LOUDER THAN THE RAIN 11

 

[ Two days later... ]

Patty stepped out of the airport shuttle and looked up at the hotel then back at the second note card that had been delivered with the flowers. The first one had gotten her this far so she had to trust that the second would get her where she was going. "Meet me for dinner in the bar of the Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort in Destin, FL," she mumbled to herself and threw her bag over her shoulder to walk in the door of the huge main building.

"Welcome to Sandestin," the woman at the counter said when she finally reached the check-in desk. "How can I help you?"

"I know that this is going to sound strange, but is there a room reserved for Patricia Brown?" she asked nervously hoping that Lance didn't expect her to just hang out for a few hours. From the looks of the place she was going to need to change clothes. She hadn't brought much with her so she'd have to go shopping later. "A friend of mine surprised me with this trip and I'm not supposed to meet them until later--"

"Right here Miss Brown," the woman said a moment later putting a sheet of paper and a professional looking pen on the counter. "All I need is a signature from you and we'll get a bellhop to take you up."

Patty slid the paper towards her and noticed that there wasn't a price listed on the registration form in front of her. Not that she expected to know how much it was a night to stay there, but it would have made her feel a little better to know that she wasn't causing too much trouble. "I don't have any bags really."

"It's a private suite," she explained as she moved the paperwork around and brought out a plastic keycard for her, "You need an escort."

"A private suite?" she asked. This was making her nervous. She'd known that Lance would go full out for this trip, but this was crazy. She was crazy. She should have gone with Gabby with everyone to the airport to fly to the Kids Choice Awards. She shouldn't have taken a chance to see what Lance had up his sleeve. He'd been so secretive about this trip that she'd even seen him get into the shuttle to go to the Kid's Choice Awards with the others.

"Yes ma'am," she said, "You and your guest are booked in the corner suite overlooking the water for the weekend and as requested your spa appointment is at one and a limo will pick you up to take you shopping at four. Your friend is out at the moment playing a round of golf, but said that he would meet you in the bar at eight as planned."

"Limo?"

"Yes ma'am," the woman went on, "It's all right here."

"OK?" Patty said shocked by the star treatment. "If you say so."

A young high school aged boy arrived a moment later wearing khaki pants and a polo shirt with the hotel logo on it. He held out a hand to take her bag from her then took the key from the woman at the counter and said, "Right this way Miss Brown...we'll take the elevator up to the penthouse suites."

"Thank you," she said and walked behind him trying hard not to stare too hard at her surroundings. She'd been in hotels like this before, just not that recently. It was a pressure for her already to keep her cool about things since she was already surprised by just the thought of spending the weekend away from the road, but this was ridiculous. She'd flown on the private commuter jet from Orlando to the coast and had gotten there ok, but this weekend of surprises, she had a feeling, was just getting started.

~~~~~

Knock. Knock.

Patty slid her earring into her ear and looked at herself in the mirror one last time. She liked the dress she'd picked out. It wasn't too fancy, but at least was something different than what she'd been seen in during the tour. She also had gotten a chance to really enjoy her pampering session that afternoon which had relaxed her a lot. She smoothed her hair once more before walking across the two-bedroom suite to the door. She wasn't expecting anyone to come to the room in the first place, but the man she saw when she opened the door was even more shocking.

"Re-Reeese?" she stuttered out. It wasn't her most memorable hellos, but it served its purpose to show him that he was probably the last person on earth that she expected to be at the door.

"Hi," he said with a shrug.

"What are you doing here?" She looked him up and down once then twice and tried not to fall over when her ankle somehow gave out in her heeled shoe when she finally realized that something was wrong. "You cut your hair."

"Yeah," he said running his hand over the now short haircut a few times. The last time she'd seen him his hair had been down past his shoulders. It hadn't been one of his better features and she was surprised that after all these years he'd actually cut it.

"It looks good," she said then blinked. He'd been in England and hadn't gotten that much sun that summer. His normally darkened skin looked pale in comparison to what he usually would look like at the end of a summer of touring. "How did you know I was here?"

He gave her a confused look. "You're having dinner with me tonight. I assume that you're here for that--that's why I sent the flowers."

"Dinner with you tonight?" she asked reaching to hold onto the door for support. "I can't do that...I have plans." She shock was clouding her thinking skills.

"You have plans with me," he said, "Dinner and a weekend away from it all...that's what you said you wanted from me the last time we talked...i know it was a joke and all, but I planned this for us...just for us."

"No," she mumbled then bit her tongue once. It was Lance that did this. It was Lance that wanted the weekend away from it all. Her shoulders sank in the realization that Reese had been the one to send the ticket and make the plans.

"Are you ready for dinner?" he asked.

"Dinner?" she asked.

"Yeah," he said moving his hand to show her the outfit she'd changed into. "I'm gonna take you out tonight...like we planned."

"WE," she said angrily. "WE didn't plan ANYTHING. I was tricked."

"Tricked, what are you talking about?" he asked.

"I didn't know that it was you that sent me the flowers."

"Well it would have spoiled the suprise."

"Surprise, more like ambush."

"Don't get all bitchy Patty please," he said with a sigh, "I planned this weekend for the two of us...I need to talk to you about some things if not for our sake then for Gabby's."

Talk to her. He could do that so easily over the phone. That's how he'd done it in the past, hell his idea to separate had come over the phone. Why all of a sudden did he need to see her face to face when months ago he could even stand to be in the same room with her.

It all became clear. This was all a ploy to sweet talk her into signing the divorce papers. They'd been putting it off forever, but now things had come to a head and this was his way of getting her to go along with what he wanted. "Where are they?" she asked.

He looked back at her with a stunned look. "Where are what?"

"The divorce papers...I know that's what this is about...you want to wine and dine me and get me to sign them so this can all be over."

Silence fell between them. She stared at his outfit. He wasn't at all the suit type, but he was wearing one that night.

"Can I please come in?" he asked in a serious tone.

It was a change for him to be so level headed when most times in the past he would have yelled at her faster than he would have tried to reason with her. She wasn't sure how to take that calmness. It scared that he was that serene. It had been one of her wishes back then for him to be that way, but now that he really was acting like that she didn't know if she liked it. A lot had changed with her, but maybe a lot of things had changed with him too.

"No," she said firmly not trusting herself. This had happened before. They'd made up for a while, but she wasn't sure that this time would be any different and she wasn't sure that she could handle going through the separation again. "You can't."

His expression was very muted. He looked at her with a sad half smile then stepped forward a little. "Patty please...That's not it at all...If I wanted you to sign them I'd send them to you...I really think that we need to talk."

"We've done enough talking over the last few months to satisfy me," she said, "My phone bills can prove that."

"No," he said, "We ARGUED. We need to TALK."

"I'm all for it. It would make my divorce go a little easier," she said.

"No sweetie, it would save our marriage."

"Save WHAT marriage?" she asked blinking, astonished with his comment, "You're not here and when you do all you do is yell at me."

"You know that I yell at you because I'm worried about you. I don't want you to go back to that--"

"Reese it's a trust thing...you don't trust me enough to let me live my life. I know that I was bad...believe I know, but I can't do anything about that now...I've started over and I thought you'd be happy for me to do that...not harass me about it all the time."

"Harass you?" he asked, "I'm so proud of you right now. I knew that it would take you a while to get back in the swing of things and I knew you needed time to do that on your own."

"I needed you!" she yelled at him now finding the tears of the last six months that she'd held back already falling from her face. "I needed you to be there to help me and all you did was run off to England."

Reese moved toward her, pushing her back into the room even without touching her, and pulled the door closed and a moment later she found herself in his arms.

"Baby please don't do this," he said, "Don't cry...you know how this kills me."

"Get used to it," she said and pounded on his chest, "Get used to it...you've got six months to make up for and I don't think I can cry that hard again."

"Shhh," he said and began to walk across the room pulling her along with him. He pulled her to sit in his lap, "Please. Please baby. I had to go away. I was part of the problem and I needed to stay away."

"Part of the problem?" she asked sniffing hard as she moved so that she could look at him. If she hadn't been dressed up she would have probably wiped her face on her shirt, but her sundress didn't give her any material to use. "How can you be the problem? I was the one who was addicted to--"

"You know that whole 12 step program stuff." She saw tears in his eyes, true tears. "I wasn't strong enough to let you detox. I couldn't see you like that so I let you do what you had to do to be ok."

"Your tie is getting ruined."

He unwrapped his arms from around her and leaned a little and pulled his tie off and put it on the bed next to them. "Better?" he asked.

She nodded and leaned against him. "Why did you wear that thing anyway? she asked, "I know you hate ties. You didn't even wear one at the wedding."

"Hey," he said, "I wore one of those...those...shit I don't know what you call them, but I looked nice."

"Do you have any other clothes here?" she asked, "As much as I appreciate the suit, you're freaking me out here."

"If I change will you sit down and talk with me?" he asked.

She nodded, "If I change too."

He nodded, "Sounds good."

~~~~~

Emerging from the back of the bus Patty held her palm pilot and her phone in her hands, dialing the phone while she looked over her notes. It was her lack of attention to where she was going that made her bump into someone. "What are you doing here?" she asked, "I thought you were going to stay at the hotel today and see me tonight."

"I wanna come back," he said with a half frown. He had his hands shoved deep in his pockets and his was leaning back on his heels waiting for a reaction from her. It was funny how Gabby had started to do the same thing with her lately.

"What did you say?" she asked putting her palm pilot and phone down so that she wouldn't drop them. She was shocked to have the words that she'd been waiting for years to hear actually come out of his mouth and actually be directed at her.

"London isn't the same without you there," he said and removed his hands from his pockets long enough to run them through his hair. He took a deep breath. "I want to be with my wife and kid," he said, "Is that so bad?"

"Not unless the wife and kid aren't yours anymore."

"Don't be like this," he said, "Please...hell nowhere is the same without you there with me...even Joe has noticed that the work and the whole attitude around the studio has changed."

"So it's about the work?" she asked, "I've been demeaned now to the status of a muse? You know I always had my suspicions that's what it was, but for you to come out and say this to my face is something else."

"No," he said, "No...no..." He took two steps towards her and put his arms around her for a moment drawing her close to him then her face in his hands and looked at her for a moment before leaning to kiss her.

She had thought for months that this would be the answer to all her prayers. She'd thought that being back in his arms would cure it all, take away all the pain and misery that had been there between them for so long. It had looked to be the answer that past weekend, but now she wasn't sure that it would be any different. She'd promised that she would think about his offer to save their marriage, but for the moment she had things to do.

It wasn't like they didn't get along. The passion between them was still there. Or at least the sexual electricity still made the hairs on the back of her neck stand on end and her heart start to beat a little faster. Somehow in the midst of that perfect moment there was something not so perfect between them, holding her back from completely letting go of herself and falling back into the life she'd had the year before.

"Hey Patty," Lance said stepping up into the bus, "Have you seen Gab-?"

Her head whipped around from where she was standing in Reese's arms and watched as he stopped short, like a deer caught in headlights and stared at them. She wanted so much to explain to him what was going on, but it seemed as if he'd already come to his own conclusions by the time he let his eyes finally blink. He reached up and rubbed his shoulder again.

"Sorry, didn't mean to interrupt...have you seen Gabby?"

"She's with Farzana getting lunch."

"Uh...thanks," he said.

"Lance this is Reese. Reese this is Lance."

The two men quickly shook hands and Lance retreated from the bus disappearing out of sight.

Silence hung in the room after his departure and all the breathable air seemed to have been pulled out the door with him.

"What was that all about?" Reese asked pulling her close again, physically moving her to knock her from her daze.

"I don't really know...he probably didn't expect to see you here since usually it's just us girls in here...well and Rodney of course."

Reese nodded and sat down on the couch pulling her into his lap. She almost hated the way she fit there so nicely. That comfort of knowing him didn't seem to be a comfort now, it only reminded her of the new comforts she'd found in Lance's arms and how she wanted both her worlds to mesh into one.

"So what have you been up to lately?" he asked.

A smile formed on her face as she remembered the times when they would sit like that, before Gabby was born, when he was working long hours and coming home in the middle of the night to wake her up to say hello. She'd hated him most times for waking her up, but after she was tucked into his arms and had his smile beaming at her it was as if he could do no wrong. "You've been in London too long...your accent is coming back."

"Nothing," she said and looked over his shoulder and out the window as she hugged him. Lance hadn't walked away from the bus just yet and it hurt her to see his reaction to the situation. He looked stunned and he had a right to, but she hadn't expected what had come next. He'd turned around to start back to the bus and she'd seen tears in his eyes...real tears. He turned back around again after looking up at the window. For a moment she thought he could see her sitting there, but realized he was probably just staring at his own reflection in the side of the bus because he took a deep breath and didn't come any further.

"Nothing at all?" he asked, "You must have been bored."

"I wasn't." The words didn't come out easily at first but she soon heard her own voice say, "I had work stuff and Gabby and I missed you."

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