Wow. Two updates in such a short amount of time? Thanks spring Break! :D
I doubt anyone expected this to be out so soon, but whatever....SURPRISE!
Here we get a glimpse of Deacon's past, and his home and how he grew up. We see why he's been so secretive as well, and he's had good reason. He's been very hurt and traumatized. Don't hate me for hurting him. XD
Deacon's head was bowed and clasped in his paws.
I felt terrible for making him feel obligated to tell me his secrets. I mean, they were secrets for a reason. I think that both Tabitha and I agreed, though, that he'd feel much better once he got all of it (whatever it was) off of his chest. I did want to know as well. I didn't feel comfortable with Deacon being so diffident about his past, and I didn't like feeling as though he was a mystery to me. I wanted to be able to truly, fully understand who he was. But, however, I wanted him to comfortable with telling me, and I wanted him to be content.
"I honestly dunno where to start," he said.
I didn't think he even wanted to start.
Tabitha patted him softly on the back, "How abou' tha beginning, yeah?"
He nodded as she stood, then she glided to the kitchen and started to rifle through the cabinets.
"Bottom shelf, next to tha' microwave," Deacon said absentmindedly.
Curious, I watched her as she found the shelf and searched through the things within, finally pulling out a tin cylinder. She popped off the top and sniffed whatever was inside, "Mmmhmm, this'll cheer'ya up right." Pans clanged as she bent over and dug around in the bottom cabinets, then she reappeared over the counter with a kettle. She motioned to Deacon with it, "Druthy, aye?"
He smirked, "Aye."
She motioned to me, "Druthy?"
I looked helplessly to Deacon, "Uh..."
He smiled, "Druthy means 'thirsty'; She's makin' tea."
"Oh," I said, turning back to her. "Sure. Oh - Aye, I mean."
Tabitha barked a laugh, "Yer the haws, boyo."
"Okay," I stammered, hoping that being "the haws" was a good thing.
I turned my attention back to Deacon. He was still holding his head, but he was smiling at me. The fur around his eyes was wet and dark from his crying before, but the tears had also made his irises sparkle, and they stood out strikingly.
"You're set," he said with a jubilant exhale.
I gazed at him, "What? Why?"
He nodded toward Tabitha fiddling about in the kitchen, "She like's you. You're morra'less part of the family now."
"Aye!" She trilled, the tinkling of china ringing with her voice. She jabbed a teaspoon toward Deacon, "But you're skirtin' about, ya dreep. Getton with'et!"
I smiled sympathetically at him, and wondered if the rest of his family was this abrasively forward.
"Please," I said.
He gazed placidly at me for a moment and chewed on his lip, thoughts and feelings swimming in the backs of his eyes as he scoured for a place to begin. Staring at him I could tell he'd been through a lot. I didn't need to know the specifics, because him just recalling the past brought the pain to the surface of his being. His big frame seemed to buckle, and his fur lost a bit of it's sheen. He was scared. He needed someone.
I pushed myself up and sat down beside him. My weight caused the cushion to sink in, and the dip it made caused him to lean toward me. It seemed odd given how big he was, but there comes a time when everyone needs to be held and comforted. I did my best to drape my arms around him, and he smiled as I nuzzled his neck.
"No matter what," I whispered, "I'm with you. Alright?"
He clasped his paw over mine, "Promise?"
"Aye. Oh, and do something for me?"
"Don't hide your accent anymore. Be yourself. That's all I want."
He gave an earnest smile, then let out gust of breath and leaned back. I unwrapped my arms from around him then pulled my legs onto the sofa. His tail curled up from between his legs, and he began to pet it as he spoke.
"Uh, alright. Well, as you now know, I'm from Scotland. Family's been rooted in St Abbs for nearl'eh," his brow furrowed, and he looked to Tabitha, "How long was it Dah said?"
"For nearl'eh ten generations," she said, dipping spoonfuls of tea into some coffee mugs.
"Ten generations," Deacon repeated, "We all grew up with tha sea. The village is a stones-throw away from it, and that's how the Frazier's made their livin'. It's a fishin' village with about ten trawlers, and charter-boats for scuba divin'."
"There's a new one, too!" Tabitha said excitedly, "Gotta glass bottom! Ye'can see nigh on straight to tha'bottom o'the harbor!"
Deacon rolled his eyes and shrugged, "I haven't been back since I got here. Things've probably changed a lot."
"Nah'really," Tabitha sighed, "But keep on."
"Anyway, my mum and dad ran two businesses together. Dad had his own charter-boat, and mum ran a bed-n-breakfast. Dad would be hired out to transport scuba divers about the sea, and as a part of the bargain he'd throw in a 'discount' stay at the RoseHarbor."
"Still tha'best bed-n-breakfast in Berwickshire!" Tabitha sang.
Deacon chuckled softly, "Aye, I'm sure mum hasn't lost'er touch. Anyway, dad would ferry folks and mum would keep'em fed and happy. O'course, although they'd managed alone before, we all came in handy as they got older. Me, Tabitha, our older sister Dana, and Aubree - the youngest."
"Wait," I interrupted, "I thought you were the oldest, Tabitha?"
She shook her head, "Nope. Dana's two years older than I. Gotta family'o her own back at the village. Deacon and I are tha'same age."
I shook my head in confusion, "But you called him 'little brother' before."
"Aye," she grinned, "He is! By two whole minutes!"
Oh. I looked to Deacon, "You're..."
"Fraternal twins," he huffed, "Lucky me. She's never let'meh live down those two, meager minutes."
The tea-kettle began to whistle. Tabitha did as well, chirping like a bird as she switched off the oven.
"Like I was saying," Deacon continued, "We helped our folks out. Mum wanted the girls to be her hands in the Rose, and Dah took me out on the Periwidgeon. O'course, being the bonnie-lass that she was, Tab's would have rather impaled herself with'a broom than be a house-maid. So she came on the boat, too."
"Saved'ya life a couple'a times if I recall," Tabitha said humbly, "So be thankful I was such a 'bonnie-lass.'" She came back into the living room with two steaming mugs in her hand, and one perched in the crook of her arm, "Although, the fact that I worked like a gemmy doesn't mean I dinnae learn a thing're two about bein' a braw host. Here ya'go." She handed Deacon a mug, then handed me one, "I dinnae know how strong you like it, so I was sparse with the leaf."
"One would probably suit'em," Deacon said. He took a sniff of his tea, moaned in delight, then sipped it. His chin was frothy when he sat the mug down on the coffee table.
I looked into my own cup. The tea was the color of creamy mocha, and it smelled wonderful, with a full-bodied and smoky aroma. Cream swirled into an ivory spiral within the liquid, and sugar was stuck to the rim of the mug. I'd never really drank tea before, and I didn't know what to expect. Both Tabitha and Deacon watched me intently, and I was afraid that if I didn't like it I'd offend them. Cautiously I took a sip, and the bold, earthy rich taste made my eyes flutter. The added sweetness of the sugared rim was a tantalizing contrast. My reaction alone satisfied Tabitha, who grinned and sipped from her own mug.
"Keep going, Deac," I said.
He picked his mug back up and held it in his lap, as if the warmth and the smell of the tea made it easier for him to speak. "Well, I helped dad on tha' boat with Tab's in the afternoon after school. That became my routine, and I enjoyed it. Being out on'tha sea, and having my family with me, helping people enjoy themselves and enjoy Scotland." He sipped his tea again, and cleared his throat, "But, as I got older, I began to find another reason that I liked bein' out on the boat so often."
"What?" I asked, taking a swig from my mug.
"Well, we hauled divers around, and most of the time they were foreigners. New Zealand, Australia, America - they came from everywhere. Many of them stayed loyal to us as well, and would use us again whenever they decided to come back. They became like an extended family, and the fact tha' they stayed with us in our home brought us closer."
"But, what did you mean about being on the boat?"
He raised his paw, "I'm getting' there." He drained his mug, and Tabitha scooped it up and took it to wash in the sink with hers. He scratched his chin, "I began to notice that I watched the guys a lot. More often than'no they were fairly attractive, athletic - you know. I dinnae pay it any mind at first, but me watching them stripping down to nothing before puttin' on their wet-suits became a routine with me. Much like getting' on tha boat after school. That's all it was for a long time: simple fascination. However, there was this one diver, a lion, and he had a son about my age. That kid brought about all kinds of feelings within me."
"Collin, aye?" Tabitha asked from the kitchen.
"Aye," Deacon sighed, "We were both about fifteen at the time, and we became prett'eh close friends. His Dah was a marine researcher, and he studied the sea-life offa the coast for months atta time. Maw used to say that the two of'em might as well have moved in with us, because he did'no have a wife, and our home was more or less theirs, too. They'd come in April, and stay around five months. It was an annual thing, and I looked forward to it because of Collin. It was nice to have another boy around considering I grew up with three sisters."
"Ahem," Tabitha chirped.
He rolled his eyes, "Two sisters, and one who thought she was a lad."
"Thank'ye," she said satisfyingly.
Deacon covered his mouth as a burp escaped him, and I blew milk foam onto my face as I snorted.
"Excuse meh," he gurgled, "Like I was sayin', Collin and I were good friends. Practically brothers after all'a the time we spent together on the Periwidgeon, and in town as well. We got along grand, and his Dah always enrolled him in school when they came so that was even more time together." He scratched the back of his head, shame flashing quickly across his face before vanishing back beneath the surface, "I suppose this'll sound kinda' corn'eh, but that fascination I had toward the fellas on our boat always found a way to bubble up whenever I was with Collin. He never dove with his dad, and opted to stay and help out on deck, so I never got to see his...body, I guess. I was curious. It scared me a wee bit, but I dinnae let anyone notice." He sighed and flopped his hands across his lap, "One stay, though, Collin decided ta try out for sports." He flashed a bashful grin, "Wrestling. He could'a done anything he wanted ta, his dad dinnae care. But he picked wrestling because I did it."
It was strange, and completely pointless of me, but I felt a little jealous. Clearly Deacon had had a thing for this Collin and, even though it had happened in the past, the fact that this guy still had an effect on him made me feel unsettled.
Tabitha waltzed back and sat where I had been sitting. Her expression was bemused, "Those matches between you two make so much more sense now. I always wondered why ya liked to let him pin ya' so often."
We both shot a glare at her, and she quieted herself. She didn't stop smiling, though.
Deacon kept staring at Tabitha, but his eyes wandered and focused on nothing as he began talking again, "We were eighteen, and I'd been on tha wrestlin' team for two years. I wasn't as big as I am now..."
"Ya' got that right!" Tabitha chirped, "He tweren't but a bairn compared to now. I never understood how ya could beat those trolls tha' were five times your size."
"Tab's. Please?" he begged.
"I was a lanky kid. I thought wrestlin' would help me grow a bit so I joined. Turns out," he said, eying Tabitha, "Size ain't got everythin' ta do with it. Although, when you find an opponent that's just as wily as you, and is stronger, you run into trouble. That was Collin. The year before he came and joined tha' team he was as wiry as myself. When he came back the following year, he'd...grown up."
Deacon's ears fell flat against his head, and his eyes seemed to sink into his skull. I knew what he was implying about his friend, but he was hinting at something else. I suddenly felt that Collin hadn't been as good a friend as he'd seemed, or that he'd changed. More than just physically, that is.
"I dunno," he continued, "It was like he grew a mane, and grew some muscle, and suddenly he had to outdo everybod'eh. He was so competitive that he'd go to any length to win, he always had ta come out on top with everythin', and he was tha' most selfish balloon you'd ever meet."
"Err..." I mumbled, "Balloon?"
He shook his hands in emphasis, his eyes bugging and voice trembling, "It'were like he was a completely different bloke! He still hung around with'meh, but, with his new attitude, it was more like he were allowin' me to be with him. I wasn't his friend, I was more of a familiar or a lackey. But, being the bawjaws that I was for him, I didn't care. I'd grown too attached." He shook his head, "That's when I realized my fascination had turned into something more. I wanted him." He flicked a nod at Tabitha, "That was why I let him pin me so often at practice. He may have been overbearing and a complete skenker, but I enjoyed him being so close to meh. I liked being able to touch him, and having him touch me."
"Tatter me, Deacon! Why the..." Tabitha started.
Deacon's eyes blazed as he flung up his paw, and she stopped, "You wanted meh to tell the truth? Well I'm tellin' it."
I waited for the air to clear. "Go on," I said, swallowing the knot that had risen in my throat.
He nodded, his face hard as he flushed out these memories, "I was so infatuated with him. If I had been wise I would'a realized that it could do no good, but o'course my feelings blinded me. He wasn't so blind, though."
His eyes clenched, and he gritted his teeth. Both Tabitha and I leaned forward as though we were both about to launch ourselves to his side. We held in that bent position as he trembled. His breaths were sharp and ragged. I began to worry if he was physically hurting. He must have been, which wasn't that farfetched. I had a scar that constantly plagued me with pains of the past. Clearly he did as well.
Soon he collected himself enough to relax. Although his jaw was still clenched. The muscles popped out beneath the fur of his cheeks.
"It was after practice one day," he said, "We stayed behind in tha gym and went a few more rounds. He had a thing fer dominating me like I had a thing fer letting him, and I'd lose myself in the heat and the sweat; the rush of adrenaline and the way he'd grunt drove me crazy." He blushed and bowed his head, "I know it's shameful, but..." His hands stroked down the sides of his face, and his eyelids tugged down then gave a wet pop as he let go and they shot back up. He roughly rubbed them, "Afterward we cleaned up like normal. I wiped down the mats and he put'em away, then we headed for the showers." He grew silent again, and sat with his eyes closed. They trembled behind his eyelids as if he were having a nightmare. When he opened them again tears fell from the corners, "I never saw it commin'. Never in a million years did I think he'd do somethin' so...vile. I thought I'd had an idea of him in tha least, but..." He looked at me and smiled the most painful smile I'd ever seen, "I guess you can never really know people."
I whimpered without thinking. I really didn't like where this was going.
"Naturally, we were alone," he said, "And, as usual, I was plannin' on peekin' at him. To my surprise, though, he dinnae even let me get that far." He flashed an anxious glance at Tabitha, "Now, you do know about this, right? You weren't shirkin' me before?"
She shook her head gently. Her eyes were clenched shut, "I know, Deacon. His side'o the story at least." Her gaze was grave as her elegant lashes parted, "Not that I believe'em, but I wanna hear it from you. The truth that is."
He nodded stiffly, and then he looked to me. His eyes flickered to the floor, "Please, bo. Please. Don't get the wrong impression'o me. What happened...it..."
"Deacon," I purred, "No matter what. I meant it."
His soft smile melted the stoniness of his demeanor for only a second. He sucked in a deep breath and let it rattle out of his chest, then he started petting his tail again.
"I felt'em behind me before I saw'em. 'I'm gonna ask you something,' he said. His voice...it held somethin' dark behind it. I knew right away that something was wrong. I felt it." He dropped the pitch of his own voice, "'Did you honestly think I never noticed? How stupid do you think I am?'" He flinched, as though Collin was standing behind him right then, "I just stood there. I was so scared that I could hardly breath, and even as he grabbed my arms...I...I dinnae do a thing."
I'd put my hands over my mouth to keep from making any involuntary noises of shock. Deacon sank lower on the couch, and I felt that if he could have slipped between the cushions and disappeared he would have.
"He pushed me up against the wall of the shower, and put his face right in mine. 'You used me,' he growled, 'I don't like that.'" Deacon flinched again, and gritted his teeth. I heard them grinding together in his mouth, "He pressed himself against meh. Our nakedness was suddenly so wrong and filthy, and I wished to be anywhere but there. 'I'm going to use you now. Make up for all of the eye-raping and feeling-up you've done to me.'" A terrible snivel seeped out from between his bared teeth, and he growled in pain as he began to cry, "And he did."
I didn't even try to stop myself. I went to his side in a single movement, and he leaned into me and tucked his head into my chest. I petted him, and I cried along with him.
Tabitha gave a malevolent growl, her throat rippling as the noise rumbled from her, "Tha' fuckin' bletherskite."
"Deacon," I soothed through sniffs, "I'm so sorry."
He held onto my arm tight, "I tried to fight him off, but it'was no use. He got me down, and it was over. I just gave up. I just let him do it. I just..." His voice was lost in his cries of pain.
It didn't seem possible to me. Just like Deacon had had his ideas about Collin, I had had my ideas about him. I couldn't imagine something as terrible as rape happening to him. It didn't seem feasible, but he'd been a different person back then. He'd been a lot like me. He'd fawned for another, and had felt the guilt and thrill of those feelings, but they weren't returned. They were taken advantage of. I was lucky. What happened to Deacon could just as easily have happened to me.
After both Tabitha and I got him to calm down she made more tea. I was too upset to touch mine, but I was glad of the tiny sips Deacon would take. He seemed to cheer up a bit with each one. We let him finish his mug, and then I offered him mine which he took gratefully.
"Deacon," I said, "What did you do? How did no one find out? And why didn't you tell anyone?"
"Aye," Tabitha agreed.
He looked at us like the answer we wanted was right before our eyes, "Afterward he left me layin' in that shower, told me if I ever said anything to anyone he'd ruin me. That remark was just vague enough'ta mean any bloody thing, and I didn't want to risk my standin' in the village or my life."
I was aghast, "Deacon, he hurt you!?"
"And he was capable of doin' worse," he growled. "Ya don't understand, bo. In a small village filled with devout protestants and catholics, where everyone knows everybody, and word-o-mouth travels faster than a Corbie can fly? My life would'a been destroyed. No, not just mine." He nodded to Tabitha, "My family's as well, and I couldn't let that happen."
"So you left?"
He shook his head, "No. I pretended like nothin' happened. I didn't speak to Collin, and did my best to avoid him. I quit wrestling, but I started to work out more."
"You were compensatin'?" Tabitha asked, her voice high.
"After something like that happens to you? I dinnae want it to happen again. I wanted to be sure I could defend myself, and that I could hold my own."
"What about Collin?" I asked.
"He kept his distance. After a while he left with his Dah. I graduated, and felt that things could start to move forward again."
"However," Tabitha sighed.
He sighed as well, "However, Dah was full on handing over his charter buisness ta'me. I hadn't brought up my ideas for college or university yet, so he was ready to plunge me into the real-world right then-n-there. I loved the sea, and I loved bein' on the Periwidgeon, but it wasn't what I wanted. I wanted out. After what happened, I realized that I'd never be content with livin' in St Abbs anymore. For one, I'd probably never be excepted if folks found out I was gay, and two..."
"Collin would be back.," I mumbled.
"Collin would be back," he repeated with a nod, "I love my home, but I wouldn't be happy there anymore. Too many good memories were soiled by what had happened and by who I was. I couldn't hurt anyone by staying, and I knew I would eventually if I did."
"You hurt yourself," I whined. Tabitha simply watched her brother.
"Even so. I would've rather hurt me'self than my family. Besides, I wanted to come hear. I wanted to come to school. Plus being gay is more accepted over here, so I wouldn't have to be so reclusive."
I huffed. I wanted to say "but you have been!? I only found out yesterday!" With Tabitha thinking we'd been together for a while, though, I didn't want to address that. It'd only put more pressure on Deacon's shoulders.
She surprised me though, "Deacon, you were doin'yer best to leave yer past behind, and you know it. You were practicing your American accent even before you got the news that you were comin' here." She slapped her paws against her thighs, "Hell, you hid tha'fact that you're bloody Scottish! From even yer bo! You made ya'self into an entirely different person, and I'm bettin' that if we didn't fancy a visit every so often you'd be content ta never see us again!"
She fell back into her chair breathing hard. Her eyes were cold. Deacon gazed at her painfully.
"Tab's, you know for a fact that I call maw and paw every other day," he said gently, "And you're right. I did try and leave my past behind'meh, but only because it hurt me and it could've hurt you all. Honestly, if that had happened to you? Would you not have done something similar?"
Her eyes softened, and she let out a breath, "I dunno, Deacon. I suppose." She stared hard at him again, "I think I would'a at least tried to find some help. What happened? You cannae ignore that. It can turn yer whole life around, but you know that." She looked to me and smiled, "At least now you've got somebod'eh with a heart to turn you round-right again."
I grinned. Deacon nuzzled into my neck, "Aye."
I petted his head, and watched the light glint across his red hair. My question caught him off guard, "Did you not trust me?"
I felt him go rigid, and he pulled back and looked worriedly at me, "Colby..."
"I mean," I kept on, "I can understand why you wouldn't. You were afraid to get hurt again..."
His ears drooped.
"I could have been another Collin. Sort of. I don't think I could do what he did to you." I shook my head, "No. I know I couldn't. I mean, you could throw me out of a window, but..."
"Colby," he whimpered.
I shook my head, "I'm not that kind of person, Deacon. I hope you know that." I lifted his head that had fallen and looked him in the eye, "I care about you. I only want what's best for you, and I want to make you as happy as I can." I sighed, "What happened...well, needless to say I could skin a lion right now and feel no shame in having done it."
"No need," Tabitha beamed, "Already taken care of."
"What?" both Deacon and I gasped.
Deacon didn't know how to react, "Tab's, what did you do to him?"
She tilted her head back and smiled menacingly, "Well, when he comes around me toting like a bastirt about you? Then, just to be spiteful, tries to soil yer name with his cockamamie tale about how you 'begged fer him to do that to ya?'"
"What?" Deacon gasped.
"Aye!" Tabitha spat, "He was bawls-high to try and make me believe he'd done nuttin wrong, and that he'd done it because ye'were a radgy spunkfarter! Goes on totin' 'bout it just to tick me off." She gave a sinister chuckle, "And oooooh, he did."
"He...he said that?"
"Oh, aye." She nodded, "Tha's why I wanted to hear your side, because I knew he was full-o-shite. Now I can do much worse to him when I see him next."
I stared both bewildered and in awe of Tabitha, "What'd you do to him this time?"
She bobbed her eyebrows and lifted her bangs from her forehead. She smiled and pointed to a dime-size scar a few inches above the center of her eyes, "I gave'em a good'ol Glasgow kiss to show'em me love."
"A what?" I asked.
Deacon was beside himself with glee, "Tab's! I cannae believe you did that!"
"What's a...what is that?"
He beamed at me, "It's a, uh...a headbutt..."
"To the face," Tabitha added proudly, "Yeah, he ain't so prett'eh any longer. I'm sure he had fun in the pen, too."
"He got arrested?" Deacon stammered.
I blushed as Tabitha grabbed her breasts and gave them each a hard squeeze. She pooched out her lips and whined like she was in fright, "Oh, yessir. After he...'touched me so inappropriately,'" She cackled and threw her arms over the back of her chair, "The chief threw him in a cell for a good week. I wasn't about to let him get away with talkin' ill-o-you. Told him if he ever said anything about what he'd done again - to anybody - I'd snap him in two, and then give him to the chief. Needless to say," She winked slyly at Deacon, "I'm quite the negotiator."
He bounded off of the couch and threw his arms around his sister, "Tab's, yer the best."
She giggled and hugged him, "I know, and it's alright. You ain't gotta worry about that arse any longer. He's right scared-o-me."
They paused as music began to chime. Deacon unwrapped himself from his sister, and she huffed and puffed as she dug around in her pockets until she pulled out her phone. She glanced at the screen, and her eyes bugged, "I'll be back."
Deacon crawled over to me on his knees as Tabitha went out into the hallway and closed the door behind her.
"Colby," he said, placing his hands over my knees as I sat, "Please be honest with meh. If I've been too terrible for lying, and if I hurt you," his voice grew so soft that I had to perk my ears to hear, "...if you don't want to be with me anymore I'll understand."
I slapped his head so hard that the POP my hand made against his skull ricocheted out into the hallway, and Tabitha opened the door and peeked inside. She then saw Deacon covering his head with me frowning down at him, and went back out.
I was irate, "Don't be fucking stupid! I can't begin to believe you'd say something like that!"
I latched onto his head and jerked him up to where I was leering at him eye to eye. He was shocked by my forcible actions, "I love you, Deacon! I told you that I'd be with you no matter what, and that decision hasn't changed. Sure, you lied. But it was only because you were afraid of getting hurt again. Well," I loosened my grip on his cheeks and smiled at him, "I'm telling you right now that I never intend to hurt you. I only want to love you, and make you happy, and be there for you no matter what." I ruffled his cheek fur playfully, and he giggled, "I mean, I may have to give you another smack every once and a while for saying something crazy, but that's it." I leaned in and kissed him warmly. He gasped a hot breath in surprise then kissed back. I stroked his face as I broke away, "I trust you, Deacon. With all of my heart I do. Just know that you can trust me, too. I want you to be able to have faith in me."
He grasped my paw against his face and kissed it, his emerald eyes twinkling like miniscule galaxies, "I've had faith in you from the start, and I do trust you, bo. Now more than ever."
He chirped a laugh, "Promise."
We both looked to Tabitha as she came back in and sat back down in her chair. She looked both tired and excited.
"What is it?" Deacon asked, "Who was on the phone?"
She smiled, and it quivered between a grimace and a grin, "Mah and Dah."
"Really?" he asked brightly.
His expression soured at her passiveness, "Is somethin' wrong?"
Both Deacon and I exchanged worried looks.
I swallowed, "What is it?"
She huffed and crossed her legs, "They're comin'. The whole family. We're spendin' Christmas in our house here this year." She peered at Deacon, "For you. I came early to straighten it up before everyone arrived, and I actually came here today to tell ya'that and to see if you'd help. It's a big place."
Deacon once again looked terrified, "Are you serious?"
"Aye," she said with a shrug, "I was gonna tell you about Collin anyway so you wouldn't have to worry about it around them. It worked out well, this."
He swallowed hard, and then he grasped my knee, "Everything...it's happening for a reason."
I knew what he meant, but my gut still tied itself into a knot for him.
He gazed resolutely to Tabitha, "No more lyin'." He turned to me, "I'm tired of it."
I grinned, "I'm with you. I said I'd help, and I meant it."
Tabitha smiled big, "I gotcher back too, brother. It'll turn out alright; I know it."
Deacon sucked in a breath. His big chest expanded and strained the fabric of his shirt, "Time to come out."