There is only so much dusting, cleaning, washing, and . . . cooking a person can do. My hands were dripping with soapsuds one beautiful fall morning while I gazed longingly out the kitchen window. Before I could stop the thought from coming, it plowed right into me like a runaway train. I wished—just for a second—that I was twelve years old again.
I love Riley with all my heart, and more and more each day. But I’m not so sure about the rest of it. It’s taken all summer long to move in mentally to my new role as wife and keeper of my own home. The house is just right, and I would never want anything different. The place. Perfect. My special spot is right here, just outside my kitchen window.
Maybe that’s the problem. When I was younger, my special spot was a place to escape to, a place to relax and enjoy everything around me. Now I’m living at my special spot and there’s no place to go. No place to ride Shasta like I used to ride Taffy and realize nobody else would come around.
Worse, I feel guilty even thinking this. My family bent over backwards to gift Riley and me with this wondrous piece of “heaven.” I do love it. But . . .
Sometimes I wonder if Riley can read my mind. I’ve heard the word “kindred spirits” before, but I always thought it was book talk from those silly novels Melinda was always reading aloud in the evenings at home.
But I think Riley and I truly are kindred spirits. Not an hour after I was having my discontented thoughts, he came barreling through the back door.
Naturally, I thought something was amiss. “What’s wrong?” I hollered. “Is Shasta all right?”
I felt a little faint. The memory of Taffy’s accident and unexpected passing always lies buried just under the surface. I’ve dealt with it, but that doesn’t mean the idea of something like that happening again doesn’t stab me once in a while.
Riley gave me that everything’s-fine smile that makes me melt right into safety. “Of course he’s fine. In fact, I just saddled him and Dakota.”
I let out a breath and sat down on a kitchen chair. “Don’t scare me like that.”
Riley’s laugh is like the bubbling of a spring creek. It washes over me and I always feel much better.
“I think you’ve played the new housewife a little too well these past weeks," he said. "Why don’t we play hooky from house and ranch chores and go for a ride?”
My heart leaped. Anywhere, yes, anywhere! “Where?” I asked. "To that meadow you took me too not so long ago? You made that flower chain, remember?"
"No, not there." Riley suddenly looked embarrassed. “Well . . . Remember a couple of years ago when I finally talked you into riding Shasta?”
I nodded, not exactly sure where this was going.
“I told you we were going to ride to a special spot of mine. But things kind of got out of hand when you galloped away and we ended up . . .” His voice trailed away.
Oh, yes. I remembered very well. “That imaginary hideaway you told me about.” I didn't believe him then, and I wasn't quite sure if I could now.
I should have known better.
Riley is nothing but kindness all the time. But he’s also firm and likes to remind me that I don’t know everything. He confirmed it right then. “Yes, my princess. The one you insisted I made up just to trick you.”
Of course I blushed. Once I’d gotten over my little temper tantrum and forgave everybody back then, I knew Riley would never lie to me. I must have been out of my head during those terrible two months to think anything else. (Of course I was out of my head!)
But for some reason neither he nor I had brought up his hideaway again. Until today. “Do you mean . . .?” I jumped out of my seat.
“I think today is a perfect day to finally show you that hideaway of mine.” He lifted a finger and wagged it in my face. “And I know for a fact that you have never been there before. If you had, you would remember.”
I still found it hard to believe I didn’t know every square acre of the Circle C and beyond. A new thought came to me. “Is this secret hideaway on the Circle C or on our own Memory Creek ranch?”
That caught Riley off guard. He pondered a bit then shrugged. “You know what? I’m not sure.” Then he chuckled. “Does it matter? It’s mine for no other reason than the fact that nobody else will ever find it. Chad’s a family man now, what with Ellie and that new baby on the way. Plus running this spread. He’s grown up way past hunting around for secret spots.”
Truer words were never spoken. As long as Riley or I never spilled the beans, we could claim any secret hideaway as our own.
I have to say that prickles of pure joy and excitement skittered up my spine at the idea of this outing. I think Riley could tell by my sparkling eyes that he’d said the right thing. In a burst of love, I threw my arms around his neck and kissed him.
“Gee-whiz, Andi,” Riley said, grinning. “I’ll have to come up with more surprises. The reward is worth it.”
I smacked him then but he just laughed.
“When can we leave?” I couldn’t wait to get out from behind four walls and the thought of having to prepare a meal later on.
“Change into riding clothes,” Riley suggested. “Then pack a lunch. It’s quite a distance”—he furrowed his brow—“if I remember right.”
Oh, I had a feeling he remembered just fine.
And now, since this entry has spanned four pages in my journal, I will have to take up the adventure under a new heading next time.