Saturday, June 6, 2015

Under the Stars by Meg Gray

A thousand bright stars glittered in the sky. Fern sat on the steps of her family’s rented cabin and leaned back to rest her elbows on the porch. She had a front row seat to this dazzling celestial display and she wanted to soak it up.

It wasn’t Hawaii, but it was a getaway. Fern hadn’t been able to get more than a couple vacation days off. Not nearly enough time to jet back and forth to Hawaii.

These two days and two nights at the lake would have to suffice as this year’s vacation. Maybe next year she’d get it together enough to pull off that trip to the islands. And maybe next year she’d be able to leave behind the giant workload Abigail thrust on her before she left. She spent the afternoon beside the lake with pencil and paper in hand, watching Shelby jump into Daryl’s waiting arms a hundred times. It was a struggle for her to pull her eyes away and remain focused on the briefs Abigail needed her to edit. The she-devil expected them on her desk first thing Thursday morning upon Fern’s return.

This was the part of the job she actually enjoyed. When she was at home, she could pull up a file on her laptop at night when the kids were tucked into bed, a cup of tea on the table next to her, and all the useless grammar rules she learned back in college would resurface. Fern was good at this part and took joy in marking up Abigail’s drafts. Didn’t lawyers have to take English classes in college too?

It sure didn’t show in her boss’s work.

But Abigail never questioned her corrections. And revising broken sentences definitely beat absorbing Abigail’s verbal blasts, patronizing requests for coffee or answering calls, and rearranging schedules. Yes, Fern closed her eyes; she could do without those parts.

With a deep breath, Fern pulled in the scent of pine and dirt. She’d get to enjoy it tomorrow. Their last day here. With her work complete—the files were stuffed into the bottom of her suitcase and she promised herself they would stay there until she returned to work. Finally, she could get into the water with her kids before they packed up and headed for home.

The cabin door opened and closed. Fern kept her eyes closed, trying to stay in this tranquil moment. The boards squeaked as Daryl sank down on the top step. After knowing the man for twenty years Fern could recognize him with her eyes closed. They sat in silence, just the two of them, encapsulated in the peaceful sounds of nature.

Daryl tapped her back and she sat up, letting him slide in behind her. Silent communications—they’d perfected this over the years. His hands went straight to her shoulders, massaging the tension out of them—in a way only he could. Daryl was always able to pull the stress right out of her muscles.

Feeling relaxed, Fern rested back against his chest, fuller now than when they’d first met in college. Who knew that scrawny twenty year old boy who stole a seat next to her at the library would grow into such a kind and compassionate full-chested man?

Teenage love had nothing on this old, married kind of love. Every time Fern saw Erika’s eyes light up or a blush rush into her cheeks when Caden came around, she wanted to tell her daughter to wait. It was just going to get better with time. The butterflies may subside, but the love would deepen. Married love was like a fine wine that improved with age.

Fern closed her eyes, adding the comfort of her husband’s hold to all the beauty around her.

“What would you say if I told you I was thinking about quitting the law firm?” Fern asked, letting the thought she’d been toying with in the back of her mind over the last couple of weeks slip out.

A beat passed between them.

“I’d say you should do whatever makes you happy,” he said, spoken like a man with eighteen years of marital wisdom under his belt.

“Yeah, well,” she said, knowing she had her husband’s undying support no matter what she decided. “I’m just thinking about it.”

Daryl rested his chin on top of her head and tightened his hands around her, cocooning her in this aged-love she was blessed to have in her life. It was a blissfully quiet moment they were sharing.

The cabin door creaked open. “Mommy, I gotta go potty,” Shelby said and snuffed out the moment.

Meg writes clean contemporary romance novels, featuring strong female characters. As a mom to two young girls, Meg is passionate about creating stories centered around female empowerment. She grew up in the Pacific Northwest where she still lives today with her husband, daughters, and crazy pets. She splits her time between homeschooling her girls and writing in the hours after she has put her husband and children to bed.
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