I used the "Take it Easy" dialogue card (2x2) and the 3x3 movement card starting with Fight.
“Hey…take it easy…”
“Alright…alright…I won’t forget…”
She could hear the voices as she approached, Rain and Rafe engaged in some sort of thump and clatter in the den that she could not yet see as she trudged down the corridor towards the music room. Her encounter with Charles had invigorated her, given her back something that felt to have been missing at dinner, but it had not been enough to prompt her to return to her own room, to her own bed, where she imagined further awkwardness awaited. She had stopped on the climb downstairs to exchange hugs and kisses with John and Sidney, but they had been about their own business and she had not felt up to joining them at it.
Her intention was to be alone. But the men’s voices intrigued her, and as she had to pass them to reach the music room, she paused to see what they were doing just as Rain exclaimed, “Aiiigh! It’s fucking done!”
“Watch your language,” Rafe laughed.
“What on earth…?”
“Oh…sorry…” He might have been apologizing for swearing, for his volume, or for whatever it was he had scrambled to hide behind him on the desk. His haste nearly caused whatever they were hiding to fall, knocked Rafe aside and the other man clapped him hard on the arm in annoyance.
They looked very much like brothers to Tamara. Having lived his life as an only child, she imagined that, for Rain, Rafe was very much a brother, someone to fight with, to pursue mischief with, to point fingers at and laugh with when their antics resulted in an amusing, or less than favorable outcome
She had no need to see what they were hiding from her. So long as they didn’t burn down the house, poison or injure someone, she did not care. There were enough little things in so large a family she knew nothing about to make a fuss over this one, and to be honest, she did not have the heart to battle them to find out.
What she did want to know, however, since she had found the visitor here, was what was behind her son’s seeming overreaction to his being here.
“So…you know Conal…”
“Well,” started Rafe, crawling over the back of the sofa to sit and gesturing for her to join him. She was pretty, and seemed like a nice, stable, strong woman…the sort he had been trying to set Rain up with for years. But none of those relationships had ever stuck, and now, watching Rain sit on Tamara’s other side with his arm around her shoulder, Rafe thought he knew why.
Of course, the fact that they were estranged step siblings…not blood related and not even knowing each other until they were adults, certainly complicated things.
“I knew him as Ryan…but yeah…we’ve met. He was tending bar at a place I went for awhile. We talked some…a couple different nights, when I used to stop in to eat when I went out cycling. Seemed he could use a sympathetic ear as much as I could…but we never really got into personal details.” They each knew the other had lost someone special…though not how that loss had come about…and they each knew the other was spinning their wheels as they tried to find their way out of their misery. Someone to hang out with, shoot the breeze, a distraction of sorts, had been all either of them had been looking for.
There was certainly nothing about those particular needs, nothing Rafe remembered, that could account for Ry…Conal’s…hostility.
Maybe, Tamara thought with a sigh, Conal’s reaction was purely because, somehow, Rafe reminded him of Stardust. Not in any physical way, but merely by having been someone he had begun to open up to, at least a little, before he had shut himself off again.
Like his father, Conal would not like to admit any sort of weakness…or be reminded of feeling it.
“I’ll try to talk to him,” she murmured, glancing at the desk where the two men had been when she came in.
Whatever they had been doing, it was not visible from the sofa.
“No need to force it,” Rafe said with a shrug. The shrug was non-chalant, but there was something in his voice that suggested disappointment.
“I won’t,” she promised as she stood. “But I will talk to him. And you two…” She eyed Rain with a smirk, “Stay out of trouble.”
“Yes, ma’am,” Rain chuckled. He dodged her playful slap and blew her a kiss as she left them alone.