NOT SO SOUTHERNLY, SOUTHERN CHARM **CHAPTER 4**

Southern Charm

It brought him so much joy, the way the sun was setting. He clapped his hands together quickly and danced in a circle – so full of excitement. It cast the perfect glow over the rooftop that he planned to have in holy, powerful flames later that evening. His creation would be beautiful, intense – one of his finest he was sure, and then giggled uncontrollably with glee. What was more, he would show the NOBH that they weren’t as powerful as they liked to think of themselves, but mainly he was doing it to be closer to his first love – the flames – so melancholy at first, then they like to give a good tease as they dance and grow from the gasoline that he’d nurse them with. Oh, the only thing that could make this dance better, would be if his darling flames would lick the flesh of some sad soul. The smell of burning flesh…a little lagniappe to his already-perfected show…a flawless performance that no one could contain.

Skipping around the perimeter he proudly poured the gasoline, not missing an inch. Then he stood back and lit a rock wrapped in cloth that was also soaked in the fire-starter. Laughing violently, he couldn’t restrain the merriment that dominated his body. He gave the rock a good toss through a window. As soon as the glass broke he fell to his knees, out of sight, so he could watch the exquisite show that only he would orchestrate.  

**** 

It’d been a beat since Becky and Caroline spent a night partying together, so Caroline – still buzzed from her earlier incident- decided that night was the night they’d make up for lost time. Turns out Caroline losing her license was having some benefits because she couldn’t recall, ever, feeling close enough to share a story with Becky like she’d done earlier when she explained the Porter ‘mishap’. She was so angry with Porter that she thought she couldn’t contain it. But a few laughs and drinks with her cousin would put her right back in the game, and next time she ran into him, if there was a next time, she was going to act like their earlier encounter meant nothing to her, and in fact, never happened.

So that may be a tiny lie- what of it? She knew she was turning a corner of some sort because she had this high-on-life feeling as soon as she finished her shower. It had to be the fact that she was moving on from today’s embarrassments. She was completely over him and any feelings that may have temporarily taken over her brain. She was right as a dirty martini with extra olives.

“What are you thinking of?” Becky asked concernedly.

“Nothing.”

“Yea right, don’t you mean Porter? Becky laughed.

Caroline threw a pillow in Becky’s direction. “Are you dressed yet? I’m ready to get out of here”

“Duh, look at me. I look great, do I not?” She was pulling the hem of her skirt outwardly, making it smile, and shifting back and forth on her legs as she admired her strange attire in Caroline’s standup mirror.

“What’s wrong with being fashionably late anyway? No one really goes out until ten o’clock. Plus, I don’t want to get all hot and sweaty before the gorgeous men show up, so just have a glass of wine and work on your lacking skills in the mirror.”

“What lacking skills? I think I’m pretty talen-”

“Flirting.”

“What?”

“You heard me, FLIRTING.” She repeated, enunciating the T by clicking her tongue to the top of her palate.

“I hate to burst your bubble princess Becky, but my flirting skills are on point. I just don’t flaunt them all over every man who passes through my peripheral like some people I know. It’s called restraint. You should practice it sometime.”

“Geez, growl much? We’ll have to pick this conversation back up after we’ve had a few drinks. Pre-buzzed-conversation-Caroline is obviously not your forte either.

Caroline dramatically rolled her eyes and stalked to the front door. She jerked it open, waited for Becky to proceed, and when she didn’t budge, Caroline swept her arm dramatically through the doorway like she was ushering out a queen. Becky hated when Caroline treated her as though she acted hoity-toity and Caroline knew that. She also knew that her ‘bitch’ skills were on point since Becky stomped out the front door and hauled ass to her car. She always was one who could dish out a hard time, but turn the tables on her with a little sarcasm? Yea, she would schedule an entire day just to pout about it. She was spoiled that way and Caroline knew it. As she got in Becky’s car she realized that she would have to tolerate ‘snarky’ all the way to the bar. Such was life at times.

The moment they paid the cover to enter the bar, she felt a pair of eyes on her. She looked up to see none other than Porter Charge stalking her with his eyes. He looked angry, feral almost. She couldn’t imagine what he had to be angry about, but she was going with her earlier plan – act like he didn’t exist. But God, he was sitting there all arrogant and gorgeous. Ugh! She hated him. He stood from the VIP table he was occupying with a few other ladies – of course he was- and started to approach her in a prowl-like manner. She cringed and took off for the lady’s room. As she began to open the bathroom door a hand above her head slammed the door closed.

“You’re not going anywhere Country. I know you saw me.”

“So what? I don’t care that you’re here in this bar sitting VIP with a bunch a floozies.”

He rolled his eyes, “We need to talk. Now.”

“Umm…We have nothing to say to each other Porter.”

He grabbed her by her arm, “On the contrary, we do.”

He led her down the hall toward the exit. She turned to tell him that she had to let her cousin know that she was leaving, but as soon as she attempted to turn, he gave her a little nudge in the direction of the door. She didn’t know why, but she didn’t argue. If she were honest with herself, she wanted nothing more than to be alone with Porter, screw the mistake he made. She wanted this man like she’d never wanted anyone.

Once outside, neither said a word to the other. He hailed a cab, and when one stopped, they silently entered, still not speaking to the other. After a short ride through the city, she couldn’t stand his scrutiny any longer.

“Porter, what’s your problem? If anyone has the right to be angry here, it would be me, not you.”

“Where’s your husband tonight, Country?”

“Stop calling me that! And what are you talking about? I don’t have a boyfriend much less a husband.”

Porter laughed loud. “Sure sweetheart, and I guess that big home of yours was a gift from Santa.”

She kicked him in his leg. Hard.

“Ouch!” He grabbed his leg, “If you kick, bite, or pinch me one more time, you’ll regret it. I promise.”

Oh, she was loving this moment. The man was so absurd. He was pissed because he thought she was married and stepping out on her husband. She had the mind not to tell him the truth, but she wanted him so badly.

“Porter, if you could tuck your arrogance in for one moment, I’d tell you how I live in that big house. And no, it wasn’t a gift from Santa, it belongs to my parents…who happen to be out-of-town. I’m house siting Porter.”

Silence.

Still silence.

He turned to look at her, “Your parent’s house, huh?”

Yes…my parents. John and Kathy Booty. I grew up there and can prove it all though I don’t see why that would be necessary as I shouldn’t have to prove anyth-“

He grabbed her roughly and brought her in to his space, teasing her with an almost kiss, then, oh yes, he did, he started kissing her like she’d never been kissed before. She felt the pressure all the way to her toes. One minute they were arguing, the next minute they were…arguing, then they weren’t. She wasn’t sure what exactly was happening to her, but she knew without a doubt that they had chemistry.

She looked out of the window as they started to pull around The Lakes right outside of the city. She should have known he’d have an over-the-top house here. Suddenly she felt nervous and wasn’t sure if she could go through with it. But what was it? She didn’t know what the man’s intentions were. Oh la, she knew exactly what his intentions were and she was more than ok with it.

“Are you going to ride around with the cab driver all night, or you going to get out and come inside with me?” Porter asked sarcastically.

Apparently, they’d pulled up to his place already and he’d paid the driver because he was standing outside of the car holding his hand out to her. She didn’t even realize that the car had stopped.

She took his hand and let him pull her from the car as she slid across the seat. He pulled her in close to him, grabbed both sides of her face. Looking down into her eyes he asked, “are you ready?’

She couldn’t speak, so she just nodded and turned as he followed her in.

He reached around her waist to unlock the door, while his other arm was locked firmly around her midsection. She couldn’t move and she didn’t want to. The door was open, but they hadn’t entered yet. He was standing behind her, his mouth inching closer to her neck. Then she felt his breath on her ear as he whispered, “It’s time”, and pulled her through the door, shutting it quietly behind him. He wanted to take things slowly and do it right, but her scent was calling to him and he knew that she wanted him just as badly as he craved her. Since first meeting Caroline, something about the way she smelled, looked, the way she breathed and sweat…melted him. Their chemistry was tangible and he craved her like no other woman who he’d been with. He was an expert at reading women and he knew that she felt the same way, too. He turned, looking down at her with questioning eyes. Caroline knew what he was silently asking her, and showed her approval by reaching for his face, bringing his lips to hers, finally initiating the exploding moment that they both knew would begin the evening’s first exquisite torture.

She stepped back and began to unbutton her top for him. Momentarily stunned, and not wanting to miss anything, he leaned one arm against the wall, hanging lazily above his head, and watching every inch of her as she undressed. He removed his own clothing, and was done standing on the sidelines viewing her – wanted to touch. He stalked his way to her, put his hand around her neck and pulled her into him kissing her quickly and roughly. She pulled back and moved behind him, kissing and biting him on his broad shoulders, and then made her way back to his front and resumed biting, sucking and kissing his lips- as he did the same to her. Both wanting the other so intensely their mouths fought to gain more ground from the other- the urging and needing so intense that neither was able to get enough.

He placed his hand around her left thigh and lifted her leg, wrapping it around his waist- her right leg joining the left around him. He backed her up to the wall, his mouth never leaving hers, and hers never leaving his. Holding out as long as he could he walked her to the bedroom – his eyes burning with passion and with her legs still wrapped tightly around him, he dropped them to his bed, entering her as they landed.

****

Fire Chief, Dan Pearson, still couldn’t believe what he was looking at. One of the buildings in the Warehouse District had burned to the ground. Nothing was left, but at least he was familiar with the address. He knew that the building was owned by the NOBH and he knew this was no accident. He could smell gasoline all over the place. What he didn’t know was if it was something that one of their people did, or just some random arsonist. The truth would come to light eventually. His record was stellar when it came to finding a pyromaniac. And that’s exactly what this place reeked of.

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