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I walk into the barn with every intention of looking for the horse, but my feet have other ideas, and suddenly, I find myself standing at the rickety old ladder that leads up to the hayloft.
Swallowing nervously, I slide my hand along the wood.
How many times did I climb this ladder?
I give it a little shake and decide it’s sturdy enough.
Then I climb.
The last thing I want to do is fall.
Or drop the wine.
That would be a tragedy.
I make it to the top, and as soon as I do, a tidal wave of emotions and memories wash over me.
Staggering to the nearest bale of hay, I sit down and close my eyes.
Our hayloft was sacred. It was where Noah kissed me for the first time. One year later, it was where we lost our virginity. For more than two years it was our hiding place—our little sanctuary from the nosy eyes of the world.
Something in the corner of the loft catches my eye. Its royal blue and white—our high school colors—and I know it’s our blanket. We tried to remember to lay it down every time, but it didn’t matter. When you’re naked, hay manages to find its way into places where hay just shouldn’t be found.
I sigh deeply and lean my head back, lifting the bottle to my lips. It’s fruity and cool and does nothing but conjure more memories.
His gentle hands. My soft moans. Our heated kisses.
They play like a symphony in my head.
As promised, the storm moves in. The wind howls and the downpour rattles the roof. As the thunder rolls above my head, the barn lights start to dance.
But I’m not afraid.
This is home.
Through the thunder,
I hear Noah’s voice calling my name, followed by the sound of hooves.
I sneak a glance over the side of the loft, just in time to spot Noah as he leads Midnight inside, talking quietly to her as he guides her to the stall. He’s soaked and cursing the storm.
I close my eyes and curse my own stupidity.
“Her car’s still here, but she’s not in the office . . .”
I can hear the concern in his voice, and it breaks me. I can’t let him worry, no matter how embarrassing this is going to be.
And make no mistake.
It’s gonna be awkward.
Leaning over, I take a deep breath and look down. He’s standing just below the loft, his face turned toward the open barn doors.
“Noah . . . I’m up here.”
He freezes, spins around, and looks up.
“Umm . . . hi.”
“What are you doing up there?”
I hold up the bottle of strawberry wine and tell him the truth.
Noah’s shoulders sag, and he bows his head. I hold my breath while he looks out at the storm.
Then, he lifts his eyes to meet mine once again.
“Want some company?”