The light goes out with a fizz and a crash-like sound. Lemon instantly drops the hair dryer she was holding, and that adds a dry crack to the cacophony of noises that should not be happening. Not when Lemon was just putting the last touches on the model gazebo she's been working on for the past week. It's a cake holder, and it needs to be done by tomorrow night, when it will be front and center on the buffet table at the annual Belles' Bluebell Bakery Bash.
"Well, I guess you can always buy a new hair dryer," Lavon says somewhere in her vicinity. To her right, Lemon thinks. On the other side of the table. Oh, Lord, one bad step and she may stumble right into the gazebo. Even worse, he may stumble into the gazebo. Either way, it would be ruined. And paint would get everywhere.
"Does this happen often?" Lemon asks, outraged that she hadn’t been told beforehand. She's thankful to Lavon for lending his house to her for the party, but if she'd known turning on a measly hair dryer to dry the paint on the gazebo would cause the power to go off, she would have done this in her house and enlisted George's help to bring it over later.
Lavon has the gall to laugh. This is not funny. "It's not the sturdiest of electrical set-ups, if that's what you're asking." She hears some footsteps moving away, towards—the kitchen, she thinks. As her eyes become accustomed to the darkness, Lavon's shape becomes clearer and clearer, and moves further and further away from her model gazebo. Oh, good. "I'm gonna call Wade," Lavon adds, and a little light pops up in the kitchen—his phone screen. Lemon hears some rummaging in drawers and the sound of things being set on the counter, and then the click of a lighter as Lavon lights a candle or two.
Lemon blinks, and sets about—carefully, very carefully—picking up the hair dryer—all in one piece, thank goodness—and stepping away from her hard work before something terrible happens. This leads her to the kitchen because, well, as awkward as it is to spend time with Lavon these days without any projects to act as buffer, it would be more awkward to stand around, alone, in the dark, when the kitchen is a perfectly nice place to be.
Not sure what to do next, Lemon purses her lips and taps her knuckles softly on the kitchen island. Waiting has never been her favorite activity.
"What do you mean you can't do anything?" Lavon asks into the phone, his voice not so cheerful anymore. He acknowledges whatever Wade Kinsella says in reply with a grunt, and then he leaves the phone on the counter and turns around. He seems slightly taken aback to see Lemon there, which is just silly, isn't it? He must have heard her footsteps, or just felt her presence in some way. You're supposed to feel that sort of thing.
The frozen half smile on his face is much more worrisome, though. "What's going on?" Lemon says warily.
"It's not the fuse box," Lavon says. "Half the town's in the dark right now."
"But you're the mayor. You should do something about that."
"I'm told it's being worked on, there's nothing I can do to make it go faster except try not to badger anyone. Look on the bright side," he says, paying no mind to her raised eyebrow, "by the time the light comes back on, the paint will be all dry."
"I don't suppose you understand how much work is left to do after that," Lemon says. "If I go home now I'll lose the whole night. The Bash is tomorrow, Lavon."
Lavon tilts his head and walks over to the kitchen island. "No one's going to care or notice if there's a few less ribbons here and there."
"Oh, Lord, the ribbons." Lemon's eyes go wide. She was going to be done with the gazebo tonight and work on the ribbons in the morning. Her entire schedule is thrown. She needs to sit down. There's a stool right next to her, so she does, leaning her forearms on the cool surface of the kitchen island. She's going to have to ask Annabeth for help with the catering. Annabeth. It's been so—so—humiliating, asking her for help since Delia Ann made her memory matron instead of Lemon.
For a moment, Lavon looks at her like he's maybe going to stroke her shoulder, or do something comforting, anything at all, but then he presses his lips together and stands a little taller.
"I don't have the plague, you know," Lemon snaps.
"Oh, I don't know about that," Lavon says, crossing his arms over his stomach in that way that says he doesn't want the conversation to go any further even though if it was left as is, he would have had the last word. And that's not a last word Lemon is happy with.
"What's that supposed to mean?" She knows exactly what it means. She can't even fault him for it. In a way it's almost a—a nice thing to hear, to know that you have that influence on someone. Or it would be nice if it weren't so painful and mutual and frustrating. Just because she's good at hiding her emotions, that doesn't mean she doesn't feel them. It's not as though she enjoys being in this weird halfway state with Lavon, where they can't be friends but they can't be what he obviously wants them to be, and they can't avoid each other forever, either. Bluebell is a small town. People would notice that sort of thing.
Lavon's put on his stubborn face, now. "I don't want to do this right now."
"Of course not," Lemon says darkly, and stands on her feet. She paces the kitchen, waiting for something to happen, for the power to come back on, but it doesn't. Eventually, she settles next to the kitchen island again, one elbow on the surface, and sighs. "I am getting married, and you are seeing someone else now, so I do not see that we need to talk about this anymore either."
"I don't think my seeing someone else is on a level with your engagement," Lavon says. He sounds increasingly annoyed. That's not at all what Lemon was gunning for. "It wasn't exactly my choice to stop seeing you."
"Oh, it wasn't? Then who turned me away at Christmas, because I seem to recall that door—" She points at his front door with a finger. "—slamming in my face."
"That's not what we're talking about here and you know it," Lavon says calmly, more calmly than she'd like. "You made your choice. You did."
"I didn't have a choice," Lemon says, hands on her hips, but Lavon shakes his head at her.
"Of course you had a choice. Everyone has a choice."
Silence settles between them, punctuated by the sounds of crickets outside. Lemon stands where she is, looking alternately at her hands and at Lavon. Maybe it's the outage making her crazy, but she's starting to worry they're never going to get past this conversation. It's like every time the waters are calm, he has to remind her that she chose George over him. But it wasn't like George just walked into her life one day and she said, all right, that's the man I want to marry. They had a history, years of being together and caring about one another. George had drifted away and she owed it to her and him and to them to see if their foundation was still sturdy, if it could support a relationship if they rebuilt theirs.
That's unfair to Lavon, but everything is unfair to someone. She's sorry they ended things the way they did, and that he's the mayor of Bluebell and this is her hometown and they can't have closure because of it.
But they can't keep having the same conversation over and over.
Of course, then Lavon has to go and add, "Anyone who says they didn't just isn't willing to admit they made the wrong one," and suddenly the conversation is different and Lemon stops worrying and starts freaking out. This is what happened to George, isn't it? He did something—he forgot to do something and then read into it, and what if she's going through the same thing? She's told herself so many times that she couldn't cut Lavon out of her life for this and that reason, but she had to have a door slammed on her face at the worst possible time to stop reaching out to him uninvited.
That wasn't something that she had to do, and yet she kept on trying. "I didn't—"
"I respected your decision to stay away," Lavon interrupts her. "I'd expect you to respect mine and do the same." Lemon looks up at him. "You can leave as soon as the power comes back on. And in the meanwhile we can talk about anything else, if you don't mind."
Lemon offers a half smile, glad they're moving away from a subject that really wouldn't have done either of them any good. "You're not afraid of the dark, are you?" she teases.
"I'm afraid of being bored out of my skull in the dark in the middle of the night, if that's what you mean," he says, and walks around the kitchen island to settle next to her, leaning back against the edge.
"So for this little while it's all right that I'm keeping you company?" she asks, and he shrugs. She turns around and puts her palms up on the kitchen island, lifting herself onto it.
"Lemon," he says. It sounds like a warning.
Sighing, she says, "All right, I'm sorry. I'm sorry." She laces her hands together over her lap, and then knocks her knee against his arm. She means it to be playful, just a little poke to lighten the mood, but he freezes at it, which makes her frown. "Hey. What's wrong?"
He inhales visibly, his chest rising, and turns towards her. She frowns harder, and bites her lip unconsciously when his hand wraps around her knee, stilling it and staying there. As she licks over the sting, he faces her again, his mouth a little open, his eyes intensely watching her.
It's unsettling; she feels rooted to the spot, unable to move away or say anything that will break whatever kind of spell's come over the room. When his hand moves higher, warm around her thigh, a shiver runs through her. She breathes out his name, and he just breathes, as silent as the house is right now, and takes a short step to the side. He's standing in front of her now, the look on his face hard to make out now that her own body blocks the candlelight from reaching him, but she thinks even with eyes closed she would feel him close as she does now.
Instinctively, she lets her legs fall open, and he steps forward, fitting between them, and cups her face before kissing her. She feels herself gasp into his mouth, her lungs alive, her eyelids dropping as she wraps an arm around his neck and brings him closer, opening her lips, wanting more of this. Guilt doesn't even check in with her, not even once the thought registers. Nobody's watching, nobody who tried would even see much, and all she can do is wrap her legs around him, too, crossing her ankles behind his knees. She returns every kiss with a desperation matching his that she forgot she had in her.
The buttons of his shirt are misleadingly easy to undo; she starts to take it off and loses track of how many of their clothes come off and how quickly until her nipples brush against his bare chest, making her gasp. His hands are on her ass now, dragging her to the very edge of the kitchen island. She doesn't really gather why until one of his hands stills, solid under her thigh, and the other slides down to her knee and then up between her legs, under her skirt. Her underwear's gone, too, and she opens her eyes enough to know he's still dressed from the waist down and not making any moves to change that.
She doesn't have it in her to complain about that, though, or about anything else, not when his fingers are touching her, warm and big and making her painfully aware of how wet she is, how quickly she got there, how big a lie it's been to tell herself she didn't want Lavon now that she had George. Her forearms meet behind Lavon's neck as he slides two fingers inside her; she's clinging, she knows she is, but it's all she can do to stay where she is without crumbling.
Now there are no more shirts to take off and no more shifts required to do what he wanted to do, he kisses her again, his mouth a steady presence on her skin as his fingers move inside her, his thumb just outside, spreading her open and then making little, continuous circles just on the right place. At some point she loses her ability to do anything but move into him, her chest rising when he bites her collarbone just how she likes, her legs a mess of nerves. She's practically writhing now, and all it takes is a few faster strokes of his thumb for her orgasm to take her over, her mouth open, her ears filled with the loud buzz of her breathing. She's not done when the darkness behind her lids shifts to a dark orange—the, the lights coming back on, of course, she remembers now. She bucks her hips into his hand a few more times, shutting her eyes tighter, ignoring it until he stops touching her and she feels his eyes on her again—naked in full lighting, now.
The thought startles her into opening her eyes and drawing her limbs back. She takes a sharp breath, and Lavon lets an, "Uh," drag as he sets her back on the counter. She smoothes out her skirt and is relieved when she sees her shirt and bra are at arm's reach. Out of the corner of her eye, she sees Lavon getting dressed too, and she sharply tells herself not to look at him, or worry about him, or freak out. Of course this warrants a freak-out, but she can't afford to have it right now.
She jumps off the counter when she's dressed and looks around for her underwear before deciding wherever it is, as clean as the floors are she's not willing to put it back on. She's halfway to the living room to get her things when she hears the front door open.
Wade's leaning halfway into the house, his hand still on the knob. "Everything all right here? Nothing broke or smashed or need fixing?"
"We're good, Wade," Lavon says casually, and Lemon continues to put things into her bag. She can't take the gazebo back with her, but she could—come back to finish it in the morning, not alone this time. The paint at least would dry overnight.
She walks back across the kitchen trying not to fidget, or look guilty or be obvious in any way. She figures Wade's used to seeing her on edge, so that's normal enough.
"Lemon?" Wade says, and she lifts her chin at him.
Lavon steps in then, grinning good-naturedly and saying, "Deadlines," like that explains everything. Well, it might.
"Ah," Wade says, raising an eyebrow at Lemon. "So I'm going to go now—"
"Wait, I'll walk with you," Lemon says, and clutches her bag to her stomach. Her voice sounds a little shrill, and Wade raises his other eyebrow. "I need a little air, is that so wrong?"
"Sure," Wade says, and she pushes herself forward. She sneaks a glance back at Lavon, but he only lifts his head in acknowledgment once, his face betraying little else.
She's not sure what she was expecting. She's not sure she's entitled to expect anything.
She takes a deep breath, steps out, and closes the door behind herself.