Stella Comes Home for the Summer
I’m in the barn when I hear the Jeep’s tires crunching on gravel in the driveway. It’s the beginning of June and I was not prepared when Stella called and said she was coming home for the summer. She’s been home a few times here and there over the year and a half since John died, but never for more than a couple of days at a time. Last summer she went to Italy with Gemma for the majority of it, and then spent the rest of it working at a summer residency for her ceramics, leaving me to deal with the farm. I couldn’t believe it when I heard my name read as part of John’s will, leaving me part of his farm to share with his two daughters. I have never felt more loved and accepted as I did when my name was read, even though it meant I would have to deal with Stella until one of us decides to sell.
I’ve managed to keep her out of my head lately, but I think it just has more to do with the amount of practice I’ve had, and not the dog that I bought to replace her. Reece is just a puppy, but I can already tell she’s going to be a good cow dog. Plus, she makes good company.
After I got Stella’s phone call last week, I spent the next few days cleaning the small mess I’d turned her house into. Since she wasn’t living there anymore, I moved into the guest room full time and out of my loft. As much as I loved that place, I was sick of having to keep extra blankets at the foot of my bed. Plus, being next door to a bathroom is extremely nice, and I don’t constantly smell like horses anymore. I just didn’t want Stella to see how much of a guy I actually am, so I put a little effort into the dishes and vacuuming. Reece sheds a lot, but she’s a damn good dog to have around the farm for company, although I feel like I’m constantly having a one-sided conversation.
I turn and watch the Jeep pull into the garage, and have to remind myself that she isn’t mine anymore. I have no right to her anymore, and it breaks my heart. I lost her a long time ago, and I regret letting her go every day. Especially when I have to see her pictures scattered around the house, and her horse feeling betrayed in the barn. Speaking of Zeus, that’s going to be my ice breaker right now.
I march through the green grass of the lawn, and push open the front door, my eyes immediately locking on Stella, who freezes and stares back at me.
“Look, I know you’re mad at me, and I know we don’t get a long anymore, but you have a horse outside who misses you like crazy. So before you go and do anything else, I suggest you better go see him.” I state, staring levelly at her despite how hard my heart is actually pounding.
Stella lowers her eyes and nods at me, brushing past me without saying a word. I watch from the doorway as she leads her gelding out of the barn and hops on him bareback without a bridle or halter, and walks him around the yard like she hasn’t been absent from his life for so long. It’s so beautiful watching the two of them bend around the trees in the yard, and Stella throw her head back and arms out as Zeus breaks into a lope and they basically become one. I’ve never seen anything like the connection that girl has with her horse.
After I feel like I’ve stared at her for long enough, I turn back to the living room to see two bags waiting by the couch, so I go ahead and pull them into her bedroom before returning to the barn I was working on mucking stalls in. I’ve finished two by the time Stella returns with Zeus, and I have to force myself to keep working instead of staring at her. I can’t believe I was ever stupid enough to let her go. I should have fought for her and not let my pride get in the way. I could only imagine where we’d be if I had.
Arms slip around my waist from behind, and at first I think I’m day dreaming. Then they squeeze, and I hear Stella sniffle behind me. “I’m sorry I’m such a difficult person, Beau.” She whispers before letting go and allowing me to turn around so I can look at her. I didn’t realize how much I actually missed being in her arms, though, so I can’t do anything but tug her to my chest when I see tears falling down her cheeks.
“Well I’m not exactly a ray of sunshine either, darlin’.” I sigh, trying to brush the tears off her face until she buries it in my chest, full-on sobbing.
“I’m sorry I haven’t been home to help you. I know you’ve needed it, and I know Zeus has missed me. I know you were right when you broke up with me, because I wasn’t ready to commit to a long-term relationship. I know that now, I knew that then. I had no right to force you to deal with this place alone, right after losing someone you were close with, too. I’m sorry I couldn’t handle your rejection and my father’s death at the same time. I wish I could take it all back, but I can’t, Beau, and I’m so sorry for that.” Stella cries, stepping back and allowing me to look at her red face from how hard she’s crying. Just seeing her crying because of me breaks my heart, but I know for her sake that we’re still not in a good place.
“Hey, hey, please don’t cry. I’m not worth crying over.” I mutter, grabbing her shoulders and pulling her back towards me because I just want her to stop crying. “I don’t blame you for anything, Stel. I know you didn’t take his death well – none of us really did. I managed around here. It’s okay, Stel. Please stop crying.”
“I’m sorry, thing have just been getting to me lately and I’ve been thinking a lot about things.” She sniffles into my shirt, and I frown as I’m resting my chin against her hair.
“What do you mean?” I ask, curious about what she could possibly mean.
“Mostly about us. I know we couldn’t make the distance thing work, but as much as I’ve tried – and oh, have I tried – I can’t seem to get over you. Every time I meet someone I think they might be the one to get me over you, but then I find myself comparing them to you and every single time they fall short. I know you haven’t gotten over me, either. If you had then you wouldn’t have kept those ridiculous pictures I framed for you from our first summer together. I saw them on the kitchen shelf. Beau, I hated who I became after we broke up. It took me a long time to realize that even though you broke up with me, I still needed you in my life.” She babbles, and I’m honestly kind of shocked into a frozen spot, but my mind keeps reeling thinking about her trying to get over me with other random guys, and I do not like where my mind goes.
I can’t help myself when I grab her chin and crush her lips against mine. The feeling of her melting into my body as she kisses me back puts fire into my veins, and I can’t believe she thought she lost me. Leaning down so I’m her height, I wrap my arms around her waist and pick her up, quickly carrying her up the stairs to the cot that hasn’t been slept in for years. As soon as her head hits the old dusty pillow, she tears her lips from mine and starts kissing my neck as she’s clawing at the hem of my shirt, trying to tug it up despite our connected bodies. Honestly, I couldn’t care less how many clothes we’re wearing – just the fact that she’s actually in my arms right now is enough for me.
“Stel, you know we’re not good together.” I sigh, pressing my own kisses into her neck.
“No, we’re good together. Actually, we’re great together. We’re just not good apart.” She corrects, and I have to wonder how long it took her to come to this conclusion, because I came to it about a month after I broke things off.
“I was so hoping you’d say that.” I mutter, pulling her lips from my neck so I can kiss them again. “I can’t promise you anything more than the summer, though, Stel.”
“I’m not asking for anything more.” She sighs, finally succeeding in pulling my shirt over my head, and then I follow quickly with hers.
“Beau, look! What am I?” Stella asks several weeks later when we’re sitting on the beach after taking a couple days for ourselves. She’s currently spinning around like a ballerina, and I tell her so. “No, goof ball. I’m Bryndle trying to take dance lessons! She never was very good at dancing.” Stella giggles, falling into the sand and curling up beside me so we can watch the sunset.
“Okay, I think that’s enough alcohol for you, missy.” I laugh, realizing that I should not have bought her those wine coolers she asked for. Her 21st was back in January, but since we weren’t together then, I told her I’d buy her something now as a belated birthday gift.
“Hey, you’re the one who bought them for me.” She giggles, tipping the last one up to her lips and taking a sip. I laugh at her while I swig my Budweiser, upset that the liquor store I chose didn’t have any IPAs for me, and tuck her into my side so I don’t have to be away from her anymore. I know that this is just a summer fling and that when fall comes around I’m going to have to let her go, but I’ll be okay as long as I get to hold her now.
“For the record, Stella, I’ve never stopped loving you. Not for one second.” I whisper into her hair before kissing the top of her head.
“Let’s go skinny dipping, Beau!” She giggles, apparently not hearing what I said. I groan and try to pull her back down to me when she stands and starts stripping her sundress, followed by her bikini top as she walks towards the ocean with her bare back to me. I force myself to swallow as I watch her walk away, grinning to myself as she strips the bikini bottoms as her feet touch the surf. Glancing around to make sure nobody else is around before standing up and jogging to the edge of the water, I grab her wrist and tug her to me.
“You’re not going into that ocean alone while you’re intoxicated.” I growl, crushing her lips to mine as I kiss her until her knees go week and I’m fully supporting her. It takes several seconds after I release her lips for her to find her words, but I can’t stop smiling because she’s back in my arms again and I can kiss her anytime I want.
“Then come in with me!” She giggles again tugging back from me and wrapping her long fingers around mine. I’m still helpless against her, and don’t know how to tell her no, so I follow her – albeit, not begrudgingly. She continues dancing in the surf, and when I hear people laughing behind us, I quickly yank her to me, checking over my shoulder to make sure the older couple walking on the beach has passed.
“Okay, you’re putting your clothes back on.” I groan, breathing out a sigh of relief when they don’t seem to notice the bikini bottoms tossed a few yards from the surf.
“Don’t you like the view though?” She asks, stepping back from me and dancing in front of me, forcing me to swallow hard and tug her back to the shore.
“I love the view, but I’d rather see it when we’re alone in your room later tonight.” I whisper into her hair as I bend down to scoop her top and bottoms out of the sand and hand them to her. She quickly giggles and agrees while retying the top, and as soon as she’s halfway dressed I lean down and toss her over my shoulder so I can carry her to the truck so we can get home.
“Beau, I wish we’d never broke up.” Stella murmurs as she rests her cheek against my shoulder while I’m driving home.
“You know our relationship wasn’t healthy. I know now that Connor’s gay, but you also should have told me that yourself after you introduced us. I’m not a good person when I’m insanely jealous – and boy, was I insanely jealous.” I chuckle, rubbing her thigh and turning my head so I can kiss her temple.
“You should have figured it out on your own, Beau. I mean, come on. He’s gorgeous, has a great sense of style, is a frickin’ painter for crying out loud, and calls me ‘girlfriend’ all the time. I think your gay-dar needs some fine-tuning.” She giggles, and I roll my eyes, because I guess that is true.
“But I’m gorgeous, have a great sense of style, and called you my girlfriend when anyone asked, and I’m not gay, obviously.”
“Beau, your sense of style revolves entirely around Wranglers and bent-rails. Do you even know who Ralph Lauren, Oscar de la Renta or Marc Jacobs are?”
“Uh, Marc Jacobs is shoes right?” I ask, frowning.
“No, Silly. They’re all clothes designers. Ralph Lauren has some beautiful gowns, and I would kill for an Oscar de la Renta wedding dress.” She groans, and my eyebrows shoot up in surprise.
“Uh, you’ve thought about wedding dresses?”
“Of course. I don’t want the typical strapless dress, instead I want it to have straps and be a lacy, slightly mermaid style with a short train.” She sighs, and I don’t know why I’m so surprised. “Beau, thinking about wedding dresses is something every teenage girl does. I’ve had a wedding planned since I was 16. I’m not saying that it’s going to be my wedding – just that I knew what I wanted back then.”
“I guess that makes sense.” I mumble, frowning at the dark highway that’s barely being illuminated by headlights that I need to clean.
“Didn’t you ever think about your wedding?” She asks, moving her cheek from my shoulder, only to replace it with her chin as she stares at me expectantly.
Not past the girl who’s going to be standing beside me and the kids we’ll have after we say ‘I do.’ “I don’t know, not really. As long as there’s chocolate cake, I’ll be happy.” I shrug, pushing the image of Stella standing at an alter beside me from my brain. “And a beautiful girl who I love, I suppose.”
“Oh, you’re such a romantic.” She groans, and I know she’s teasing me from the tone in her voice, but I have to figure out how to keep her awake for twenty more minutes it’ll take to get back home. I don’t want to miss the show she promised me earlier just because she can’t stay awake.
“Beau, next time you want sex, all you have to do is ask. Stop leaving me little hints everywhere.” Stella yells, stomping into the house. It’s almost August and she was sick all last week and even though she insisted she wasn’t contagious – I didn’t want to take the chances of getting sick myself in the middle of cattle shipping season. We got the last few bales hauled the week before she got sick, and I think that’s what caused her sickness. “It’s not funny. What if someone else would have found the ‘I can’t wait to see your black thong on the floor tonight’ note that was pinned to the corkboard in the tack room?”
“It’s not like anybody goes in there besides us.” I smirk, glancing over the back of the chair I’m currently taking my break in. I’ve been on Jessie all morning, and Reece is curled up on my lap. Poor girl is all tuckered out after yapping at steers heels. “Come on, Stel. It’s been like, 10 days, and summer’s almost over.”
“Zeus was not thrilled when I read it out loud.” She glares, and I can’t help but grin at her.
“You read it out lout to your horse? And he wasn’t thrilled? Oh, how could you tell?” I finally shift Reece onto the couch and stand up so I can confront Stella face to face. I know it’s not the most conventional way, but I’m determined to have as much of this girl as I can before she leaves for her senior year of college. Damn it, I’ve done my waiting, and I’m going to have to wait another year before I can try to convince her to have a normal relationship.
“If you keep mocking me you’re not going to be seeing my black thong.” She glares at me, before storming out of the house and back to the barn.
Damn, if she thinks that one is bad, then she definitely hasn’t found the others. I whistle to Reece to wake her up before trailing Stella back to the barn, trying to inconspicuously retrieve the note I taped to her saddle before she finds it.
“What’s that?” She asks, coming from the tack-room with a scoop of food for Zeus.
“Uh, nothing.” I answer, quickly crumbling the note in my hand and trying to stuff it in my pocket.
“Let me see it.” She demands, and when I refuse, she grabs my hand out of my pocket and forces me to open it, revealing the crumpled sticky note I couldn’t get out of my hand. “I promise I’ll make you scream.”
“Hey, I’ve basically been a monk since we broke up, and then I got another taste of you and now that we haven’t done anything in a while, it’s bringing out a different side of me.” I shrug, thinking that’s an entirely valid point. I’m not saying that I’ve been a total monk, just basically one. The night Colt got married is an entirely different story, because his wife, Rachel, had a single bridesmaid who I wasn’t about to deny – even though I couldn’t get Stella out of my head that entire night.
“Yeah, sure, Beau.” Stel rolls her eyes at me, and I frown as I softly grab her hip and pull her to my side.
“I’m sorry. You know you drive me crazy though. It’s different when I don’t have to see you every day, but when you’re right here within touching distance and I can’t touch you – so yeah, my hormones go a little crazy.” I kiss her temple and rub her shoulder while Reece flops down on the dusty floor that needs swept.
“I know.” She sighs, closing her eyes and inviting my lips to hers. I kiss her softly and try to resist the urge to drag her upstairs right now. I know that won’t go over well with her, so I’ll have to wait until tonight, hopefully. She pulls away from me to return to taking Zeus’s food to him, and I take the chance to quickly grab the last note off of the top of the feed deep freeze before Stel shuts it, shoving it into my pocket so she’ll never know.
“Hey I’m going to start supper. We’re having tater tot casserole, right?” I ask, meeting her at Zeus’s stall where she’s rubbing his neck while talking to him.
“Um, yeah sure, if that’s what you want. You’ll probably have to make the tater tots because I think we’re out of the frozen ones.” She murmurs, pressing a kiss into his mane before coming out and locking his stall behind her.
“Uh, how do I do that?” I frown, second-guessing the casserole.
“Tell you what, I’ll just fry some chicken and I can stop and pick up some tater tots tomorrow when I go to town.”
“And in the meantime?” I ask, slowly sliding towards her and grabbing her waist.
“You’re not going to give this up, are you?” She laughs, and I shake my head and dive in to kiss her until her knees go weak and I can’t think straight. “I guess we can skip dinner.”
“Now that’s what I’m talking about.” I grin, picking her up and carrying her inside, accidentally letting the door shut in Reece’s face. “I’m going to love you all night long.”
“Is that a promise?” She smirks, pressing her lips into my neck before I can make it to her room.
“You bet your ass it is.” I growl, dropping her on her bed and quickly undoing my belt while she yanks my shirt open and runs her fingers down my chest.
“How about round 3, 4, 5 or whatever round we’re on in the shower?” I ask, having lost count a long time ago as Stella’s naked body is draped across mine.
“Can we just rest for a while? It’s been a long time since we’ve done this much in one night. I mean, Beau, it’s after 3 AM.” She mumbles, glancing at the clock on the bedside table. “We’ve gone through 4 condoms.”
“Hey, it’s alright. We can wait a while.” I sigh, trailing my fingers down her spine until they find one of the dips in her back right above her ass.
“No, I don’t want to wait. I changed my mind. The shower sounds nice.” She shakes her head, tossing a couple of strands of her blonde hair into my mouth. I try to avoid gagging as I tear them out of my mouth, and grab her hand as I lead her towards the bathroom with a smile on my face.
“Shower sex is so hard.” I groan, sitting on the toilet lid while I reach for the box of condoms I know I have stashed under the sink since we used the last few in the box in her bedroom. “Stel, do you know where the extra box of condoms is?”
“Uh, the extra box was the one in my drawer. I thought you were going to buy a replacement last time you went to the store?” She frowns, crossing her arms over her stomach, and my breath catches in my throat.
“No, I thought you were picked them up.”
“I didn’t, so basically what you’re saying is that we have no condoms in this house?”
“Damn, I guess that is what I’m saying.” I sigh, glancing from the beautiful naked girl standing in front of me to the shower.
“Well, you know… I am on the pill and it’s like, 99.99% effective, and I haven’t missed a day in months.” Stel takes a couple of steps towards me, grabbing my hand and pulling me to my feet.
“You’re okay with that?” I ask, just double checking.
“Mhm. It’s been a long time since we’ve had shower sex, and I’m in the mood for it now – condom or no condom. Now fuck me raw, Mr. Morris.” She growls, and I don’t think she’s ever talked to me like that – in fact, I know she hasn’t – but I kind of like it.
“Yes ma’am.” I reply, picking her up as I step into the warm shower.
I think the first time we had shower sex, she had the water so damn hot my back was scorched for a week – and that was over all of her nail scratches. I can’t ever actually shower with her though, because I learned that that’s how she actually showers. I don’t understand how she likes her skin melting off every time water hits her back, but at least she compromises for me with the only slightly hot shower.
“Oh my god, I think that was the best sex we’ve ever had.” She gushes, pressing her forehead into my collarbone as I’m trying to catch my breath and support almost all of her weight at the same time – while standing in a slippery shower.
“You’re incredible, Stel.” I whisper, kissing her neck and then her temple.
“We’re incredible.” She replies, softly grabbing my earlobe between her teeth. I can’t do anything but nod at her and shut the water stream that turned ice cold a long time ago off. Actually, I don’t remember when it turned cold.
“Come on, babe, we should probably sleep a little bit tonight.” I murmur, stepping out of the shower before putting her down and grabbing us both towels. That’s when my stomach decides to remind me that we didn’t eat supper.
“I could whip up a batch of macaroni if you’re that hungry, Beau.” She smiles, tucking the towel around her boobs and letting the two-inches too short towel hang on her body.
“It’s four in the morning, and mac and cheese could not sound better.” I grin, leaning down and kissing her softly. “We’re so not getting anything done tomorrow.”
“So not getting anything done.” She murmurs, grabbing my towel and tugging me to the kitchen. I make myself comfortable at the kitchen table before an idea pop into my head.
“Hey Stel, how do you feel about the kitchen counter?” I ask, raising my eyebrow a I glance at the granite countertop.
“What do you – oh, um, well that’s a place I don’t think we’ve ever done anything.” She answers, pour water into a pot and turning the stove on.
“And are you opposed to it?”
“Do you want to?”
I glance around me at the pitch black night and leave my towel on the chair as I reach Stella in two steps, quickly turn her around and lift her onto the table a safe distance away from the stove. “We’re so not going to be that old couple who only has sex on our anniversary and national holidays.” Stella sigh, digging her fingernails into my shoulder blade.
“I wouldn’t let that happen. Oh my god, I don’t think I’ll ever get enough of you.” I gasp, trying to climb down from the high we were just riding.
“I love you, Beau. I love you so much. I only have one more year, why don’t we try the relationship thing again?” Stella asks, sighing as she rewraps the towel around her chest and returns to the stove to dump the noodles in while I retrieve my own towel.
“You know exactly why we can’t. But I promise, as soon as you’re graduated, I’ll get your studio set up in the shop and you can move home and we can have a real relationship if that’s what you really want.” I tell her, standing behind her and rubbing her shoulders.
“No, what I really want is to run away to Aruba and get married, but I don’t think Bryndle would ever get over not being invited to our wedding.”
Annnnd there’s the wedding talk again. As much as I want to marry this girl and can literally picture our future together, there is nothing further from my mind right now. She’s not ready for the marriage step, and I’m still trying to figure out if we’re going to survive this toxic relationship. I know I say I’m fine with a summer fling, but I’ve never really been that guy. Maybe when I was 20, but I’m not anymore.