Read The Rhythm of Rain Online

Authors: C. L. Scholey

Tags: #Fiction

The Rhythm of Rain (4 page)

The car sped away with Rain screaming she wasn't inside the burning home. Telor began running after the car, and Rain screamed louder. He couldn't save her; he needed to get Papa out of the house before it was too late. She saw Telor slow down. His hand reached in her direction and she watched as his head lifted to the sky. He clenched his fists. He howled like a man possessed. Telor spun on his heels and raced back into the burning home.

The car rounded the corner and she heard a loud crash. A massive amount of smoke billowed into the sky up past the treetops that were hiding her view. Rain thought her heart would burst from the pain she was in. Did the house explode?
Oh God. Were they dead? Papa, Telor, my Telor
. Rain slumped on the seat and began sobbing.

"Damn you, Jaron. Damn you to hell."

"I've already been there," was his response. The car raced into the dark night.

Chapter Four

They drove for hours. Night turned to morning, then afternoon. Jaron didn't stop at a station for gas. He pulled over in a remote area and filled the tank from a gas can. When done, he opened the backdoor. Rain was huddled in a ball. Her face was void of fear, void of expression. Jaron grabbed her arm and yanked her outside. He pinned her to the side of the car. She refused to look at him.

Jaron pulled out the key to the handcuffs. "If you need to take a leak, now's the time."

Rain turned her head ever so slightly and spat in his face. Jaron grabbed her throat and raised a balled fist. Rain didn't flinch. Her look was hollow. If his fist smashed into her slender cheek, he would break her bones. Jaron lowered his hand and wiped his sleeve across his cheek, ridding it of moisture. He twisted his hands into the flimsy material of her spaghetti-strap top.

Jaron pulled her off her bare feet to his height and glared at her with as much fury as he was able until she turned her head away. For a second more he pressed her higher into the air. He was six-foot-four, hard as steel after years of using the jail gym—he had needed to get strong to survive. No one was allowed to fuck with him. Especially not her. Rain felt like a living doll in his arms. She kicked her legs and tried wiggling sideways. He was hurting her chest; he could tell.

Jaron shoved her back into the car. Rain fell onto the seat sideways. She pulled her legs up to her chest. She may have acted unconcerned, but he saw her shaking—he had scared her. Jaron slammed the door.

Without another word Jaron got back behind the wheel. He pulled out onto the gravel road slowly, taking deep breaths to regain his temper. This was her fault, he reminded himself. It didn't matter that she was smaller and weaker. Anything that happened to her was a direct result of what she had done to him.

Near dusk, Jaron stopped at a secluded cabin. They weren't too far from the interstate. They still had a ways to travel. The cabin was dark. Jaron got out of the car and locked the doors, leaving Rain behind while he checked out his hideout. It was empty. He went back for Rain. When he pulled her from the car she collapsed and he slung her over his shoulder.

Once inside the cabin he dropped her onto a couch. She settled with a bounce and lay there, looking right through him. Jaron hoisted her into a sitting position. His fist wound in her red lace teddy, keeping her upright.

"We're going to talk," he said grimly.

"You killed Papa, and my friend." Her voice was monotone.

"I didn't set the fire," he ground out.

"Then why didn't you save him?" Rain looked at him and from her expression he knew she was seeing him.

"Carver set the fire," Jaron said. "He's after you, too."

"Who is Carver and why is he after me?"

"You know why. I don't."

"I
don't
know why."

"Cut the shit," he yelled directly into her face and she cringed.

"I don't know why," Rain screamed. She yanked herself from his grasp, her teddy ripping, and was suddenly up and running toward the door.

Jaron went after her. She collided with solid wood and slumped to the ground. Jaron hauled her up and sent her spinning back onto the couch. She lay on her side gasping. Jaron yanked her upright once more and her shoulders bent forward to try and cover her exposed breasts.

"Why are you doing this to me, to my family?"

"You can't be serious," he said, shaking his head.

Jaron's hands shook when he sat beside her. He had waited years to ask her why she had let him rot in jail. She wasn't going to ruin his revenge by making him feel any sympathy for her—no matter how pitiful she looked. Jaron grabbed her shoulders and shook her.

"You left me there all alone," he yelled into her face. "Why didn't you come forward and tell them what really happened?"

"I don't know what you mean."

"You're lying," he ground out. "The night your parents were killed I saved your life."

"I don't remember."

"How can you not remember? You reached for me after your mother was dead on the ground in the pouring rain. While the apartment went up in flames behind you."

"I was all alone when they found me," she said with confusion.

"Because I left to get Carver away from you," Jaron snapped. He got to his feet and started pacing.

"I was only four years old. I was just a little girl."

"That was your excuse then. That I get. But when you got older why didn't you tell someone I hid you? Why didn't your grandparents say anything? I was twelve, for God's sake. I couldn't run with you and get away from Carver. He was twenty and twice my size back then. Shit, you saw him a few hours ago; he's still huge. He's thirty-eight, in his prime, and pissed as hell."

Rain looked up at him. Her dark brown eyes were wet. She looked so confused. Jaron ran a quick hand over his face. He sat down beside her again.

"Look, all I want to know is why," he said.

Jaron was unable to keep the tone of his tortured voice even. For years she was all he had thought about. He had been bewildered at first. Then he grew hopeful. She had been a child; she had been scared; but as she grew older she would tell them. All Jaron had to do was wait a little longer…
just a little longer
. Until he finally realized she would never come forward. But why hadn't she?

"I swear, Jaron, I don't remember that night."

"Your dad was shot. The apartment was set on fire. Your mother escaped with you. It was storming. She ran into the street screaming for help, but no one wanted to go against Carver and his gang." Rain was shaking her head no. "Damn you,
remember it!"

"What happened after you left me?" Rain said. Her voice was small.

"I led Carver away. Police cornered us. Carver told them I killed your mother. He said it was my initiation into his gang. Her blood was all over you so it was all over me when I picked you up. The gun was never found. No witnesses ever came forward to dispute Carver. My mother had no money for bail. I had a shit lawyer who hated pro bono work but did it to impress some woman who left him halfway through my trial. I was tried as an adult and was found guilty. I got fifteen years. Carver got twenty for killing your dad and starting the fire, but he was paroled two weeks ago."

"If you got out three years ago, why didn't you ask me then?"

"It takes money to track someone down. You think anyone would hire me? Your grandfather made sure you disappeared off the face of the earth. I became a private investigator."

"You found me for Carver?" she whispered.

"I found you for me, on Carver's dime," Jaron snapped. "Why the hell not?"

"What does he want? Who is this Mr. Carver?"

"Hell, he's no mister," Jaron said, his voice dripping with sarcasm. "He's called 'Carver' because he likes to slice people into
itty-bitty
pieces." Rain shivered. "The bastard wouldn't tell me what he wanted with you. When I found out Carver was getting out of jail, I offered him my services. You never said a word to spring me and he knows it ate at me—even more than his lies. His I understood; he was a shit then and still is. Why not take the bastard's money? But I swore to myself before I let him kill you I wanted to know why you never said anything."

"Did it ever occur to you if I saw my parents murdered I might be traumatized?" Rain snapped.

"I don't believe you," Jaron said angrily. "You and I are going back, Rain. We're going to retrace that night, and if you don't remember now, you will. There's something more to this. Something Carver wants and knows you have it or can find it. I want it. Consider it payment for services rendered."

"What services?" she asked, glaring daggers at him.

"For saving your life twice and giving up half of mine."

Jaron tied her ankles together and gagged her. For a moment he stared openly at her exposed breasts. He saw a red hue creep up over her jaw line. The last time he had seen her she was little more than a baby. She was all grown up now in all the right places.

Jaron's heart was pounding. Ever since he had seen her dance in the studio after he had looked through her purse for her address, he had felt his hands sweat. She was a beauty; she had met her beast.

"We're going back tomorrow," Jaron told her quietly. "You either miraculously remember what it is Carver needs, or he'll help you remember when I hand you over to him."

Chapter Five

The car bounced over the potholes and uneven pavement. This part of the city was so poorly kept Rain was amazed it had pavement at all. It was obvious Jaron had a destination in mind. The sky was darkening overhead as another day came to a close. Jaron parked the car in a seedy back alley and faced her.

"Ring any bells?" he asked.

Rain didn't answer. For most of their trip Jaron had regaled her with prison exploits. She could see why he was so hard. A lost lonely little boy in jail surrounded by hardened killers. How sad…at least it would be if she believed he hadn't murdered her mother. After witnessing the fire and her kidnapping, she didn't believe he was innocent for a second. No doubt Carver would be close by.

"Cat got your tongue?" Jaron asked, smirking at her.

Jaron got out of the car. He yanked Rain to his chest when he opened her door. For a moment she met his cruel gaze before looking away. There was garbage in the alley, spilling from containers. The air smelled rancid. Rats were climbing over cardboard and she shivered.

"Home sweet home," Jaron said and pulled her along.

Rain could see one side of the building still looked charred, even after all this time. A rope with ratty clothes hung overhead, flapping in the wind. Rain winced and cried out. She had stepped on something sharp, still in bare feet. Jaron had given her a pair of his old boxers and a T-shirt to wear. The boxers were less revealing than the tiny lingerie panties she had been wearing. She had noticed Jaron studying her legs. Perhaps the skimpy panties were too distracting. His boxers were too big, and he had pinned the sides together to keep them up.

"Someone's bound to notice a barefoot, half-dressed woman in handcuffs being dragged along," Rain said.

"No one sees anything here," he answered unconcerned.

With his hand gripped tightly around her arm he dragged her, limping, to another alley. Rain scanned the area. Nothing was familiar. She looked up at him.

"I can't remember what never happened," she said.

That pissed him off. "You were here," he all but yelled. "Your mother's body was on the ground and you saw me in the shadows. I picked you up."

Jaron scooped her up under her knees and carried her to a small shed. He dumped her down onto a bunch of garbage bags.

"The shed wasn't here," he began, agitated. "There was an overhang, a board. You were small enough to hide under it, but I couldn't fit in with you. It was either leave you behind, or we would both die."

"So you abandoned me, really," she said and glared up at him.

Jaron grabbed her shoulders and hauled her up and shook her. "I dumped trash cans running in the opposite direction so Carver would follow me," he raged.

Rain yanked herself away from him. "Why, Jaron? Why would you save me?"

"Because I was twelve and stupid and didn't know they tried little boys for murders they didn't commit," he snapped back.

"Or maybe I did have something." She narrowed her eyes at him. "Maybe you figured you'd take what I had once you got away."

"All you had was a damn rag doll clutched to your chest," he snapped directly into her face. His heated breath washed over her. "I don't nor have I ever played with damn dolls."

Rain stumbled back, caught off guard by not only his words but a vague memory he'd stirred. She almost fell onto the garbage bags and without the use of her cuffed arms she would have toppled over if Jaron hadn't grabbed a fistful of her shirt.

"What doll?" she stammered.

"I don't know," Jaron bellowed. "A stupid tattered doll you carried."

"My dad brought it back from Brazil," Rain whispered. Her mind was searching for a memory; it was so close, hovering on the edge of her conscious thought.

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