The Temperature of Pain

: : Scalds : :

She never was one for hot tea, let alone the kind that John would hand her in the middle of the night when they both were up with nightmares and he set his fire ablaze around the mug.

"Let me warm it up."

He'd look at her and his dark eyes would be darker than night and darker than the black sea crashing over her when she fell into her dreams and could not wake. Drowning in those fiery, liquid shadows in his eyes.

Rogue would smile, just softly. "Thanks."

She liked her tea cold and sweet on a hot, sticky Mississippi afternoon, sitting on the front porch swing. She liked the way Cody would laugh at her from the doorway while she read aloud from a book on the far side. The distance pleased her. Coy and proper was the way of a Southern belle.

John likes everything hot. She tastes his tea. It scalds her tongue.

She sips it gently, slowly, with long, spicy pauses in between. That's how she takes his fire, his drive, his shadowy eyes that would not let her go. It never stopped with the apple in Eden. He is nothing if not persistent, and he didn't let her go without a fight. Flirt, laugh, be friends. Back away from the fire. Don't wanna get burnt.

It was an endless circle, Bobby and John, whirling around Rogue like hot tea swirling in her cup. She didn't say yes, she didn't say no. A lady always took what was offered.

His dark eyes burn.

She takes another sip and lets it scald.