. I think you're likely to see a Duff v Cooper showdown. That's not a confrontation Duff would comfortable facing - Coop is going to be furious when he finds out where his daughter is staying. Duff has an unusual reputation.

      Rayne's situation is bad now and it's just begun. She's not going to jump right back from Jimmy's death - even if she didn't blame herself, she cared a lot about him. Duff doesn't realize yet how bad it is or how much worse it's going to get. Shooter's casual comments about the reaction to Jimmy's death are accurate.

      Thank you...and I really loved reading your story today. It is a lot of fun finding these stories still being written despite all the changes.

  3. I cannot begin to fully explain how good it was to hear that the two of you came back to this. The characters are still as rich and and enchanting as ever.

    The text definitely has me worried. Losing someone you love plays on every part of your being and even though Duff has his own wants for Rayne, I'm glad he's there for her. Randi, too. It's natural to want to be alone, but having people stick by you and show they care, helps with healing.

    Rip Jimmy.

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. And I cannot explain how wonderful it is to have people remember you after you've let something hang for this long. Thank you so much.

      Duff will stick by her. He may not share her sentiments, but she's hurting and that hurts him. Randi is a good friend and she'll be there if Rayne lets her in.

      I know. I love Jimmy. I'll miss him.

    3. And I cannot explain how wonderful it is to have people remember you after you've let something hang for this long. Thank you so much.

      Duff will stick by her. He may not share her sentiments, but she's hurting and that hurts him. Randi is a good friend and she'll be there if Rayne lets her in.

      I know. I love Jimmy. I'll miss him.

    4. Thank you so much Qui! I'm glad we are back at it too. I love these characters more than I can say. Even though I've been absent, I still hear them and think about them. Duff and Rayne's journey won't be easy but I think they will both discover things they didn't anticipate. Losing Jimmy was hard on me too. I just adored him.

      Thanks again!

  4. Oh how I have missed this world. I'm so glad to see that you two have come back to this story; I really missed reading it. Duff is a possessive one isn't he? It will be interesting to see how much control he actually gets over Rayne. My bet is, not much or at least not as much as he would like. Moving her in was a good start though. That text was very cryptic and I can't imagine what could have gone wrong. If it has anything to do with her father though.....fireworks! I can't wait to see what happens next :)

    1. Thank you Muzegoddess, we have missed it too. It feels good to be back. Duff and Rayne have an interesting ride in front of them. Fireworks will come from more that one angle. We look forward to sharing their journey with everyone.

      Thanks again so much; it means a lot that you stuck with us. We both love these characters.

  5. You've been nominated!

    1. I am speechless! Thank you so much, wow, really honored! I'm looking through your submission right now. What a fantastic thing - thank you, Dai

    2. Dittoing what S.B. said. So nice of you to think of us after all this time! *hugs*

  6. Yay, you're back! I actually thought maybe you guys were finished with this story but I'm glad you're not.

    Oh, I still just don't trust Duff! He just seems so domineering to me, though in a quiet sort of way most of the time, and I hope he finds that Rayne will not be controlled like that. Otherwise, I don't see this ending well. :\

    1. Thank you Carla. Outside forces were really sucky for a long long time but I always hoped I could come back. I'm trying to find people again and happy that some of you are still around!

      Duff is a complicated person but domineering is way up there. Rayne's been bouncing around and bruising herself since she was a little girl so that kind of structure is comforting now, but she has a strong and volatile personality. We've been looking forward to putting them together and let them face the storm that will inevitably follow.

      Thank you so much again!

  7. Duff gives me the shivers. He seems caring but far too controlling for my tastes. I can see this getting out of hand quite easily since she feels like she's at a lost. What an opportune time for him. I hope Miranda keeps trying to get in contact with her. I also wish she'd just follow Duff but something tells me that he would be too careful to let her follow him without noticing.

    1. Thank you so much again. We'd hoped to continue posting these on a little quicker schedule but significant real life problems have slowed things down. I'm grateful you're sticking with us.

      Duff is both caring and controlling, more controlling at the moment than perhaps he'd normally be in this environment since he's been taken by surprise and he's protective. Miranda doesn't think her friend is in danger, but she's legitimately concerned that Rayne is going to make another really stupid mistake and end up hurt again. She doesn't know what to make of Duff.

      Rayne is relying on Duff completely. Giving up the independence of her own home is a big step and one she's taking without really knowing what she's getting into.

      With everything that's going on, again I'm sorry for not seeing this, for missing out on what you and others have been creating, and for being AWOL in general. Thank you for not giving up on us.