Stories In The Sky

One of the Knights: Part 2

23 years Previously

    Abigail

    “Get moving woman! We don’t have all day!”

      I stumbled across the dirt at Zions rough shove. Wetness streaked down my face, but I didn’t care. My world was turned upside down. Just a day ago I had lost my newborn baby girl, and now I was being taken away from my home.     

    Oh Lord, what is going to happen to me?       

    Zion gave me another shove, and I whipped around to face him.  He was a tall young man with chocolate skin and a firm jaw. His broad chest supported armor and a spear was held tightly in his hands. He had a lot of nerve for a being as young as he was, no more than seventeen, but that’s what had made him a natural born leader. This man was supposed to be the head protector of the royal family, and I had respected him, but not anymore. He was a traitor.

       Hotness rushed over my face. “How could you do this to me? Moab trusted you!” I pressed my lips together. “He treated you like his own brother!” Better than a brother.

      Zion’s eyes hardened, “Things aren’t always as they seem.”

     “I thought knights were supposed to be honorable and just. But you’re just a coward!”

     Zion lifted his hand.

      I turned my face away, anticipating a hard blow, but nothing happened. I looked back at him.

      Zion lowered his hand back down to his side. Something other than hatred flashed in his eyes, perhaps regret?

     “I’d choose your words carefully, ma’am, I’m not known for my patience. Furthermore, you should think of your son.”

     All breath left my lungs. Kingston. I thought he was still at the palace being watched by a nurse…They took him too?! “What have you done to him?”

      A child’s voice filled the air, “Mama mama!”

      My heart seemed to stop in my chest. I turned back around as fast as I could. My baby. He’s in the forest?! “Kingston!” I hollered.

      Zion’s large hand quickly covered my mouth. “That was unwise.”  

     Don’t you tell me what’s unwise!  I squirmed in his grasp, but he was too strong.

     I let my eyes take in the forest. Trees surrounded us from all sides, there bark was as black as night and their leaves, a bright green. Tall brush dotted the ground. But I didn’t see him anywhere.

    The sound of boots hitting the ground caught my attention. A man wearing peasants clothing appeared from an alcove of trees, carrying a small two year old. He held a squirming Kingston in his arms, and a hand covered his mouth.

      NO, NO! I stomped Zions foot and managed to get out of his grasp. “Kingston…” I ran a couple steps but tripped on a rock.

      I hit the ground with a thud and received a facefull of dirt. Ouch. I let out a groan, and turned my head to the right. Kingston!

    Zion snorted, and walked passed me.

     I watched his dusty boots stride across the dirt. My head was spinning. How did I get here? How could my life change so drastically in just a day? What are they going to do with Kingston?

    “I thought I told you to wait for me at the end of the tree line? And why didn’t you cover the kids mouth with some sort of cloth?” asked Zion.

      “I don’t see any cloth on your fugitive.” The stranger answered.

      Zions voice grew louder, “Who’s the captain…”

       Something like the sound of a twig snapped on my left side. What’s that? I ignored the mens’ arguing voices and turned my head the other direction.

       A women peeked out behind a tree and caught my gaze. My brown cloak was tied around her shoulders and it looked as though she was hiding something beneath its folds. She gave me a determined nod and tipped her head towards the men.

      I almost had the urge to laugh. It was Gemma {Jemma}, my closest maidservant from the palace! I gave her the best smile I could manage. She’ll save us.

    Gemma gave me a blue eyed wink and disappeared back behind the trees.

    Everything’s going to be alright, everything’s going to be alright…     

    “Hey, did you already kill her? She hasn’t seemed to have moved at all.”

    I shivered at the strangers words. Hurry Gemma.

    “No, course not. A tiny fall like that wouldn’t kill a person. She’s faking.” The ground quaked under Zions heavy footfalls. “Now I don’t want any games your Majesty, you’ll get up and-”

     A loud PING filled the air.

      A black fry pan clattered to the ground and Zion followed suit.

    Wow.

     All color drained from the other man’s face. His eyes went from the fry pan to unconscious Zion and back again. “What in the world-”

     “I wouldn’t talk if I were you.” Gemma’s voice rang loud and clear.

     “Who’s there?” His voice quivered.

     Perfect, he’s afraid. His back was now to me, and I started to move into a sitting position on the dirt. It was a difficult process, since my hands were bound behind my back. I need to get out of these to see Kingston!

     “Nevermind who I am. You have more important things to worry about.” Gemma walked out of the trees, the hood covering her face. She held a knife in her hands. “Now I’d suggest you back up and stand next to the tree over there.” She motioned with her head to a tree on his left. “And take your disgusting hand off of the boys mouth.”

    The man slowly backed up against the tree and uncovered Kingston’s mouth. Kingston had stopped squirming, and was now staring at Gemma.

      A big smile stretched across his face. “Emaaahhh!”

    “Now put him down…”

***

Present Time

    Kingston

     I exhaled as we walked across the hard floor. All of this is madness! First I fall off my horse and injure my arm. Then I get hit in the head, realize I’m the local jailbirds son, and THEN the bandit I was chasing and his apparent comrades, are King Robert the thirds knights!?!

       My eyebrows climbed my forehead. Right?

      Or did the bandits somehow drop me off at the palace and now I’m in the knights’ custody? What???

     There were four men surrounding me and my eyes strayed to the one walking ahead of me. But he is the same man from last night, who had come forward and addressed me. He had that same strong posture and confidence about him. Although he was older than I had thought, his hair was streaked with gray. And of course, he wore golden armor today, instead of a black cloak.

     My thoughts started stumbling over each other again. But if they were true thieves why didn’t they just kill me then and there? No one would have noticed, and I’m sure they’re used to hurting people. Also, why would they travel such a long way, and take me to the palace? It doesn’t make sense. Are the Kings Knights secretly bandits or where they just disguising themselves as bandits? Could the knights have employed that bandit to do their dirty work and they were coming to rescue him? But where is the man I’ve been chasing for the past four months?

     None of these men were him.

     My brain felt like a tornado had gone through it. Don’t go crazy, Kingston. You’re a lawman, use your instincts.

     I started paying more attention to my surroundings as they ushered me up a flight of wooden steps and through a doorway, leading into a marble corridor. Our footsteps echoed louder against the sleek floor.

      One of the men bumped my right side and I grimaced. I didn’t think my right arm was broken, but it was at least sprained. I clutched it to my chest with my other hand.

    Our procession stopped in front of two large doors. They were made of sturdy wood.

    Now it was quiet. The man in front of me turned around.

    His dark brown eyes narrowed. “You won’t speak unless you are spoken to in the King’s presence…”

      The sense of hearing his voice before struck me once again. Why do you seem so familiar? Do I know you from somewhere?

    …and I’d be careful of what you say, or you may regret it in the near future.” His hand rested on his sword hilt.

       I nodded my head to show that I heard him. Oh boy, this journey was a mistake.

      He glared at me for a second longer, then turned back around and pushed the large doors open.

     The room was large, embellished with stone columns, and tapestries hanging from the walls.

      I heard the leader suck in a frustrated sounding breath. I peered over his shoulder, as we weren’t moving anymore.

      Sitting on a throne, a few feet away, was a young women. A dark brown braid cascaded down her back, and she wore a long green dress. She glanced at us with an cheeky grin and closed the book in her lap. She leaned her elbow on one of the chair’s arms.

      “Cat got your tongue, Zion?”

      The man in front of me mumbled something under his breath and bowed low to the ground.

    So his name is Zion…

    “Princess Windy, I wasn’t expecting to see you here.”

To be continued…

One of the Knights: Part 1

 

     Where are you?

     My horse’s hooves clip-clopped against the cobblestones. I trained my eyes ahead, watching for any sign of movement. Twilight overshadowed the town of Lakes-Dale, giving it an eerie glow. Buildings lined either side of the road and they stood as silhouettes against the moon’s light. Everything was still. Even the wind was silent. I had no hints of my bandits whereabouts.

I rubbed my forehead.
Ugh, he must have hidden for the night. I’ll have to find him in the morning. I patted Gray’s sweaty neck and thick mane. Good thing I suppose, you need some rest. I started to scout for the local stable.

      Gray’s ears twitched. Something didn’t feel right. I heard shuffling footsteps, not the horses hooves. I pulled him to a halt. Shadows danced off the slumbering buildings, and I was met with quietness. I shook my head. I’m being scared for no reason.    

     A loud shriek pierced the air. What?

     Gray reared like someone struck him. “Whoa, boy!” I tried to grab for the saddle horn, but it was too late. I tumbled to the ground and landed on my right arm with a thump.

     “Don’t move!”

     I resisted the urge to groan and opened my eyes. The bandit has friends.

     Seven black hooded men towered over me, and swords hung from their hips. One man held Grays rein’s. Though it was dark I imagined the others were scowling at me.   

     Be calm. “Well, isn’t this a pleasant surprise. To what do I owe this pleasure?” I attempted to move to a sitting position, and clenched my teeth. Ouch.  

    The burliest man came closer, most likely the leader.

     I noticed a mask covered his eyes. Blast, if I could see his face at least that would be helpful. Note to self: listen to you superiors and don’t travel at night.

     “I have to say your courage is admirable. You hide your fear well.”

     Goosebumps went up my arms. He had my full attention. I knew that voice. This is very weird. I gave an unnatural laugh, “Why, what should I fear?” I wish my sword wasn’t strapped to Gray.

   “Everything, Kingston Brown.”

   He knows my name. “Who are…” Everything went black.

*

     First, I became aware of a pounding in my head. Then, a pain in my arm. Where am I? My eyes felt heavy, and I struggled to get them open. I found myself on a cot. I noticed hard brick walls were to my right and left and sunlight streamed through a barred window. I sighed. I’m in a jail cell.

“Got a pounding in your head do you boy?” asked a scratchy voice.

   There’s someone in here?!? Why didn’t I notice? I lifted my head.

     A hunched form sat in the darkest corner of the cell. I pushed myself up with one arm and slid my legs to the edge of the cot. “Where am I?”

     The old man laughed, “Ha, you must have gotten hit really hard in the head!” He rose to his feet and stumbled across the grimy floor. Thinning white hair went to his shoulders and a stained tunic hung from his body. “We’re in a palace. King Robert the Third’s palace, to be exact.”

  I almost fell off my cot. “What?” I hope I’m dreaming.

  The older man sat on the edge of the cot across from mine. “You’re not from around here are you?”

   I held my right arm close to my side and ignored his question. “So, I’m in Casstledome?”

   “Yes.” The man’s blue eyes studied mine.

     How did I get from Lakes-Dale to Cassledome? That’s a hundred miles away! And I’m in King Robert’s palace? I’ve never even met him! My pulse skyrocketed. Did he employ those men to kidnap me? I scratched my jaw. One minute I’m doing my job, tracking down a thief, and then I’m arrested?!

     I looked back at the old man and he was still staring at me. I fidgeted. “What’s your name?”

    “Moab.”

     I offered him my hand. “I’m Kingston.”

     Moab’s eyes widened. “Kingston?” His voice grew faint, and I couldn’t hear his quiet mumble. He cleared his throat and pushed himself off the cot.

     Moab stared at me with warmth in his eyes and I could tell that he was trying to tell me something. I leaned forward. “Are you alright?” To my surprise, Moab started laughing and sobbing, all at once.

     “You have no idea.” Moab outstretched his hands. Tears coursed down his cheeks. “You’re a man, I can’t believe it. My precious boy has grown up. I thought you looked familiar, oh my boy.”

     This is bizarre. I stood to my feet. “I’m sorry, I don’t know who you think I am, but…”

     Moab’s voice grew stronger, seeming to become much younger. “I do know who you are, I do. Your Kingston Knight, my son. I knew you were still alive! I just knew it!”

     Could this man be my father? A thousand different questions raced through my mind. I swallowed hard. “I never knew my real father or mother, they died when I was baby, and someone adopted me.”

    His eyes glistened. “I’m sorry they led you to believe that.”

     I felt heat rush up my face. “What are you talking about? Are you saying my adopted parents lied to me? What proof do you have, that I’m your son? How do I know that you’re telling me the truth?”

  Moab closed his eyes in pain.

   “I’m sorry…”

     He put his hand up. “Don’t speak.” He drew closer and pulled something from his tunic. He handed it to me.

  “What’s this?” I held a wrinkled paper.

   “Flip it over,” he said softly.

    I glanced at his face, but his gaze never left my hands. Okaaay. I turned over the paper.

     Three people stared back at me. It was an charcoal portrait. On the left, a beautiful woman smiled and her eyes seemed to sparkle. There was something about her smile…I looked at the man to her right.

     I gasped. It was me, well sort of. This man’s features were slightly more pronounced but there was no mistaking the similarity.

     My gaze caught Moab’s. “This man is you, isn’t it?” I whispered.

    “It is. Do you know who the baby is?”

     I glanced back down and let myself look at the sleeping baby. “It’s me.” Something wet coursed down my cheek and I wiped at it. I’m so confused.\

     I glanced back up into Moab’s face. “What am I supposed to do? What does this mean?”

    The sound of heavy boots coming close, emanated throughout the cell.

    Moab frowned. “I can’t explain everything, just don’t tell anyone what we have discussed.” He took my hand in his rough one. “Don’t let Robert trick you. He is an evil man, and he gets what he wants.”

   “But I have no idea what’s happening…”

   “I know. I’ll explain everything. Just act normal. Be Kingston Brown, the man you have been for the past twenty years.”

    I nodded. What have I gotten myself into?

    The footsteps were closer.

     Moab squeezed my shoulder. “Godspeed, my son.” Then, he retreated into the corner and blended into the darkness.

     I forced myself to look away. I sat back down on the edge of the cot, and ran a hand through my hair.

     The cell door opened wide. “Come.”

      I didn’t even look at my captors. What was the point? My life was a lie.

To Be Continued…     

 

The Stolen Christmas Tree

     “Samantha!”    

      Irene? I glanced up from the crackling fire, and looked around. My cousin, Irene Coldwell, frantically gestured for me to come over.  “I’m coming!” I sprinted across the tree lot, my boots splashing into a gigantic puddle. Cold water seeped up my leg, and I shivered. Ah, cold!

   “Hurry, hurry!” Irene cried. She staggered beneath the weight of the 180-pound Christmas tree. 

    I walked up beside her, and folded my arms. A smile tugged on my lips, and I hid it behind my hand. “What are you doing?”

    Irene shifted the tree to a more comfortable position, her beautiful eyes narrowing. “I’m carrying a tree what do you think I’m doing?!” she snapped. “ Now would you care to help me?”

     Wow. What did I do? Are you okay? I kept my thoughts to myself. “What row does it go in?”

     Irene shoved a blonde curl behind her ear. “It’s a pink tag, so third to last. There is an empty space in that row.”

     “Alright, let’s go.” I picked up the trunk while Irene started leading the way. I couldn’t help smiling as I took in all the activity. People clustered around the fire pit, warming their hands and chatting. Laughing children ran in and out of the rows, and their parents reproved them, but had a sparkle in their eye. No doubt the adults remembered what it was like to be a jubilant child during Christmas. I couldn’t help but notice the couples who walked around the tree lot, hand in hand. I wish I had that special someone.

      “Samantha!”

      My head snapped forward, and my pony tail whipped around my face. Irene glared at me. Oh.

      “Why did you keep walking? I had told you to stop, we passed it!”

     I tried not to frown. “Sorry, my thoughts were in the clouds.” The clouds of miss contentment. I retreated, seeing the empty space. “There it is.”

     “You shouldn’t have been daydreaming,” she scoffed, “it gets you nowhere.”

    Her words felt like cold water in the face, freezing and abrupt. I swallowed. You’re right. We set the tree down, and I dug inside my pants pocket for my small knife. Where is it?

    Irene brushed off her pants, and peered at something in the distance. Her face brightened, a cheeky smile stretching across her face. “I’ll let you finish the tree. There is a customer who looks like they need some assistance.” Irene leapt over the tree, and ambled down the aisle.

      Okay? I squatted to the ground. I should have told her to stay and help me. I won’t be able to get it up by myself. I started cutting the white twine encompassing the tree. Who is this customer anyway?

     I lifted my head, and caught a glance of the man Irene was “assisting”. He had dark brown hair, broad shoulders, and a plaid scarf wrapped around his neck. Something felt oddly familiar about him, but I didn’t know what.     

    I observed Irene was all smiles near him, and I tore my eyes away. How can she be SO nice to the ‘cute’ customer but not me? I stood to my feet, and plucked the strings one by one. And why do I have such a hard time talking to guys?      

    I put my hands on my hips. Enough about men, how am I going to get the tree up there? I bit my lip, and didn’t spy anymore workers in sight. I shrugged. Might as well try. My gloved hands wrapped around the top of the tree, and I pulled up. I grunted as I struggled to get it erect. Why am I doing this? It’s as hopeless as Irene moving the thing by herself!

   “Whoa, let me help you with that!” a man’s voice shouted.

     What? Who is that? The green branches blocked my view of whomever was on the other side.  But the Christmas tree proceeded to move upwards as we both pushed. Well, it’s working. The tree came to rest against the wooden panel, and I pulled away from its jutting limbs. I snatched a pine needle from my hair, and opened my mouth to thank the man next to me. But all I could do was stare. I can’t believe it. The man Irene was assisting was Jeff Walsh, my highschool crush.

    Jeff brushed down the branches. “This is a beautiful tree. What type is it?”

     He’s gotten taller. “Hi.”

     Jeff looked at me, curiosity then humor flashed in his eyes. “Hi.”

      Were his eyes that dark before? Oops he had asked me a question. How awkward.

      Jeff smiled.

     I hope he can’t read my thoughts. I need to say something. I wonder if he remembers me?

     He tore his gloves off, and offered me his hand. “I’m Jeff.”

      I know. Somehow, I shook his hand. “Samantha.” I gulped. He is a regular person, Samantha. Stop being weird. “Thank you for helping me with the tree.”

     Jeff grinned. “No problem…it was huge. Why were you doing it by yourself anyway?” He blew on his hands.

     I laughed, “Because I’m stubborn. I didn’t want to go and grab someone, so I tried to do it by myself.”

     “Hmm, I have done that many times.”

     “There you are, I turned away for a second and…” Irene stopped and noticed me.

     She recovered herself, and turned to Jeff. “You just disappeared. I couldn’t find you.” She put on a sugary smile. “Were you trying to run away?”

    Smooth Irene. I cringed, and toyed with my scarf. There is no need for me to be rude or jealous. Am I jealous?

    Jeff smiled politely. “I wasn’t running away. I saw Samantha struggling to set a tree up, and I helped her.” His eyes turned on me.

     Warmth climbed up my cheeks. He’s as handsome as ever.

     Irene’s face clouded. “Oh, ok. Do you guys know each other?” She looked at me with accusation.

     Jeff gave me a mysterious grin. “I do know her, actually.”

     Irene’s eyebrows lifted.

    “We went to highschool together.”

     I gaped at him. “You remember me?”

    Jeff laughed. “How could I forget? You used to call me Jeffrey just to get on my nerves.”

    All I could do was grin. This is crazy.    

    Jeff looked at the Douglas Fir we just put up. “I think I’ve found my Christmas tree.”

    Irene forced lightheartedness. “Great! Go warm yourself by the fire, then we’ll be right along.”

    “Alright.” Jeff’s eyes rested on my face for a heartbeat. Then he walked away.

      There was complete silence, and I stared down at my feet. I need to apologize for being jealous. I looked up at her, meeting her eyes.

     “I’m sorry.” we both said in unison. I opened my mouth, but Irene lifted her hand, “Let me talk first.” She took a deep breath. “I’m sorry for being mean and downright rude. There was no cause for that.” Her eyes strayed to her feet. “Steve dumped me yesterday, and all I’ve felt is bitterness.”

    I placed my hand on her shoulder. “Oh, Irene I’m sorry. Why didn’t you tell me?”

    She shrugged. “I thought there wouldn’t be any point.” She snatched a kleenex out of her purse and blew her nose. “I have no idea what went wrong with Steve and I…” she sniffed, and her voice caught on a sob, “I thought we were doing great.”

    “I’m sorry.” I squeezed her shoulder. “I haven’t been very nice either. I was jealous when you were talking to Jeff. I envy how easily you talk to guys.”

    Irene shook her head vigorously. “I know that I have a reputation of being a flirt. And you take your time Samantha, while all I do is chase men.”

     “That’s not true.”

     “It is.” She wiped at her cheeks. “Thank you for being such a good example, Samantha. I appreciate you.”

     I hugged her tight. “I appreciate you too.”

      Irene pulled away. “Well, I’d better go manage the checkout.” She attempted a smile. “Go talk to Jeff. He seems nice…and cute.” She winked and hurried away.

     There’s the Irene I know. I walked down the aisle, and arrived beside Jeff at the fire pit.

    He looked up at me with sparkling eyes. “So, how have you been?”

    “I’m good. Just getting ready for Christmas and working at the tree lot!”

     Jeff smiled. “You were always a hard worker. I remember when you did that science fair project about how electricity works, and how you…”

     His phone beeped, and he grimaced. “Sorry.” He frowned. “Hey, I actually have to go, would you show me where I can pay?”

    His abruptness felt cold. “Yep,” I pointed at a white table set up a few feet away. “Tell Irene you have a pink tag, then you should be good to go.”

    Jeff nodded without looking up from his phone. “Thanks a lot.” He stalked off towards the table.

    No problem. I sighed. Oh, stop being offended, Samantha! He probably has something important to do. You’re foolish.

    “Excuse me, do you work here?”

    I abandoned my thoughts, and spun towards the voice. I encountered the warm eyes of a small elderly woman wearing a deep red coat.

    “Yes, I do. How can I help you?”

    The woman beamed. “Great! I’m looking for a tree, but I have no idea what you have in stock, and your price ranges.”

    “Alrighty, let’s see what we can do for you.” I guided her towards all the trees. “We have a wide selection…”

*

    The next day, I parked my truck beside the tree lot, and jumped out. It’s freezing! I held my steaming mug of coffee tighter and took a sip. Ah, that’s nice.

    Blessed sunshine peeked out behind the clouds as I walked to the ‘checkout’ where Irene sat attending a customer. My ears perked up.

    “How could a tree disappear? I don’t understand.”

    “I’m sorry, ma’am.” Irene signaled to me.

    I quickened my pace, and arrived beside her. “What’s the problem?”

    “This woman is missing her tree.”

    “It isn’t my tree; its Jeff Walsh’s tree and I’m picking it up for him.”

    I nodded. Oh, Jeff must have held his tree. “I’m sorry; what’s your name?”

    “Amy Walsh.”

    A lump formed in my throat. Jeff has a wife.

    Was he wearing a ring yesterday? I racked my brain, but couldn’t remember. My eyes strayed to Amy’s hands, covered in gloves, and then to her face. And why wouldn’t she be his wife? She’s beautiful. Long auburn hair cascaded down Amy’s shoulders, and chocolate brown eyes hid beneath long lashes.

    Irene elbowed me.

    The tree. “Uh, do you know where the tree was put?”

    Amy pointed behind the table at the row of trees, ready for pickup. “It was supposed to be back there, somewhere. But I looked at all the tags, and none of them said Jeffs name.”

    I sold a tree from back there yesterday. I gasped, “Oh no.”

    “What did you do?” Irene asked with reluctance.

     I winced, “It’s all my fault. I sold one, late, last night, that didn’t have a tag. At least that’s what I had thought. It had even crossed my mind that it looked like his tree. But it was dark and…” I sighed, “I was tired.”      

     Amy frowned.

      “I’m so sorry.” I fidgeted. “We can refund you. Or would you maybe like to pick out a new tree?” How could I have been so blind?

     “I’ll give Jeff a call and ask him what he thinks, thank you.” Amy plodded away.

    “That was terrible!”

    Irene’s eyes twinkled. “It’s sort of funny, when you think about it.”

    I rubbed my forehead. “It’s all my fault. I shouldn’t have sold that tree! Jeff is going to be so mad.”

    She touched my arm. “It was a simple mistake, he’ll understand.”

    I watched as Amy stood by the fire talking on her phone. “I hope he isn’t mad.” I pursed my lips.  

    “He’s just one customer. Don’t beat yourself up.”

    “But I can’t help it. I feel so bad. I mean, how could I have sold his Christmas tree?! It’s ridiculous!”

    “You care for him, don’t you?”

    “What did you say?”  I haven’t even admitted that to myself.

     “You heard what I said,” Irene jabbed my arm with her pencil, “you care for him.”

      “No, I don’t! High school was a-lifetime-ago.” I did have a crush on him then, but that doesn’t matter now. “And he has a wife.”

    Before she could answer, I raced away. I need to focus on my job. Anyway, men just bring heartache.

    Irene chased after me. “Samantha, I need to tell you something.”

    I sighed, spotting an empty space. There we go, distraction. “Irene…”

    “There you are!” Jeff jogged over and stopped right in front of me.

     He’s here? Already? “Where’d you come from?” I stammered.

    “I came from work! The story my sister related to me was hilarious, and I had to come here to see it for myself.” Jeff laughed, “I bet you haven’t done that before, have you?!

    “Your sister?”

     Jeff gave me a peculiar look. “Yeah. Amy.”

     “So, you’re not married?”

      His faced colored somewhat, but he smiled. “No, I’m not.”

      My eyes went to Irene. Why didn’t you tell me?

     She lifted her shoulders, and strolled away.

      I gaped after her; I can’t believe this. I coughed, making myself look back at Jeff. “I assumed you were married.” What am I even saying? This is so embarrassing. I want to disappear.

     “Nope. And If I were, then I couldn’t ask you out on a date.”

     What? “YOU wanted to ask me out?”

    His face turned completely red this time. He ran a hand through his hair. “I’ve wanted to ask you out the minute I stepped onto the tree lot.” He stepped closer. “In fact, I liked you in highschool, but I didn’t have the courage to tell you.”

    You did?!

    His voice wavered, “I know that a lot has changed since then, but would you consider going out with me?”   

    Jeff Walsh just asked me out! My heart pounded in my chest. “Yes, I would like that very much.”

    Relief washed over his face. “Do you want to pick out a Christmas tree?” He offered me his arm. “Someone seems to have stolen mine.”

     My heart soared. “I’d love to.” I slipped my hand into the crook of his arm, and smiled up into his face. “You know, finding the right tree could take a while. Are you sure you want me for company?”

    His eyes danced. “I’m sure.”

    I feigned indifference. “But what about the tree thief? What if they strike again?”

    He bent down, and whispered in my ear. “They can steal my tree as many times as they want as long as you’re by my side.”

    The End