Owen finally got home late Saturday evening. Since he knew the power was on and there was nothing in his fridge, he had stopped at Dornigac’s on the way home from the airport. He drove up to his home and took a look around and saw that his place had weathered the storm just fine.
Sunday morning he nailed a few shingles back down on the garage roof but there was no real damage. As he surveyed the yard, he realized that Bryant had the yard tools. He called Latasha. He had already made sure she and her family and their houses were ok. He asked if maybe her grandson wanted to make a few dollars cleaning up. She said Bryant would be happy to help clean up Nola’s garden. Owen smiled remembering that Latasha had always referred to the garden as Nola’s and that she had agreed with out actually asking Bryant but instead telling him to get ready so they could head to Owen’s. Byrant could do some outside work and that she'd be there to clean up on the inside. He tried to call Nola but she wasn’t answering.
Owen skimmed the pool of leaf litter, dove in to get the larger branches and trash out and started the pool vacuum running and then added the salt compound to rebalance. While he was away he had been in touch with Roger who had given detailed up dates on all the crew. Everyone and their houses were ok. They had been able to take care of whatever the small minor repairs were needed themselves. They were after all handy men.
Roger had talked him into to coming over on Sunday to watch the Saints play Tampa Bay. While he was there he found out that Maurice had lost his carport and arranged for the crew to get together on Monday to help put a new one up. Roger let everyone know that Owen had arranged to pay for their work, but that they were to keep quiet so Maurice wouldn’t resist the help. Monday Owen finally got in touch with Nola at work. She was still doing her best to hold him at arm’s length and his grandfather was still reminding him that he had said he could be patient. Thank god for Monday night football. Tuesday Roger had Owen take a ride with him and to review all the job sites just to make sure everything was ok. Wednesday, he was busy reassuring his clients that everything was back on track and with minor calls for help from new clients needing various levels of repairs on their houses. Hurricanes can be good for business. Thankfully Nola had been right and Ike was heading for Texas but most folks still wanted repair work started as soon as possible. It was a good thing that he was so busy. He dratted and fumed to himself that being back in the city was one thing but nothing would be right until he saw Nola again.
He was pacing in the driveway. He had tried to talk her into coming before Thursday, but she had resisted. Now she was coming straight from work. He had called her twice once in the morning simply to ask her if she could come early and once in the afternoon to confirm she could. She was supposed to be here for 4PM. And there was the gate. He let her pull into what he considered her spot under the grape arbor and practically pulled her out of the truck into one of his all encompassing hugs.
She did her best to smile and keep it light, "Exuberant today huh?"
He kissed her and then took her hand and tugged her toward the kitchen door. She followed. Once he had her in the kitchen he held her and kissed her deeply. It was easier to resist him when he was a thousand miles away. It was good to be in the arms of someone who could be so physically expressive and passionate so she kissed him back. She liked it and why couldn't that be all that mattered? When he stopped kissing her long enough to let her speak she said, "Well, I missed you too."
"How dare you make me wait until today to see you. And how dare you leave me like that." and he started toward the stairs and she was confused but followed him.
"What are you talking about?"
And he turned around and made room and indicated that she should go up the stairs in front of him, so she did; thinking that perhaps there was storm damage upstairs he wanted to show her.
"Leaving me like that half asleep in the bed and slipping out of the driveway. That was wrong."
She had to smile at that, "No it was the right thing to do. I had to go. You had to get to the airport."
And he indicated that she needed to be in the bedroom so she headed that way. "Owen what is it? What do you want?"
And he escorted her toward the bed and pulled her into him and began to undress her.
"What are you doing?"
"I'm going to take off all your clothes and then I am going to make love to you."
"Really?" she said defiantly.
And he managed to get her shirt off and was working on her pants. "You are like crack to me woman. It has been 13 days since I've seen you. Thirteen days is the longest period of time we've spent apart in the 10 months we've known each other."
And she was a bit surprised by that and had to say "Are you sure?" and she started to do the math.
And while she was thinking about that he managed to get her pants off.
"Sure that you are like crack to me? Yes, damn it. I am sure. Sure it's been 10 months and sure it's been 13 days."
And he took off his shirt and he kissed her again and moved her on to the bed.
And he took off his shirt and he kissed her again and moved her on to the bed.
"Owen, have you ever heard of Armageddon sex?"
"No but I'm willing to try it."
"You don't have to try it. You've already had it."
"Really?" and he had managed to get her bra unhooked and was taking off his pants. "Armageddon sex sounds like something I'd remember."
She was holding the unhooked bra to her chest. "Armageddon sex is what we had before you left for Gustav."
"Really, is that what that was called? Well then I plan on having Armageddon sex again."
"I don't know if that is such a good idea."
"What? Why not?" and he kissed her and managed to get his hands on to her bra and flip it to the floor. He started kissing her neck and watched and waited for her nipples to get hard and when he saw her begin to respond moved her to the bed so he could unzip and take off his pants. When he was naked he moved to the bed and kissed her neck again.
What it about this man that made him so impossible to resist. She let a small sigh escape but managed to say, "Because… until we had Armageddon sex due to an impending natural disaster we'd only had sex as part of a ritual."
He was kissing her neck and fondling her now hard nipples. He was working on getting the last shred of her clothing off and could see that she was responding to his every move.
"Oh God, Owen." she sighed and leaned back into the bed loving what he was doing and hating that he wasn't listening.
"Yes I am.” he kidded, “and we're going to have Armageddon sex if you would just give up that last little bit of resistance."
"Did you hear what I said? That was the only time that we have ever had sex not under the pretext of a ritual."
"Unless you count the morning of my birthday or the morning after Cornucopia."
And he kissed her deeply and it was impossible to resist him so she kissed him back. Damn it. Why did this feel so natural?
He kissed down her neck and caressed and kissed her breasts and then moved to her warm folds and she sighed again and oh god he felt good and he felt her resistance lower and he licked and loved her more fully and felt her wetness increase. And she gave herself completely over to him and he felt her respond and moan and because he had been waiting 13 days he was full and unable to wait any longer. Before he entered her he said, "Nola, I'm in love with you." And her world exploded on more than one level.
Settrano looked to Tago who nodded his approval. Tago looked to Meana who now had the harder job to do with Nola. Bellaria was on call to keep the energy flowing for Nola to think clearly and truthfully. Papa Eric was more than a little pleased with his grandson.
The conflict in her mind and her body was torture. She held on to him to stop her world from spinning. Then her body took over. Oh god he felt so good, so right. And she sighed in a whimper to the universe, "Oh Owen." And he climaxed with pleasure and joy as she said his name.
He was still on top of her and she was trapped under him, unable to move physically and emotionally. Had he really just said he was in love with her? Not love. In Love. It wasn't possible. And Meana said, but Nola didn't really hear, "Yes, it is possible."
It was one thing to have sex with him outside of ritual. She knew she had crossed the line. But then when she heard her friend use the term Armageddon sex and then explain it as sex resulting from the stress of something like Katrina or Gustav she had figured she had an out. It was a special and unusual circumstance and that was why she had crossed the line. And Meana said, "No, that was not why."
He moved and slipped from her and rolled to his side and then pulled her to him sliding the pillow under her head so he could look at her. She was white as a sheet. "Nola, are you ok?"
And she managed to say, "I don't know, maybe not."
And he sat up on his elbow and then more fully up because now he was worrying, "Did I hurt you?"
"No." But she was pale and still and he pulled the covers over her.
"Nola, what's wrong?"
And she didn't know what to say so she didn't say anything. And Owen thought he must have hurt her in some way. "Nola?"
"Can you move?"
"Do I have too?"
"Nola, love. What is wrong?" And he got up off the bed.
Oh no, there it was again, love, and she managed to get out, "Oh god no."
"What? Please tell me what is wrong and what I need to do.” and he started to reach for the phone to dial 911.
"What did you say? Which is it?"
And she pulled the covers around her as she sat up. "Which is it: love or in love?"
And he smiled at her now thinking she was playing around with him and he answered her with kiss and said "I am in love with you Nola."
“Are you really sure about the difference? Love, Love could be Ok. I am sure I love you. You are a very lovable man. In Love is not ok."
When he heard her say "I am sure I love you." He thanked the gods. Then he realized that she had said, "In Love is not ok."
"What?" and his blood ran cold.
"Son, I promise it's going to be Ok. You have lots of backup here. You have to be gentle with her. But it's time to stop playing around. Nola needs to be truthful with herself."
"Why in love, Owen? Maybe you are just used to me. We've spent many months together thinking and doing things many people do not. In love is powerful. In love is dangerous. In love can be painful." And her eyes started to water and she thought as she swallowed: I am not going to cry. I am not going to cry. I am not going cry. And she managed not to.
And Bellaria cleared Owen's thoughts so he could do what was needed.
"Yes, I understand. It can be a double edged sword. But I am in love with you and I know the difference because I've never felt this way before. I also know that underneath the hurt and fear you have that you are in love with me."
"I can not be in love with you. I have people who depend on me, who need me to provide for them. I am not free to be in love with you." And she stood up and tried to find her clothes.
"You did not just say that you are not free." He knew there was no way that he was going to let her leave. And Bellaria smiled at his choice of words.
But she wasn't really listening. "I was so close. So close. I was going to take you to 3rd in November. You are really already 3rd I just needed to get you to Shadowfest." She couldn't find her clothes. Owen had spread them everywhere and she really wasn't thinking straight. Owen turned her to him and confronted her.
"Get me to Shadowfest? And then what, disappear from my life?"
"Give you enough space to find a new toy."
"I know you heard what I said. I am sure that I am in love with you. You are not a toy."
"Then give me enough space to get you out of my head."
And she heard Meana say loud and clear, "You can't get him out of your head because that is not where he is. He is in your heart. And like it or not you can't get him out of your heart."
And she saw his shirt and grabbed it and put it on. And she continued working the room trying to find her clothes.
"Where do you think you are you going?"
And she thought, not home, and said, "I don't know, I don't care." There were her pants and over there her bra, "But I can't stay here. I can't think straight."
And he scooped her up and carried her back to the bed.
"Oh don't be such a bully. Just because you can pick me up doesn't mean you can keep me here!"
"You are not leaving. Why do you think you can't think straight?"
"You! You are the reason I can't think straight. When we have sex it transforms me and when I'm with you I feel safe and happy and content."
"Well woman, what the hell is wrong with that?!"
"Nothing and EVERYTHING!" and she managed to get back off of the bed.
And Bellaria pushed her and said, "You can not solve this problem without thinking it all the way through."
And Nola turned her back to Owen and acknowledged out loud to him and the universe, "I have tried for years to be in love with my husband. I love him. I care about him. I do not want to hurt him. But instead of being able to be in love with him, I worry about providing for him or irritating him.
So very often, even when he is in the room, he is not really even fully there. Then suddenly he is fully present and needy and attentive and I am not prepared for it and don't know how to act. Even when we do communicate it isn't warm and flowing and easy. Instead I worry that I will do something I don't even understand that insults him, annoys him or disappoints him. For far too long I haven't been able to trust my heart to him. To survive the times that he has broken or bent my heart I have become numb to him. And yet there are times when he can still hurt my feelings and I am tired of being hurt."
And then she turned back to him and said, "Then I come here and you are so fully present, warm, fun, alive, capable of taking care of yourself and making me feel safe. I have been selfish. I am sorry. I am so tired of dragging his needs around behind me that I let myself be tempted by you. I let this go too far. This is my fault I should have known better. I have to leave here and not come back. This is not fair to you. This is too hard for me."
And he smiled and crossed the room and picked her up again and brought her back to his bed. "Nola, being in love with you is the most natural thing in the world. It just is. It has been so natural that I have been in love with you for months and didn't even realize it." And he covered her with one of his hugs.
"I am married Owen. I have...."
"Responsibilities. Yes I know. Your family depends on you. Your family will be fine. They will not loose the roof over their heads. I can take care of you. I can help you take care of them."
"You can not. You have your own life. You can't afford to take care of mine as well and I can't afford to take care of Jamie and give James a separate roof over his head. I am so tired of trying to make it work and feeling like I am living a lie. I actually feel sick."
And she leaned forward on the bed, “Oh my god I actually feel like I am going to throw up. I hate being nauseous. I… Oh…” and she moved quickly toward the bathroom and shut the door.
Owen was left sitting on his bed, thinking, I never expected this as a response to telling her I loved her.
And he heard Papa Eric chuckle “It’s not you, son. It’s the stress of hiding the truth from herself.”
Owen went to the bathroom door. It sure sounded like she was actually throwing up. So he pulled his pants on and went back to the door and said,
“I'm going downstairs to get you something to drink.”
It was only dry heaves and nausea. And a spinning head and a racing pulse. She hadn’t eaten anything today so there was nothing to toss. She rinsed out her mouth and splashed water on her face. If I breathe, this will pass. If I breathe I will be able to function.
Owen returned with a glass full of ice and the bottle of San Pellegrino and set them on the bed stand and then sat down on the chair outside the door and waited. When she opened it she was as pale and unsteady on her feet. He got up and ushered her back to the bed.
He sat down with her and then leaned against head board still holding her. He thought perhaps he could lighten things up a bit so he said, “Well considering I’ve never told any other woman that I was in love with her, I guess it wasn’t possible to know what to expect. But I never expected you to be physically ill as a response.”
“I’m sorry. It’s not you. It’s me. This isn’t fair to you. I should have never let it get this far.”
“Too late. You can’t put this genie back in the bottle. And I have no idea what you are talking about when you say it isn't fair to me. I'm fine. You're the one I'm worried about.”
And he just held her and she just let him while her thoughts spun out of control. It was all too much. Armageddon Sex, who was I kidding? He should not be in love with me. He doesn't mean it. We've just been spending too much time together. I don't want to be in love again… But dammit, I am in love again. I am in love with Owen. And she started to shutdown because it was really too much.
Owen just held her, happy that she was no longer trying to leave. After a long while he said quietly, "What are you thinking? .... Nola?"
And then he remembered the last time that she had be confronted with how she really felt about her husband and said, "Nola have you turned into a possum on me?" And when she didn't answer he knew she had.
And then he remembered the last time that she had be confronted with how she really felt about her husband and said, "Nola have you turned into a possum on me?" And when she didn't answer he knew she had.
He moved and she slipped onto the pillow and curled in a fetal position. Definite shutdown mode. He pulled the covers over her and let her sleep.
Then he went to straight to her truck and took the device she used to unlock his gate. There was no way she was leaving without him knowing about it.
Just before 7PM he called James.
"I'm calling about Nola. When she got here she was nauseous and now she is lying down."
James laughed. "She is bad at being nauseous. She won't just give up and throw up to allow it to pass so it knocks her out, sometimes for hours. Do you want me to come get her?"
And Owen thought, No, absolutely not. I prefer that she never go home to you again. What he said was, "No. That will just mean we'll have to arrange how she gets her truck back. I think it's just best to let her sleep it off. I have a bed for her to sleep in." Thinking to himself, Mine. “She can stay the night.”
James said, "Ok man, let me know if she changes her mind."
And Owen said, "Ok." And thought, she's not going to change her mind. Not if I have anything to say about it.
He went back upstairs. About 10 minutes after he sat down in the chair she stirred. And he smiled again at how the universe had responded to the magic he made on the Spring Equinox and how just as she had indicated it had manifested just before the Fall Equinox. And on 3 levels: mentally, physically and emotionally. By the time she was fully aware he was sitting on the bed smiling at her. "Hello there, possum. I called your family and told them you were nauseous. Apparently when you get nauseous you cease to function so you'll be staying the night."
She sighed and sat up and leaned against the headboard, feeling trapped and embarrassed. She said nothing. What was there to say? What could she say.
He waited while she came all the way to before he said, "Well?"
"Well, are you going to tell me you love me now?"
"I do love you. I told you I love you."
"Good that's a first step."
"A first step?"
"Love is the Great Attainment."
"Yes and it can lift you up or drag you down."
"Oh so it's the battle of the Words of Aradia?”
She didn't say anything.
He picked up the manual from the side of his bed. He'd been working on which of Aradia's words to use on her all week. "I have a few quotes for you to think about, 'Accept love in the manner in which is comes to you. Do not possess it, or attempt to control it or shape it.' And how about, 'Let your love desire fullness of life for each other and also pleasure for each other.'
"Owen I will accept that I love you and that you love me. I will accept that you and making love with you are pleasure for me. But I can't be in love with you."
And he moved even closer to her, "But I know you are." He had waited maybe not so patiently to tell her he loved her. He had thought it all through. He knew exactly what he wanted. He was convinced that she wanted it too. His realization of his emotional need for her was new. His physical need for her was overwhelming. He kissed her and damn it she felt her body and her heart respond. He followed the kiss with "You taught me too well. I know you are married and we can make this work out how ever you want. Aradia has a response for this situation. 'Understand that even though you are bound together; let this not be as captives.' Don't let your marriage hold you captive. It isn't necessary. It isn't good."
And he kissed her again and she knew he was right but still tried to resist him while her body and her heart betrayed her again. And he released her and said "Ok so you need more from Aradia?" He held the book open for her to see, " 'If this reason for coming together is forgotten, or fades, then it is well to part if needs be such. You do not honor the joining by remaining without love. Neither do you honor each other'." And he left it open on the bed. "You are an honorable woman. But you know that you do not honor yourself or James by staying in a relationship without real love. Not when you know you know in your heart what we have together. And he kissed her again and said, "I have your body, I know I have your heart. I know it. Now say it out loud, make it real with your words. Say that you are in love with me." And he kissed her again.
And she broke enough to admit, "I am in love with you." He was the happiest man in the world and the tears started rolling down her face.
And she heard Meana say, "Finally. Finally. You are safe. You are in a whole relationship. Don't fight it." But Bellaria looked at Meana and knew they weren't finished.
He wiped her tears. "Please don't cry. I want you to be happy." And he kissed her and kissed her neck and held her tight, wanting so desperately to make love to her again. Nola knew she was in love because only being in love again could make her heart hurt like this. "Owen it hurts to think of going home. It hurts to think of leaving." And what she was thinking was it hurts to think of leaving James and the changes that could bring. She had known this even before meeting Owen but now it was almost unbearable.
"Then don't. Don't ever leave. Stay here. Live with me. I am in love with you." And he kissed her and moved his mouth down to her neck because he knew that this was the one spot that never failed to make her body respond and he needed her body to respond so her mind would let him take care of her. And he heard her sigh and smiled because that was always the first step.
"I have a daughter. I will not walk away from her."
And he nipped her neck slightly and felt her nipples go hard and her sigh again. "I have plenty of room. Bring her with you." And he began to slip his own shirt off of her so he could move his mouth to her nipples.
"Oh...." and she sank against the pillows and he got out of his pants and kissed her again and fondled her breasts and her hand went to his hard sex without her consciously thinking about it. This was so natural. This felt so right. This was why it was better when he was no where near her. Meana said, "Stop resisting. Be in love with him and make love to him." And Owen smiled as he felt the last of her resistance evaporate as Nola did just that.
Tago nodded to them all, "Don't celebrate so soon."
Owen knew that she couldn't get her truck out of his driveway. So after their second session he slept more soundly than he had in weeks. Nola was exhausted from the emotional roller coaster of both forces of nature: the hurricane and Owen. She also knew that her family didn't expect her home tonight, so Meana didn't have to do much to send her of to sleep.
It was just before 4AM when she woke up and she immediately knew where she was because at home she always slept without touching the man in her bed. And there was definitely a man touching her. She was on her side and Owen had his hand over her cupping her breast. She slid to her back and moved slowly toward the edge of the bed. She waited to make sure that he would stay sleeping. He did and actually rolled over. She got out of the bed and managed to find her clothes, many of them for the second time. She didn't even bother to put them on. She figured it was best to get dressed downstairs. She could slip out and take a shower at work and put on her jumpsuit so she wasn't in the same clothes she had on yesterday. She found her purse in the kitchen and slid out of the side door. She waited to get her keys until the door closed behind her.
She unlocked the truck and started it up and began backing out of the driveway. She reached for the gate device and it wasn't on the dashboard, where she thought she left it. She looked in the console. Nothing. She put the truck in park and quietly opened the door thinking it must be on the floor somewhere. But no, she couldn't find anything on the floor. She looked up where she had parked thinking maybe it fell out of the truck when she got out or back in. Nothing. Damn it. I can't get out without that damn device. Then she looked up and saw Owen's truck, maybe I can use the one in his truck. But his truck was locked. Damn it. She sat there for a minute thinking, now what?
I can't get out. It's still dark. Please gods let me find the gate opening device. Nothing. She pulled the truck back under the grape arbor and then decided to go back inside. What else was there to do? When she tried the kitchen door she found out it was locked. She tried pool gate she had recommended be put in, damn it, locked. The front doors, locked. The side gate, locked. She stood there looking at the gate and wondering just how hard it would be to climb out. She had figured that she could probably get out if she used the wall as leverage. But that it would be best to have a get away car waiting for her. Who, who could she call? Karen. Karen would help.
Owen heard the truck start and smiled to himself. Not only am I in love with this woman but I know her too well. He just lay there smiling knowing that she was going no where. He could hear that the engine was still running and so he just lounged and waited. When he heard the truck engine shut off he decided it was time to go get her but he took his time pulling his pants on. By the time he got to the kitchen door she was at the front of the house.
He looked out and thought now where the hell is she? Is she just determined enough to try and climb out? No. Then he thought we are talking about Nola and opened and unlocked the kitchen door and made his way to her truck. Maybe she was waiting inside. No. He walked down the driveway and around to the front of the house. There she was, holding her cell phone!
He startled her as he said, "There you are."
"Dammit Owen, you scared me."
"What do you think you're doing, woman?"
"I'm trying to get out of here. But I can't find the damn gate opener."
"Who the hell are you calling at this hour? You are not calling James to come and get you?!"
"Then who is going to come and get you at this hour?"
"I have friends."
"Who will come and get you at 4AM?"
"I think so. I hope so."
"How were you going to get out of the gate? Climb it?"
"I was going to tell her to bring a rope. I think I could do it."
He shook his head at her and laughed. "You probably could. But you're not. You are going back inside with me. You are going to call in sick to work and we are going to figure out what to do next and it will not involve you climbing out of the yard."
"No, you can't just decide for me what I'm going to do."
"Ok but I can decide with you what we are going to do."
"That's not fair Owen."
"Not fair? But it's ok that you leave me without saying goodbye after I tell you I love you? No, that I am in love with you since that makes all the difference. And you admit that you are in love with me too?"
"Damn it Owen."
"You said that already. And ‘Damn it Owen’ from you usually means that I'm right."
She sat down in the porch chair, because this was impossible. Owen took this as a good sign because it looked like she had at least given up the initial fight. He kneeled down next to her and said, "Please come back inside."
"Owen please let me leave. I can't think straight around you."
"Well we'll have to work on that and it seems that only more exposure is going to fix it so, please come back inside."
"This is ridiculous. This is not what was supposed to happen."
"It seems the Gods had other plans. Now please come back inside."
And she thought, The Gods. What did the Old Ones think about this? But she got up and looked at him and said, "Ok, but I am going back to sleep. I don't want to talk about it."
He had stood up when she did and he smiled waved his arm in the direction of the kitchen door and she started walking and he followed. When she got to the door she waited but he just reached down and opened it. She looked at him. "It was locked."
"I unlocked it when I came outside."
And it came to her, "Did you take the gate opener from my truck?"
"Yes. You have a habit of leaving me without saying goodbye. You need to work on that."
She walked through the door and straight up the stairs. Owen just watched unsure and then pleased to see her turn into the bedroom. She dropped her purse, kicked off her shoes and got out of her pants and crawled back into the far side of the bed and pulled the covers around her.
He was even more pleased when she started getting undressed. He got in the bed and moved toward her.
From under the covers he heard, "Please don't. Don't hold me. Don't touch me. Don't talk to me. Please. There are times when I can’t think straight around you when I’m not in bed with you. It’s next to impossible when I am."
He chuckled, "Ok, for now I'll just be happy that you're here. We can work the rest out in the daylight."
And they both went back to sleep.