Time after time
Published Apr 9, 2017

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The three friends sat their bags down as they entered the cabin. There was a small musk of old wood in the air. Kaci took a deep breath and smiled as old memories came back to her.
Kaci: This is perfect.
Lauren: Perfect? Are you sure this is the right place? I thought we were staying in a hotel.
Mira: No. This is it. This is where her grandparents used to bring her when she was little. I told you, we are doing this to make her happy. We ARE her friends.
Lauren: I just didn't really think we would be out in the middle of nowhere. All this for a breakup. I mean couldn't we just get ice cream and cuddle up to some sappy movies for the weekend?
Mira: You are so selfish. Remember what we did for you. Have we forgotten about Randle?
Lauren flung a quick glare at Mira. Her eyes retreated to the wood floor as she stroked her braid.
Kaci: You both know I'm still standing here.
Kaci closed her eyes again. She remembered her and her siblings running through the old cabin while her grandmother cooked the fish that her grandfather caught that morning.
Kaci: I call the master bedroom. If nothing has been changed there should be 3 more bedrooms. Better go unpack.
Lauren: Great. And there is no reception. What am I going to do for my blog? You know my fans can't wait a whole week for me.
Mira rolled her eyes. I brought a hotspot just for you big baby.
Lauren: Thanks. You're the best. Now I think I should take the next biggest room since I have so much stuff.
Mira: Fine. Whatever.
After a long night of movies and dancing in their new vacation spot, the girls woke up to breakfast Kaci had prepared.
Mira: So what is the plan for today?
Kaci: I don't know. I just wanted to take a long hike. Look at the scenery, smell the flowers.
Lauren: Sounds like a lot of work. I want to take a long bath and update my fans on my life in the wild.
Mira: We are not in the zoo Lauren. Just the woods.
Lauren: With all those animals I heard this morning I feel like I'm at the zoo.
After spending time with the girls, Kaci put on her clothes and took a hike deep into the woods. It had been years since she visited the park and most of the area had grown since the last time she was there. She stayed along the path as directed by the park ranger and wandered carefree. It was a big jump from the apartment she had in the city. The sound of vehicles and construction was replaced by birds and the sound of the lake in the background. It was nature at it's finest. Funny, this was the second time, she walked past that post. Or was it the same post? She turned around where she came from and walked in the opposite direction. Only she could not remember how she ended up here in the first place. Was it right or left at the fork? She stayed calm.
Kaci: Come on Kaci. Think!
It was beginning to darken and she did not want to be out alone at night trying to find her way back.
Kaci: I should have taken some bread crumbs.
She took out her phone. No reception.
Kaci: Just Great!
Kaci closed her eyes to ease her worry. She focused, rolling her head back and forth to ease the tension forming in her neck. She could hear a song much different than the normal bird sounds. She walked closer hoping it was something good.
The trees cleared as she followed the voice to the lake. There, a man was standing next to the lake. He was focused on fishing and had not noticed Kaci getting closer. She moved slowly and cautiously.
Kaci: Excuse me...............excuse me sir? Sir!
The man stopped his song and turned to look at the voice from behind him.
He adjusted his eyes. She appeared before him out of nowhere. He did not hear her approach and from how she stood in the light it was as if she was an angelic spirit.
He shaded his eyes so he could get a better look at her. Nope, she was real.
Roman: Yes.
Kaci: Hello.
Roman: Hello.
Kaci: I'm sorry to bother you but I heard you from over there.
Roman: I'm sorry was I too loud?
Kaci: No, no. Actually I'm glad I heard you.
Kaci: See. I'm a little lost. Well actually, I'm a lot of lost. I took a walk and realized I've been going in circles for the past hour.
Roman: First time in the park?
Kaci: No. But it has been a long time since I've been here. I thought I could find my way around. Stupid huh?
Roman: Not at all.
Roman: Well do you stay in the camp ground or the lodges?
Kaci paused for a moment. She realized she was speaking to a complete stranger. What if she gave too much information and he was some crazy psycho. She looked him over trying to find any signs that this would be a bad idea. If he was, he would be the best well groomed psycho she ever met.
Roman repeated himself.
Kaci: In the cabins.
Roman: Then you are not far. If you follow the lake upstream it will take you right into the area.
Kaci: Are you sure?
Roman: There is only one place where the cabins are. The rest are camping grounds.
Kaci: Right
Roman: If you like I can walk you there.
Kaci: No I think I got it.
Roman: I wouldn't mind. Besides, it's getting dark and I'd hate to know that I just let you walk at night alone.
His smile was warm and kind. She looked him over once more trying to decide if it was the right decision or just not.
She hoped to herself that she would not regret agreeing to his hospitality.
Roman: My name is Roman by the way.
Kaci: Kaci. Kaci Foster.
Roman packed his belongings and led Kaci in the direction towards the cabins.
At first the two of them didn't say much during their walk. She made sure to keep a distance in case he was a crazy person. This way she would have a head start at running away.
Roman: Visiting here long?
Kaci: No just for the week. I'm with friends.
Roman: And you left them alone.
Kaci: I wasn't trying. I thought I would only be gone for an hour.
Roman: Every now and then I like to get away from the suburbs and get back to basics so I'm here for a few weeks. Keeps me grounded.
Kaci: Nothing sounds more basic than camping.
She rolled her eyes at how corny she was sounding.
A loud crackle echoed in the trees. Kaci jumped back, bumping into Roman who caught her in mid stumble. He smelled like fresh pine and dirt. She adjusted herself once he loosened his grip. She decided it would be better to walk a little closer to Roman. He tried to hold back his laugh.
Roman: I'm staying at the campground.
Kaci: That's brave of you.
Roman: Like I said. Back to basics. Besides there is a large group of us that come here. The same people from all walks. Good to meet new ones here and there. You should come and visit. Bring your friends.
Kaci couldn't tell if the invitation was genuine or just Roman being nice. She didn't respond but continued to follow and listened as he went on pointing out great nature spots in the park.
Roman took a deep breath of air.
Roman: You smell that?. You can only get air this fresh from nature. No smog, no cars, just you and the earth.
Kaci: You must really like it out here.
Roman: If I could afford to stay here I would. But I have to make a living.
Kaci: What is that?
Roman: Photographer. I do freestyle but mostly weddings, announcements, special events. You name it.
Kaci: Impressive.
Roman: It pays the bills. I get paid to share the milestones in people lives, their loves, their firsts, new additions.
Kaci: Now that puts me to shame. I just your usual tech nerd. I love computers and gaming.
Roman: You are a gamer?
Kaci: You sound surprised.
Roman: You just don't look like the typical gamer. You go to any conventions?
Kaci: At least three a year. I also cosplay from time to time.
Roman laughed out loud.
Roman: Well you can never judge a book by it's cover. And here I thought you would be some city girl, prim, proper, and snobbish. No offense.
Kaci: No but I feel you've met one of my friends.
They shared a laugh more as they continued to walk. She found him strangely easy to talk to. Either she was trying to pass the time away or she really felt good about letting her guard down for someone she had only met moments ago. He felt familiar and comforting like an old friend.
It wasn't long before they made it to the cabin area.
Roman: Here we are? Does any of these look like your cabin?
Kaci: Yeah. We are staying over there.
Roman: Nice. It's big.
Kaci: My grandparents used to rent it out when I was little.
Roman: So you were feeling a bit nostalgic?
Kaci: I guess you can say that. Brings back great memories.
She stared out at the cabin. She knew her roommates would be happy to finally see her. She could feel his eyes on her, burning her cheeks and making her blush. Kaci was afraid to look back at him.

Roman, on the other hand realized he was staring at her a little too long. He couldn't help but wonder what she was thinking about. He tried to muster the words to ask but nothing came out. Would he sound too forward with someone he just met. Was she even equally attracted to him.
Kaci: Thank you again.
She walked to the cabins. But deep inside she wanted him to stop her. She tried to find a reason to say something else to him. She began to look for something along the way. Maybe fake a fall or pretend to have lost something in the dark. Anything to stay out with him a little longer.
Roman: Wait. Kaci
Her name sounded so new coming from his voice.
Kaci smiled to herself and quickly fixed her mouth before turning to him.
Roman: I wanted to know if you have plans for tomorrow.
Kaci: I don't think so.
Roman: Can we meet? I make some really good smores.
Kaci: I like smores.
Roman: Great.
Kaci had no idea what she was doing or why she agreed to have smores with a someone she just met the day before. But here she was walking to meet him just outside the cabin grounds. Roman perked up as he heard the steps get closer to him.
Roman: I'm glad you came.
Kaci: How did you know it was me?
Roman: Your perfume. It was the same you had on last night.
He hoped he didn't sound creepy.
Kaci: So....where are these smores you promised.
Roman: I'd have to take you. They are at the camp.
Kaci: Is that far?
Roman: No but I wanted to take the long route so we can take advantage of such a beautiful night like this.
Kaci: ok.
Roman: If it's too long, I can always carry you.
Kaci laughed.
Kaci: You can't be serious.
Kaci: I can't believe you were serious.
Roman: I'm a man of my word.
Kaci: It has been a long time since I was carried.
Roman: Don't worry we won't be that long.
Kaci held on tight hoping she wasn't too heavy for him.
Moments later they entered the camp where the others were located. It wasn't as wild as Kaci assumed it was. It was a well groomed area lined with tents and picnic tables. As they got closer to the others, Roman introduced her to a few people that were still hanging out near the fire.
Roman: Ready.
Kaci: Sure.
He disappeared to his tent and returned with chocolates and marshmallows.
They sat close to each other on the ground next to the fire. He prepared two sticks for them and placed a marshmallow on each one.
Roman: You know how to do it.
Kaci: I do. I know the basics. Smores are my favorite.
Roman: You haven't had a smore until you've had mine.
Kaci: What's so special.
Roman: You'll see.
Roman: So tell me more about you.
Kaci: I don't know what to say.
Roman: Anything. Where are you from?
Kaci: Originally, I grew up in a small town of less than 2000. Everyone knew everyone.
Roman: Must have been hard getting into trouble.
Kaci: I wasn't that type of kid. You must've been?
Roman: What boy was not. I'm the only child so I was spoiled rotten. Still am. At least from my Dad. Mom is always asking me to give her grandchildren.
Kaci: What do you want?
Roman: I want to travel first. Then once I settle down, marry, I want a good 3-5.
Kaci: I feel sorry for your wife.
Roman: Nope. She will want the same amount of course.
Kaci: Good luck on finding a woman that will give you that many.
Roman: What about you?
Kaci: I never really thought about kids. I need to find the right one first.
Roman: You will. Someone like you will have men waiting to sacrifice anything
Kaci: How do you know?
Roman: I have a good eye for good people. And you are good people.
His eyes on her made her stomach flip. She smiled and tried not to blush.
Kaci: Thank you.
They continued their conversation until the fire died down. The air was getting cooler but she did not want to leave his company. They both knew it was getting late and soon their outing would have to end.
She helped him place his things back in his tent.
Roman: Can I walk you back to your cabin?
Kaci: I'd hope you would
Roman: Oh!
Kaci: I'm not familiar with how to get back
Roman (disappointment): Oh....
Kaci: I did have a great time. Who knew there were so many ways to eat smores.
Roman: I'm happy you did. Maybe we could hang out again some tomorrow night.
Kaci: I can't. Promised my friends I'd do something with them.
Roman: Then afterwards?
Kaci: Well.....okay.
Roman: I know just the thing.
Kaci couldn't believe she was agreeing to spend more time with him. Sure he was nice to be around but she wanted to be cautious and play things safe. He's just being nice.
Roman realized he was staring at her again. He was lost in her face. He closed his eyes briefly. He needed to remember how she looked in this moment. In case he never saw her again, he had to remember her and the night.
Kaci: Are you ready?
Roman: Yep.
It was getting cooler now that they were away from the fire and further into the wooded night. While walking she wove her arms between his. He was glad she was holding on tight to him, even if it was to get warm. She smelled like warm honey and he wondered if she tasted the same.
He shook off the thought.
They both were silent on their walk, listening to nature surround them.
He slowly moved his hand under her free one. He was hesitant at first. He would only allow their fingers to brush against each other to see how she would react. But she didn't move away. This time he placed it under hers and she held it.
The gesture made him smile to himself.
Mira: You're up early.
Kaci: What?
Mira: I didn't think you'd be up after you left out so late last night.
Kaci: How did you know..
Mira: Please. We are not 15 and you are horrible at sneaking out. So who is he?
Kaci: What makes you think I met someone?
Mira: Because we've known each other since we were kids and I know that look. You had the same look for Terrance Pikes in the 5th grade.
Kaci: Oh Please.
Mira: So who is he? A park ranger? You know I love a man in uniform.
Kaci: It's no one.
Mira: Liar.
Kaci: Just some guy I met. That's all. I met him the other day when I got lost.
Mira: And now you sneak away to see him. I don't remember you looking like this for- . I'm just saying.
Kaci: Don't worry. I'm not going to run away with the guy. I've only known him for 48hours. I don't even know much about him.
Mira: Well anyone that can put a look like that on your face in just 48hours I have to meet.
Kaci: Absolutely not.
Mira: C'mon. What if he has some really great friends. Hook a sister up! Stop being selfish.
Kaci: How do you know I'm going to see him again?
Mira: Then hook me up with him.
Mira: Like I thought, You DO like him.
Kaci: NO. It's not like that. He's just a really nice person I met and I want to keep it that way. He's refreshing know who.
Mira: Yeah I do. So is he your rebound guy? Here for a fling then back to reality.
Kaci: MIRA!!
Mira: Oh don't act like people don't do it.
Kaci: I have no intentions of having a fling for the next week that I'm here. Can't I just have a good time with someone without it turning into something more.
Mira rolled her eyes as she raised from the stool.
Mira: If that's what you want to keep telling yourself then fine. I won't stop you. Just make sure whatever this is, that both of you are on the same page.
Kaci didn't respond. She didn't want to speak anymore about Roman. He was a nice person and it had only been a few days that she had known him. She was not in the mood to think about him anymore than just a guy. Nor was she willing to admit that she felt something different for him other than an acquaintance. And the more time she spent with him the more things she wanted to know about him.
It was easy to tell herself that they wouldn't be more than friends. They were both from different places and had different goals in life. But for this week they wanted to be carefree and act as though they were the only two people in the world.
Roman was the outdoorsman. He took Kaci on many excursions throughout the day, teaching her about the park and all its wonders.
He taught her how to fish, Roman style.
Roman: I like to whistle while I fish. I always feel if I whistle that it will summon then closer to the line.
Kaci: Does that actually work?
Roman: I don't know if it works for everyone. But it does for me. My uncle taught me the trick and I've used it ever since.
He began to whistle while waiting for the fish to bite. Feeling a little silly at first, Kaci joined him. Kaci made quiet moments easy. From soaking up the sun to nestling in a hammock, Roman didn't have to try hard to impress her. He could be himself. He held her closer to him and gently brushed her forearm.
Kaci: What are you thinking about?
Roman: How good you feel.
Kaci: Funny. I was thinking the same thing.
Roman: I don't want this moment to end.
She buried her body closer into his arms and listened to his breathing.
Lauren: I am so happy to finally meet you Roman. I feel like we barely see Kaci and this week was for the girls.
Kaci glared at Lauren hoping her expression would give her a hint without telling her.
Roman: I'm sorry if I've been hogging your vacation.
Mira: No. Ignore her please. We are just happy Kaci is happy. We are here to have fun and that's what we are doing.
Lauren: So I hear you are a photographer. You know I dabble a little in that myself.
Mira: Selfies don't count Lauren.
Lauren: Anyway. So where do you plan to go after this?
Roman: I don't know. I plan to stick around for another week before going back to work. I run my own business so I start and stop on my own clock.
Lauren: Wow. I would love to do that some day.
Mira: You need to have a steady job before you can do that.
Lauren: So what are you plans with Kaci?
Kaci: Lo! I can't believe you.
Roman gives a small laugh.
Roman: You really cut to the chase.
Kaci: You don't have to answer the crazy woman.
Roman: It's alright.
Roman: To be honest I don't know. I don't want to rush anything. But I find your friend beautiful inside and out. I just want to get to know her more and whatever we decide to do at the end of this vacation, we will go from there. At the very least, stay in touch. Both of the friends sat listening to him gush over Kaci with compliments. They sat quietly moments after he was done. Then finally Lauren cleared her throat.
Lauren: Wow! Do you have any brothers?
After leaving the party, Kaci and Roman wanted to be alone. She walked with him half the distance back to his camp. They walked slowly to make each moment together longer. All the while holding on to each other and talking about back home. Soon it was time to part ways.
Kacie: You know you didn't have to answer Lauren.
Roman: I wanted to. I wanted to let them know and kind of let you know. We never really talked about us after this trip. So I thought it was a good opportunity to say something without us quite addressing it. I meant what I said. But I want you to know I really like you and wouldn't be opposed if we continued after the vacation to keep in touch.
Kacie was flattered. No one spoke to her like he did. He was confident in his words. It was exciting yet scarey at the same time.
She wasn't sure how to reply so she responded with a big embrace to end the night.
Roman: Goodnight.
She was getting ready to leave when he pulled her waist into him.
Roman: Tell me to stop and I will.
Kacie: I won't
Roman: Good.
She closed her eyes and welcomed him to her lips. It was only a few days before the girls would be going back home to city life. Kaci didn't want to think about it. She enjoyed Roman's company. They sat on the tarp just outside his tent. Sometimes they wouldn't spoke. But the look of his gaze said more than he needed to. He moved the strand of hair that fell over her eyes.
Roman: I have never met anyone like you. I feel like I know you more in a week than people I've known for years.
As the day turned into the night, they laid under the stars.
Kaci: Why don't you have someone back home?
Roman: I just never put in time to date.
Kaci: But yet.
Roman: I know. Here I am with you. And we've spent almost every free moment together. You just make it easy.
He grabbed her hand that was next to his and kissed the bottom of her palm. He brought it close to his heart and held it there.
Roman: This is what you do to me.
It was the end of the week and Roman wanted to make her last weekend special. They met as they had before but this time he presented her with her favorite flower that had been growing wild next to his camp.
Roman: I hope you don't mind taking a hike. I want to take you to the best view in the park.
Kacie: I don't mind.
Roman: Good
The walk was lengthy but well worth the wait. The water drops looked like little crystals as they bounced off the rocks and into the lake. She had never been on the other side of the park before. He set up the basket he brought along the side of the water and they sat and ate lunch while drifting in and out of conversations.
Kacie: This is amazing.
Roman: The sandwiches or the view.
Kacie: {laughing} Both.
Roman: I wish today didn't have to end. I hate this part of going out with you.
Kacie: It doesn't have to be the end. Lauren and Mira went to a party at another cabin. I would be sitting around by myself. Maybe you could stay and keep me company.
Roman met her eyes and they were speaking more than what she said. He gladly followed her into the cabin.
They sat on her bed and began kissing. She leaned him back on top of her and he raised up.
Roman: I really like you Kaci. But we don't have to do anything if you don't want to.
Kaci: I know. But I want to.
She took his face into her palms and continued kissing him.
Roman: I don't want you to think I am one of those types that want to get you in bed and stop coming around.
Kacie: I don't think that at all.
He started to talk again but she placed her finger over his lips and replaced it with her mouth again.
He kissed her neck and back to her mouth. The words were right there at the tip of his tongue. But he couldn't say them. What if it meant ruining the moment. What if she didn't feel the same way. Besides it had only been days that he's known her and to say something like that might frighten her.
Instead he just enjoyed being with her in the moment.

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#1urm0mVIPApr 13, 2017

Thank God you're still writing!

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