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I walk into the barn
with every intention of looking for the horse, but my feet have other ideas,
and suddenly, I find myself standing at the rickety old ladder that leads up to
nervously, I slide my hand along the wood.
How many times
did I climb this ladder?
I give it a little
shake and decide it’s sturdy enough.
Then I climb.
The last thing I
want to do is fall.
Or drop the wine.
That would be a tragedy.
I make it to the
top, and as soon as I do, a tidal wave of emotions and memories wash over me.
Staggering to the nearest bale of hay, I sit down and close my eyes.
Our hayloft was
sacred. It was where Noah kissed me for the first time. One year later, it was
where we lost our virginity. For more than two years it was our hiding
place—our little sanctuary from the nosy eyes of the world.
Something in the corner
of the loft catches my eye. Its royal blue and white—our high school colors—and
I know it’s our blanket. We tried to remember to lay it down every time, but it
didn’t matter. When you’re naked, hay manages to find its way into places where
hay just shouldn’t be found.
I sigh deeply and
lean my head back, lifting the bottle to my lips. It’s fruity and cool and does
nothing but conjure more memories.
His gentle hands. My
soft moans. Our heated kisses.
They play like a
symphony in my head.
As promised, the
storm moves in. The wind howls and the downpour rattles the roof. As the
thunder rolls above my head, the barn lights start to dance.
But I’m not afraid.
This is home.
Through the thunder,
I hear Noah’s voice calling my name, followed by the sound of hooves.
I sneak a glance
over the side of the loft, just in time to spot Noah as he leads Midnight
inside, talking quietly to her as he guides her to the stall. He’s soaked and
cursing the storm.
I close my eyes and
curse my own stupidity.
“Her car’s still
here, but she’s not in the office . . .”
I can hear the
concern in his voice, and it breaks me. I can’t let him worry, no matter how
embarrassing this is going to be.
And make no mistake.
It’s gonna be awkward.
Leaning over, I take
a deep breath and look down. He’s standing just below the loft, his face turned
toward the open barn doors.
“Noah . . . I’m up
He freezes, spins
around, and looks up.
“Umm . . .
“What are you doing
I hold up the bottle
of strawberry wine and tell him the truth.
sag, and he bows his head. I hold my breath while he looks out at the storm.
Then, he lifts his eyes to meet mine once again.