She sat on the edge of the bed beside him. He blinked twice as his eyes grew accustomed to the twilight. A smile spread across his face. He waited until her head was on his shoulder before his face pinched into as near a worried look as Dean could manage.
She held him so tightly, he thought she might squeeze the breath out of him. He relaxed his arms and held his breath until Tara released him to settle in the crook of his arm. He loved the way the moonlight played on her hair. He took a deep breath, but refrained from letting out a corresponding sigh before he spoke.
“Tara, we have to talk about something.” The tenor of his voice wavered, and she recognized it. Her soft expression dissolved away to leave a stony one in its place. Her left eyebrow arched expectantly.
“Reaper and I talked this afternoon while you were at the store.” Unbelievably, the eyebrow arched higher, and the lips tightened into a straight line. “He wants to go after the guys that killed Bevan.” She broke eye contact and turned her back to him. Dean sat up in the bed and knew it was going to border on a fight.
“How long before you leave again?” Tara’s tone was crystal clear. She was angry. This is where he tells me he is leaving again. The little voice whispered, he may not come back this time. She rolled her shoulder to disguise the shiver which ran up her spine.
He struggled to get free of the duvet and to his feet without tumbling headlong across the sisal rug. With one foot on the floor, he thought for the eightieth time it felt like steel wool. “Tara, if I don’t it is going to be bad. Bad for me. Bad for Reaper. Bad for Margo. Just plain bad.”
Tara’s head turned in slow motion to face him as he finally kicked free of the covers and awkwardly stood to face her. The pregnant silence grew grew between them until Dean realized he was holding his breath. What is she supposed to think, you moron?
He tossed ideas away as quickly as they sprung to mind, but could not find anything he believed would not anger her. Finally, he tried, “I promise I will come back.” She did not blink. He resisted the urge to fidget. “Alive.”
Her arms uncrossed slowly, and he braced for her to slap him. She slid her hands gently over his shoulders and took his cheek in her left. Gently pulling his face toward hers, she said, “You’d better.” Although Tara struggled with her thoughts of his not returning, not another word would escape her lips before they fell asleep in each other’s arms.
Dean awoke to the smell of fresh coffee and Chloe sitting on his chest. “How’s my favorite cat?” he asked, scratching between her ears. She continued purring as he carried her into the kitchen following the beckoning aroma. A little breakfast would be good too, he thought as he came upon Tara setting the silverware and plates on the table.
Looking up from her duties, she asked, “How did you sleep?” He didn’t answer right away because something was different about her. She seemed softer than the usual Tara he knew, always on guard.
“I slept good. How about you?” He put Chloe gently on the chair.
“Me too, Dean. Have some coffee while I whip up an omelet.” She was definitely different as he watched her crack the eggs open.
Taking a ginger sip, careful not to burn his tongue, Dean declared, “The coffee is wonderful.” He sat back to take in how lovely she was, even at six o’clock in the morning. Everything about her was graceful: when she turned, even when she stirred the eggs. Neither of them noticed the silence which had been so awkward in the past was now so peaceful and right.
Dean picked up the paper, but had already seen the headline before Tara could warn him. The picture took up more than half the paper above the fold. Governor’s Son Dead screamed in 40 point font above the picture. Below it the words Alcohol Suspected in Single Car Accident looked like fire ants eating away the truth which would surely have been avoided in the story.
“Please wait until after breakfast to read that drivel. I want to talk about us first.” Tara’s eyes were soft, and her mouth had a hint of Mona Lisa’s smile. She sat across from him in the breakfast nook and began to eat.
This is it. It’s finally over. She’s too calm and collected. I knew it. No wonder she’s being so nice. Calm before the kill. The thoughts made his stomach flutter. Why doesn’t she just come right out and say it? Why is she just sitting there eating like nothing is wrong? Dean was resigned to the inevitable as he finished the omelet. He shifted uncomfortably in his chair and waited for the words to come from the lady he loved.
Tara got up, turned down the radio which was playing Ave Maria. She poured some more coffee and set the urn on the table as she settled back into her chair. “I don’t know where to start Dean. I guess I have to start by asking your forgiveness for all my doubts and misgivings about you. I thought you were really married. That’s why I’ve been acting so strange and distant. Margo straightened me out last night and now I feel like a perfect fool!”
She lowered her eyes and stared into her coffee cup. Dean was speechless while his mind flew in a thousand different directions. Now, it was starting to make sense. The aloofness. The tentativeness. The mistrust.
“You mean it was all because you thought I was married?” Dean finally shook the cobwebs from his head, jumped up from his chair, rounded the breakfast table and scooped Tara into his arms. “You really do love me! Woo hoo! I love you Tara Michelle Miller!” He kissed her excitedly.
Tara smiled like the Cheshire Cat, as he set her gently back on the floor. “Now it all makes sense! I thought you were mad because I didn’t tell you I was leaving, then I went to jail, then I just showed up. How in the world did you think I was married?” Dean was speaking so fast Tara had to pay close attention to even keep up.
“Does it really matter?” she asked. Tara wrapped her arms around Dean’s neck.
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Curiosity: Do you think it does matter?