The rain was pelting against the large bay window in Brace’s living room. Though it was mesmerizing in every way imaginable, it was also unnerving. It had been about three weeks since Brace told me about the secret that he was harboring and I would be lying if I said I hadn’t thought about it on numerous occasions.
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He was an Angel.
It still baffled my mind. Of course, everyone thought about whether Angels really did exist and what it would be like to meet their Guardian Angel, but Brace had never said anything to me about being mine. He just said he was basically scouting Mama as if she were some high end Basketball prospect that was being scouted and that was worrying all on its own.
I could never bring myself to ask Brace exactly why he was “scouting” Mama because a part of me never wanted to know. You see things like this happening on television or in the movies where someone using divine intervention saves a life or even takes one to guide. If Brace were here to take Mama, so to speak, did that mean that she was ill in some sort of way? That she would be meeting God sooner than expected? These were the things that I didn’t want to think about, but the ones I naturally did think about as soon as Brace said he had been sent on a mission to watch her.
Maybe me being here was all part of some huge plan.
I washed my fingers through my hair while my gaze remained focused on the splatters of rain against the window. A part of me wanted to run outside and dance in the puddles that were accumulating in the road. It was sticky and humid outside, but I had always loved the smell of rain. It smelled so fresh. I knew Brace was in his garage working on his truck but I could probably end up convincing him to dance with me. I would just need something to bribe him with.
I climbed from my seat to clear the space that separated me from the kitchen. I had an elastic band around my wrist that I used to tie my hair up before I decided on which drinks to make. Brace had a sweet tooth that was for sure. You would never find his fridge without a vast array of desserts, sodas and juices. I kept telling him that he was going to get a cavity and he would just look at me with a silly grin while he shoveled another fork-full of cheesecake into his mouth.
Brace had to be thirsty; there was no doubt about it. He had spent the past few hours working outside and from what I could recall; he didn’t bring anything to drink outside with him so I spent a few minutes concocting a sweet beverage to suit his tastes. I mixed half lemonade and one half iced tea with a cherry and lemon garnish. It seemed simple enough, but if you wanted to convince Brace to do anything, it was always good to have sugar for back-up.
I ducked my head down on instinct after slipping on a pair of flats and running outside. It was as if this tactic would keep me from getting soaked even though I knew it wouldn’t.
The distance between me and the garage where Brace was working wasn’t very much and I stepped into the suffocating heat of that four walled building, I nearly downed my drink and Brace’s at the same time. How he found it so easy to work in such heat was another secret that I would never properly understand. I would literally pass out when exposed to too much of it without breaks in between but Brace could work beneath the blistering sun for hours. Maybe it was because he had spent so much time close to it.
“Brace?” I questioned while stepping forward to get his attention.
I smiled as he raised his head from the engine of the truck. He had motor oil just beneath his left eye and all over his tank top. There was something about a hard working, dirty man that became the picture of every woman’s fantasy.
“What do ya got over there, Darlin’?” He asked and I simply extended my arm and wiggled the glass for him.
“I was going to ask you to come have a rain party in the road with me, but I think I would have more fun just standing here watching you work. You never told me how good you look when you do it.” My tone was playful though my words were serious.
He smiled and his cheeks stained a little red.
“You’re blushing.” I poked fun at him and he threw an oily rag at me after he wiped off his hands.
“That’s hardly a blush, Sweetheart. That’s what you call a sun kiss,” he deflected while reaching for the half and half I had made for him.
I couldn’t help but laugh. I frequently caught Brace blushing and he would always try and find some way to deny the fact that he was doing it. He may not realize he’s blushing when he does it, but he is.
“Oh is that what they call it?”
I hoisted myself onto the back of Brace’s truck while watching him carefully. The beads of sweat were dripping off of the bridge of his nose while he drank down the ice cold lemonade and ice tea. The look of relief that he wore made it worth the effort of coming out into the humidity.
“Thank you, Darlin’. That sure was what I needed,” Brace said while he threw a wink my way.
Brace was even cuter when he made it a point to flirt with me; especially after he had admitted his secret. There was just something about the thought of a flirting Angel that screamed with irony. Though, he was my Angel so that had to mean that there was something even more special about him than initially thought.
“I wish the rain would stop so we could do something,” I said without trying to sound like I was whining.
“You know somethin’, I think I got an idea,” Brace spoke up while wearing his mischievous grin that I had grown to love more as each day passed. “Don’t ask too many questions because it will ruin the surprise, but why don’t you head on inside and pack up those snacks in the fridge? There’s a bottle of sparklin’ cider in there, too. I’ll grab everythin’ else we’ll need.”
Before I even had a chance to question what was going through Brace’s mind, he was already moving through the rain and ribboning his fingers through his hair in the process. I questioned what the point of going anywhere was when we could easily make our own splash, so to speak.
It was just like Brace to have everything neat, tidy and organized. That was actually another thing that Mama liked so much about him. I spent my time throwing things in every which way until I found what I was looking for, but Brace and Mama always knew where to look because it was probably sitting right there with its own label. I would be lying if I said that it wasn’t annoying and I would be lying if I said that Brace’s quirks didn’t make me smile. It was a love to hate and hate to love kind of thing.
Brace had different snacks in an array of Tupperware containers lined on the second shelf of his fridge and he also had last night’s leftovers on the top shelf. I knew he said to just grab the snacks, but I also knew that it was getting close to dinner time and he would want something heavier in his stomach so I packed almost everything I could find into one large tote bag. I hadn’t forgotten about the bottle of sparkling cider, but that would need to be carried in another bag.
“You ready, Sweetness?” Brace’s voice questioned and dragged my attention away from the fridge to where he stood in the kitchen. I smiled.
“You look like you’re prepared for the apocalypse, Brace.”
I attempted to goad him, but he wasn’t having any of it. He simply sported his goofy grin and disappeared from the kitchen to load up the truck. Sometimes I didn’t understand him. He would ask me to get things together, but he would always insist that he load up the truck and that’s exactly what he did. After he had gotten whatever it was that he packed out of the way, he moved in for the food and he seemed pleased that I had taken it upon myself to pack extra. Working up an appetite wasn’t something that was unexpected of us.
I already had an idea in my mind of where we were going and there was no way that I could deny that I was excited. I hadn’t been to Brace’s Holy Spot during a rain storm and as the water pelted against the windshield of his truck; I considered how beautiful it would be.
Brace’s shoulder was my favorite pillow in the world. Cuddling up with anyone had never really been my thing before, but with him, it was different. I always wanted to be close to him, I always wanted to be able to smell the cologne that I had grown so addicted to. I was thankful that he liked it just as much as I did.
“You ready for some swimming in the rain, Darlin?” Brace asked and I could hear the soft rumble in his throat.
“If by swimming you mean skinny dipping, then yes. I forgot my bathing suit. Oops?” I questioned, though it was rhetorical.
I watched his lips curve upwards to reveal a smile through the reflection in the windshield and his hold on me tightened as if reassuring me that he approved of my occasional inappropriate sense of humor and wit.
The rest of the drive was peaceful and I had found myself becoming so comfortable on Brace’s shoulder, that the sound of the rain actually caused me to drift into a light sleep here and there. Of course I had popped my eyes open every time there was a bump in the road, but I digress.
“We’re here,” Brace said as he nudged my shoulder and had me directing my attention to the familiar spot.
I knew that Brace had every intention of swimming in the rain and that’s why we came here, but I didn’t understand how he planned on eating in the rain and it wasn’t until he pulled out a large tent that I kind of got an idea as to where he was going.
He had urged me to stay in the truck, at least until he got everything set up and watching him work beneath the constant patter of raindrops was something that was straight out of a movie. He moved effortlessly.
It didn’t take Brace long to set up the large blue tent with a navy pull out roof. It definitely looked to be heavy duty but it was more or less one of those tents that you buy and the assembly requires you pulling it out of the bag. At least Brace made it seem like it was that simple, but when you had the powers to do and be pretty much anything that you wanted to be, I guess mostly everything would look easy.
I clambered from the truck when he stood up proudly and beckoned me over with a wave of his hand. I wasn’t able to see what Brace had been doing inside of the tent when he was setting it up so I was certain that there was some sort of surprise in store for me. It may sound bad, but I had actually come to expect surprises with Brace. He was always trying to do whatever he could to go out of his way with things.
The sight of the small pond just a few meters to the right of us made me smile. The Koi fish gathered at one end while the petals of assorted flowers gathered at the other and floated through the maze that was created by a mix of soft wind and the heavy rain.
If I were being honest; I wanted to spend all of our time in there, but Brace preferred things a certain way and I didn’t want to take away from any plans that he had.
“You seem lost in thought. Everythin’ alright, Darlin’?” He questioned.
Instead of giving him the simple yes that would have sufficed for an answer, I reassured him with a taste of the strawberry lip gloss that I had put on mid-drive.
“I’m perfect. Shall we eat?” I questioned while raising myself to the tips of my toes.
Brace had set everything up perfectly inside the tent. I hadn’t even realized he had brought so much with him, but there were pillows covering the entire floor and lining the walls. The fruit, vegetables and other snacks I had pulled from the fridge were splayed out neatly and the bottle of sparkling cider sat in the middle of the spread.
Brace took my hand in order to assist me to the cushioned floor that he had created upon our arrival and the moment his fingers wrapped around mine, I could feel something different. I wasn’t able to put my finger on it, and I still felt that spark that I had always felt every time Brace had touched me, but it was different this time. I didn’t want to say that it felt weaker because on the inside, I knew that more often than not, the sparks that you feel with someone are created by your intense feelings for them. There wasn’t even a remote possibility that my feelings for Brace were dwindling, so that was out of the question. Though, there was something that caused his touch to differ.
“India, are you okay?” I heard Brace’s voice that was laced with concern.
I hadn’t even realized that I had been holding onto his hand and staring at the linked connection our fingers had been making. On some level, I guess I was trying to analyze but either way I wasn’t discreet about it and now I would have to answer questions.
“Huh?” I questioned Brace. I had fully heard what he said but I was able to grant myself a moment or two to reflect on what had happened before I was going to answer.
“Are you okay?” He asked again while kneeling down onto the cushion before me.
I felt sick to my stomach. The concern in his voice was easily detected and I never wanted to make him feel worried about anything. I didn’t even know if I was worried, the only thing that I knew was that something was different.
“Yes, everything is great. I was just stunned by how you set this tent up so quickly and so beautifully.”
I felt guilty immediately and I was hoping that it wasn’t too evident when he looked at me. Some could read other people like a book and Brace was one of them that could. There had been times where he knew what I was feeling even before I had the chance to recognize it myself. Did that mean that he would know I was lying?
I had never lied to Brace before. I prided myself on being a fairly blunt and honest person and definitely believed that a harsh truth is better than a sweet lie, but that didn’t stop me from doing it. I could have easily told Brace that things didn’t feel fine and that I felt something off when he touched me, but I didn’t. I wasn’t sure if it was down to the fact that I didn’t want to spoil the sporadic surprise he had built or if it was because I didn’t want to hurt him. Maybe it was both.
I watched as he eyed me with what I could only guess to be skepticism. It didn’t take a rocket scientist to see through my barely there façade, but he trusted me. If he did think that I was lying, he never said anything about it. Instead, he chose to either believe me, or understand that for whatever the reason, I couldn’t say the truth.
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