“You know I’ll go with whatever you decide. Just keep me updated.”
“I will.” I want to climb back up his body, head back inside, and lock the door. “Will I see you later today?”
He straightens to look down at me. “I was going to go on a hike with a few guys on the crew. Maybe we can grab dinner together?”
I lean back to see his face, to gauge whether he’s serious. Things are still very much on the downlow between us; I might have to tell my dad, but I can’t imagine meeting for dinner just the two of us is the best way to let people know.
He reaches up, brushes the back of his knuckles against my jaw. “Somewhere quiet. I’ll grab something. We can sneak off to the lake and look at the stars. Nobody will be out then.”
“Because it’ll be freezing.”
“I’ll keep you warm. Come lay in the grass with me and look at the stars.”
How could I resist that offer?
Back in my own cabin, I pack most of my things so I’m ready for the early drive tomorrow. After I’m showered and dressed for the day, I follow the familiar trail to the Community House. I take each step up the gentle hill knowing this could be last time I do this. I’ve grown so used to this place—the smell of mud and grass, the sound of the cows and the roosters stirring me before Devon knocks on the screen door. It’s hard to imagine leaving. But I’m excited to see Mom and Nana, to tell them both about Sam, to bring him home and see how this thing between us can grow.
Craft services has been replaced by the farm kitchen staff, and I indulge this last morning before I’m home and back on my strict diet and exercise regimen. Meaning: I fill my plate with blueberry pancakes and bacon. The dining room buzzes with a dozen different conversations—so many goodbyes happening today. Nick is near the fireplace, and I make my way through the tables and slide onto the bench across from him.
“Good morning, dear husband.”
“Hey wifey,” he says around a giant mouthful of food.
I take in his skintight Adidas shirt, compression leggings, and running shorts. I motion to the bowl of oatmeal, and the two empty, syrupy plates in front of him. “Fueling up?”
“It’s the last day with the studio trainer and I plan to take advantage of it. I’ve got to keep these farmer muscles, you know?” He winks at me over his coffee mug. I envy him his twenty-something metabolism. “You want in?”
I swallow a groan. My legs, back, arms, and neck are all tender from making up for lost time last night.
“As fun as that sounds, I’m going to pass. I heard about the Big Bad Wolf announcement,” I say, referring to an article Charlie mentioned, a big-budget period horror film Nick’s just been cast in. “You headed there next?”
He nods as he lifts his napkin to his mouth. “Vancouver. What about you?”
I reach for the bottle of syrup and drown my pancakes. “Nothing for a few months. I wasn’t sure how I’d feel at the end of the shoot, so I gave myself some breathing room until after the holidays.”
“That’ll be nice. I’m assuming you won’t just be sitting around. At least not alone . . .” he says meaningfully. At my confused expression he adds, “I saw you and Sam the other night.”
My eyes widen. “You . . . what?”
When Nick bursts out laughing, I realize I’ve just given myself away.
“Relax, Tate,” he says, smile lingering. “Walking. I saw you two walking. Jesus, what did I miss?”
I shrug, grinning guiltily and trying to get my pulse under control. “Nothing. I mean—I can’t imagine you’d have seen anything scandalous.”
He laughs. “Sure you can’t.”
I feel the tips of my ears get hot, and he shakes his head, smiling. He scoops up a bite of oatmeal and looks at me over the top of it. “I assume this means you got everything straightened out?”
When I don’t answer right away, he leans in, voice quieter now. “For what it’s worth, he seems to genuinely like you.”
“I know.” I slide the bottle of syrup closer, finger where the edge of the label has started to peel away. “He’s not married after all. That was me eavesdropping and jumping to conclusions. We’ve decided to try, you know . . .” A burst of confetti goes off in my stomach at the idea. “But it’s . . . complicated.”
“For one, yes. My dad, if he ever found out about what Sam did, might be harder to deal with.”
“But if you’re willing to forgive him, that’s all that really matters, right? I’m assuming Ian would be pissed at first, but his relationship with you is worth more than that. Besides, if Sam was the one who talked to the press all those years ago, then he’s the reason you and Ian have a relationship now. He’ll get over it.” With an easy shrug, he finishes off the last of his oatmeal.
But would he? I think about seeing him outside the greenhouse, the way his eyes seemed so flat, his lip curled as we stepped out together. Was it something as simple as my estranged father being jealous that there’s clearly a man in my life, or did he hear? I have no idea how he’d react to that history. Would he understand Sam’s motivations and why I’ve agreed to give him another chance? And if not, how would that make me feel? Now that things seem to be changing for the better, am I willing to risk a good relationship with Dad for a chance with Sam?