We are here. The last chapter of The Farmer’s Daughter.
Of course, I do still have to finish Jason’s story for regular readers and I will get there! Eventually. Ha!
To catch up on the rest of the story click HERE.
“I told you that you weren’t going to die, old man.”
Alex propped his foot against the bottom of the hospital bed, leaned back in the chair across from Robert’s bed, and looked at his employer with a smug expression.
Robert took a sip of his coffee and smiled. “Who you calling old man? I could outwork you any day.”
Alex grinned. “You’ll have to get better soon so you can prove that claim.”
Robert still looked like hell, two weeks after he’d come out of the coma and moved to a rehab facility closer to Spencer, but he was awake and alive and that was enough to make Alex feel better.
Shifting slightly, Robert grimaced as he pushed himself up more into a sitting position. Alex stretched his legs out further and folded his hands across his stomach. The brief silence that followed unnerved him. Why did he feel like there was a serious conversation coming?
“Alex, I need to ask you a question.”
Alex’s muscles tightened. He had been here twice now since Robert woke up and so far, they hadn’t spoken once about his relationship with Molly. Somehow, he felt that was about to change.
“Where are you in your relationship with God?”
The question was as bad as Alex had been worried it would be. It wasn’t about Molly, yet he knew it was at the same time.
“I’m going to be honest, Robert.”
Robert folded his arms across his chest, nodded. “I prefer honesty.”
“Honestly, I never really believed in him. I’m not going to lie to you and tell you that since I’ve come to work on your farm and fallen in love with Molly that I’m suddenly converted and planning to sign up to the mission field.” Alex leaned forward, elbows resting on his knees. “But, something is changing in how I think about faith – and I guess I’d say God. I’ve watched some things happen that I can’t explain away. One of them is you sitting here talking to me. I’ve also had conversations with Molly that really got me thinking. There is still a lot about the Bible that I don’t understand but – I’m studying it some and I’m more open to learning about God more than I’ve been before.”
Robert rubbed his hand along his chin, his previously unreadable expression relaxing into a comfortable smile. “That was a good, honest answer.” He folded his arms across his chest. “Unfortunately, I have another hard question.”
Alex’s mouth went dry. Nothing could be worse than the God question, right?
“Are you sleeping with my daughter?”
Alex gulped. Actually gulped. Something he thought people only did in books or movies. This was definitely harder than the God question, but he was glad he could give an answer that wouldn’t get him shoved out of the window behind him and to the pavement six stories below.
Robert cocked an eyebrow. “Are you just telling me that because you know I can’t get out of this bed yet to whip you?”
Alex laughed softly. He listened to footsteps in the hallway and hoped it was Molly coming to rescue him. “No, sir, because I know you can send Jason after me instead.”
“That’s true.” Robert smiled. “So, you are being honest with me.”
“Robert, I respect Molly too much to rush into a physical relationship with her. I know how she feels. I know how your family feels. I can’t say it isn’t because I don’t —” flushing bright red along ears. “I mean, it’s not —” He rubbed his hand across the back of his neck, sat back in the chair and broke eye contact with Robert. Why hadn’t he started over explaining himself. He’d answered the question. He should have left it at that. “I just respect her and you, sir. That’s all.”
Robert laughed as the door opened and Molly and Annie walked in.
Molly looked between the two men, her smile fading. “Uh-oh. Alex looks uncomfortable. Dad looks slightly delighted. This isn’t one of those conversations that dads and boyfriends have where the Dad says, ‘I don’t want you to see my daughter anymore is it?’”
Robert smiled. “No, it isn’t. You’re a grown woman. I can’t tell you who to date.” He winked at Alex. “It was just one of those conversations where I tell Alex if he hurts my little girl, I’ll have Jason throw him through the wood shredder.”
Robert laughed weakly, coughed, and held his side. “Sorry. I just wanted to see the look on your faces.”
“Well, now you did, so that’s enough of that,” Annie said straightening Robert’s blankets and smiling. “It’s time for you to get some rest before your next rehab session and it’s time for Alex and Molly to get back to the farm.”
Robert held his hand up. “I know. I know.” He looked at the doorway as Jason walked in. “First, though, I need to talk to all of you about something.”
Jason and Alex leaned back against the table across the room, posing almost identical to each other, arms folded across their chests, one leg crossed over the other.
“Walt called me this morning,” Robert started. “He said he was holding a check to cover the remainder of our loan and then some. It was made out to Tanner Enterprises and dropped off by some sort of delivery service. He wants to know what we want to do with it.” Robert moved his gaze to Alex. “It’s from someone named Cecily Burke.”
Alex’s eyebrows furrowed in confusion. “How would my mom have known anything about the loan?”
Molly coughed softly and held up her hand. “Well, that’s because I blabbed it without thinking the day she left. She wanted me to ask mom if she could help but with everything else going on, I never thought about it again. I didn’t tell her the amount, though.”
“Maybe the bank told her the amount,” Jason suggested.
Robert shrugged. “I don’t know but what I do know is I don’t feel right taking her money to try to fix the problem I created.” He rubbed his chin for a few moments and sighed. “But I don’t want to reject her either. I don’t think this was only to help out Tanner Enterprises.” He caught Alex’s gaze. “I think she wanted someone else to know she cares.”
Alex shifted uncomfortably, shoved his hands in his front jean pockets and stared at the tip of his work boots.
“It’s a very nice gesture,” Annie said. “Why don’t we take a couple of days and talk it over. In the meantime, I’d like to get ahold of your mother, Alex, and thank her for her offer to help.”
Alex nodded, even though he didn’t really relish the idea of his two worlds colliding.
“Now, we are all going to head home, Robert is going to rest and,” Annie looped her arm through her son’s. “I’m going to ride with Jason and he’s going to tell me what’s been going on with him and Ellie.”
Jason’s eyebrows darted upwards. “Uh, we are? I don’t remember agreeing to this.”
Annie winked. “I’m your mother. Of course, you agree.”
Jason looked over his shoulder at Alex with a pleading expression as his mother dragged him toward the door, but Alex simply shrugged. He knew he couldn’t save his friend from a conversation that was certain to be about why Jason’s relationship with Ellie had dissolved.
In his truck ten minutes later, he looked at Molly curled up against the passenger side door, yawning, hair pulled back from her face in a ponytail, looking beautiful. They hadn’t had a lot of time alone lately. He wanted to remedy that. And soon. It had been far too long since he’d held her close, touched her soft curls, kissed her mouth. The moment he pulled his truck into the Tanner’s drive to drop her off, he planned to do all of those things and at this point, he didn’t care who interrupted them.
She felt the rhythm of his heart under her cheek, the warmth of his arms around her, the smell of aftershave and hay sweet. It didn’t even matter to her that the cold of winter was creeping in through her coat, nipping at her cheeks and nose.
Molly still couldn’t figure out what Alex saw in her; why someone so beautiful and charming seemed to want her. But she was accepting it as much as she could, day by day, sometimes pinching herself when they were at a movie or out to lunch or nights like this when he was holding her close under the stars.
They’d actually been going on dates, something she’d rarely done since Ben. Movies, bowling, even karaoke one night where they’d both just watched others and agreed neither of them would ever see each other on that stage.
Their relationship in the barn hadn’t changed much, other than him yanking her behind a wall or door to kiss her every other day. They still joked and shot one-liner insults at each other throughout the day. One difference was Molly no longer felt comfortable competing in burping contests, wondering if her winning the loudest burp might be a turn off for Alex in the long run. Another difference was Alex no longer allowed her self-depreciating comments when he was around.
“Why do you say those things about yourself?” He asked one day after milking. He’d taken her hand and was pulling her through the barn door, leading her to the back of the barn. “You’re none of the things you say you are.” He backed her slowly against the outside wall of the barn, propped a hand on either side of her head. “You’re beautiful, Molly. I know that and I’m pretty sure God knows that.”
She’d tried to respond but his mouth on her’s had stopped her and she let herself focus only on his kiss, ignoring the doubt. “I love you, Molly,” he’d whispered against her ear a few moments later. “Every single, beautiful,” a wry smile crossed his lips as he trailed his finger down her throat. “Inch of you.” He laughed softly. “I’d better stop that while we’re out here where anyone could see us, I suppose.”
Molly had laughingly agreed, and they’d returned to work.
Now they were together again, and he said similar things. Sometimes she wondered if he’d ever get sick of trying to convince her how much he loved her.
“So, this is it, then, huh?”
She looked up at him and smiled. “It? In what way? Are you saying goodbye forever simply because I’m moving in with Liz?”
Alex laughed. “I mean, so this is it for today. I have to leave you here with that crazy friend of yours and drive back to the farm alone.”
“I heard that, Alex!” Liz called from inside the apartment where she was unpacking Molly’s clothes.
He pulled the apartment door closed. “And now you can’t hear anything.”
“Yes,” Molly said looping her arms around his neck. “But I’ll see you in the morning and I appreciate you helping me move the last couple of days.”
“You’re welcome.” He kissed her softly, drew back, then kissed her again, and she lost track of where they were as the kiss intensified and he pulled her against him.
The opening of the door startled them both, brought them back to their surroundings.
“Are you going to stand out there making out all night or are you going to come in and unpack?”
Alex sighed and pressed his forehead against Molly’s. “Are you sure this was a good idea?”
Molly smiled. “I’m sure. I’ll see you in the morning.”
“Night-night, Alex.” Liz gave him a quick wave and wink.
“Night, Liz,” he mumbled as he walked back to his truck.
Molly watched him drive away, rubbing her hands across her arms against the cold of the night. So much had changed in the last few months, but also in the last year. Her father was home, still recovering, she and Alex were getting closer every day, the country store was expanding, and Cecily’s check was helping keep the farm and business afloat for a little longer. Still, there seemed to be so many loose ends for her to worry about.
As she walked back into the house and started to unpack, she wondered what had happened between Jason and Ellie. She hoped they’d be able to work it out and get back together.
She thought about Liz, seven months pregnant, still feeling guilty about how she’d gotten to this point in her life, avoiding Matt, though he seemed to care about her.
Ginny feeling stagnant in her life.
Ben and his reluctance to meet his daughter.
Alex’s reluctance to speak to his parents or about his father’s diagnosis.
It was all a bit overwhelming.
She couldn’t figure it all out right now, though.
She had unpacking to do, a country store to help run, and a new relationship to enjoy.
She’d have to think about everything else later.