Getting to Me

Chapter Eighteen

The next morning, Mandy felt complete. Zacky's arms were still securely wrapped around her waist, his skin warm against her own pale flesh. She cracked her chocolate brown eyes open to look at his sleeping figure, and couldn't help but giggle. Apparently, he still slept in strange positions even while sleeping with another person. His head was tiltedback at an awkward angle, hanging off the end of the pillow with his forehead pressed firmly up against the wooden frame of the headboard. He was turned towards her, and his tongue was hanging out the side of his mouth as he snored softly. The sunlight that was peeking through the green blinds of her bedroom window colored the tattoos that were inked in his skin in even lighter shades, making him seem as if he were more an angel rather than just a mere man who was here in her bed, holding her.

To Mandy, he was an angel. He was the kindest, most sincere man she'd ever dated, and he always made sure to go out of his way to help others. She didn't know what he'd been like before they'd gotten together, but she found that she didn't really care what he'd been like. He was this way with her now, and that was what mattered. He proved that he cared about her, and even if he hadn't told her he loved her yet, it was almost as if she could feel those thoughts radiating off of him. She snuggled closer to him, wanting to be as close as humanly possible, and groaned as her bedroom door cracked open, allowing her mother and younger sister to look into the room.

"See, Mom? I told you he was in here," McKenna's annoyed voice said as she looked into the room. Mandy's mother chuckled as she looked into the bedroom, watching her oldest daughter and her son's friend sleeping in one another's arms. They looked like she felt every night she fell asleep with her own husband. They looked in love. You'd have to be blind not to see it, Suzy thought to herself, and that was exactly what both Mandy and Zacky were. She had a feeling neither one of them had admitted that they loved one another yet.

"We'll leave them be," Suzy told her youngest child, grabbing her hand and pulling Mandy's bedroom door closed again, leaving them alone in the bedroom once again. Mandy couldn't help but yawn as she stretched out, causing Zacky's sleeping form to shift as he slowly opened his own eyes, meeting her gaze. It took him a few moments to realize that he was actually asleep in his girlfriend's bed with her, but when he was awake to realize that that was exactly what was going on, a huge grin broke out on his face as he looked down at her. Mandy was the first girl he'd ever made it through the night with sleeping and not having sex, and he was proud of himself for it. He honestly did love her, even if he hadn't said that to her yet.

"What's that grin for?" Mandy asked him, teasingly poking his chest as he kissed her cheek. He would refrain from kissing her lips until he'd had a chance to get up and brush his teeth out, and he knew that she would probably appreciate that. No one liked morning breath, after all.

"Just the fact that I realized that I woke up next to the most beautiful girl in the world," he told her in a slightly husky voice as he lowered his mouth to her cheek again, his lips moving closer to her lips. He groaned, not wanting to gross her out with a disgusting kiss, so he got up and looked down at her from where he stood. "I'l lbe right back. I gotta go to the bathroom," he told her before ducking out of her bedroom and walking down the hall towards the bathroom.

Mandy watched as he walked out of her room, and couldn't help but feel like the luckiest girl on the planet. She had never been called beautiful before and truly believed it. Sure, the other boys she'd dated, like Roy, had told her she was beautiful. But they'd only meant it as a way to get into her pants. When Zacky said it, it made her world stop, her heart pound erratically in her chest, and her mind spin. She honestly believed him, and she knew that he meant it.

He came back into her room a few moments later and laid down on the mattress beside her once again, pulling the blankets up to cover their bodies once again. For once, he was going to make Mandy just lay down and relax for a bit before getting up to take care of the horses, feed the cattle, and other farm chores that she always had to wake up bright and ealry to do. And Mandy didn't mind that. She let Zacky pull her up against his chest once again, and smiled as he pressed his lips to her temple.

"Your Mom saw us in here, didn't she?" He murmured into her ear, looking down at her eyes. She blushed, and then nodded, biting her bottom lip as he kept his gaze firmly on hers.

"Yeah, she was just going to leave us be for a bit," she answered him. She was curious that, if he knew that her mother and little sister had seen them sleeping in the bed, if he'd also noticed her watching him while he slept, but she wasn't going to ask him. He chuckled and nodded, before leaning her lips towards hers, prying her mouth open to him and delving into it with his tongue. It was the most passionate wake-up kiss that Mandy had ever shared with someone, but she found that it was also one of the best. She knew that she had morning breath, but it didn't seem to matter to Zacky. She chuckled when she realized he'd gotten up to go to the bathroom to brush his teeth, probably for this specific purpose, and shifted their positions on her mattress so that she was laying on top of him, her chest pressed to his, and her legs between his as she rested her head in between the crook of his shoulder and his neck. His arms came up to wrap around her waist, and he held her there, not wanting to let her go.


Zacky and Mandy spent another hour or so after Suzy had woken them up just laying in bed with their arms wrapped around one another. They both had to get out of bed eventually to do their respective chores, but those didn’t take long, and soon they were cuddled up on the couch in the living room, not watching the TV, but instead watching the snow fall outside the picture window.

McKenna and Suzy had gone to Dickinson to do some grocery shopping, and Brian Sr. was working on moving the neighbor’s cattle to a different section. That left Mandy and Zacky at the house alone.

As he watched the snow falling from the white-blue sky, Zacky wanted nothing more than to just blurt out to Mandy how he was feeling. Everything seemed like it was the perfect timing; everything was right. The corn-burning fireplace in the corner of the room made the atmosphere warm and cozy, and the snow was a perfect holiday backdrop for telling someone that you loved them for the first time. He tried several times to speak, but ended in just choking on his words as he looked at the oldest Haner girl with a blush on his cheeks. She giggled at his attempt to speak, and touched the side of his face gently with her hand. She, too, wanted to tell Zacky that she loved him. But her father’s words rang throughout her head every time she was going to, and she refrained. Her father was a smart man, and he knew what he was talking about when it came to stuff like that.

“Cat got your tongue, Zacky?” She asked him in a teasing tone as she scooted closer so that she was sitting on his lap, her legs straddling him so that her chest was close to his, their mouths even closer than that as she met his frustrated gaze. She could tell that he was struggling to tell her something, and she frowned, wondering if it was something that she probably wouldn’t want to hear.

“Mandy, I…” Zacky started again, reaching up to push some hair out of her chocolate-brown eyes, a soft smile on his face telling her that what he was trying to say wasn’t something bad. “Goddamn it, why can’t I say this?” He asked himself after several more long moments spent trying to speak.

She knew what it was like to not be able to tell someone something you really wanted to say, and she gave him an understanding look as she pressed her lips to his in a chaste, brief kiss that told him everything that she hoped would give him the confidence to tell her what he was trying to get out. “I don’t bite, Zacky,” she smirked as she bit her bottom lip between her teeth, moving her hands to his shoulders and kneading the skin there softly for several moments. “You can tell me whatever it is you want to say.”

“I’m just worried that you’re not going to say the same thing back,” he confessed, meeting her gaze with a slight bit of apprehension in his eyes. “I don’t want to fuck up what we have, even if it’s not much, and I’m afraid that if I tell you this, you’re gonna run away or something.”

“I won’t run away,” she told him, shaking her head as she put her hands on the side of his own face, making him meet her gaze. “I promise.”

Zacky felt his heart swell with indescribable emotion as he looked into Mandy’s eyes. The chocolate-caramel swirls of her irises were a perfect mirror of his own feelings, and he knew that she felt the same, even if she hadn’t said so yet. He took a deep breath as he reached up to his face and grabbed her hands in his own, pulling them down to rest between them while he looked at her, his gaze never wavering as he licked over his bottom lip, a small smile on his face while he began to speak.

“Awhile ago, I told you that you were getting to me. That doesn’t even come close to what I feel anymore. I’ve never had these types of feelings about anyone I’ve ever known before. I’ve never really dated a girl and meant it. I’ve always thought that I was going to be the ‘love ‘em and leave ‘em’ type of guy for my whole life, but you…Mandy, you changed that,” Zacky spoke quietly, his voice rushed as he met her gaze, urgency and desperation mixed into his green eyes. Mandy gasped at his words, and he felt her hands shaking in his, but she didn’t say anything as he continued.

“You’re the most beautiful girl I’ve ever known, Mandy. I really mean that. Inside and out; there’s no part of you that’s not absolutely beautiful. You always have a smile on your face, even if you’re pissed off or upset about something. You always make time for other people. You work here at the ranch, and you have a job, and yet you still have time for college, too. And for some reason I can’t figure out, you’ve decided that dating me is worth your time. After saying all of that, there’s only one thing left that I can say,” he stopped for a moment, licking over his bottom lip nervously as he met Mandy’s gaze once again, starting to speak. “Mandy Haner, I love you. I know it’s really soon, because we’ve only been together for a few—”

Mandy cut him off with a loud gasp, and then pushed her lips up against his, her arms moving to snake around his neck and pull him as close to herself as she could possibly get him. Right now, all she wanted was for him to know that she felt the exact same way about him. She hadn’t ever thought that Zacky would tell her that he loved her first, but now that he had, there was no stopping her from telling him those three little words, too.

“I love you too,” she breathed against his lips, opening her eyes to meet his gaze as an excited giggle fell off of her lips. Her entire body felt as if she were a ball of electricity. It was like the only two things in the universe right now were herself and Zacky, and the love that they had just confessed to. Everything about it was crazy, by all means. In today’s world, no one fell in love in under a month. But Mandy and Zacky had, and it was the truest kind of love one could feel for another.

“You have no idea how glad I am that you said that,” he murmured into her neck, hugging her tightly as tears of relief began forming in his eyes. He couldn’t believe that she felt the same about him. Never in a million years had he thought that she would.

“You don’t have to stay in Brian’s bedroom anymore,” she told him, grabbing his hands and lacing their fingers together. “You’re welcome to stay in my room.”

Zacky nodded, holding her fingers tightly as she repositioned her body so that she was laying her head against his chest. “I’d like that,” he murmured against her hair. And just as they had before their conversation, he and Mandy went back to watching the snow.