Second Chances Ch. 02

byharemgirl©

The remainder of the day passed quickly, with each of them busy with their labor. By late afternoon, Aidan had finished nearly half of the garden, and Naomi had filled several crates of jars with luscious peach preserves.

"Those peaches smell delicious," he said with a grin.

"Thank you. I hope you and your brothers will enjoy them once you get them home."

"Don't worry, I'm sure we will. I'll be back in the morning," he said. "Not quite as early as this morning though, I have to run into town before I come out."

"That's fine, but don't you want to stay for dinner? I made a peach pie for dessert."

Naomi eyed him hopefully, but Aidan shook his head. "As much as I would love to stay, I need to get home. I have some work to do that can't wait."

Naomi quelled her disappointment and gave an understanding nod. "Of course. I really appreciate all your hard work today."

Aidan felt a nearly overwhelming urge to take her in his arms and kiss her, but he didn't think he would be able to stop with just a kiss. Instead, he gave her a smile and a nod.

"I'll see you in the morning."

She watched as he mounted the wagon and drove away. When he had disappeared from sight, a sense of emptiness settled over her, and she heaved a sigh.

"What is the matter with you," she scolded herself aloud. "You came here for solitude, remember."

She slammed the door with undue force and turned her attention to dinner. The sight of the table, with dishes laid out for two, made her lose her appetite. She wandered to the bed and eyed the rumpled blankets, untouched from their morning together. She threw herself onto the bed and sighed again. A teasing fragrance wafted up to her nostrils, and she buried her nose in the fabric to catch the essence. Aidan's scent clung to the blankets, and she took several deep breaths, savoring the memories of their lovemaking. The night stretched out before her like an endless abyss, and she squeezed her eyes shut as a single tear traced a path down her cheek.

**********

Aidan sat on the front steps of his cabin, while his brothers Brian and Liam lounged in chairs behind him. He stared off in the direction of Naomi's cabin, wondering what she was doing at that moment.

"How did it go over at Mrs. Tisdale's? Did you get her garden put in?" Brian asked.

"I'm half finished," Aidan replied distantly. "I'll finish tomorrow."

"What is she like?" Liam asked.

"She's fascinating," Aidan mumbled, clearly distracted by his thoughts.

Liam and Brian exchanged a startled glance before Liam lowered his chair onto all four legs with a loud thump. "Fascinating? I've been picturing a grey-haired old lady. I think you had better tell us all about this new neighbor of ours."

Realizing what he had let slip, Aidan gave a frustrated sigh. "You'll meet her soon enough. For now, all you need to know is that she's spoken for."

"This sounds serious," Brian said with a grin. "Could it be true that our eldest brother has finally been felled by Cupid's arrow?"

"Looks like it to me," Liam replied with a matching grin. "I've never seen him even remotely interested in any other young ladies around here. Now, all of a sudden, he's referring to our new neighbor as 'fascinating' and warning us away from her. I think you and I should pay our new neighbor a visit and see what all the fuss is about."

Aidan pushed off the stairs to stand glaring at his younger brothers with his hands on his hips. "Listen, you two. Tease me all you like, but the last thing I want is for you to go nosing around Naomi's place asking her lots of questions. She would surely clam up even more than she has already, and I'll never find out about her past. You two had better stay clear of her until I tell you different. Is that understood?" He gave each of them his most menacing, older-brother look and waited until they had each nodded their agreement. "Good! Now, I'm going to bed. I have a busy day ahead of me tomorrow."

He stomped into the house, leaving his brothers with astonished looks on their faces. Brian released a low whistle and then started to laugh. It was only a moment before Liam joined him. When they finally sobered, Brian shook his head and grinned.

"Man, he's got it bad."

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