I didn't think it was a reference to anything other than his temper, his frustration with Caleb. It might be easier for me to live with Caleb if I can forgive him but it isn't easier for Lochlan, who struggles constantly with this and I try to make it as easy as I can for him, considering he's now the one shoving me out the door. Get it over with, he says. Have your time and hurry up. I can't breathe without you here.
And I'll walk across the driveway, trying to keep my heart from cracking in half along the way.
But I didn't go recently. Haven't gone for a week and won't be going for a bit. The deal is a handful of times a month, and I get to choose. That's the only thing keeping Lochlan from suffocating. The rest of the time I am his.
Last night he said he had a dinner planned for us. PJ looked after feeding the few who were around. The kids were both at friends' houses and after everyone had scattered back to their comfort zones, Lochlan told me to close my eyes.
I did with a grin, because I just love surprises. I actually hate them but he's not one to give orders without a good reason so I listened. He bends down and starts to remove my thigh-high socks. I needed them under my dress. It's cold.
Lochlan! Not in the kitchen!
Not what you think, Peanut. He laughs. I almost lose my balance but he's there to hold. A kiss lands on my mouth and then he struggles with something (his own socks, I learned later) and he takes my hands. Ready? He starts to walk, leading me down the steps to the patio doors and then outside and down the steps into the rain. We're walking in the grass, cold and slippery. He holds tight. I get warmer and suddenly the rain stops.
Open, he says and I look around. He's brought the small patio table with the umbrella and the outdoor heater all the way out to the camper on the edge of the cliff. The tiny coloured lights are strung all over the place, as always and the table is set for two.
Be right back. Leaving me under the umbrella he dashes into the camper and comes out with a bottle of pop and two peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.
The stove isn't hooked up, he shrugs. You always liked these.
Still do. I tell him. We sit across from each other and eat, trying not to smile big peanut butter-teeth obnoxious smiles at each other. Then he goes back to the house, telling me to wait a minute. Stay put.
The outdoor sound system comes on, flooding the backyard with an old ballad I love. He holds out his hand and I take it and he pulls me out from under the patio umbrella into the pouring rain.
He puts his arms around me and we sway to the music. No talking, just drowning in each other's arms in the rain. The music is loud. Everything is muted by the rain save for the music.
Except it's cold away from the heater and before the song is halfway through I'm shaking like a leaf, responding to his sparse comments with chattering teeth. Lochlan pauses the dance and heads quickly around the side to the garage. I stand in the rain holding my arms close around me with the music blaring in my ears, soaked to the bone and then he's back with the most spectacular sight I've ever seen.
He's wearing his top hat and carrying a huge black umbrella.
The top side of the umbrella is on fire.
Safe underneath, he wraps one arm around my waist and holds the umbrella above us. It's warm, but the flames are on the other side. I don't know how long we have before it burns through but honestly I don't think I even care. We just keep dancing as sweet songs keep playing. I ever get a twirl or five, one hand high above my head holding his hand while he holds the umbrella out to one side.
When we run out of time he dips me low, kissing me hard, tossing the umbrella to one side. There's nothing left of it. He says something, his lips pressed against my ear and I look at him in surprise before he pulls me back in close. We finish the dance as the sixth or seventh song ends before running inside. Rain has become snow, my heart has fused back together again and Lochlan has won the romance wars of my life.