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Summer Thunder by Jill Candles

By Jill Candles

By Jill Candles

A romance series exclusive to the Lankville Daily News.

She looked away from Rod as she fumbled nervously with the cup of after-dinner soda. Outside the plate glass window of the quiet side-street cafe, the first eddying wisps of fog circled about the street lamps accompanied by the sound of distant thunder. Inside, it was all warmth, soft light, restrained trumpet music…and heartbreak.

“Can’t you see what a fix I’m in, Jill,” said Rod, his handsome face sullen and darkened. “I’m poor. I can’t afford to get mixed up with a girl like you.”

“But don’t you see, Rod?” she begged. “I don’t care about money…I just care about us.”

He was silent. Then came the clatter of silverware, the muted sound of traffic from the street. And then thunder. It was growing louder, closer.

“Why did you agree to see me again, Rod?” she pleaded. “It would have been easier just to…not show up.”

Rod’s lips tightened and for one once he didn’t look quite so handsome.

“I didn’t…know what you might do. Why, I thought, perhaps you would…”

“Shall we walk a bit?” he asked. “It is becoming moister.”

Her olive skin flushed darkly; she looked beautiful then– brilliant with fury and alive with suppressed emotion. Her knees were lax with the fierceness of her anger. There was thunder.

And then she rose.

“You have nothing to fear from me!” she told him bitterly. “From this moment on, I don’t know you, never knew you and don’t ever expect to know you again!”

She pushed open the cafe door and the damp cottony fog rolled up to meet her. And then, from somewhere, was a voice.

“I like the fog, it’s so dampish, clammy and moist. Look at it against the light.”

He stepped out of the shadows. And there was thunder. But this time, it was the thunder of her heart.

“Shall we walk a bit?” he asked. “It is becoming moister.”

“Yes,” she whispered. She stared up at his profile, sharply cut against the drifting fog and thought how different he was then Rod. Sure, Rod had perfect features and a model’s smile. But this man, with his beaklike nose and strange, twisted grin had something Rod would never have– something that was difficult for Jill to put her finger on.

They walked, quietly but together. And then he suddenly led her into a low doorway, hospitably lighted by two old-fashioned iron lanterns. The thunder was now right above them. “My home,” he said. “Shall we get out of the moistness?” And he led her into a low-ceilinged room that breathed of peace and comfort.

Jill dropped her coat on a red leather bench and looked appreciatively about. Dark woodwork and pale walls, lighted by ivory-shaded lamps that cast a subdued light over the the built-in bookcases. There were leather chairs, several velvety throw rugs, warm red drapes drawn over sheer window curtains and the gleam of brass here and there. She watched as the stranger lit a fire– it smoldered immediately and then went out as the cacophonous sound of thunder echoed down the chimney.

“Perhaps not the right night…for this kind of fire,” he remarked.

It was inside her now, the thunder.

“My name is Otis. Otis Plaza.” Her heart stirred further, her lips tingled. Some of the misery was stealing from her soul.

“I’m not rushing you,” he said. “I’m just warning you that you better start thinking of me because one day soon, you shall have to make up your mind.”

“I want to be rushed, Otis.” She arched her back. He slipped his hand beneath it.

And then came the thunder, the summer thunder. Constant, streaming, flushing out the night outside.

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