“Hey, sleepyhead.”

“Hi. How long have you been down here?”

“Just a few minutes.”

The sun was starting to dip behind the trees. It was large and orange, reflecting off the lake. They couldn’t have been in a more romantic spot. “It’ll be dark soon.”

“Yes,” he agreed, still pushing them slowly back and forth. “Are you hungry? The kitchen is stocked and we can always call the lodge.”

“I’m fine for right now.”

They continue to swing as darkness closed in. The wildlife chirped and rustled around them. Occasionally a fish jumped in the pond. “It’s nice here.”

“Mmm...” Grant murmured.

“I guess I’d better go in.” Sara put her foot down, stopping the swing.

“Stay. I’ll be here with you. I won’t let anything happen to you.”

She believed him. Knew she was safe with Grant. “Maybe for a few more minutes.”

“How old were you when your mother left?”

“Four.”

Grant made a hissing sound and pulled her against him, hugging her close. “I’m so sorry you had to live through that. I’m sorry you were so afraid.”

She snuggled into him, appreciating his warmth and firm presence, his compassion. Somehow his presence made all the darkness slowly surrounding her go away.

“I can’t imagine any mother doing such a traumatizing thing to a child.”

“What about a man thrusting a baby into a stranger’s hands and leaving?” she teased softly.

He gave her a gentle shake. “I was coming back. You’re not going to forgive me for that one, are you?”

“Oh, I’ve forgiven you. I’m just not going to let you forget it.” She glanced at him, only able to see his profile in the dim light.

“Great. I’m going to have to hear about it all the time. Look, a shooting star.” Grant pointed just above the treeline.

She leaned forward, searching the sky. “Where? I’ve never seen a shooting star.”

“What? Never?”

“I live in Chicago, remember? It’s hard to see the stars for the lights.”

He jumped up from the swing, almost knocking her out of it. “Then tonight we will.”

Where had his enthusiasm for showing her the stars come from? He was headed for the cottage.

“Grant, what’re you doing?” Panic filled her voice.

“Stay put. I’ll be right back. I promise.”

She believed him. Despite the dark closing in, she was confident he’d return for her. He was as good as his word. A moment later he was back, with the comforter of the bed in his hand.

“It’s not that cold out here.”

As if he were talking to a small child, he said, “We’re not going to put it around us. We’re going to lie on it. Come on.” He led the way out into the open area away from the cottage.

Sara followed more slowly. Barely visible, he was already fluffing the cover in the air when she joined him. It floated to the ground and he walked around it, adjusting the corners.

“I had no idea star-watching was this much work,” she joked.

“Only if you want to do it right.” His voice carried in the night air. Her eyes adjusted to the gloom, letting her see the outline of his body. Grant plopped down on the spread and patted the space beside him. “Join me.”

She didn’t take it as a request but a demand. How like him not to give her a choice. She sat next to him. “So where did you learn how to stargaze?”

“My father used to wake up my brother and me to see special events in the sky. We would go down the road to where there were no buildings or homes. I haven’t thought about that in a long time.” There was wonder in his voice.

So his father did have one redeeming quality.

It was almost so dark she couldn’t see the treeline.

Grant lay on his back, crossing his arms under his head. “Come on. Lie back. You can’t see as well sitting up.”

Soon he would become a voice in the night. She did as he said. His body warming her on one side let her know she was safe in the blackness.

As if he knew her thoughts he said, “Relax. I’m right here. I won’t leave you.”

“I am relaxed.”

“No, you’re not. I hear the tightness in your voice.”

She huffed. “I know you’re a good doctor but that’s going too far.”

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