“Woo-hoo!” Seth exclaims and thrusts his fist in the air. “Can I drive?”
“You can drive in the field, where there are no fences or animals,” Zack says with a smile. “What do you say?”
Both of them stare at me hopefully. Even Thor looks hopeful with his tongue lolling out of his mouth. They’re so handsome, how can I refuse them?
“Come on, Jill,” Seth says while bouncing on his toes. “It’s so fun! You can ride with me. I’ll keep you safe.”
Zack’s gaze swings down at his son and then back to me with pride. I wink at him and then shrug. “Well, how can I resist that offer? Sounds like fun.”
“Go put your stuff in your room, Seth, and then we’ll go.”
Seth takes off like a shot up the stairs to his room, his dog running with him.
“You don’t have to take me along,” I say quietly. “I can just go on home and you can spend the afternoon with Seth.”
I push my phone in my pocket, and then Zack steps to me and tugs me to my feet and into his arms for a big hug.
“I want you to come with us. It’ll be fun.”
I lower my voice to a whisper as I hear Seth clomp down the hallway upstairs. “Do you really think you’re ready for me to start hanging out with your kid?”
“My kid already knows you, Jillian.” He kisses my forehead and then steps away as Seth runs back into the room, dressed in snow pants and jacket.
He stops on a dime and looks back and forth between us with narrowed eyes. Just when I’m sure he’s going to ask what’s going on, he says, “Can we go now?”
“Let’s go,” Zack confirms. Seth and Thor run out the back door toward a big garage beside the barn. Zack and I take our time with our coats and boots, gloves and scarves. He tugs the ends of my scarf until I’m plastered up against him so he can steal a quick kiss. “Not gonna be able to do that for a while.”
“I think you’ll survive it.” I shake my head and chuckle when he pushes his fingers into my hair and combs through it.
“Let’s go before I carry you upstairs, sugar.”
“Dad, are you coming?” Seth yells from inside the garage. He’s already opened the big door and is standing next to the snowmobiles. “Can I take Grandma’s? Please?”
Zack looks between Seth and the smaller of the four snowmobiles sitting in the garage.
“I don’t know, Seth . . .”
“I’ve driven it a lot, Dad. I know how to drive it. I’ll be very careful, I promise.”
“No showing off,” Zack warns sternly.
“No way,” Seth agrees and hands me a pretty purple helmet. “You can wear Grandma’s helmet.”
“Thanks.” I slip on the helmet and Zack helps me buckle it under my chin before securing his own helmet, then checks to make sure that Seth’s is secure as well. Zack pulls the smaller snowmobile out of the garage and sets it up for Seth, then pulls a bigger two-seater out for us.
“Are you ready?” Zack hops on and pats the backseat for me to join him.
“Let’s go!” Seth exclaims and drives away carefully.
I wrap my hands around Zack’s waist and hold on tight as he sets off after his son. Thor is running through the snow beside his boy, grinning happily. We drive through an empty pasture, where Seth makes several circles, laughing loudly.
His face is red from the cold and bright with happiness, and my stomach clenches at the sight of him. He looks just like his dad, and the change in him from when he first came here is remarkable.
Zack parks and laughs at Seth as he plays in the snow. Thor chases him, barking and bouncing.
“He’s wonderful,” I tell Zack honestly.
“Yeah, he is. I’m getting him his own snowmobile for Christmas.”
“Oh, he’s going to love that.” I grin happily and lean my cheek against Zack’s shoulder as we watch his son with the happy dog. “He’s the perfect age for it.”
“I agree. Plus, it’s my first Christmas with him in a long time. I want it to be special.”
Seth makes a wide circle, then drives toward us, and when he’s about ten yards away, he makes a sharp turn, sending snow spraying up onto us.
“Oh that’s cold!” I laugh and wipe the snow off my face with my glove.
“And he’s just declared war.” Zack laughs and hops off his seat, scoops up some snow, and throws it at his son, hitting him square in the face.
Seth stops, shuts off his vehicle, and we all proceed to have a snowball fight. Seth hides behind his snowmobile, throws snow, then ducks back for safety.
“You can’t hide forever!” I yell just before Zack stuffs a handful of snow down the back of my jacket. “Ooh, Zack, you’re a dead man.”
I chase Zack down and tackle him in the snow. It’s knee-deep and difficult to run in. My plan to smear snow in his face once I tackle him backfires when he rolls me onto my back and tickles me mercilessly.
“Stop!” I cry, giggling so hard it’s impossible to understand the word.
“I’ll save you, Jill!” Seth cries and jumps on his dad’s back, knocking him off me. I scramble to my knees and scoop up snow and throw it at Zack, hitting him in the face.
“That’s right!” Seth laughs and then tosses a snowball for Thor to chase after. “I saved her.”
Zack runs after Seth now, lifts him up off the ground and spins around, then dumps him in the snow.
“You ganged up on me,” Zack accuses.
“Well, duh,” I reply with a smirk.
“You’re the one who told me not to pick on girls, Dad.” Seth rolls his eyes and lies back on the snow, panting. “This is fun.”
I join Seth, lying on my back, looking around at the trees around the pasture. “Are there bears out here?”
Seth giggles. “They’re hibernating.”
“What about mountain lions?”
“The snowmobiles scared them off, if there were any,” Zack informs me.
“What about Bigfoot?”
Both boys grow quiet and I look around to find them both smiling at me.
“You’re such a girl,” Seth accuses and giggles again. “There’s no such thing as Bigfoot.”
“I’ve seen movies on TV that say there is,” I inform him. “There’s footage.”
“There’s footage of a moron in a gorilla suit, Jilly,” Zack says with a laugh.