The House of Four Seasons
Lachlan watched the little crab running around, and not finding any more morsels of food he retreated to his rock. He glanced at Hallie, he had no rock to climb under…he didn’t retreat.
“Hallie, we’ve got three months minus a few days…maybe I’ll grow a claw.”
Hallie smiled pulling off her shirt, “Maybe, and maybe you won’t have to.” She got up and ran back into the ocean.
He sat on the blanket and watched her diving into the waves, he couldn’t figure her out. Did she want him to grab her with a big claw, that wasn’t his style he wanted her to want him for himself and not because it was necessary. He wasn’t going to just take her.
“Are you coming in?” she called.
Lachlan pulled his shirt off, “Sure, get ready.” He ran into the waves.
They splashed and swam for awhile and then called it a day and came back to the blanket.
“Need to finish up this wine,” Lachlan poured out the last of it into two tumblers.
It was getting late in the day, shadows were now covering them from the cliff. “It’s getting cooler.” She took the tumbler from him.
“Do you want my shirt?”
“No, thank you then you’d be cold.”
“Yeah but I’m a bloke, tougher you know.” He smiled slightly.
“Why do guys have to always be tough?”
“If we weren’t who would you lean on, who would be strong when you felt weak, who would catch you when you fall?”
They looked into each other’s eyes, Hallie knew it was going to happen, no matter how she fought it, she was going to fall in love with him. It almost hurt her to realize this.
He reached over and ran his finger down her face tilted his head and smiled. There was time.
It was mid September and Lachlan continued to woo Hallie. He took her out to eat, to the dances on Friday night and slow danced with her. They went to the movies and ate popcorn and downed enormous cokes. They laughed and joked and played over the property. They still maintained their separate bedrooms and although he had kissed her briefly, nothing else had happened.
Lachlan saw the expectant look in her eyes sometimes when they were close but he held himself apart from her. He thought he would know when the time was right for them. Hallie’s growing awareness of him worked on her, kept her awake at night and she poured her feelings into her diary.
Excerpt from Hallie’s diary: I know he likes me, I mean a woman knows these things, why won’t he take me in his arms, I want him to kiss me. I want him to, I shouldn’t even write this. I finally watched Alex’s movie last night. I need him here with me because I’m going to…I know I am and I don’t want to. Oh Alex how can this happen?
I guess the nights are the worst time, this morning I feel a little better. I wanted to be a whole complete woman and now I am. I wanted to experience love and I have. Lachlan is up, I heard his door close. Something has to give here, somebody has to go first.
She found him in the kitchen making a cup of tea. “Good morning, Lachlan.” She went for the coffee pot.
“Hiya Hallie, I thought if you don’t have any plans for today, we’d go flying, might be the last of the good weather for awhile.”
“Oh can we, I’d love to.”
After a hearty breakfast they walked up to the plane. It was a cooler flight this time but still Hallie loved it, loved the wind in her face and hair. He tried a few aerial maneuvers and although she clutched the seat she wasn’t afraid, and her laughter caught on the wind and blew by Lachlan and his wide smile. They flew for two hours and he brought the plane back down.
“Why did we quit?” she asked as he helped her out of the cockpit.
“You didn’t see the clouds rolling in from the ocean, rain by two o’clock.”
“Oh, no I didn’t I was having too much fun.”
“No such thing as too much fun,” he smiled and stowed their gear away and covered the cockpit with a tarp.
Hallie wandered across the road in into the edge of the wheat field and sat down waiting for him to finish. “Have you ever flown in the rain?” she called out to him.
“Yeah, it’s wet and cold.” He came over and joined her.
“I bet I could make a flyer out of you,” he smiled and sat down.
“I don’t know about that, I like being a passenger; I wouldn’t want to be responsible for all the knobs and gauges. I’d rather trust you to take care of it all.”
“Thank you for your trust.”
“I do…trust you.”
He looked at her a moment, “Maybe you shouldn’t, my motives are not always honorable.”
“That’s hard to believe, you’ve been the perfect gentleman.”
“No man is perfect,” he pulled a shaft of wheat and began dislodging the seeds.
“I know that,” she pulled a shaft of wheat and ran it through her fingers teasing the hairy end. She thought about Alex, he wasn’t perfect he put up a false bravado sometimes, hiding what was inside him. She recognized that in him, but Lachlan…she really hadn’t found any faults. She met his eyes and smiled, “some are pretty close to perfect.”
“In your long years of experience you’ve come to that conclusion?”
She grinned, “Not years, only a few weeks. I’m trying to give you a compliment.”
A flock of crows descended into the wheat field and began chattering and feasting. “Don’t you wonder what it is they’re talking about?” Lachlan watched them, his eyes narrowed.
“Quality of the wheat this year, who’s moved on from the flock, gossiping about the newcomers.”
Lachlan chuckled and looked back at her, “Life doesn’t change from one species to another.”
“I don’t think so.”
“Their life is a lot simpler though, they don’t have to contend with magic for one thing.”
Hallie dropped her wheat shaft, there was only a week left in September, time had gone by so fast. Had she wasted it, all this time with him? Only two more months, it seemed to her they had a long way to go. “I always thought of magic as something fun…until I came here.”
“It could be fun, Hallie, if you let it; you’re going to have to let him go or we aren’t going anywhere.” As soon as he said it he wished the words back, her face changed and she got up and ran back toward the house. Lachlan sighed he didn’t know what else to do, as soon as he felt like he was getting close she pushed him back.
Hallie was in tears by the time she ran up to her room and fell on the bed. He didn’t understand, he just didn’t.
Lachlan got up and walked back to the house and passed it, going to the garage, he’d noticed it before, the motorbike. He checked it out and gunned the motor and took off. He was a little angry a little hurt and wishing he’d never been called to come here.
The House was becoming exasperated with these two. It had provided all the accessories to romance, all the encouragement it could give creating atmosphere, but to no avail. They were like two stubborn children. It quite understood her love for Alex but Alex was summer this was now well into fall, they were well suited to one another, it felt it had made no mistakes there. It certainly would not let any harm come to either one of these beautiful people…but something must be done.
Hallie cried herself to sleep and it was some time later when the thunder and lightning awoke her, the balcony doors were swinging in the wind and rain was blowing in on the hardwood floors. She got up and closed the doors and went to the bathroom and washed her face. She felt she owed an apology to Lachlan. She left her room and softly knocked on his door, it opened but he was not there.
Running down the steps she looked over the house for him, he was nowhere to be found. She’d left him in the wheat field, where else would he have gone with a storm threatening? She ran out on the front porch praying he hadn’t taken the plane up again, she could see the bright yellow wing beyond the stables. She called out loudly for him but the rain drove her back into the house. She’d looked from every window in the house, he was nowhere to be seen.
“He knew it was going to storm, where could he have gone?” she said aloud to the empty kitchen. Thunder made her jump, she’d never liked storms. She really began to worry about him, she thought she could take the car out and look for him but he had the plane parked in the road.
The afternoon darkened and the rain continued to pour down. Hallie was beside herself, she felt guilty, she was worried sick; something had happened to him. That couldn’t be, she couldn’t stand it if something happened to him, no not Lachlan, he was so, so and she did, she did love him. She thought maybe he might have taken shelter in the stables and pulling out all the rain gear she could find she swallowed her fear of storms and ran out into the rain and up toward the stables. She stopped and caught her breath, he was not there. On past the plane she slogged in the rain, losing her balance and falling in the slippery muddy road. She remembered from their flight over the property a cabin, it would be over the rise and the road would fork off to the left, that’s where it was, it was a long walk.
Lachlan was on his bike when the rain started it came on fast and he turned and headed back for the house but he took a wrong turn and after riding a ways he saw the cabin tucked up in the trees and he headed for it. He was soaked to the skin and cold, he built a fire in the fireplace and had started taking off his dripping clothes. He walked over to the window first to see if it might be letting up a little and he couldn’t believe what he saw. Jerking the door open he ran out and down the path and caught her as she was about to slip and fall.
“Lachlan” she screamed and grabbed his neck, “Oh Lachlan I have been so, you’re okay, I’m so sorry.”
“What are you doing out here in this storm, come inside, why are you out here?”
“You, I was looking for you,” He set her down inside the cabin and pulled the dripping slicker off her and tossed it on the floor. As soon as her arms were free they were back around his neck, Lachlan put his arms around her and held her close.
“I can’t believe you came out in a thunder storm looking for me, you could have been hurt, Hallie.”
“I had to, I couldn’t stand it if something happened to you.” She looked up into his wet face, hair dripping.
“Do you care that much you’d risk yourself?”
“Yes, I didn’t want to, I didn’t…I love you Lachlan.”
He kissed her, no brief brushing of the lips this time but a hungry kiss.
He pulled away from her, “Are you sure about this, are you sure you want it?”
“Yes, I’m sure, I’m so sorry.” She lay her face on his wet jacket trying to stop the tears that kept coming.
“Hey,” he pushed her wet hair from her face, “stop being sorry, we need to get out of these wet clothes.”
Lachlan threw some more wood on the fire and lit a lantern setting it on the little wooden table. He took off his wet uniform, Hallie had her wet things in a pile by the bed.
“You’re so beautiful,” he said kissing her again, “so sweet.”
They lay down on the bed and loved each other.
It had taken her a long time to come to him, but it had been worth the wait he thought, as he cradled her in his arms. He didn’t know how such a tiny little thing could mean so much to him, but she did. Hallie was emotionally and physically exhausted and she drifted off to sleep.
Outside the storm raged for a while longer and left leaving a drenching rain that continued all through the evening. It was a snug but rustic cabin that belonged to Egan, who rarely came to the House. He came bringing horses the last time when the owner was present. There was a little wood stove, the bathroom was a little house behind the house, and water came from a cistern which was now brimming after the rain. Magically it was stocked with a few canned goods and tea and coffee makings; a tin of biscuits completed the pantry inventory.
Lachlan’s arm was asleep and had been for awhile, he hated to disturb Hallie and he held her head with his right hand while he eased his arm from under her. She woke anyway.
“What…Lachlan,” she smiled and he kissed her.
“My arm’s asleep sorry to wake you.”
“What time is it?”
“I don’t know, dark time.”
“Oh, it’s still raining.”
“Yeah but the boomers have left us, looks like we’re stuck for the night. I need to put some more wood on the fire.” He swung his legs over the side of the bed and felt around for his damp underwear.
“I like this, it’s so cozy,” Hallie huddled under the old quilt.
“There’s no bathroom.”
“What? Well how…where?”
“There’s a path behind the cabin leads to an outhouse. I’ll bet you’ve never been in one of those.”
“No I can’t say I have. Have you?”
“Yeah, at my oldies, my grandparent’s house.”
“Hmm, I should get up and hang up our clothes so they will dry.”
“You stay put, I’ll do it.” Lachlan picked up her muddy jeans and wet sweater, “I’m not sure these are gonna make it Hallie.”
“Throw them away then.”
Lachlan pictured her going home in his uniform jacket and nothing else and smiled. He hung his own clothes up and noticed a wooden chest at the foot of the bed and opened it. “I found the wardrobe.”
“What’s in there?”
“Shirts and jeans and sweaters, big sweaters,” he looked up. Pulling two shirts out he handed one to her. “At least it will keep the chill off.”
He pulled on a white tee shirt, “I think I’ll get the stove going, looks like we could have a cup of tea anyway.”
“We haven’t eaten since breakfast,” Hallie buttoned up her shirt and got out of the bed. She surveyed the choices on the shelf, “Chicken soup?”
“Yeah, soup and tea.” He managed to get the little stove going.
“You’re handy to have around.” She smiled impressed with his fire skills.
“I’m glad you noticed.” He gave her a soft kiss.
They became lovers and from that day forward they slept together, played together and discovered each other. Hallie fell hard for Lachlan and didn’t want to let him go.
The weather turned cold, the house decorated itself for Thanksgiving and the scented candles burned among bowls of spicy potpourri. Hallie knew their time was coming to an end and it hurt, it hurt deep. He was so sweet, so honest, so loving she couldn’t imagine the season ending.
Lachlan also fell in love with Hallie, he’d had the ring in his pocket for two days waiting for the right moment. It came on the Friday after Thanksgiving. There was frost on the ground and it didn’t go away. He told her it was waiting for winter and then it would snow. They were bundled up and had been for a walk and sat down on the bench at the edge of the cliff.
“You asked me one time to repeat that poem, would you like to hear it now?”
“I would, it really touched me you know.”
He held her in his arms her back against his chest and quoted the poem to her. When he finished he slipped the ring on her finger, a simple platinum band.
“I marry you, Hallie, forever.” He kissed her and drew her close to him and rested his head on hers.
Hallie looked at her hand and felt hot tears running down her cold face.
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