{Chapter} 23

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{Chapter 23}

Katie sunk down in the tub of hot water with her hair piled on top of her head and scrubbed every inch of her body. She had dearly missed the luxury of a bath.

She looked down at her chipped and cracked nails in dismay. Her face had a deep tan and her arms were even worse. She felt so ugly. She had calluses all over her hands, which were once smooth and soft. She was nothing like she used to be. Yet there was no sting of regret in coming along on this trip. She had left Sundance as a bitter, hurting woman. She had arrived at Grayson City as a tolerable, happy woman. She had no one else to thank but the Lord and Adam. How she could ever have harbored hate in her heart for that man seemed so unfathomable to her now.

Laying back to rest her eyes for a moment, she reopened them to a darkened room and cold bathwater. She jerked up with a splash. Looking back at the clock on the wall, she let out a squeal.

She was supposed to meet Adam downstairs five minutes ago! Drying herself off quickly, she jerked on her undergarments and a robe before running to her wardrobe. Flinging open the door, she withdrew the only clean dress she had, a pale pink gingham, and threw it on. Pulling pins out of her hair with both hands, she wound her tresses into a haphazard braid and tied it off. She ran out of the room pinching her cheeks and locking her door.

Stepping down the stairs as gracefully as she could force her flustered self, her eyes sought out Adam and found him. If she hadn’t had a good grip on the stair rail, she would have tumbled the rest of the way down. His eyes didn’t catch hers at first, giving her time to appraise him. The man cleaned up nicely… more than nicely. Why, she would even go so far as to think he was the best-looking man that she had ever met. He wore a faded plaid shirt rolled up to the elbows that tucked into a pair of dark denims. His hair was pulled back into his signature ponytail, and Katie had never hated it more. If it weren’t for that ponytail, he would outshine every man that ever was and ever would be. He didn’t look any different than he normally did, yet he had never looked so good to Katie. His eyes latched onto hers and held, a slow smiled spreading across his face.

Katie didn’t remember how she did it, but she somehow landed in front of him.

“S-Sorry I’m late. I fell asleep,” she told him.

“Don’t worry about it,” Adam waved her apology off with his hand.

He extended his elbow to her. “Shall we?”

Katie looped her arm through his.

Sitting at a table for two in the local restaurant, called “Susie’s Diner”, Katie and Adam had eaten and were now enjoying cups of coffee in the comfy little place.

“This sure brings back some memories, huh?” Adam smiled over at her.

Katie smiled. “We used to meet every Saturday afternoon and go to the Claire’s café in town to have a glass of lemonade. She had some good lemonade, too.”

“It was good. Especially when you weren’t wearing it,” Adam sent her a playful, pointed look.

Katie huffed. “Are you never going to forget about that? Someone bumped me.”

“Sure they did. How convenient that you were bumped just as I finished insulting your knitting skills.”

“It’s true, Mr. Sterling. I knew that I have always failed at the whole concept of knitting. Remember that scarf I made you? It was horrendous.”

“It was pretty ugly,” Adam agreed sweetly, talking a sip of coffee.

“You wore it to the school Christmas party, too.” Katie smiled at him. “That made me feel so good.”

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