Good morning!  The last three updates go up on the last three days of the month to coincide with Halloween.  – Tiff

Today’s PDF – October 26

October 26th

“I’m not going to fit.” Cade ran a hand across his chin, studying the hammock in Maria’s backyard.

“You’re sure?” Maria looked from the hammock to Cade, then back to the hammock.

“See.” Cade turned and sat in the hammock. He waited a moment to make sure it was steady before swinging his legs up into it. Cade had to bend his legs, and that wasn’t going to be comfortable for long. He preferred stretching out. Maria climbed into the hammock next to him and yelped as she lost her balance and fell on him. She laid there for a moment against his chest, which took up way too much room. The hammock wasn’t wide enough. It was a cheap rope one meant for one person. Jaden and Charise got away with it because they were small.

“If ye want, you can curl up on my chest like a cat.” Cade smirked, lifting his hand to Maria’s shoulder to pull her closer.
“I know it’s cool right now, but that would get too hot after a while.” Maria put her elbows on Cade’s chest and rested her head in her hands. She purposely dug her elbows into him.

“Ow ow ow.” Cade grinned, getting the point. “I have a me sized hammock in my backyard, but if my mom sees us, she is not going to leave us alone.”

“We could sneak in the side gate?” Maria suggested thoughtfully.

“Like a couple of randy teenagers?” Cade smirked.

“I am too tired for randy.” Maria groaned, sliding her arms out and falling on Cade’s chest. “I just want a nap.” Cade hugged her for a moment while she was there, then sighed and sat up.

“Let’s get with the sneaking. Sooner we get some sleep the better.” Cade grumbled.

-=-=-=-=-=-

Cade and Maria went around to the side of his house and snuck into his back yard. Cade’s mother was supposed to be doing some baking, so he assumed she wouldn’t be looking into the backyard. Maria had seen his back yard from her studio before. It was how she knew he had a garden. The garden was on her fenceline, running the entire length of it in upraised beds.

She couldn’t help but feel hungry at the sight of the full garden beds. There were several types of squash, tomatoes, cabbage, cauliflower, and carrots. Cade didn’t do anything halfway.

He led her past the garden and to the back area of his yard that had several trellises set up. She had never seen what was behind them. They were obscured by climbing roses and other vines.

Hidden behind the trellises was a wide hammock on a steel frame. Cade had put poles across the top of the trellises to the top of the fence for the vines to climb over and form a natural canopy.

The fence behind the hammock and the trellises buffered the area inside from outside sound. The surrounding fence was painted in shades of golden orange. Colorful dragonflies and butterflies decorated the fence against the bright background. A few small wind chimes hung from the canopy on the inside and outside of the trellises.

“Welcome to my secret place.” Cade grinned, motioning to the hammock. “Perfect for daytime naps away from nagging moms.”

“Looks great.” Maria yawned.

“No funny stuff.” Cade smirked as the pair climbed onto the hammock. It was more stable than Maria’s hammock, and Cade was able to stretch out on his back. He folded his arms under his head. Maria laid down next to him on her back and did the same. She folded her arms under her head and sighed contentedly.

“Maria, whatever my mother said, don’t believe her. Don’t listen to her. She likes to talk.” Cade began slowly. “I know she said something to ye.”

Maria stared at the canopy, thinking about what she should say.

Her silence worried Cade. “Maria? What did she say?” He ventured carefully, keeping his eyes up and away from her.

“She said you love me,” Maria whispered.

“Meddlin’ wee witchy woman.” Cade groaned.

“Is it true?” Maria turned her head to look at Cade curiously.

Cade sat up and looked at Maria sadly. “My mother likes to say things. She doesn’t think before she talks. She’s-”

“Is it true?” Maria sat up and looked at Cade. He dropped his gaze and scowled.

“This isn’t fair. Why did she have to tell you that?” He fumed.

“Is it true?” Maria was beginning to get impatient for an answer.

Cade lifted his head to look Maria in the eyes. His uncertain expression was amplified by the frightened look in his blue eyes. He looked terrified. “Maria. I, I.” He stammered, unable to pull himself together. He lifted a hand to caress Maria’s face. Her beautiful brown eyes with their fiery glint were toned down with a shadow of apprehension. It might be the last time he ever got to touch her or see her this close.

“I love you!” Maria blurted out, unable to take it any longer. Cade looked shocked and froze.

“Maria, I love ye too.” Cade sighed with a crooked smile, letting the words flow. He relaxed and leaned toward Maria, wrapping his arms around her and kissing her. She met him, then broke off after a few minutes to snuggle into his arms. “I love ye.”

“I love you.” Maria repeated with a smile. Then she yawned. “That was exhausting. Naptime?”

“Yeah.” Cade grinned, laying back on the hammock and bringing Maria with him. “We can talk later.” He kept an arm around her as she stretched out next to him and made herself comfortable. Cade felt relieved to get it out, but at the same time, he still worried.

Maria might change her mind. Cade could never take those words back. Once they were spoken, they were permanent. He had put his heart into her hands.

-=-=-=-=-=-

They slept through lunch and well into the afternoon. Cade ended up rolling onto his side so he could wrap his arms around her. Maria curled up with her head buried in his chest. She had folded her arms under her neck and tucked her knees up against his stomach. It was the best sleep she had since falling asleep on him weeks earlier.

Nobody came looking for them, and Maria could have slept until evening if allowed to. Her stomach had other ideas and began growling.

“Ye hungry?” Cade stirred and squeezed her gently.

Maria took a deep breath enjoying where she was lying for a moment longer. Her stomach growled again and pinched tightly. “Yeah.” She sighed.

“Let’s see what we have. Mom’s been baking, so there should be fresh bread, pies, and some things she’s canning.” Cade reluctantly shifted, pushing himself up. He stretched, and Maria watched.

“I love you.” She whispered with a lazy smile.

“Maria, I have always loved you.” Cade returned, leaning over to give her a quick kiss on the forehead. “Let me make you something to eat.”

They got up and made their way to the back door hand in hand. Cade caught Maria looking at his garden as they were walking by it, and her stomach growled again. “If ye want ye can send Charise and Jaden over anytime to pick stuff. There’s too much in there for just me and my mom. We have plenty.”

“I’ll take you up on that.” Maria grinned, thinking about her almost empty fridge and pantries. There was no way she was going to let Cade find out about that. She knew he was the type of man who would immediately drive her to the nearest grocery store to fill them. She could see him filling several carts full of random food for her. Maria didn’t want that. She needed a few more days for her next deposit. She would be fine, and he didn’t need to ‘rescue’ her.

-=-=-=-=-=-

“Thanks for ruining everything, Mother.” Cade glowered at her as they entered the kitchen.

“What, Dear?” Zelda turned and smiled at them. It was one of those smiles that spread from ear to ear and was anything but innocent. “I’ve been in here all day.”

“Ye know what ye did.” Cade growled, leading Maria to the table. He pulled out a chair for her, waited for her to sit, then pushed it closer. “What do we have for lunch?”

“Chicken salad in the fridge, and I even sliced the bread for you two.” His mother motioned to a plate that had four thick slices of homemade bread stacked on it. “I figured you’d be hungry. Your hair is all mussed up, Dear.”

“Mother!” Cade snapped.

Maria groaned and put her head in her hands as she realized what she was insinuating.

“That is very rude. Stop doing that.” Cade grumbled as he opened the fridge to retrieve the chicken salad. “Would ye like a drink, Maria?” He asked in a far kinder voice. “Looks like we have tea, juice, and milk.”

“Tea is fine,” Maria whispered, staring at the table, trying to hide the deep red blush on her cheeks.

“Why are you so embarrassed?” Cade’s mother checked the oven. “It’s only natural. I mean, you’re 42, Cade, you never have-”

“Mother!” Cade slammed a fist onto the counter, making Maria jump. “Stop talking!” His mother smiled at him. She could not stop smiling, and it was infuriating. “What Maria and I do is none of yer business. I will not have ye speaking freely about it like this. We were taking a nap on the hammock. That is all. Nothing else. There are not any grandchildren coming. Absolutely no chance of that, so please stop doing that.” He laid into her, and she smiled at him.

“Just do what comes natural, Dears.” She giggled and went back to moving pies around on the counter to make room for the ones in the oven. “No judgment here, but seriously, you don’t have forever.”

Cade sighed and gave up. There was no getting through to his mother. Cade made the sandwiches and brought the plates over to the table. “I apologize for her. Ye know how OLD people get.” Cade mumbled before leaving to grab their glasses and returning.

“How do we get, Cade?” His mother placed two plates with slices of apple pie and ice cream on the table between them. She still had that annoying smile plastered on her face. “I’m so happy right now. I can’t wait until you two get married and move in here and get started!”

Maria groaned again. This woman truly did not have a filter.

“I’ll fix ye a nice little grandma suite in the backyard and kick ye out there.” Cade grumbled, giving Maria a quick ‘I’m sorry.’ Look.

 

-=-=-=-=-=-

Comments are nice, otherwise, I don’t know how I’m doing and I actually have a ton more for November, but it will not be like this, because it’s a massive chore to get these edited and up like this over such a short span of time.  That one will take place once a week when I’m ready to begin.  – Tiff