Chapter 13 – Garage & Chapter 14 – Mathers
Sophie headed down the hall to the garage. Halfway there her stomach did a gentle flip-flop. She ignored it and tossed the door open then closed it again.
Cason looked up from where he stood at the front of the car, the hood up and a greasy item in his hand.
“What do you want?” he asked looking back down again then bent over the engine compartment.
“Awe.” Sophie said resting her hip against the side of the car. The garage was an older one car shelter that narrowly held her mother’s sedan and the plethora of tools and storage boxes. The unconditioned space was just a fraction cooler than the heady outdoors. “Is that anyway to treat the coworker of your new girlfriend?”
She saw Cason pause under the hood then very slowly looked up and over the raised lid to her. “You got something to say to me?” his voice was like ice, sizzling across a hot tin roof.
Sophie felt the old glee return at poking at Cason, that rock wall that didn’t run and hide but rather stood up and dished it right back.
“Yes,” She said, “I heard that you’ll be going in for surgery tomorrow to remove the shrapnel from your hip. I’ll be paying for that surgery for you.”
He wiped his fingers off on the oil rag and came around the front of the car, “The hell you will.”
“You see Cason,” Sophie said to him, “I hear that the surgery is going to drain your savings and if that happens you can’t move out and I just want to make sure you keep your promise. So, my treat. Remove that pain in your ass once and for all.” She said and made her face smile at him.
“You’re going to drop twenty-six thousand dollars on me, just to see me move out?”
“Exactly. And if I get some karmic nullification from all the asshole moments I’ve treated you to over the years, even better.”
He visually took her in, she was tall that day. She wore her typical heels, black flowy slacks that rested on her hips and one of those billowy white shirts that she wore. The only difference was that this one had no sleeves and a high collar. The bruising from Philip Nigel already fading on her upper arm. He had to study her as not to study her face. The face and body he’d imagined up against a wall just the night before.
Only it didn’t help, he could feel the emotion welling up, and he tossed the rag down. He needed out of that garage with her. “Excuse me.” He said making to pass by her.
She unfolded and put her hand out, “So we have a deal.” She said blocking his path by.
“A deal? Fuck you Sparling. Get out of my way.”
Sophie’s eyes went satisfyingly dark, “What’d you just say to me?”
His demeanor went silent as the first licks of a storm does to the air, “I said fuck you.”
“You asshole, I’m just trying to do something good for you.”
“Wake up Sophie, I don’t want you to. I don’t want anything good from you.” He said and poked her shoulder with his finger leaving a smudge of grease on her white shirt.
Sophie slapped his hand aside. The skin to skin contact was like an ignition switch.
She looked down at the black mar on her shirt and looked back up at him, “I’m on my way to the Mathers now. I think I’ll leave them a check today.” She hissed and turned to go but a wide hand grabbed her upper arm.
She turned back to knock his hand aside but was put up against the garage wall instead. Just as Casey had described it. Her blood went hot.
Cason’s wide hand pressed against her midsection pinning her to the wall.
He got in close, “I’ve asked you to not do this Sophie, I’ll not ask you again.”
“What is it Case? Why is it that you can’t except good things from me?” she said hissing into his face.
Cason’s was a mask of dark fury.
“Don’t call me Case and I want nothing from you. So stop.”
“Is it because I’m too complicated for you? It’d just be better if Ryan’s little sis hated your guts for the rest of your life? Instead she found out that you almost died that day too, and her own penance you won’t accept. Well tough shit, I’m going to help you. And there’s not a goddamn thing you can do about it.”
His hand was hot on her abdomen, the connection was like a lifeline of racking emotion. Sever it and they’d just become two quiet ships passing silently by one another. They needed this, needed to finally be face to face with what stood between them. Only there was nothing but themselves.
Sophie could feel his breath, feel his racing pulse in his palm. It’s rhythm matching her’s beat for beat. He took up the entire garage in front of her, the world satisfactorily blocked out.
“You’ll hate me again Sophie.” He said quietly, then added, “Just give it time.”
His voice hit a chord within her, the quiet way he delivered it. He was so sure of himself, believed that hate from her was the best. She looked at his face then. Really looked. His gray eyes were close, and dark of his stubble was growing in making him even darker. Like scorched Earth.
Cason felt it then too, the subtle but marked shift between them. A shift of feeling that would bring out a name calling and heated pulse of a different sort. Just as he’d imagined it.
Sophie watched as his gaze left her own and traveled down to her lips and up again. She felt the hitch in her own breath as he began to close the distance but stopped.
Sophie felt her heart pull in her chest like a tether attached to Cason pulling her forward.
“What are you doing?” he said, his lips nearly against hers, his eyes lowered.
“I-I” she started, “I don’t know,” she whispered back.
“Good.” He said and put his lips to hers.
Sophie groaned as a firestorm of emotion raged from their connection and rattled down into her love starved body.
Cason’s hand came up and cradled her face as he pulled her in close against him. Just as his mouth opened to hers, deepening the kiss, the door into the garage swung open.
“Sophie? Cason? Where are you two?” Helen called into the garage.
Sophie gasped and pulled back as Cason stepped back against the car. The affect of Helen’s arrival had was like being dunked in an ice tank for them both.
“Here mom.” Sophie said, taking point and walking past Cason, letting him recover. “We were having an argument, and I was just leaving.” She said.
Helen smiled at her daughter, “I see. Sophie, leave Cason alone. He needs to finish with my car so he can head to his appointment. He can’t do that right proper if you’re badgering him.”
“Right. Sorry mom. I’ll get out of your hair now.”
“Now wait right this moment,” she said and held a hand out to her daughter and peered past her to where Cason sat against the side of the car, “Cason, are you alright hon? You look shell shocked.”
His hands were in his pockets and he was trying like hell to think of something other than Sophie against him, “Yes ma’am just fine.” He said and cleared his throat.
“Good.” She said then looked back at her daughter, “Okay you can— what’s that on your face, and your shirt? Is that grease?”
“Goodbye mom.” She said and pushed past her mother, heat rushed through her body she had to get out before the grand inquisition came down on her. Cason would have to fend for himself, but anything he said to her was law. He could just say it was nothing and her mother would drop it.
Chapter 14 – Mathers
Sophie pulled into the circular drive of Dr. Mather’s home. A century old two story home with original columns stoically holding up the front of the home. Her blood had almost cooled from the kiss and body press of Cason McPherson. Her brain was equally rattled and emotionally she needed a splash of cold water to cool off. She’d been with her fair share of men, but none so exquisitely set her on fire as he just did.
“It’s just hormones.” She said to herself in the rear view mirror, then said, “Get a grip Sparling.”
Taking a deep breath Sophie stepped out on the circular brick drive and made note to hire a landscaper for the Mathers renno. The front brick was loosing the fight with the ivy and roses clambering up it’s front and into the eves of the roofline at the second story. It was a hard thing for folks new to the south, they didn’t realize how fast Mother Nature rose up to take back what she deemed hers year round.
The thought of Cason’s lips on hers swam up from her subconscious and she stopped half way to the door.
Sophie stopped and straightened her suit and tucked a lock of hair back behind her ear then continued to the door, ringing the bell.
The Mathers home was cool and inviting, the contractor for the project had already arrived and with him were several sub-contractors. They spent the afternoon measuring, talking about materials and start dates.
It was well after five in the afternoon when everyone wrapped up. Sophie sat down with Mrs. Mathers in her kitchen as they had for their earlier meetings, a glass of iced tea in their hands.
“Now, I believe we owe Knight Interiors the deposit check still?”
Sophie pulled out her contract and agreed. As she watched Mrs. Mathers go to the sideboard and pull out her check book Sophie thought about what she’d told Cason.
He’d be furious with her, but the need to do it for him was stronger.
“Yes?” she said looking up as she sat down with a pen and opened the check book.
“I have a favor to ask of you, I’m not sure you’ll be able to do it, but I hope you can.”
A half hour later and a single check lighter, Sophie left the Mathers home. Their remodel was shaping up to be pitch perfect, and her personal agenda was taken care of. Now, it would be to wait out the storm.