“Raelynn, do you want to dance?”
Oh. I looked up and my younger brother, Jeff, was offering me his arm. He is the utmost gentleman. He glanced to the right at a young lady who was smiling his way. Hmm. My mouth stretched into a knowing smile. “Go dance with her Jeff.”
Jeff turned his eyes back to me. “You sure?”
I nodded. “Go on now.” I watched as Jeff took his partner onto the hay-strewn dance floor with a big grin on his face. He’s funny.
I sat perched on a hay bale pushed against the wall of the barn. It provided a good view of the dancing couples but secretly I was focused on one specific person. William Cole, blonde haired, blue eyed and my childhood crush. Even now he was my “grown-up” crush. William smiled down at his partner, Patty Drake, and I tore my eyes away. I wish I was dancing with him. Could he ever see me as a woman? Could I ever win his love?
William had always been a couple of grades ahead of me in school so we weren’t ever in the same class. After school finished he went off to Baylor University to study medicine. While he was gone I had grown up into a woman. Well I thought that I was a woman. As I stared at Patty, who was two years older, my eighteen year-old self-esteem fell.
“Why the sour face Raelynn? Did you catch a fly in your mouth? They are nasty this time of year.”
Travis Worth. I tilted my head up at him and frowned. He grinned back, copper haired with a mischievous look in his brown eyes. Did I have a sour face? I need to work on keeping my feelings hidden. “Yes I caught a Travis-fly and I can’t get the pesky thing to go away. He seems to just stick around.” Travis was a year older than I and we had been best friends ever since he had put a frog in my lunch pail. If only I could talk to William, like I talk to him.
Travis sat down beside me. He put on an air of concentration. My hand went to my mouth and I held back a giggle. He’s so silly.
“Hmm. Do I know this Travis-fly?” He cocked his head to the side which reminded me of a bird. “He sounds annoying. What does he look like? Oh let me guess is he handsome, like me?” He raised his eyebrows, his face dimpling.
I’m not taking the bait. I tried to look repulsed. “Handsome?! No, no! He is so tall he can’t fit through the doorframe, he is a giant. When he speaks he sounds like he needs to blow his nose,” my voice went down to a whisper, “and he doesn’t smell that good either.” Oh I’m mean.
Travis arched a brow. “You make me sound like a horse who has a cold.”
I pushed his broad shoulder. “You deserve it.”
He let out a breath. “I guess you’re right. I don’t have any manners.” He stood up and offered his hand with a crooked grin. “Would you like to dance?”
“I’d love too.” I took his large hand and we blended into the swirling couples on the dance floor. This is better than sulking and I’m going to enjoy myself. Travis made me laugh and my heart grew lighter. Travis Worth sees me as a grown up and he seems to like my company. So why can’t William Cole? I’ll just have to prove it to him.
I roamed through the mercantile. Hmm. I scanned up and down the shelves filled with assorted dried goods. Colorful fabric jumped out at me, catching my eye. My hand rubbed the smooth fabric. Wouldn’t a new dress be great? I sighed. Not today I have to get home and make dinner for the boys. I slipped my basket over my arm and took it to the counter.
Mrs. Berry, the store owner’s wife, was behind the counter with a pleasant smile. “Hello Raelynn! How are you?”
“Hi Mrs. Berry! I’m good, I just have the usual stuff today.” I pulled out my purse and counted out coins. Good, I have enough. I handed them to her from across the counter. “Here you go.”
“Thank you dear.”
My dress rustled as I went out the door. The dusty streets were abuzz with activity as horses with lone riders and carts went by. I stepped down the wooden stairs leading to our horse drawn cart by the side of the dirt road. I need to hurry and get supper on the table. The boys are going to be starving. After I took my seat on the cart I snapped the reins and urged the geldings forward, toward home.
Travis? I turned my head to the right. My eyes glued to the saw mill’s roof where Travis waved. Oh. Travis was a millwright and he was always fixing things. I hope he is careful. Waving at him with a smile I turned my attention back to the road. Then I shouted over my shoulder. “Please don’t break your neck. Your mama won’t be happy.” Loud laughter was the only answer I received. I grinned, “He’s such a character.”
In just a short time, I was out of town and surrounded with breathtaking scenery. The mountains towered and looked like giants. God made them beautiful.
What was that? A cracking sound reached my ears. Oh no. I stopped the cart and hopped off. Please don’t be the wheel, please don’t be the wheel. My feet slapped against the dirt as I scurried to the front of the cart. Ugh. The right wheel was holding on for dear life and would have fallen off if I had gone farther. I lamented to the horses,“I was already late for dinner and now this happened.” I stared at the wheel. I wish you could fix yourself. From the direction of town a lone rider approached and his blond hair glistened in the sunlight. William. My mouth went dry.
William rode up beside me with a polite smile. “Is there a problem ma’am?”
He doesn’t remember me. Figures. I stared at him. Stop gawking and speak. “One of my front wheels are broken,” I pointed to the front right wheel.
William got off his horse and went to the wheel. He squatted down beside it. “Hmm. Yep it is broken.”
William is the perfect knight in shining armor. Right out of a book. But he was still talking.
“…I’m sorry I don’t have any expertise in the art of “fixing things”. You’re going to have to find someone who does.” William stood up and studied me.
So much for the knight in shining armor thing. I restrained a frown. Travis could do it. Wait, when did Travis come into this?
“Raelynn?!” William asked incredulously his blue eyes wide.
I raised my eyebrows, still irritated. “Yes?”
William stepped forward, his face coloring. “I didn’t know it was you!” He cleared his throat. “You look so different, so grown up.” He gazed at me with admiration.
Now it was my turn to color. “Well you have been gone for a while. People do grow up.” My gaze went to the ground. I’ve got his attention but the question is do I like it?
William seemed lost to the world. “Yes…yes they do.” There was silence.
This is awkward.
William came out of his trance. “I’m sorry Raelynn I have to go. But I will back track into town and send someone who knows how to fix a wheel.” He looked embarrassed. “Learning how to fix a wheel hasn’t been important to me with medical school and all. You understand don’t you?”
I plastered a smile onto my face. “Of course I understand.” My mind rebelled. It would have be good to know though, especially here!
William smiled. “I will send someone to come and fix the wheel as soon as I get back into town. It’s been nice to see you Raelynn. Are you going to be at the church picnic tomorrow?”
How could he be rude and charming at the same time? “Yep.”
“Good.” He mounted his horse. “See you then.” He winked and galloped away.
My eyes followed his departing form. I sighed. “I don’t know what I should think Penny.” I stroked one of the horse’s noses. “I mean he was somewhat rude but maybe he had somewhere important to go and he didn’t feel like attempting to fix a wheel. Then again that shouldn’t be an excuse for being rude. Why did I like William again?” Maybe I shouldn’t even trust my feelings, I’m talking to a horse right now.
A rider came into view. Travis. My face beamed and I gave Penny a little a pat. “He will fix this stubborn wheel and we’ll be on our way in no time!” Penny snorted as if in agreement.
Travis rode up. “Hello Raelynn, what happened?”
I pointed to the front right wheel of the cart for the second time that day. “My right wheel is broken.” Please tell me you can fix it.
Travis got off his white horse. He bent down and studied the wheel. “Yeah that’s broken all right. Good thing William Cole came and got me.” He opened his saddlebag and pulled out his tools.
At least you’re willing to do the job. I cringed. That wasn’t nice. William did help.
“By the way I couldn’t help but notice, were you talking to the horse just a second ago?” I heard the smile in his voice.
My arms crossed. “Please focus on the task at hand Mr. Worth, I’m very late.”
Travis’s pleasant laughter filled the air. “ Mr. Worth!” He shook his head. “You’re pretty hilarious!” Then he tipped his hat, “Right away Miss Johnson.”
Hmm he’s charming.
My hands brushed off the dirt clinging to my skirt. “I appreciate this, I need to get home.” I peered at the wheel he was bent over.
“All finished!” He placed his tools back in the saddlebag and patted the wheel. “It’s as good as new.”
“Thank you!” Travis helped me up into the cart. “See you tomorrow. Bye.” I waved at him. Now I can get home.
I peeked a glance over my shoulder and Travis was still standing there. A warm feeling spread throughout my stomach. He’s always watching out for me.
I gazed across the church lawn. There were two tables full of food ranging from casseroles to desserts. Women scurried back and forth as they got plates for their children and spread out blankets under shady trees. Underneath a large oak I escaped the heat.
My fingers caressed the petals of a wild daisy. I don’t know what to think about William yesterday. He was rude at least twice. Lord, if this is his character I don’t like it. I could be exaggerating but I want my husband to be a gentleman. Travis is a gentleman. I frowned. Am I allowed to think the word husband and Travis at the same time?
“Do you make a habit of frowning Raelynn? Smiling is prettier, at least in my opinion.” Travis said amused.
I was frowning? Ugh. How is he so quiet when he walks? He seems to always be sneaking up on me. Travis peered down at me with a silly smile on his face. I put my hands on my hips. “Why do you have to be so bugging?! Don’t you have anything better to do than teasing me?!”
Travis tried to look hurt. “What? No hello or how are you doing?”
My arms crossed. New subject. “Did your mom bring one of her famous pumpkin pies?”
Travis also crossed his arms and his brown eyes were twinkling. “Yep, two in fact. I know that they’re your favorite.”
You always know what I like. You’re good for me. Uh that was a weird thought. I squirmed. “Okay, well why don’t you go and make yourself useful.” My gray eyes avoided his and I shooed him with my hands. “I would love some lemonade.” I need to figure out these troubling thoughts.
Travis raised his eyebrows. “Okay. Lemonade coming right up.” He turned away in the direction of the food tables.
I smoothed back my dark brown hair. Why have you been doing weird things to my heart? I rested my head against the tree. What is the matter with me? Do I have feelings of more than friendship for him? “Oh I’m so confused.”
“What are you confused about?”
“Ah!!” I startled upright. A tall figure with blue eyes towered over me. William. He smiled. “William Cole, you scared me!”
William stood in Travis’s place. “Sorry it wasn’t on purpose.” He shifted from one foot to the other.
Is he nervous? “So how have you been since yesterday? How was medical school?”
“It was great! I graduated and moved home to help Dr. Clarkson in his practice.” He smiled again.
Being a doctor is an accomplishment. “That’s great!”
William gestured to me. “And like I said yesterday, you have grown up.” He stepped closer. “I was wondering could I come to call? I would like to get to know you better.”
What now? Right away my attention went over his shoulder to Travis who was coming back. It’s no use my heart is taken. I sucked in a breath as It truly dawned on me. My heart is taken! My hands started to shake. I love Travis Worth!
My gaze stayed on Travis as I answered William. “I’m sorry William but I can’t.”
“I expected as much. He’s a lucky man.”
I turned back to him. What? Can he read my thoughts? “What?”
William gestured towards Travis who was just a few feet away. “You guys were always hanging out as kids I thought that it might turn into something more.” He gave me a little wave. “Bye, Raelynn.”
I gawked after him. Men are a mystery.
Oh. My mouth closed as Travis came up beside me. He handed me a lemonade. “Thank you.” He just nodded and took a sip of his own. I eyed him. He’s silent. What is he thinking?
“I saw William talking to you.” He said in a husky voice.
What’s the matter with him? I nodded.
He turned his back to me. “I’m guessing he asked if he could come calling.” He grew irritated. “I never liked that guy and he has the perfect timing.” Travis sucked in a breath. “I was just about to ask you, if I could come calling.”
Ohhh. Wait what?! My heart fluttered inside my chest. “You were going to ask if you could call?” There was hope in my voice but I wasn’t ashamed.
Travis noticed; facing me again. “Yeah, I was.”
His eyes captured mine. “What would you have said?”
Travis’s face brightened. “I would have said Raelynn I know that we have been friends since we were little but I have come to care for you.” He paused. “I have come to care for you as more than a friend.” He stepped closer. “And,” He added in a whisper, “I think I’m falling in love with you.”
He cares for me more than a friend. My knees felt wobbly. And he loves me?! I looked up into his handsome face. “Then what are you waiting for?”
Travis hesitated. “Did William ask to call?”
Not breaking eye contact I answered. “He did.” Travis’s face fell. “I told him no. He is not the man for me.”
Travis exhaled and took my hand in his.
This feels so right. Thank you Lord. “I’m afraid my heart has been stolen by another.” My fingers squeezed his. I grinned. “He goes by the name of Travis Worth.” I tipped my head to the side. “You know him?”
Travis grabbed my other hand and gave me a gentle smile, “Not in the least.”
I rose to my tiptoes and whispered in his ear. “Well, I have found him…Mr. Right.”