Deep in thought, Rebecca strolled through the backyard of her new, though temporary, home. Ribbons of waning sunlight slanted through the massive maples, casting mottled patterns against the lush lawn. The air was cool, pungent with the fragrance of the white nicotiana that grew in the flowerbeds behind the latticed gazebo.
She wondered if Mark’s practice included weekend hours at the hospital or whether he was fortunate enough to have weekends off, leaving time for regular church attendance. Their brief conversation had alerted her to the fact that he was probably one of those churchgoers who liked to get involved. The thought of seeing him again both intrigued and terrified her. How could she allow herself to become attracted to a man who was so openly everything she was not? A man who'd apparently become so entrenched in his church work, he deemed it necessary to change everything the grand old home had represented for nearly a decade? And, yes, a much too appealing man who was also unknowingly trying to destroy her very dreams?
The house and yard were empty, now, and one full hour remained . . . Ah, one precious hour. One hour of solitude to indulge in her memories, allow herself to slip away again into that secret haven deep inside her. She stooped to breathe in the fragrance of a pale yellow rose and sighed in contentment. The wind rustled through the maples, their gray scaly trunks partially obstructing the view of the shoreline and harbor below. She closed her eyes. Yes, she could hear the wind through the trees—perhaps, even, the winds of time. Soft as a goose-down coverlet, they wrapped around her, caressed her, carried her back to nine years earlier.
It was that precious day in May again. She and August were standing beneath these very trees, inside the white gazebo, repeating their marriage vows. Pastor Vandehey, the minister from Grace Community, faced them, smiling, while nearly three hundred guests looked on: her dear parents, her beloved grandmother on her dad’s side, various members of August’s family, her friends from church and school, plus the folks from her mother’s garden club. Rebecca breathed in deeply. She caught the scent of lilacs, heard the caw-caw of a crow overhead, and felt the unseasonably warm breeze envelope her.
“And I, Rebecca, take thee, August, to be my lawfully wedded husband . . .” She gazed up into August’s blue, blue eyes and drank in the adoration she saw reflected there. Could she ever love any man more than the one standing right here before her? No, never. They were meant to spend a lifetime together, and they would . . . always. “To have and to hold . . .” Yes, she could hardly wait to have him. To hold him, to be his completely, in the truest sense. “From this day forward, for better or for—”
She gave a start. Snapping back to reality, she jerked her head to the side. Mark! Mark Simons! How dare he intrude on my precious memories, my quiet hour alone?
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