“I can’t believe it’s been eight years since I saw you standing in that courtroom, testifying against the defendant. And I love you more everyday.” Drew said as he handed her a long, rectangular box. “Happy Anniversary.”
Opening the box, Chenelle saw the brilliant diamond pendant on the thick rope chain. There was a dazzling beauty to it but it was not what she wanted. Seeing the disappointment on her face, Drew took her hand. “Chenelle, don’t you like it?”
“It’s beautiful… here, put it on me...” She said, forcing a smile as she pulled the necklace from the box then handed it to him.
Pulling her hair back as he stood behind her, the pendant hung against her chest as Drew closed the clasp. “It looks beautiful on you.” Drew smiled as he returned to his seat.
Through dinner, Chenelle remained quiet and Drew recognized that something was on her mind. After paying the bill, the two left the luxurious restaurant, getting into Drew’s car. Before starting the engine, Drew reached over and took Chenelle’s hand. “What’s going on with you tonight?”
Chenelle looked up at Drew. “Eight years and you still haven’t proposed to me. Are you ever going to marry me?”
“Why do you always bring this up? You know how I feel about you.”
“I know what you say about how you feel but if you really feel that way, you should be willing to marry me. Please don’t tell me I wasted eight years of my life with you if you’re not going to marry me.”
“Look, Drew, I have to leave town for a few days, for work. If you don’t propose when I return, we are done.” Chenelle said and opened her door.
“Where are you going?” Drew asked as she got out and slammed the door shut.
Without looking back, she walked away from the car but Drew drove alongside her with the passenger side window down. “Come on Chenelle, please get into the car, let me give you a ride home.”
Chenelle continued walking, ignoring Drew until she came to the corner and turned, heading home. For approximately one city mile, Drew followed her, coaxing her to get in but she refused. Speeding away, he left her three miles from home. It gave her time to calm down after she had grown angry at him.
Checking her mail as she entered the house, Chenelle saw a letter from her father’s attorney. Having not been home or spoken to her father in over ten years, she was worried about the nature of the letter. As she opened and began to read it, it stated that her father had become incapacitated and she was needed at home to care for him and his ranch. Worried about what had happened to him, she packed a few suitcases and went to bed, deciding to leave in the morning.
Pulling herself out of bed by six, she had always been an early riser. After a hot shower, she dressed and went downstairs for coffee and a quick bite. Feeling anxious, she hurried to get out of the house, driving south towards Fostoria, the town where her father, and the ranch, was. The rush hour traffic held her up until she reached the city limits where she could set her cruise control and relax.
Two hours away she lived from her father and had not spoken to him since she was eighteen and left the ranch. She was at the tender age of fifteen when her mother died following a freak tractor accident. For years she blamed her mother’s death on her father, claiming there was more he should’ve done to save her. But there wasn’t. She placed the blame on innocent hands. Chenelle will be twenty-nine in one week, the first day of October.
The closer she grew to home, the more excited she became to see her father. As she entered the small town of Fostoria, everything seemed so distant to her now. But she still remembered the way home. Seeing the large sign saying ‘Collin’s Corners’, the dust swirled behind her as she pulled into the long driveway. Jumping out of her car, she ran to the large house and opened the door, walking inside.
Quiet and dark, the house was cluttered and appeared no one was there. Walking back outside, she ran to the barn and flung open the door. Immediately, she heard country music coming from, what she remembered as, the office.
“Hello?” She said as she stepped inside and looked around.
“Can I help you?” She heard a strange man’s voice from behind that startled her.
Turning to face him, she saw the man who was good looking but dirty and unshaven. “Who are you?” She asked.
“I’m Kayne, and you are?”
“I’m Chenelle… I’m looking for Roman?”
“Oh…” He said in a long breath. “You’re looking for your father, he isn’t here.”
“Where is he?” She asked.
“He’s… in town,” Kayne answered her.
“When will he be back?” She asked the stranger.
“Um… Probably won’t be.”
“What? What do you mean?”
“He’s incapable of living at home Chenelle.”
“What? Is he in the hospital?”
“Are you going to tell me or do I have to guess?” Chenelle was growing irritated.
“I’m sorry, your father is at Mercy Hall.”
“What is that, like a nursing home?”
“Nursing and rehabilitation, yes.”
“Mercy Hall, you said?”
“Yes. It’s right in town.”
“And you said your name is Kayne?”
“Yes, I’m the ranch manager.”
“Oh, you are?” Chenelle seemed confused, assuming her father would never hire someone else to run the old ranch.
“Uh huh,” Kayne answered and nodded his head.
“Thank you,” Chenelle said and turned to walk away.
“Hey...” He said and waited for her to turn around. “Will you be back?”
“Oh yes, I’ll be back.” She said and slipped on her sunglasses as she turned and walked away.
Driving the twenty minutes back into town, she looked down both sides of the street until she came upon the building with the sign saying ‘Mercy Hall’. Parking in the lot before the front doors, she got out of her car and walked to the building. Discovering the locked doors, she looked around and found a call button, pushing it.
Talking to the receptionist, she heard the buzzer and pulled on the door. Walking inside, she stepped up to the counter and asked for Roman Collins. Looking his name up, they gave her a room number and a direction. Walking down the hall, she was worried about what she may find about her father.
But there he was, sitting in a wheelchair. As soon as he looked up and saw her, Chenelle saw his face light up. “Elle!” He nearly shouted.
“Daddy!” Chenelle said and reached down to hug her father.
“It’s been so long...” He said.
“Too long.” She said with tears in her eyes. “What’s wrong with you daddy?”
“I have Multiple Sclerosis Elle.”
“How long have you known?” Chenelle asked.
“I found out about five years ago. I didn’t know how to get in contact with you.”
“I’m sorry...” She said as the first tear fell down her face. “I don’t want you here. I want you to come home.”
“No Chenelle. There is no one there who can take care of me.”
“There will be. I will arrange it.”
“I don’t want to… I have more company here.”
“I’ll keep you company. So will the nurses that come.”
“No, I don’t think so. What about you, will you be there to help care for me?”
“Daddy, I just came home to see what was going on. I got a letter from your lawyer stating that you were no longer able to care for yourself or the ranch. Now I know why.”
“So, if you’re not going to stay, I’m not going to go home.”
“Please daddy, I want you to be at home.”
“I’ll make you a deal. If you stay, I’ll go home.”
Leaning her head back, Chenelle closed her eyes and drew in a deep breath. “I’ll stay long enough to get you situated and cared for. I’ve already met what’s his name, the ranch manager?”
“Kayne. He’s a good man Elle. I trust him with everything I have.”
“Apparently you do if you made him manager.”
“I had no choice. I went downhill quickly. He had been there long enough to know the ropes, I just had to train him to do everything else.”
“I’m sure he can help...”
“No, his responsibility is the ranch, not me.”
“Ok. I’m going to have to make arrangements. I’ll be here for one week, then I will return every weekend to shop for groceries and make sure you have everything you need.”
“I’m not sure that’s good enough,” Roman said.
“Daddy… I just want to say I’m sorry. I no longer blame you for mom’s death. I know there was nothing you could’ve done. I’m sorry for blaming you at all. It was wrong of me.” Chenelle said and hugged her father again.
“I love you no matter what Elle. And I’m so glad to hear you say that. It feels like a burden off of me. After living with your blame for so many years, I felt it deep in my soul. But now that your here and you’ve spoken those words, I feel free again. Yes, I will come home. I can deal with just weekends, it’s better than what I’ve had of you in the past ten years.”
With tears in her eyes, she hugged her father again. “I love you too daddy.”
For the next few hours, they caught up on each other's lives. Chenelle told her father about her career as an advertising executive and her relationship with Drew. Her father did not blame her for the ultimatum she had given Drew stating that he needed to take a step up or a step-down. Chenelle learned a few things from her father about the ranch manager who was new to her.
As Chenelle’s stomach began to growl, she knew it was time for her to find something to eat. “I need to find a restaurant. Then I’m going back to the ranch to start making arrangements for you to come home. I’ll have to replace the front door and some doorways to accommodate your wheelchair. It may take me a week to make arrangements so I need to get working on them to get you home by the end of the week.”
“Ok, I’ll miss you while you're gone,” Roman said and as she hugged him, he kissed her on the cheek.
With a deep smile, she waved goodbye as she walked out the door. Eating a large, early dinner, Chenelle returned to the ranch feeling better after having spoken with her father, she felt more at ease. Walking through the front door, she flipped on the light and looked around. She knew she had a lot of work ahead of her to get the house ready for him.
For the rest of the evening, she spent cleaning the living room and two bedrooms downstairs. Feeling exhausted, she went upstairs to her old bedroom, finding it in the same condition as she had left it, only dusty. Removing the old comforter and sheets, she found a clean set of sheets and blankets in the hallway closet beside the bathroom door.
As soon as she made her bed, she changed her clothes and laid down. She had forgotten how quiet it had been in the country. The silence almost made her ears ring but she drifted off to sleep quickly.
Waking early, as usual, Chenelle knew she still had a lot to accomplish as she pulled herself out of bed. Pulling her robe over her shoulders, she walked down the creaky steps to the kitchen. Looking through the refrigerator and cupboards, she realized she needed to do some grocery shopping. Climbing back up the steps, she dressed in her business clothes and slipped on her high heels.
If she was going to stay here for a week, she would need some new jeans and a good pair of boots. Slipping her jacket over her shoulders, she walked out the door and drove the twenty minutes into town just as the sun was beginning to light up the eastern sky. First stopping at the restaurant, she walked inside and went directly to a booth in the corner that was quiet.
The waitress approached her and took Chenelle’s order then left the table, returning with a cup of coffee. As the waitress walked away, a young man approached her. He was good looking, clean shaven and well dressed. “Hi, are you waiting for someone?” The strange man asked her.
“No.” Chenelle answered.
“Do you mind if I join you?”
“I don’t know why, but if it suits you...” She said and shrugged her shoulders.
Sliding into the booth across from her, the man held out his hand. “I haven’t seen you around here before, I’m Finn, what’s your name?”
“I’m Chenelle.” She answered.
“Chenelle? As in Chenelle Collins?” Finn asked.
“Yes, that would be me. Do you know me?”
“I think everyone in this town knows you,” Finn said.
“How can I be so popular, I haven’t been here in ten years.”
“Yes, everyone knows… Everyone knows your father, and how he felt when you left town...”
“What the hell? Who are you?”
“I told you, I’m Finn. Finn Kensington.”
“My father’s been talking to a lot of people… Let’s get this straight, everyone may have known the small girl I used to be, but they don’t know me now. And you, you certainly don’t know me.”
“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to imply that I know you, I only know what your father says. But he’s said a lot.”
“Well, I’m not that little girl anymore so none of what you know applies.” She said as she sipped her coffee.
“Ok, fair enough. So who are you now?”
“I’m… Chenelle. I work for a large advertising firm in Huntington. I’m only here for a week and I have a very significant other so I’m not looking to get involved with anyone, if that’s what you’re thinking.”
“Wow, you sure put it bluntly, don’t you?”
“What can I say, I like to get my point across,” Chenelle responded.
“Just like your father, not afraid to say anything. You speak what’s on your mind.”
“Yeah, I guess I picked that up from him...” Chenelle said. “So, Finn, I don’t remember you from before, how long have you been in Fostoria?”
“About four years. My father came looking for his other son and found him. I guess my father liked it here so much that he decided to stay. I just tagged along.”
“And what do you and your father do?”
“We… deal in real estate.”
“Oh. Has there been an increase in the area?”
“Yes,” Finn answered as the waitress brought her food and refilled their coffee cups.
“Excuse me while I eat...” Chenelle said and picked up her fork.
“I hear there is a great movie playing at the theater tonight if you’re interested...”
“I told you, I’m not interested.” She answered him.
“Ok. But it’s you that’s missing out.”
Chenelle looked up at him. “Pretty confident, aren’t you?”
“Always.” He smiled.
“Me too. And I’m confident that I don’t want to accompany you.”
“Ok. I know when to take a hint...” He said and stood from the booth. “Have a nice day.” He smiled and walked away.
Drawing in a deep breath, Chenelle was glad he decided to walk away. She felt more comfortable eating in peace. Paying her bill and leaving a tip, Chenelle left the restaurant then drove to the clothing store.
Walking inside, she found three pair or new jeans, four t-shirts, two western shirts, three sweaters and a new pair of cowboy boots. Paying for the items with her debit card, Chenelle lugged the items to her car and shut the trunk. Her next stop was the grocery store to stock the cupboards and the refrigerator, spending another three hundred dollars.
Returning to the ranch, Chenelle began to carry in the groceries. As she turned to get more grocery bags, she saw Kayne come through the front door carrying what was left in the car. “I thought you could use some help,” Kayne said, setting the bags down on the dining room table.
“I didn’t know if you were here,” Chenelle said. “Thank you for the help.”
“You’re welcome. How is your father doing?”
“As good as possible, I guess. I’ve talked him into coming home and have called for a contractor to install new doors and widen the doorways, you know, for his wheelchair.”
“You should’ve talked to me first, I can do all that stuff.”
“Yes, and I’ll do it for free. It’s my contribution, for his return.”
“Thank you, Kayne, that’ll save me a lot of money.”
“I know. You’re welcome. Just get me the supplies and I’ll get started on it.”
“Um, let me call and cancel first...” She said and picked up the phone.
Calling the contractor to cancel, she hung up the phone and looked at Kayne. “Um, you are going to have to figure out what we need and let me know, I’ll take you to the hardware store, or the lumber yard, where ever you need to go.”
“Ok. I’ll get started right now.”
“Great, I’ll make us some lunch,” Chenelle said and went towards the kitchen.
As Kayne measured and made notes, Chenelle made them some sandwiches and opened some store bought potato salad. Bringing the items to the dining room table, she sat down and waited for him to finish. Then he joined her at the table.
“Thank you for lunch.” He said. “So, you’ve talked him into coming back home?”
“Yes, with the inclusion that I would stay the week, and return every weekend. I have a life, I can’t just drop everything...” She said.
“I think he was expecting you to… at least for his sake, the ranch’s sake.”
“I can’t. But I can make arrangements for his care. What about you, you seem to have kept things afloat with him away from the ranch.”
“It’s hard for me to maintain everything, Elle.”
“Please don’t call me that, you haven’t earned enough of my respect to call me that.”
“I’m sorry, it’s just the name I’ve always heard.”
“Well, I haven’t really been called that for ten years.”
“Ok. But anyway, I’ve got all the measurements I need, when we’re done, we could run into town.”
“Alright, just let me clean up a bit.” She said.
When they finished eating, she put everything away then put the dirty dishes in the dishwasher and started it. Wiping the counters and the table, Chenelle finished cleaning while Kayne waited for her. Chenelle followed Kayne out of the house and to the blue Chevy sitting beside the barn. “We’ll take my truck,” Kayne said and got in the driver’s side. Chenelle climbed into the passenger side.
“So, Kayne, my father seems quite fond of you, you must have been at the ranch for some time.”
“Ten years.” He answered.
“Ten years? Really?” She seemed surprised.
“Yes, I had been there five years when your father was diagnosed. Within a year, he was having difficulty walking. He made a very hard decision to appoint a manager. He approached me with the position and I accepted. I wanted to make sure the ranch kept going. I love this job and I certainly don’t want to lose it.”
“And you’ve been the manager for four years? How long has my father been at Mercy Hall?”
“About a year and a half. When he lost the use of his legs, he moved there. There was no one here to care for him.”
“He said he likes the companionship of being there. I assured him he would have a companion at home. I’ll be hiring visiting nurses to come to stay with him. I’ve been thinking of moving you, and the office, into the house. Maybe he could still be included in the process by doing paperwork, phone calls, whatever to make him still involved.”
“That is a great idea, but me moving into the house?”
“I’m sorry, I should’ve spoken with you first, I mean, do you have a wife, kids? Because I’d be alright with them moving in too. The more companions the better.”
Kayne softly laughed. “No, I’m not married, no children either.”
“Oh, but you have a lease somewhere else?”
“No, I live in the barn.”
“Yes, just me. The hands come and go every day.”
“And how many farmhands do you have?”
“Right now, three. I hire a couple of extra guys in the summer, just to cut, bale and stack the hay. But I’ve already let them go, hay season is over.”
“Three is good. So, what event’s does the ranch have coming up?”
“There is a cattle auction on Saturday. I will be taking a bull to sell or trade, and ten calves to sell.”
“And the horses?”
“No, I’m not getting rid of any horses. But I’ve considered buying a few good broodmares and a stallion or two. But that’s a separate auction, next weekend, I think.”
“My father has always refused me when I suggested the horses. He’s not really into that kind of ranching. He’d rather stick to the cattle. But, I’m different. I give you permission to buy a few mares and stallions.”
“Oh, thank you for the permission, but... I didn’t think I needed it.”
“Have you asked my father in the past?”
“Yes, and he refused.”
“Well, then I guess you need my permission. With my father incapacitated, I’m the owner.” Chenelle was instantly irritated by him.
“But how will you oversee things from two hours away, I mean really. There are things that will need your attention on a daily basis.”
“Look I don’t mean to step on your toes, you’ll still be the manager. But I feel the need to remind you that someone is above you on certain decisions.” Chenelle said.
“I understand. But you haven’t been here in ten years. You really have no idea what’s going on.” Kayne responded.
“Then I guess I’ll have to dig in and find out, won’t I?” She said, crossing her arms and looking out the passenger side window.
For the remainder of the trip, Chenelle was silent and wouldn’t look at him. She was somewhat angry for Kayne standing up to her. It was something she wasn’t used to except for Drew. Drew had been the only person who would stand up to her. And it was one reason she loved him. But now, this man, Kayne, had her attention.
Before stopping at the hardware or lumber stores, Kayne stopped at Mercy Hall. “We’re stopping to see my father?” Chenelle said as she opened her door.
“Yes, I stop to see him at least a couple times a week. Sometimes there are issues I need to discuss, other times it’s just to keep him company for a while.”
“You’re sweet.” Chenelle smiled. “I think my father is lucky to have you.”
“I’m lucky to have him. I think of him like my own father.” Kayne said as he pushed the button on the wall.
Opening the door for Chenelle to walk in first, they went directly to Roman’s room. Roman was surprised to see them together and reached for a hug from Chenelle. “Hi, daddy...” Chenelle said as she hugged her father.
“We’re on the way to the hardware store. I’ve offered to help Chenelle prepare the house for your return. I have to widen some doorways. But I should be done in a day or two. She’s busy cleaning the house, I’ve noticed.”
“Good,” Roman said. “I’ve been doing a lot of thinking and I think I’m actually getting excited to come back home.”
“We’re moving the office into the house so you can still be involved with the business. You’re still able to do paperwork and make phone calls, aren’t you?” Chenelle stated.
“Yes. That would be great. Thank you.” Roman responded.
“Give us a few days, we’ll be ready for you,” Kayne said.
“Kayne wanted to stop and say hi, we’re on our way to get supplies to remodel,” Chenelle said.
“Chenelle wants to move me, and the office, into the house.”
“That’s a great idea,” Roman said. “I tried to get him to move in but he insisted on staying in the barn,” Roman said to Chenelle. “Maybe you’ll get him to do it.”
“I will. He has no choice.” Chenelle said then looked at Kayne.
With a frown on his face, Kayne gave her a look of disapproval but said nothing. Staying just a few minutes longer, she hugged her father then they left to get their supplies. Stopping at the lumberyard first, Kayne gathered the things he would need, then Chenelle paid for them. Next, the hardware store where he gathered the rest of his supplies and a few tools, then Chenelle paid for the items.
Returning to the ranch, Chenelle helped Kayne carry the items into the house where he started on the internal doorways. Having to widen the doors to the office, the bedroom, the bathroom, and the kitchen, he started on the bedroom first. Chenelle found something to cook for dinner, for the two of them and took out the meat to thaw.
Sitting at the dining room table with some paperwork, Chenelle’s eyes kept drifting to Kayne, watching him work with no shirt on. He was sweaty but she thought he was incredibly sexy. The contour of his tone muscles showing beneath a farmers tan. His short, black, wavy hair that hung just to his earlobes. And the rough stubble on his face. Catching Chenelle’s attention, Kayne looked up and smiled at her.
Emotionally startled, she looked back down at her paperwork and continued with a smile. Standing up, she checked on their dinner which consisted of pot roast, potatoes, carrots, and onions. Having just an hour left to cook, she completed the paperwork and filed it in the cabinet. Then she began to set the table for two, expecting him to stay for dinner.
Kayne finished the doorway of the bedroom and used the downstairs bathroom to clean up. Draining the liquid broth from the roast, she cooked it on the stove to make gravy, adding bullion and corn starch. Then they both sat down at the dining room table to eat.
Filling their plates with food, they began to eat. “You… are a great cook,” Kayne said as he took his first couple of bites. “Oh my God, I haven’t had food this good since I lived with my parents.”
“Thank you for the compliment… My mother taught me how to cook, for the most part. But I worked in a few restaurants while in college.”
“It’s paid off...” Kayne smiled.
After dinner, while Chenelle cleaned up and put everything away, Kayne got started on the bathroom. Having to expand the wall some to accommodate, he opened the bathroom and the closet together, putting the doorway in the middle. When Chenelle finished with her clean up, she helped Kayne tear out the wall between the bathroom and the closet. By the time they finished, it was sunset and they decided to pick it up the following day.
But Chenelle was too wired to go to bed. As Kayne headed to the barn to start his evening chores, Chenelle followed him. “Where are you going?” Kayne asked.
“I thought I would help you with your chores. I was thinking about going for an evening ride and didn’t want to go alone...” She suggested.
“Oh, you want me to ride with you?”
“That’s what I was getting at if you would.”
“I would love to. In fact, we can do chores when we get back. Right now, let’s enjoy the sunset.” Kayne said as he went to the stall with the golden palomino quarter horse gelding. “This is Grenade, he’s my ride. There are three other horses to choose from.” He walked to the next stall which contained a dark blueberry roan gelding. “This is Stormy, he’s well broke but he’s got spirit.”
Walking to the third stall, Chenelle saw a pure white quarter horse mare. “This is Oakley, she’s a young, green broke mare. She’ll definitely give you a ride...” He said and walked to the fourth stall. “This here is Coffee. She has a two-month-old colt named Tucker because he’ll tucker you out.”
Chenelle laughed. “That’s funny.” She said and turned to return to the second stall. “I think I’ll give Stormy a ride.” She said and opened the gate.
Walking in, she took him by the halter and led him out of the stall, hooking him to the cross ties on either side of the hallway. With a quick brush down, she threw the blanket on his back, followed by the saddle Kayne had given her. Tightening down the saddle, she let the stirrup back down. Taking the bridle, she slipped the bit into the horse's mouth then attached the buckle on the headstall.
Leading the horses out of the back of the barn, Kayne closed the gate then they climbed onto their horses. “This feels so good, I haven’t been riding since I left the ranch ten years ago… You must have started right after I left.”
“I started at the end of June. He hired me for season work but kept me after the hay season was over.”
“And I left at the beginning of June. As soon as I graduated. I left for college early, moved to Huntington to attend the university. I never looked back.”
“I know you blamed your father for your mother’s death… but there was nothing he could’ve done.”
“You weren’t there, you don’t know what happened.” She snapped at him.
“Oh, but I’ve heard the story so, so many times. I know there was nothing he could’ve done for her. He was too far away. I even know exactly where it happened, on these seven hundred acres.”
“You may know what happened, and you might think you know me, but all my father talked about is the girl I used to be. He doesn’t know me now and you certainly don’t.” Chenelle said and took off at a dead run up the hill as the sun peeked over the horizon before her.
Kayne kicked his horse into a run but knew he could never catch up because she was riding the fastest horse on the ranch. Stopping at the crest of the hill, Chenelle stopped and climbed off her horse, looking down at the small river below. Kayne stopped and climbed off Grenade, walking up beside her.
“That’s the most beautiful view I’ve ever seen,” Kayne said, looking at Chenelle.
“Yes, it is, isn’t it?” She said, looking back at Kayne.
“I wasn’t talking about the sunset...” He said and stepped closer to her.
“Kayne...” His name barely flowed off her lips as he leaned in to kiss her.
Pulling back, Chenelle slapped him across the face, then just looked at him. He didn’t care as he looked back at her and kissed her again. As much as she tried and knew it was wrong, Chenelle couldn’t seem to stop. Kayne’s kiss was drawing her in as she slipped her arms around his waist and up his back, pulling him closer.
Stepping back, Chenelle wiped her mouth.”I can’t do this…” She said and went back to Stormy where she climbed on and kicked it into a run towards the barn. For a minute, Kayne watched before jumping on Grenade and chasing after her.
Chenelle jumped off Stormy and opened the gate, closing it behind them. Leading him into his stall, she slipped the bridle off of him and hung it on the saddle horn before removing the strap and pulling off the saddle. Walking from the stall carrying the tack, she closed and locked the gate to his stall just as Kayne was coming into the barn.
“Elle...” He said.
She just peered at Kayne as she disappeared into the tack room, throwing the saddle on its tree. Turning around, she saw Kayne standing in the doorway of the tack room. “Please tell me what’s wrong.”
“Kayne… I have someone who is very significant to me. I can’t do this with you...” She said and pushed past him with a hard shove.
Walking to the house, she went inside and slammed the door shut. She felt confused, angry, in shock. How dare he do that to her. Climbing the stairs, she went into her room to find clean pajamas. Climbing into the shower, she couldn’t get his kiss off her mind. It was passionate and real. It was hot and burning a hole through her still.
With the hot water pouring over her, her mind switched between Drew and Kayne’s kiss. She couldn’t get the kiss off her mind and she felt guilty. But she wasn’t even sure if she was still involved with Drew or if what she said was their final words. And the more she thought about it, the more she assumed they were through, after all the times he stated he was against marriage. She assumed she had lost Drew.
After drying off, Chenelle dressed in her cozy flannel pajamas and returned to her room. Laying in bed in the darkness, she laid wide awake still thinking of Kayne’s kiss. She couldn’t shake the kiss off her mind and the more she thought about it, the more she thought it felt right. For long hours, she laid awake, trying to think of her life in every aspect but her mind always returned to Kayne’s kiss.