Inspired by a Melody is a monthly feature. The songs change.
Oh, and I’m not going to kid anyone. There’s a HUGE plotbunny growing out of this. Like I need another.
“This was a mistake, Ken. We shouldn’t have come back.” Mae paced along the portico, occasionally pausing to gaze across the water at the opposing dock.
“What aren’t you telling me, woman?” His shifty eyes searched her face as his lip curled.
Mae shrank back and shivered from the chill that crept up her spine. Another step backward and she was enveloped in warmth. Like a big hug from strong arms that used to hold her much the same way. In the same space. Strength and power suffused her. “A man died here. Can you honestly say that you’re comfortable living here with that horrible legacy following the property? What about resale value?” Her chin kicked up a notch.
“I don’t give a damn about resale value. We’re going to live here and we’re going to be happy, damnit. That fraud who lived here? He was nothing.” Ken spat on the pavers at his feet. “Every word he uttered was a lie, Mae. Every moment he spent with us was an exercise in manipulation for him.” He stepped toward her.
Shrinking away from her husband, the feeling of thick arms banding around her increased. The warmth at her back increased and it felt as though her behind was leaning against a tree. But, her courage grew. “You know nothing about him. John was a war hero. His money came from investments. He’d saved it while he was in the service.” She tried to pull away from the seeming safety wound around her to no avail. She struggled for a moment. “And you have no idea how to be a gentleman, so how could you imagine anything about John? You don’t have the capacity.” Her lip curled into a sneer.
She kicked off her thick-soled shoes, longing for the feel of sand beneath her feet. As her soles met the cool brick, heated fingers skittered down her arm and twined around her hand. As she lept from one broad step to the next, her palazzo pants fluttered around her legs in a caress.
I missed you.
She glanced over her shoulder. Pressure slid down her back coming to rest just above her ass. The same place John had always placed his hand.
She slowed as sand began to sift between her toes and she wiggled her digits in the warmth. The slow roll of the waves against the shore lulled her back to a different time. A happier time–one in which she didn’t have to worry about living in the home of her dead lover with her abusive husband.
“Mae! Come with me! We’ll sail the seven seas and live happily ever after.” John’s laughter carried on the wind as he glanced over his shoulder at her before they stepped onto the dock, sprinting toward the sailboat tied at the end.
She giggled, her cheeks hurting from smiling so much over the past several days. “We can’t. Lilly will be back in a few days from my parents’. I can’t leave her–but as soon as she’s back? Let’s go.”
He stopped, dead in his tracks and abruptly turned, gazing deeply into her eyes. “Let’s. When Lilly returns, we’ll take the things she’d had packed for her visit and whisk her away with us. It’ll be awhile before Ken notices–he’s gone for another week, anyway.” He pulled her into his arms. “Say you’ll come with me. We’ll be a family, finally.”
Mae shook her head. “I can’t. What will people say? My parents–they’ll never forgive me.”
“They will once you tell them how Ken treats you.”
Tears welled. “Momma knows. She said it’s my duty.” She looked across the water at the opposing dock. “She said I need to do my wifely duties and keep quiet like a good little mouse. She said I can’t tarnish the family name or they’ll disown me.” A salty drop coursed down her cheek and she wiped it away with her shoulder. “You don’t know what it’s been like, living in a loveless marriage.”
“I know what it’s like to have to watch the person–the two people I love–from afar because of a mistake we made when we were young.” Gently, he took her chin between his index finger and thumb, turning her to face him. He kissed away her tears. “We’ll figure it out–a way for us to be together without bringing shame to your parents. Even though I hate the fact that they don’t seem to care about your happiness.”
“It’s what society expects, my darling. They don’t care that you were gone to war nor that our beautiful daughter was conceived out of a night of passion and love before your deployment. They only care that she’s not a bastard–that I’m properly married off at the time of her birth and hidden away for most of my pregnancy because people would figure out the truth.” She tucked her head beneath his chin and he tightened his arms around her.
“Then, I’ll figure out a way to make it okay, Mae. I will. There’s no reason for Lilly to call that horrible man daddy.” John shuddered.
Palming the back of his neck, she pulled herself tighter into him. “Oh, she doesn’t–not really. I whisper in her ear that her real daddy loves her and would never yell at her. She’s a little confused, but seems to be happier knowing the truth.”
Mae wiped the tears from her cheeks as the memory–and the warmth surrounding her–dissipated. I feel like you’re still here, with me. She took a deep breath, locking away her feelings of love and loss for the only man who’d ever shown her kindness and tenderness. Her memories were all she had left–her cousin had sheltered her from the scene of his death, even though he’d had to witness it himself. He’d heard the gunshots and come running–just in time to see a car speeding down the drive.
I’m still here, baby. I’ll always be with you.
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