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Old 09-29-2010, 11:28 PM   #1
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The Next Best Thing - 26

Although the names and certain characteristics of actual people are used in this story, it is a complete fabrication and should in no way be construed as anything but fiction.

Thank you for indulging my attempts to be a writer.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Thinking she had just witnessed something of a fight between old friends, Raye had expected to turn back and see Adam looking dejected after Edge and Bono left the deck. Instead, there he was across the table from her, with a silly little grin - apparently pleased with him self for executing such a successful sneak attack on Raye. It was the smile that infuriated her. How dare he broadcast what should have been a very private matter between the two of them to the entire household – people she barely knew! – then have the nerve to look at her with that stupid smile on his face, like she was supposed to think it was cute.

Watching her transform from confused to shocked to what he feared might be homicidal, Adam tried to appease her.

“I didn’t plan this”, he told her calmly, shaking his head and waving an index finger. “I’m as innocent in any of this as you.” Swiftly, Adam found that he had made a very poor choice of words.

“You’re ‘innocent’? Raye nearly screeched the words. “You run and tell your friends about a personal issue between the two of us – one that I didn’t even want to acknowledge had happened in the first place- you dress up the deck for a little ‘romantic dinner’ and then you cue everybody to leave us alone so you can have another go at me?! So what’re they all doing downstairs right now? Placing bets on whether you can woo me into sleeping with you tonight or if I’ll play ‘hard to get’ and it’ll take you another day or so to wear me down?” Raye sat glaring at Adam, her hands clenching the arms of her chair to prevent herself from grabbing the nearest stationary object and flinging it at his head.

Anything Adam might have found amusing about the current situation vanished and he looked at Raye with unmistakable horror.

“What? They wouldn’t – I didn’t…” he tried to form a complete sentence while Raye positively drilled her eyes into him. He watched, stunned, as she stood with both hands planted on the table and gave him a final warning.

“You have exactly five seconds to convince me.”

“I told him this was a bad idea and that you’d want no part in it, but he just wouldn’t listen, that daft bastard! Raye, I didn’t do this!”

He sat looking at her pleadingly and whether it was the inane rambling or how authentic his denial sounded, Raye wanted to know more. She sat back down slowly and closed her eyes before speaking to him again.

“I can’t believe I’m still here”, she said quietly before opening her eyes and concentrating on a spot just in front of Adam’s drink. Placing her elbows on the table and clasping her hands together, she took a deep, cleansing breath before looking at Adam and speaking to him directly. “Please, tell me – I’m dying to know. If you didn’t tell anyone about last night and I didn’t, then who gets the credit for planning the little lover’s getaway up here on the roof?”

She spoke calmly, but couldn’t help the sarcasm that permeated her words; the sting of her embarrassment and anger were still too fresh for her to react any other way. And although Raye asked the question, she felt pretty confident that she’d already worked out on her own what must have occurred since the previous evening. Based on what she’d seen that morning and Bono’s slightly cryptic reply when she’d talked to him after dinner, Raye deduced that Adam must have told him about the kiss the previous night or maybe even during their breakfast. Apparently, Bono had plenty to say about the situation but felt that Adam wasn’t listening, so he’d drafted someone else (presumably Edge, who would take Bono’s point of view on the issue) to get Adam in line with their way of thinking. And with fifty percent of the male population in the house knowing a secret, it wasn’t hard for Raye to imagine that things must have mushroomed from there. Still, she felt it would be a fitting punishment to watch Adam squirm while he admitted passing gossip to his mates like a schoolboy.

“Firstly, there is no one downstairs making wagers on anything that’s taking place here”, Adam spoke very tersely and jabbed the table with the fingers of his left hand to drive home his point. Pausing for effect, he softened his voice when he spoke again. “Secondly, I realize now how rude it was of me to discuss what happened between us with anyone else before you and I had the chance to talk it out ourselves. I only did so for guidance, not for the sake of bragging – I should have known it would cause you embarrassment and I am truly sorry for that lapse in my reasoning. Thirdly, the deck wasn’t set up as a ‘trap’ for you. We came up here when we got back from our errands this afternoon, after hearing Paul and Leo talk about the wonderful views. It was turning into such lovely evening, we all decided if we could find a way to light the area properly that it would be a unique way to spend dinner.”

“Oh”, was all Raye could manage at first. She had been way out of line to make such insinuations about his friends and her host and she couldn’t fault Adam for standing up for them. She was pleased, actually, that his first reaction had been to defend their honor. She suddenly remembered reading a story about death threats that Bono had received in the 1980’s, after the band publicly supported a Martin Luther King, Jr. state holiday in Arizona. While playing a show in Tempe, the band had started “Pride” (the point at which the threat to shoot Bono would allegedly be carried out), and Bono told of looking up as the music started to see Adam standing in front of him, ready to take a bullet for him if necessary. Raye smiled inwardly at the volumes that story spoke about the man in front of her.

“And fourthly”, Adam was saying, “the daft bastard who thought it’d be a brilliant idea for everyone to leave you and I up here alone was Edge.” He crossed his arms over his chest and waited for Raye to digest his comments.

“Edge?” Raye asked, obviously surprised.

“Yes, Edge”, Adam muttered. “I should have known better. I should have just gone to Larry to start with.”

“You should have known better than what?”

“I should have known better than to go to Edge for advice. If I had – “

“You went to Edge for ‘advice’?” Raye didn’t understand. This wasn’t at all the way she’d worked things on her own.

“Yes, I went to Edge for advice.”

“On what?”

“On you”, Adam answered, slightly exasperated with her. Raye’s bewildered expression though, with her head tilted slightly to one side, couldn’t help but make him chuckle.

“You needed advice… on me?” Raye hated that her conversational skills had been reduced to parroting whatever Adam had just said. She made a slight change in technique and went with stating the obvious. “I don’t understand.”

“That much is clear”, Adam answered with a smile, demonstrating his own awareness of Raye’s current speech limitations. “Edge is the only other one of us who’s been single as an adult and has gone through dating while remaining a part of the band. Lars and Bono always have my best interests at heart, but I don’t think they really remember how nerve-racking it is to meet someone you really fancy and…” Raye gasped audibly at Adam’s comment. “What? Does it really come as a surprise that I fancy you?” He smiled at Raye and waited patiently for her response.

She thought about denying it but the color rising in her cheeks as she answered him was a truer indicator than anything she could say, anyway.

“You would know I was lying if I said the thought hadn’t occurred to me”, was her quiet reply.

“I would”, he said before continuing the discussion. “Anyway, Bono and Larry are much more natural when it comes to women. Which is ironic, isn’t it? The two of them in committed relationships, with no need to chat anyone up, are the two who find it easiest to do so. But Edge is usually more level headed than either of those two and he’s been through the single life while touring and all that. Of course, seeing what a mess this has become, I’m beginning to think I should have just gone to Larry. He may not have understood my worries, but at least he’d have kept his mouth shut. Talking to Edge was a double-edged sword. No pun intended.” He wrinkled his nose at his own choice of words and Raye chuckled softly as she offered her first original sentence almost since the conversation had begun.

“Besides causing me some embarrassment, though, what was so awful about going to Edge for advice?”

“I underestimated his enthusiasm”, Adam answered a bit mysteriously. “Ever since he and Morleigh were married, he’s been on something of a personal mission to domesticate me. In the past it’s just been a polite nudge here or there; he’d drop hints for me to ring up this prospect or that one, he might suggest setting me up for dinner with a friend of Anne’s or Morleigh’s or Ali’s. He always says it’s because he remembers how miserable he was between marriages and he doesn’t want that for me.”

“Well, from what I’ve read”, Raye offered, “his divorce from Aislinn went badly. Most anyone in his place would have been miserable.”

“Exactly, and I’ve tried to make him understand that. I’ve tried to explain that I enjoy my life as it is and I date when I want to. But it seems he feels the need to save me from myself.” Adam chuckled and shrugged his shoulders, then sat watching Raye for a moment.

She smiled back and waited for him to resume the conversation. As he continued to sit and quietly observe her, though, she was reminded of the incident on Friday morning when he’d accused her of not being able to accept compliments. Wanting to show him that she was trying to change her habits, Raye didn’t blurt out accusations or assumptions; instead, she sat very still and allowed his gentle scrutiny for as long as she could bear it. After about five seconds, she’d had enough and broke the silence by redirecting his attention to the crimes of his band mate.

“So”, she said slowly, “Edge is encouraging you to… date me?” She actually gulped after speaking the last two words.

Adam cocked his head slightly and asked, “Would that be so awful, then?”

“No”, she managed to admit after some hesitation. Hearing herself say the word out loud and grasping the implications of that single syllable, Raye’s heart began to pound in her chest and her ears. She’d just opened the door to a world of complications that she wasn’t entirely sure she was prepared or even willing to face. Adam was speaking to her again and she didn’t have the time to dwell on all those implications at the moment. Discreetly, she refocused her attention to what he was saying.

“… would think that ‘date’ is too strong a term for the time being, but he’s definitely keen that I should pursue my interest in you. He was positively giddy this afternoon when I agreed to let him arrange a private conversation for us. Of course, all this is a moot point now unless my interest is reciprocated.”

Avoiding an immediate answer to Adam’s question, Raye began to look back over the events of the last several hours, with the blinding light of an informed perspective. She now understood that Edge’s pre-dinner jitters weren’t at all related to alcohol. He’d not been tipsy when he’d met her downstairs this afternoon – he’d been excited.

“Greeting me at the door... herding me upstairs… worrying that I was going to leave tomorrow. I thought he was on his way to being drunk”, Raye admitted. “He even hinted that he knew something was going on when we came through the library earlier.”

“Oh, really? What did he do?” Adam sat forward in his chair, absorbed in Raye’s observations.

“I was behind him as we were walking to the stairs and I hadn’t been saying much. He stopped, looked back at me and asked me if I was okay, and told me he wouldn’t want “anything heavy” weighing on my mind.” Raye shook her head in disbelief and smiled, “I thought when he said it that he was tying to drop me a hint, but then I decided I was just being paranoid and blew it off as coincidence.”

“Ugh”, Adam grunted. “Of all the times for him to turn into Bono and start flapping his gums! I thought I’d have to physically restrain Larry from tearing out his throat after that toast he gave.” Adam sat looking disgusted while Raye tried to work out what he meant.

“Yeah, I saw that. But what did Edge’s toast have to do with me? I thought that was about some property he was buying in the Caribbean.”

“Property?” It was Adam’s turn to be confused and he was making the most of it. “What? Oh – you thought that was about a new a beach house?” The leading way he asked told Raye before she even answered that she had been wrong again.

“Well, yes…”, she began, before trailing off when Adam burst in laughter that shook his entire body. She watched him expectantly until he was finished.

“I’m sorry”, he said, regain his composure. “It was so obvious to the rest of us what he was talking about; I just assumed you’d have put it together by now, especially after I uh, forcefully recommended that he be quiet and then Larry took the piss out of him right in front of everyone. Think about it – what did he say?” Adam grinned at Raye as she once more rewound the evening in her mind and played back the scene in question.

“Um, he said he was toasting to…”, Raye strained to remember his words and see what should have been so clear to her. Suddenly, the awareness of what Edge had said and what his choice of words were really about came rushing at her with such force that she nearly braced herself for an actual impact. Her face went a bit red as she solved the puzzle.

“’New ventures and successful propositions’”, she quoted Edge’s words slowly, then closed her eyes and cringed. Her eyes still clamped shut, she ventured a guess at what the toast had really been about. “I’m the new venture, aren’t I?”

“I’m afraid that’s what my clever friend was getting at. But please don’t misinterpret the ‘successful propositions’ part!” Raye opened her eyes to find Adam shaking his head vehemently and she had to laugh in spite of herself.

“Obviously, there are a few conclusions I could jump to”, she told him, “but I think I’ve done enough of that already. How about I just straight out ask you what he was talking about instead of assuming?”

“I believe it was his way of just saying, in general, that he wished me success in convincing you to give me a chance. I told him, of course, about what you said to me when you left the room last night – that you didn’t want to discuss what happened – and he’s convinced you were just in shock about it. So,” Adam said as he looked Raye directly in the eye, “you avoided the question before – is my interest in you reciprocated or do you stand by your statement that what happened last night was a mistake?”

The sounds of the street below, the soft rushing of the wind, the crashing of the breakers on the shore all merged into a solitary wall of white noise that wrapped itself around Raye as tightly as Adam’s arms had the previous night, filling her ears with a constant, gentle hissing as she tried to formulate her answer. She felt as though she was standing on the rim of an abyss with a solid rock wall that reached beyond the skies at her back. Which was the worse fate - to jump into the unknown or to stay put where she would remain isolated, but at least familiar with her surroundings?

Trying to put a name on what it was about getting involved with Adam that terrorized her so, a moment of clarity began to dawn on Raye. It was separation; the dull, crippling ache of separation. Not just the physical separation from a lover, but the emotional, mental, physiological division that developed when a love affair ended. Suddenly a stranger in her own mind, Raye examined her life over the last five years through the eyes of an observer, not an active participant. As if she were using a macro lens for extreme close-up photography on her own life, she could suddenly see what she’d done to herself. Like a vicious dog chasing a mail carrier, she’d given her fear of failed relationships permission to chase away any hope of ever finding a partner, a lover, a soul mate. And it was time for that fear to take obedience lessons.

Blinking rapidly, Raye returned to the present and saw that Adam was still waiting patiently in front of her for an answer. With the exhilaration of unknown potential flowing through her veins, she looked over the edge of her abyss and threw herself into it. Speaking timidly at first, her voice grew stronger and her confidence soared with every word.

“What happened last night was not a mistake. It wasn’t a fluke. There is something happening between us and I’ve known it since Friday morning when we called a truce and you shook my hand. I’ve just been denying it and fighting against it because…” Her head was spinning; telling Adam the absolute truth was the purest form of confession that she’d ever performed and she was easily intoxicated by its power.

Adam’s face, which had begun to glow with pure adoration as Raye answered him, suddenly clouded over when she stopped speaking. He sat ramrod straight in his seat, both hands palm-down on the table, ready to spring to Raye’s side and convince her that whatever excuse she was about to give him was poorly conceived and easily refuted.

“Because why? What’s wrong?” His voice was hushed, nearly panicked as he questioned her pause.

“Because I’m terrified of how deeply I might fall in love with you.” The words hung in the air between them like smoke, floating briefly before being carried away by the light ocean breeze.

Once more, Raye found herself wrapped in Adam’s arms without a full understanding of how she’d come to be there. She didn’t care. His arms felt like they were made to be circled around her waist. When he took her face into his warm, soft hands and brought her lips to his, flicking his tongue lightly against her own before pressing harder against her mouth and kissing her with something akin to desperation, she responded with a voracious hunger of her own. Running her hands across his chest and the soft stubble of his close-cut silver hair, Raye held nothing back. She reveled in his taste, his smell, his touch – these were where she wanted to live now, they were her new home and she had no intention of ever moving out.
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Old 09-30-2010, 12:08 AM   #2
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“Because why? What’s wrong?” His voice was hushed, nearly panicked as he questioned her pause.

“Because I’m terrified of how deeply I might fall in love with you.”



ABOUT BLEEDIN' TIME!

...

:ahem:

Lovely chapter dear! And as for Edge: you bad, bad, boy!
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Old 09-30-2010, 12:22 AM   #3
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:curtsy: Thank you. :blush:
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Old 09-30-2010, 12:25 PM   #4
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Just great!!


1. “Because why? What’s wrong?” His voice was hushed, nearly panicked as he questioned her pause. “Because I’m terrified of how deeply I might fall in love with you.”

Once Adam said (when a journalist asked him what was his best quality)

"The way I may like a person" (I have the interview in portuguese, so I dont know the exact words in english) and I remember that in Raye words!

2. Why do we all think of Bono to be the bad boy ?
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Old 10-03-2010, 10:28 PM   #5
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Old 10-03-2010, 10:49 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LoveandLogic View Post


I know, I know! My schedule has gone through some changes over the last few days & my free time is going to be a little slimmer for the next.... while. Anyway, I've been plotting out the next chapter & hope to have it posted in a few days.
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Old 10-05-2010, 03:01 PM   #7
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Old 10-05-2010, 03:16 PM   #8
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I'm a couple of pages in... just struggling as usual with the dialog. I want to write it so it doesn't sound choppy, which means I obsess & obsess over each syllable. It's exhausting!
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Old 10-05-2010, 03:18 PM   #9
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I know what you mean. I haven't wrote anything in the last two weeks! And now I'm hooked on True Blood so that's keeping me away from writing.



I need some good inspiration.
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