A Journey of Passion Ch. 10by_Lynn_©
This is the last chapter written in Seth and Gabriela's story. It's my hope that you've enjoyed reading about their journey as much as I did writing it. I appreciate all votes, feedback and comments.
Nicole and Shelby enrolled in college together. Both got their letters of acceptance from the school and would begin with the fall semester. They informed their parents of their choice one weekend in February when Nicole was visiting.
"Mom, Seth, you know Shelby and I have been looking into colleges. We finally chose one and are starting with the fall classes."
"There are so many great schools to choose from. Nicole and I looked at what degrees we each wanted and narrowed it down from there," Shelby said.
Nicole nodded and picked up their explanation. "It's easier for me to move than her because of Dallas. He's been through enough and it wouldn't be right to take him from you and Effie. So I'll be moving and we're both going to school right here."
Gabriela grinned at the news that her daughter would be living close to her again. Seth nodded with pride at both girls. Their wisdom in making this decision pleased him a great deal.
"We hoped maybe you could help us find a place to live closer to campus, Dad. Nicole and I are going to try for classes opposite each other so one of us is with Dallas most of the time. If we get part-time jobs, along with some grants, we'll be able to manage pretty decent. Neither one of us wants to be in a dorm of course," Shelby replied.
"I think you've both thought this out very well," Seth said. "Tell me what price range you're looking for and I'll find a place for you by school."
They talked more about what they hoped to find in a rental. Seth had an idea of the area but was more familiar with the properties for sale. He promised he'd check right away and let them know as soon as he had anything for them to look at.
That evening Seth and Gabriela talked about their daughters.
"I'm so proud of the girls, Seth."
"This is going to be good for both of them. It's giving them hope for their future."
"Thank you. I could never have done anything like this for Nicole."
"You'd do the same thing for Shelby if you could," he said. "Now, I have some concerns about this renting thing."
He listed a few of the issues he'd faced in his business with owners not taking care of repairs. Gabriela could see where the girls could find themselves having problems with the wrong property owner.
"So what do you think we should do, Seth?"
"We need to be sure they rent from responsible people."
He crossed his arms and sat back with a smug look. It only took her a moment to catch his meaning.
"Oh, I love shopping. Do you know a good Realtor that can help us, though?"
They laughed as they made their way down the hall to their bedroom.
"I'll see if I can find someone. Right now, though, I know a way you can help me ..."
Gabriela knew she didn't want a big wedding. She and Seth both had that their first time and they'd ended in divorce. Marriage for them at their age was more about the future than making a big production out of it all.
Hours went into planning the special day. They'd chosen the twenty-third of May after careful thought. It gave her some time to find the right dress and not rush into choosing some of the other details. Nicole had already moved down to Florida and offered to help. She was staying with Shelby and Dallas in their apartment while Seth found them somewhere closer to college to rent.
He'd called her from the office on a Tuesday morning with a request. "Honey, do you have time to check out a house today?"
"I was just heading out to the florist's. Can it wait until tomorrow?" she asked.
"This place just went on the market and I think it sounds like what the girls are looking for. I can't get away from the office and I'm afraid the price will make this one go fast. If you could look it over for the things we talked about, I can run up a contract. An inspection will catch anything wrong before closing."
"I don't have an appointment with the florist, so tell me where it is."
She'd gone to the address in an older neighborhood near the college and parked in front of the soft yellow two-story home. Bright white shutters framed windows that glistened in the sun. Gabriela loved the homey feel of the place and smiled as she went up the front steps. Seth had long ago given her one of the special keys to get into the Realtor lock boxes and soon she was stepping through the front door.
Love and laughter reverberated in every room. Gabriela wandered through the main floor before going up the open staircase. A central hallway led to four bedrooms and a full bathroom. Sunlight poured in through the large windows to make the spaces cheery and welcoming. She discovered a small attic room already finished that would make a perfect playroom for Dallas.
A full basement held the laundry area and shelving for storage. The backyard was fenced in with a huge old pecan tree shading the back corner. Gabriela locked the house up and sat on the steps to absorb the atmosphere of the houses around her. Five minutes passed before she called Seth.
"This is it, Seth. There isn't one thing that's not perfect for them."
She told him all the positives she saw in the house and why she felt it would suit the girls. He listened to the passion in her voice and felt the energy flowing from her.
"What about a safe place for Dallas to play? I'm worried about him wandering away," Seth said.
"The entire backyard has a fence. If we get one of those jungle gym sets for him, he'll never want to leave. Get the papers started, I'm on my way."
He chuckled at the way she'd decided on the house without even knowing the price but was pleased at her insight as well. Seth trusted her instincts more than he did those of his staff. That's why he needed her to be the one looking at the house. His next clients arrived and Seth went back to his own work.
Gabriela had to wait to see Seth. Jill told her he was finishing up with a finicky couple that took forever. She'd rolled her eyes when she said they'd looked at twenty-six houses before they decided on one.
They walked out of Seth's office fifteen minutes later and smiled at Jill. "Mr. Flynch is a wonderful man. He's been so patient with us."
"I'm glad you're happy," Jill said.
The man turned to Gabriela and spoke. "He'll help you find the house you want, too. There's just one thing. I'm thinking he's in love because he gets this dreamy look on his face sometimes and I know he isn't married."
Jill chuckled and Gabriela spoke to the couple. "I'd say the woman is very lucky to have someone like him love her."
They gave a slight wave as they headed out the door and Gabriela walked into Seth's office.
"I'm the lucky one," he said and kissed her.
"I'd say it's mutual."
He wanted to show her just how lucky she could get right there but knew he didn't have time. His schedule had minimal gaps all day. Instead, he stepped back and talked about the house she'd looked at.
"Seth, I wish you'd been able to see it too. It's light and airy with huge windows. The bedrooms are bigger than average. I think the attic will make a great playroom for Dallas so his toys aren't scattered all over the house."
They went over the asking price and talked about taxes. She knew he'd already gone through listings in the area for comparisons. Half an hour later, they had a contract ready to go to the selling agent.
"What are you going to tell the girls?" Gabriela was a bit worried they would think their parents were interfering.
"I want to be upfront with them. This is business only. They'll have a rental contract just like anyone else would. The only difference is that we'll take care of any repairs right away. I just want them in a safe environment, Gabriela."
"I do, too. Let me know when you get an answer, okay?"
He didn't want her to go and held her close. Seth wished he could walk out that door with her and forget work for the rest of the day.
"Mr. Flynch, the O'Malley's are here," they heard Jill say through the intercom.
"I'll be home as soon as I can. I'm sorry —"
She stopped him by putting her fingers over his lips. "Don't be, this is what you do. I'll be waiting whenever you get there."
He watched her walk away and knew he was indeed the lucky one.
It was theirs. They'd put in an offer for the house and the owners accepted it. Seth and Gabriela took care of the paperwork on a Monday afternoon in March. The girls didn't know about it yet but that was changing over the weekend. Seth wanted to take them there and then explain what they'd done after the girls saw it. Gabriela knew they'd love it.
Saturday mid-morning they all piled into Seth's Cayenne in good spirits. The girls were excited to see it after Gabriela told them a few of the home's features. She'd left out several of the best parts to surprise them with.
"This is it," Seth said when he pulled into the driveway.
"It's gorgeous," Nicole said from the backseat.
It didn't take long before they stood at the front door. Seth pulled out a key and let them all in. Shelby checked out the kitchen while Nicole wandered into the downstairs bathroom.
"That shower is huge, Shelby," she said when she went back out into the kitchen.
"Let's go see the bedrooms. I get the biggest one." Shelby laughed as they ran up the steps.
All four bedrooms were similar in size. One had a connecting door into the next room that Shelby thought would be perfect for her and Dallas. Nicole agreed and checked out the other two. She had no trouble choosing one with an extra large closet. The attic room brought squeals of delight from them both as did the upstairs bathroom.
"Dad, this place is awesome. Can we afford it for real?"
Shelby stood by her dad and waited for his answer. They'd checked the entire house out and Dallas was now running around in the backyard. Gabriela walked over to Seth and held his hand.
"Yes, the rent is within the budget you girls gave us. Your father and I made sure of that," she replied.
"So, is there a lease we can sign? I don't want someone else to get it before we do. Nicole, it's perfect, right?"
"I want this place." Nicole's gaze went around the room as if she was already decorating it in her mind.
"Girls, Gabriela and I have a small confession to make. We bought this house last week."
"I don't understand."
Nicole and Shelby spoke at the same time.
"Seth and I talked about it and thought it would be safer for you to rent from us than a stranger. If there's a problem, you know we'll take care of it right away. You'll never have to wait for repairs or a call back from the landlord this way."
Gabriela looked at the girls as she spoke. She still was a bit worried they'd be upset at what she and Seth had done.
"You guys bought this to help us?" Nicole asked in a quiet voice.
Seth nodded but didn't say anything. Shelby grabbed Nicole's arm and hauled her into the living room. They were gone several minutes before they returned.
"We think you two are the best parents in the world. This is more than we deserve. We'd be honored to be your first renters and promise to take care of this house as if it was our own," Shelby said to them.
"Seth, Mom, thank you," Nicole added.
"I felt it, when I walked in the door," Gabriela said, "that this was the right place for you kids."
Dallas chased a butterfly in the backyard and laughed. Shelby felt better than she had in months. Life was indeed looking up.
"So can we start to move in tonight?" Shelby asked.
Seth laughed but just handed her a key. "It's all yours."
It hadn't been as hard to adjust to as she thought. Gabriela was a city girl at heart but now here she was living out in the country in another state. Seth's place had so much to do on it she never really had time to get bored. He'd taken her on a tour that first week so she'd feel more comfortable there. Now she spent hours enjoying herself in the pool, wandering down to the stream, going to the stables or just walking through the fields. It felt like home to her and she loved it.
She'd lost a little weight and firmed up until she felt healthy and fit. Her skin had a light tan that looked fantastic with her natural blonde hair. Seth teased her about finding someone new since she was so hot looking. Gabriela swatted his arm and replied she had what she wanted already. Somehow, they always ended up naked.
Gabriela was relieved that Seth's mom accepted their relationship. She'd been a little worried about her and his daughter, too. Nicole and Shelby got along right from the beginning, which helped as well. Seth had told her they'd all love her and she realized now that he was right as usual.
Some days went slow, though. Seth often had to be gone long hours and she was lonesome. He did his best to delegate what he could but as owner, he had certain responsibilities. She checked around for classes offered in the area and came up with several choices. It was too bad she had no interest in most of them, she thought with a grimace. That's when she decided to put in her own flower garden near the garage to keep her busy.
A trip to town one afternoon got her started. She returned with several flats of perennials and annuals as well as some rose bushes. Seth had all the garden tools she'd need in the shed so she'd passed on those. As an afterthought, she threw in a new pair of gloves in case he didn't have anything that fit her. She couldn't wait to get started.
It took her days to get it all done but she loved how it looked. Seth offered to haul up some rocks from the stream for her to put in with the plants. He'd taken the quad and loaded up the trailer with an assortment of sizes and shapes. They stood back when she finished and surveyed the area.
"I'm proud of you. It looks great."
"It was fun even though it was hard work, too. I never realized I'd enjoy something like this."
They put away the last of the garden tools and she put the sprinkler on the new plants. Seth looked at her and grinned.
"I think you need to be in there, too."
"What to do you mean, Seth?"
"You're all dirty. If you went into the sprinkler you could get cleaned off without tracking it into the house," he said with a straight face.
"Oh no, that water is cold,"
"Are you sure? I think you should feel it before you say that."
He grabbed her hand and began to pull her toward the sprinkler. She started to scream but a spray of water hit her smack in the chest first. Seth laughed at the shocked look on her face.
"That wasn't funny, mister."
She picked up the hose and aimed it at him. He fought her for it until they were both drenched and sprawled on the ground with tears of laughter on their faces. A soft sprinkle of water floated over them as he turned to her.
"You never cease to amaze me. I can't remember the last time I did something as silly as this," Seth said.
"Is that bad?"
"Not at all, it's good, in fact. I feel free for once."
"I like you free," she whispered as she slipped her hand inside his jeans.
His gasp urged her on. Gabriela felt the way he pushed into her hand until his shaft lay in her palm. Her other hand slid his zipper down and pushed the material out of the way. Their lips met under the cool water. She pressed against him and soon neither one thought about plants or gardening.
Streamers and huge bouquets of balloons in every color imaginable decorated the patio. Dallas looked at the birthday cake frosted to look like Spiderman and screamed.
Shelby grinned at the excitement in her son's eyes. It was March 28 and Dallas was three today. He was having a great time showing off for everyone.
"Hey, sport, what's going on over here?"
Seth walked outside in time to hear his grandson try to explain the cartoon character's latest endeavor to anyone willing to listen.
Seth squatted next to the little boy and nodded at all the right moments. He'd heard the epic several times in an assortment of ways and grinned at each one.
"Dallas, did you see the other cake?" Shelby asked when he stopped long enough for her to break in.
He scrambled on to a chair and looked over the table in front of him. "Mama, it's red."
"Do you know what it is, though? Look at the shape and see if you recognize it."
Gabriela watched as Dallas turned his head different directions while studying the cake. Seth grabbed for the chair when he leaned over too far and held him in his arms.
"It's a heart, Grandpa!" he yelled.
Shelby laughed as her son clapped with glee. He was a little too young to understand anything more about birthdays than the fun. In fact, he didn't even realize that his grandfather didn't have his own party anymore. Shelby gave birth to Dallas on Seth's forty-third birthday, a gift Seth adored.
"Dallas, do you remember what I said on the way over here, today?" Shelby asked.
"I'm 'thfree and so is Grandpa," he told her with a serious face, stumbling over the word.
"Well, he isn't three, but it's his birthday today too. That's why we have two cakes."
Seth held the bundle of energy in his arms and chuckled. He carried the boy with him to a chaise lounge in the shade. Gabriela watched as Seth positioned his grandson on his chest and hugged him close. She heard him tell the story of the day he was born. He kept his words simple and Dallas seemed to understand everything.
She felt the love he had for the child in everything he did. Never had she been happier than she was with Seth. He had the birthday, but she knew that every day with him was a gift. One she cherished forever.
That night she turned to him with love in her eyes. "I know you never want gifts. It's impossible to get ideas from you, even. All I have to give you is myself."
"There is nothing in the world more precious than you," he said. "You are all I need, Gabriela."
She gazed deep into his eyes and knew he spoke the truth. Her gift of herself was all he needed.
"Are you sure I can do this? I mean, it looks a bit freaky to me," she asked for the third time about a week later.
"Baby, I wouldn't let you try it if I wasn't sure. Trust me on this."
"I trust you with my life, Seth. Let's do it."
She took a deep breath and went through the instructions he'd given her. Seth was into some of the riskier sports but she knew nothing about them. Gabriela decided it was time to change that. Rappelling was something she'd always been intrigued by and never had a chance to learn. Now, here she was ready to do it for the first time. The spring air invigorated her as she took a deep breath.
"Take your time and don't make any sudden moves. Think about everything I told you and follow me. I'm right here to guide you every step of the way."
Seth gave her a big smile of encouragement and waited for her to begin. Her legs shook as she got into the position he'd taught her.
"Ready," she said just minutes later.
He knew she could do this and supported her in trying it. They were at one of the easier spots in the area that many beginners used. Seth made sure she was aware of the dangers but didn't scare her with them. He only wanted her alert to what could happen and prepared her as best he could. Taking a risk was one thing but he wasn't stupid.
Reminders of his instructions helped her make it down without mishap. She danced around at the bottom and cheered for herself.
"Seth, I did it, I did it!"
"You did and I'm very proud of you."
"Thank you for teaching me. I know this was simple for you compared to what you're used to."
He chuckled when she threw herself into his arms. "You can thank me later."