Marina draped a towel around her body and bent over to pull the stop out of the bathtub. The warm water had soothed her muscles and she felt rejuvenated. She wiped the fog off the mirror and looked at her reflection. There was a smile on the face of her mirror-image and she blushed when she thought back on how that got there.
Her face turned every shade of red when she remembered how Raven’s hands roamed over her entire body, resting at the most inappropriate places. How his blanket of kisses burned her wherever they lingered even if it was just for a second… The things she said to him, the way she said them, encouraging him to…
She splashed a handful of water on her face, even though she just took a bath. Guess the heat doesn’t just up and go when you want it to. When her face wasn’t a revealing shade of pink anymore, she moved away from the mirror and returned to the bedroom.
The bed had been empty when she woke up and it was still empty. Marina was a bit confused by it, but the entire situation was confusing. It had been such a long time since she last felt like this... She was smiling none-stop and it felt as if she were soaring up in the sky… The rumble in her stomach was what brought her back down and she got dressed. She made up the bed and fluffed up the pillows before she left the room and headed to the kitchen. Breakfast was very much due…
The scent of freshly brewed coffee was the first thing that hit her when she descended the stairs. Jane was stirring in a huge bowl and Julie was squeezing out a few oranges freshly picked from the garden. The minute she stepped into the kitchen Julie stopped and leaned against the wall, right next to her.
‘Sooo…’ Julie grinned, ‘How was your night? Did you sleep well?’
‘Yes… why?’ Marina sheepishly answered.
‘Oh, come on Marina! Your moans were practically all over the hallway!’ Julie belched out.
‘They were NOT!’ Marina partially yelled.
‘Shhhhh’ Jane silenced them, pointing at Rosalie’s room.
‘You’re right, they weren’t! But you could easily hear them with your ear pressed against the door’ Julie said and immediately bit her bottom lip.
‘What were your ears doing on my door?’
‘I…uh…well… That’s COMPLETELY beside the point. And you already admitted to moaning when you denied my claim, so how was it? How moves Raven, the delicious eye-candy? Come on, dish!’
Marina’s cheeks colored a bit, but she didn’t brush her cousin aside. ‘We didn’t sleep together!’
‘Of course not! Moaning like that is perfectly normal when nothing happens! Sure! Uh-huh!’ Julie brushed an invisible object of her sleeve.
‘No really, we didn’t sleep together. I wanted to…, he knew I did, but instead he gave me…’
‘BLISS!!’ Julie squirmed.
Pink-cheeks turned into red-cheeks at Julie’s words. She had no idea how close to the truth she was, but Marina would never get into details how skilled Raven is with both his hand and mouth. ‘He just made me feel…’
‘BLISS!!’ Julie squirmed.
Marina looked up and caught the stop-that look Jane gave Julie. She even mouthed it to her, but couldn’t stifle back her own laughter.
‘He made me feel alive again… And for one night, I didn’t have a single worry on my shoulders… some light in my darkness…’ Marina said, eyes glazing over.
‘Oh honey, that’s beautiful! I know the feeling, it’s called… BLISS!!!’ Julie squirmed.
They all laughed this time and shushed each other pointing at Rosalie’s room, which of course brought on some more laughter.
‘Speaking of night-occurrences…’ Jane nudged Julie with her shoulder, ‘Where’s Dante?’
Julie grinned even wider than the Cheshire cat from Alice in Wonderland, thinking back on her own episode of ‘Once upon a Snow Night’.
‘Oh, he left… He had to go home to get his duffle bag; Early yoga class today’
‘Dante?’ Marina frowned, ‘Who‘s Dante? What happened to Jason?’
‘One and the same, honey! First and middle name! See, Dante is Jane’s Yoga teacher… Jason helps ME twist and bend it… Mmm, I miss him already’
‘Okay, too much information’ Marina answered, taking a sip of her coffee.
‘You’re insatiable!’ Jane said hitting her with the kitchen towel.
‘I know!’ Julie answered, catching it and throwing it to Marina.
Somewhere in between the giggles and towel-fighting, they managed to make Banana & Cream-waffles, fried-eggs and bacon and a warm broth. The richest scents floated throughout the entire house waking up all the sleepy-heads.
Marina helped Julie set up the table, while Jane finished flipping the last of the pancakes. It wasn’t long after that a thundering sound on the stairs announced the arrival of El Nino...make that La Nina. Lily was awake. She jumped on one of the kitchen chairs just as Marina and Julie came back.
‘Banana-waffles! My favorite, can I test one? Pretty please?’ she said swinging her legs under the table.
‘Nah-uh, little lady! You’ll wait until after we’re finished; now go brush your teeth!’
‘Aww, right now? Do I have to?’
‘Yes!’ all three of her aunts said together and she pulled a face before thundering back up the stairs.
‘Hey, have you seen Raven by any chance? He was already up when I woke up!’
‘He was in the yard just then. Didn’t you see him?’ Julie answered, picking up the tea tray, tipping it to the side.
‘Yeah, he’s been out there all morning doing God-knows what’ Jane said quickly catching one of the tea cups and putting it back on Julie’s tray.
‘Maybe he’s meditating, I don’t know? And in the snow too’ Julie shrugged.
Marina looked through the kitchen window to see that it had, to Julie's delight, indeed snowed last night. ‘Thanks…', she smiled before heading for the backyard.
All the teenage insecurities came back full throttle when she stood on the balcony looking at him. He was standing with his back towards the house and her. He looked deep in thought…
Marina took a breath and started walking in his direction. It felt like a long and heavy walk. She imagined this moment to be the same awkward moment when two strangers sleep together in a drunken stupor and wake up facing each other in the morning. Only problem was, they weren’t drunk… and though he didn’t sleep with her, he did kiss and touch her intimately.
What if he says he’s leaving? What if we can’t face each other anymore? What if he says it was a mistake? All these questions and doubts made her shoes feel like they were full of lead. She wasn’t prepared for all of this. She was attracted to him, sure, but what if that was all it was- an attraction? Behind her she could still hear Jane and Julie having fun preparing for breakfast and here she was dreading every step she took. If she could hear their laughter, so could he, but he didn’t move…
Marina’s breathing stopped when she came to a halt near him. She was close enough to touch him if she reached out and considered it for a minute, but was afraid of getting the answers to her previous fears and she dropped her hand again.
The awkward feeling in her stomach made her turn around, afraid to find out that if he indeed had the same feeling it would make him walk out faster…
She had only turned half-way when she felt a pair of strong arms around her waist.
The next two causes of her breathlessness were his lips on hers and the feeling of his firm body pressed against hers. She had not expected this reaction from him, but didn’t complain at all when he expertly worked her mouth. His lips seduced hers into opening and allowing him the access he yearned for and he tasted the sweetness of her mouth. Raven lured her tongue inside his own mouth and there continued its sensual dance against hers; gently sucking on it once or twice. Marina threw her arms around his neck when her legs threatened to give out and deepening the kiss. She moaned his name against his lips and he pulled her tighter against his body, running his hands over the small of her back.
Neither of them wanted to break the kiss, but they had to… they were running out of breath. Marina didn’t even bother opening her eyes when they stopped for a breather. She felt so warm on the inside; it was like she was still asleep and dreaming. Raven pressed a feathery light kiss on first her bottom lip to repeat the process on her upper lip.
‘Good morning!’ he whispered, and she opened her eyes.
‘How did you…’ she breathed out a satisfied sigh, ‘…know I was behind you?’
Raven caressed his way up her arm and back down. ‘I felt you…’
‘…And you just took a bath, because that lavender scent is everywhere’ he jested pressing his nose in the nape of her neck and inhaled deeply to emphasize his words. She let out a soft laugh.
‘I thought you’d left…’
‘…and gone where exactly?’ He tilted his head slightly.
Right, amnesia! He didn’t really have a place to go… Marina thought. Being in his arms had made her forget a lot more than just her sadness it seemed.
He rained another set of soft kisses over her entire face making her sigh. ‘Where do we go from here Raven…’
‘I don’t know… depends…’
My twin companions, he thought, but before he could come up with a good answer, they were interrupted by Lily hanging over the balcony-railing, screaming ‘Breakfast’ at the top of her lungs.
Wordlessly Raven took Marina by the hand and let her to the sun-room. Lily swung her legs over the railing and ran to the table taking her seat next to Raven, leaving Marina to sit next to Jane. Lily had taken a strong liking to Raven and included him in almost everything she did or wanted to do. They even had a little fork-battle while the others prepared their plates.
In no time the table was buzzing with excited tales, screaming above each other’s voices and laughter. Marina and Raven occasionally glanced at one another and let their gaze linger. They only had eyes for each other…
… and Rosalie only had eyes for them.
The day seemed to fly and before they knew it, it was time for Marina to go home. Lily cried and clung onto Raven until it was time to go. She'd always go to the farm with her aunt Marina when she visited Rosalie; even had her bag packed, but Jane thought it best she didn't this time with Raven there. If it was just the women there wouldn't be a problem, but with a man in the house now and the newly developing relationship between him and Marina… Rosalie agreed with Jane, but not for that reason. She was already a bit antsy about Raven being in Marina's vicinity, probably putting her in danger even if he thinks otherwise. He can protect her, she knew from her past he was capable, but what if the same "people" that wounded him in the first place attacked again? Who'd protect who then? There was no way she'd add her great-granddaughter to that danger.
Rosalie placed a protection charm over Marina when she said her goodbyes earlier that evening. Marina didn't notice, but the smile on Raven's face told Rosalie he did. She didn't shoo Marina out of the room this time when she said her goodbyes to him. Nor did she reveal in any way that they knew each other from way back. He needed to sort out for himself what he was doing and the consequences his actions could or couldn't bring. Rosalie didn't shy however to give him a last VERY threatening glare when Marina wasn't looking. One he answered with a nod of understanding and a kiss on the back of both her hands.
Jane had a hard time prying Lily off Raven's leg. 'Do you have to go?' Lily sobbed. Raven kneeled before her and pulled her ear; a little giggle escaped between the sobs. 'Yes I do, fire-fly' he smiled.
'But what if I never see you again?'
'Of course you'll see me again. You're gonna marry me when you get bigger won't you?'
She nodded fervently while rubbing in her eyes. 'In a princess-dress and everyone's gonna eat aunt Jane's cupcakes', she tried to smile, but it never came through. She locked her little arms around his neck one last time. 'I love you Raven'
'I love you too, little fire-fly', he told her and handed her to Jane.
'I'll see you around Raven' Jane said, giving him her hand. He bowed over it gracefully. 'It's been a pleasure Jane'
Julie nudged his shoulder when he took too long to give her attention. 'Yes, Julie'
'I thought you'd take so long you'd only be able to give me a wave', she pouted.
'You're my favorite, I'd never pass you up. The last person always gets the longest hug, so I saved it for you'
'Aww, I'm gonna miss you! We had so much fun', she locked him in an embrace.
'You worked me to the bone, Julie', he scoffed.
'Like I said, fun, and you're very sweet on the eyes, so don't stay away too long. I'd hate to forget that handsome face', she winked at Marina. Julie squeezed him a little harder and started to pull back when that all too familiar shudder moved through her body. She let go of him fast, but not fast enough to rouse suspicion.
'Are you okay?', Raven asked who did notice the sudden change.
'Yes', Julie plastered a smile on her face, 'just a bit of a chill'. She rubbed her arms for effect and took a step back. Her smiling face would've fooled him into thinking she was fine, were it not for her heart beating a tad faster.
'Alright, I'll see you around', he answered and followed Marina to the truck. He looked back at her once more before getting in.
Maybe you're wondering who Lily is? No? Okay, then you're okay!
Maybe you're wondering who Lily is? No? Okay, then you're okay!
Lily is Marina's niece from her brother Michael Astor. He's been MIA in the Navy for quite a while now, one of the reasons for Marina's depression. I had written a scene for Lily and her mother, but you wouldn't see the mother, Jenna, again, so I cut it. Originally Lily WAS going back with Marina to the ranch, but that would give me some more fluff chapters that I'm removing now. I want to get back to the main storyline and get the seriousness back. I've shown the lovable family a bit too much now. Sure it had important parts, but still, it all seemed fluff LOL
See you next time!
See you next time!