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A New Flame - Chapter Three - Getting Caught in the Rain
 By Moose   •   28th Jun 2014   •   1,799 views   •   0 comments
A New Flame

The truck eased back on the road slowly. Jane peeked out the window to see a dark piece of sky through the trees above them. Just as Elijah turned onto the next road, a loud rumble of thunder filled the air and shook the ground.

Jane’s wide blue eyes met Elijah’s. He smiled bigger and laughed, “I hope you’re not afraid of storms.” Moments later, rain was pounding down on Elijah’s truck.

“Shut the windows!” Jane yelled over the thunder and the loud, steady beating of the rain.

Elijah began laughing out loud and leaning over the steering wheel. He turned to Jane and yelled back, “The windows don’t work!”

Jane’s eyes widened. “Are you kidding?”

Elijah laughed harder and shook his head, squinting as rain hit the side of his face. “No!” Another crack of lightning lit up the sky in front of them, following by a loud, ear-rattling crash of thunder.

Joining in on his laughter, Jane covered her face and turned away from her window. “I can’t see anything,” she said, squinting at the front windshield.

“The windshield wipers don’t work either!” He shouted back, jerking the lever. One wiper scraped across the windshield with a loud squeak and then paused halfway. Jane laughed as Elijah reached through his open window and attempted to move the windshield wiper by hand. The wiper started again, squeaking loudly as it dragged across the windshield and paused again. Elijah gave up and stuck his head out the window in an attempt to see ahead of them.

“The hill is too slippery!” he shouted.

“Hail?!”

“No! The HILL!”

The truck tires began spinning faster and faster but the truck wouldn’t move. Jane spun around and watched it roll backwards. After a huge bump that rocked the entire truck, it stopped. Elijah shifted the truck into reverse and tried again, but even with the pedal on the floor, the truck didn’t move. He threw his hands onto the steering wheel and looked to Jane.

“I’ll get out and push.” Elijah stepped out into the pouring rain and started looking under the truck. A huge pothole had practically swallowed the front left tire, surrounding it in mud and water. He sighed and went back to the driver’s window. “Jane, can you do something for me?” he shouted over the rain. “When I tell you to, I need you to push this pedal to the floor, okay? Give it all you’ve got!”

Jane nodded and crawled into the driver’s seat. She put her foot on the brake and shifted the truck into drive, waiting for Elijah’s cue. He reached the back of the truck and rocked the truck back, then shouted, “NOW!” as he shoved the truck forward with all of his strength. Jane stepped on the gas, sending the truck flying out of the pothole. Once the tire was free, Jane stopped the truck and glanced back at Elijah. She opened her mouth to speak, but stopped herself when she found Elijah covered in mud from the spray of the tires. Everything inside of her was laughing hysterically, but she covered her mouth and forced herself to hide it.

Before she could stop him, Elijah was taking a handful of mud heading for Jane’s face. With a loud shriek, Jane scrambled into the passenger seat, covering her face. When she opened her eyes, Elijah was gone. With her heart still beating fast, she leaned her back against the driver’s side door and peered through the back window in search of Elijah.

Suddenly, she fell backwards as the door swung wide open. She screamed and kicked frantically as Elijah dragged her out of the truck. The second her feet touched the ground she ran, but he grabbed her too quickly, covering in mud. “ELIJAH!” she squealed.

Jane escaped from his grip and darted to the other side of the truck, gathering a handful of mud. She screamed and tossed it at Elijah as he snuck up on her. Out of breath and caked in mud, Elijah finally gave up and held his hands out in defeat. She came out from behind the truck, laughing uncontrollably. He tipped his head back and looked up at the sky.

“It stopped raining,” he said out loud.

Jane glanced up too, “Now that I’m covered in mud.” She murmured under her breath.

“Hop in and I’ll get you to my house.”

Jane obeyed and carefully slid into the wet passenger seat, covering it in mud. “I’m sorry about your-”

“Don’t apologize about the truck. It’s seen better days.” Elijah interrupted.

Jane smiled and observed his driving. “You’re a pretty good driver,” she said softly.

Elijah smiled and drummed his fingers on the steering wheel. “I got my commercial license when I turned 18 and my dad has me drive some of the semi-trucks.” Elijah explained, glancing at Jane out of the corner of his eye. “I transport feed.”

“Interesting.” Jane smiled to herself and looked out the window as the truck crept down the other side of the hill. At the bottom, he slowed the truck to a stop. Jane glanced back at him in confusion as he turned into a driveway. She watched a mailbox go by and on it said ‘Crow’. A dark green house with white trim came into view once the willow trees cleared. The front porch wrapped around the entire house and on it sat a few small wooden chairs. There were big beautiful windows looking out onto the porch and a large, slanted roof with two small dormers. Then she noticed the large, bay window on the side of the house, looking out into the garden. It was breathtaking the way this large house was tucked away in the woods and surrounded by a garden of colorful trees and flowers.

Elijah, seeing the way Jane gazed at the house, smiled to himself and parked the truck outside the unattached garage. He got out and held open his door. “This is your house?” Jane asked asked as she slid out of the truck and landed next to him.

Suddenly, the light reflected off a piece of metal and blinded Jane as she peered into the open garage. There, in the pile of scrap metal was a tiny silver eagle. She tilted her head and stared for a few more seconds before Elijah interrupted her thoughts. “Do you want to come inside?” He asked.

Jane tore her gaze away and looked down at herself with a cringing frown, “I’m covered in mud.”

Elijah shook his head and stepped onto the porch, “It’s alright.” Jane stayed where she was stubbornly. Elijah glanced back at her and rolled his eyes. “Come on, the dog drags in things that look worse than you.” He teased her, holding the door open.

Jane broke into laughter and shook her head before giving in and stepping inside. The inside of the house was surprisingly cozy and comfortable to be in. Part of Jane was expecting to find a castle inside. Elijah led her up the staircase and through a door to his room. The ceiling in his room was slanted like a loft, with one large skylight. Under the skylight was his bed and a small table with a lamp. The other wall was a bookcase, filled with old records and books. Jane wandered into his room, her head swiveling. She ran her fingers over
the books, noticing that most of them were old westerns.

“My sister has clothes you can wear,” he said, “Wait here.” After Elijah disappeared, Jane began looking around some more. Something caught her eye on the bookshelf. It was a small, framed picture of a boy on a black horse. Next to him was a tall, thin woman with blonde hair. The boy looked incredibly happy... and familiar. It was then that Jane noticed the dimples.

Elijah entered the room silently, startling Jane when he spoke, “I took what I thought would fit you, the jeans were my mom’s. Here’s a bag for your clothes and there’s a bathroom across the hall. You can shower if you want.”

Jane nodded, took the small pile of clothing and the bag from his arms and then took a step toward him. Elijah looked down at the big, pale, blue eyes lined with thick, dark eyelashes that stared up at him through a mask of mud and dirt. Her sweet, freckled face still had incredible natural beauty even covered in mud. He cleared his throat and stepped to the side to let her past. She slid by him gracefully into the hallway.

When she found the bathroom, Jane closed the door behind her and locked it. She set the pile of clothes on the countertop and looked at the small, gold-framed mirror. She was completely covered in dry mud from head to toe. With a frustrated sigh, she turned on the sink and started washing her hands, trying to scrape the mud out from under her nails. When she glanced up again, she noticed the shower in the mirror and turned to face it.

After putting all of her muddy clothes in the sink, she stepped in. The warm, steamy water pelted against her back and neck and fogged up the mirror. She had forgotten how good a shower could feel. The water rinsed the mud and dirt down the drain. Jane turned off the shower after she was clean and grabbed a towel off the door. She dried off and unfolded the shirt on the top of the pile to look at it. It was a white, button-down shirt with a collar and no sleeves. Underneath the shirt was a small, charcoal gray tank top and a pair of faded, light blue jeans. Jane wrapped her hair in the towel and got dressed.

She tied the ends of the button-up shirt in a knot at her waist. The jeans fit her surprisingly well, aside from being a little long. So Jane rolled them. After she was fully dressed, she pulled her long, wavy hair out of the towel and patted it dry. Jane took the wet hair band from her wrist and braided her hair down the side of her head, tying it loosely and throwing it over her shoulder. She then gathered her dirty clothes into the bag and stepped out of the bathroom with her boots in one hand and the bag of clothes in the other.

Jane heard a small voice coming from Elijah’s room and walking in, she found a small boy sitting on the bed next to him. Elijah glanced up at Jane, standing in the doorway. She looked so effortless in the loosely tied shirt and faded blue jeans. A few wispy curls and a loose, semi-wet, messy braid framed her fresh, clean face. Elijah cleared his throat and stood, “The clothes fit you.” He said, tripping over his words slightly. Jane looked down and smiled, setting her bag and boots by the door. “I was going to take a shower,” he said quickly. “You can stay here if you want.” Elijah turned to the bed where the little boy sat. “This is Benjamin, my little brother. He likes to ask questions.”

The boy looked up at Jane and smiled, showing his missing front teeth. She smiled back, her eyes lighting up as she stepped into the room. Elijah brushed by her and stepped out into the hallway.

Jane sat down on the bed cross-legged. “Hi, I’m Jane,” she said to the boy.

“I-I know that.” Benjamin bounced on his knees and buried his face into the comforter. Jane tilted her head, watching him reappear, with energy. His big, brown eyes searched the room, stopping on Jane’s belongings. “Are-are-are those cowgirl boots?” he asked, his voice got higher in pitch as he became more interested.

Jane nodded, “You’re right.” She replied.

“I-I-I know that... I know that because Eli, he has some.” Benjamin said, sliding off the bed.

“Does he?” Jane asked, watching Benjamin walk across the room to her boots.

“What’s-what’s this thing? What’s it for?” he asked, spinning the spurs.

“Those are called spurs. Cowboys and cowgirls wear them to make their horses listen to their legs better.” Jane explained.

“Why-why do they need to listen to their legs?”

“Well, cowboys and cowgirls use their legs to make their horses do stuff like
go faster or turn.” Jane could almost see the wheels turning in Benjamin’s mind as he took in all the new information.

“Where do cowboys come from?”

“Cowboys? They come from the Old West.” Jane said with a warm smile.

Benjamin bounced back to his feet and headed for the bookshelf. “I-I-I know that.” He said. “Eli, he has lots of books about-about the Old West.”

Jane nodded and watched Benjamin pull one of the books off the shelf. “Yes he does.” She said. “Have you ever ridden a horse, Benjamin?” Jane asked, sitting down on the floor next to him as he paged through the pictures.

Benjamin’s eyes lit up. “It’s my dream to ride a horse!” he blurted out. Benjamin looked back at the boots, “Wait-wait you have those. Does-does-does that mean-does that mean that you have a horse?”

Jane felt her heart swell with happiness. “Yes, I do. Would you like to come riding with me sometime, Benjamin?”

The little boy’s dark blonde head nodded like a bobble head. “Yea, that-that’s my dream!” he repeated. Benjamin looked back at the book. “Will-will you read it to me?”

Jane nodded and laid down on her stomach, propping herself up on her elbows. Benjamin sat beside her, watching her flip to the beginning of the book. She smiled and started reading, “It’s called ‘Brighty of the Grand Canyon,’” she began as she flipped the page, “’A shaggy young burro lay asleep in the gray dust of canyon trail.’”

“Jane? What’s that?” Benjamin asked quickly.

“A burro is a small donkey,” Jane explained and went on. “’Except for the slow heaving of his sides and the occasional flick of an ear, he seemed part of the dust and ageless limestone.’”

“What’s that?”

“Limestone is a kind of rock that you find in the Grand Canyon.” Jane went on to read a few more paragraphs, explaining things to Benjamin as she went. Elijah opened the door to his room and looked down at Jane and Benjamin on the floor with a book open in front of them. He pressed his lips together, trying to hide his smile.

“Eli! Guess what! Jane, she said she-she’s going to take me riding!” Benjamin squealed.

Jane’s eyes met Elijah’s with a soft smile. He smelled of shampoo and fresh cologne. “That was really nice of her.” He said, “Well, I took a shower and started some lunch downstairs if you two are hungry. It’s 11:00 already.”

Jane sat up and closed the book as Benjamin raced out of the room. Elijah held out his hand, pulling her to her feet. “He’s very sweet,” she said.

Elijah stepped through the door, glancing back, “Yes, he is,” he said, shutting off the lights before turning around and heading down the stairs.

Jane followed closed behind him. “And you were right, he does ask a lot of questions.” She added.

“Yea, he’s a curious boy. Full of energy too.”

“Yes he is,” Jane laughed.

“He usually has trouble being social, especially with new people, because of the Autism, but he surprised me. I think he really likes you.” Elijah reached the bottom of the stairs and walked into the large, open kitchen where Benjamin was climbing onto a barstool.

Jane slowed her steps and stared at the back of Elijah’s head. She watched him open the cupboard and set a plate in front of Benjamin, along with three others. She sat down on the stool next to Benjamin.

“Sophie!” he called as Elijah looked over Jane’s head into the living room.

A tall, thin, red-headed girl appeared from around the corner. She paused and looked at Jane, recognizing her clothes. “Is that my shirt?” she asked, her bright green eyes glancing up to meet Elijah’s.

Elijah answered, “I had to lend her some of your clothes. Hers were wet.” Sophie sat down on the other side of Benjamin, studying Jane while her head was turned. Elijah lifted the cooking pan off the stove and pushed a grilled cheese sandwich onto Benjamin’s plate. “Do you like grilled cheese, Jane?”

She nodded and slid one of the plates under the pan as Elijah pushed a sandwich onto it. “Thank you,” she said softly.

After serving Sophie, he got a plate for himself and sat down on the stool next to Jane.

“Eli, you forgot the ketchup,” Benjamin reminded him.

Elijah spun his stool and walked around the counter to the fridge to get the ketchup. “Here you go, little man.” He as he handed Benjamin the ketchup, knowing that the little boy liked to do it himself. She watched him with a smile, seeing the way Elijah interacted with his little brother. She could see it every time Benjamin looked at Elijah that he idolized him. Benjamin took the ketchup, squirted it onto his plate and started eating. Jane looked down at her plate and took a bite of her sandwich. Elijah turned to her with a smirking smile and wiped the string of cheese from her chin.
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