“Ethan, I still think you’re insane. Your family has owned this land for two hundred years.”
Ethan tossed the last of their suitcases into the back of his pick-up, squinted against the bright afternoon sun. “C’mere, Buzz.”
The dog leaped into the passenger compartment and settled on the bench seat next to Beth. Beth opened the passenger door and started to get out.
“Where are you going?” Ethan said.
“I’m not sure if I locked the back door.”
“What the hell is wrong with you?”
“Stay in the truck. We have to get out of here. The real estate agent can check the doors.”
“What’s your hurry? All week you’ve been like a madman.”
“We have to go. Too much damn dawdling.”
“Ethan, you’re creeping me out.”
“I know. Trust me.”
Ethan got in and started the ancient heap. Beth pulled the truck door closed, creases distorting her brow.
“Beth, you once told me your dream was to live on a beach and make love all day long.”
“I don’t remember ever saying that.”
“We were in a country inn a long time ago. A very long time ago. It’s true, isn’t it?”
Beth squinted at her husband. “That time in ?”
“It doesn’t matter. It’s your dream-life isn’t it? Your vision of paradise?”
“That’s what we’re doing.”
“How will we make a living?”
“We don’t need to make a living.”
“Ethan, selling the farm won’t last us the rest of our lives.”
“It doesn’t need to.”
Beth shook her head and stared out the windshield as the truck bounced down their gravel driveway. She still couldn’t believe the For Sale sign next to the mailbox.
Ethan turned left onto the paved road and gunned the engine. “See this car coming toward us?” He pointed at a black Lincoln Continental.
“See the two men in suits?” The car whooshed past.
“Yes, what’s going on? Who are they?”
“They’re a future we need to avoid. I’m through fighting, Beth. I don’t need to fight anymore. Not ever again. I see that now. I was such a fool and you were right.”
Beth’s mouth hung open and her eyes flashed gold in the sun. “Ethan, you better explain. I mean really explain, because I think you’ve lost your mind.”
“I promise I’ll explain everything. But right now, trust me.”
Ethan drove into and parked in front of the old, white-steepled church. He reached into the glove compartment, retrieved a screwdriver. As he got out of the truck, he said, “This will take a minute. It’s one of the threads I pulled. Make sure Buzz doesn’t jump out the window.”
Beth stared and nodded her head. Threads? Her left hand clutched Buzz’s collar. She could think of nothing else to do.
Three minutes passed, actually, before Ethan returned. He dropped a wax-sealed packet on Beth’s lap. “There’s the future, the beach house, and a comfortable life.”
“I’ll explain it all when we’re on that beach.” He started the truck and turned onto , picking up speed slowly. Wind blew through the open windows and ruffled Ethan’s hair back and forth.
Beth pulled open the packet and unfolded the thick wrapping paper, then the yellowed papers it contained. “What is this?” Her eyes scanned several sheets, then stopped. “Oh, my God, Ethan. Is this real? Abraham Lincoln?”
Before Ethan could answer, Buzz stuck his cold nose into Ethan’s ear, then gave his pack leader a rare three-lick kiss. The dog turned to Beth and snuffled at her hair. She leaned away and held the papers near the windshield. “No drooling, Buzz. Not on these.”
Ethan rubbed the dog’s ears and smiled a real smile. It felt like the first time he’d smiled in ages.
I kept my promise to you, Beth.
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