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Authors: Shelia Chapman

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BOOK: Blood of the Rainbow
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Jared stiffened and ended the kiss. He put his hands on her shoulders, holding her a few inches from his body. He closed his eyes, drawing in a slow, deep breath, speaking in a soft groan. “Sara, do you have
idea, how much restraint… I’m having to use right now? You’re dangerous! You’re too loveable and kissable. I’ve never needed anyone like this before. It’s as if I need you to breathe.
my air Sara.” He kissed her again, with equal passion. Sara felt as if her body would spontaneously combust. She couldn’t breathe, she couldn’t speak. All she could do was burn under his hot, moist lips as her body ached for him.

When they finally came up for air, Sara felt dazed, dizzy, as if she would pass out. How could she have known a kiss would affect so many of her senses at the same time? She swayed. Jared grabbed her shoulders, steadying her, his eyes filled with concern. “Sara – are you all right?”

Sara’s heart was still pounding; she drew in a calming breath and waited for her head to stop spinning. “I’m all right, but I think I should sit down.”

Jared wrapped one arm around her waist, quickly opening his saddlebag and took out a multicolored blanket. He led her under a giant cypress tree. Holding one corner of the blanket, he flung it open, spreading it over the ground. Jared took Sara’s hand as they knelt on the blanket and then sat down. He wrapped his arms around her shoulders, pulling her against his chest. “Feeling better now?”

Sara nodded. She breathed in deeply, filling her senses with his masculine smell, a mingling of his scent and cologne. She reached down and ran her hand over the raised designs on the blanket, it was soft, and the raised fibers tickled her palm. She smiled. “This is beautiful. Is it…?”

“…Real?” Jared smiled, whispering through her hair. “Yes, it’s very real. My mother made it and gave it to me for my sixteenth birthday. I’ve got another one with a wolf baying at the moon that my grandmother made and gave me the last Christmas she lived. She was always making me little gifts like that. My Navajo room is full of all kinds of beads. I’ve got more dream catchers than the sandman,” he laughed. Jared sighed, pressing his lips to her temple, “And she
laughs at my corny jokes,” he mused.

There was a burning question in Sara’s mind. She wondered if Jared’s family could be as prejudiced as her mother. Kaye believed you should marry
your own kind
. That had two qualifications; one, you had to be white, and two, come from Crooked Creek, or another small, hick town. It would be Sara’s luck to find someone like Jared, and then find out his family hated
because she was white. If Jared’s family turned out to be as prejudiced as Kaye, the Thundercloud’s wouldn’t accept a ‘nobody’ like Sara. Afraid of the answer, she almost backed out, blurting her question at the last minute as if it used her last breath of life.

“Jared, do you think your family will like me?” Jared mulled her question over for a few seconds; Sara mistaking his hesitation for doubt. Her tone darkened. “They

“I wouldn’t be so sure of that Sara. I think they’re going to love you, especially after they’ve heard you sing. I’ll teach you some of the old native songs before we visit them, so you can impress Granddad.”

“Does your entire family live in Arizona?”

“They do now. It used to just be Granddad, on my father’s side, but then my parents moved to Arizona when Granddad had a stroke. We used to live in El Dorado, Texas. They’ve been back in Arizona, for about three or four years now.”

“In that case, how did you end up in Louisiana?”

Jared sighed, apparently trying to avoid a painful subject.

Sara’s breath caught. “Never mind, it’s none of my business – it’s not important – you don’t have to tell me.” She turned to face him, studying his eyes. “I don’t need to know your past,” she whispered, shocked at how brave she was becoming around Jared. But, being with him felt natural, as if she’d already been
close to him, if not

He smiled at her. “It’s not that. It’s just – well –
, I guess you could say.” Jared responded slowly, choosing his words wisely, he laughed. “It’s either that, or incredibly stupid. I’m not sure which. Anyway,” he scoffed. “At first, I was running away, but when I settled here, and bought Wisteria Hall, I realized I’d come for other reasons too.”

“While I was at a park in Phoenix, I met a girl from Australia named Eve, she was walking her dog,” he continued without prompting. “Due to her father’s job, Eve and her family had been living in Phoenix for over a year. Her father was an investment banker and had been sent to Phoenix, to start up a new branch. The job was supposed to last another year, but in August, they let him know they were sending him back to Sidney, in January. I was heartbroken. I was nowhere near ready to get married, but I couldn’t bear the thought of being away from Eve. So, I bit the bullet and prepared for the worse. If she had to leave, I was going to propose. I figured being married to her couldn’t be worse, than being without her.”

Jared paused briefly, giving Sara an opportunity to respond. When she didn’t, he continued his story. “I really
try. I wined and dined her, and then I popped the question. I told Eve I would go back to Australia with her, if she didn’t want to live in the United States.”

Sara was intrigued. “How did she react?”

Jared sighed. “She didn’t give me quite the response I expected. You see, I’d got it all wrong. Eve wasn’t in love with me. She said she was flattered, and considered me a really good
, but she didn’t want a serious relationship. I realized then, my moving to Sidney would have been a mistake.”

“Did you tell her that you were in love with her, I mean before you proposed?”

Jared started kissing the side of Sara’s neck. “No. I guess that was my first mistake.”

“But you
in love with her, weren’t you?” Sara closed her eyes, leaning her head to the side, surrendering to the sensations Jared was creating in her.

Jared scoffed. “Yeah, I guess I was – in some form – but not like this. What I feel for you is different. It goes far beyond anything I’ve ever experienced.” He kissed the top of her head. Sara reached up, gently massaging the back of his neck, softly grazing her fingernails over his skin. Jared quickly drew in his breath. Sara’s touch was trying his control again. He sighed deeply, closing his eyes before continuing, desperate for a distraction.

“To make a long story short, Eve went back to Australia, and I
. I got on my bike, left Arizona, and headed back for El Dorado, home. When I got to our drive, instead of pulling in, I just kept going. The next thing I knew, I was passing Shreveport city limits sign. I got into a pool game with Steve and Carl and started hanging out with them. When they found out I didn’t have anywhere to stay, they put me up at their place. After a while, they tried to fix me up with a girl across the street – Lucy. She was sweet and nice and pretty, but I had my heart set on finding you.”

So they did have something going. Lucy lied to me
. “Jared,” she said, dubiously. “Up until about five years ago, I’d spent every summer with Lucy. I can’t understand why our paths never crossed.”

Jared paused in thought for a while. “It
seem a little odd. Maybe it has something to do with the master plan you were talking about earlier. Regardless, we’re together now.” He paused again, reading her eyes. “Are you
I’m not boring you with all of this?”

Sara was sincere. She wanted to know everything about him. “No, you’re
boring me!”

Jared took a breath, and then continued. “All right then. Tell me if I do start boring you.”

– just continue –
!” Sara was anxious.

Jared smiled. “About three years ago, Gary and I, a friend of mine from the hospital where I worked, got to talking. I told Gary I still needed a place to live. He asked me how much I was willing to spend, and how quickly I hoped to move in. I told Gary I wasn’t. That was when he told me about Wisteria Hall, an old plantation on the other side of Cross Lake. Unfortunately, Gary said the house was tied up in some kind of inheritance squabble, and had been for a long time. The old lady who was living there didn’t want to sell, but she was sickly and very old. If I were willing to wait, perhaps until she passed, Gary felt for sure her son would put the house on the market - as is.”

“Why would he do that? People don’t normally give up their ancestral home without good reason,” Sara prompted.

“He already had a house in Pensacola, and he didn’t like making trips back and forth to take care of the house. It was a lot of work, and besides, he hated Louisiana – too humid, too many tornadoes, and too many thunderstorms. Gary and I drove out there one day, so I could have a look at it. Gary warned me the house was in an awful shape, and he wasn’t kidding. When I first saw the house, it was a disaster. I understood why her son didn’t want to bother with it. I almost backed out myself, but I had time on my side.”

Jared chuckled. “Back then, time was about all I had. I didn’t have a lot of cash, or assets that I could use as collateral for a loan. With no credit record, I wasn’t likely to secure a loan anyway. Gary said he would co-sign with me, but with the house being in that terrible state, I wasn’t about to expect him to sink in that deep. Not with something in as bad a shape as Wisteria Hall.”

Sara chuckled and sighed. “What did you do?”

Jared grinned. “What do you think I did? I worked my ass off, and I waited. Sure enough, Gary was right. Several months later, on her birthday, the old woman had a massive coronary and died. As it turned out, Gary knew the old woman’s son and had told him if he decided to sell, that Gary wanted first chance at the house. Apparently, his cousin, Donna Rigden, had been treating the old woman. Gary made a deal with her son, and I got the house for loose change. I was glad, because it cost me a fortune to restore and renovate the house. It needed a
of work. I drew up the plans, modeling and fashioning it from the one in my dreams. Then I hired construction crews and builders and ....”

“Wait a minute,” Sara interjected. “You
up the plans yourself, from your
?” Her voice was full of cynicism.

“Yeah…” he chuckled. “The house plans have been in my head for a long time. Once the paper work was out of the way, I drew up the blueprints.” Sara drew in a breath, and opened her mouth, but before she could speak, Jared continued, obviously inspired to share the whole story with her.

“I started sketching when I was around ten, that’s one of the reasons I enjoyed visiting my grandparents so much. Using my pastels, I drew the landscapes. I’m sure Mom still has some of them, or even all of them.” Jared laughed. “I wouldn’t be surprised if she still had all of them. She was always eager, and proud to show off my art.” Jared hissed air through his teeth.

“Anyway, getting back to the house. It took almost a year for builders to finish the renovations. The pond was the worst. It had to be
drained, cleaned out, and then refilled. I did some research on water plants, and insisted that the aquatic specialists put back, mostly indigenous ones. I wanted it to be as near to the house in my dream, as possible. They fought me on some of my ‘
designs, as they put it. But I stood my ground.”

“You should have. It was
were the one paying
salaries. I’m sorry… I’ve interrupted you again. Please, go on.”

Jared smiled and touched the tip of her nose with his index finger. “Are you
I’m not boring you?”

“No, you’re
boring me. I want to know. I’m fascinated actually. Was it really that bad?”

“Oh yes, it was, believe me. The pond was full of garbage. The old woman must have been using it for a garbage dump. The rose garden – man – it was so full of briars and thistles and bull nettles you couldn’t tell it
had been
a rose garden – or
kind of garden, for that fact.”

“How long have you been in Shreveport?”

“Almost seven years now. When I saw you across the street at Lucy’s, I realized then that I
reliving my dreams. Seeing you brought it all back. Everything that has happened in my life has been leading me in one direction, here – and to you.”

Sara smiled. “Then I’m glad I came. My mother tried
to talk me out of moving. I just couldn’t
being in that little hick town. I wanted more out of life; I wanted to work on my music - barring the fact of my terminal stage fright. I wanted to
somebody, you know, make a difference in somebody’s life.”

Jared studied her eyes. “Then you’ve already accomplished your goals.”

Sara frowned in confusion. “How so?”

“You said you wanted to make a difference in somebody’s life. You’ve done that. Just being with me, you’ve changed my life. Two days ago, I was lost and lonely, searching for something, I didn’t know what, and I didn’t know where to find it – until now.”

Jared smiled and made Sara’s heart flutter. He stood, and took her hand. “There’s one more thing I want you to see, but we’ll have to go on foot from here.” He started leading her further up the side of the hill.

“Oh, please, no more climbing! I hate climbing. I have a
fear of falling.”

Jared smiled. “Don’t worry – I won’t
you fall. It’s not far, just a little ways up the hillside, and I can’t get the bike up there. I
want you to see this.” He waited for Sara’s reaction.

He’s not being fair. He knows all the right buttons to push. All the right smiles to smile. All the right places to touch and kiss me. He knows my strengths and weaknesses too.This seems important to him. How can I possibly say no?
“Ok, but you’ll have to lead me. I’m going to keep my eyes shut.”

BOOK: Blood of the Rainbow
6.5Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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