"And I’m gonna love you
like nobody loves you…”
All I can think to myself is: Thank God I’m sitting down for this.
Scotty clears his throat and starts to strum an unfamiliar, sweet melody. I force myself to maintain eye connection with him as he begins to sing.
"I know I’m still young, but I know how I feel.
I might not have too much experience, but I know when love is..real,
by the way my heart starts pounding, when I look into your eyes.
I might look a little silly, standing with my arms stretched open wide…
I love you this big. Eyes have never seen this big. No one’s ever dreamed this big.
And I’ll spend the rest of my life, explaining what words cannot describe, but I’ll try.
I love you this big.”
"That’s just a little something I started working on the other day… it’s not finished yet and ain’t my best work but, I figured I’d share it with you because…well, you know," he babbles. Is that a hint of red on his cheeks?
Scotty sets down his guitar, waiting for me to say something. I will myself to speak, praying to God he can’t hear the tremble in my voice. “That was…wow. Amazing. You sing so….”
"Deep?" he guesses with a soft chuckle.
"I was going to say beautifully, but that too."
"Well, thank you. That’s what I was hoping to hear." Scotty grins and walks closer to me, gently placing his hands on my shoulders. A subtle calm sweeps over the room, and his blue eyes glisten as they stare down into mine. I hear the front door open downstairs along with a chorus of voices, and start to stand up, but Scotty’s gentle hands force me back down.
"I have something I want to say, before I lose the nerve to," he blurts out in a rush, licking his lips.
I shiver to myself and nod for him to continue.
"I know we only met a few days ago, but…I just feel like I know you already. I wish I could find the exact words to describe how I feel right now, but I can’t. Otherwise I’d use them and not ramble like a fool." Scotty pauses and takes a deep breath.
"You’re fine," I say, giving him a reassuring smile. He returns it half-heartedly.
"I know we’re almost strangers. I know I live hundreds of miles away from here. I know you might not want the same things I do, but…" He pauses again and shakes his head before continuing. "I just can’t let it all go like this. You and me, going on a few dates this break, and me just heading back to Garner with that being it. I want this to continue, even after spring break ends. Am I making sense?"
I feel his fingers twitch nervously through my shirt and I nod, smiling bashfully. I’m being almost too calm, considering what he’s saying.
"Good," he says, his voice softening the slightest bit.
I wait to see if he has any more to say, but no words follow. Instead, Scotty continues to stare deep into my eyes, brushing his fingers slowly back and forth, rubbing them in small circles.
Breathe….inhale…exhale…..nice and steady now…
My muscles relax and my eyes fall shut. I focus on the sound of Scotty’s deep breathing, coming closer…and closer….
The heat of his breath grazes my cheek, before a pair of warm lips press against my skin. They linger for a few seconds, and pull away, leaving me tender.
I open my eyes and Scotty smiles, squeezing my shoulders gently.
"Scotty! Alexa! Time for dinner," Mrs. McCreery calls up the stairs.
"Well, we’d better get down there. My ma’s roast beef is the best there is. I’ll introduce you to the rest of my family. Come on."
Scotty takes my hand, helping me to my feet. Holding me close as we walk together, my nerves begin to escalate once more.
Meeting Scotty’s mother went well. I hope things stay that way.
* * *
Downstairs, Scotty leads me to the dining room and guides me to an empty chair. He pulls it out, waiting for me to settle in, before pushing me back closer to the table.
Everyone else takes their seats at the spacious family table, and all eyes are on us. I smile at Mrs. McCreery, and the first person I notice is Scotty’s sister, Ashley. She has dark hair, the same color as her brother’s, and she has a thin, elegant figure complete with bursting blue eyes and a sweet smile.
"You must be Alexa!" she says excitedly, placing her hand over mine from across the table. "I’m Ashley. Gee, Scotty was right, you’re beautiful!"
"Ash…" Scotty mumbles from my left, and I sense him giving her a subtle kick from underneath the table.
"Oh, be quiet little brother," she retorts, and I can’t help but laugh.
"Welcome, Alexa," a man I take to be Mr. McCreery says, extending his hand to me from his spot at the end of the table. I shake it politely and smile at him. "We’re glad to have you here. I’m sure my son’s mighty glad too."
"Alright, alright, lay off on the teasing," Scotty says, his ears turning pink at the top. I nudge my foot against his under the table, smiling in a hopefully flirtacious way.
"We’re your family, we’re allowed to tease you all we want," Ashley chimes in.
"Let’s all thank the Lord before we eat this marvelous supper your mother prepared for us," Mr. McCreery says, winking at his wife, who blushes.
"Scotty, would you do the honor?" she asks.
We all join hands and bow our heads.
"Dear heavenly Father, we thank you for all of the blessings you have bestowed upon us this week. You have given us a wonderful home to stay in and a fulfilling meal to eat. We’re thankful for everything you do for us, and we are forever grateful. Amen."
"Amen," we all echo.
The scrape of utensils against china fills the room as we dig in.
"So, Alexa. Do you live close by?" Mr. McCreery inquires.
I nod, chewing and swallowing my food before replying. “About ten minutes from here.”
"Do you have any siblings?"
"Nope, just me," I say with a small smile. "It gets kind of lonely sometimes."
"Well, it’s better than having your son and daughter bickering with each other on a daily basis," Mrs. McCreery says jokingly. Scotty and Ashley grin at each other.
"I’m sure your mother appreciates having you as a daughter," Ashley adds, flashing her mom a teasing look.
I look down at my plate, unsure of what to say. Most everyone I know is aware of the fact that my mom is dead, and thankfully they try their best not to mention it around me. But what do I say to the McCreerys? I haven’t even told Scotty, but is that really a piece of information you should throw down on the shoulders of your almost-possibly-soon-to-be boyfriend?
Instead of making things awkward, I look up and fake a smile. “Oh, yes. She most certainly does.”
"…and I’ll learn your trust,
making memories of us…”