Shades of Gray

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Ever After

THIRTY ONE

Ever After

The final weeks of October were always Calvin Montgomery’s favorite time of year. This was when the heat and stress of the summer months burned away, the leaves were blazing with color and the air was filled with the spicy scent of the coming fall. For Cal, this autumn season brought a sense of renewal and a chance to put the past to rest and focus on the future. Driving home from work along the winding road to his cabin, enjoying the sun highlighting the spectacular reds yellows and purple of the flaming leaves, he was energized with a sense of joy and hope that he had never dreamed possible. The music from the stereo blared through the speakers of his truck and leaving a trail of happiness as the sound billowed out of the wide open windows. Today, as it had been for just about every day of the past three months, Cal couldn’t wait to get home.

Cal pulled up to his cabin just as a blur of black and tan fur barreled from around the back of the house. He jumped out of the car and squatted down just as the German Sheppard puppy closed the gap between the back porch and the door of Cal’s truck and launched itself into his awaiting arms.

“Max!”

The puppy wriggled furiously, licking at Cal’s face.

“I hope you don’t expect that kind of welcome from me.”

Cal scooped the puppy up in his arms and walked over to where Taylor had emerged from the side of the cabin. He leaned in to kiss her but Max had other ideas and covered them both sloppy licks as the both laughed. Cal put the puppy down and slipping his hand in hers and kissing her softly on the lips before they followed speeding mass of fur as he loped back around the house. Together they climbed the steps leading to the back deck; Cal settled into one of the Adirondack chairs pulling Taylor down on his lap and watched Max race around the back yard.

Taylor and Cal had been living together since her release from the hospital. Originally, the plan was for her to move into Michael’s house with her mother acting a nurse. When Taylor officially accepted Cal’s engagement ring and they had shared the news with Victoria and Michael, the original plan was abandoned. It took sometime for both of them to feel comfortable; Taylor had insisted that they needed to discuss everything that had happened but Cal disagreed. He was happy to put he past behind them and build a something new. Three months had passed and although Taylor was wearing her engagement ring, Cal hadn’t made any progress getting her to agree to a wedding date.

“What’s the rush? We have all the time in the world now.”

That was her response every time Cal broached the subject.

As they watched the puppy frolic in some raked leaves, Cal slid his hands over hers and touched the ring on her left hand. Without warning, a memory of Taylor bathed in the grey light of the ICU, connected to tubes and wired to monitors insinuated itself on this perfect moment, reminding him of what it had taken to bring them both to this place. Cal tightened his arms around Taylor and kissed the back of her neck, breathing in the smell of her hair to chase the image away and validate the fact that she was really here and that they were together. He felt her stiffen a little and shift her weight to her hands, pushing her self up off his lap then she walked to the railing keeping her back to him. Cal readied him self for what ever she had to tell him.

“Harmon called today,” she said without turning around.









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