Worth The Wait
© 2013 Sherry Bach
"Our willingness to wait reveals the value we place on the object we're waiting for." Charles Stanley
Early Evening Emotions
Jacob rode Diamond, his red chestnut Quarter horse, to where Dani was sitting by the bonfire. Diamond's black mane and tail danced in rhythm with the motion of his gait and a small white diamond patch of hair on his forehead dripped down into a blotch of white between his nostrils contrasting the black hair between his ears. Jacob was holding the reins of another saddled horse as well. When he caught Dani's eye, she gladly abandoned her spot by the fire and accepted the unspoken invitation to go for a ride with him on Casper, the black and white paint with a black mane and white tail. They rode out to a field filled with wild flowers that faces west. She smiled at the thought that conversations with him quicken her heart which she had not felt in a long time. He laid a blanket on the ground and they sat talking, laughing and watching the sun's slow approach to falling down behind the mountains. At dusk, when shadows were all to be seen, he raised his hand up to hers like a hand on a mirror and looked into her eyes; she could feel the energy between them.
Captivated, she did not look away but took in the moment where questions ran through her mind at mach speed. Did her eyes reveal her inner thoughts? Could two hearts be connected and aligned by more than just touch? Was there an energy that swirled around their lives until it brought them together? If the eyes are a light unto the soul, did he see hers right now? She could not help but wonder if they would be good for each other; if what appeared to be really was. He gently entwined his fingers around hers and helped her up.
"We better get back." He said.
Her day dreaming thoughts were interrupted by reality and the point in time that she was caught up in ended. She stood up, smiled at him, grabbed the horn of the saddle and placed her left foot in the stirrup, and then swung her right foot around to the other side, and secured herself on top of the horse.
Everyday at the same time for three weeks Jacob came to pick her up for their horseback ride out to the field. Dani's longing for him grew into what felt like an overwhelming desire and anticipation to be by his side. She knew though that those emotions were dangerous and something that would prevent her from getting to know who he really was on the inside making her heart want to run in front of her head. Sensuality, although real and God given would skew her logical conclusions about whether or not he was a good person but she suspected as much. Still, she would not be able to think clearly about whether or not he would be able to help her be a better human being, or whether or not he was someone she could trust, while she was thinking about what it would feel like to be in his arms, so she tried to ignore the natural desires of her heart. However, this particular evening for whatever reason, as they sat together on the hillside, she was having difficulty keeping all of her rational thoughts in check as her passionate emotions threatened to take over her very being by making her insides ache to kiss him, to hold him, to love him.
"Blame it on that damn sunset." She accidentally said out loud.
"Blame what on the sunset?" He asked.
She looked at him surprised at her own blurting out and then laughed it off. "Oh, I was just thinking out loud, sorry bout that." She changed the subject, "The sky is pretty tonight isn't it?"
"Yep, it is." Jacob was looking at her not the sky.
Dani knew he was looking at her. "Don't look at him Dani. Don't look at him." She kept telling herself.
She managed to keep from turning toward him and finally he looked away; the potential magic of that specific moment gone forever. She gazed up at the beautiful slow billowing and ever-changing dramatic clouds, reddish gold on the bottom with half a dozen different shades of blue and purple up the sides and darker shades of all colors on top; the mountains silhouetted below it all, the horses off to the side. The picture seemed to be painted to reflect and reveal her secret thoughts and emotions about him and what she hoped for with him. A long silence passed. She wanted to tell him that he made her feel brand new, more alive; that she thought this could be something great and had the potential to be better than anything they both had ever known. Instead she talked about how the magnificent living painting in the sky above her took her breath away.
"Next week I have to fly out to California, then head to Helena, and make several other stops and appointments over the next couple of months. I'll be gone for awhile." Jacob looked down at the ground; he did not want to leave. Then he looked at Dani in case there was a reaction to interpret. Would there be evidence of the possibility she would miss him on her face? He was unsure about how she felt about him and wondered what was going through her mind.
Dani's heart raced. She tried to say it nonchalantly hiding the fact that she did not want him to go. "What do you mean gone for awhile?"
"I never know how long these business trips will be. It depends on how it goes once I get out there and there's a lot going on right now. Stuff I'm not at liberty to talk about."
On the ride back to the stables that evening, Dani could not gather enough courage to expose her feelings to Jacob and did not say a word; neither did he. For all he knew, she thought of him as a friend and nothing more.
The next day he did not come to ride. Later that night Dani saw him off in the distance working on a piece of equipment out by the barn. The day after that, again, he did not come by to pick her up to go for their late afternoon into evening horseback ride but was in the stables feeding and grooming the horses for what seemed like forever. No explanation for the change in routine was offered. Dani reviewed her expectation that they would ride every night until he left; she never said it out loud and he never promised that he would come.
Was she wrong about him? Maybe she was imagining the connection she felt between them; he could be just passing the time while he waited to go on his trip. She felt the urge to run to him, to go after him; fall into his arms in a long embrace, their lips finally touching, but what good would it do to fall into someone's arms who did not feel the same way that she felt? It would only work to reveal one person a fool so she did not take a chance and chase after him.
Outside of a casual "Hey" every morning in the kitchen, Dani and Jacob hardly spoke for several days and he seemed distant and busier than ever. In three days Jacob would be leaving.
One morning after breakfast, Dani stood behind the screen door of the front entrance to the lodge home, holding a dish towel and a cobalt blue stoneware plate that she had been drying long past the point of dry. She watched Jacob working and keeping busy in the distance, walking between the barn and the stables time and time again. Her left shoulder was leaned against the door frame, her frame of mind was confused, and the sound of the squeaky slamming screen door from when he walked out of the kitchen twenty minutes ago still resounded in her head.
"Everything ok? You've been drying that one plate for fifteen minutes." Dani's sister Victoria asked from the sink where she was washing the morning dishes. Victoria had the top of the line dishwasher but she rarely used it.
Dani looked over her right shoulder at Victoria, then walked toward the cabinets to add the dry plate to the others stacked on the open wooden shelf above the counter. "Oh, I'm fine. Nothing a good ride out in the pasture on Calico won't cure."
Sensing some tension between Dani and Jacob, Victoria said, "Ya know men are not that complicated."
"To hell they ain't!" Dani responded quickly to Victoria's comment. Then she directed her thoughts to horses; a subject she felt much more confident about than men.
Outside of the evening rides on Casper the past few weeks, Calico was the horse that Dani had been riding most of the time since she arrived at the BBR Ranch in Montana two months ago. Dani had come to help Victoria after the passing of John, Victoria's husband, who had died of a massive heart attack while branding cattle. John and his two brothers had inherited the ranch from their multi-millionaire father four years ago, but one of John's brothers was killed in a bull riding competition and the other was a doctor in California who wanted nothing to do with the ranch. Naturally, John, who was already living on the ranch and helping run it was left feeling responsible to carry on the legacy of his father.
Dani knew that Victoria's way to cope with John's death was to continue ranch life just as if John were here and follow through with some projects he had started; Dani wanted to help her sister in whatever way she could. Victoria was older and had always looked out for Dani and Dani felt it was her turn to return the gift of sacrifice that Victoria had made for her over the years. Dani quit her job as a school teacher in Northeast Florida, committing two years to live at the ranch; she figured it would take her sister that long to process through the transition of grieving widowed rancher's wife to ranch owner; if it did not take that long that was fine too but at least Dani had worked out that long of a plan with Victoria to collect a salary that would pay her bills and allow her to keep her home in Florida.
"I think I know you pretty well Dani, what's up?" Victoria continued.
"We'll talk later maybe. Do you mind if I take Calico out for a ride?"
"No, go right ahead. Be careful though. Riding a horse when you're emotional makes you go too fast. Remember what happened that time you were ten and got in trouble when…"
Before Victoria could finish, Dani was out the door and halfway to the stables. She became more irritated with every step and began reminiscing about her childhood and how she would go for a horseback ride on St. Augustine Beach in Florida as a little girl whenever life seemed too hard. The cadence of the ocean waves and the feel of the strength of the horse beneath her provided a type of cleansing, a courage that allowed her to go back and face whatever it was that needed facing with a fresh positive perspective.
When Dani approached Calico, the Palomino horse with its light tan color and white mane and tail, Jacob was there. He was startled by a side of her character he had not seen before. If he could not tell she was upset by the look on her face, he certainly knew it by how she looked at him coldly and by her body language as she prepared to ride with quick dramatic movements making no concessions for conversation and giving no excuses for her obvious lack of desire to impress him at that moment which was very different from the behavior he had seen from Dani up until this point especially out on the hillside. Jacob watched Dani gallop away from the ranch. Part of him wanted to go after her and find out what it was that was troubling her but he stood firmly planted in certainty, that which he knew for sure, without giving credence to speculation. The fact is that if she wanted to tell him why she was upset she would have.
Being cold to Jacob was no easy task, Dani was extremely attracted to him, not only because he was good looking with his light hair, semi-tanned skin, eyes that seemed to grip her and pull her in like a magnet, a smile that could melt anyone, and classic GQ model features, she was attracted to him because according to their conversations he seemed to be on the same page as her regarding his maturity level, what brought him pleasure and the type of person he was striving to be. The only complaint she had of him was that he seemed extremely guarded, but then so was she.
Dani had heard good things about Jacob consistently over the years and had met him before during one of her visits but it was during a time that she had a boyfriend so the thought of another man never crossed her mind; Dani is a one-man woman. This was the first time she had spent any amount of time around Jacob as an available single woman, open to possibilities, which caused her to see him in a different light than before. It was like she was looking at him for the first time.
She tried to analyze the whole thing but was confused at her own emotions. Why did she feel the need to be cold to him? Because he hadn't shown up for a horseback ride that he never said was going to happen? "That's ridiculous," she thought to herself. They had enjoyed riding together, talking and laughing these past few weeks but so what? Neither of them ever revealed that there was a romantic interest or whether or not they even liked each other that way. Where was this fascination of hers going anyway? Was she desperate? Was it one-sided? It felt so free and easy like it was meant to be so she never thought to worry about it until now. She had even had a vision a couple weeks ago of their silhouetted profiles kissing, dancing without music, spinning around slowly and melting into each other. It was so spiritual, so meaningful. The script had been written specifically for her; she needed merely to show up to play the part, or so she thought.
Was he seeing someone? She had assumed not but she was aware that she could be one hundred percent wrong about her assumption. Perhaps he has a love interest in California? What kind of consistent character did he have? What was it that he could not talk about? How did he handle stress? Did he know how to process anger without projecting it where it didn't belong? Was he a peaceful person inside himself most of the time? What did he think about God? Did he even believe in God? Was he respected by his friends? Did he even have friends? The check list was long.
This thinking pattern exhausted her and she realized that even though they had spent a few enjoyable weeks together, there were more questions than answers and many uncertainties to take into consideration. The only way a person finds the answers to such things is with time spent together and now he was leaving. He would be unavailable for an indefinite amount of time. The notion drove her crazy! She would be forced to decide how to proceed with her thoughts without knowing the specifics of who he really was or a clue about how he felt about her. She was a planner, a data collector; someone who had the whole school year mapped out in advance, so walking one step at a time into unknown territory and making decisions before all the data could be gathered was not something that was comforting to her. Her only solace was that she was confident that if Jacob was someone who was not good for her, that God would protect her by causing it all to fall apart or never happen in the first place, but that of course, is easier to say than to surrender to.
After an hour of riding and praying she had talked herself back around to some sort of level headedness. She left the ambiguity out in the field and she returned to the barn, dismounted Calico and loosened the girth. She unbridled the horse, put on the halter and began to walk it over to tie it up so she could undo the girth and take the saddle off but was taken aback by Jacob who seemed to pop out at her from nowhere.
"I'll do that for you if you want to go on inside. It's getting ready to rain and I'm done with everything else so I have time."
"Uhm, I can do it just fine, but ok, if you want. Thanks." She handed him the reins without making eye contact. She did not say a word after that and turned toward the house and started walking. Had he been waiting for her she wondered?
Dani walked into the dining room where Victoria was sitting at the custom made Canadel farm style table. Papers in piles lay all over the caramel colored maple top; Victoria was working on the books.
"Have a good ride?" Victoria asked without looking up.
"It definitely helped to get some clarity back in my head."
"Oh, I didn't know you were having that much difficulty?" Victoria stopped what she was doing and looked at Dani. "When did that happen and does it have anything to do with Jacob and these afternoon rides you've been going on?"
"I don't know. I'll tell ya, men are so complicated." Dani sat down next to Victoria and sighed.
Victoria figured that Dani was repeating herself from earlier purposely to open the conversation back up again. "Men aren't complicated at all, you just happen to be someone who wants to know every intricate detail of their thinking and they're never gonna reveal that to you. It's like giving up part of their manhood to let you know exactly what they're thinking. If they let you know and happen to be wrong then they'll look stupid…if you haven't figured it out by now, men hate looking stupid."
"I don't understand why they can't be more assertive and just tell you what they're feeling and take a chance."
"Some do but very few." Victoria stated. "What are you wanting to know about Jacob?"
"If he likes me quite simply."
"You mean as a girlfriend?"
Victoria laughed. "Oh honey, surely you can tell whether or not a guy likes you before they tell you!"
"Stop laughing, it's not funny and no, I can't tell that automatically; I might misinterpret."
"And be wrong for once in your life?" Victoria suggested. "It's ok to be wrong; you just pick yourself up, brush yourself off and move on in a different direction."
"And walk down a road that doesn't need to be walked down? That's a waste of my time. I guaran-damn-tee you I'm not gonna go chasing after him. If he wants me he'll have to take the initiative in letting me know he's interested."
"He probably already has and you just haven't picked up on it. Good grief! With all those romantic rides and talks out on the hillside in front of the sunset you couldn't have just batted your eyes at him once to see what would have happened, or brushed his arm?"
"Why would I do that before I know how he feels? What does that mean anyway? Bat your eyes? That's absurd!"
"I swear Dani, you really do suck at romance."
"I know! I told you that." Dani said emphatically.
"Now I believe you."
Like they did when they were little girls, the sisters enjoyed a moment of laughing but this time it was about Dani's obvious lack of skill with romantic relationships and men, then Victoria talked about the night she met John and how she knew right away he was interested in her because of his body language and the way he looked at her…longer than someone would in general conversation, almost to the point of uncomfortable.
"What did you do when you noticed that?" Dani asked her.
"I stared back and smiled and tried to look as sexy as hell."
"But you didn't even know him."
"You're right. I was taking a chance with John. Romance is risky."
"See that's the thing, I'm not willing to take a risk like that." Dani confessed.
"Suit yourself but in a way you're taking a risk in the opposite way…missing out on something great. If I had not taken a risk with John and given him a green light, it's possible that I would have missed out on the love of my life."
"Well if Jacob doesn't feel a connection with me the way I do with him then he isn't the person I think he is and we're not meant to be. If he feels it but never acts on it, he's still not the person I think he is and my character assessment meter is way off. Besides, have you ever seen me try to purposely look sexy? It's pathetic! I tried to do a photo shoot once and it turned out so wretched that I threw out all of the photos. I looked like I was constipated."
Victoria laughed. "It couldn't have been that bad."
"It was. Trust me."
"That's why you have to try to feel it. Really allow yourself deep down in your soul to let all your inhibitions go and just display what you're feeling."
Although Dani longed to hold Jacob she was not willing to allow her heart free rein until she knew him better as hard as that is to do considering how good looking she thinks he is and her suspicions that he is a wonderful person underneath the hard guarded shell. According to her sister, Jacob is a nice man. Dani is not looking for a nice man but a man who is stable in all his ways…she has had her share of "nice" men who did not have a clue about who they were as individuals and had severe identity crises. Besides, her sister is still grieving and Dani is not sure that she can trust her sister's judgment right now. Dani needs to know who Jacob is for her own self without a doubt. She knows that it is consistency over time that proves who we are. She also knows that the way most folks operate is to get all tangled in the sheets with someone before getting to know them. Dani does not live her life that way. She occasionally thinks about sex but does not let herself follow through. If a man is interested in her, he is going to have to be willing to go the extra distance to be with her; if he is not willing to do that, she does not want him; it is as simple as that, lonely or not.
"I'm gonna call it a night, take a shower and go read for awhile." Dani stood up and headed toward her bedroom. As she went she pulled her tucked in shirt out of her low rider jeans that were secured with a dark brown belt and small brass buckle embossed with the emblem of the ranch. The white long sleeve western style cotton blouse fit Dani snuggly across her breasts so that when she tugged up once on the bottom corners that met near her navel to unsecure the blood red snaps from bottom to top, it all happened without much effort in perfect rhythm like a song.
"K." Victoria watched Dani walk down the hall remembering how Dani used to get in trouble as a child because she never waited until she was in her room or in the bathroom to start undressing and it horrified their mother and father especially when they had company. Dani would just as soon go without clothes as a child and thought of them as necessary nuisances. "See, undressing like that would be sexy and romantic to a guy." Victoria called after her.
"Shut up Victoria. I'm not gonna unsnap my shirt in front of a guy I hardly know." Dani playfully shouted back at her sister from her room. Victoria laughed. Not only were her and Dani sisters, they were good friends that had the kind of relationship where each could be exactly who they were without fear of judgment from the other.