“Judah, quit picking on your sister. Issachar, you’d better get over here and eat before Asher and Naphtali eat all the corn. They’re taking the best parts.”
Troy held out his hand filled with corn and met the gaze of little Issachar, so petite compared to her sisters. He had to conscientiously feed the little girl.
Remembering Melissa’s question about his chickens having gender identity issues, Troy wondered how his chickens would feel if they knew he’d named them after boys, well, men. The twelve tribes of Israel.
“You ladies don’t have a problem with your names, do you? A chicken by any other name is still a chicken, right?” Troy snorted.
This was getting out of hand. He barely ate. He barely slept. He barely worked. The only reason he had to get out of bed each morning was to feed his chickens. They had become his companions and reason for living for days, weeks, no… one week. Or was it two? He’d lost track of time.
“Look at me. I’m sitting in my yard surrounded by chicken poop and corn and seeds and bits of straw talking to gender-confused chickens with boys’ names. There is something seriously wrong with me. These poor chickens. I need to rename my chickens.”
“I like the names of your chickens,” a soft voice said from behind him.
He would know that voice anywhere. Dare he turn around and allow the imagined voice to disappear? He chanced the turn of his neck and realized if his ears were imagining Melissa standing behind him, then his eyes were imagining her as well.
“Why is Zebulun way over here where she’s not getting any food?” Melissa picked up the little, brown chicken and held her feet in a way that she couldn’t escape the grasp if she wanted, which she probably didn’t. No chicken in her right mind would reject being held by Melissa Dalton.
No man in his right mind would either, which is why Troy knew he’d lost his. Imagining this moment as he’d done over and over, he never dreamed the first sentence out of his mouth would be, “Why did I break up with you?”
“Do you really want me to give you a list?” Melissa stepped up next to him, chicken in her arms, and lowered to sit on the ground, not even looking to see if she’d be sitting in chicken poop. A true farmer at heart.
“No, please don’t. Just let me enjoy this fantasy before I wake up and you’re not here.”
“I don’t think that’s going to happen,” Melissa said with a resigned sigh.
“Why?” Troy’s heart was racing.
“Because I refuse to leave this time.”
“But what about all the things we disagree on?” Troy asked, meeting her gaze.
“We’ll probably still disagree about them. But we’ll wake up in each other’s arms and make eggs together.”
“What if our parents won’t let us get married?” Troy asked.
“Then we’ll elope.” So matter-of-fact. So logical he wondered why he’d never thought of that.
“What if you never get married in one of your temples?”
“Then we’ll be married until death instead of throughout all eternity.”
“What if we disagree about whose church to take the kids to each weekend?”
“We’ll do one weekend at your church and one weekend at mine.”
“What if I’m excommunicated?” He gulped.
“Their loss,” Melissa said. “I guess that would narrow our decision about where to take the kids each weekend.”
“Troy, stop.” She placed her hand over his mouth, effectively shutting him up. “I refuse to let any of that come between us anymore.”
“I refuse to let anything come between us anymore. It’s over. None of it matters. I’m the woman God made for you and you’re the man God made for me, and you’re going to marry me—immediately—and you’re going to make love to me every night, and wake up with me in your arms every morning, and we’re going to raise chickens together, and raise babies together, and serve God together, and live together in a beautiful house overlooking a beautiful farm where you’ll plant the crops and I’ll watch my smoking hot husband from our kitchen window, awaiting the hour when you’ll come inside to a home cooked meal and a wife who loves you.”
“When you put it that way, we should have gotten married a long time ago.” Troy grinned.
“We weren’t ready,” Melissa said.
“What changed your mind?” Troy asked.
“Your brother stopped by the store and told me you’d gone a little… off your rocker. He said you weren’t handling our breakup well and that I needed to get my act together and get over here and whip some sense into you.”
“Why would he do that?” No wonder he was having this daydream fantasy. He was insane. His brother had already informed Melissa that he was insane so it must be true.
“He’s concerned about you,” she said with compassion. “He told me that if I didn’t take the initiative, I’d be throwing away both of our chances for happiness.”
“And it doesn’t bother you that I’m insane and talking to chickens?”
“Didn’t you hear me?” Melissa asked. “I refuse to let that stop us.”
Troy reached over and lifted Zebulun out of Melissa’s hands, giving the chicken a little toss and off she flew to land amongst her sisters, fighting her way into the pecking order.
Not taking into consideration that he may or may not be dreaming, or the fact that they were sitting in a yard surrounded by chicken poop and crushed corn and clucking chickens happily enjoying their dinner, Troy turned to his future bride and pulled her into his arms, gripping his hands into her hair and connecting his lips to hers.
Book Club Discussion Questions: Have you ever seen the episode of Big Bang Theory when Sheldon has all those cats? Do you remember what his mom said to Leonard?