When they made it back to the house it was almost lunch time. Sarah and Brick ate quickly before Brick rushed out to get on with his day. Sarah went and changed into one of her old ragged dresses, perfect for digging around in the dirt and weeds. She tied up her hair and rolled her sleeves and got to work. Sarah spent the entire rest of the day clearing the garden. She pulled all the weeds and tore out the old trellises- they needed to be fixed and washed anyway. It took hours, but as Sarah sat on the back steps covered in a thick layer of dirt, she was proud of herself.
"Looks like you worked hard!" Martha spoke from behind her. She walked up and handed Sarah a glass of sweet tea. Literal perfection, Sarah thought to herself as she sipped it.
"It was a mess. But I'm glad I got it all done. I'm disgusting though." She thanked Martha for the tea and walked into the house.
When she entered she looked up at the clock, thankfully she had a little over an hour before dinner. Taking advantage of the empty house, she grabbed a towel and a fresh change of clothes and went in to the bathing room. It was a room downstairs where everyone could have access. She filled the tub with hot water and then climbed in and soaked. It was calming and she felt so much better. As she walked out, drying her hair with a towel she crashed into her human wall again.
She gasped, “Oh I’m sorry.” She looked up into those ocean eyes and was lost for a minute before coming to and realizing her hands were braced against his chest. She quickly took her hands away and cleared her throat. “Washing up?”
Sterling looked down at her, “Yes, it’s about time for dinner.”
“Mhm.” Was all she could muster.
Sterling walked off and she was left stunned for a moment before she made her way into the dining room. She set the table and found Martha in the kitchen. “Need help?” She asked.
“Carry these in for me?” Martha handed her a giant basket of rolls and Sarah placed them on the table just as Brick and Sterling entered the dining room. “Evening Sarah.” Brick gave her a kiss on the cheek and then took his seat. Sarah sat down next to Sterling and gave him a warm smile, only to be returned with a gloomy stare. Have we really gone from almost friends to cold again in a matter of hours? She thought.
“Martha, dinner looks wonderful! Also, you two girls did a wonderful job clearing out that back garden. Looks great.” Brick said as he grabbed a roll from the basket.
“Thank you Mr. Brick, but actually Sarah did the whole thing herself! I was making bread all day.”
Brick and Sterling turned to her, their eyes wide with shock. “Really?” Brick asked.
“Why are you all so surprised? Just because I’m a lady doesn’t mean I can’t get my hands dirty.” Sarah smirked. “Although I’ll probably feel it in the morning,” she mumbled.
Brick laughed, “That’s my girl! First thing tomorrow morning I’ll plow it for you, sound okay?”
“That would be amazing. Thank you.”
She gave him a smile and they all enjoyed their dinner, Sarah eyeing Sterling once in a while curious about the newly cold shoulder.
As they entered their room she closed the door behind them and then confronted him. "Okay, what happened to being civil?"
"I am being civil." Sterling shook his head and walked toward the bed.
"No, you're being cold and irritable like you have been the last two weeks. What is going on? I'm sick of always getting the cold shoulder from you."
In two large bounds Sterling was in front of her, their bodies almost touching. "How about we just go about coexisting like before. You do your thing and I'll do mine."
The closeness made Sarah's breath catch. "I'm not okay with that," she whispered. "I'm not going to live the rest of my life married to some stranger."
"Then leave." His words shocked her and she was surprised at how much they stung.
Anger flashed through her eyes, "Why won't you meet me half way? Why are you making this so much more difficult than it has to be?" She took a breath, "If you didn't want this you should have just said no!"
"It wasn't my place. You could have said no too!" he said, throwing his arms up in the air.
"I SAID NO! But I'm a woman, which in my family means that my only purpose is to marry someone that furthers my family's plans and to pop out some babies!" She could feel the tears stinging the back of her eyes. "I'm just trying to make the best of this, maybe be friends instead of spending the rest of my life unloved and unwanted!"
Sarah stormed out of the room, slamming the door behind her, leaving Sterling standing shocked in the middle of the room. She ran down the stairs and through the front door. Standing on the front porch she didn't know where to go. It wasn't like Atlanta where she could just go for a walk and cool her mind. This was the middle of nowhere, Texas, USA. She knew at night she risked falling, getting lost, or even being found by some coyotes.
Sarah sat on the porch swing, pulling her legs up to her chest and staring off into the night.
"Did you really say no?" She heard a voice speak to her from the side. Turning she saw Brick, a worried look on his face.
Sarah groaned, "How much did you hear?"
"All of it." He walked over to her and sat beside her on the swing. "The walls are thin."
"I'm sorry. I didn't mean to disturb you, you should go rest."
"Sarah, did you really say no?" Brick asked again.
Sarah took a deep breath. "I did. I didn't know Sterling or you. I wasn't planning on getting married, let alone moving away from Atlanta. But my father didn't give me a choice. I was marrying Sterling, end of story."
Brick laid his hand on hers, "I'm so sorry my dear. If I had known that's the way your father was I wouldn't have even mentioned it to him. You two just seemed like you would make such a good fit."
Sarah patted his hand, "Don't worry Brick, it'll work out somehow. He can't hate me forever right?" She laughed half-heartedly, hoping if she said it out loud it would make it happen.