Just a reminder to blog readers who either didn’t follow along or missed some chapters, you can either go back and read them here for the next two weeks or you can preorder an ebook copy for $.99 HERE. The price will go up the week after the release date of August 12.
This is the final two chapters of the story. Both have been rewritten a couple of times but are still in the editing process.
Ellie rolled on to her side and winced. She’d been in bed all day, had taken the painkillers for her ankle, and yet her muscles still ached. It was ridiculous to imagine they wouldn’t hurt, of course. What did she expect after a car accident, a two-mile hike in the dark woods, and a fall into a mineshaft? That she would feel like dancing?
She reached for her phone on the bedside table and scrolled through the text messages.
Lucy. Molly. A couple of ladies from church. Emily, the pastor’s wife. Even Brad. She’d ignored Brad’s, of course. She didn’t have the energy to deal with what had happened the night of the accident. He was apologetic, asking how she was, but she wasn’t sure she could let him off the hook so easily. It was clear he needed help and she wasn’t going to be that source of help. Maybe she should give him Pastor Joe’s number.
Another one from Molly. Sent an hour ago.
Liz was on her way to the hospital with Matt McGee. Huh. What was Liz doing with Matt McGee? She’d have to question Molly about that later.
At the top of her messages was one from Jason.
Thinking of you. Your mom updated me earlier. Hope to see you soon when you’ve rested. I love you.
She smiled as she read it again. I love you.
She hoped he’d feel the same when she told him she was even more of a hypocrite than he thought. She’d spent the last seven, almost eight months, angry at him for not telling her what had happened in college. All the while, she’d also had secrets, something about her he didn’t know.
Really, though, she didn’t even know if it was true.
She only knew what the doctor had said at her appointment almost two years ago. How it would be harder for her to have children and maybe even impossible. Her symptoms had been worse the last several months. To her that wasn’t a good sign. Not at all.
A soft knock on her old bedroom door drew her from her thoughts.
Judi looked around the door. “Can I come in?”
Ellie shifted to a sitting position, making room for her sister on the bed. Circles darkened the skin under Judi’s eyes. “Dinner was great. Where did you learn to cook like that?”
Judi laughed, shrugging a shoulder. “My roommate in the city is in culinary school. She gave me some tips. I overcooked the fish a little, but it wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be.”
Ellie rubbed her eyes and yawned. “I didn’t notice it was overcooked at all. It was seasoned perfectly too. If you stick around, I’ll have to have you make some dinners from now on.”
Judi visibly stiffened but still leaned back against the pillow beside Ellie. She’d pulled her hair into a pony tail and was wearing a pair of sweatpants and a T-shirt, far removed from the flashier and more revealing outfits she’d been wearing since she arrived.
“Remember when we used to do this during thunderstorms?” she asked. “I’d crawl into bed with you, and you’d tell me everything was going to be okay and sing me that song —”
“I Will Cast All My Cares Upon Him. I remember.”
Judi leaned her head against Ellie’s shoulder. It had been a long time since she’d shown anything close to affection to her family, especially Ellie.
Her voice broke when she spoke again. “I thought you were dead, Ellie.”
“I know. I’m sorry. I never should have left the scene. It was so stupid.”
“I shouldn’t have said all those horrible things to you. I know you don’t mean to be so perfect all the time.”
Ellie laughed softly. “Judi, I’m not perfect. You know that. I screw up all the time. I just don’t talk about it because — I guess because I don’t want anyone to know.”
Judi nodded against her shoulder, and they fell into a comfortable silence. The clinking of dishes downstairs from her parents washing and putting away dishes filled the break in their conversation. Soon her Dad would fall asleep in his recliner in front of whatever movie he’d picked out for them to watch.
A small sob came from Judi and Ellie looked down, not sure if she was still upset about the accident or something else.
“I can’t go back to the city.” Judi’s voice was barely above a whisper.
Ellie leaned back, slid an arm around Judi. “Why? Jude, what happened? Please tell me. What’s going on?”
She wanted to ask what was going on with Jeff, but she wasn’t sure how Judi would take it that she’d seen the message.
“I was so stupid, El.” Judi choked back another sob. “I knew eventually it would all get out of control but if I stopped then I’d remember I wasn’t special like you. I’d remember I don’t have any talents or brains, so I just kept being the life of the party.”
“That’s not tr —”
“It is. I’ve always been the dumb one. The dumb blond who just likes to have fun because she can’t do anything else. You’ve always been the smart, good girl who Mom and Dad can brag about.”
Tears stung Ellie’s eyes. “I never meant to make you feel that way.”
Judi sat up and twisted herself to face Ellie, brushing the edge of her hand against her cheek. “It wasn’t you. It was me. It was how I saw it. I was so jealous of you. I felt like I could never measure up. That’s why I moved to the city. Well, that and I really have always thought Spencer is a boring little town.”
Ellie laughed softly.
Judi rolled her eyes. “I wanted to find adventure and excitement and that’s what I did.” More tears came and Ellie reached out and took Judi’s hands in hers.
“Judi, tell me what’s going on. I’m listening this time, okay?”
Judi nodded, pulling one hand away to snatch a tissue from the bedside stand. She wiped the corner of her eyes as she spoke. “I went out with the hot guy from work. The one I told you about that one time we were on the phone.”
Ellie remembered. The phone call where Judi hadn’t pointed out Jason’s proposal hadn’t really been a proposal.
“He was drop dead gorgeous and interested in me.” She rolled her eyes again. “I should have known then something was up. He wanted me to go back to his place after dinner so,” she shrugged and shook her head, looking at the ceiling. “I did. His hands were on me after the first drink. I tried to enjoy it at first, thought maybe we’d just end up making out, but he was pretty rough and getting rougher. I tried to push him away, but he didn’t like that. So . . .”
She started to cry harder, hugging her arms around her middle, looking at the wall.
Ellie’s heart raced, her skin chilled. “Judi.” She placed her hands on her sister’s slim shoulder, afraid to ask the next question. “Did he – did this man assault you? Please. Tell me the truth.”
Judi shook her head. “No. Almost, but no. He pulled my shirt up and my pants down, but I kicked him pretty hard in the nads. He fell off me and hit his head on the coffee table. He was furious and told me to get out, so I ran to the door and left. My shirt was torn, I had a bloody lip. My roommate knew something had happened. She wanted me to call the police, but I just wanted to forget about it. Forget about how stupid I’d been to go back to his place. Forget that I was such a failure and that I deserved it because I flirted crazy with him and gave him all these signs and —
“Judi, did you tell him you wanted to sleep with him?”
Judi shook her head, sobbing against her hand.
“Then you didn’t do anything wrong other than maybe going back with him to his place. Even if he assumed you wanted to sleep with him once you said ‘no’ then he needed to stop. What he did was wrong. You get that, right?”
Judi shrugged a shoulder as she wiped a tissue across her cheek. “Yes and no. I mean, he was wrong, but I never should have gone there and —”
“That doesn’t mean you deserved it. Do you understand?”
Judi nodded slowly, pressing her hand to her mouth.
Ellie shifted closer to her and pulled her against her with one arm. “So, what are you going to do? What about your job?”
“They fired me last week for not showing up. My roommate wants me to come back, but she understands if I don’t. She said Jeff keeps showing up and asking where I am.”
Time to be honest and confess to Judi about the message. “He’s been texting you too, hasn’t he?”
Judi nodded and pulled back. “How do you know?”
“I saw a message. By accident. I wanted to talk to you about it, but you were drunk and then, well, you know. ”
“I blocked his number last night. He’s afraid I’m going to the police because Selina told him I was.”
“Selina’s the roommate?”
Judi nodded. “She hates Jeff and wants him to be charged, but I can’t report him for something he never got the chance to do.”
“But he would have if you hadn’t kicked him, right? What if there are other girls who didn’t get away?”
Judi looked at Ellie with red and swollen eyes. “I don’t know. What if no one believes me?”
“It’s up to you, but even if they don’t, at least you tried.” Ellie hugged her again. “You don’t have to decide now. You don’t have to decide anything now.”
Judi sniffed. “I do soon. The rent is due in two weeks, and I only have so much in my savings. It’s either stay here or go back to New York and try to get another job and chance running into Jeff again.”
Ellie stroked her sister’s hair. “Whatever you decide, I’ll support you.”
They stayed that way for a few minutes, Judi with her head against Ellie’s shoulder, Ellie stroking her hair, before Judi spoke again.
“Dad said he saw Jason sleeping in his truck in the hospital parking lot this morning.”
Ellie looked out the window at the sun pushing through the thin laced curtains, casting patterns on the floor. She thought about all the afternoons she’d sat in this room, watching those same patterns, daydreaming or reading instead of doing her homework. Part of that time she’d daydreamed about Jason, about living on a farm with him and growing old together.
Judi sighed. “He was probably afraid to leave you alone again.” She tilted her head up to look at Ellie. “You’re going to marry him, right?”
Ellie played with the fringe on the bedspread, a small smile tilting one corner of her mouth upward. “I put him through a lot. Maybe he doesn’t even want to marry me anymore.”
Judi snorted a small laugh. “Yeah, right. That man is completely enamored by you. He worships the ground you walk on. There is no way he doesn’t want to marry you. Plus, I’m guessing he put you through some stuff too. It takes a lot to send you over the edge. I’d say he’s not innocent by any means.”
Innocent, no. Apologetic and contrite, yes.
“We’re both pretty messed up to be honest.”
“Yeah, but you’re messed up together. It’s kind of romantic.”
“It’s romantic to be messed up?”
“No. It’s romantic to be messed up with someone else so you can help each other not be messed up.”
Ellie lifted an eyebrow and frowned at her sister. “Who told you that?
Judi smiled. “I’m really not sure. I might have heard it on a CW show.”
Ellie snorted out a laugh. “I guess it’s an interesting thought. In theory at least.”
She listened to Judi breathing and for a minute she thought she’d fallen asleep. “Don’t tell Mom and Dad what I told you, okay?” Judi whispered. “Not yet. If we tell them then I have to tell them how messed up I’ve been and I’m not ready for that.”
Ellie smoothed her sister’s hair back from her face. “Okay. For now, but I want you to talk to them at some point. They love you. They’re going to want to help you however they can. But be warned, Dad may want to enact some redneck justice on this Jeff guy.”
Judi tipped her head back and laughed. “Redneck justice? Oh man! I can just see him up there in the city with a shotgun. Getting tackled in the subway by the NYPD.”
Ellie laughed at the visual. “I can see the NY Post headline now. ‘Farmer Father Brings Justice To Big Apple.”
The sisters giggled until their sides hurt. Ellie gasped in air in between laughter. “Judi, do you realize you said ‘nads’ when you were telling me what you did do that guy?”
Judi snorted. “I know. I’ve been in the city too long. A couple of my friends are from Brooklyn, and they use that term all the time.”
They caught their breath, wiping their eyes, and Ellie was glad that this time the tears were from laughter. She and Judi hadn’t laughed like this in years.
Judi curled up against her again and yawned. “We should take a nap before Jason gets here.”
“Before Jason gets here?”
Judi pulled the cover up over her shoulder. “Yeah. You know he won’t be able to stay away for long. He’ll be here shortly. Definitely before dark.”
Ellie looked out the window at the dirt road in the distance that cut a parallel path to their cornfield. If Jason really did come, what would she say to him? She wasn’t sure, but she knew she needed to tell him the truth, even though she wasn’t exactly sure what the truth was.
Her phone dinged. Another text message. She smiled as she read it.
Molly: It’s a girl. I didn’t even make it to the hospital before she was born. I’ll let you know the name when I know.
Hope to see you soon. When you’ve rested.
That’s what he’d texted to her.
It was true, but not the full truth.
He had wanted her to rest, recover from all she’d been through.
But he also wanted to see her immediately. It had taken everything he had not to turn into her parents’ drive on the way back from the hospital, pull in front of the house, scoop her up and hold him in his arms; to prove to himself that she was alive and safe.
By evening he couldn’t wait any longer.
Alex laughed as Jason walked from the barn to his truck. “I can’t believe you’ve waited this long.”
“Who says I’m going to see Ellie?”
Molly stood in the barn doorway, arms folded across her chest. “Your face is flushed, you’ve been distracted all day, and a half an hour ago we saw you looking like a lovesick puppy while you stared at your phone. You’re going to see Ellie and it’s about time.”
Jason grinned, sliding behind the steering wheel. “You two are the new Sherlock and Watson. Congrats.”
“Don’t forget to bend the knee when you ask her,” Alex called after him.
This was one time Jason wished Alex and Molly were distracted by each other instead of his love life. “Don’t forget to take photos of Liz’s baby and send them to me.”
He jumped into the truck, slammed the door shut, and shifted it into gear.
Looking in his rearview mirror he saw a car pulling in behind him. He slid the gear shift back into park. Climbing out, he watched Alan Weatherly slide out of the driver’s seat of the small gray Lexus.
The small woman who exited the car on the passenger side, reached out to Jason immediately. “Jason, I was hoping to catch you before the funeral tomorrow. I’ve been trying to get here to see you for a week now , but everyone wanted me to rest.”
He took Ann’s hands, guilt clutching at his chest. Tears glistened in her eyes as she spoke. “I wanted to see you in person to thank you for saving me from the fire. I’m sorry it took me so long. They made me stay in the hospital for a few days after the fire and then Alan and the girls have been helping me get settled in at Twin Oaks. I’m a few doors down from your grandparents.”
“Ann, I —”
“Now, Jason.” She tipped her head and raised her eyebrows to silence him. “I’ve talked to Cody, and I know what you’ve been thinking. John’s death wasn’t your fault. He was gone before you ever got there. I was saying my goodbyes when the smoke overtook me. I should have gotten out before the smoke got so bad, but the idea of leaving him there even though I knew he was gone — well, it was too hard for me to bear, I suppose.”
Jason nodded, his throat thick with emotion. “I wish I’d been able to bring him out for you.”
Ann smiled and clutched his hands tighter. “He was already home, Jason. All that was left was a shell.” She took a step toward him, leaned up on her tip toes and kissed his cheek. When she stepped back her eyes were bright. “Because of you, I’m going to be able to see my grandchildren grow up. My oldest graduates next year and my youngest starts Kindergarten in another month. I would have missed all that if it wasn’t for you.”
She let go of his hands and touched his shoulder gently. “Now, I don’t want to keep you. You were on your way somewhere.” She winked. “I hope you were on your way to see that lovely Ellie Lambert. Cody told me about her ordeal when I stopped at the fire hall to see if you might be there. I wanted to thank all of them too. Brought them a pie. Of course.”
Jason laughed. Of course she’d brought them pie. “Yeah. I actually am on my way over there.”
“Good. But before I go . . . Al, grab Jason’s pie.”
The small white box had Jason’s name on it.
“Ann, you didn’t have to do this.”
Alan handed Jason the box and grinned. “She made ten of them and we’ve been dropping them off all over.”
Ann smiled and laid a hand against Jason’s arm. “Baking helps me to keep my mind off things. My daughter-in-law helped me make a few more for the dinner tomorrow as well. You’ll be sure to come say ‘hello’ to me when you visit your grandparents, won’t you?”
“And I know Tanner’s Country Store delivers to Twin Oaks so I’m sure I’ll be putting in at least a few small orders.
“And!” She held up a finger, her eyes sparkling. “You be sure to come visit me with those beautiful babies you and Ellie have.”
His face flushed warm, and he tipped his head toward the ground, clearing his throat. “Yes, ma’am. We will be sure to do that.”
Ann craned her neck to look around his shoulder and waved toward Alex and Molly who had stepped up to the barn doorway. “Hello, kids. Alex, I hope you take Molly off the market officially soon. Neither of you are getting any younger.”
After the way Alex had harassed him earlier, Jason enjoyed the flush of pink that spread across his friends cheeks and ears.
“That’s right, Alex,” Jason called as he closed Ann’s door behind her. “You aren’t getting any younger. Better get a move on with all that proposal stuff.”
Alex waved at him dismissively. “You just worry about you, big boy.”
When Jason pulled into the Lambert drive ten minutes later, his chest was tight, and his palms were damp on the steering wheel. He pushed the truck into park and took a deep breath. Maybe he was having a heart attack. If he was, then he wouldn’t have to work up the nerve to talk to Ellie and find out how she really felt about him. Yes, she’d let him hold her and kiss her in that mine shaft, but that was a stressful situation. Maybe her mind had cleared, and she’d remembered how upset she’d been with him.
Tom met him on the front porch. “What took you so long?”
“You too?” Jason looked at him with an amused smile. “That’s pretty much what Molly just said to me.”
Tom leaned against the porch railing, sipping from a mug. “I saw you in the hospital parking lot this morning. Sleep in your truck all night?”
Jason tipped his head toward the ground, hands at his waist. “Yeah.” He didn’t want to explain why he hadn’t come in, though he was sure Tom could figure it out. At least he was somewhat cleaner than he had been this morning, even if he had been working all day.
Tom tilted his head to the side, toward the front door. “You want to come in?”
Jason looked up, meeting the gaze of the man he hoped would be his future father-in-law. “Yes, sir.”
“She’s upstairs in her old room. Sore and tired still but doing okay.”
The creak of the front door brought Jason’s eyes up and he and Tom turned toward the front door.
“Actually, she’s down here. But still sore and tired.” She looked at Jason and he couldn’t look away. Her dark brown eyes captivated him, made him forget her dad was even there. She was wearing a pair of blue denim shorts and a white tank top covered by a patterned shirt tied at the waist. He rarely saw her so dressed down. It was breathtaking.
“I needed some fresh air.” Her words reminded him he should take a breath of air before he passed out.
Tom held the door open for his daughter and walked inside after she stepped outside. He pushed the inside door closed firmly, which Jason took as a sign that he was giving them privacy.
She sat on the front porch swing. “I was going to sit on that top step, but I’m not sure I can get back up again with this ankle.”
He stepped up on the porch and leaned one side against the support beam, sliding his hands in his jean pockets. “How you feeling tonight?”
She shrugged a shoulder. “Sore. And pretty stupid. Walking away from that accident scene wasn’t very bright. Have you heard how Brad is?”
He shook his head. He hadn’t and he didn’t care how Brad was. “Probably sleeping it off somewhere. He’ll bounce back. Always does. How’s Judi?”
“She’s doing okay actually. She’s asleep upstairs in my old room.”
“Where you should be.”
Ellie leaned back and stretched her arms out in front of her. “I slept a lot earlier this afternoon. Too restless to sleep. Brain won’t shut down.” She leaned back against the porch swing. “How are you doing?”
“Fine. Hurts a little where the stitches are, but I’m starting to get used to stitches.”
She tilted her head, and a small smile tipped a corner of her mouth up. Seeing the compassion in her eyes verses the anger he’d been used to seeing in the last several months was soothing. “I don’t just mean physically. How is your heart?”
She always did have a way of getting to the point. “Still hurting. Ann stopped by just before I came here. She hugged me. Told me it wasn’t my fault. Clint told me the same thing. Said John had a heart attack and was dead before the flames hit him. I still feel guilty, though. Still feel like if I had pulled him out, maybe something could have been done.”
“You don’t know that though.”
“Yeah. I think the not knowing is the hardest. He was a good man. He didn’t deserve to die that way.”
“No, he didn’t, but we know where he is now, who is holding him.”
Jason nodded looking down. “Yeah. We do. It does provide some comfort.”
A few seconds of silence stretched between them. Chirping birds and the meow of a cat filled the silence before she spoke again. “So, Liz’s baby is a girl, huh?”
He grinned. “Molly messaged you too, huh? I think she’s texted the whole county. Yeah. She hasn’t picked a name yet. Molly and Alex are headed over in a few to see them.”
“Molly said Matt took her to the hospital. What was that about?”
Jason laughed softly. “I’m not totally sure, honestly. Something I plan to ask Matt about as soon as I get a chance.”
He kicked at the porch floor with the tip of his boot, watched the dirt from the barn fall off and join dirt that was probably from Tom’s barn. He knew they were dancing around why he was really here, like they’d been dancing around other issues for far too long now.
“El, listen I —”
“I’m a hypocrite, Jason.”
He jerked his head up, eyebrows knitted together. “What are you —”
“I was mad at you for hiding your past from me, but I’ve been lying to you for two years,.”
Her hands gripped the edge of the seat of the swing, her legs pushed out, feet against the porch floor, keeping it from swinging. She kept her gaze lowered, focused on her feet.
“You haven’t been lying. You’ve been scared.”
She looked up quickly, met his gaze.
He sat next to her on the swing. “I heard you tell that doctor what medicine you were on and about your procedure. I shouldn’t have been listening, but I was outside the door. I didn’t want to leave you. Finding you felt like a dream, and I was afraid if I left, I’d wake up and you’d actually be dead. I should have realized all these years how bad things were. I should have known how much pain you were in each month. I looked it up online as soon as I left the hospital. Why didn’t you ever tell me how bad it had gotten?”
Ellie looked at the floor again and tears dripped off her cheek and down her chin. She shook her head and looked out over the corn field next to the house. “I was in denial. If I told you what was really happening, then I’d have to admit what that doctor told me might be true.”
At the touch of his hand against her cheek she turned to look at him. “If we can’t have children, it will be hard on both of us, but all I’ve really ever wanted was you, Ellie. Just you. Children or not. Farming or not. None of it matters if I don’t have you.”
He kept his gaze on hers. He wanted her to know he was all in. All in on the conversation and on her. “I know you think I might be holding more back from you, but I’m not. I promise you. I want to be completely open from now on. My life is an open book and on the first page you’ll find a declaration of my love for you.”
He slid a hand to the back of her neck, watching her expression transform from worried, to relaxed. He’d dreaded the possibility of still seeing anger or hurt in her eyes, but he didn’t see either of those emotions. He saw tenderness that flowed across her entire face, that opened her mouth slightly as if she was about to say something. Instead, she leaned forward and touched her mouth softly to his. She moved her arms around his neck and slid her body against his side. He turned so he could pull her into the curve of his body, deepen the kiss.
He smiled as he pulled his mouth away a few moments later. “Was that a kiss goodbye or a kiss hello?”
She laughed. “Definitely a kiss hello.”
He stood, slid his hand in his front jean pocket and felt a tremble rush through his fingers as he pulled out the box. “I still want to marry you, Ellie. I don’t know if you want to marry me, but I want you to know that you’re the only woman for me. That’s always been true. This ring is yours, if you want it and if you don’t, I can understand that too.”
A wry smile pulled her mouth upward. “You just carry rings around in your pockets?”
He laughed. “Only when I know I want to ask my best friend to be my wife.”
The tears didn’t hide her smile, but they came, renewed and flowing freely as she looked at him. She laughed through the tears, holding a trembling hand toward him. He held her hand but looked into her eyes before he slid the ring on.
“Wait. I’m doing it wrong again.” He lowered himself to one knee, still holding her hand. “I’m supposed to be down here, and I’m supposed to say Elizabeth Alexandra Lambert, will you spend the rest of your life with me?”
She shook her head, choked out a sob and pressed a hand under his elbow. “No. Get up. The way you were doing it was fine.”
Sitting next to her he slid the ring on her finger, but it stopped part way, just above her knuckle. They both began to laugh.
“This is Grandma’s ring. She wanted you to have it so I —”
Ellie wiped tears along the corner of her eyes with the edge of her hand. “It’s perfect.”
“I have another ring. One I bought in high school. One I wished I’d given you back then. It’s at the house. I can go get it.”
“No.” She shook her head, smiling. “We’ll resize Franny’s. This is the ring I want. I can wear the other one too, but this is the ring that will remind me that we can get through anything, as long as we’re together.”
He nodded as she curved her fingers around the ring, clutching it hard.
He pulled her against his side with one arm, leaning back on the swing. In front of them, the sun had dipped below the horizon. A soft orange and golden glow spread along the edges of the silhouetted hills. A cow mooed in the barn and one of the barn cats slipped up on the porch and rubbed against Jason’s leg.
“We still have a lot to talk about,” he said.
“Yeah. We do.”
He looked out toward the corn field, ready to be harvested in the next week for silage. Sunlight glinted off the silk peering out from some of the husks.
“Being the wife of a farmer isn’t easy.”
“Being the daughter of one isn’t easy either.” She intertwined her fingers with his. “Plus, a very wise woman, one who gave birth to the man I’m going to marry, once told me that the wife of a farmer is a farmer as much as her husband is.”
“You think Pastor Joe will marry us? Even after our craziness in his office?”
She laughed. It was a beautiful sound. “Yeah. I think he will. He’s called me twice to check on me and ask about you.”
He looked at her mouth as he spoke, thinking about how he should have kissed her that day at the church instead of arguing with her. “Think he’ll marry us this weekend? Behind our house?”
She tilted her head back, narrowing her eyes. “Our house? What are you going to do with Alex?”
“Kick him out, of course.”
Her laughter continued to be a balm to his soul. “Shouldn’t we tell him that first?”
He shrugged, a small tugging at one side of his mouth. “He’ll adapt. He can sleep in the hayloft at mom and dad’s.”
She sighed, pressing her cheek against his shoulder. “Five days isn’t very long.”
He curled his fingers in the hair at the base of her neck as she looked up at him. “No. It’s not.”
“I won’t have enough time to buy a dress or prepare food and no time to send out invitations.”
“No. You won’t.”
She smiled, her gaze still locked on his. “It sounds perfect.”
He kissed her mouth softly again, losing himself in the feel of her mouth under his, her body curved against his, the way she was exactly where he belonged — in his arms. When he pulled his mouth away a few minutes later, she curled her legs up next to her on the seat of the swing and pressed her cheek against his chest. He wrapped his arms around her and looked out over the cornfield again.
Tomorrow he had fields of alfalfa to plant, an architect to meet with about the construction of the new milking parlor for the A2 cows, a tractor to fix and a goat barn to finish. Tonight, though, he had a front porch swing to sit on, a sunset to watch, and the woman he loved to get to know again.
Her voice faded to a whisper. “We’re watching an old movie tonight.”
“Oh yeah? Which one?”
“Shall We Dance, with Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. Want to stay?”
He leaned down, kissed the top of her head, and breathed in deep the smell of her shampoo. “Yeah. I want to stay.”