Shade's Fall

Page 21


Lily stood up when it came time to sing, her gaze caught by Rachel as she sat with her nephew and brothers. Holly and Mrs. Langley sat in the same pew. She and Rachel had worked long into the afternoon yesterday organizing the basement, talking throughout the long day, and she had found herself sharing things with her that she’d imparted only to Beth. Rachel was easy to talk to and she was Lily’s own age, sharing many of the same experiences. She would miss their days together when she went back to college, which she was already dreading with Penni’s absence.
After church, Charles went to the diner with her and they sat at the same table with Beth and The Last Riders. It was uncomfortable at first, yet gradually everyone at the table just ignored them as they sat at the end of the table talking quietly. All except Shade, whose eyes she could feel on them even though he had his sunglasses on.
“We’re going swimming, Lily. Want to come?” Beth invited.
“No, thanks. I’m going to stay at home and relax.” Lily refused the invitation, knowing they would refrain from taking their cooler of beer if she went. She didn’t want to spoil the day for them.
“Are you sure?” Beth asked.
Not long after, Charles finished, bending down to give her his usual kiss on the cheek before he left.
A cup smashed on the floor and everyone jumped.
“Sorry, my elbow hit my cup,” Beth apologized.
“You didn’t get cut by any glass, did you?” Lily saw the smashed cup on the floor by her sister’s feet.
“No, I’m fine. Just clumsy.”
“I’ll call you tonight,” Charles said before leaving, ignoring the strained silence at the table.
When they got home a few minutes later, Beth and Razer went upstairs to change into their swimsuits. While they changed, Lily loaded the cooler with cold sandwiches and fruit for when they became hungry. Opening the refrigerator, she found some bottled water and sodas, putting those in the cooler, as well.
As she had taken out the water and soda, she had noticed that the beers Shade had left behind were still inside the fridge. Beth hadn’t asked why there was beer in there, so Lily had come to the conclusion that she had asked Shade to keep an eye on her. She felt ashamed that Shade had been put in the position of watching a grown woman.
“You sure you don’t want to change your mind and go?” Beth asked, coming into the kitchen.
“No, thanks. I think I’ll read for a while in the backyard and get some sun that way.”
“All right, if you’re sure.” Giving Razer a glance, she said, “We may just spend the night at the club, if that’s all right?”
“Of course. I’ll see you both tomorrow.”

Lily watched them leave, remembering the days that she and Beth would go spend the day together swimming. She missed those times with Beth. She didn’t resent Razer or the others. It was her own fault she couldn’t bear to be around them when they were drinking.
She changed into her bikini before fixing herself an iced tea and going outside into the backyard. She sat down on a lounge chair, putting on some tanning lotion before she lay back to read a self-help book.
She enjoyed lying in the warm sun, especially in the backyard that was completely closed off with a privacy fence and mature trees that prevented anyone from looking into it. It was her own safe-zone of privacy to just be herself since the houses on both sides were one-story and the home behind theirs was empty. It had been that way for years, but it was regularly maintained, and every now and then, they would see a car outside. Their father had told them it belonged to a couple who vacationed there twice a year.
Lily rolled onto her stomach after laying the lounge chair flat. She felt the swimsuit’s bottom ride up a little, but she was too drowsy to fiddle with it, knowing no one would see. It was getting a little snug on her and she needed to get a new one. She’d had the same one since high school, though as she seldom wore it, she didn’t want to waste the money.
Lily later woke from her nap startled, feeling warm hands rubbing cold lotion into her skin. Her hands went to her side, ready to jump up from the lounge chair.
“Stay still. I didn’t want you to burn,” Shade’s voice sounded behind her as his hands rubbed more lotion onto the backs of her legs.
“That’s enough. I was going to go in and get changed,” Lily protested.
“Stay and relax. I brought us some steaks to grill. When they’re almost done, you can get changed.”
Lily wasn’t sure, but she thought she felt the faint touch of his thumb against the lowest globe of her butt. She started to stiffen; however, Shade was already up and moving away.
Lily turned her head, seeing that he must have been here for a while since the steaks were already on a plate, waiting to be put on the grill he was heating up.
“How did you get in?” Lily asked.
“I have a key.”
“What? How?” Lily asked.
“Beth gave me her extra key when you were in the hospital. She’d asked me to pack some clothes for you.”
Her sister had neglected to tell her that it was Shade who had brought her clothes to the hospital. Lily was horrified at the thought of Shade going through her bedroom, opening drawers. She remembered the red panties that had been packed for her. Lily was going to let Beth have it when she returned home.
“You can grab a quick shower. The steaks are almost done.”
Lily didn’t want to get up from the lounge chair. Her top was indecent and her large breasts were barely held inside the tiny cups.
Fussing at herself for not bringing a wrap, Lily got to her feet and hurried toward the back door, keeping her face averted from Shade’s.
A hard arm went around her waist, pulling her toward him.
“Wait a minute.”
A finger pressed on the skin just above the flesh of her breasts. “You’ve gotten too much sun. Put some lotion on before you come back downstairs. I’ll keep the steaks warm.”
“I’m a grown woman,” Lily snapped.
“I can see that for myself.” His eyes were on her breasts.
“Jerk.” Lily started to wiggle away but was released before she could do so.
“Get changed.” Shade grinned.
“I planned to.” Lily stomped away, but then walked more demurely after she glanced back and saw his eyes on her butt.
“Don’t say anything unless you want to learn my lesson on respect,” he said, seeing the fire in her eyes.
Lily muttered something unintelligible under her breath.
“What did you say?” he asked with a warning glint in his eyes.
“I’ll be back in a minute.”
Lily showered, washing her hair thoroughly. After drying off, she smoothed some body lotion onto her skin before sliding on a pale green maxi dress that came to her ankles. Leaving her hair to dry naturally, she went back downstairs to the smell of the steaks, making her hungry.
Outside, Shade was already putting the steaks onto a platter. He had also packed out the tea pitcher and glasses with ice. There was even a big baked potato placed on each plate.
“Exactly how long have you been here?” Lily asked, taking a seat at the table.
“Long enough.” Shade grinned, setting the plate of steaks down onto the table.