After fishing for almost 2 hours, we caught a total of 10 fish—8 bluegills and 2 bass. All that casting made us hungry for lunch.
Artemis decided to grill steaks and vegetables while I picked out where we would eat our meals. My preferred spot was under the willow tree right by the water.
I had loved watching Pocahontas growing up and one of the most memorable scenes were the ones of the willow tree. Something about the hanging branches creating a curtain while I sat under it that it made me almost giddy like I was in my own little world.
Mrs. Sweetmire had been here the last few days preparing for our arrival so she helped me set the table.
After we finished our lunch, she brought out dessert and it was my most-beloved—strawberry shortcake with an abundance of strawberries and whipped cream. I looked at Artemis and asked. "What's this? Don't tell me you got this from my favorite bakery.”
His lips lifted. "I'm trying to make up for the past when I ate your dessert and made you cry.”
"Oh." I was so touched that I didn't know what else to say. So that was why he took me fishing earlier. My heart warmed and slowly melted like churning butter at the thought of him trying to reenact some of the past events. It was definitely a day of reminiscing.
"Um thank you." I said softly as I stared into his sparkling hazel eyes.
"As long as it makes you happy." He said it easily as he picked up his fork and dug into the dessert.
I would have cringed had it been a different guy saying it—cheesy lines made me uncomfortable—but Artemis made it sound so natural like he was saying ‘hi’ to someone. I was starting to find it difficult to hate anything he does.
After our meal, Artemis took my hand and said, "I have something to show you."
He guided me to the right side of the house where a walking trail was located. The trail was wide enough for two people and had tall trees growing on both sides. After a 10 minute walk, we arrived at a beautiful field of wild yellow and purple flowers. It was simply gorgeous.
"This used to be bare without anything growing here." I said breathlessly.
"And now, it's full of life." He said admirably.
Once we soaked in the beauty of the site, Artemis said. "This is not the only thing I wanted to show you. This way." He pulled my hand to the right as we continued on the trail.
More? What else was there, I wondered.
Another 10 minutes and we stopped at a big treehouse in the woods.
"Oh my word. It's finished!" I exclaimed. Mr. Jame had started building Artemis a treehouse that year before everything happened. I'm surprised he still decided to finish it. It looked big enough for a dozen people.
"Yeah. My dad wanted it done knowing I would be back someday." He turned to me and ask. "You wanna check it out?"
"Of course! You don't even have to ask. I've always wanted a treehouse."
I climbed the steps first and entered the front door. There was only one room with a bed in the middle, a few pieces of furniture on one side and a bookcase on the other. The ceiling had a big glass window to let in the natural light.
As though following my gaze, Artemis said. "Next time when we stay the night here, we can look at the stars from this spot. It's pretty spectacular."
"Can we stay tonight?" I asked, full of hope.
"We can but you have school tomorrow and I have work." He said in a practical manner.
"Well, we can stay to look at the stars and then we'll drive back late." I suggested slowly.
"You'll be tired tomorrow." He said slightly amused.
"One day won't kill me." I smiled and continued. "And I can always drink lots of coffee."
"Alright. We'll stay until 11 at the latest." He said decisively.
By the time walked back to the house, it was 2:30 p.m. I decided to catch up on homework since Artemis got a call from Nate and had some work to do as well. He stayed inside the house while I stayed outside.
I brought my school bag to a hanging hammock on the left side of the house. It was at the edge of the water and big enough for 3 people. I got out my laptop and scientific articles as I started typing up my essay.
Three pages in and I looked up from the computer screen. I really loved this lake scenery—I could stare at it forever like how I could stare at Artemis forever. I felt like I was on vacation and it made me feel relaxed and content.
I looked over at the boats and jet skis and suddenly remembered how I used to love watching Artemis wakeboard. He was so good at it.
He would practice his acrobatic tricks on the trampoline first and after hours of practice, he would perform them on the wakeboard.
Also, he was naturally good at sports. He had excelled in tennis, ice hockey, snowboarding and wakeboarding. I thought he was the coolest kid I knew.
I had admired him and put him on a pedestal. One time, he tried to get me on the wakeboard and I fell flat on my face—my whole body hit the water surface and it hurt like hell. After that, I never got near it again.
I got back to writing a few more paragraphs and then switched over to studying my notes.
Artemis came out to get me for dinner at 6 and then we took another walk on the trail afterward.
By the time we got to the treehouse, it was 8. We sat in the bed, our backs against the headboard as we talked about our past and our future. Our future consisted of where we would like to visit and what I would like to do after graduating school.
As for our past, it only consisted of things we did together as kids. He never mentioned his mom though so I decided to bring it up. "Do you miss your mom?"
I could feel his body tense up next to me as he answered. "I do." And that was it. I waited for him to say more but he didn't. I was starting to notice that he tended to give really short answers to questions he didn't want to answer or talk about.
My subconsciousness stopped me from asking anything further. Similar to all the previous times, I couldn't force myself to push him like I was scared of what he would do or say next. We were slowly moving forward one step and I didn't want us to take a step back and ruined all that we've gained.
At that moment, Artemis turned off the lights in the room and the stars appeared above us. The ceiling window was invisible as the stars shone brightly like we were outside—everything was pitch black and the stars stole the show.
"It's so beautiful." I whispered as if scared that my loud voice would scatter all the stars away. "You definitely wouldn't be able to see this in the city."
He let out a soft sound as a way of agreeing and pulled me close. My head rested on his shoulder and his hand rested at my hip as we both stared at sparkling diamonds in the sky.
After a while, he urged me to move. I couldn't see anything so he had to guide me with his hands. He moved one of his legs so I would sit between them while facing him. His hands cupped my face and pulled me in for a kiss. My hands stayed on his thighs as my arms supported some of my weight. My butt slightly hovered above my feet as I bent forward to kiss him back.
Like all his kisses, all I could do was melt away like an icicle under the hot sun. My body squirmed and craved for his touch. Even with clothes on, anywhere he touched left a blazing trail of heat that burned my skin...in a good way. I finally went up for air when he lifted me up to stand on my knees as his lips went down my neck. His hands got under my dress and roamed all over my tingling skin. They were like good kids that stayed within appropriate areas and never strayed far into the forbidden forest.
"I think I'm falling for you." He mumbled softly against my collarbone and then gently bit it—that sent chills down my body and made my toes curl.
"What?" I asked hazily as I was drowning in ecstasy. I didn't quite hear what he said. He didn't repeat and I was too dazed to ask again.
After 10 minutes of star gazing and another 15 minutes of intensely making out, we walked back to the house. I gasped loudly when we passed by the field of wildflowers.
There were fireflies everywhere—they were blinking on and off like Christmas lights all over the field. It was as breathtaking as the starry sky we saw earlier. I walked into the field so the flashing lights could envelop me. I twirled around feeling like I was dancing in sparklers but without the fear of getting burned. I laughed as Artemis chuckled a few feet away.
I stopped and took in the biggest breath of air and exhaled. Oh what a glorious day this was, I thought.
After a long moment of soaking everything up and locking them in my long term memory file, I walked back to Artemis. He took my hand and guided us back to the house.
As we walked, I couldn't help but have a sinking feeling. Artemis gave my hand a squeeze and asked. "What are you thinking?"
Without thinking, I blurted out. "Today had been too perfect." My voice sounded uneasy. "Whenever things go too smoothly, I couldn't help but feel something bad will happen—like the calm before the storm."
He laughed lightly. "I didn't know you were superstitious."
"I'm not." And it was true, I wasn’t, but for some reason this time, my gut was telling me to worry.