Getting to Me

Chapter Fourteen

The drive back to Golden Valley the next day didn't take long at all, only about four hours. The trucks from the state road department had gotten salt and sand down onto the ice-slicked Interstate, so it wasn't as slippery as it normally would be on a freezing cold winter day. The entire time back to the ranch, Zacky held Mandy's hand in his, not wanting to let go of her, and loving the way her soft skin contrasted against his callused finger pads. She stayed awake for the entire drive, watching out the window, but her thoughts kept drifting back to the night before.

She had had another dream about Zacky during the night. It hadn't been a wet dream, like the one before, but this one had been rather...intense. She and Zacky had been just a little older, and living on a ranch of their own somewhere. She wasn't sure where it was, because she hadn't recognized the scenery. She had seen lots of snow, and in the living room of the house she and Zacky were living in during her dream, there had been a huge pine tree set up in the middle of the room, decorated with golden and red tinsel, with little cedar wooden ornaments and lace doilies. She'd been in the kitchen, baking cookies, and he'd walked in the house carrying a little boy that looked just like him, a little girl following behind him, with her eyes and his hair. She didn't remember what their names had been in the dream, but she did remember that feeling of happiness that some dreams can give you, and when she woke up, she was still snuggled softly into Zacky's side, her head pressed firmly against his chest and both of his arms snaked around her waist as they laid there on the hotel mattress.

When they'd arrived at the ranch, McKenna had demanded to spend time with Mandy, having missed her while she'd been in Fargo, and they'd both learned that Brent had decided he was old enough to choose where he lived, and he'd been staying at a friend's house since Mandy, Zacky, and Brian had left before. Mandy had her suspicions that Brent had gotten caught with pot again, as it had happened before, and that their parents had given him an ultimatum. Of course, since Brent wasn't there and her parents weren't talking about it, and McKenna hadn't seen or heard anything, there was no telling if that was the truth or not.

Right now, she was in the loft of the barn. Despite the upper level of the barn being exposed wooden rafters, the space was cozy, with lots of excess hay that insulated the area. She had taken her winter jacket off, and was now sitting on a bale of hay, looking out the open end of the barn from a distance and watching the standstill scenery. There was a herd of cattle that belonged to one of their neighbors in the distance just below Sentinel Butte, and a part of their horse herd was out in a nearby pasture, grazing on whatever grass they could paw up from underneath the packed white snow. She was so busy watching the lay of the land that she didn't hear footsteps coming up the wooden ladder that led up to the rafter, and she gasped as she felt arms wrap around her from behind. She turned around with a curious smile on her face and grinned, relaxed when she saw that it was just Zacky.

"I was wondering where you'd gone," he murmured into her neck, pressing a soft kiss to her exposed flesh before lifting his head away from the sensitive flesh and wrapping his arms around her waist, pulling her flush against his stomach as he joined her in watching the land. She chuckled and leaned her head against his shoulder, in no hurry to get away from him, and closed her eyes, completely content as he held her.

"This is where I come to relax," she explained, opening her eyes after a few moments to look up at his beautiful green ones to find that he was watching her with a sort of smile that made her heart warm and the butterflies stir. "It's a very comfortable place, even with the snow and the wind."

"I can tell," he nodded, looking out at the land and whistling lowly under his breath. "You never see a view like this in Fargo, no matter how high up you have an apartment. There's no open land in that city, not like there is here."

She nodded, recalling that the city had been bustling with cars and bright with street lights and stop lights. It had been beautiful, but she didn't think she'd ever want to give up this kind of serene calmness for something that hectic. It seemed too rushed; too fast paced for someone like her. She was perfectly fine here in the country, where she could stand beside a window with a mug of hot cocoa and just look out at the scenery, and take time to enjoy the things that made up the beautiful landscape. "Are you ever gonna go back there?" She asked him. He knew it was a loaded question, and he had an inkling of an idea as to why she was asking, but he had the answer ready for her.

"I don't think so," he shook his head. "I mean, I might miss some of the conveniences of living in a city sometimes, but it sure as hell can't beat this. I mean, you can't see horses just standing around in the middle of Fargo, and you can't see shooting stars and comets like you can out here. And there's no you in Fargo," he added in a quieter voice, turning her around in his arms so that she was now looking at him, confusion clear in her eyes.

"What's that supposed to mean?" She asked him with an amused smirk. "I'm just plain ol' Mandy Haner. Nothing special about me, Zacky," she giggled lightly, though her breath hitched in her throat as he reached up to push some hair out of her eyes. His hand came to a rest on her cheek, and he leaned in slowly to press a kiss to her soft lips before pulling back when he had, his greey eyes so full of conflicting emotions that she couldn't look away from him.

"You're anything but plain, Mandy," he whispered. "You're the most amazing, talented girl that I've ever met. You're beautiful, and you're smart, and funny, and all these other things that I don't know what to call them. And I don't know what we have between us, or where it's going to go. I mean, you're making me feel all these things that I never in a million years thought someone could make me feel. I used to love going out on the town and picking up girls for one night stands and shit but after I met and got to know you...I became really fucking unproud of all that stuff," he said, all of his words coming out in a jumbled mess as he stopped for a moment to lick over his bottom lip and catch his breath before he continued. "And I know it's crazy, because you shouldn't like me and I shouldn't like you. Your older brother's my best friend, and you're seven years younger than me. And I know it's absolutely insane that I'm already saying all of this crazy shit to you after only a few weeks, but--"

Zacky's eyes widened when Mandy cut him off by pressing two fingers to his lips, an amused smirk on her face as she leaned closer to him. "Zacky, you don't have to say anything else," she whispered up to him, touching her hand to his chest. "I can feel it, just by touching your heart. There's no need for words when you can feel."

She didn't say anything else as she leaned back, pulling him with her so that he was hovering over her, and smirked as he crashed his lips against hers. The second his lips touched hers, Mandy knew that, unlike last night, there was probably no going back this time. They were both caught up in the moment; him because he'd confessed things that he'd never thought he'd feel, and she because his words had melted her heart as though it were the middle of July instead of the middle of November. His hands circled around her waist and pulled her up so that she wasn't positioned awkwardly on the haybales beneath her, and then she grabbed at his shoulders with her hands, sliding one of her hands down his back and grabbing his ass through the darkwash jeans that he was wearing, smirking as he gave a startled growl into her mouth before pulling away.

"We can't do this up here," he whispered to her, leaning down to peck her lips once more, smirking as she reached up to pull his head down to crash her lips against his once more.

"I know," she answered breathily as he slid his lips to her neck, leaving wet, hot kisses along her flushed skin, his hands roaming over her stomach before moving to the hem of her the plaid button up, pushing it up so that her midriff was exposed and taunting her skin with his callused fingers.

"We need to stop," he added, moaning when her mouth attached to his neck and bit down just softly enough to leave a small, barely-there hickey that her father was sure to notice later on. "Mandy..." he groaned, his hips bucking animalistically against hers as her fingers dipped inside the waistband of his jeans, touching the sensitive skin just below his boxerline but not quite at his dick.

"Don't say my name like that if you want us to stop," she said in a breathy, high-pitched voice as her shirt slid even further up. There was definitely no going back from this point on, and his fingers fumbled clumsily with the snaps of her shirt as he attempted to get them loosened before a sound by the ladder caused them both to jump out of their skin and look over to see Brian Sr. standing there, the look on his face just as shocked as their own. He didn't say anything and neither did they, before he just slowly moved to climb back down the ladder.

Mandy blushed as Zacky sat up, the mood clearly gone, and buttoned up her shirt once again before touching the side of his face with the palm of her hand reassuringly. "I don't think he's mad, Zacky," she told him with a small voice. "If he was, I think he'd have said something. That's what he did when he caught me and Roy kissing before," she added, scooting closer to him and pressing her lips softly to his cheek. He gave her a small smile and put his hands on her hips as he looked at her.

“Still, you might want to go talk to him,” he suggested, kissing her lips once before helping her stand up. “Regardless of how he feels about us, you’re still his daughter and I think he’s gonna want to say some shit or something.”

Mandy nodded, knowing she was right, and pulled her winter jacket on before looking at him. “Oh, and Zacky?” She asked as she moved over to the ladder. He looked up at her, and gave her a questioning look.


“Since Brian’s not going to be staying here for the winter, Mom said to go ahead and tell you that you’re supposed to start using his room. She knows she wakes you up when she’s making breakfast,” she grinned at him, moving down the ladder and then making her way out of the barn to find her father.

As Zacky watched her walk away through the opening in the end, he couldn’t help but think that Mandy wasn’t just getting to him anymore. He couldn’t deny that, as he watched her leave, he was starting to feel something that could possibly be love.


"Mom, have you seen Dad? I need to talk to him," Mandy said a few minutes later as she walked into the kitchen, taking the cap off of her head and looking at her mother with a smile. The brief walk from the barn to the house had made her cheeks a rosy red color, though that wasn't the only reason she was blushing, and Suzy knew it. Brian Sr. had come into the house not five minutes before, saying something about Mandy and Zacky "sneaking around," although she didn't think her husband had been angry about it so much as flustered that he'd seen it.

"He went out to the silo," she told her daughter, turning back to the sink to continue peeling the potatoes that she'd be making for dinner tonight. Mandy inwardly groaned. He only ever went to the silo when he was thinking about something. And if he was thinking about what he'd seen Mandy and Zacky doing in the loft, then chances were, she was going to get chewed out or yelled at, or both. Still, she knew she had to pay the piper, so to speak, so she just nodded to her mother as she replaced the cap on her head and walked back out the front door and started making her way across the ranch to the silo.

When she got there, she found the door cracked open just enough that one would be able to open it from the inside, should they need to, and she stepped inside to find her father sitting on an overturned grain bucket, looking as though he were deep in thought. When he heard the door open and bang against the metal framing of the silo they were now standing in, he looked up and gave her a small, concentrated smile. "I see you pulled yourself away from Zack," he said in a humored tone. Mandy felt the blush form on her cheeks again at her father's words, and he let out a full, belly laugh that made her feel as though she might not be in trouble after all.

"We weren't--" She started. Brian Sr. cut his oldest daughter off, giving her a wave of his hand and a shrug of his shoulders as he met her gaze.

"You're nineteen now, Mandy. That means you're old enough to decide who you have sex with, and where you do it. It's not as if you could have just done it in your bedroom or God forbid, the couch," he chuckled. "I don't mind that you were playing tonsil hockey with Zacky, and I don't care that you were going to go further than that," he said to his daughter.

"Then why'd you come out to the silo?" She asked her father, confused as he looked up at her with a weird look.

"I always come out here to think, Mandy," he told her, as though she didn't already know. Instead of telling him that she did in fact realize this, she just sat down on another upturned grain bucket when he motioned for her to sit, and he looked at her, this time with a much more serious, yet still somehow tender look before he began speaking again.

"I know you think I'm just some old fart who's going to blow a gasket every time you get involved with a boy. And I especially realize that you were probably expecting me to get the shotgun and threaten Zacky, because of how much older he is than you. And, a couple of weeks ago, you might have been right. Brian didn't get his temper from your mother," he chuckled, causing a smile to form on Mandy's face as she listened to her father. She knew she was about to get one of those long, rambly talks that fathers seemed to love to give, and she was sure she wasn't going to understand anything he said. But for the sake of making him feel as though she did understand what he was saying, she stayed there on the grain bucket and listened as he continued yet again.

"Now, a couple of weeks ago, Zacky came home with Brian from college, and I thought he was going to be like all of those other friends he used to bring home. And had Zacky been like that, chances are I really would have gone and gotten the shotgun, because I don't care how old you are; I don't want you with some punk like that. But Zacky isn't a punk, despite what he looks like, and he has a good heart and a good personality. And I've been watching the way you two communicate with one another for the last several weeks since he got here, and I've come to a conclusion.

"You're in love. Now, neither one of you are going to say it so soon, and you're right for doing so. Love is a strange game to play, Mandy, and it's a fickle matter that can't just be tampered with. I think you and Zacky realize that, and that's why, both of you being the smart people that you are, haven't said those three powerful, but dangerous, words. I want you to think about something before you tell him you love him, Mandy. And think about it hard.

"I want you to think about your heart before you tell him that you love him. Because once you say those words, there's no going back. You can't just take it back, and say that you didn't mean it, and you can't pretend that you didn't say them. Once you tell someone you love them, you're giving them permission to take your heart, and keep it or break it, depending on which way they feel. I've been around long enough to see that he loves you, too, but that he's not ready to say it yet. And that could be a dangerous thing. I don't want you to get hurt, Mandy. If he's not ready to admit that he loves you, don't you dare say it to him. Make him man up and say it first. Because then, he's trusting you with his heart, first. See the pattern? It's a game, albeit a very strange game. This probably doesn't make much sense to you, and I know that, but just think about it, alright?"

Mandy listened to her father's words, not saying a word as he continued to speak. Quite contrary to what he believed, she did understand what he meant. She understood everything that he was saying, and it made sense. She thought about it for a moment, and couldn't help but wonder how her father would notice that they were in love if neither of them had said it to one another yet. She nodded at her father, and they sat there for several minutes in a semi-awkward silence before Brian Sr. cleared his throat, smiling at her.

"Now, why don't you go find Zacky and tell him to get his ass out of the loft? It's gonna get cold up there, and he hasn't come out. He's either scared stiff or has blue balls, and both of them are my fault," he laughed. Mandy blushed at his words, and nodded as she moved to leave the silo, her mind reeling with thoughts and questions about Zacky. If her father was saying that Zacky loved her, was it true? Or was it just a father's observation of a boy that was flirting all the time with his daughter? She didn't know, but Mandy hoped that her father was right. Because the more time she spent with Zacky and the more she allowed him to kiss her, the more she felt her heart growing attached to him.

She just hoped that Zacky could admit what he was feeling as well.
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Hello, everyone. =) Thank you all for sticking with this story; the comments and subscriptions mean a lot, and I appreciate each and every person who's taken time to comment, subscribe to, and read this story. I have a few announcenents, so I'll get straight to them. ^_^

I've written a few one-shots this last week that some of you might be interested in.
Blood On My Hands - Zacky V.
Punishment - Zacky V.
Better Without You - Zacky V.
Under The Mistletoe - Johnny C.
White As Snow - Synyster G.
Open Your Mind - Johnny C. and Mikey Way slash.

Also, I think I told you a few chapters back about a story that I was going to be starting at the end of December/early January. It's called My Pain, Your Thrill. I will be posting the first chapter sometime on Christmas Eve. I'm excited about that story, and I hope some of you enjoy it as well. =)