â€œI canâ€™t believe you own a ranch and that you never told me about it.â€
â€œIt wasnâ€™t something I tried to hide from you. When you went silent on me I figured you needed time to take care of your own stuff and I wasnâ€™t about to just wait around for you.â€
She waited for him to hand her a beer before she replied.
â€œWhat happened to the guy who told me he would wait for me forever? Guess he didnâ€™t really mean it, did he.â€
â€œThere is a distinct difference between living my life and waiting for you.â€
â€œOh yeah, how are you going to spin that one.â€
â€œThere is no spin here at all. After the divorce I took my time to clear my head and get rid of all of the stuff I didnâ€™t want or need. Part of reducing the clutter included figuring out if I could get some of the things I really wanted and not focusing solely on what I need.
I wanted a place to write. I wanted somewhere with a lot of space to roam around that wasnâ€™t in the middle of the city but not so far away I couldnâ€™t grab a good meal that some one else cooked for me and whomever I wanted to spend time with.
Finding the right place was something that filled want and need. I have to have a place for writing and I wanted something that met other needs. This one serves both purposes.â€
She took a long sip and continued to walk around the house.
â€œAre you done with your inspection yet?â€
â€œWho said I am inspecting it.â€
â€œMe. The same guy that you told to go away more than once.â€
â€œYou donâ€™t listen very well, do you. If you did you would have answered my question. What happened to the guy who said he wouldnâ€™t wait?â€
Dark eyes looked straight into his and he laughed. She was a good 12 feet away but it still felt like she was inches away.
â€œWhat is so funny? Donâ€™t laugh at me.â€
â€œI am not laughing at you. I am laughing with you. Trust me, this is a good thing. The guy who said he would wait for you was told by you not to. Took a while for me to take on that part but I did because I didnâ€™t know if you would ever get your act together and decided I needed to take care of some stuff.â€
â€œYeah, you probably went around banging every chick you could find. Makes me feel so very special.â€
â€œWoman, you jump to conclusions far too quickly. I didnâ€™t go looking for someone to keep my bed warm. I needed time to myself and I didnâ€™t have any interest in worrying about what anyone else wanted or needed.
So I did exactly as I said, I sold or gave away almost everything but books, music and a couple of pieces of furniture. If you havenâ€™t noticed this place is in need of a few items.â€
â€œYeah, I was wondering if your idea of wide open spaces applied to the indoors as well as outdoors.â€
â€œI sort of figured that one day youâ€™d want to be able to go shopping and decided there wasnâ€™t a reason to waste money on things you might not like.â€
â€œYou mean you didnâ€™t furnish this place because you were convinced I would come running back to you and that we would ride off into the sunset and live happily ever after together.â€
â€œI am tempted to say I have pictured you riding, but it is never a horse.â€
â€œI didnâ€™t know for certain what would happen. I am not going to lie and say I didnâ€™t think this was possible but if it didnâ€™t happen I would have eventually gotten around to getting stuff.â€
She shook her head and asked him again how long he had been living there.
â€œI have owned it for a good 16 months but until nine months or ago I hadnâ€™t been living in it full time.â€
â€œYou have been here for nine months and you own what, a bed, some chairs, a desk and of course a big television. Where do the kids sleep? What do they do with their stuff?â€
â€œI moved in during the school year so they havenâ€™t really had much time to spend here. Mostly I have gone to see them, but there are six bedrooms here so if someone wanted to have lots of family here there is plenty of room for it.â€
â€œHadnâ€™t gotten around to it, had you. You do a lousy job of pretending you hadnâ€™t thought a lot of this out. You can fool your readers, but you canâ€™t fool me.â€
He shook his head again.
â€œI am not trying to fool anyone. If anyone fits the bill of trying to fool someone it is you and if I was you I wouldnâ€™t buy what you are selling.â€
She rolled her eyes at him and shook her head but when he pulled her close she didnâ€™t push him away. And when he broke their embrace she was the one who made a comment about his not being allowed to leave before he kissed her.
They ate dinner on the porch and watched the sun go down. Several drinks later they were still on the porch sitting in silence and enjoying each otherâ€™s company.
â€œIt is late. If you want to stay tonight you can have my bedroom.â€
â€œWhere are you going and why arenâ€™t you going to be in it?â€
â€œI didnâ€™t want you to think I was being too forward.â€
â€œI kissed you on the lips. Didnâ€™t that tell you something.â€
â€œI didnâ€™t think that meant that anything more would happen.â€
She shook her head again.
â€œFor a smart guy you can be really dense. Sometimes you are such a man. Take me to bed.â€
“When did you get that? Please tell me it is new”
He just shook his head and smiled. She punched him in the arm and he pretended to glare at her.
“It is rude to just laugh at me. Stop it.”
“I am not laughing at you. I think it is kind of cute to see you off kilter. The woman who is so organized and on top of her game is like a high school girl. But that is ok, ‘cuz you are my girl.”
He knew she loved hearing that and got the smile he expected, but he made a point not to point it out. Sometimes silence was smarter.
“It is new and I got it with you in mind. Sort of represents how I have to be an acrobat to be with you. See how that poor guy is being put to work by that lady. Might be easier to be gay.”
She hit him again in the arm.
“That is not nice.”
“You don’t like it when I am nice. You like the mean hard ass who doesn’t give a damn about anyone or anything.”
He watched her absorb his words and saw her try to figure out if he was serious or not.
“You’ll make yourself crazy trying to analyze what I said. Why don’t you just ask me if I meant it.”
“Why not just tell me. I hate playing games.”
“You know I do too, but sometimes I like teasing you. Can’t pull your pigtails, but I suppose I could pull your ponytail.”
For a moment they just stared at each other and then he told her she always knew his mind.
“I don’t know how you know these things any more than I know what is going on in your head, but I do…more or less.”
When she didn’t say anything he reached over and took her hand.
“Don’t over think things. I may tease you from time to time but you know damn well we are good for each other. We communicate better than most and it is not a stretch to say we are best friends.
I don’t know how that happened. Don’t know how we managed to get through all of the crap we have been through but we did. And I know that we have always picked up as if we were never apart. We can sit together in silence and be perfectly happy and we never get tired of each other. That is rare.
And after all the craziness that led to this point I am willing to say whatever magic was bestowed upon us isn’t going to run out. Stick us on an island for 50 years and we’ll be content because we have each other.”
She smiled and said thank you and asked him to turn out the light.
“I could do this for the rest of my life.”
“So could I.”
(Editor’s note: A version of this was published here first).