Read The Rhythm of Rain Online
Authors: C. L. Scholey
"He had just seen my mother get shot in the back. Jaron would have been next. So he hid me and ran. He brought me here so I would remember, and I do. Telor, he saved my life that night."
Telor stood for a moment as if trying to comprehend what she was saying. A wounded look filtered across his face, and Rain's heart hurt for him as realization sank in. Telor knew what Rain was like after she danced in a storm. Telor knew exactly what she craved, and though he strove to help her find release he never could. Rain could see he understood now why she had screamed.
"He kidnapped you," Telor said almost in a pleading tone. "He set your house on fire."
"Jaron didn't set the fire, and he took me away to save me from Carver," Rain said and shot Jaron a dark look. "It
to save me, right?"
"You're wearing my shirt, and give me my gun," Jaron said. He slipped on his squeaky wet runners.
"I'm not leaving here nude, and until everyone calms down I'm keeping the weapon."
"Carver is still coming for you," Jaron replied calmly. "You gonna shoot him?"
"Rain's never fired a weapon in her life," Telor snapped.
Rain looked up at Telor. She knew he was hurt and angry, but he still loved her. Rain frowned when she gazed over at Jaron. Piercing brown eyes glared at Telor. When Jaron moved toward them, Telor pulled Rain behind him. The action made Jaron smirk.
"If Carver walks through that door, the only hope Rain has is me," Jaron said and reached for the gun.
Reluctantly Rain let him have it. Jaron was right. She couldn't shoot, and Telor had never owned a gun. But now Telor was in danger. When Carver came for her, Telor would try and save her.
"Telor, where are my grandparents?" Rain asked.
"My place, waiting for me to bring you home like I promised I would."
"I think Carver wants an old doll I had," Rain said and frowned. "But I don't know where it went. Daddy brought it back from Brazil and a few days later he and my mother were killed."
"An old rag doll?" Telor asked.
"Yes," Rain exclaimed.
"When you were little you used to dance with the doll clutched to your chest. I haven't thought of that in years," Telor muttered.
"Do you know what happened to it?" Rain asked.
"One night soon after you moved next to me, I saw you out dancing in the rain. You would still run and hide from me. That night your grandfather came out and saw you. Before you finished dancing, he scooped you up to take you inside. The doll fell. When I came out of the shadows and you were gone, I picked up the doll, thinking to return it. But you wouldn't come close to me."
"Where is it now?" Jaron demanded.
"Like I'd tell you anything."
War had been declared again. Jaron had Telor smashed against a wall. Rain was pulling at Jaron's arms but it was useless. It was obvious Jaron could turn his rage on like a switch. Now that Telor wasn't running on adrenaline, he flailed a bit helplessly. Jaron was in his face, his nose inches from Telor's.
"Now you listen and listen good," Jaron ground out. "If you know where that doll is, Carver will use Rain as a cutting board until you talk. Then he'll use you both as target practice. The man doesn't need any practice, if you get my meaning."
"What's to stop you from taking off with the doll and leaving Rain high and dry?" Telor yelled. "Carver will kill her if he knows you have it. If we just give it to the cops, Carver won't have any reason to touch Rain."
Jaron dropped Telor. Rain was again in Telor's arms. Telor was right. They needed to go to the police,
. After that thought, a small explosion hit the window. A bullet came perilously close to Jaron's head. Rain screamed. Jaron had her hand and was running to the door. Telor was on their heels. Rain saw a fleeting silhouette of a huge, dark, barrel-chested man in the window.
Out into the night they fled. The storm had passed and the rain had stopped. A few stars had made an appearance. Rain could hardly breathe. She had no idea how many were chasing them. All she could hear was the sound of feet hitting the wet pavement. Splashes through puddles. Cans toppling over.
Rain had no idea where Jaron was taking them but she knew absolutely it would be death to resist his lead. She also knew that as long as Jaron had her hand Telor wasn't going to leave her side.
They made their way to a river strewn with garbage and debris. Rain was terrified they were trapped against the water's edge, but Jaron jumped down a small hill. The ground was solid and yet squishy under her feet. Light from the awakening sun gave her a disgusting glimpse of raw sewage and cement beneath her feet. At a drainage tunnel, Jaron yanked back part of the rusty steel fencing. Jaron pulled Rain in after him.
"We can hide in here," Jaron said, panting heavily. His gun was out. He ran his hand over his face.
"We need to go to the police," Rain said, gasping.
"Well, I'll just run right out there and flag one down," Jaron ground out sarcastically.
"We can't stay in here forever," Telor said.
"Come on," Jaron said.
"I don't think we should go any deeper," Rain said, trying to hang back.
"I used to hide in here when I was a kid. I know my way around inside." Jaron gripped her hand tighter, forcing her to follow.
Jaron led them deeper into the dark tunnel. When a light clicked on, Rain almost screamed. It was Telor; he had a flashlight on his key chain. He shined his light from top to bottom, then flipped open his cell phone.
"It won't work in here." Jaron cast a quick glance behind him then chuckled when it was apparent Telor couldn't get reception.
"This isn't a good idea, with all the rain we've been having," Telor said. "A drainage ditch is just asking for trouble."
"By all means," Jaron replied. "Go back and find Carver."
"We don't even know if he's in here following us," Rain whispered, moving forward with trepidation. Looking back gave no insight. The darkness closed behind them like a draped black blanket.
Drips of water splashed from the top of the drainage pipe to their feet. The sides of the metal were slimy, the top just barely high enough for Jaron and Telor to walk without slouching. The aroma was pungent. They sloshed as they went along. Deeper Jaron led them, until they came to a turn. He started down a new path. Rain held Jaron's hand and Telor's.
"Where are we going?" Rain asked, keeping her voice low.
"First we're going to get the doll and find out why Carver is so hot and bothered for it," Jaron said.
"But we need to…" Rain stammered.
"What? Go to the cops? And have your boyfriend tell them I burned your house down and kidnapped you? No thanks."
"We need to tell them about Carver," Rain insisted.
"With what proof?" Jaron demanded. "I didn't see him set the fire, and even if I did my word is shit. They'd think it was just payback for him pinning a murder on me eighteen years ago."
"But I'll tell them…" Rain started to say.
"Tell them what? You suddenly remember that night
I kidnapped you? They'd think I coerced you. You didn't see Carver start the fire."
"I never saw who hit me from behind," Telor said irritably.
"That's why you were stumbling," Rain said and gasped. "I was terrified when you started back in for Papa. I knew you'd never stop looking for me."
"You're right. I would never have stopped."
"I'm sorry, Telor," Rain sadly whispered, hearing his hurt. She was sorry she had hurt him but she wasn't sorry she had been with Jaron.
"Do you hear that?" Jaron asked.
"What?" Telor's hand tightened on Rain's painfully.
"That sound." Jaron cocked his head to the right.
They all stopped to listen. A rushing sound was gaining volume and speed as it closed in on them. Telor turned and flashed his light in the direction of the noise. Rain remembered Telor had worried over the storms they had been having. They could be facing a wall of rushing water. They'd drown.
Rain screamed louder than she ever had in her life. A dark wall-like mass was moving toward them. Hundreds of rats were closing in on them. Thousands of scampering feet tidal-waved, gaining with rapid intensity. Beady little eyes centered and seemed focused on Rain. She screamed again; she loathed rats.
"Oh shit," Jaron muttered.
Behind the rats came the wall of water. All three turned as one and ran for their lives. Before long Rain could see the furry creatures under her feet. She had no air to scream. Telor's flashlight bobbed as he ran, giving her eerie glimpses of their panicked movements. Rain heard Telor swear and she saw him throw a rat off his shirt. Jaron had one clinging to the back of his pants near his waist. It was a terrifying sight. Their wet fur brushed against her ankles. With each hurried step she could feel them squish under her feet and she gagged.
Up ahead, a beacon of light shone as day broke. They reached the grate at the end of the metal tunnel and all three fell through with the water teeming over them, carrying the rats to the river and its edges. Jaron grabbed Rain and yanked her to the side of the concrete bank. Telor crawled up beside them. None of them could speak as they dragged air into their tortured lungs. Rain's clothes were clinging to her. Soiled bits of garbage hung from her hair. A rancid odor came from all of them.
Telor stood up and looked down at Jaron in fury. "Now we go to the cops. Unless you have another gun you've hidden away?"
Rain noted Jaron's weapon was no longer in his hand. Jaron stood and looked around. Jaron was also minus his cell phone. Telor helped Rain up.
"No sign of Carver," Jaron said.
"Then we can all go back to my truck and have a nice chat with the police," Telor said, sounding smug.
Jaron glared at him then centered his attention on Rain. "Where do you think Carver is headed?"
Rain frowned. "Back to your apartment," she guessed.
"If I were Carver, I'd be headed back to your grandparents'. He's no doubt figured out with your boyfriend now here with you, and me having just saved your life—again—the elderly couple are looking mighty vulnerable. I bet Carver's wondering just what you'll do to save their lives," Jaron said. "By the time we go to the cops and they take a report and do more fooling around, what do you suppose will happen during that time? Especially with a shit named
"Oh no," Rain whispered.
"You're a nasty bastard," Telor ground out.
Rain grabbed Telor's shirt. "He's right. Carver will go after my grandparents. They're at your home. The only phone you have is a cell. You've said it before, why have a home line when you're always out. My grandparents don't have cell phones; they never learned to use them.
"Please, Telor, we need to hurry. We have to save them," Rain said.
"We can call…someone." Telor took his cell phone out. It was dead, water-logged.
Jaron took Rain by the hand. "Any more bright ideas, cowboy?" he snickered and walked away with her.
Telor kept glancing from Rain to Jaron. They had only stopped to swipe some clothes from lines near Jaron's apartment, thinking it foolish to return to it. Carver could have been waiting; none of them were certain. The three of them were a sorry-looking lot and filthy. Telor didn't think he had ever smelled so bad in his life.
Telor's gaze settled onto Jaron. He had to get Rain away from the guy. Once Jaron realized Telor had no idea where the doll really was he would most likely kill him out of fury; the man was a bomb waiting to go off. Then he would undoubtedly hand Rain over to Carver.
Telor was hurt by what Rain had done. He had always suspected there was something in her dance that he missed, some vital part. If Rain said Jaron saved her, he must have. She had only slept with him out of gratitude and now it was done. Telor just needed to convince her she owed the man nothing. What had happened to Jaron wasn't her fault. She had only been a child.
Rain must still be blocking whatever happened to the doll. The night Rain had lost the doll, Telor had placed it on her porch the next day. He had waited behind a bush until he had seen Rain come out for the doll. That was the last time he had seen it.
Rain just wasn't thinking right. All she could see in her mind were the images of her grandparents being killed by Carver. Her memories were blinding her to the fact Jaron had been charged with her mother's death.
"Rain, isn't there someone you can call who is close to your grandparents?" Telor asked. The moment he asked he knew it was useless. Her grandparents were loners and kept to themselves in the small town. People knew them to wave or say hello, but they never let anyone close. Perhaps it was out of fear. The only way Telor had known of their circumstances was because Rain had confided in him years ago. Telor had never told anyone her parents were murdered.
Rain cast him a quick, worried glance. "Telor, you know what Papa and Grams are like. You know how suspicious Papa is. Even if you contact a friend at the fire hall they wouldn't trust them. They haven't met any of your friends."