Getting to Me

Chapter Twenty-One

Before one of them realized it, it was Christmas Eve, and the house was bustling with activity. Brent had begrudgingly agreed to stay for Christmas dinner and part of Christmas Day, but then he was going back to his friend’s house. Brian wasn’t too happy about that, because of how serious he was about wanting the family to be together for the holidays. Brian Sr. convinced him to just let Brent do his own thing for awhile, and Brian had stormed out of the house to cool down his temper a little bit.

Suzy was busy cooking in the kitchen with Michelle. It turned out that Brian had picked a good cook for the mother of his child, because from what that Mandy had tested from the kitchen so far, everything tasted absolutely amazing. Her father was helping McKenna do some last-minute things with some gifts that hadn’t yet been wrapped.

Zacky and Mandy were both staying in the horse barns on constant shifts to watch Sheba. She’d gone into labor early that morning with the foal, and Mandy was worried sick about her horse. She stayed with her to ensure that she’d be there when the baby animal was born. That was where Mandy was at now. She was leaning up against the wall, her knees pulled to her chest as she watched the horse take deep breaths that came out sounding like grunts. She looked up when she heard the door slide open, and smiled when she saw her boyfriend walking into the stall, two mugs of cocoa in his hands.

“Your Mom sent these out for us,” he smiled as he sat next to her. He hissed a little in pain as some of the hot liquid spilled onto his bare hand, but handed her one of them nonetheless as he sat next to her on the ground. They both watched Sheba silently for several long minutes, both of them amazed. While Mandy had seen horses give births before, this was the first time that her horse had had a baby, and she felt just as nervous as she imagined Sheba must.

“Are Brent and Brian arguing yet? Bri told me he was going back up to the house a few minutes ago,” she said as she reached over to hold his hand. She let her head fall against his shoulder, and smiled when he let his own head rest on top of hers. She imagined that they must look sickly cute together, but that didn’t matter. Not to her, and she didn’t think it mattered to Zacky either.

“Not really. Brian just kind of ignored him,” Zacky shrugged as he lifted his head to look down at her. “I’m glad I get to spend Christmas with your family, though. I mean, I’ve had good Christmases in the past too, but…I can’t say that I’ve ever spent it with a girl I was completely in love with,” he smirked.

Mandy blushed at Zacky’s words, and then lifted her head to press her lips softly against his. He wanted to deepen the kiss, but he knew that a barn stall with a horse in labor wasn’t the right place, and so he settled for a soft kiss before he pulled his head back and rested it on her shoulder.

Several moments of a comfortable silence passed between the two of them before Mandy spoke. “I love you, Zacky,” she told him before biting her bottom lip, a smile on her face when he snaked his free arm around her. Even in spite of the subzero temperatures outside, hearing those words made him feel warm.

“I love you too, Mandy,” he told her. The two of them settled into another long stretch of comfortable silence, Sheba’s labored breathing and the sounds of their cocoa being sipped at the only sounds in the room.


Later that night, Brian Sr. managed to get everyone around the large dining room table. Brent and Brian were sitting as far away as possible from each other, and McKenna insisted on having her dog sit with her on her lap. Mandy could see that she was sneaking the little ball of fluff bites of her food, mostly the fatty parts of the roast that Suzy had made for them. Michelle had taken a seat next to Brian, and Zacky and Mandy sat next to one another. Suzy and Brian Sr. took the ends of the tables.

“Does anyone in particular want to say grace?” Brian Sr. asked, looking around at everyone. Mandy expected him to just go ahead and say it like usual, but Zacky raised his head and looked at him.

“Actually, if you don’t mind sir, I would like to say it tonight…” He muttered, almost as if he was embarrassed by wanting to say the dinner prayer. Brian Sr. nodded, and then everyone reached to grab their neighbor’s hands while Zacky began to speak.

“Uh…I’m not really sure how to start this off since I’m not really a devout follower, so I’ll just say ‘hey God,” he said, his cheeks tinting red before he continued. “I just wanted to say thank you for the amazing food that you’ve got set out in front of us on the table, and thank you that we can be gathered as friend and family around the table for Christmas. I also wanted to say thank you for giving me, personally, a girl that I’ve fallen completely head over heels for. I think that’s it, so I guess this is where I say ‘amen,’” he said before raising his head.

By the end of her boyfriend’s short prayer, Mandy’s face was redder than it had been in a long while. Though, she thought to herself, it wasn’t an embarrassed kind of blush. It was the kind of blush you got when you were around someone that made your stomach tie itself in knots; the kind of blush that formed when you knew you loved someone. Zacky noticed her heated face, and kissed her cheek softly before everyone started passing their plates around to get food dished up on them.

The meal went by without much drama happening. Brian and Brent would make small quips at each other, but neither Suzy nor Brian Sr. said anything, so it wasn’t too big of a deal to anyone else. McKenna put the puppy down on the ground when it came time for dessert, because she didn’t want him getting any of the chocolate crumbs. Not much was spoken while they ate the chocolate cake. Zacky and Mandy had started to hold hands underneath the table by this point, and though everyone knew that they were, no one said anything. When the food was finished, Mandy helped her mother and younger sister, along with Michelle, clean the dishes and put them away before finally, everything was settled. When Mandy turned to walk into the foyer to get dressed to check on Sheba, she saw Zacky rummaging around underneath of the tree for something. She’d already told him that he wasn’t going to be opening his present from her until the morning, so she didn’t know what he was looking for. She shrugged, and continued pulling the large overalls on top of her clothes before jumping when a pair of arms wrapped around her.

“Mind if I come to check on her with you?” Zacky’s voice asked into her ear softly. She smiled and turned around in his arms, pressing her lips to his before she pulled away with a smile on her face.

“Of course you can come check with me,” she told him. He nodded and started pulling his own winter clothes on over his sweater and jeans. When he had finished getting dressed, the two of them made their way out into the barn. Mandy walked quickly to get to the barn, and grinned when she saw that the birthing process had started already.

Zacky walked up behind her and looked into the stall. He couldn’t help but feel amazed at what was happening in the stall in front of him. Sheba was standing, and the foal’s hooves and the top of its nose had exited from her body. Mandy stood, watching, because her father had told her to let Sheba do it on her own if possible. The horse didn’t seem to have much trouble, and it only took another ten minutes after that for the foal to entirely pop out of Sheba. There was enough straw on the ground for it to land safely and softly, and when Zacky turned to look at Mandy, she had tears in her eyes.

“That was amazing,” she told him quietly as she leaned her head on the stall, watching as Sheba and her foal bonded for several minutes, the umbilical cord still transferring blood that the foal would need to survive. It was true that Mandy had seen other horse births, but Sheba’s was special. She had chosen the stallion that had bred her horse, and it had been Mandy who’d been there for all the shots and check-ups that Sheba had needed from the vet for the last three hundred days. It had been much like taking care of a pregnant human, and she felt as if she’d just seen her own child born.

“I’ve never seen anything like it,” Zacky nodded. He too was in awe, having never seen an animal give birth like that. He wrapped his arm around Mandy and she rested her head on his shoulder while they watched the two animals. “Do you know what you’re going to name it?” He asked. She shook her head, a smile on her face.

“Not yet. I’m going to get to know him first,” she said as she looked up at Zacky. She was glad to see that he was just as amazed at what had just happened as she was. Before, none of her boyfriends had ever been interested in sticking around a farm like she had. She loved this place, and she was never going to be able to give up her horses and the farm for a big city. It was nice to visit places like Fargo and Bismarck every once in awhile, but it would never be home. Zacky seemed to understand that. She couldn’t help but wonder if they had a forever kind of love.
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Hello, everyone. ^_^ I have some new stories coming out, and I thought I'd link to them in case any of you are interested. =)
Wrong Way - Feat. Zacky V.
Here In My Heart - Feat. Zacky V.
The Stars Lie - Feat. Matt Sanders
The Marriage Counselor - Feat. Zacky V.
And I'm also doing a new co-write with some friends of mine, Dasha and Jess called Danger Line that will be about all of the guys.