Willow and I shared the other bed and I smiled after she fell asleep. I was very happy that I finally got to tell her then ask her to be with me. It was even better that she said yes. My only regret is that it would have to be done in secret. We had to wait, though, until this all passed over and then maybe we could be a normal couple.
I yawned and put my head next to hers on the same pillow, closing my eyes. She had her hand by her head and I held it. In her sleep, she moved closer, causing my smile to widen even more.
I woke up to the sound of a camera clicking and panicked.
"It's just me," Aaron said, laughing when he saw that Willow woke in shock, too. "You guys were just too cute." He sighed. "I should probably delete it, though, just in case. When this is over, you two better make a pose like that again."
I groaned and put my head back on the pillow. Willow laughed, though.
"Sure, Dad," she said sarcastically. "What time is it?"
"Noon," he answered and I opened my eyes.
"Yep," he said, sitting on the end of the bed. "Now, Vince will see us but he can't until next week. The insurance company has agreed with our decisions. There will be an extra $5,000 we'll have to pay out of pocket for the underground home. Think we can manage that?"
Willow scrunched her nose in thought. It was adorable.
"That's about three months' worth of classes," she mumbled to herself. "Yeah, I think we can."
"Don't you have plenty to spare?" I asked.
Willow nodded. "But we try to avoid splurging," she said. I looked away and she sighed. "I didn't mean it like that, Nathan."
"I know," I said quickly. "It's just something I'll have to work through, that's all."
She held my hand with a smile. "You've got us."
I smiled back and kissed her fingers.
The next day we went back to the barn. Willow immediately ran for the foal. Dr. Mack had just finished checking him over.
"He's 100% fine," she promised and Willow beamed at the foal.
He was trying to walk around without having shaky legs while the mother, Lightning, watched carefully.
"What're you going to name him?" I asked, putting my hand on the small of her back.
"I don't know," Willow said. "Usually we've seen his personality by now but...."
"He's a bit of a hellion," Dr. Mack laughed. "He and Little Bit are best friends, too."
"How about... Dragon?" she suggested.
"You'll confuse the poor horse," I teased and she stuck her tongue out at me. "I like it. Dragons are temperamental and cause all sorts of strife."
"And they breathe fire," Willow whispered.
I looked at Dr. Mack and she nodded, walking out. I wrapped my arm around Willow and kissed her forehead. She leaned into me and cried a little.
"Let's go for a walk," I suggested. "I know you have more land than what I've seen."
Before we left the barn, I kissed her and she smiled. Aaron was talking to Dr. MAck and we let him know what we were going to do.
"Be careful out there," he said and passed Willow a small gun. "Let's plan to leave around 5."
Willow did a mock salute, tucking the gun in her belt loop. "Sir, yes, sir!"
He laughed. "Shoo."
"What's the gun for?" I asked. "Paparazzi?"
She snorted. "I wish. No, it's for snakes or coyotes."
"You get a lot of coyotes?" I asked as we walked down a wide path.
"Sometimes," she said seriously. "It depends on the season and if there are any in the area. I don't think we'll have a problem, though. Not after the fires. Snakes, on the other hand, are a different story."
"Snakes?" I repeated and she turned to me with a devilish smirk.
"Don't tell me Nathaniel Banker is afraid of snakes."
I straightened my back. "Absolutely not. I am worried for your protection, my dear."
She giggled and patted the butt of the gun. "Worry not. I'll protect you."
I snorted. "Let's continue. It's beautiful out here."
"Yeah it is," she agreed. "We'll have to go on a ride when fall comes. It's even more beautiful."
I looped my pinky around hers and she moved closer.
"I think it's beautiful enough," I whispered and she giggled. "How much land do you guys own?"
"About a hundred acres," she answered. "The barn, house, and pasture take up about half of it. The other half is what we're about to see. Warning: It's a little... overgrown."
"With it being just my dad and I, we can't get back here and mow it. The horses take care of the grass in the pasture up front, but I don't like taking them out here unless it was Spirit or Jet."
"Which one is Jet?"
"Oh, he's not with us anymore," she said sadly. "He was my dad's but he passed about five years ago."
"I'm sorry," I whispered.
We continued on in silence until we broke through the trees.
"Oh jeez," I said.
It was beautiful but I'm sure it would look better if it had been trimmed like the rest of the land. Among the weeds were beautiful purple flowers and the air smelled of honeysuckle. I bent down at the edge and frowned.
"No ordinary lawn mower is going to tackle this mess," I said and she sighed.
"Yeah, I know. I want to get a brush hot out here but...." She trailed off with a shrug.
"Well, I need to continue earning my keep," I said. "How about we get one and I'll get out here with it?"
"Really?" she asked, turning to me in surprise. I nodded. "Oh, that would be wonderful!"
"I can do it while you're teaching classes and-"
She kissed me, throwing her arms around my neck. I laughed and kissed her back enthusiastically. I ran my tongue along her lower lip and she accepted my request, causing me to pull her even closer.
"Let's get back," she breathed and checked her phone. "We should probably get you a phone, by the way. This is the only spare we had and, after destroying my other one, Dad gave it to me."
I laughed, walking back but this time not even holding her pinky. It was disappointing but at least I'd get to hold her tonight.
Aaron was waiting for us by the truck and Willow mentioned my lack of a phone.
"We'll go by Verizon tomorrow and get you one," he said. "I just spoke with the builders by the way," he added as we got in the truck. "It'll take six months to get the house livable and even longer to get it completely built."
Willow pouted. "We have to wait that long?"
I laughed. "I'm sure you can be patient."
"Don't be so sure," she said but laughed, too.