Lightning flashed and thunder roared. Then came the pouring rain pelting down so hard it stung her bare face and arms. Mavis ran for shelter.
She rushed into the log cabin, closing the door behind her. Her breath caught in her throat. Ray stood in the middle of the room. His cold, dark eyes held her in a hard stare. Mavis trembled, not just from the chill of the rain.
Her eyes spotted the near empty whiskey bottle on the table. She turned and tried to open the door figuring it was better to chance being struck by lightning than to take another beating.
Ray swiftly closed the distance between them. He grabbed her upper arms before she could get the door open. He turned her to face him. “Where ya been, Mavis?”
“I was taking care of the animals.” Her voice trembled.
“The stupid animals could’ve waited. I’m hungry and you’ve kept me waiting for my supper!” He shoved her toward the kitchen.
Mavis stumbled. After regaining her balance, she grabbed some wood and fed the barely burning embers. She grabbed two frying pans. She mixed up buttermilk dough for biscuits, cut them and put them on a tray in the oven. She peeled and sliced a few potatoes. She put a steak in one pan, some lard and the potatoes in the other.
“Hurry up! I’m powerful hungry.” Ray started across the room.
“Please God, don’t let him hit me.” Mavis whispered.
Ray stopped behind her. He stood so close she could feel his breath on the back of her neck. She tried to still her trembling as she turned the steak then the potatoes.
His arms wrapped around her waist. He kissed the side of her neck. “You’re still a good lookin’ woman, Mavis.” He reached with one hand and pulled the clip from her hair and let the brown waves cascade down her back. He ran his hand through her hair, kissing her neck again. He breathed in her ear. “You know how I love your hair free and loose. You should let it hang more often.”
“I have to get the biscuits out of the oven.”
Ray stepped back just far enough to allow her to retrieve the biscuits. When she had set them down and moved the pans to the back of the stove, he wrapped her in his arms.
She hated the smell of whiskey on his breath.
“Forget supper, Mavis. I’ve got a mighty hunger for somethin’ else right now.” He leaned to kiss her. She turned her head away.
“Oh, now don’t be silly, Ray. The food’s all done. You should eat it before it gets cold.”
Ray grabbed a handful of her hair. “Don’t tease me, Mavis.”
He picked her up and carried her to the bedroom. Her heart felt like a heavy stone in her chest. Tears stung at the backs of her eyes and she willed them not to spill over.
Afterward, Ray went to the kitchen and ate, while Mavis lay in the bed silent tears rolling into her hair.
No, he hadn’t hit her, but she wasn’t sure whether it was the beatings or the being taken advantage of that hurt more. Both left their scars.