Hidden Echoes

They come from different worlds. Joe’s a helicopter pilot with a love of flying and fast relationships with pretty women. Ren is a woman with a past she needs to overcome. They have nothing in common…but you know what they say about opposites.

Approximately twenty years earlier

The rattle of pebbles on the windowsill quickened Brenda’s heartbeat. He was here, just like he’d said he would be. She slipped her feet to the floor, careful to avoid the squeaky board at the foot of her bed. It wouldn’t do at all to wake up her mom, who would then come in to see if she was ill or something. Quickly, she tugged on a pair of loose sweatpants, tucking her nightgown into the waist.

The pebbles clattered again, a bit more insistently, as Brenda pulled her sweatshirt over her head and she giggled. So impatient! Slipping on a pair of warm leather moccasins, she tiptoed to the window and slid it open with painful slowness. She winced at the sound of each scrape of paint on paint, certain her mom or dad would hear and catch her sneaking out. Finally, the chill of February mountain air slapped her in the face and she slid one foot through, then the next. When she was on the roof above the porch, she eased her way to the cottonwood on the far side of the house. It was too early for leaves so it was easy to spot the branches she needed to grab in order to get to the ground.

When she felt dirt beneath her feet, she turned around, peering into the darkness, trying to find him. Where had he gone?

“Mac!” she whispered into the darkness. “Where are you?”

From behind her, one hand circled her waist and another covered her mouth, stifling her scream. Then she was pushed against the trunk of the cottonwood by a warm body, and the hand on her mouth was replaced by a pair of soft lips. Hands, strong from ranch labor, now fisted themselves in her long hair.

“I thought y-you’d never get out h-here,” murmured her boyfriend of two months, his warm breath fanning the back of Brenda’s neck.

He snagged her hand and together they ran across the yard toward the big wooden barn. The building was dark and they dared not light so much as a flashlight until they were settled in their secret place or her parents could see and put an end to Mac’s visit. But they didn’t need light as they traveled the same path they’d taken for the past two months, ever since John “Mac” MacKay had asked her to be his girl. He was sixteen to her fifteen and about as good looking a boy as she’d ever seen. He hated his freckles and red hair but Brenda liked them. When she saw him in the distance, she liked knowing it was Mac she saw.

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