(to read Part One of Raising Thunder, click here –> PART ONE)
A small chuckle barked from his chest as he continued toward the kitchen ahead of me. Following after him, I could see the slight limp he stalked with and the trace of a bandage lining the back of his neck. All in all, he looked as if he’d just walked away from a badly fought boxing match.
“Nice ‘stache, Mattie. Do me a favor: go to your room, pack a duffel bag, and let Mom and I talk. Clothes and your toothbrush. Now,” his dad stated, strolling into the bright kitchen as if our small cottage were his playground. His voice felt too large in the tiny room, it’s bass and southern edge drawling out at the end of words but still sharp and assertive.
Glancing at me, Matt’s eyes shone like a deer in headlights and his hesitation pulsed across the room between us.
Nodding, I reached my hand out to help him off the bar stool. His skin was warm against mine and I rubbed gently against the callouses he was forming on his hands from hours of guitar strumming.
“Listen to your dad. We’ll be right here,” I said, sharing a smile with as much reassurance as I could muster and letting the sparks jump back and forth between our hands. “There’s an empty gym bag is in the hall closet you can use.”
Once Matt’s footsteps had faded down the hall, I turned to the man dominating the space and pacing like a bear in a cage. As I waited for an explanation, I noted the dark circles sinking into his cheekbones beneath his brown eyes and the stubble clinging to his jawline from several days of not shaving. His hands shook as he leaned against the kitchen island where Matt had been sitting and rubbed the spot between his eyebrows.
“You know, I think that’s the first time in ten years you’ve actually told him to do what I said,” he said, sarcasm and exhaustion dragging out his words. I could see the jagged cut of scars lining across his knuckles, flaming white hot against his tan hands as he continued to rub his forehead. His old wedding ring caught the sunlight and threw a glare into my face, almost accusing me in the silence of how empty my own left hand was. “Nice little trick with your hands. How long has that been going on? Wait. Let me guess: you told him not to tell me.”
“August,” I snapped, the irritation in my chest making me bite out his name, “if Mac opened his big mouth about yesterday, we don’t your hel-”
“You’ve never needed my help, Haven,” he whispered, his sudden gentleness cutting into my sentence. A deep sigh rippled out of his chest before his eyes raised to meet mine.”Let’s not yell, shall we? We don’t have time. I’m not here about yesterday. Trust me, it’s the least of our worries. I need you, for once, to just listen.”
His evident nervousness only served to tinder my own agitated edge like a flame.
“I need you to go pack a bag, too. Keep it light,” he murmured, watching my reaction. On instinct, a million questions pounded my lips but his deep voice rushed in to cut me off before I could ask. “Haven, this isn’t about us, okay? You’re lashing out in fear. I’m not taking Mattie away from you. I’m asking you both to come with me. I will explain everything in the car if you will just trust me this once to do what I ask and know I only ask because it is extremely important.”
“Trust you,” I laughed. “You can’t be serious. You work for them.”
Slamming his fist down on the island, barely contained fury contorted his features to an almost wolf-like grimace.
“He is my son,” he said, voice quiet even in his anger as he stared up at me. “Me working for them is a blessing, Haven. I hear things. I know what is coming. And I am telling you, if you two don’t come with me, they are going to take him.”
© 2016 Pearl Bayou – All Rights Reserved.