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Saturday, July 23, 2011

Do you like angst and an occasional dash of misery in your romance? If so, read on. The following tidbit is from pages 237-39 of Angel In The Rain.


     Deep detonations of thunder rolled across the land. Behind him, the windowpanes rattled in their frames. The sound roused Rane from the state of oblivion he had worked so hard to achieve. With a muttered curse, he coiled his hand loosely around the neck of the whiskey bottle he’d been nursing and stood. Weaving an unsteady path to the window, he shoved aside the heavy drape.
     Lightning slashed through the night’s velvet blackness. He squinted against the sudden brilliance. A heller of a storm was lashing the border country and he’d been oblivious to it.
     He let the curtain fall into place and staggered back. The closed-in room felt stuffy, suffocating. On the unmade bed, rumpled linens bore evidence of spilled food and drink. ¡Mierda! How long had he been holed up here?
     The stagnant air threatened to choke him. He felt for the top button on his skirt and yanked, sending it flying, and then the next one. It wasn’t enough. Still keeping his hold on the neck of the whiskey bottle, he crossed to the door, wrenched at the handle and lurched through the opening.
     Outside, cool dampness washed over his fevered flesh. Runnels of rainwater poured from the tiles overhanging the edge of the roof. Beyond, rain slanted down at a hard angle and danced against the onslaught of a fretful wind. Rane braced against the rough adobe wall and leaned out. The deluge streamed over his uplifted face, drenching him down to his trousers in a matter of seconds.
     Nature’s cold dash was a shock, but at least he felt it. He’d lost count of the number of days and nights he’d numbed himself with whiskey and felt nothing at all. Now, the violence of the storm awakened him from his prolonged apathy, stirred to life the dormant wildness in his soul. Like a drunken demon, he threw back his head and laughed, taunting nature’s fury.
     A spectacular series of forked lightning licked through the blackness, throwing his surroundings into vivid relief. His rented room opened onto the plaza of the tiny border town, the name of which he’d forgotten. Before him yawned the emptiness of a deserted circular road. At its center stood a fountain, a shallow aboveground pool made of mortar and stone. An angel, spectral in the flickering light, her slender arms uplifted to the Heavens, stood to her ankles in the watery basin.
      He braced his back against the wall and waited. The next flash was closer and hung on with a deafening crackle as it ripped through the sky. He had eyes only for the angel. She seemed to mock him with her cold, marble stare. The angel of mercy, her delicate wings glistened with a sheeting cascade of wetness...an angel in the rain.
     Rane clutched at the rough wall behind him, feeling the bite of the grainy clay beneath his nails, and surrendered to memory. The winged angel dimmed before his bleary eyes as he envisioned another. His Angel, standing in the pouring rain. His nostrils flared as he again smelled the fire and brimstone of that long ago stormy night. Like a dim echo, he heard her calling his name. An ephemeral sense of her arms around him, the taste of her rain-washed skin, sweeter than creation’s finest nectar... he remembered.
       God help him, would he never forget!
     A strangled sound of raw torment slipped from his throat. The lightning flashed again with a stuttered cracking that might have been the sound of his own heart ripping from his chest. The angel, remote, unmoving, stared with her indifferent eyes.
     Rane shoved away from the wall and staggered into the downpour. “¡Vaya infierno!” he shouted at the lifeless statue. He drew back his arm and flung the bottle in his hand with strength bordering on madness. The vessel sailed into darkness and shattered explosively when it struck stone.
      He waited, half expecting the wrath of God to strike him down in the mud and streaming water. But there was nothing, only the soft rushing sound of the rain falling around him.
      “Why don’t you stop feeling sorry for yourself and do something about it.”
    Slowly, he turned toward the voice. Benito stood in an open doorway, a dark figure silhouetted by wavering lamplight. Rane dashed the water from his eyes and shook his head at the irony of having his own words thrown back at him.
      “I can’t,” he said.
      “So, what will you do if you do not try?” Benito asked. He lifted his hand. “It’s cold. It’s raining. And you are a sorry sight, amigo.”
     When Benito faded back inside his room and closed the door, Rane hung his head. Battering rain pounded the back of his skull and streamed from his face. If only it could run through his burning heart and cleanse his soul with such ease.
     He turned and lifted his eyes to the angel once more. Mercy, he silently cried. But the lifeless seraph would not be moved to grant him any boons. There was only one living, breathing angel who could help him now. She was far away and tonight he was more undeserving of her than ever.

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