Driving through the mountains was exhausting. She was hyper-aware of the traffic and massive trucks while weaving her way through the mountain passes. The amount of snow still falling in springtime amazed her.
But she knew from her dad’s vacation ideas that skiing was best in the spring, although she didn’t like it much when they went, preferring to people-watch and take pictures.
She smiled to herself as she stole a glance at the passenger seat, where her beloved camera sat in its protective case.
She loved photography and what it did for her. With it, she could capture and keep the most intimate, important, and emotional moments.
Just by pressing down her finger a fraction of an inch, she could preserve a moment in time. She loved what that did for her and other people.
Suddenly, her phone rang. It was a special ringtone. She lovingly rolled her eyes as she answered using the Bluetooth, “Hi Dad.”
“Ash, honey, how is it going? Where are you now?”
Ashley loved her father dearly. Bryan Caldwell was the only stable parent she had, and he doted on her even though she was twenty-five years old.
His second wife, Miranda—who Ashley loved like her own mother—tried to get him to ease up, but to no avail.
“Dad, I’m doing just fine. I’m on the I-25, past the Eisenhower Tunnel.”
“How much longer until you get to Diana’s?” he asked again.
“According to the GPS, about an hour, unless traffic slows me down.”
“Ash, are you sure you want to do this? You don’t have to…” Bryan started.
“Dad, I know. But she did reach out to you, and I think it’s only fair that I respond. She’s offered me a place to stay while I take some more shots here,” she explained.
Bryan sighed. “I know, honey. I just worry that she will...not be who she needs to be for you.”
“Dad, please. Don’t worry. I know I can leave at any time, but this is the first time she has asked for contact since I was fifteen. I kinda need this…”
“Oh, Ashley... Text me when you get there. And promise me that you will leave if ANYTHING happens.”
“I promise, Dad. Now I better go. Traffic is getting thick. Give my love to Miranda and the kids.”
“I will. They all miss you by the way. Be safe, honey,” Bryan said, then hung up.
Ashley loved her father for looking out for her. However, something in her gut told her that this needed to happen and that visiting Diana would change her life forever.
She turned up the radio as the traffic slowed, grabbed an apple from her bag, and munched as she crept along, hoping that everything would be okay.
Scott Jackson was exhausted, and his leg was throbbing. He desperately wanted to get home and sink into the hot tub to ease the pain.
The build his guys were working on wasn’t going according to plan, and he had to refabricate the handlebars again, setting the build back another two weeks.
Luckily, the wife of the soon-to-be new bike owner was totally fine with it and told him not to worry. Scott just hated letting someone down.
“Scott, I’ll clean up. Why don’t you head home? I can tell you are in pain…,” Eric said, slapping him on the back.
Scott sighed. “Thanks, Eric. I think I will. I’ll see you tomorrow?”
He nodded and frowned, “Tomorrow. Is it gonna be quiet at your house?”
“She works tonight, so it should be peaceful,” Scott replied, slipping on his coat and pulling his skull cap down further.
“Scotty, I worry about you…,” Eric said quietly.
“I appreciate it, Eric, but I’m ok,” Scott assured him and walked out the door to his truck.
“Then why don’t I trust that bitch as far as I can throw her?” Eric muttered to himself.
Scott drove home, massaging his knee to ease the pain. He pulled into the garage and put a frozen pizza in the oven.
Then, he went to the bathroom, grabbed the pain cream, and went to his room, pulling on a pair of sweats after rubbing it in.
The topical cream helped relieve some of his pain, but the heat of the hot tub was the best, second only to the vibrations of his motorcycle. But he couldn’t ride that morning because of the ice on the roads from the melting snow.
He limped into the kitchen and made himself a salad while he waited for the pizza to be done.
Finally, the buzzer went off. He pulled it out, cut it, and stood at the counter gingerly eating, trying not to burn the roof of his mouth.
He hated frozen pizzas, but he hadn’t been grocery shopping yet, and she wouldn’t help.
After putting the plates in the dishwasher, he was moving toward the sliding glass door when the doorbell rang. Groaning, Scott went to the front door and opened it, feeling like he had been kicked in the gut.
Ashley finally pulled up in front of the house, as indicated by the GPS. She looked around. It was a nice neighborhood with nice houses and landscaped yards.
It was a relatively new ranch-style house with shutters, a peaked roof, and a fireplace, resembling a house for a family. She had never pictured Diana living there. It seemed so...normal and calm—the exact opposite of her.
She checked her hair in the car mirror. After deeming it acceptable, she took a deep breath, walked to the front door, and rang the bell.
She felt her stomach flopping around from the nerves and could feel them amping up. Looking at the sky, she took a few cleansing breaths. Then, the door opened.
Ashley looked up to see the most incredibly sexy man standing in the doorway. Her stomach dropped, and her mouth became as dry as a desert at the mere sight of him.
She had no idea what to say as she took in the sight before her. And it was a hell of a sight!