Rhythm of the Rain

by woodmanone

Copyright© 2009 by woodmanone

Romantic Story: Young man learns that karma isn't always a bitch

Tags: Ma/Fa   Heterosexual  

Note from Jake Rivers:

This is my seventh semi-annual "invitational." The initial one was based on the Statler Brother's song, "This Bed of Rose's." The most recent invitational included songs written or performed by Willie Nelson. The current effort consists of stories based on song titles that have a weather term in them, such as "Stormy Weather, "Foggy Mountain Top," "Dusty Skies", "Heat Wave", "Summertime Blues," and "Ballad of Thunder Road."

Regards, Jake

This story contains no graphic sex scenes, sorry. As usual, constructive critiques and comments are welcome and appreciated. Thanks for reading my story and ENJOY.


My inspiration for this story is the song "Rhythm of the Rain" by the Cascades - released in November of 1962.

Listen to the rhythm of the falling rain
Telling me just what a fool I've been
I wish that it would go and let me cry in vain
And let me be alone again

The only girl I care about has gone away
Looking for a brand new start
But little does she know
That when she left that day
Along with her she took my heart

Rain please tell me now does that seem fair?
For her to steal my heart away when she don't care
I can't love another when my hearts somewhere far away

What goes around comes around, you reap what you sow, and my favorite, karma is a bitch. These are all clichés that people have spouted forever it seems. Actually they all say the same thing; you are responsible for your actions and their consequences. The reason that they are clichés is that they are all true. This is my story which proves the truth of these time worn sayings.

I'm sitting under a shelter made out of a tarp and some rope, in the mountains of Colorado that surrounded Denver. Just me and my Harley waiting for the rain to stop. The rhythm of the rain on the tarp is soothing and my mind begins to wander and think about the reasons that I'm here instead of in my cozy condo in Littleton.

My name is John Bentley Cassidy. I know, I have heard all the jokes and no it's not bent, at least not yet. Anyway I'm 28 but my story starts before puberty. I never went through the stage that most boys do of not liking girls, I always liked girls.

My mother caught me at age 6 playing show, tell, and feel with the little girl from next door. I was too young to know anything really, but found her body fascinating. I got a stern lecture from my mother and another from my father along with a swat on the butt. Most children have a curiosity about their bodies but I never outgrew it.

Once I hit puberty, or it hit me, my fascination with the female form led me into a lot of trouble and caused more than a few fights. These fights were usually my fault and I probably deserved the lumps and bruises that I got. In my later years I realized that it was a miracle that I didn't father any children during that wild period. I never thought about birth control or disease, of course it was a simpler time and life altering STDs didn't run amok the way they do today. It was also a miracle that I wasn't seriously hurt by confrontations with irate boyfriends.

I guess the best way to describe myself during that early part of my life is to call me a MAN WHORE. I lost my virginity at 15. Well lost isn't quite right as I was happy to get rid of it. As I turned 16 I developed a philosophy that if one girl was good, two were better and more were better still. I can't count the times that I would be "going with" one girl, when another lovely would catch my eye and off I would go in pursuit of a new or additional female companionship. Obviously this lack of fidelity had a detrimental effect on many of my relationships. Many times I heard "Oh John how could you? I thought you loved me" and worse.

My reputation was not the best but it never seemed to hinder me in my quest for more playmates. I suppose the new playmates thought that they could change me or they just didn't care and wanted to have some extracurricular fun. As I grew older, I was responsible for many young women not being a virgin on their wedding night. All of my "conquests" were willing; in fact some were more than willing and initiated the contact. I hope that every one of them enjoyed the sexual experiences that we had together, I know I did.

I had two major problems during this period: As I said if one girl was good, two were better and this led to a lot of drama about me cheating etc etc etc. My other problem was that if I saw a possible candidate for a little playtime, I never worried about them already having a boyfriend. Let me say this in my defense, if the young lady wasn't interested I couldn't have succeeded in luring her away from her boyfriend.

The boyfriends and fiancées never seemed to understand that premise. Thus the fights I mentioned earlier. The only standards of conduct that I had were no married women and my friend's ladies were safe from seduction by me. In fact I would try and protect a buddy's girl from other guys, guys like me.

Reflecting on my past, I really don't understand my success with the female of the species. I wasn't an imposing figure at 5' 10" and about 170 pounds. Not bad looking with brown hair worn in almost a military cut and deep blue eyes, but I wasn't a movie star or anything. I guess the fact that I wasn't bashful and had kissed the Blarney Stone as the Irish say (the gift of gab for you non Irish out there) helped keep my batting average high, so to speak.

I guess part of my success was the way I treated the lady I was dating. All of the ladies were shown both respect and a very good time. Also they were all treated as ladies. The only thing I really did wrong was not to end a relationship before I started another one. Women don't care for or understand that type of behavior.

My average was about 4 out of 10 with the ladies and the average of a physical altercation was about one in seven. You would think I would learn after a few beatings, but I didn't. Not until I was 28, and then it wasn't so much that I learned a lesson but that love snuck up and hit me in the back of the head.

I was out with some friends at the Rock Bottom Brewery celebrating and recuperating. Celebrating my 28th birthday and recuperating from the effects of meeting the boyfriend (Tom, I think is his name) of my latest conquest. He probably would have seriously injured me but his two companions pulled him off me. Good thing they did, Tom was really, really, upset with me. The man didn't understand the logic that his fiancée, Gail, could have said no, that she wasn't forced to come back to my apartment with me. Point of fact, my apartment was her idea. If she hadn't of wanted to be with me she wouldn't have been with me.

Tom apparently saw us at a bar, dancing and flirting, and followed us to my place. He waited until the girl and I stopped to kiss at my door and then jumped me. What would he have done if we hadn't taken the time to kiss, would he have broken down my door? Usually, I tried to protect myself in these altercations and I would give as good as I got. I may have been encroaching on someone else's territory but I wasn't going to be a punching bag for anyone.

This time I had no chance to fight back; my attention was on Gail when Tom sucker punched me and I was stunned from the start. He did a number on me, including kicking me a couple of times when I went down. That's when his friends pulled him off me. They weren't worried about him hurting me; they were worried that Tom would end up in jail.

I never did get to ask Tom why he allowed Gail to go home with me. Why didn't he confront us at the bar or in the parking lot? Personally I think this wasn't the first time his lady had strayed and he just wanted to beat the hell out of someone and I got elected. I didn't think Tom deserved to go to jail for my actions so I never reported the beating.

My best friend Pete had just made a toast to me, something about escaping once again, when I saw her. Now being the player I was at the time, I never believed in the concept of "love at first sight", lust maybe but not love. One look at her auburn hair, green eyes, and slender body and I was beginning to think differently about that "love at first sight" thing.

"Hey buddy, you still with us?' Pete broke into my trance as I tried to memorize everything about the young woman that had caught my eye.

"Be right back Pete. I just saw my next lady," I said as I started toward the bar where the lovely was standing. In spite of the bruises on my face and the one eye still swollen from my beating, I was confident that I could at least lay the ground work for another meeting.

When I got to the bar and stood next to the lady in question I saw that she was about 5 feet 7. Her long legs and slender build made me think that she and I would fit together very well. I bumped into her, on purpose of course and she turned toward me. I had planned to apologize and use the contact as an excuse to "chat her up" as our English friends would say.

My plans went down in flames. She looked at me with those piercing green eyes and a small smile and I just flat lost my voice and my train of thought. I couldn't think of anything to say; I was amazed because I had never been at a loss for words in my entire life. Before I could recover she got her drink order, smiled at me again, and went back to a table with several other people.

I ordered another double Jack Daniels as an excuse to stand at the bar and stare at her. There were four young ladies at the table, including her, and four men. One of the girls must have noticed my stare because she nudged the object of my desire and nodded her head at me. The lovely briefly looked my way smiled and went back to the conversation going around the table.

Now what, I thought? My drink came but I didn't leave the bar and didn't stop looking at the young beauty. I know she was aware of my interest because she would look at me and smile once in awhile. I decided to take a chance. Maybe my voice and mind wouldn't desert me this time and I approached her table.

One of the things that I used in bars and out on the town was business cards with my name and my cell phone number printed on them. It was a lot easier to hand a young lady a card than to try and find something to write on or write with. I pulled one of my cards out and walked up to her.

I handed her my card and said, "Hi, my name is John Cassidy. You seem like a very nice person and I would like to get to know you. If you like, give me a call and maybe we can do lunch or coffee or something. What's your name?"

She was taken by surprise but pleasantly so I thought. "Hello John, I'm Shannon Kelly."

A guy sitting across the table stood up and glared at me with laser like eyes. It wasn't so much the eyes that bothered me; it was the 6 foot 4 behemoth behind them that made me think that discretion was the better part of valor. In other words, I needed to get the hell out of Dodge before the man mountain could get around the table.

I looked up into his eyes and said, "I'm sorry if I upset you buddy. I didn't stop to think that Shannon might be here with a date because she went to the bar and got her own drink." That didn't set well with him either.

Turning to Shannon I continued, "I thought you were just out with friends. If I've embarrassed you or made Godzilla here uncomfortable, I apologize. It would be nice if you would call me."

I turned to leave as the giant made a move around the table toward me as I went back to Pete and my friends. He was laughing at me as I got close.

"Don't you ever learn? I thought that guy was going to finish what Gail's fiancée started," Pete said.

"Nothing ventured, nothing ventured, and all that. Laugh all you want big guy, but that pretty will call me within the next week. I guarantee it." I had found my voice and my confidence again.

I was a purchasing agent for a large company and two days later on Thursday morning while at work, my confidence was rewarded. Shannon called; I think she just wanted to talk to the crazy guy from the bar a few nights before. I convinced her to meet me for lunch the next day. We both worked in buildings on the 16th Street Mall in Denver and we agreed to meet at the Rock Bottom Brewery for lunch; the same place that we had met initially.

At that first lunch I again apologized for intruding on her date with Gigantor. Shannon told me that his name is Sal and that he wasn't really her date. The group had gone out for drinks and Sal thought that he and Shannon would pair up as the others were actually on a date. She said she didn't see it that way and told him so in no uncertain terms after I left her table.

"That's good to know. I thought you had better taste than to date that lummox," I said with a grin.

Shannon laughed and asked, "That's not nice. What's with the Halloween mask of bruises and the swollen eye?"

For some strange reason, I did something unusual for me with a new girl or any girl for that matter, I told the truth. The story of Tom and Gail, our confrontation and the resulting "Halloween mask" was laid out for her. She seemed a little put off by the story.

"In my defense let me say that I didn't know that Gail had a boyfriend much less a fiancée until we were at my front door. That little detail didn't come out until after the beating Tom laid on me. I don't actively go after girls that are taken," I explained my actions. "This time I had to pay the piper."

"You came after me," she taunted me with an innocent smile.

"I explained that, you were getting your own drink so I didn't think you were on a date. Ergo, you were fair game." I laughed at her reaction to the fair game comment. "I mean that I thought that it was okay to say hello to you."

Shannon accepted my explanation and we continue our lunch and getting to know each other. I kept her laughing and talking and we both had to hustle to keep from being late getting back to work. It really didn't bother me because I often had long lunches with suppliers but Shannon had to get back.

We began to meet for lunch two or sometimes three times a week and even got together for coffee at Aspen Coffee Bar on the mall on a few Saturdays. I asked her out on our second lunch together and almost every one after that. Shannon seemed to enjoy our get togethers but she wouldn't agree to go on a real date with me. After two and a half months, I finally decided that enough was enough. I wasn't use to putting this much effort into a romance.

If Shannon didn't want to go out with me and see if we could be more than friends then I would stop meeting her on those platonic lunches and such. Her refusal to have an actual date was a serious blow to my confidence; so I decided "Shannon goes out or I go on", I thought. The real problem was that I was half way in love with her and not having a chance to be more than lunch buddies was a downer.

During the two and half months of lunches and coffee "dates" with Shannon, I hadn't been dating. It was really strange; the player didn't want to play anymore. My eyes still looked at the pretty young women but my mind or maybe my heart just wasn't interested; maybe Shannon had brain washed me without my knowing it. I would still go and have a few drinks with Pete and his girl Sandy, but I didn't make a run at any of the available ladies.

Pete even asked me one night if I was okay. He said he had never seen me not chasing some girl. I just told him I was taking a break for awhile but that I would get back into the battle soon. Sandy didn't believe a word I said; she could tell that I had something on my mind.

Shannon and I met for lunch on Wednesday at our little deli shop. I was trying to think of another way to ask her out. It needed to be unique and clever so that Shannon would finally say yes.

"Would you go to dinner and dancing with me on Saturday night, Shannon?" This was the unique and clever line that I came up with. BS (Before Shannon) I would never have had this kind of problem; she just threw me off my game.

"Thanks, but no thanks John. I don't think I should," she answered.

Normally when girls say no to a date I just chalk it up and go on. Of course normally when I strike out the first time I didn't take a second or third or eighth swing at it, but I had kept on asking Shannon in spite of the rejection. Now I was done, I wasn't going to continue the rejection merry go round that I was on.

"You know Shannon, I don't usually ask a lady why she won't go out with me, but I'd like to know why you keep turning me down. I mean you seem to like me and enjoy our lunches and the time we spend together. So why won't you go out with me?"

"I don't want to insult you or anything John, but I've heard about you from other girls at the club and even here at work. Your reputation isn't the best and I don't want to be another girl you've left behind when you start chasing someone else," Shannon replied with a little embarrassment. "Then there are the stories about you seducing girls away from their boyfriends."

What I should have done was accept her reasoning and got on with my life. But I felt like I had been wrongly accused of something so I had to reply. "Shannon I never asked or told any of the girls I dated that we would be exclusive. The problem was that they got their feelings or pride hurt when I moved on." I was looking her in the eye as I went on with my little rant.

"Ask any of them and if they are truthful they will admit to what I'm saying. Hell you know Pete and Sandy, I've seen you talking to them at the bar, ask Sandy. She and I dated for awhile before she met Pete; before I introduced them. Talk to Betty and Julie in your building, I dated both of them." I was on a roll here and couldn't stop.

"As far as the girls that had boyfriends or whatever, I can truthfully say that I never "chased" a girl with a significant other on purpose. They went with me because they wanted to and it's not my responsibility to police their love life. None of them were forced to go out with me and they could have just said no. So if you don't want to go out with me, that's okay. But you're letting gossip and misinformation make your choices for you. See ya around kid." I finished my little tirade and left Shannon at the brewery.

The next Monday, Shannon called to suggest lunch the next day. I told her I couldn't meet her so she suggested the next day. I told her I couldn't on that day either.

"Aren't you going to have lunch with me anymore John?" She asked sounding a little hurt.

"Nope, I don't think it would be a good idea Shannon. After all you wouldn't want to be seen too much with a guy that has such a bad reputation, would you?" I was acting like a spoiled kid, but I didn't care and hung up on her. For the very first time, I was sad and hurt that a girl wouldn't go out with me and I really didn't know how to handle it.

When I got to my truck after work, Shannon was sitting on the tail gate waiting for me. There were two cups of coffee sitting beside her and she handed me one as I got close to her.

"What are you doing here, besides delivering coffee?" I was surprised and glad to see her.

"I called Sandy as you suggested and I talked to Betty and Julie. They told me the same thing that you did, that you never asked or offered to be exclusive. And you're right; I'm letting gossip make my decision for me. I'm sorry if I insulted you," Shannon answered looking me in the eyes.

Looking into those greens eyes I could forgive her almost anything. "Want to go out to dinner and maybe dancing afterwards on Saturday?"

Shannon laughed and said, "Why wait, how about tonight?"

That evening we went to dinner but we skipped dancing. Instead we went to a coffee house and spent more time getting to know each other. We had talked a lot at our lunches; it was a different conversation now because we were on a date. There is a world of difference between lunch meetings and dinner dates.

We went to the movies on Saturday and cut the date a little short because Shannon had something to do early the next day. I didn't want the evening to end, but I did get my first good night kiss. I know the "player" was excited about one little kiss. So sue me, it was special to me.

I had been attracted to Shannon from the first time I saw her but I wasn't struck by "love at first sight". Our lunch dates, the Saturday coffee meetings and the few dates we had allowed "love" to infiltrate my mind. I was more than half way in love with Shannon. And I was a loss as how to handle it; I had never been in love before.

We had been dating for two months, two to three times a week; this figure didn't include the lunches two times a week. Shannon and I were spending a lot of time together and from my point of view it wasn't enough. The more we talked and laughed, the more I realized that she was a special person.

Nothing was ever said about us being exclusive or "going steady" but that's what we were doing. Neither of us dated other people and from my side I had no wish to. The more I thought about Shannon the more I realized how much I cared for her. So I decided to do something I had never done before, I was going to talk to her about officially becoming exclusive with each other.


In this case the devil was Jake Robinson. Jake was a year or two older than me and was the same type of "player" that I had been before I met Shannon. He was tall at 6 feet 2, body rock solid, and about 200 pounds. In addition he had the "All American Guy" type good looks. And last but not least, Jake had money; I mean spend whatever you want and don't worry about it type of money. God, I really disliked the arrogant ass hole.

He had left Denver to take a job out of state, Texas I believe, and now he was back after about a year away. Jake and I had a "history" between us. We often would make a play for the same girl; sometimes he won and sometimes I won. We had an unfriendly rivalry, if you know what I mean. That rivalry changed from unfriendly to hatred about a month before Jake left town.

I had never tried to "save my relationship" with a girl if Jake stole her away from me. Shine her on and get another one was my response. I thought if she was dumb enough to fall for Jake's line then she deserved him. Sometimes I would "win" a lady from Jake; I didn't plan it that way I just made a run at a lady that I wanted. If she had been dating Jake so much the better.

One of us would make a remark to the other than "I'm one up on you now" or something along those lines. There was never any real animosity between us, just a mutual dislike. That's the way it was until Jake started after Sandy. Yeah, my friend Pete's girlfriend, now fiancée, Sandy.

Sandy and I had dated a couple of times but realized that we were better as friends than as lovers. We would go to a club or bar and were basically each other's "wing man". She wasn't like a sister to me but a very good friend.

Anyway, Jake made a run at Sandy and took her out a couple of times. He was just about to seal the deal as they say when I stepped in. I warned Sandy about him and told her a couple of stories about Jake and girls that she knew. Sandy shut Jake down and in a very public manner too.

When Jake found out that I was the one that threw a wrench into his plans, he wasn't a happy camper. He confronted me one night as I was leaving Rock Bottom Brewery. Jake ranted and raved at me and I answered him by saying, "Glad I could help out, ass hole." That's when he hit me.

Jake was 4 inches taller and 30 pounds heavier that me and I should have just laid there on the ground and let him walk away. But when he hit me or when I hit the ground the stupid switch in my head must have been turned on. I got up and tore into Jake. It wasn't the worst beating I ever got, but it was close. However, I was actually proud of myself because I had helped and defended a friend.

A few nights later I had Pete meet Sandy and me at the Brewery and introduced my two best friends to each other. Jake saw them together and gave me a hard look and I responded by giving him the finger. Shortly after that he left town. It's probably a good thing that he left when he did; things would have gotten ugly if he and I continued to butt heads.

Now he was back and from the looks of it he returned to his getting as many girls as possible. Jake never had a chance to try and take one of my girls because I was dating just one lady, Shannon. Because of Shannon I never thought about trying to take one of Jake's ladies. I had the one I wanted and didn't need anyone else.

Shannon and I were still hot and heavy with our dating, if not with our sex life. We fooled around a little but never got beyond the heavy petting stage and I was taking a lot of cold showers. I had never waited this long before getting a woman into my bed so it was a new experience for me but I was willing to wait for Shannon.

She was more than just a beauty. Shannon was intelligent, funny, and we both enjoyed a lot of the same things. Our dates consisted of more than just going out to a bar or dance club. For example we had gone to a couple of concerts at the Red Rocks Amphitheater.

We rode the Cog Railroad to the top of Pikes Peak, and then walked around looking at the shops in Manito Springs which is at the base of the mountain. Georgetown was another old town that we visited and I bought Shannon a pair of earrings from one of the shops there.

She was a little afraid of my Harley at first, but became an avid fan. We made a lot of day trips into the mountains on my bike. I gave her lessons on riding and she talked about getting her own bike. All of these dates and sharing experiences allowed me fall in love with Shannon. For the first time in my life I was in love.

One Friday evening as we parked in front of her apartment, I heard the four words that every man dreads.

"We need to talk," Shannon stated.

Oh hell, I'm not going to like this I thought. "About what?" I answered as I felt a very cold hollow feeling in my stomach.

"I like you very much John, maybe I'm even falling in love with you. But I think we need to slow down a little. I think we need to take a partial time out."

"A partial time out?" What the hell was she talking about? Was I being dumped or what?

"Yeah, a partial time out. I want to continue going out with you, but not as much as we have been doing. I need some time to myself. We can still date but not two or three times a week. And we need to stop having lunch together every day; once a week should be enough for now."

"So you want us to date other people, is that it?" I was hurt and angry and I could feel the end of our relationship coming over the horizon. Once you decide that you have the one you want, dating other people never works out. It only prolongs the agony.

"No, that's not the reason. I just want some time to myself. You have to admit we've been pretty much in each other's pocket for a couple of months now. I think I'm in love with you but I need time to make sure that its' not just the fact that we are always together. Can you understand?" Shannon was concerned and worried about how I would react to her reasoning.

Okay, that's a low blow, using logic where love is concerned. I guess I had never had any doubts about my feelings for Shannon. I had dated so many women that I knew what I wanted and how I felt. Shannon had only had two or three boy fiends and hadn't dated that much so she didn't have the experience to draw on that I did.

"John, say something," Shannon said as I sat there quietly for over a minute.

I shuddered, took a deep breath and answered her. "I'm sorry that you're not sure about us, I am. Have your time out if that's what you want. Do what you need to do. I guess I'll see you around."

"What do you mean, see you around? We'll still have lunch together every week and be together one night a week." Shannon realized that I wasn't going to go along with her program. "Won't we?"

"No, we won't. I'm sorry Shannon, but I can't just turn how I feel about you on and off like that. Either we're together or we're not. I can't handle a time out, partial or otherwise. If you make up your mind please call me ever if it's bad news, okay? Good bye"

"But John... ," she began.

"Shannon just get out of the car please. Good night," I said. I needed her to get out before she could see the tears in my eyes.

She got out of my car and I laid rubber getting out of there. I know, big macho man crying or about to cry over a woman. I had never felt this way about any woman before and I felt like I was losing something very precious to me. In my experience this time out bull shit never works so I guess Shannon and I were done.

Tuesday at work, Shannon called to see if I wanted to meet her for lunch.

"I can't Shannon; remember we're on a partial time out or whatever?" I was purposely being as sarcastic as possible.

"I thought we could still see each other John; I just want to cut back a little." She ignored my sarcasm.

"Sorry Shannon, I can't do it. I know how I feel and only being with you part time just isn't going to work for me." I wasn't being sarcastic now; I was telling her how I felt.

"Can we get together and talk about this some more?"

"Maybe later, but not right now. Thanks for the invitation but no thanks."

Yes I was acting like a spoiled brat; you know if I can't have what I want I don't want anything. I probably was being dramatic but you have to understand my mind set. I had never really cared for or loved any woman before and now that I had fallen for Shannon, I wanted it all or nothing. If she didn't want to be with me as much as I wanted to be with her, then I needed to go with my life. Stupid maybe, but it was the way I felt.

The next two weeks were very hard on me. Shannon and I talked three times during that time but I refused to discuss our relationship and after each call I told myself to either accept her "partial time out" or break it off with her completely. Easier said and all that, I just didn't have the courage or whatever to quit talking to her.

I had been staying at home or riding my bike during this time. There was no motivation to go to any of the bars or clubs that I used to frequent. The only reason I had gone to them was to score a new playmate or to drink. I'm not much of a drinker so that left little reason to go because I had no intention of making a run on any woman.

My buddy Pete called me on a Saturday and told me to man up and quit being such a wimp. He said that I needed to get out of my condo and rejoin the living. I tried to beg off but he wouldn't let me alone until I promised to go to the Brewery with him that evening.

"Sandy is going to be there with some of her friends and I promised to pick her up. We'll have a couple of beers and then I'll bring you back before I take Sandy home. Come on pal, you're going to go nuts if you don't shake it off and get on with yourself," Pete told me.

I thought it would be nice to see Pete and Sandy again so I agreed to go with him. He came by my place around 7:30 and we drove the bar. Sandy had told Pete that she and her friends would be at a table close to the dance floor. It was a good thing he knew where to look for her because the place was jumping. I really don't know how long it would have taken to find her just walking around.

We found Sandy and her friends and got a beer. There were four women and three guys at the table. One of the guys was the big man, Sal that had been there the first night I met Shannon; he still didn't seem too happy to see me. I sat down at the only available chair at the table.

One of Sandy's friends said, "Someone is sitting there; you'll have to get up when she comes back from the restroom. Oh, here she is now."

I stood up to give the lady her seat back and turned to apologize for taking her chair. It was Shannon. We hadn't seen each other since the discussion about the "partial time out". She smiled at me and once again those startling green eyes left me almost speechless.

Before I could do more than smile back at her and say hello, the devil showed up. Jake walked over to Shannon and took her arm.

"I've been chasing after you all night and I guess this is my chance. Come on honey, let's dance," he said as he started to pull Shannon onto the dance floor.

Shannon said, "I'm sorry but I promised this dance to John."

Remember that stupid switch I talked about, well someone flipped it into the full on position again. "No, that's okay. You two go on."

She had a look of disbelief on her face as Jake sort of pulled her onto the dance floor. As they walked away I thought to myself, you are a stupid ass John. I started to leave but then thought I should stay. At least long enough to let Shannon know that meeting her here was not my idea.

It did little good to confront Pete and Sandy about their ambushing me to get me to the bar. They both said, in different ways, that I was being an ass where Shannon was concerned. Sandy tried to explain that Shannon cared for me, if she didn't she wouldn't have wanted to see me at all. Pete just said that for such a smart guy I sure was acting like a moron.

I watched as Jake and Shannon danced first one then two and then three dances getting madder with each dance. It's you own doing idiot I thought, you're the one that let Jake take off with her. By the time the third dance was over Shannon was pulling Jake's hands away from places they shouldn't have been. I thought I had better cool down a little and went to the restroom. On the way I stopped at the bar and ordered a round of drinks for the table.

Jake was still at the table talking to Shannon when I got back. The drinks had been delivered and he picked up my drink. He looked at the drink, a double Jack Daniels, and then looked at me.

"You ordered the wrong drink for me boy, go get me a vodka on the rocks," he ordered me.

Considering how mad I was about the dancing it took a major effort on my part not to retaliate with very harsh words or a physical response. I stared at him for a second and ignored him. I turned to Shannon and asked her to dance.

Someone must have told Jake about Shannon and me and because of what had happened between he and I he decided to get a little payback. There was no other reason for him to react the way that he did.

"No you missed your chance John, she's with me now. Too bad, too sad; run along now and let the grownups play," Jake said with a sneer as he deliberately tried to provoke me. He was counting on his size to handle any retaliation from me.

"I think I'll just wait to hear what Shannon has to say," I said as I faced off against him. I had no doubt that if it turned physical that the same thing would happen that had the last time Jake and I squared off. But sometimes you have to stand up even if you know the result might be less than pleasant.

Shannon defused the tension by grabbing my hand and leading me onto the dance flow. "What, were you two going to go at it right there at the table?" She was a little upset at all the macho posturing that had gone on.

"Look Shannon I'm sorry, I should have danced with you before and maybe we could have avoided that pissing contest just now. But somehow I don't think so. Jake wants payback," I told her.

"What do you mean, he wants payback. He seems like a nice guy and except for his hands getting a little free I enjoyed his company and dancing with him."

Once again, I reverted to the truth with Shannon. I told her the story of the previous rivalry between Jake and I, I told her about me warning Sandy about the guy and I told her about Jake's retaliation. As I finished, I warned her about Jake and his intentions.

I should never have suggested that Jake or anyone else could persuade her to do anything that she didn't want to do. Shannon got angry, first at the suggestion of her gullibility and then at me for suggesting that she couldn't take care of herself.

"I'm not some little teeny bopper to be swept off my feet by some guy. I thought you knew me better than that," she was really mad now. "I can take care of myself."

"That's what every one of his "conquest" believed I told Shannon. Look you know what a player I was before I met you, well Jake is like me on steroids. At least I never lied to any of the girls I ran with, but he has no scruples at all. He will do anything to get the woman he wants. I just don't want you to be hurt and I'm sorry if that makes you mad."

Not much more was said and I took her back to the table after the dance. When we got back to the table, Jake put his arm around Shannon and looked at me daring me to say anything. He was still trying to provoke me.

"Did you get my drink for me boy?" Jake didn't so much ask me, it was more of a challenge.

In spite of my good intentions and my plan not to let this meeting get physical, I had finally reached the "Popeye the Sailor" stage. You know, "That's all I can stands, I can't stands no more". I braced up to Jake face on and started to let him know that he had gone too far; at this point I wasn't sure if it would be by words or by going to fist city.

Sal the giant stood up and came around the table closer to Jake and me. I don't know if he was going to stop the fight or help one of us or just join in on the fun. Hell, maybe he was going to pay me back for the night I dissed him when I met Shannon.

Shannon took Jake's arm and pulled him away to the dance floor. I guess that tells me where I stand, I thought to myself. I nodded at everyone at the table, even Sal, and left. Pete and Sandy tried to talk me out of leaving, but I was beyond listening to anyone. I was hurt, angry, and sad. Apparently Shannon had made her choice and the "partial time out" she suggested had turned into a full good bye.

So here I sit on my Harley under a tarp waiting for the rain to stop. I have been sitting waiting for about an hour; an hour of remembering my actions for the last few months and regretting some of them. Maybe I could have handled the situation with Shannon differently. Maybe I should have agreed to the "partial time out" that she suggested.

Maybe I should have never become involved with her to begin with. But no, we had some fun, exciting, and loving times together; I wouldn't have missed them for anything. Well that was all over with now; time for me to move on. No more hiding out in my condo, no more shutting Pete and Sandy out of my life, and no more feeling sorry for myself.

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