“Okay, girls, this is it.” James “Handy” McKniere opened the car door and got out. “C’mon, out of the car.”
“This is where you want to have the picnic? But…I wanted to go to the beach…” A slight frown marred Rachel’s pretty face as she looked around.
“Nope. This is it.” Handy smiled as he gazed at the wooded slope beyond the ditch.
“I kinda thought, since it’s my birthday, that we’d go where I want…but…” Rachel shrugged. “If this is what you’ve decided, I guess it’s okay.”
“Only ‘okay’? Your future home is just ‘okay’?”
“Future home…” Rachel swept a glance over the stand of towering pines and lush underbrush and turned to Handy with a question in her eyes. “Do you mean…”
“Yep. I’ve talked to a real estate agent, and, if you like this place, I’m putting a down payment on it come Monday. And as soon as we can work out the details, save some money, we’ll build a house here.” Handy retrieved the picnic basket and small cooler from the trunk.
“Ours,” Rachel breathed as she took another, more personal look at the land before her. “A home for us.” She threw her arms around her husband. “It’s beautiful! I love it!”
Handy laughed. “Careful, Toots, or you’ll make me drop the basket and we’ll be eating scrambled deviled eggs.”
“A home. Our own home. No more apartments, no more Navy housing.” She kissed her husband. “Thank you, honey, this is wonderful! I’ve never had a home of my own before.”
He set the basket and cooler on the ground and took his wife into his arms. “I love you, darlin’. Happy birthday.”
Their six-year-old daughter, Fallon, jumped from the back seat into the roadside weeds.
“Careful, honey, watch for snakes,” Rachel cautioned.
Fallon ignored her parents, content and secure in their love for each other and for her. A search for interesting treasures revealed a gold wildflower peeking through the tall weeds, and she made it her first acquisition in a bouquet of wild flowers she intended to gather for her mother. An orange butterfly flitted above the weeds, and Fallon started after it.