Today, I need to get out of this cabin. Upon dressing myself in jean shorts and a t-shirt, I drove to town, parking near a much appreciated coffee shop, Jittering Joe Coffee House. I ordered a hazelnut macchiato and blueberry muffin, taking them out to the patio. There was a slight breeze lifting the heat of the sun. As I picked at my muffin and gulped my coffee, I people watched. A past time favorite shared with my beloved Stella. I could just hear her “Ugh, why would you wear those shorts?” or “Look at the calves on that hunk.” She rarely utilized her filter. I laughed to myself.
Looking across the street, I saw two women exiting a clothing boutique, Vintage. They were lovely, each in a summer dress, engrossed in conversation. They possessed a carefree attitude I envied. When would I have that again? The blonde noticed my stare and came to a halt. Her expression went from joy to shock to, what was it, Disbelief? Composing herself, she grabbed her friend by the elbow and stalked off, quickly turning down the secondary main street.
I became disturbed. What did I do that caused her to react that way? Did I offend her? But how? A flash of the lavender room invaded my mind sending a shiver down my spine. I wondered at what the connection could be, if there was one.
“Hey!” I jumped at the proximity the word was spoken to me. Turning to look behind me was none other than Todd, only not in uniform this day. I smiled. Talk about dressing to perfection: a short sleeved, button up shirt in a flattering large plaid pattern, biceps playing peek-a-boo, wonderfully fit jeans, and rustic boots. His blonde locks reflecting the sun in such a way I had to resist reaching out to stroke. I have one word: strapping.
“I didn’t mean to startle you…” His smile…swoon.
“Uh, no, sorry, I was lost in thought. Please, sit?” I offered, almost knocking over my delicious coffee in my scramble to move my food and drink out of the way. I am a doofus. “How did the rest of your rounds fair last night?”
He pulled out the other chair at the table and lowered his bottom. His leg brushed up against mine sending a glorious shudder up my leg. What is wrong with me? I am going to give it to Stella for putting impure thoughts in my head!
“Not bad. Everyone was in good shape. Only one cabin lost power due to lightning knocking a tree down on the connection to the house. But they were prepared and from what I understand the electric company is fixing it now. What about you? Did you enjoy watching the storm?”
“Actually, I went to bed.” He raised an eyebrow. “I didn’t realize how much the trip out here wore me out. Plus, I wanted to make sure I was well rested to enjoy a day in the village.”
He looked at me, hard. I could tell he was thinking, wanting to say something. Nervousness inhabited my stomach as my heart quickened. I really fear that I’m to have a heart attack before my visit is over, geesh!
Leaning in with forearms resting on the table, he lowered his voice, “Well, seeing as how we are both here and it’s my day off, how about that raincheck? We could check out a couple of shops, and then I can show you the lesser known treasures of this quaint village most tourists have no idea exist…”
His grin became slightly mischievous, the little boy awakening within hoping for some fun trouble. This could be fun. Stella would love this. My nightmare became a distant memory in the presence of Todd.
I looked away as the breeze sent a flutter of cool refreshing air my way. It was very much needed. Brushing a strand from my eyes I made eye contact, replying “Absolutely!”
We finished our coffees and commenced on foot to check out the various boutiques. The antique shop, Old Time Charm, specialized in furniture and I was pleasantly surprised to find a long bench, which had once been solid white but over the years of wear and tear the original dark grain slowly took over. It will go perfectly with a kitchen table currently dwelling within my apartment. Our next stop was Vintage, the inspiring inventory all handmade clothing by the store owner. Our last stop was my favorite, Rustic Artisan. Anything craft or art related is represented within this store. What I loved most was the minimalistic approach to each section. While all areas of art supplies seemed covered, one had no worries of decision frustration. The owner only used one or two brand companies, making it easier for me to make a speedy purchase. I walked away with a pad of watercolor paper, a couple of basic brushes and a few tubes of watercolor paint. I want to make use of my sightseeing and time at the cabin, hoping for inspiration to reveal my truth to me.
After picking up my bench from Old Time Charm, we dropped my purchases off at my car. Then my stomach grumbled. Again, it was desperate to be heard by all.
“How about lunch, then I’ll take you for a ride through the country side? There is a diner that makes a mean open faced roast beef sandwich, paired with homemade fries, and one of a kind homemade shakes…Huh?”
My stomach voiced its opinion, resulting in not only my embarrassment but also a nervous laugh. “That sounds wonderful.” I followed Todd to Betsy’s diner. He did not disappoint. The sandwich was moist, and I didn’t have to ask for extra gravy. The shake was flavorful. I opted for blueberry. And the fries? Don’t get me started…
The plates were cleared, only a few slurps left of milk shakes to go. “Ready for that ride?” Did I mention what a heart melting voice this man possessed? Argh!
I followed Todd to his vehicle. I must say, it is not what I expected, though I am not sure what I was expecting. Just not this…He handed me a helmet.
Seeing the unsettled expression my face betrayed, Todd chuckled to himself. “Are you ok?” Then he eyed me curiously, “Ever been on a bike before?”
I shook my head. I believe I paled. Todd just laughed.
“You’ll be fine, Ivy.” I loved hearing my name come off of his lips. “The bike is the best way to see the country and the weather is perfect for it. I promise, I won’t go too fast and you will enjoy yourself.”
“Don’t you think you’re being a bit over confident?” When did I become such a wuss? Oh, right, my life proved to be a joke prior to this trip. By the way, self-reflection, though necessary, can be a pain-in-the-you-know-what. Clearly, I deluded myself in my former life choices and was forced to see the truth when those choices led to a life that came crumbling down around me…But, enough of that. This is a time for self-realization and letting go of all that was.
I accepted the helmet, placing it upon my head. Shaking all fear from my being, I straddled the bike. The resolve I just inherited quickly dissolved. Where in the world do I put my hands? I know the answer: around his waist. What is going to happen when I do that? I had almost passed out when his leg brushed mine. Breathe.
I did not have much time to work through this superficial dilemma, for Todd grabbed my hands placing them on his very firm stomach, tugging just enough for my body to rest against his back. I tensed. Breathe. I must remember to breathe.
“You are going to be fine, Ivy,” Todd chuckled. “Just squeeze if you feel scared.”
At least he misinterpreted my tension.
Revving the engine, Todd put the bike in gear. Before I knew it, we were out of town traveling a beautiful country road.
I finally relaxed and loosened my grip, though I kept myself pressed against the sheriff. The sun was warm, the breeze refreshing, and the view breathtaking. After about a half hour of winding roads, Todd pulled off the main highway onto a narrow dirt drive with a severe drop to the right.
At the intersection was a dilapidated sign that read “Overlook Pass”. An image blazed hot within my mind, the sign sparkling new, and then it vanished as swiftly as it appeared. I stiffened, the feeling of déjà vu returned, intensity magnified. The same foreboding I experience upon my arrival at the cabin blanketed my entire being, clinging like thick tar.
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