This chapter is very pic intensive….
credits: Custom poses from: My Blue Book
The final weeks of winter passed quickly. Jewell and I spent a lot of time together, it was amazing how much we had in common. She was a blast to be around.
Winter became spring, the snow slowly beginning to melt. After such a long winter, it was amazing to see the grass again.
I walked out to my mailbox grateful to have the sun shining on my back, and not having to wade through deep snow. I reached into the mailbox and began looking through the mail. “Bill, Bill, Bill…Ooh what’s this?” I said to myself, pulling out an envelope.
I looked at the envelope and noted that it came from Appoloosa Plains. Was this from Isabella? It had to be! I didn’t know anyone else that lived there. I ripped it open like a kid on Christmas.
I read the letter over and over again for the next couple days, putting it in a drawer so know one else could see it. I had mixed emotions. Joy, sadness, and guilt. Sure, Jewell and I weren’t exactly exclusive, and we haven’t had the talk about defining our relationship, but my feelings for Isabella left me feeling guilty and happy all at the same time.
Another couple of days passed, and my confusion only grew. I lied to Jewell, Max, and Cordelia, and said I was going to go visit my paternal grandparents in Legacy Island, whom I haven’t seen in years. We had never been close, as I think they blamed my mother for my dads legal issues. I was really going to Apoloosa Plains to see if there was anything still between us. I owed it to Jewell and to myself to find out.
My stomach was a bundle of nerves as I stood outside her sprawling ranch house. It was obvious that she came from money. I saw a flash of blonde hair. She was in her garden with her back towards me.
I cleared my throat as I got closer so I wouldn’t frighten her.
“Cole!” She said, her violet eyes wide with surprise. “Oh my god, what are you doing here?”
She leaned forward and gave me a hug, which surprised me. Her unique smell hit me. Coconut shampoo, and sunshine. Her golden blond hair was warm as it brushed across my cheek. “I got your letter.” I said returning her hug. “This is a pretty trusting town. I just asked a lady on the street if she knew you and she directed me here.” I laughed. “Its a good thing I’m not a psycho or anything.”
She tipped her head back and laughed, her laughter like music in my ears.
“I hope its ok that I came like this. If I had a number I would have called first.” I apologized.
“Its ok.” She said. “It’s good to see you.”
“I’m so sorry about your dad.” I said.
Isabella looked down, her shoulders slumped. “Thanks.” She said quietly. “I’ve been so busy preparing this place for sale.” She looked around at her home sadly.
“Why are you selling?” I asked. “Is there anything I can do to help?” I offered.
She looked down at her garden. Her fingers stroking one of the fragrant smelling flowers lovingly. “Thanks.” She said softly. “I’m selling this place not because I want too, but simply because I can not afford to keep it.”
“I’m sorry.” I didn’t want to pry even though I was curious.
I followed Isabella over to a grassy patch under a tree to lie in the grass and we talked for what seemed like hours.
Isabella surprised me by reaching out to hold my hand. I didn’t pull away, I stroked her palm with my thumb enjoying how she felt as she cuddled in my arms. It was so easy being with her like this. Back in Morreaux she had been meek and quiet, and so full of sadness. This was a different side of her, and I was happy to see her smile. However, behind that smile her eyes were still full of sadness that I wish I could help erase.
Isabella pulled me to my feet. “Lets go horse back riding.” She said her eyes lighting up.
“Do what now?” I asked wearily.
“Come on city boy.” She laughed. “Don’t tell me you’re afraid of horses.”
I looked over at the white mare that was grazing near by. It lifted its head and snorted at me as if it could sense my feelings. I gulped but smiled anyways.
“Afraid?” I laughed nervously. “Ok, a little bit yeah.”
Isabella whistled and the mare came over to stand quietly beside her. She reached out and gently pet her neck. She mounted the horse easily, obviously she was no stranger to riding.
“That’s Brownie over there.” Isabella pointed to a brown horse grazing by the garden. “He’s as gentle as a kitten I promise.”
“Hey Brownie boy, please don’t buck me off and make me look bad.” I approached him quietly holding out my hands for him to sniff. I reached out and gently pet his soft velvety neck.
“If you give him a carrot, he’ll love you forever.” She said.
I grabbed a carrot from the garden and dangled it before Brownie. He took it gently from my hands. I smiled. Maybe this wasn’t going to be so bad?
It took me a couple of tries to mount Brownie. But finally I was riding him, praying I wouldn’t fall off. I wasn’t sure I would ever get used having such a large animal beneath me. I had a feeling I would be very sore the next day.
We talked about everything under the sun as we rode through the country. I was having a blast. Riding a horse was definitely a first for me.
We ended up at the beach, and let the horses graze. I followed Isabella up the boardwalk, that overlooked the lake.
I came up behind her loving the way the fading sun shown on her blond hair. I wanted to reach out and touch it, but I kept my hands at my side behaving myself for now.
“So how long have you been riding?” I asked.
“My entire life.” She said smiling softly. “I think as soon as I was able to walk my dad had me riding horses.”
“Sounds like my little sister Emelia.” I said smiling. “she loves animals, and she has always begged my mom and step dad for a horse.”
We talked about my family for a while, entertaining her of stories of my sisters antics. I was suddenly aware that I missed them, and knew that Isabella would get along so great with my family, especially Emelia. They were so much alike.
“Are the horses going to be ok just wondering around?” I asked, watching as they grazed peacefully
She laughed. “Of course, they come here all the time.”
“Shouldn’t they you know, be on a leash or something?” I asked.
She tipped her head back and laughed. “They aren’t dogs.”
We sat down on some lounge chairs overlooking the beautiful lake that shone like glass against the fading sky. I couldn’t get over how peaceful it was here.
“So you say your dad had you riding horses when you were little. What about your mom?” I asked hoping I wasn’t being nosey. She turned straight ahead sadness in her eyes again.
“My mom died when I was born.” She said softly.
“I’m so sorry…” I said feeling like a jerk having bringing it up.
“Its ok.” She smiled softly. “My dad told me a lot of stories about her. He always said I reminded him so much of her. My dad was all I had in the world, and now he’s gone.” Her shoulders slumped and I felt my heart ache with sadness for her.
“I have to ask. If you love this place so much, why are you selling it? It seems like you have so many memories here.”
Isabella looked forward and was silent for a while. “When my dad got sick, we started losing money. All our money had went into my education, had I known he was sick, I would have never went away to university.” She flicked a tear away from her eye and continued. “He couldn’t keep up with the farm, and we had to let a lot of our animals go. Those two horses are the only ones we have left. Then when my dad got sick, all the money went to hospital bills. It’s not like being a farmer has good health insurance.”
While I cooked the hot dogs on the grill, Isabella tended to the bonfire. The night was warm, but as the sun set it brought with it a little chill in the air. I couldn’t help but be excited over the thought of cuddling next to the fire.
While the hot dogs cooked I helped collect wood for the fire, and stacked the wood carefully. It wasn’t long before we had a huge fire!
“I am man!” I yelled jumping around. “I have created fire!” I laughed borrowing the line from the movie Castaway.
She watched me laughing, merriment in her eyes. I loved to see her laugh, it was my new goal to make her laugh and smile as much as I could.
Isabella warmed her hands by the fire, the fire light dancing on her blond hair.
We talked about many subjects during our dinner. The light started coming back in her eyes, and I was glad to see her smiling again.
“Sheesh, its getting cold.” Isabella said rubbing her hands briskly and standing close to the fire. I put our dirty plates in the garbage can and went to stand beside her.
“Take my sweatshirt.” I began to remove it.
She held up her hands. “You aren’t wearing anything underneath, you’ll freeze, plus its my legs that are cold, not my upper half.” She laughed.
We sat down at the edge of the shore the fire warm and soothing on our backs. The sand was cold beneath my butt, but it felt wonderful to sit beside Isabella. I looked at her out of the corner of my eyes.
She leaned towards me and put her head on my shoulder. I was grateful for the contact. Her soft blond hair touched my cheek.
“I love this beach.” She said looking up at the sky. “My dad used to bring me here when I was a little girl. We used to skip stones and have picnics. It was just me and him…” Her voice trailed off. When she turned toward me her eyes were full of tears. “I’m sorry.” She sniffed. “Just when I think that I’m all cried out, I start again. “She laughed flicking the tears off her cheeks.
“It ok to cry.” I said touching her cheek. “I don’t mind hearing you talk about your dad. It’s obvious that he ment a lot to you.”
“Very much so.” She said looking up at the stars her expression thoughtful.
“Well its time to probably get heading back. I want to feed the horses before bed.” She said jumping to her feet. I stood up also and we bumped each other. She smiled at the contact. Suddenly I stepped closer feeling her warmth, and found my lips on hers.
“Is this ok?” I asked my hands in her soft hair.
“Mmhmm…” She murmured.
We spent the night together that night. It was wonderful. Amazing even. Long after she fell asleep cuddled in my arms, I found myself awake and staring at the unfamiliar ceiling.
Thoughts of Jewell flooded my brain, she seemed so far away. Even though we weren’t exclusive I felt guilty for sleeping with another woman. What was I going to do? I had to go back to Morreaux tomorrow. My plane was set to leave in the afternoon, but as I looked at Isabella sleeping beside me sweetly, I wasn’t sure if I could bring myself to leave her…
The next morning after getting dressed I found Isabella outside again in the garden. She was quiet and seemed sad knowing I was leaving. She looked beautiful in her sundress with her long hair down. I didn’t know what to say to her, I felt like I was abandoning her.
“Isabella, I’m so sorry….” I said. “Last night was amazing.” I blushed.
She put her fingers to my lips and leaned in close. “Shhh, its ok.” She said. “I know you have to go home, I understand.” She rested her forehead against mine. We stood that way for a couple of minutes.
My taxi pulled up. I felt anxiety swirling in my gut. I started forward, then turned around suddenly and grabbed her face in my arms and kissed her with all the emotion I felt pent-up inside. We kissed for what seemed like forever. She felt so perfect in my arms….
“It’s ok Cole, go” She said when our lips parted.
“Will we see each other again?” I asked. She smiled gently.
“Of course we will.” She gave me a gentle shove towards the waiting taxi. “I have to fix this place up to sell, so I will be very busy anyways.” She smiled bravely.
“I’ll call you when I get home.” I promised.
She smiled and waved as I walked to the taxi.
As the taxi pulled away from the curb I turned around in my seat and watched as Isabella waved from her driveway. I watched her until the taxi rounded the corner and she was out of sight. I straightened and stared ahead my mind full of thoughts of Isabella and of Jewell. What the hell was I going to do?