“This is the best view from anywhere in the house.” Troy pulled her gently from the main foyer, dodging stacks of lumber in the nearly finished open living area.
“The kitchen?” Melissa raised her eyebrows playfully, stepping up to the stainless-steel sink with top quality Kohler fixtures. “So that I can enjoy the view while I’m doing dishes?” The sink had been positioned at the corner of the room with a three-sided window frame providing a panorama of the landscape.
Troy came up behind her and wrapped one arm around her waist and with his other arm pointed out the window to the rolling hills below where shoots of green plants were just starting to pop up out of the soil. “And if you’re lucky, right down there will be a hunk on a tractor slaving in the hot sun to bring home the bacon.”
“Those are soybeans, Troy. But good try.” He missed her sarcasm about doing the dishes. In reality this was the nicest kitchen she’d ever dreamed of owning. Solid surface countertops, glazed tile backsplash, stainless steel appliances. And he was right. The view was incredible.
“Okay, okay, we’ll buy the bacon from your father. I’ve seen his livestock barn and he has some of the nicest hogs I’ve ever seen.”
“He does grow some good piggies,” she acknowledged, snuggling back into Troy’s strong arms, allowing her back to press against his firm chest. “Are you sure you’re allowed to hold me like this?”
“I’m definitely not allowed to hold you like this.” Troy leaned down and kissed Melissa’s neck just over her collar bone. “Which is one of the many reasons I look forward to marrying you. But not yet. I have to show you the rest of the house.” He backed away and grabbed her hand playfully, lightening the mood.
She laughed and allowed herself to be pulled along, loving seeing this side of him. In a way she felt like she’d known Troy for years even though they’d met just over a month ago. They’d spent so much time getting to know each other those first couple of days before the drama started that their whirlwind romance seemed to have spanned six months.
“They designed the main floor of the house in a way that the kitchen, living room, and home office all walk out onto this wrap around deck.” He pulled open the large sliding glass door and led her onto the hardwood deck that had already been sanded and stained a natural finish that blended well with the landscape.
Melissa leaned against the railing and gazed out over the rolling hills below. “This is incredible, Troy. How much of this is yours and how much is your brother’s?”
“Ours,” Troy corrected her, leaning against the railing beside her.
“How much of this is ours?” Troy said. “You’ll need to take ownership of the land because once we’re married, what’s mine is yours. We’ve tried to maintain the continuity of the fields, but you can sort of see where the edge of his property starts based on that tree line over there.” He pointed off to the west.
“You know I’m not marrying you for your land and fancy house,” she teased, only half joking. They needed to have this conversation. People were already questioning how quickly they’d fallen in love and thought they were rushing into a marriage that was doomed to failure.
“Why are you marrying me?” Troy turned with a teasing smile and leaned his hip against the railing so he would have his hands free to pull her closer. He brushed a thick lock of her long strawberry blonde hair off her shoulder.
“Because during our first conversation you told me the names of your chickens.”
Troy threw his head back and laughed heartily. “You like chickens, huh?”
“I like the names of your chickens,” she said, watching his face grow serious again. “Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Zebulun, Joseph, Benjamin, Dan, Naphtali, Gad, and Asher.”
“I’m impressed you remembered them in order,” he said then cleared his throat.
“One of my seminary teachers made us memorize the twelve tribes of Israel when we were studying Genesis thirty-five.”
“Verses twenty-three through twenty-six,” Troy confirmed, meeting her gaze.
“That says something about a man,” Melissa said in a low voice. “I could tell that you were more than a cocky farmer boy who needed a new roller chain for his no-till drill. You were a man who loved the Lord enough to know God’s scriptures so well that you named your chickens after the sons of Jacob.”
“They provide my physical nourishment every morning while I sit at the kitchen table reading my spiritual nourishment,” Troy said. “How better to honor the service they provide?”
“Don’t you think they’re going to have gender identity issues if you name them after guys?”
“Nah, they don’t mind.” Troy brushed off her concern.
“Really? Did they tell you they don’t mind?”
“They still give me eggs every morning, don’t they?”
“How do you like your eggs cooked?” Melissa asked, added weight to the question, not just asking how he prepared his own eggs but how he’d like her to cook them for him.
“I usually just crack a bunch of them into a frying pan with some butter and stir until they look done.”
Melissa laughed heartily. She could picture him doing just that.
“Why? How do you cook your eggs?” His eyes gleamed.
“I try something a little different each time I cook,” she said.
“I’d love to try something different once in a while.”
“I’d love to cook you something different every morning.” Melissa stepped closer and rested her hands on Troy’s arms. “Maybe you could read scriptures to me as I cook eggs.”
“I’d love to read you scriptures as you cook eggs laid by our chickens who freely roam our property and sleep in our chicken coop as we sleep upstairs in our master bedroom.”
“Does our master bedroom have a beautiful view of the rolling hills also?” Melissa asked.
“Heck no.” He shook his head with a mischievous grin.
Melissa creased her brow. “Why not?”
“Because I don’t plan on having the curtains open while we’re in there.” Troy pulled her closer and apparently forgot all standards of premarital activities because his lips crushed against hers again, hungry for the chance to take her upstairs to their nearly completed master bedroom and close the curtains.
That was the moment Troy’s father stepped out onto the deck and growled, “Get your hands off my son.”
Book Club Discussion Questions: How much do you love the names of the chickens? It was brought to my attention that we needed a little more substance to Troy and Melissa's relationship beyond just love at first sight. I hope this helps.