Going out to dinner with a farmer during harvest season is nearly impossible. Luckily for steel blue, my job involved working with farmers, and I understood their harvest schedule.
All year, farmers run a race and the final lap is harvest season. They put in care and effort to grow the best crop they can and harvest is when they get the report of how they did. In the final lap of a race, things can go wrong. They work long hours to bring the crop in, battling weather, breakdowns, and more.
It was mid-November by then and most of the soybeans in the area had been harvested with corn being the main crop left in the fields. Rain started to fall and I checked in with steel blue to see how things were going in his neck of the woods. They were getting rain too, but not enough to shut them down. Corn is a little more resilient that way, you can harvest in some adverse weather conditions.
I got back to work, enjoying the sound of the rain softly tapping the windows of my upstairs two-bedroom apartment. I happened to be working from home that day and chose to stay cozy with some candle-lit computer work on the cool fall day. Not much time passed and I heard my phone *ding* a notification for a new text message. Peeking at my phone and seeing the text was from steel blue I shoved my computer aside, almost accidentally throwing it off the table, to see what he had to say.
“We’re rained out, how about that date?” Giddy, with a butterfly-filled stomach I could no longer focus on work and instead started texting back and forth with steel blue to make plans for our first date.
We decided he would come up to the little town I was living in and we’d go to the bar next to my apartment for a couple of drinks. Although it had rained, work still needed to be done on the farm and the plan was to meet later in the evening.
Perfect. I had time.
My apartment was in dire condition. As a single lady who traveled a lot for work, I was embarrassed to admit the way I kept my apartment was well below subpar. I raced around the apartment picking up the clothes laying all over the floor and throwing them in a laundry basket. Next, I grabbed a garbage can and made a round, making sure not to miss any of the m&m wrappers. I furiously scrubbed the toilet and wiped every long brown hair off the sink. I didn’t want him to think a sasquatch lived here.
I had all of the ingredients to make a homemade apple pie and my Grams always said, “A way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.” I decided to put that wisdom to work and started carefully preparing the pie. The first pie I had prepared in my apartment had started the oven on fire, only about a month prior to this one, so I proceeded with caution.
Darkness fell and steel blue shot me a text to let me know he was on his way. I knew when he pulled into the apartment lot because I could hear the hearty rumble of the diesel engine. Nobody who lived in the apartment complex drove a truck like that. I raced down the stairs to meet him in the lot. He had backed into a parking spot and I watched him step out from the driver’s side door.
His cowboy boots hit the pavement and all of a sudden the world was in slow motion, you know like the opening of Baywatch, except he wasn’t running to save me… he was walking casually and I was struck with my gaze glued to him.
The only other times I had seen him he was wearing work clothes, baggy pants, and oversized sweatshirts. That night, he was wearing a fitted button-down, crisp clean blue jeans, cowboy boots, and a fresh ballcap. His boots made him even taller than I remembered and he walked towards me, adjusting his ball cap. I had to consciously close my mouth because I’m pretty sure my jaw also hit the pavement.
I slapped myself, put on a smile, muttered some sort of hello, and we started walking towards the bar together.
We talked over a couple of whiskey 7’s about everything. Our families, my childhood on the dairy farm, his first experiences on the farm, the small country band I was part of, our friends, our college lives, and what we like to spend our free time doing. The conversation flowed again, so easily. There were no awkward silences or pauses, I felt unbelievably comfortable and safe with him.
After two drinks, I wasn’t ready to leave steel blue, so I offered him dessert and a movie back at my place. He graciously accepted even though he knew he had an hour drive home and a full day of harvest ahead the next day. On the walk back, he casually grabbed my hand. I remembered the rough calloused hands from the first day we met with the greasy handshake. There was something so attractive to me about hard-working hands. I could hold them all day.
We walked up to the second floor and I warned him about my less-than-girly apartment decor. I could smell the apple pie from the hallway and gave myself a small pat on the back thinking, Grams would approve. He used the restroom and commented on my whitetail shower curtain. I was glad he, a fellow hunter, could appreciate it.
I pulled out the homemade apple pie to impress him. Crispy crust with bubbled-over edges, but not nearly as bad as the first one I had made. I offered pie and ice cream, but to my surprise, he declined. A little baffled about that, we sat on the couch together and started watching a movie.
I let steel blue pick the movie because all I had been watching lately was Gossip Girl and I didn’t think that would be his style. He chose the movie, Shooter. Bob Lee Swagger, a former marine, is framed as an assassin and the whole movie is an action-packed man hunt. Something I would never be caught dead watching alone in my apartment. It would give me nightmares.
My heart rate rose, not from the movie, but because without hesitation, steel blue put his arm around me and pulled me in close. We watched the entire movie and barely moved an inch. Cuddled in close together, I didn’t want the movie to end. But, eventually, it did.
We struck up another conversation on the couch. We talked and talked and talked and didn’t even look at the clock. Facing each other, reclined back on the couch, I couldn’t get enough of him and gazing into his moonlit eyes.
There was a slight lull in the conversation, for the first time that entire evening. We had our eyes locked on each other and I knew. Our noses touching and lips less than an inch away, I wanted him to kiss me so badly. A moment later and he moved in for that kiss. I thought gazing into his steel blue eyes had me hypnotized, but that was before the first kiss…
You can tell a lot from a first kiss… And I had a couple in the past that told me to run… fast.
You can tell if he’s going to respect you or if he’s going to try to take it too far, if he’s going to read your emotions, and if he’s going to take the time to care. I felt a connection with that kiss that I had never felt before. It was tender and strong at the same time.
I knew in that moment I was in big trouble.