Sweet Harmony

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Here Comes the Sun


“Right turn in five point two miles,” the female voice of Cat’s GPS stated with staccato precision. Although tired to the bone Cat had to grin. “Is it my imagination or do you sound as road weary as me?” Cat glanced at the screen on her dashboard half expecting Rita, the name she’d given the voice, to answer. Earlier Cat had accused Rita of being a bit tipsy when she sounded as if she were slurring her words.

Cat glanced at the map showing her SUV driving down the two lane road and sighed with relief. “Yes! I’m almost there.” After driving all day from her parent’s home in Chicago she was anxious to reach her destination near the city limits of Cricket Creek, Kentucky. Because Cat wanted solitude for songwriting her friend Mia handpicked the location of the log cabin nestled in the woods and with a river view from the back deck. Cat knew the cabin was nicely decorated inside with rustic yet stylish furnishings because Mia had sent dozens of pictures. Cat was also aware that the fridge was fully stocked including a chilled bottle of Cupcake Chardonnay because Mia sent even more pictures via her smart phone. To say that Mia was excited about Cat’s move to Cricket Creek was a vast understatement.

“It sure is pretty here, Rita.” The sun was dipping lower in the sky casting a soft golden glow over cornfields in the early spring stages of growth. In the distance, tender green leaves made the woods appear fresh and redbud trees added a splash of bright reddish purple to the landscape. When she passed cows lazily grazing in the grass Cat waved and offered a tired, “Moo.”

Although Cat knew she would miss living in Nashville her switch to small town life already felt like the right choice. So did leaving Wayside, her big corporate record label, for independent My Way Records in Cricket Creek. But changes, even ones for the better still held an element of fear that Cat couldn’t completely shake.

“In one mile turn right on Riverview Lane,” Rita reminded her.

“It’s not soon enough.” When the sign appeared Cat smiled, having been worried that the road out here in the countryside wouldn’t be marked. She turned down the dusty gravel lane and even as weary as she felt her pulse kicked it up a notch. This was going to be her home.

Except for music industry awards and personal items Cat sold her sprawling home in Brentwood, Tennessee completely furnished. She’d donated most of her designer clothes to charity and sent dozens of shoes to her friend Mia’s Cricket Creek based foundation called Heels for Meals. Cat wanted a fresh start, a new beginning and to go back to performing and writing songs for the love of music and not worry as much about record sales and concert attendance.

A sudden stiff breeze caused dust to kick up and the field of wildflowers on either side of her started dancing in the wind. I’m going to like living here, Cat thought and felt a sense of peace smother her lingering fear. During the past year of legal entanglements with her record label, selling her home and ending a toxic relationship Cat vowed to keep negativity out of her life. Through it all, her charity work kept Cat grounded, bringing her some joy along with the constant reminder that there were those in dire need making her own problems seem somehow trivial.

Luckily, Mia did the legwork with the local realtor and found the location on Riverview Lane. Not only did Cat trust her best friend’s judgment but the unending pictures already had her in love with the quaint cabin.

The fields of flowers gave way to woods with only fingers of lingering sunlight able to reach down through the trees. Cat knew that there were a few other cabins nestled in the woods but were mostly for weekend use by tourists or fishermen putting their boats in Cricket Creek that led to the Ohio River. So for the most part Cat should have the solitude she’d been craving for the past year.

“Five Riverview Lane is located on the left. You have arrived.”

“Thank goodness,” Cat nearly shouted as she pulled up in front of the cabin. After killing the engine she inhaled a deep breath and then blew out a sigh. Staying up late with her mother and father last night was catching up with her but her parents were heading out of the country to do some charity work so she knew it would be a few weeks before she’d see them again making her fatigue worth it.

“Oh… wow,” Cat said when she spotted a doe walking up from the edge of the trees on the opposite side of the lane. Knowing she would frighten it away Cat sat there for a moment and drank in her quiet, gentle beauty. As she suspected, as soon as she opened her door the deer bolted, doing a graceful jump back over the gulley and then disappeared into the woods.

Cat walked around and opened the tailgate of her white SUV now covered with a light sheen of golden brown dust. She leaned in to drag out her overstuffed suitcase but the doggone thing barely budged. Thinking of the hearty snacks and chilled wine waiting inside, Cat tugged harder, grunting with the effort. “Apparently I need to some lifting at the gym,” she grumbled but then remembered it had taken both Cat and her father to heft the suitcase up into the SUV. With a quick intake of pine scented air she braced the heels of her boots into the gravel, grabbed the handle with both hands and gave the suitcase her best tug.

It worked.

The suitcase slid across slick tailgate much quicker than Cat anticipated making her backpedal but not nearly fast enough. The painful impact of the heavy luggage smacking into Cat’s legs sent her stumbling backwards. Cat’s butt hit the gravel with a bone-jarring thud. After a stunned grunt she uttered a string of words that didn’t even fit together, but she was so spitting mad that she continued saying them adding a random curse word here and there. “Stupid, ye-ouch, oversized damn piece of luggage. Dear God that hurt, oh my shins… sent from holy hell.” She sat there breathing like she’d just run a marathon and then glared at the suitcase as if it were somehow to blame. “Wow, ohhh that hurt like… ohhh. I hope your blasted wheels are broken, you lousy piece of ugly…” she whimpered and then added weakly, “leather… crap.”  

Cat desperately wanted to dislodge the luggage from her legs but all her brain could deal with was the pain shooting up her shins. Rocks bit into her denim clad butt and both elbows stung. “Don’t you know I bruise easily?” She intensified her glare but then sudden tears welled up in her eyes and with a little groan she shoved hair that had escaped from her ponytail off of her forehead. Cat considered herself a tough cookie but this past year had tested her mettle in more ways than one and in that moment she threatened to fall to pieces. “This is your new beginning! No damned negativity,” she reminded herself and swallowed hard. “Get a damned grip!”

Cat grit her teeth, determined to shove the suitcase aside. “Get off me.” But just as she leaned forward she heard the crunch of gravel and her heart rate increased. Could it be another wild animal from the woods? But this time instead of a doe could it be the kind with claws and big teeth?

Before she could turn around to face her fear the suitcase was suddenly lifted from her legs as if it didn’t contain piles of clothing that had the lid bulging like a muffin top. From her sitting position Cat looked at scuffed brown cowboy boots and jean clad legs.

“Hey, are you okay?” His deep voice southern drawl oozed with charm and a hint of concern.

Cat leaned back on her palms and tilted her head up. Wow, he was tall. And even through the pain throbbing in several places she noted that he filled out his flannel shirt quite nicely. “Define okay.” She meant it as a joke but her voice had a slight hitch in it.

“Okay as in are you hurt?” The tall cowboy flashed Cat a slight grin that caused two very cute dimples in cheeks covered in dark stubble that matched the dark hair clipped close to his head. He had a strong jaw, straight nose but a full mouth that suddenly captured her attention. “No really, are you okay?”

“Yes, uh sorry but I was distracted by… ah, your sudden appearance.” She blinked at him. She wondered if he’d recognize her but with her hair pulled straight back and not a trace of makeup hopefully he wouldn’t. Cat wanted to remain on the down low while she got her life together.

“Yes, as in okay?”

“Yes as in hurt. Everywhere. In fact, I think I’m one giant bruise. Where did you come from, anyway?”

He jammed his thumb over his head. “I heard your… um rather colorful shouts of distress and decided I needed to jog up here and investigate. “So just bruises?”

“And maybe broken bones.” She frowned at her legs.

His grin disappeared and his green eyes suddenly appeared concerned. “Are you serious?”

“Why do people always ask me that? Yes… well kinda. Oddly enough I’ve never had a broken bone so I don’t know but it sure feels like my legs are crushed.” Okay, she might be a teensy bit overly dramatic but she was a singer, an entertainer and an only child. Drama was in her blood.

“Well, I’ve had a few broken bones and believe me you’d pretty much have a pretty good inkling.”

     “Come on, it was the attack of the killer suitcase. Do you really think I’m overreacting?” she asked with an arch of one eyebrow. “That thing is a monster on wheels.”

“A little.” He gave her a slight grin. “Although, that overstuffed monster does weigh a ton.” He tilted his head in the direction of the suitcase. When he knelt down beside her she got a subtle whiff of spicy aftershave that made her want to lean closer. “So do you think you can move?”

She made a show of wiggling her toes. “That’s a good sign, right?”

He nodded. “Think you can stand up?”

“I’m sort of afraid to try,” Cat admitted with a wince. “I think I’ll just chill here for a few minutes. Or maybe overnight.”

“Out here with coyotes and raccoons?”

Cat glanced toward the woods. “Okay scratch that idea.”

“Do you want me to carry you inside?”

His question made her eyes widen. “No!” Cat replied but in truth his offer held more than a little bit of appeal making her feel the need to protest even harder. “No… no, really.”

He held up both hands in surrender. “Gotcha.”

Although Cat could be a bit dramatic she also thrived on being independent so her unexpected rather needy reaction to this perfect stranger felt confusing. She blamed it on fatigue. Or maybe low blood sugar. Or maybe she was damned tired of being strong and wanted a shoulder to lean on other than her parents who didn’t fully understand what was going on in her life and career. No, it wasn’t that last one! Fatigue and hunger were the culprits. She glanced at those wide shoulders. Maybe.

“Well, then at least let me help you up.”

Cat gave him a quick nod conveying more conviction that she felt and then accepted his outstretched hands. His grip was warm and strong as he effortlessly tugged her to her feet. Cat was tall and had a solid build but he suddenly made her feel feminine. He held on after Cat stood up presumably to make sure she remained steady on her feet, which she wasn’t. To her dismay her legs hurt and her knees felt wobbly.

“The offer remains,” he said with a hint of concern.

Cat inhaled a deep breath. “I’ll be okay, really.” She stiffened her spine. “I’ve just had a long day of driving and I pushed too hard to get here. Low blood sugar,” she added but when she pulled her hands from his she swayed slightly and he immediately put an arm lightly about her waist.

“Are you sure about that?” His question still held concern but a slight hint of amusement.

“I’m fine,” Cat insisted. In the cool air his body felt warm and she fought the urge to snuggle closer.

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