As Jesse had predicted, a storm did blow in that night. And it was much worse than any of them though it would be. The wind howled and the thunder rolled, shaking the very windows of the James' house. There wasn't much lightening, but the rain fell down in heavy sheets, pounding the roof about them.
Chloe laid in her bed, the covers pulled up to her chin tightly. The boys were sleeping in a room beside her, leaving Tom and Frank to bunk together in their own room. A clap of thunder shook the house, making Chloe sit up from her safe place under the blankets. The braided plaits swung to her shoulders as if they were providing her some protection. She pulled back the covers, and walked to the window. For the life of her, Chloe couldn't even see the farm, much less what was outside her window. She turned back around, going to the vanity in front of her bed. A small, white candle stood in it's holder. She took a box of matches sitting beside it and lit one of the matches to the candle. The small light that glowed from the flame made the room seem much safer. She sat down on the chair in front of the vanity and looked around.
Jesse had had some money left over from his outlaw days, which was how he was able to buy the farm and the big house to go with it. Four bedrooms and two bathrooms, all upstairs. And all of the rooms were pretty big too. Zee had even managed to put nice beds in the rooms as well as dressers, except for Chloe's room, which had a vanity. The kitchen, dining room, and living room downstairs, were all fully furnished too.
"Maybe being an outlaw wouldn't be so bad after all." she muttered to herself, looking around the room again.
Even though she was in a house full of people, Chloe felt alone. Her mind wandered to Tom. When everyone was saying their goodnights, Tom just gave a tip with his head and headed upstairs. Of course he couldn't just sweep her up in his arms and give a goodnight kiss. That would defeat the purpose of keeping it a secret. Tom knew as well as Chloe did that her brothers were overprotective and if they saw them kissing, who knows what would have happened. Chloe scoffed at the idea of the boys doing any harm to Tom. According to them, he was a good friend and nice to have around in a fight.
Chloe's thoughts were interrupted by the sound of shuffled steps outside. Chloe perked up, listening closely. She stood up slowly, going towards the door. This was one of those times she wished she slept with a gun under her pillow like Cole did. She gulped back her fear and wrenched open the door. Chloe expected to see a stranger, but instead she saw Tom going down the stairs. With a raised eyebrow, she followed after him quietly, hoping deep down that he wasn't leaving.
"Tom?" she whispered.
Tom stopped his walking and turned around. The startling he just received melted away when he saw that it was Chloe.
"What are you doing up?" he whispered back.
"I was about to ask you the same thing." Chloe finished coming down the stairs, standing in front of Tom. He was a bit taller than she was, making her look up a bit.
Tom smiled, "The storm is keeping me up. I guess it's the same for you."
Chloe nodded, walking towards the living room. She pulled a quilt off the back of the couch and wrapped it around her, then sat down. Tom followed her and sat down beside her, putting his elbows on his knees and clasping his hands together. He looked at the wood floor, breathing slowly. Chloe watched him, her hands aching to touch him. Something, other than the chill of the house, however, kept her from doing so.
"Can I ask you a question?" Tom finally asked, leaning back from his position to look at Chloe.
"You don't want to get married? Ever?"
Chloe stared at Tom. She was sure this wasn't his way of proposing to her. If so, it was pretty disappointing.
She shook the thought away and shrugged, "I dunno. Maybe. Maybe not. I really do want to travel before I get hitched though."
"Why does it have to be before?" Tom's eyes searched Chloe's, hoping to give him the answer he was looking for.
"Because, what if I meet some ravishing Englishman who wants to sweep me off my feet and give me the world. Being married would totally ruin that." she giggled.
Tom, however, didn't laugh or smile. He went back to looking at the floor. The storm above them rolled on, claps of thunder filling the air.
"What if..." he started, but stopped.
"What if what?" Chloe pushed, turning to get a better look at Tom.
"What if you found the person you want to be with...here? Maybe that person would like to travel with you and see the world."
His dark eyes bored into Chloe's hazel ones, making it difficult for her to look away. "Well, I don't know what I would do then."
"Would you still leave?" he asked in almost a whisper.
Chloe opened her mouth to reply, but nothing came out. Tom was serious about this. The thing that she really didn't understand was why.
"Tom, we hardly know each other; how could we ever be married? What if I'm some haggard, old, bossy, woman who you can't stand to be in the same room with for more than a day, let alone the rest of your life? What if gamble away all our money and I drink too much or..."
Tom interrupted by putting a finger to her lips. She closed her mouth, biting on her bottom lip.
"What if I don't get to see the world, like I always wanted?" she whispered.
Instead of answering her, Tom cupped his hands on her face and kissed her softly. The anxiety that had built up in her chest disappeared, feeling his lips on hers. He leaned down, Chloe wrapping her arms around his neck again, like before, feeling his soft hair in her fingers. Tom's soft hands moved down her neck and to her waist, laying her down on the couch, his body halfway on top of hers, his feet still on the floor. She felt her head hit one of the pillows that decorated the couch, but continued to kiss him, this time more passionately. She wanted him; every inch of him. And from the way he returned the passionate kisses, and his hands gripped at her body, he did too.
She didn't care about her brothers or Jesse or anyone seeing them together. Chloe hoped for it; wished someone would come downstairs and see them. The very thought excited her just a little bit. Chloe felt Tom's hands move to the back of her thighs, pulling her up, in one swift motion onto his lap. She gasped a little as she straddled him, facing him. He pulled her into another heart-exploding kiss, wrapping his arms around her. The nightgown she had on moved from her feet to the middle of her thighs, revealing her tanned legs. Tom ran his hot fingers over her cold skin, making her shudder a bit. A small moan escaped her lips. Tom lookedat her with his deep eyes. She breathed heavily, feeling the urges she had run through her veins like fire. For a moment, the two sat there, breathing and looking at each other.
Suddenly, Tom gripped onto her legs and stood up. Chloe gasped a bit, tightening her hold on his neck. He smiled, and started to walk towards the stairs. As if she weighed nothing, he carried her up the stairs and back into her bedroom. Tom shut the door with his feet and laid Chloe on the bed. Tom threw his shirt over his head, tossing it on the floor, revealing a bronzed, muscular chest. Chloe's fingers reached up and slowly ran her fingers down his chest to his stomach. He inhaled suddenly, his eyes moving from her small hands to her face. He smiled, leaning down and kissing her again. His warm body moved on top of hers, making her shiver again. Her arms wrapped around him, her fingers moving gently over his back. Tom moved into her, his hardness pressing in between her legs, causing her to moan again and this time, a small growl of his own followed.
Chloe ached to open up to him. She wanted so much for him to rip off her nightgown. As though he read her mind, Tom lifted up, reaching down to remove her gown. She wiggled her body to allow him to do so as he pulled it over her head, also tossing it on the ground. Since it was night, her upper undergarments had already been removed, exposing her upper half. Instinctually, her arms covered her bare breasts, feeling the heat of embarrassment run up and down her body.
"Don't." Tom simply said. He moved her arms out of the way, exposing her again. He smiled, "You are so beautiful."
Chloe smiled, but still felt nervous, "I've never done this before." she confessed.
"Never?" he asked, putting a hand to her face.
The warmth of his hand leeched onto her face, making her smile again, "Never." She nodded to the room next door, "They never have given me the chance."
Tom looked deeply into her eyes, "Are you sure you want to do this? I don't want to..."
Chloe sat up, getting on her knees. She held Tom's face in her hands, and nodded, "Yes, I'm sure. You're the one I want to be with." she answered softly.
Tom smiled, kissing her, "Yes, but I don't want to take away something that you've saved for so long."
Chloe looked at him, head tilted a little bit, "What if I want to give it to you?"
"That makes me happy, but I want you to give it to me under the right circumstances. Do you understand?" Once again, his eyes searched hers, hoping she knew what he was trying to get across.
Chloe looked down at her naked body, then back at Tom, "I'm sorry." she whispered.
"Don't be. We were both in the moment. And believe me, I wasn't sure if I wanted to get out of it." he smirked, giving her a soft kiss.
Once again, she covered her exposed chest, her skin flushing a little. Tom looked around, spotting her nightgown. He got off the bed, grabbing both her nightgown and his shirt. He handed it to Chloe, her immediately turning around to pull it on.
When she turned back around, Tom had already put his shirt own back on. She gave a small smile, kneeling back on the bed. "I appreciate what you said."
Tom came back over to the bed, sitting beside her. He grabbed her hand and kissed it, holding it with both of his soft hands. "I respect you. But most of all.." he paused, pulling her face to his, "Most of all, I love you."
At that moment, Chloe felt as though her heart really did burst. Tears began to well up in her eyes, Tom's visage getting a bit blurry.
"Really?" she whispered.
"Of course. I always have." he reached up, wiping away the tears before they spilled on her face.
"I never knew that." she sniffed.
He pulled her close, putting her head on his chest, "I know. I'm sorry I didn't tell you sooner. I just never had the guts to tell you until now."
Chloe took in his scent, holding onto him. "I've always loved you too." she sniffed again.
Tom chuckled a bit, pulling back up. He kissed her tenderly, his hands cupping her face once more. "You're an amazing woman, Chloe Younger and I would be stupid not to make you mine."
Chloe smiled through more welled-up eyes, some of the tears actually falling down her cheeks. Tom wiped them away, pushing back some of the hair that had come out of her braids. "Why are you crying?"
"I guess I'm just so...happy. I never thought this would happen. But it is and I..." she sniffed, "I do want to be yours, for the rest of my life."
Tom kissed her passionately, holding onto her at the same time. The joy they felt radiated each other's body and what felt like the room.