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A White Wedding Christmas Andrea Laurence 2022/8/3 13:46:14

Holding out his arm, he ushered her reluctantly over to his Russell Landscaping truck. The Platinum series F-250 wasn’t a work truck, it was more for advertising, although he did get it dirty from time to time. It was dark green, like their shirts, with the company logo and information emblazoned on the side.

He held the passenger door open for her, a step automatically unfolding along the side of the truck. Colin held her hand as she climbed inside, then slammed the door shut.

“Do you mind if we listen to some music on the way?” she asked.

Colin figured that she wanted music to avoid idle conversation, but he didn’t mind. “Sure.” He turned on the radio, which started playing music from the holiday station he’d had on last.

“Can I change it to the country channel?”

“I don’t care, although you don’t strike me as a country girl,” he noted.

“I was born and raised in Nashville, you know. When I was a kid, my dad would take me to see performances at the Grand Ole Opry. It’s always stuck with me.” She changed the station and the new Blake Wright song came on. “Ooh. I love this song. He’s going to be doing a show at the Opry in two weeks. It’s sold out, though.”

Colin noted that information and put it in his back pocket. From there, it wasn’t a long drive to the old neighborhood, just a few miles on the highway. Blake had just finished singing when they arrived.

They had grown up in a nice area—big homes on big lots designed for middle-class families. His parents honestly couldn’t really afford their house when they had first bought it, but his father had insisted that they get the home they wanted to have forever. His parents had wanted a place to both raise their children and entertain potential clients, and appearances counted. If that meant a few lean years while the landscaping business built up, so be it.

The neighborhood was still nice and the homes had retained an excellent property value. It wasn’t as flashy or trendy with the Nashville wealthy like Colin’s current neighborhood, but it was a home most people would be happy to have.

As they pulled into the driveway, Natalie leaned forward and eyed the house through the windshield with a soft smile. “I’ve always loved this house,” she admitted. “I can’t believe how big the magnolia trees have gotten.”

Colin’s father had planted crepe myrtles lining the front walkway and magnolia trees flanking the yard. When he was a kid they were barely big enough to provide enough shade to play beneath them. Now the magnolias were as tall as the two-story roofline. “I’ve maintained the yard over the years,” he said proudly. “I knew how important that was for Dad.”

It was too dark to really get a good look at the outside, even with the lights on, so he opened the garage door and opted to take her in through there. His father’s tool bench and chest still sat along the rear wall. A shed in the back housed all the gardening supplies and equipment. He hadn’t had the heart to move any of that stuff before, but like the rest of it, he knew it was time.

They entered into the kitchen from the garage. Natalie instantly moved over to the breakfast bar, settling onto one of the barstools where she and Lily used to sit and do their homework together.

He could almost envision her with the braces and the braids again, but he much preferred Natalie as she was now. She smiled as she looked around the house, obviously as fond of his childhood home as he was. He wanted to walk up behind her to look at it the same way she was. Maybe rub the tension from her tight shoulders.

But he wouldn’t. It had taken convincing to get her here. He wasn’t about to run her off so quickly by pushing the boundaries of their newly established friendship. Eventually, it would be easier to ignore the swell of her breasts as they pressed against her sweater or the luminous curve of her cheek. Until then, he smoothed his hands over the granite countertop and let the cold stone cool his ardor.

“How long has it been since you’ve lived here, Colin? It seems pretty tidy.”

“It’s been about three years since I lived here full-time. Lily used it as a home base on and off for a while, but no one has really lived here for a year at least. I have a service come clean and I stop in periodically to check on the place.”

“So many memories.” She slipped off the stool and went into the living room. He followed her there, watching her look around at the vaulted ceilings. Natalie pointed at the loft that overlooked the living room. “I used to love hanging out up there, listening to CDs and playing on the computer.”