Saturday, September 5, 2009

Resisting Kane by Stephanie Adkins

A couple of hours later, the soft sound of Madison’s laughter broke Terry from his train of thought as he aimlessly shuffled through a pile of magazines in the small room Madison called her home office. Bored and tired of sitting down, he got up from his seat and walked over to the door to peer out like he had done at least a hundred times in the past two hours. To his surprise, he discovered Madison walking her guest to the front door.

He had half expected them to escape to her bedroom for the night. Backing away from the door again, he listened intently while they said their goodbyes. Then the front door opened and he was gone. For several seconds all was quiet, and then he heard her heels as they clicked across the foyer floor.

“You can come out now,” she called to him.

Opening the door, he saw Madison pick up their wine glasses from the long coffee table in front of the sofa. He walked to the front door and checked to make sure it was secured. Gazing out one of the front windows, he caught Jackson’s taillights as he turned from the driveway, and he nodded briefly to the police officer sitting in his unmarked car across the street.

Madison had carried the glasses to the kitchen, and after several minutes when she didn’t return, he went to check on her. There, he found her standing by the sink, staring blankly out the window.

“You should probably move away from the window, Madison.”

Her shoulders slumped, she turned to face him, and right away he noticed a very different look in her eyes. It was nothing like he was used to seeing from the fiery brunette. It was despairing, almost empty and lost. It was unlike her to be so quiet, and it unsettled him more than he expected it to. As much as he hated to admit it, he would much rather see her angry and cursing him than to see her so solemn.

“You’re probably right,” she said.

She turned off the kitchen light and walked past him, and he closed his eyes when the scent of her perfume wafted through his senses, temporarily jarring his thoughts. Taking a deep breath to regain his composure, he followed her into the den.

“I’m sorry if tonight didn’t go as you planned,” he said. He couldn’t think of anything else to say. It was obvious she was upset, but he didn’t know what could have brought it on unless it had something to do with her date.

After turning off one of the lamps by the sofa, Madison stopped and looked at him intently. At first, she didn’t say a word. Crossing her arms over her chest, she appeared to be collecting her thoughts before replying.

“I had no expectations from seeing Jackson other than enjoying his company and sharing dinner together.”

Confused, Terry stepped closer so he could gaze upon her more closely in the dim light.

“I thought… I thought the two of you were…” He faltered.

“No. We’re not.” She explained, “We were at one time, but it didn’t work out. Now we’re just good friends, and that’s the way we both want it. He’s happily married. He has children. When he’s in town, he stops by for dinner, and we catch up on each other’s lives. Then he goes back to his life and I go back to mine.”

Squinting his eyes, he tried to find some reasoning behind her empty gaze. As usual, it was hard to read her expression.

“Oh. I just assumed that he…”

Madison smiled half-heartedly. “Of course you did, Terry. You’re great at assumptions.”

She started to move to the opposite end of the sofa to turn off the other lamp, but Terry reached out and grabbed her wrist before she could. She wouldn’t look at him though. Instead, she stared blankly at the wall as if he would disappear if she just kept quiet.

“I shouldn’t have said that, and I didn’t mean it that way. I’m just…I’m sorry. Damn it, Madison, why won’t you look at me?”

Removing herself from his grasp, she backed away from him. All at once her demeanor changed. The melancholy was gone.

“Of course you meant it, Terry. Isn’t that what you think of me? That every male I come in contact with is just prey?”

He didn’t know what to say. She was clearly agitated now, and he knew whatever he said would just make it worse.

“I suppose from all the reading you’ve done about my life that you think my job and this house bring me all the happiness in the world. Well, you know nothing about me. Believe it or not, sometimes I do get envious of people like Jackson who have a family to go home to.”

Angrily, she walked toward him, and he took a cautious step backward.

“Of course, you couldn’t possibly understand what I’m talking about.” She thumbed a tear from her cheek. “You’ve probably never had to want for anything in your life.”

When she turned away from him, Terry grabbed her arms roughly and pulled her close.

“You think—you actually think—I don’t know what it’s like to want something?” He exclaimed, trying to remain calm. “Now you’re the one throwing out judgments you know nothing about. I know exactly what that feels like.”

Gripping her arms tightly, he continued to glare at her. With his lips so close to hers, he could feel the warmth of her breath against his skin. He was angry. She was angry. The heat that emanated between them both was an intoxication that left him all the angrier for wanting her so damn much.

“Why do we keep doing this?” he asked.

Leaning forward, he gently brushed his lips against her forehead. It was a spontaneous gesture that he couldn’t control anymore. He had to feel her skin beneath his lips.

“Why can’t you forgive me? I know I may be going about it the wrong way, but I want to make things right, Madison, and sometimes I don’t know how to do that. I just wish you would meet me halfway.”

As the tension left her body, Terry let go of her arms and placed his hands on each side of her head. Pulling back slightly to look into her eyes, he fought the urge to kiss her against her will. She could infuriate him to the point of no return but she could also make his chest burn from sheer want. At the moment he wanted nothing more than to plunge his tongue into her tempting mouth.

“Terry…” She moaned softly, closing her eyes as he brushed his lips against her eyelids.

“Say my name again, Madison,” he whispered.

Closing his eyes, he marveled in the feel of her velvety skin against his lips. Tenderly he kissed each cheek while she whimpered softly and murmured his name again. He didn’t want the moment to end.

Before he could capture her lips, however, the phone rang. With a gasp, she jerked away from him and looked at him spitefully, as though she couldn’t believe she had let herself fall so haphazardly into his grasp. As she walked toward the phone, Terry glanced quickly at the clock on the wall.

It was almost one o’clock in the morning. Who could be calling at this time of night? A familiar uneasiness encompassed him immediately. Mere seconds after she answered, her face became a deathly shade of white, and he knew something was wrong.

Terry raced to her side just as the receiver fell from her hands. She looked up at him, her mouth open, but she couldn’t speak. He picked up the receiver and yelled into it, but there was nothing. Only silence.

Placing his hands on her face, he forced her to look up at him. “Madison, who was that? Was it Sinclair? Talk to me.”

The look on her face sent a cold chill racing up his spine.

“He’s here,” she whispered, her voice trembling. “He…he mentioned the clothes I was wearing...and Jackson…and you. He’s been watching us.”