Book One of the Southern Comfort Series
She probably should have known that this was a bad idea. Going on a political talk show, with someone so completely different from yourself just couldn’t be good. Rain Meadow—her mother had a cruel sense of humor, she often thought—was the daughter of a liberal, wanna-be hippie mother, raised in a Unitarian Universalist Church and played rock and roll music for sold out crowds of millions. She was born and raised in Laurel Maryland, not close enough to DC for politics to matter, but close enough that it took precedence over everything on the nightly news. She had definite views on religion and politics, more particularly the war and she usually kept them to herself. Rain didn’t like it when artists used their place in the public eye to tote whatever cause of the week they were supporting.
So, initially, Rain had said ‘no’ when her agent had called her. Bob Ketchum wanted her for the show. Hell no. She’d watched the show from time to time, and could only call it Jerry Springer for the middle class. Except, no one threw chairs. That might have made it more entertaining. Usually, one or more guests got into a free for all that made it desperately hard to keep track of what was going on, and Bob just sat there with a stupid smile on his face, letting it go.
Why would Rain want to be involved with that?
Well, because of Travis Culpeper, that’s why. Travis was part of the new wave of country musicians who combined country and rock. Hard hitting views mixed with great music and meaningful words. He told it how he saw it and that was all. He had cool blue eyes, the kind that pierced through a person, even through the glass of a TV screen. He had a no-nonsense look about him, a weathered toughness that was manly without being macho. He favored dark clothes, from the top of his cowboy hat to the bottom of his scuffed up boots. His face was long, his eyes heavy lidded, his goatee and hair dark blond.
He was conservative, and evangelical. And he fascinated the hell out of Rain.
She’d seen him once at a party in Nashville. She’d been with her ex-boyfriend Jason Steele at the time. In fact, that was the night Jason had become her ex-boyfriend. Asshole couldn’t keep his hands off the waitress’s ass. After dumping her drink on his head, Rain stalked away to find a quiet spot to simmer down. She was giving herself a good berating for letting her emotions get the best of her…now she would be all over the tabloids the next day.
She’d heard his laugh first. Deep and rusty, it sent a chill down her spine. Rain was standing against a wall, down the hall from the bathrooms. It was almost deserted, since most people were using the restrooms in the front of the building. She was in shadow, and Travis hadn’t seen her. He was walking with another man and they were laughing about something. She was too far away to hear the conversation, but she caught the sound of his voice. Something about it made her want to shiver and her blood started to race. She pressed herself tighter against the wall as they walked past, not wanting to be discovered.
“That girl’s got some balls, man. Dumped that drink right on his head,” Travis chuckled, pulling out a cigarette and lighting it up under the ‘No Smoking’ sign.
Holy shit, they were talking about her. Eep!
“That fucker, Jason, was asking for it,” the other man replied. They started to move again, and Rain had to force herself to stay put.
She couldn’t fathom the reason why she felt such a swell of pride that Travis thought she had balls. Okay, not the best image in the world, especially since she so did not. But, he thought she was gutsy. Cool.
Her agent, who also happened to be her best friend, knew about her slight crush on Travis. And that was how she’d been talked into this nonsense. She was sitting across from him, her heart thumping in her chest and her tongue feeling as dry as the Sahara. He offered her a smile, a slow, easy-going smile that belied the sharp intelligence in his eyes. She felt her heart thump even faster, and she wondered if she’d have a heart attack before the show even began. He was bigger than she’d remembered. All of six-five and at least two hundred pounds. He seemed to fill the whole room, taking the space over and leaving no room for anyone else. Rain couldn’t even begin to remember the other two guest’s names. All her attention was on Travis.
“Good evening and welcome to Political Talk with Bob Ketchum,” It had started innocently enough. Bob had introduced the subject, the Iraq war and it’s affect on the American people.
He might as well have set a bomb off in the audience.
Before Rain even really knew it was happening, she and Travis were at each other’s throats. Her nervousness at seeing him was gone in the wake of his comment that she wasn’t patriotic because she didn’t believe in the war. She tossed back that only a sheep followed without asking questions. It was her Declaration given right to ask questions and that the president damn sure wasn’t her president. She didn’t vote for him.
The other two guests only sat and watched, like she and Travis were a particularly bloody car wreck happening right in front of them. Bob attempted to interject something every few seconds or so, but he seemed just as content to let them go at each other. Two music stars at each other’s throats made for good TV. He was probably ticking up the Nielsen ratings in his head.
Rain’s blood was singing through her veins. She could feel it heating her face, rushing under her skin. Her breathing was coming in gasps, as she fought to be heard over Travis’ deep, booming voice. They were both leaning on the edge of their seats, their bodies angling towards each other. The spacing was as such, Rain could smell his aftershave, and it only excited her further. She hadn’t been this exhilarated in years. Lust and indignation warred inside of her, until she wasn’t sure which emotion was winning. Her panties were damp, her abdomen twitching. He was passionate, intense. She thought she might come just by arguing with him.
“That’s all we have for tonight. I would like to thank my guests for coming tonight.”
It’s over? Rain thought, disappointment blooming in her chest. It couldn’t be over.
The other two guests were already unhooking their microphones and standing up. Travis worked his microphone loose, threw it in the chair as he stood and stalked off the set without so much as a glance in her direction.
Well, fine then.
Rain was the last to pull off her microphone and stand up. Techs were already running around the set, clearing away the water glasses and Travis’ ashtray. She barely managed a smile for Bob, shook his hand and murmured some nonsensical words. She hoped it sounded something like thank you.
She wandered her way through the backstage area, past the Green room and towards the back entrance where she knew her limo was waiting. She felt like a heavy weight was on her shoulders, pushing her down and making her steps sluggish. She’d been so hyped up a few minutes ago, her blood running high and her emotions surging through her like a tidal wave. She felt achy, tired. Like she’d just run a long race, and hadn’t crossed the finish line.
Her blood took off again and her heart leapt into her throat when she felt warm, strong fingers close around her bicep.
“Where’s your limo?” Travis’ Kentucky bred voice washed over her in a wave of heat. He’d leaned down to speak in her ear and the feel of his breath on her skin made her tremble.
“O-outside.” She sounded breathless to her own ears. She stole a look up at him, but they were in the back of the studio, where it wasn’t as well lit so his face was hidden in shadow. She could feel the tension coming off of him in waves as he steered her towards the door.
“Where’s your security?”
“I don’t have any,” He glanced down at her then, surprise on his face. “I don’t like people following me around. Tim is enough,”
“My driver,” Tim was as big as a tank and almost as strong. He was also loyal and extremely discreet. Both good things when there were people constantly coming after you with a camera. He had a knack for convincing them otherwise.
The door swung closed behind them with a bang. There was her car, long and black and shining bright in the street lamps over head. The front door of the limo opened and a big, dark man slid out.
“I’ve got it, buddy,” Travis said, not even slowing his pace. He had the backdoor open and was ushering her inside.
“It’s okay, Tim.” she managed before she disappeared into the car.
“Put the privacy window up,” He slid out of his jacket—a black, leather coat that skimmed his waist—and tossed it on the opposite seat. His hat followed. Without a question, she reached up and flipped the switch. Their eyes locked in the dim interior, and Rain felt like the whole world had shrunk to the size of her limo. There was only the two of them. Excitement course over her. This was more than she had expected. This was everything she’d wanted.
No sooner had the window snicked closed, he was on her. He slid between her legs, pushing up her skirt with one hand, while the other banded behind her neck to draw her up. She moaned into his mouth as his lips covered hers. His tongue slid into the wet cavern of her mouth, exploring thoroughly before tangling with her tongue in a slick dance.
Her hands massaged his shoulders, neck, jaw. He tasted wild and smelled musky. She was delirious with want, hot with desire. Her nails dug into the muscles of his shoulder when she felt his fingers slide inside her panties. Her scream was lost in his kiss when he thrust those fingers deep inside of her. Her inner walls clamped around those digits, her orgasm exploding hard over her.
His mouth ravaged hers as his thumb worked her clit, drawing out her climax until she thought she must have died from pleasure. Travis broke the kiss when she went limp and pulled away long enough to unbuckle his pants. She couldn’t move she was so relaxed, and she watched him through half lidded eyes.
“You ain’t done yet, darlin’,” he drawled. The promise in his voice had a sharp pang of arousal clenching her abdomen and making her clitoris throb. She whimpered, there was nothing to say to that. Nothing she could think of at the moment anyway. Her brain had shut down and all she could focus on was the way he made her feel. “Open your legs for me, sweet thing,” Obediently, she did, wondering idly what he was going to do abut her panties. She had her answer a second later.
With a rip and a tug, her panties were in his hand and casually tossed over his shoulder. Again, he wasted no time. He sank down to the floor of the limo, slid his hands between her ass and the leather seat and raised her hips. She held her breath, the anticipation of what he was about to do making her tingle. His eyes caught hers and held. He dipped his head, rubbing his chin across her overheated flesh. His goatee tickled her, making her want to moan and laugh at the same time.
“Oh God,” she gasped, arching her hips up as he buried his tongue inside her folds. “Ohgodohgodohgod,” She hooked her ankles behind his neck, pressing his face further against her pussy. He sucked lightly on her clit, then tongue fucked her quivering hole. He wasn’t being gentle and he was forcing her towards a second climax. It felt so good, that she just hung on. “Oh God, fuck…Yes!” She came with his name falling from her lips, over and over until she was hoarse.
She didn’t think she could take anymore and she reached down to push him away. He anticipated her, and rose up to his knees.
“Unbutton your shirt. I want to see those titties of yours,” It was crude. She didn’t care. With numb fingers, she reached up to work the buttons of her blouse. She glanced up when she was about half done and fumbled over the next button with what she saw. He was on his knees in front of her, his jeans lowered over his hips. She gasped when she saw his cock. Long and thick, she had a moment of fear that he would hurt her. He was stroking himself as he watched her take her top off. His eyes, usually cool and clear were cloudy and dark with desire. She’d never seen a man touch himself like that before, so free and without hesitation. Most men wouldn’t when there was a willing female this close.
She hurried through the rest of her buttons, leaning forward to slide the silk off her shoulders. The milky white globes of her breasts spilled over the top of her black lace bra.
“Just pull the straps down. Leave the bra on,” His voice was thick, raspy. He was staring intently at her, his stokes becoming firmer. Rain did as he asked, giving a little extra by making sure her nipples were visible over the top of the cups. He moaned, leaning forward once more. She felt his lips on her skin, his tongue on her nipple. His teeth gently scraped the mound over her heart, and she was sure he could feel it skip a beat. “Touch me, Rain.” He raised his eyes to look at her, the heat in them shaking her. “I don’t have a condom,” Regret coated each word and she could tell that there was nothing more he wanted in that second than to be inside of her. She was more than a little disappointed herself.
“Touch me,” He didn’t have to ask her again. Feeling a little hesitant, but wanting to give him back at least a fraction of the pleasure he’d given her, she reached down between them. His hand fell away when her fingers closed over him. He let out a husky groan and leaned his forehead against her chest. She ran her hand over him, learning his size and shape, tracing the vein and running a thumb over the head. It came away slick with pre-cum. She used the sticky fluid as lubricant and fisted his shaft. Travis thrust his hips, pistoning hard in her grip. Her free hand played over the muscles of his arm, tracing over the sweat slicked skin. Her tongue darted out to taste the skin behind his ear. She memorized him in those last few minutes. His touch, his taste, his smell. The sound of his breath as it came in short gasps. His voice. She wanted to remember everything.
“That’s it, darlin’. That’s right. Jesus Christ,” She noticed his accent got thicker the closer to coming he got. She tightened her grip and lengthened her strokes.
“Come on, baby,” she whispered. She bit lightly on his neck, savoring the saltiness she found there.
“Christ!” he gasped, his entire body tensing and his cock pulsing in her hand. She felt the hot stickiness of his cum as it landed on her thigh. He grunted, gasped and pressed his body into hers. “Uh God,” he took several deep breaths, slowed his hips until he came to a stop. She let her fingers fall away from his flesh, but she kept touching him. She felt a sense of loss when he pulled away from her, but she pushed herself up to a sitting position. It was a struggle, since her muscles felt like jelly. She jumped when she felt cloth swipe over her thigh. “Sorry,” Travis mumbled, tossing her panties away once again.
“No, it’s okay. You just startled me.” She told him, smiling. He didn’t return it since he was busy tucking himself back into his pants. Rain watched him for a second, confusion making her frown.
Great, we get the awkward morning after moment now. He turned away and grabbed his coat and hat. He put them on before sliding into the seat. The one across from her. She looked down to hide the hurt she felt at that and pulled her bra straps back up. Next, she put her blouse on and smoothed her skirt. She was sure her hair was a mess, her make-up a wreck and she was feeling very suddenly foolish and cold.
“So, uh … yeah.” Travis started, sliding the brim of his hat through his fingers. It was nice to know he was just as nervous as she was. “Sorry about the rough handlin’. You, uh, got me goin’ on that show.” Rain looked at him, an eyebrow raised in disbelief.
“No problem,” she replied, barely keeping the sarcasm out of her voice. She could have sworn he flushed, but there wasn’t enough light to be sure.
“Yeah,” he said again, putting the hat on his head then tapping on the privacy window. “Drop me at the Regent,”
“Wham, bam, thank you ma’am,” Rain said under her breath. She must have said it loud enough for him to hear, because he glanced up sharply.
“I didn’t hear you sayin’ no.” Travis’ deep voice resonated his anger at her statement, his eyes narrowed with it.
“I didn’t hear you giving me a choice,” She shot back. She blinked back tears and turned away so he wouldn’t see them.
“What’re you accusin’ me of?”
“Nothing.” I’m not a slut, damn you. Why didn’t she scream those words? Why didn’t she tell him that this, what was happening right now, wasn’t acceptable? Silence descended between them, a tense, stiff silence that made her uncomfortable and itchy. Suddenly, she couldn’t wait to get him out of her car, so she could go home and wash him off. He was making her feel cheap.
Blessedly, a few minutes later, Tim rolled the car to a gentle stop in front of the hotel. A second or two later, the back door was opening and Travis was moving to get out. He paused before exiting, glancing back at her.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t … mama told me to always treat a woman like a lady. I didn’t do that with you. I’m sorry,” She raised her eyes to him, but he was already sliding out of the car. “Bye, Rain.”
“Bye, Travis,” The door closed with a click, leaving her alone. She made sure that the privacy window was back up before giving in to the tears.
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