Thunder shook the roof of the cabin if you could call it that. It was four walls that held up a roof and did not bear any resemblance whatsoever to the pictures in the emails I had been sent, or the paper I had originally seen it in.
The thunder came again and then the rain came pounding down. On the tin roof, it sounded like continuous thunder.
All I could do was lie in my sleeping bag and pray that the roof was leak proof. I couldn’t believe I had been taken so badly, I had done my due diligence, checked with people who had rented before (they lied or were friends with the owner), called the little town just down the road and spoke to a woman in the town hall building, she assured me that the cabin was just as it appeared in the paper (she lied).
After an eight-hour drive that was supposed to be taking me to this amazing place that I had rented for two weeks, I had arrived to find that not only was it not like the pictures in the paper, it didn’t have any furniture, or the wood stove, or the fireplace. It had four walls that were crammed with spider webs and the tin roof. No windows, no fixtures, not even a blooming outhouse. I would have turned right around and gone back home if I had not been so tired after the long drive. I decided I would spend the night and then go home tomorrow. HAH! Those roads weren’t even going to be drivable after this storm, nothing but mud and stones.
I suddenly realised that the rain had stopped pounding down and that the cabin at least seemed to be weather resistant. I was just about to go and use the non-existent facilities when I heard a kind of roaring bark, I jumped back into my sleeping bag and pulled it up to my neck, hoping that whatever had made the noise would just continue on its way and leave me in peace. I stayed very still, hardly even breathing, I didn’t want whatever it was to hear me. I kept hoping that whatever it was, its sense of smell would not be good because I had fear sweat running down my face and through my hair.
I listened very intently for any sound or indication of motion towards the cabin, and then the thunder crashed again, and as it did the cabin door flew open and the outline of a very large man was in the doorway and then he came through and into the room. He slammed the door behind him and was swearing under his breath. “Oh, for f*&^ks sake, I forgot the damn flashlight in the boat!” he swore angrily.
“Well I’m not going out there right now, how I missed getting struck is beyond me.” “What the F…” he swung around towards me.
“Who’s here?” he demanded.
He must have heard me breathing or something because I hadn’t moved or made a sound since he had come in, although I had just about screamed when he came through the door. I stayed quiet, hoping that he would leave at some point and then I could get out without having to face him.
“I’m only going to ask once more, who’s here, and then I’m attacking.” he roared.
I let out a little squeak and whispered, “Just me.”
“And who is just me?” he asked. “What the hell are you doing here all alone in a place that no woman should be?”
“I r-r-rented the place for two weeks from the owner,” I answered.
“No you didn’t, I’m the owner and I wouldn’t rent this place to a dog until I have it fixed up.” he shot back forcefully.
“Who are you?” he demanded again.
“My name is Tara L-L-L-eonard. Would you please stop shouting at me?” I asked. “It’s not my fault that someone put the cabin in the newspaper for rent.”
It was pitch black in the cabin but I could hear him take a very large breath and let it out very slowly. “I’m sorry for shouting, I just wasn’t expecting to have company,” he said in a milder tone. “My name is Ben, Ben Gryffon, and I promise I won’t hurt you, but could you please explain why anyone would want to rent this dilapidated old shack?”
“I di-didn’t, it was supposed to be all fixed up with a wood stove, a fireplace, and all the conveniences. I checked with the references that I was given and they all swore it was as marvellous as it looked, and some lady at the Gryffon town hall said it was just like in the paper. Gryffon (I thought), is the town named after you?”
“After my family, but I’m all that’s left now and I can’t wait to get away from there every chance I get.” he explained.
He sounded a little embarrassed, and I couldn’t imagine why. Wouldn’t it be nice to know where all your family came from? I didn’t because I was an orphan, literally left on the doorstep of a church, with no note or any indication of where I had come from.
“It must be nice, knowing where your family came from and that the place where you grew up is your home,” I stated.
Ben must have caught a little wistfulness in my tone because he asked, “Don’t you, know where you came from I mean?”
I suddenly had the thought that maybe I shouldn’t give him any information that might make him think that there was no one who cared whether I was alive or dead.
He must have sensed my hesitation because he withdrew a couple of steps, I could hear him ” I already told you that I wouldn’t hurt you, but I can’t leave you here alone, this area is not safe for anyone, let alone a woman on her own.”
“I will go down to the boat and get the flashlight as soon as the rain eases up some, and then perhaps you won’t find me quite so intimidating.” he said.
“From what I could see as you came through the door, I think you would be intimidating with or without the light,” I muttered. “Besides, I have a flashlight, I was just scared to have it on.”
“Well pull it out you silly woman, let’s at least try to be sociable. Although, anyone who knows me knows that it isn’t my usual attitude. I’m much more the big growly bear, but I promise, I don’t bite.”
I fished out the flashlight and flicked it on. “Speaking of that, did you hear some kind of animal just before you got here, I heard some kind of roaring bark, I thought it was a bear or a wolf or something like that?” I asked.
Ben came across the floor towards me and then sat down about five feet away as if he didn’t want to scare me. “No, I didn’t hear anything,” he said, but there seemed to be a sort of shuttered look on his face.
“So, when you saw what you had come to, why didn’t you just turn around and go back home?” he asked.
“I had been driving for eight hours straight, I was too tired to think about turning around, I thought I’d just spend the night and then leave in the morning,” I told him. I was kind of inspecting him as he sat across from me and he was everything I had always admired, very tall, dark-haired, and kindness was etched into his face, oh, and what I could see of his body was nothing to sneeze at either.
As I had been checking him out, he appeared to be doing the same. I knew what he would find, a mousy blond woman, with eyes that were way too big for her face, so tiny I looked like a little girl and a body that was like a stick.
“What do you do, Ben?” I asked. “From the size of you, I would guess lumberjacking.”
He burst out laughing “You couldn’t be more wrong, although I have lumberjacked in the area when I’ve had to, but no, I’m an accountant.” His face lit up when he laughed and he became not just good-looking but stunning.
“How about you, Tara? What do you do?” he asked, trying to control his laughter.
“You are not going to believe this but I’m an accountant too.” I chuckled.
Out of nowhere, a howl came echoing down the lake. I jumped and Ben reached out a hand and grasped mine. “It’s ok, they can’t get in and the fact that they would have picked up not just yours but my scent as well means they wouldn’t come anywhere near here. They try to avoid human contact as much as possible,” he said.
Again I had the feeling that he was masking something, that there was something he wasn’t saying.
“Why don’t you lie down and get some sleep” he suggested. “I’ll keep watch, and then I’ll help you get going in the morning.”
I wasn’t sure why, but I trusted him, so I answered, “OK, I am beat, but you don’t have to watch unless those wolves know how to open doors, then we should both be OK.”
“Tara, you do know that it isn’t really wise to just trust someone you hardly know, I am definitely not going to hurt you, but you are a beautiful woman and I hope you are much more on guard when you are out and about at home” he insisted.
“Believe me I don’t even leave my home when its close to getting dark, never mind if it’s nighttime,” I told him. “I have been on the receiving end of some not very nice things, so I don’t take chances, ever. But, for some reason, I trust you, and I know it’s crazy but I do.” I shuddered as I remembered some very bad times.
Ben scooted closer and grabbed my hand, he growled like the wolves outside “What do you mean that you have been on the end of some not very nice things? Did someone hurt you, tell me, and I will make sure it never happens again.”He was squeezing my hands so hard that I winced, he pulled his hands back and demanded, “Answer me.”
“I – I don’t talk a-a-bout th-th-ose times.” I kind of cringed as I answered. “I t-t-ry not to even think about those times.”
“Tara?” he pulled me into his arms and I immediately tensed up. He released me and said very softly “Tell me.”
“They will haunt you until you let them out and push them behind you, and I mean push not put because something tells me those bad things are going to have to be pushed behind you for you to carry on.”
I burst into tears and immediately felt so bad, the last thing he needed was some woman he didn’t even know falling apart in front of him. Once again, he pulled me into his arms and kept them around me as he whispered,”Tell me.”
I stumbled my way through telling him about the rape and the repeated beatings, how could I expect him to understand just how strong it has made me, that without those things having happened to me, I would have been taken advantage of so many times.
When I had finished he loosened his hold a little bit and looked down into my face. “I’m not going to say that what you have told me hasn’t made me extremely angry, but I want you to know that I believe you are incredibly strong. To have come all this way alone, and then not going completely to pieces when someone you didn’t know again invaded your space, shows that you have incredible depth and that you are capable of anything,” he said admiringly. “You have so much to be proud of, and even though I don’t really know you, I am incredibly proud of the woman that you are.”
For some reason that made me cry even harder “Thank you, no one has ever said that to me.” I admitted. “I was an orphan left on the steps of a church, so I have never had anyone who was in my corner. Thank you.”
Ben gasped as if that knowledge really hurt him. He bent his head and shook it. “You should have had a perfect childhood, you should have had the perfect life. You look like an angel, you should always have had everything on your side.”
I sort of sob-giggled and said “No one has a perfect life, there are always things that you can look back on and see where your life was shaped. Ben, who I am is because of what happened to me. I am me because of those events. And to be perfectly honest, right at this moment, being held in your arms, I wouldn’t change a thing.”
I was so embarrassed as those words came out, I wasn’t sure how he would take them, would he understand that I wanted him, that it was because he was everything I had ever hoped for and if I could have one night of that, then I would be happy forever.
Ben looked up at me from where his head had been hanging down, a glow was in his eyes and I could see that he had understood. I wasn’t asking for the rest of his life, I was asking for one night, with someone who understood perfectly who I was and where I was coming from.
He gently lay me back down on top of the sleeping bag and said, “You deserve so much more than this tiny place where there is nothing.”
I looked at him and said, “There’s you, and for tonight that is all I will ever need.”
Ben made love to me very slowly and when the night ended we slept for a while.
When we both awoke, we could see the sun shining in from around the door, he got up and went to the door and opened it, letting the sunshine blaze on into the cabin.
I was still naked and he turned to look at me, “How can I resist what you look like as you are laid before me in the sunshine, if you are willing, I would like to make love to you in the sunshine. Let’s pull your sleeping bag outside because I would really like to see the beautiful woman who has made me feel more of a man than I have ever.”
I blushed, and looked up at him, standing naked in the doorway. “I would love to make love to you again, but I don’t want you to be disappointed by the real way I look.”
He laughed, a great big belly laugh, “you couldn’t be a disappointment no matter how hard you tried, I have had the most amazing time with you, you have made me feel again, and that was something I wasn’t sure was ever going to come back.”
I frowned at him, about to ask him what he was talking about, when he jumped in and asked me “Is there any way I could see you again, I think you and I could have something very special, but I don’t want to put pressure on you or make you feel like you have to say yes. I truly just want to hear how you feel about it?”
I smiled at him and said, “I would love that, but you do understand that I live over eight hours away from here?”
“Doesn’t matter” he declared. “I will find a way.”
Then he scooped me up into his arms and took me out into the sunshine and to a new life.