Unexpected Love

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The next few weeks were a whirl of working and aiding Sterling in his recovery. Sarah tirelessly attempting to avoid his shameless flirting. After the first week he was able to walk around a bit but tired easily so he was still around the house most of the day.

Today was Sterling’s first day back out on the ranch. Sarah could see he was excited when she came down for breakfast. The men were already there talking loudly and eating. “Good morning gentlemen.” Sarah sang.

“Mornin’ Sarah.” Brick boomed, smiling. Sarah sat down and Sterling turned to her, speaking low. “Good morning Sarah, you look lovely today.”

Sarah smiled and nudged his arm with her elbow. “You quit that flirting Mr. Evans. Eat up, you want all your energy.”

Sterling gave her a smirk and then continued with his breakfast, the men talking of their plans for the day.

“And Sarah, what’s your day look like?”

Sarah sighed, “The usual. The laundry, some cleaning, checking on the garden.”

Brick smiled, “Lovely.” He hit the table with both his hands and then stood up, “Well gents, we ready to head out?”

“Mhm” they both mumbled, their mouths full with their last few bites of food.

They all took off leaving Sarah to finish her breakfast in relative peace. Sarah spent the morning doing laundry and straightening the house. After lunch she made her way to the garden and checked on her “little babies.” That was what she called all her sprouting plants. They were growing bigger now, but she still called them that. She water them and pulled back some brush that had grown around the edge. “Soon.” She said to herself, excited for her first little harvest. Now that she was done with her work for the day she made her way to the barn. Three of the six horses were gone but she knew the men would give them a brush down before they came in. Sarah grabbed her brush and got to work, spending some extra time with Sonny. She had come to love that horse.

She headed back to the house, knowing there was about an hour and a half before dinner. She sat on the front porch swing and relaxed for a bit, breathing the warm evening air. Then she made her way inside and upstairs. She washed up and fixed her hair that had come a bit disheveled from working. Sarah made her way back down and she heard the men loudly make their way into the house. She had just reached the bottom of the stairs when they all walked through. “Good day?” She asked, almost laughing from the look of them. They were covered in dust but they had big smiles on their faces like they had enjoyed their work today.

Garrett tipped his hat as he walked past her, “yes ma’am!”

She smiled and turned to Brick and Sterling who were walking towards her. Suddenly Sterling pulled her into his arms, his hands around her waist, and spun her around. Sarah squealed and had to hold on to his neck to keep herself upright. When he set her down he tipped his hat back and planted a deep kiss on her lips.

He released her with a smile when they were interrupted by Brick’s whistle.

Sarah stood there blushing and frozen in place. “So it was a good day then..” she finally stammered.

The two men laughed and walked upstairs to wash up.

Sarah entered the dining room, still in a bit of a daze and made herself busy setting the table. The men came down just as she took her seat.

They both gave her shoulders a squeeze as they walked past, each taking their seats. Sarah stared at Sterling, bewildered, as he piled food onto his plate. He could just kiss her like that and then act like it hadn’t affected him at all. Or maybe it hadn’t.. she thought to herself. Maybe he had just gotten excited from his big day and done it by accident? Sarah shook her head and started serving herself some food.

“So how was your day? You all seemed happy when you got home.” Sarah asked, hoping to receive some insight.

Brick boomed, “Apparently some of us had a better day than others!” He laughed and clapped Sterling on the shoulder. Sterling laughed and then turned to Sarah with a smile. Sarah gave him a hesitant look before turning back to her plate. “So what happened?”

“Oh, nothing really. The day just went our way. The cows cooperated and we made it across to the west side in no time.” Sterling replied. “I enjoyed being back out there.”

Sarah rolled her eyes and muttered to herself, “I could tell...”

After dinner, they made their way out to the back porch this evening to enjoy the cool night. They sat on their rocking chairs talking and enjoying the breeze.

“Sarah my girl, your garden is looking great!” Brick nodded toward her little plot, her small plants beginning to grow larger.

Sarah smiled, “It is! I’m looking forward to harvest time.”

They each sat quietly before Brick spoke, “Well I’m going to turn in, Goodnight y’all.” He got up and walked inside.

“Night Pop” “Goodnight Brick” they both chimed before Sterling turned to Sarah, “You ready to head up?”

“Mhm, in a minute. This breeze is nice.” Sarah closed her eyes and enjoyed it for a minute before she got up. As they walked in Sterling took her arm in his. “Are you going to stay with me tonight?”

“Well.. I don’t know..” Sarah hesitated.

“You’ve been kicked out of your room for long enough. I’m not hurt anymore, you don’t have to worry.” Sterling reassured her. Sarah had been sleeping in the spare room since Sterling’s injury and even though she missed sleeping in her own bed she was hesitant. The bed in the spare room was lumpy and uncomfortable but at least it distanced her from him. She was still determined to not let this little bout of kindness toward her make her fall for him.

“Okay..” she said cautiously. When they made it upstairs he let go of her arm and made his way to the bed, taking off his pants before climbing in. Sarah made her way to the changing shade and changed into her nightgown. When she climbed into bed Sterling turned to her.

Sarah let out a breath, “Okay what’s going on with you?”

“What do you mean?” Sterling asked, knowing she was cautious of his change in demeanor.

“I spent weeks trying to be friends, at the least be civil, and you wanted no part of it,” Sarah looked at him, squinting her eyes, “What changed?”

“Sarah it’s nothing.” He rubbed the back of his head and avoided her eyes, “I just realized it was stupid of me to keep fighting you. You’re kind and bright and smart and witty and beautiful. I should have been kinder to you.”

Sarah stared at him. “Yes, you should have.” She paused, watching him fidget a bit. “I know you say that you’ve changed, that you see something you didn’t before, but I don’t quite believe you. It’s going to take more than some flirting to make me decide that you mean it.”

Sterling smiled and cupped her face in his hand, “Then I’ll spend every day convincing you.” With that he places a small peck on her forehead, rolled over, and went to sleep. Sarah rolled over and thought about it. Should she let him back in?

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