Within two hours of Zane and Fargo's return, electricity returned to the little town of Eureka, which was a mercy as barely another half hour passed before the summer rain followed. It started slowly: a drop here, a drop there. Jo didn't notice it, deep in thought as she was where she leaned against the sturdy railing of her deck.
They'd come so incredibly close to losing both Zane and Fargo today, and Jo hadn't been prepared for it. Had not been prepared for that familiar panicky feeling she used to have every time Zane - her Zane, she amended hastily, unable to admit the truth even (especially) to herself - risked his life.
She'd given him up. She shouldn't have to feel this way. The rain picked up, and Jo wrapped her arms around herself, for comfort as much as for warmth, but the motion reminded her of the way Zane's arms had tightened around her in front of the shuttle, and the way his too-long embrace had soothed away the fluttery feeling in her chest.
The rain was really coming down now, and Jo recognized in the back of her mind that she really ought to go back inside, warm July day though it was.
"Jo!" She came out of her trance-like state slowly, turning to face the speaker as if she was underwater - well. Wasn't she? She already felt like she was drowning.
Zane sprinted up the stairs, soaking wet. His hair was plastered to his forehead, making him look boyish and just a little vulnerable. She realized belatedly that the rain, which moments ago had seemed like a minor nuisance, was coming down in sheets so thick it was hard to see across the yard. She closed her eyes and breathed in that incredible earthy smell that only rain can produce. She was drenched. Zane looked at her like she was crazy, and maybe she was a little. She cut him off before he could speak.
"What do you want?" She asked him, raising her voice to be heard over the rain. He threw his hands in the air.
"For you to go inside, for starters!" He shouted back at her. She shook her head once, sharply, causing a cascade of water droplets.
"Wrong answer," Jo told him simply, a spirit of defiance overtaking her. She knew why he was here. Fargo hadn't been able to look her in the eye when she asked him what had happened up there. She turned back to stare into the forest behind her house. Zane stepped closer, a dangerous glint in his eyes.
"Jo," he said, his voice more demanding now. She didn't turn.
"Go away, Zane." She tossed behind her. He ignored her, stepping closer, until his broad chest brushed her shoulders.
"I'm not going anywhere, Jo-Jo," he told her in a low voice. She could feel the vibration of his words where he was pressed against her. Her bare arms broke into goose bumps, and he ran a warm hand down one arm, smoothing her skin. Rain dripped between them. "I know what I want," he continued. "I want us," He cocked his head to the side, dark eyes flashing. "I want you." She turned to face him, but he refused to step back, leaving only inches between them. She tilted her chin up defiantly, unwilling even now to give an inch. Then Zane asked, the uncertainty in his voice making her breath catch with sudden pain:
"Why don't you?" His eyes met hers, searching. Jo bit her lip, gathered her courage, and made a decision.
"I do," she said quietly, reaching her hands up to cup his dripping face, meeting the searching look in his eyes straight on. "Zane, I do," she said, more urgently this time, and kissed him. He wrapped his arms around her tightly, deepening the kiss before pulling away to pick her up and spin her in a circle.
"Zane!" She protested laughingly. He grinned.
"Right answer," he said, kissing her again. "Now, let's go inside and get you out of these wet things," he suggested, his smile wicked. Her hazel eyes sparkled back at him.
"I believe that could be arranged."