Author’s Note: So today I had one thought in my head: Dillon and Larina dancing in the barn. It had to be them as teenagers, before they split, and it didn’t come out quite like I planned, but it ended up okay, I think.
This is a thin interpretation of the idea of music, but I couldn’t resist the idea of the dance, and I remembered a song from childhood that fit, John Micheal Montgomery’s “Life’s a Dance.” So… Dillon and Larina. Dancing. In a barn. 🙂
“I am going to look like an idiot at this wedding. I’d say Thyda hates me, but I know that’s not true. It’s just that her other bridesmaids do. Well, her maid of honor does. I swear she picked the dress that would look the worst on me—it’s the wrong color, too—just to make me look bad because Thyda was going to have me be the maid of honor until she found out I couldn’t sign the license because I’m not old enough yet,” Larina said, leaning over the side of the stall, kicking at the wood. The horses were out so she could do it without disturbing them, and she was mad enough to want to even though she knew they couldn’t afford to fix the stall if she broke it. “I’m too young to be a bridesmaid, so we have to get me something that looks appropriate for my age.”
“You will look better than her no matter what you wear,” Dillon said, not looking up from the stall he was cleaning. “Just ignore them, Larina. The girl wants this part in Thyda’s wedding because she will never get her own. At least—not one as nice as Thyda’s. She’ll have to get her guy drunk in Vegas.”
Larina giggled, almost falling over. “I cannot believe you just said that.”
He shrugged. “I don’t like her. Never have. When she came around here, she’d bother me on purpose. No, I pity any guy stupid enough to fall for her tricks, and I hope you won’t let her get to you because you are so much better than her—and prettier, too.”
“You think I’m pretty?”
He stopped, setting aside his pitchfork. “Truth is, Larina, while I… I have noticed the way you look since you got older and started… filling in places, I’m not… I’m not comfortable with it. Dad always blamed the thing with my mom on her being—she was pretty ’til she had me, then he couldn’t stand the sight of her, and all he ever wanted from her was some… warm body in his bed. He hated that she gave him a kid, and he hated me for being that kid, and I’d rather not think anyone was pretty because if that’s all he cared about and I start to think about it—”
“You’re not your father.”
“I know, but I worry about it. Now that I’m older, ever since I started thinking about girls—”
“You think about other girls?”
“No.” Annoyed, he got in her face. “I only like you, and that’s because you’re… you. You were my friend first, and I liked that. I think I would have kept that forever except… We both grew up and changed, and there’s this other part to us now. This… attraction.”
She smiled, kissing his cheek. “I love you.”
He rubbed at where she’d kissed him, getting a bit tense. “Larina, I’m busy working. I’m sweaty, gross, tired, and not in the mood to discuss Thyda’s friends.”
“Fine. Tell me the dress isn’t as hideous as I think it is, and I’ll leave you alone,” she said, stepping around the stall gate so he could get a good look at it. “Well?”
“I think if she was doing this to be mean to you, she picked the wrong dress,” he answered after a moment, and Larina blinked, confused. The color was wrong—she looked all stupid in this kind of pink—and it was all dressy and dumb and so unlike her.
“You don’t mean that.”
“Yes, I do,” he insisted, taking hold of her and pulling her close. “I think you look like something out of one of Sorina’s fairytales.”
Larina winced, trying not to cry. “She should be here for the wedding. It’s so wrong that she’s not. She was our mom. She loved this sort of thing. Thyda needs her.”
“Don’t you dare blame yourself for what happened. It was a freak accident, Larina. No one could have known what that cow would do,” Dillon said, wrapping his arms even tighter around her. She closed her eyes, letting his arms soothe her as he rocked her gently around the barn. She’d almost say they were dancing, but they weren’t. They didn’t have music.
“Don’t ever stop,” she whispered, wanting this moment to last forever, wanting to take away the sting of losing her aunt, wanting to feel safe and loved by the boy she’d spent most of her life with, the one who gave so much even after having had all that he had taken from him.
“If I don’t, I’ll ruin your dress, and Thyda will never forgive me.”
“’Course she will. She’ll forgive everyone when her head comes out of the wedding fog. It’s what she does,” Larina said. “If we ever get married, don’t let me do that. I don’t want to lose all sense because of a big nonsense fuss like this.”
“You’ll need the big nonsense fuss. Burditt won’t believe it’s real if you don’t have it.”
Larina snorted. “Yeah, right. Not with us. Everyone keeps saying we’ll run off and elope the day I turn eighteen—the only reason we’re not married now is because I’d need Burditt’s consent and he won’t give it.”
“That’s not true.”
She stopped, looking up at him. “Dillon, you do… love me, don’t you? I mean, the first time we kissed you said maybe we’d get married someday and—”
“The idea of marriage scares me,” he admitted, his voice quiet. “It’s not that I don’t… I don’t know that I could ever feel anything more for someone else than I do for you, but I don’t… My father became such a monster after he had a kid—”
“He was a monster before you were there. He had to be. Think about what he said about your mother,” Larina insisted. “No, Dillon, you won’t become him. I don’t believe that. Though… I know you’re scared you will, so we don’t have to rush into anything. Like I said, it’s not like Burditt will give permission. He’s still being dumb about it, and so we’ll have to wait at least until I’m eighteen. You can relax.”
Dillon let his head rest against hers. She tilted her head up so that she could kiss him, and he kissed her back, gentle as ever, and she let herself slid back into his arms, not caring one bit if he was dirty. He was Dillon. None of that mattered.
“We can keep dancing, though.”
“Dancing? We don’t have any music.”
“We don’t need music,” she told him, having just decided that. “We make our own.”