Without You(7)

By: Kelly Elliott

We rode for a bit before Gunner started talking, “I love this ranch. I always have, and I always will.”

I nodded my head. “I do as well, sir.”

Maybe this won’t be so bad.

Gunner seemed relaxed. He was always happy when he talked about the ranch. When he turned to look at me though, his smile faded. Something changed in his eyes, and I was trying desperately to think about something else on the ranch to talk about. He finally gave me a look that I knew I would never forget.

He tilted his head and asked, “So, Will, how long have you been in love with my daughter?”

I kept looking down at my phone, waiting to hear something from Will.

“Stop staring at that thing and enjoy nature, Alex.”

I smiled and pushed my cell into the pocket of my shorts. “Grams, may I ask you a question?”

Grams and I were on one of our daily walks. We’d been going on walks for as long as I could remember. We usually walked in the morning, but Grams had felt that we needed an evening walk since I’d kept pacing on the back porch while waiting for Daddy and Will to get back from their ride.

“Of course you can. You can ask me anything you want, Alex.”

I took a deep breath and stopped walking. “Grams, this is kind of weird, but I know you’ll be honest with me.” I stood there, staring at her. I wasn’t sure how to say what I wanted to ask.

The look in her eyes changed, and she nodded her head. “Well, are you gonna just stand there and stare at me? Or are you going to ask me if I saved myself for marriage?”

My mouth dropped open, and I couldn’t even form words to speak. I’d overheard my mom and Aunt Ari talking about how Grams knew things. They had said it was like she knew what you were going to say or do before you even did. I’d always thought they were crazy, but as I looked at my great-grandmother, I knew they were so spot-on.

“Grams, how did you know what I was going to ask you?”

She let out a chuckle and started walking again. “Alex, I was seventeen years old when I met your gramps. I knew the moment I saw him that he was the one. I couldn’t wait for him to make me his.”

I smiled. I could just picture Grams and Gramps meeting for the first time. “So, you didn’t wait for marriage?”

She shook her head. “No, honey, we didn’t.”

“How did you know?” I felt the blush hit my cheeks.

She shrugged her shoulders. “Anytime Garrett walked into a room, I used to get the strangest feelings. I once begged him to make me his, but he wouldn’t. He said he wanted to make it special. I’m glad we didn’t rush into anything because the first time should be special, Alex. It should be with someone you love. Now, your mama and daddy would want me to tell you to be a good little girl and wait. I’m not gonna preach something to you when I have no right to. Do I think it would be better to wait? Yes. Just be careful, baby girl. Don’t rush into anything because y’all think you have to prove something. You don’t. Love is more than sex.”

“Daddy thinks what I feel for Will isn’t love. He says I need to get out of Mason and see what else is out there for me. I know what I feel in my heart, Grams. I want to be with Will more than anything. The way my body feels when he is around me…I just don’t understand it.”

She stopped and turned to face me. She reached for my hands and smiled the same smile she had given me since I could remember. “Alex, don’t rush into anything because you’re afraid of what your daddy is going to make you do.”

“Grams, I’ve been in love with Will for so long now. He’s all I’ve ever known.”

She raised her eyebrow. “Maybe that’s why your daddy wants you to go to UT.”

I placed my hand on my stomach and took a deep breath. I looked down, and for the first time in the last few years, I felt doubt. “Yeah. Maybe.”

We continued on with our walk, and neither one of us said another word. By the time we returned to the house, Will was sitting on my back porch. I picked up my pace and then practically ran, so I could be in his arms. He stood up and gave me a funny look. I slowed down as I went up the steps. When my father came walking out, I stopped and tried to read his face.

“Alex, did you enjoy your walk with Grams?” Daddy asked with a slight smile. He looked at Grams as she made her way up the steps.

I nodded my head. “Yes, sir.”

Grams stopped in front of Daddy. “Whew, I think I’m getting too old for two walks a day. Drew, will you take your grandmother back home now? I’d better check on Garrett and make sure he hasn’t gotten himself into any kind of trouble.”

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