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Lexi tried to focus on the romance novel she was reading while her family's chauffeur chattered on about every insignificant thing that had happened while she was away at school. Ham, short for Hamilton, had worked for her family's estate long before her family moved there, and she'd grown accustomed to his mundane banter, but it had only been two weeks, for pity's sake. 

"And your mother's Graham Thomas roses are still producing buds. Imagine that." Ham glanced into the rearview mirror, his silver eyebrows lifting dramatically over his sunglasses as if he was announcing the engagement of the pope.

"Graham Thomas roses are known for being late bloomers." Lexi met his mirrored gaze, letting him see her smile. Her dad had counseled her on how not to come across as a know-it-all, and she wanted to be sure Ham wasn't offended as she made her point.

"Yes, but this is a new batch of buds, not blooms. We should be enjoying roses into October."

"Well, she does obsess over her garden." Nodding politely, Lexi returned to her novel. She had an important Labor Day weekend ahead of her, and she knew all the planned activities would keep her from finishing the story she'd been distracted with for almost a week.

The love-struck couple had finally sealed their relationship with a sex scene so hot, Lexi had moaned and gone red in the face. Fortunately, the old woman sitting next to her on the airplane was asleep and couldn't judge her. But, for the rest of the trip, Lexi had her head in the clouds.

"Are you looking forward to your eighteenth birthday party, Miss Lexi?" Ham interrupted again. "I know your father hosted a party for you and your friends in Boston last weekend. But, this time, you'll truly be eighteen."

Of course, she was looking forward to the party. She would officially be an adult in two days' time, and her privileges at the all-girls school she had been attending since the sixth grade would extend to dinner parties hosted by the nearby all-boys school. The stories that circulated about those parties were legendary; hand holding under tables, passing of love letters, and the illicit kissing. All reasons why Lexi took up reading romance novels in her junior year. Most of her experiences with boys had been in the gym or the classroom, and she wanted to be ready if the legends turned out to be true.

Lexi sighed, reading one more line before dragging her eyes away from the book. "Sure, I'm looking forward to it. I haven't seen Uncle Z in six months, and I always enjoy practicing my Italian with Lady Twila."

Abandoning the story, Lexi took a moment to stare at the Nova Scotia landscape passing by at a leisurely pace. She had been blessed to live in one of the most beautiful places on earth, with the rocky seaside, the marshland, and the trees whose fall colors always got a head start on everyone else. Lexi may have been tied to the states by friends and school, but her heart stayed here.

Would her brother have her favorite mare saddled and ready for a jaunt across the expanse of their seaside property? Lexi loved to hit the trail when the trees were starting to change. Maybe Dion would take her down to the beach for a race. Her parents still didn't let her go alone. But that would change soon enough.

Lexi had been following a righteous path much too long. She hadn't even been kissed properly. Not like the characters in her books. Apart from occasionally dropping the F-bomb, Lexi always considered the consequences of her actions and the opinions of her parents. But this birthday was destined to mark the beginning of a new chapter. She could just feel it. It was time the story got real.


PLAYLIST SONG: Candy O by The Cars





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