Well-bred and misunderstood, Portia meets a gentle, sexy hulk of a man named Tray Dawson. This is in a pre-revelation Bon Temps. This is a TwoWrongsMakeaRight story. Rated: M – Drama/Romance – Chapters: 1 – Words: 4,531 – Published: 5-24-10
A/N: Miss Construed, Thyra10 and Sapfirerose have put together a great new challenge for us called the TwoWrongsMakeaRight challenge. We draw two random lesser-known SVM character names from a hat and then come up with a story for them.
My first TwoWrongs story is a lemony tale of Octavia and Barry called In Youthful Arms. You can find it on my profile. Oh, and by the way, Charlaine Harris owns Portia and Tray (and Andy and Caroline Bellefleur).
“I believed that like I believed Portia was a secret belly dancer.” -Sookie Stackhouse, Living Dead in Dallas
When you’re raised in a home with a name like Belle Rive in a tiny town full of plain country people, people expect you to be a certain kind of person. On the surface, the Bellefleurs were a wealthy old family, model citizens, church-goers, social snobs. Of course, know one knew we were out of money. Things aren’t always what they seem.
I was told all my life that I was better than the kids I went to school with. I had very few girlfriends growing up and was strictly forbidden to date the redneck boys of Bon Temps. I was to save myself for a young man from a respectable family suitable for the likes of me. My grandmother and even my little brother seemed to think they knew who I was and what I should be. Again, things (and people) can be very different than they seem.
So, when I went off to college at Tulane, I was already a young woman with heavy secrets. My family was broke. I’d managed to get a scholarship and some student loans to get me started, and wondered how in the world I’d make it all the way through undergraduate school and law school without people finding out what we really were.
When my family taught me how to hide the truth, they had no idea how good at it I would become. Just like the façade of Belle Rive, I looked the part of a fine young Bellefleur woman on the surface, but inside I was someone else entirely.
I was finally among the kind of young men I was supposed to date when I got to school, and so I did date some. My first boyfriend was named Biff Vanderbilt. I gave him my virginity and he taught me what a nineteen-year-old blackout drinker looked like. Like I said, things aren’t always what they seem.
Once I got away from Biff, I met a very handsome boy—too handsome for a girl like me, really. Walter Leveque and I had the perfect relationship. He didn’t want his family to know he was gay, and so I was his beard before I even knew what that meant. I, on the other hand, had found myself a lover named Jamal Franklin. He was tall and very masculine—almost shockingly so, and the color of his skin would have sent my grandmother to an early grave.
Jamal’s friend, Marion, was the one who introduced me to belly dancing. She worked at a middle-eastern restaurant and sometimes made more than a hundred dollars a night in tips. I found I had a natural ability and the fact that a veil covered my face while I earned cash wiggling my pedigree hips made the job perfect for me.
Walter dropped out of school and Jamal graduated and moved to Minneapolis to work as a commodities broker.
I finished law school and moved back to Bon Temps to open my practice. I realized that I would have to change in order to fit into my life in Bon Temps. I couldn’t date handsome black commodities brokers or make extra cash belly dancing.
And so, I worked hard at building my law practice, spent my free time with my grandmother and brother who had begun to work for the sheriff’s department (much to my grandmother’s horror-but there was no money and no scholarship for him for college). There were no suitable men to date in Bon Temps and so I satisfied myself with my vibrator and read romance novels.
Occasionally, I went into Monroe or Shreveport for an evening. I told my grandmother I was meeting with clients, but I was sitting in bars, looking for men. I was very dissatisfied with my personal life, to say the least.
I was in a bar call The Full Moon in Monroe one Saturday night when I met a man named Cooper. He said he was a CPA and seemed nice enough, so I let him sit beside me at the bar. He offered to buy me a drink, but I was nursing the one that I had. Since I had to drive back to Bon Temps, I was always very careful about my alcohol intake.
Cooper was downing his drinks pretty quickly and the more he drank, the more he insisted on buying me one. I kept politely refusing and he finally got rude and asked if I was too good to drink with him. That was enough for me, and so I paid my tab and stood to leave. Cooper grabbed me by the elbow and said, “No, no, you can’t go yet.”
“Good night, Cooper. It was nice to have met you, but I’m leaving.”
I didn’t think he meant to be rough—he’d just had too much to drink, but he kind of wrenched my elbow to turn me towards him and I said, “Ow.”
Suddenly, a huge hulk of a man was standing beside me, addressing Cooper.
“Get your hands off her,” he said in the deepest voice I’d ever heard. If he hadn’t been defending me, I would have been terrified of him.
Cooper let me go and swallowed hard. Even drunk, he knew better than to challenge the mass of man in front of him.
The stranger asked, “Are you all right?” and I nodded.
“Yes, I was just trying to leave.”
“Well, you go ahead. I’ll stay here and make sure your friend doesn’t follow you.”
I turned and left, aware that people had begun to take interest in our little drama. I was relieved to get into my car and began to drive home. I’d started thinking it wasn’t such a good idea driving to other towns and meeting strangers in bars. But, I was so frustrated, I didn’t know how else I was going to meet anyone.
I had just passed the little town of Grainger when my car suddenly started to make a funny noise. Within seconds, the noise turned to a shudder and then the engine died. I coasted to the side of the road.
There were no cars in sight and I was out in the middle of nowhere. I suppressed my natural instinct to be afraid, and took out my cell phone. Triple A said a tow truck would be by shortly.
Normally, I had my Audi serviced at the dealer in Shreveport, and wondered what my options would be out here in the sticks. I knew the next town over was a very creepy little place called Hotshot and I was glad I wasn’t stuck there.
I waited for about fifteen minutes until I saw the tow truck coming up behind me in the rear view mirror. It stopped and a very big man got out of the cab and came to my car. I lowered the window and immediately recognized the man as my knight in shining black leather from the bar.
“May I see your triple A card, please?” he said, all business.
I took the card out of my wallet and handed it to him. “Hi. I…um…just met you. Well, I guess we didn’t really meet. You were just in the bar I left in Monroe.”
He smiled and his eyes were really quite gentle in spite of his intimidating size. “Oh yeah. Hi. I’m Dawson.”
“Portia. Nice to meet you. And thanks, by the way, for what you did in the bar.”
Dawson took care of the paperwork and I got out while he hooked my car up to the truck. When he was finished, I climbed up into the passenger seat of the truck and he got in to drive.
“I can take you to Shreveport if you’d like, but you’ll have to pay for the extra miles. I have a shop just down the road if you want to go there. I can give you an estimate tomorrow, and then you can decide if you want me to do the repair. It’s up to you.”
It was late and I really wasn’t up for dealing with the particulars of getting me home from Shreveport, so I told Dawson to take me to his shop.
We arrived at the shop in short order and I waited while my car was disengaged from the tow truck. Then Dawson got back in to drive me home.
We just made polite small talk in the truck. I told him I was an attorney and he said he’d been a mechanic since high school.
When we pulled into the driveway of Belle Rive, he whistled and said, “Now, that’s a house.”
“It’s my family’s.”
“It’s really something.”
“Yeah, it’s something.”
Little did he know that there were tarps on the roof and no means to fix the leaks.
I thanked him for the ride and he waited until I was inside before driving away.
I made the decision to let Dawson fix the car and three days later, my brother drove me to the shop to pick it up. I got out of the car and Andy took off.
I went into the garage and found Dawson leaning into an engine, working on it. That was the first time I noticed what a lovely behind he had. Yes, he was a huge hulk of a man, but his body was perfectly proportioned and very attractive. I don’t think I’d ever seen a man more masculine. And yes, the fact that he was the kind of man my family would find inappropriate for me made him even more attractive to me.
“Hi, Dawson,” I said, and apparently startled him.
He turned and stood up, wearing that sweet smile that didn’t match his intimidating size.
“Hi, Portia. Ms. Bellefleur.”
“You’re all set. Let me just get the bill ready.”
I followed him into the office and watched his big hands swipe my credit card. I wished I’d worn something prettier than my business suit, but then thought it probably wouldn’t have mattered. Men like Dawson didn’t generally view woman like me as datable.
As I got into my car, Dawson closed the door for me. I rolled the window down and thanked him again.
He replied, “You know, it’s none of my business, ma’am, but you really are too nice a lady to be hanging out in bars like The Full Moon.”
“Oh god, please don’t call me ma’am.”
“No, it’s okay. I just…well…you’re probably right.” How could I explain to this handsome stranger how lonely I was, how I felt like I didn’t fit into my own life?
“My first name. It’s Tray.”
“Oh. Well, thank you, Tray.”
I drove home thinking about Tray Dawson and how he was the first man I’d been genuinely attracted to in years—since Jamal, really. Then I thought of how much I missed Jamal. He and I stayed in touch, but I hadn’t seen him since he’d moved to Minneapolis.
When I got home, I called Jamal, but just got his voice mail. I left him a message to call me, and then I went to bed and touched myself, thinking of Tray Dawson’s perfect behind leaning into that car and the sweetness in his brown eyes when he spoke to me. When I came, I whispered a very quiet, “Tray,” into my dark, lonely room.
I hadn’t heard from Jamal by the end of the week, and was starting to worry a little. He was always very prompt about calling me back. On Saturday night, I called Marion.
She answered the phone, “Portia! Oh my god, I guess you heard.”
“Hi, Marion. Heard what?” I hadn’t talked to her in weeks and thought it a very odd way to start the conversation.
She started to cry and said, “Jamal’s dead. I’m sorry, Portia. I thought that’s why you were calling.”
I was too stunned to say anything for a long moment and just listened to Marion crying before I finally said, “What happened?”
“He was mugged. Murdered. They think it was just a robbery gone wrong. But it’s very strange. All his clothes were stolen. He was found naked in the street. It’s on the internet.”
My tears started and soon we were both crying too hard to really talk anymore and so we said good-bye. I got on the computer and read the articles about Jamal’s murder in Minneapolis.
It was such a shock and so incredibly upsetting, I just sat at my desk and cried for a long time. I must have been crying loudly because my grandmother came into my room without knocking and asking, “What on earth is wrong with you?”
“Nothing. I’m fine.” I quickly tried to get my tears under control. “I just found out a friend died.”
How could I possibly explain to her who Jamal was to me? He was the only man I’d ever loved. He was my dear friend and one of the few people who knew who I really was and loved me anyway—something my grandmother would never understand.
“Well, who was it?” she asked.
“Just a friend from school. I’ve got to go somewhere—to a meeting with a client.” I grabbed my keys and a credit card from my purse and stuck them in my pocket and walked past my grandmother.
“When will you be back?” she asked.
“I don’t know. Don’t wait up,” I called back to her as I walked out the door and down the steps.
I didn’t really know where I was going, but I just got into my car and started driving. Oddly, I thought of going to Tray’s garage, but I knew that was crazy. I hardly knew him, and I was sure he’d think I was out of my mind if I showed up there for no reason. Maybe I was.
I found myself in Monroe and pulled into the parking lot of The Full Moon, thinking that if I ever needed a drink, this would be the time.
I found a seat at the bar and ordered a drink and sat alone fighting the tears. I knew it wasn’t a good idea, but I ordered another one and then another, drinking much faster and more than I usually did. I promised myself I would switch to water and wait until I was certain I was sober before trying to drive home.
I was so completely focused on my own feelings, but the bar was full on a Saturday night and people were having fun around me. I looked around and tried to feel a part of the crowd even though I also felt very conspicuously alone. I started listening to a conversation between two men beside me when I heard one say something about Jamal Franklin.
I froze and thought, I must be mistaken. Surely, I had misunderstood.
I turned to the man beside me who had a scar on his lip and asked, “Did you say Jamal Franklin?”
He looked to his friend and then back to me. “Did you know him?”
“Yes, I did. How did you know him?”
The man looked at his friend again and then they both stood and walked away from the bar.
“Where are you going?” I called out.
They just ignored me.
I went back to my drink and finished it off before ordering another one.
When I was about halfway through with my new drink and feeling the effects, a woman came and sat beside me. She had dyed red hair and a tattoo on her wrist of a howling wolf.
“What’s your name, sweetie?” she asked.
“I heard you were asking about Jamal Franklin.”
“Yes. Well, no, not really. I knew him.”
“Well, you need to go, sweetie. And you need to stop coming here and asking questions about dead guys. You seem like a real nice lady, and you don’t belong here. You understand?”
I wondered if I could drive, but decided I should leave. This woman seemed fairly nice, but I definitely felt like I’d been warned.
“Yeah, I understand.” I paid my tab and stood to go. Suddenly, I felt like many pairs of eyes were on me as I made my way to the front door.
I walked outside and saw my car and began to walk towards it. I took my keys out of my pocket but before I got to the car, I felt someone push me from behind. I fell forward and my keys flew out of my hand. I landed on my hands and knees. I started to reach for the keys when suddenly, someone grabbed me by the shoulder and turned me over. My blouse ripped and I felt some buttons pop off.
The man with the scar on his lip was in my face. He was so close, I could smell his breath.
“You need to mind your own fucking business, cunt,” he spat into my face.
I tried to back away, crawling like a crab, but he pulled me back by my blouse, tearing it further.
Then he was suddenly jerked away from my face and tossed aside. It was then that I saw Tray standing over me. He reached down and helped me to my feet, but then another man was suddenly beside us and pushed Tray away from me.
The scar-lipped man was on his feet and in Tray’s face. Tray tossed his keys to me and said, “Get in the truck,” just before the scar-lipped guy punched him in the face.
I turned around and found the tow truck and ran for it, not looking back. I got into the cab and locked the doors and looked towards Tray. By then there were about eight men in a group and they all looked mad. No punches were being thrown, but they were yelling at each other. Tray was definitely the biggest guy, but he was outnumbered.
After a moment of yelling and puffing up their chests, the men dispersed and Tray picked my keys up off the ground and walked towards the truck. There was blood on his mouth.
I unlocked the door and Tray got in and started the truck. As we pulled away from the bar, I asked, “What about my car?”
“I’ll come back for it tomorrow.” He handed me my keys and I started to take my car key off the key ring for him. My hands were shaking and the adrenaline rush I’d felt in the parking lot was wearing off and I started to cry.
I finally got the key off and handed it to Tray. He stuck it in his pants pocket and glanced over to me. “Are you okay?”
I nodded, but kept crying.
“You want to tell me about Jamal Franklin?”
“He was my boyfriend in school,” I said, still crying. “I just found out he was killed. I was upset. I probably shouldn’t have gone back to that bar after what you said, but I just didn’t want to be at home and I didn’t know where else to go.”
“Okay. So, you knew what he was.”
“Well, yeah…I mean, of course I knew he was black.” I stopped crying.
He laughed a little. “No, I mean you knew what he was.”
I began to feel confused. “A commodities broker?”
He nodded and seemed to be suppressing a smile. “Yeah, that’s what I meant.”
“Did you know him, too? Those men back there knew him.”
“Yeah. We were all in kind of a club together.”
“Like a motorcycle gang?”
“Yeah, something like that.”
“Yeah, Jamal loved his motorcycle.” Thinking of it made the tears come again. I looked down and realized that my bra was clearly showing since my blouse was ripped. I tried to cover myself.
“We’ll stop at my place and get you something to wear. You can’t go home like that.”
We rode in silence until we got to Tray’s. He pulled the truck behind the garage and we stopped beside a trailer and got out.
Tray unlocked the front door and said, “Sorry about the mess,” as we entered his living room and he turned on the light. It was a little messy, but I’d seen worse.
“May I use your bathroom?” I asked.
“Of course.” He gestured down a narrow hallway.
I used the bathroom and washed my face. I wiped the mascara from underneath my eyes. When I opened the door, Tray was coming down the hall holding a denim shirt. I removed my torn blouse and tossed it into the little trash can by the door. I watched Tray’s eyes drop to my bra as he handed me the shirt. I put it on and buttoned it. Then I rolled up the sleeves.
“Let me clean that off for you,” I said, indicating the blood on his mouth. I took a tissue from the bathroom counter and wet it and began to gently wipe the blood. As the blood disappeared, I realized there was no cut. I touched his lip with my finger and said, “It’s already healed.”
“I heal fast,” he said in explanation., looking at my own lips.
“Jamal was like that, too. He healed fast.” I kept staring at his lip and thought of Jamal. I felt so sad and so alone and so drawn to Tray. I stood on my toes and gently kissed his mouth.
Tray wrapped his arms around my waist and pulled me to him and kissed me back. I’d needed to be kissed so badly and it felt so good, I closed my eyes and felt a tear fall down my cheek. I opened my mouth and my tongue found Tray’s and he deepened the kiss.
I dropped the tissue in my hand and put my hands in Tray’s hair and moaned into his mouth. I needed him so much. I felt his hand under my shirt, caressing my back and I began to unbutton his shirt.
Suddenly, he broke the kiss and took my hands from his shirt. “No, we’re not doing this,” he said as he stepped back.
I tried to kiss him again and he said, “No,” and let go of my hands and pushed me away.
I put my hands over my face and started to cry again. “I’m sorry,” I said.
“Don’t cry.” He took me into his arms again.
I buried my face in his chest and said, “I’m so embarrassed.”
“Don’t be. Portia, I want to. I do, but this isn’t right. You’re upset and you’ve had too much to drink. Your friend died. We shouldn’t do this.”
He rocked me back and forth and I wept into his shirt. I cried for Jamal and for myself and for a sweet stranger who was too kind to take advantage of a wreck like me.
Once I’d finally calmed down, Tray put his finger underneath my chin and looked down into my eyes and said, “I’m gonna take you home now, okay?”
The ride home was very quiet. As I got out of the truck, I thanked Tray and added, “I promise I won’t go back to that bar.”
He smiled a sad smile and said, “I’m sorry about your friend.”
I walked to the door and gave him a little wave before I went inside.
I slept late on Sunday, and when I went downstairs to get something to eat, Andy greeted me with my car key.
“Your mechanic brought the car home. Did he not fix it right the first time?”
“Yeah, it was…um…something else. I don’t remember what you call it. He fixed it though.”
I took the key and changed the subject.
Monday night after work, I drove out past Hotshot and found Tray bent over another car in his garage.
“Hi,” I said and he turned around and gave me a smile.
“Hi. How are you doing?”
I handed him his denim shirt. He just took it and held it in his hand.
“Thanks for the other night,” I said.
“No problem. I’m glad you’re feeling better. Listen…I’m sorry about…”
“It’s okay. I’m sorry if I made you feel uncomfortable.”
“No, it was my fault. I’m very attracted to you, but…well…we both know that this…well, it just wouldn’t work.”
“I’m not who you think I am, Tray.”
“I’m not who you think I am either.”
We stood for a long moment just looking at each other. I wanted so badly to kiss him, but knew that I shouldn’t.
“You’re a beautiful woman, Portia. Smart and sweet. I’m just so wrong for you. I wish I could tell you why.”
“No, I get it. I’ve gotten it my whole life.”
“Someday you’ll find someone who’s right for you. He’ll be able to give you things I can’t. Promise you things I can’t. He’ll be a very lucky man.”
I just smiled, not knowing what else to say.
He looked down at the ground and I just said, “I’ll see you around, Tray.”
He looked back into my eyes and said, “Yeah, I’ll see you.” He smiled that sweet smile and I just turned and walked away, back to the life I didn’t fit into. I wondered if I ever would.