Alli broke the silence with a skittish laugh. She rested her forehead on Bryce’s. As much as she wanted to kiss him, her nerves got the best of her. She hadn’t kissed anyone other than Nathan in ages. She struggled with the fact that six weeks ago she was planning a life with someone else and now she wanted to kiss a stranger. She didn’t want someone as perfect as Bryce to be a rebound or just a vacation fling. He was too nice of a guy, and she was not that kind of girl.
Bryce cleared his throat and shifted his feet. “How ‘bout that movie?” he said awkwardly as he stepped into the entry way. Alli bit her bottom lip as she decided how vulnerable she wanted to be. If this was going to go anywhere, she needed to tell him she was recently engaged. Was it too soon, she wondered? Maybe he didn’t want this to go anywhere anyway. She was overthinking it. She figured she had nothing to lose. If he still wanted to kiss her after a conversation like that, he was a keeper.
“I’ll start the movie in a minute. Do you want some lunch first?”
“That would be great. I’m starving.” They walked into the kitchen and he sat on a bar stool.
“Well, I wasn’t planning on impressing any suitors, so all I have is PB&J or chicken salad. Sorry.”
“Suitor, huh? So I am a contender? That’s good news.” He rubbed his hands together and grinned. “I’ll take a chicken salad sandwich and a glass of water, ma’am.”
Alli took the bread out and laid it on the counter. “I guess that’s kinda what I wanted to ask you about. This isn’t normally a second date conversation, but I need to make your privy to some information since I only have a couple more days with you here. I don’t want to waste your time, and I’m not here for a holiday hook-up.”
“Okayyyy. Me either.” Bryce's eyes widened and he fidgeted in his chair. He wasn’t expecting a conversation like this today.
“The reason why I am here is because I was engaged a while back…six weeks ago actually. He changed his mind. Long story short- he left me at the altar and I’m here trying to sort it all out. I wasn’t looking for anything but peace and quiet when I came, but you kinda melted my heart. I really like you. I just thought you should know.”
“I’m glad he left you at the altar, for my sake. Wait, that came out wrong….I mean, I really like you too. I came here to repair a pipe. That’s it. Meeting you was sheer coincidence. Or maybe fate, but either way, I’m glad it happened. It’s been awhile since I’ve liked a girl.” Bryce took a deep breath and stood up. He tapped his fingers on the counter, as he tried to decide what to say next. After another deep sigh he said, “I don’t know how much Eliza told you about me, but last year my fiancé was killed in a car accident. We were on our way here actually, which is why I don’t come up too often. It’s been a year though, and I don’t want to miss any more opportunities. I haven’t dated anyone since I lost her, and even though you are going through a different kind of loss, I totally get it. There’s no pressure from me, but I really want to see where this can go. I haven’t felt like this in a long time. Let’s just take it slow.”
Alli didn’t know what to say. His honesty was only making him more attractive. “I’d like that. I’m so sorry to hear about your fiancé,” was all she could muster. They finished lunch and made casual conversation. The mood was more intimate than she had expected. A two hundred pound weight (named Nathan) had been lifted off of her shoulders. She finally felt ready to move on.
Alli led Bryce to the media room and he sat down on the small couch that barely left enough room for her. “Well played," thought Alli. She settled in close to him and he wrapped his arm around her. She rested her head on his shoulder and he kissed the top of her head.
“Thanks for telling me, by the way. I know that had to be hard to talk about,” Bryce said. Alli breathed in his cologne and pulled his hand to her lips. “You know I was thinking. I think this is our fifth date actually,” he teased.
“Hmm. How do you figure?
“Our first date was the night you locked your keys in your car and I waited with you. Our second date was at my place for dinner. Our third date was at the store this morning. Lunch was our fourth date, and here we are…watching a movie….date FIVE.”
“I can’t really argue with that logic. You have a good point.” Alli tipped her head up and looked at Bryce. She could feel his heart racing. He pulled her closer and kissed her softly. It was slow and perfect.
When she came home early from her vacation and had a new man in tow, her parents were more than skeptical. It was hard for them to trust Bryce after seeing how Nathan had treated their youngest daughter, but when they saw how unbelievably happy Bryce made Alli, Jack and Lucy couldn’t help but give him their stamp of approval.
Four months later, Alli and Bryce had spent almost every waking moment together. Bryce’s main office was only a 30 minute drive from Alli’s house and she stopped in daily to sneak a kiss and bring him lunch. They laughed at the irony- all that time they had been just down the road from each other. So close, yet so far.
Alli woke up thinking of him. It was almost Valentine’s Day and she needed to find the perfect gift. She picked up her phone to call Bryce, but he beat her to it.
“Good morning beautiful. How are you?”
“Perfect now. What are you up to?”
“Well, Ed and Eliza called. They said there’s a broken window at the cabin. I know its Valentine’s weekend, but I need to take care of it. Do you want to go up with me?”
“Of course. I can’t think of a more perfect place to spend Valentine’s Day.”
“Great. I’ll pick you up in a couple hours,” Bryce said.
When they arrived at the Olsen’s cabin, fresh snow was beginning to fall. Bryce hurried to unlock the door and let Alli inside.
“What window is it?” Alli asked. “It doesn’t feel like there is a draft.”
“They said it was on the back side of the house. I’ll be right back. I forgot something in the truck.”
Alli walked to the back window and looked for the crack. Upon closer inspection out the window she put her hand to her mouth and gasped. Giant footprints littered the ground, each forming a letter. Bryce was on one knee. He had hired someone from town to stamp out “Marry Me?” in his Bigfoot molds. Alli cried and nodded enthusiastically, then ran out to join him in the snow. She kissed him over and over as the snow drifted silently around them. Bryce slipped the ring on her finger and kissed her hand. The world disappeared around them and all that was left was love.
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