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“Alex, just relax. Everything is going to be fine.”
I paced back and forth in our kitchen as I glanced up and looked at my mother. Relax? Relax! I can’t relax.
I was leaving for college in a little over a week. I was leaving Will.
“I don’t know if I can do this, Mom. I don’t know if I want to do this.”
My mother frowned and shook her head. “Nonsense. Of course you can do it, and you will do it. You’re getting your degree if I have to go and sit with you in each class for the next four years.”
I sat down and put my head in my hands. Tears were threatening to spill at any moment. I heard the screen door open, and I instantly relaxed when I smelled my great-grandmother’s perfume.
“Are you ready to go for our walk, Alexandra?”
I looked up at her, and she smiled her beautiful, bright smile. I stood up and walked up to her.
“Yes, Grams, I’m ready.”
We walked for what seemed like forever before she broke the silence.
“What are you afraid of?”
I shrugged my shoulders, but I instantly thought back to the other day when Daddy and I had gone for a ride.
I saddled up Banjo and Pinto and walked both horses out of the barn. I smiled when I saw my father walking up to me. It had become a weekly thing for us to go for our father-daughter ride. I would ride Banjo nearly every day, and my heart was breaking that I was leaving him. Besides Will and my father, Banjo was the only other man in my life. He was my comfort zone. Being with my horse relaxed me, and I felt at peace.
I had fallen asleep last night in Banjo’s stall, and I had woken up to Will whispering in my ear how much he loved me. He’d carried me all the way back up to the house and kissed me good night so tenderly.
“You ready to go for our ride, Little Bear?”
I smiled and nodded my head. “Yes, sir.”
We rode for a bit in silence before Daddy started talking about how much I was going to love UT.
“There are so many places to eat in Austin that it is unreal.”
I giggled and looked at him. “Places to eat, Dad? That’s what you want to talk about?”
He winked at me and looked straight ahead. “Are you getting nervous?”
I swallowed hard. “Yes. I’m scared, nervous, angry.”
He quickly looked back at me. “Angry?” than you will ever know.”
He gave me a weak smile in return. “I know you will, Alex. You just have to trust me. I know it will be hard to be away from Will, but if you’re truly meant to be together, it will work out.”
I shook my head and let out a sigh. As Banjo rode along, I closed my eyes and listened to the birds chirping. The hot sun felt so good on my face.
I love it here.
My father’s voice pulled me back to reality.
“Alex, the only thing you’ve known your whole life is Mason, this ranch, and your friends. Have you ever wondered what else could be out there?”
“No! Why is it so hard for you to accept that I want this life, Daddy? You don’t question Colt when he says he wants to take over the ranch someday.”
My father looked away. “Colt is different.”
My mouth dropped open. “How? How are his wants any different than mine?”
“Alex, I want the world for you. I want you to experience life outside of Mason, outside of Will.”
I sucked in a breath of air. “You want me to meet someone else? Daddy, I love Will, and I’ll always love Will.”
“Okay. Well then, why are you so angry, Alex?”
I went to say something back, but I stopped.
I’d had the same dream over and over again the last few weeks. It was me…kissing someone other than Will. What had scared me the most was…I was enjoying it.
“I just want you to keep an open mind, Alex. I’m not asking you to forget about Will. Hell, visit each other on weekends. I don’t care. Just keep an open mind. That’s all I ask.”
I nodded my head and quickly tried to push all my doubts and fears from my mind.
“Want to race?” I asked before kicking Banjo and taking off.
Grams stopped and looked at me. She grabbed my hand and made me stop to face her. “What are you afraid of?” “What if Will meets someone else?”
She raised her eyebrow at me and gave me that all-knowing look.
“You’re worried about Will meeting someone else?”
I looked down and away as I whispered, “No.”
“I’m sorry. What was that?”
I looked back up at her with tears in my eyes. “I’m worried I’ll meet someone else. Grams, I don’t know what is wrong with me. I keep having this dream where I’m kissing someone else, and Daddy keeps filling my mind with how I need to experience more outside of Mason. I’m…I’m…”
I started crying as she pulled me into her arms.
“I’m so confused, Grams. I love Will. I love him so much.”
“Shh…don’t cry, baby girl. Come on, let’s walk while we talk about it.”
“What was it like for you when you had to leave Gramps?” I asked as we started walking again.
She chuckled. “It was very hard. Remember though, Alex, you have ways of keeping in touch, unlike what Garrett and I had.”
“Did you ever doubt your feelings for him?”
She thought about her answer. “No and yes. I remember there was a boy…oh, what was his name? I don’t even remember.” She chuckled.
“Did you like him?”
She looked at me and smiled. “I liked the attention he gave me. It was different. He looked at me in a different way than Garrett did, and a small part of me enjoyed it. Would I have ever done anything with him? No. Never.”
I looked down and smiled. My grandparents had such a strong marriage. The fact that Gramps still held Grams’s hand, kissed her on the lips, and told her how beautiful she was warmed my heart.
“Your love with Gramps is so different, Grams.”
She stopped walking and put her hands on her hips. “Is that so? Are your other grandparents different? What about your parents? Their love must be different, too.”
I bit down on my lower lip. “Well…I, um…”
She shook her head and started walking again. “Let me tell you something, Alex, and you listen closely to me. Garrett and I are no different than any other couple in love. The same goes with your other grandparents and your mother and father. It’s true love, Alex. True love is a forever love.
It is tested and tried all the time. It’s sometimes broken, but it always, always heals itself. It stands strong during storms, even when it feels like it is about to fall apart. Love’s roots grow stronger and deeper after the storm. That’s true love. There are ups, and there are downs. You just weather them.”