Amber tosses her hair over her shoulder, giving me her most flirtatious smile as she leans against the wall. I edge closer, grinning at the thought of scoring with her tonight. That’ll prove Cassie wrong.
“Are you going to kiss me?” She purrs, her mouth parting in a perfect pout. My blood heats up in my veins as the raven-haired bombshell pulls me in closer.
I press both arms against the wall, on either side of her face, and lean in close enough that our mouthes are inches apart. I hope she can’t tell that my heart is racing, that I’m not as experienced as I’m letting on.
“What do you think?” My eyes flicker to her lips, and I’m about to kiss her, when from the corner of my eye, I notice Cassie racing down the stairs, her hair flying from her face.
Without another word to the hottie, I chase after her.
Cassie doesn’t look surprised to see me appear outside. She just buries her face in my chest, and in a tiny voice that makes me want to kill whoever hurt her, asks, “Can you take me home?”
“Of course,” I say. Anything for you.
We don’t talk much on the way home. I let her choose the music, and the notes of an old country song drift between us as she stares out the window.
I shift the gears into park when I reach her house. “Do you want to talk about it?” Seeing her like this hurts me, as if her pain were my own.
“There’s not much to say,” Cassie says, a sad smile on her lips. Tears shine in her eyes. “When I went looking for Ben to give him his birthday present, I found him making out with Anna in his room. Apparently he thought I wasn’t showing up.”
I grip the steering wheel until my knuckles turn white, thinking of the best way of bashing his skull in. “Do you want me to beat him up?” I ask, relishing the idea.
“Please, don’t.” Cassie shakes her head. “I’m going to sleep now. We’ll talk tomorrow, ok?”
“Are you sure?”
“I’m sure. Thanks, Jake.”
I want to hold her, to shield her from the betrayal, from the pain, but I’m powerless to do anything but watch as she slips out of the car and into her home.
I wake up with a jolt in the middle the night after a nightmare that it is already slipping out of my grasp. A glance at my phone tells me it’s two in the morning. I should turn over and fall back asleep. I have to wake up at dawn for the harvest.
Instead, I grab a sweatshirt and pull on my jeans, and head out. At first I make my way to the barn, but our five horses are sleeping. I don’t turn on the light so not to disturb them, but make my way to my favorite horse’s stall. He wickers as I stroke his forehead, his touch comforting in the cold night air.
Then I walk over to the river that borders my farm and Cassie’s house. I lie down on the grass and tilt my gaze towards the stars. From out here in the country, on a clear sky, you can see all the constellations.
“Have you found me yet?” Cassie’s silhouette appears at the edge of my vision, making me jump.
I sit up, my heart pounding in my chest. “What?”
“Have you found my constellation yet? Cassiopeia?” She sits down beside me.
I don’t tell her that it’s my favorite one, that the M-shaped constellation is the first one I find every time.
I point, and she squints, closing one eye to making it out. “That’s me,” she smiles.
I tilt my head to look at her. She’s scrubbed away all her makeup, but I think she looks even prettier like this, her porcelain skin glowing in the moonlight, her copper hair falling into her eyes. I can tell she’s been crying. “I thought you hated being named after a constellation.”
“Most of the time, I do.” She agrees. “But right now, I like it. Because even when you’ll be in an other time zone, you’ll just have to look up to think about me.”
She laces her fingers through mine, and my heart skips a beat. I’m used to holding her hand, for her leg to brush mine, to carry her on my back, and usually I don’t think twice about it.
But here, tonight, alone in the world except for each other, it feels different. We stay like that for a long time, gazing into each other’s eyes, until the tug of sleep reels us in, and we fall asleep in each other’s arms on a mattress of grass, with a blanket of stars.