"I cant believe youre carving our initials into this tree, Mister Dailey," Katherine teased playfully, and touched the top of his head. Her eyes followed the traces of muscles flexing against his black shirt as he jabbed the blade into the tree.
Austen immediately dropped the knife to his side and looked at her. Her long brown hair blew lightly in the breeze and the sun illuminated her very being. "Did you want me to stop?" he asked.
She smiled with love and softly replied, "No. I think its sweet."
"I think youre sweet, Miss Johns." His mouth crooked into a smile and her heart fluttered. Katherine had loved Austen for as long as she could remember. There were times she felt as though breathing took more effort than being with him did. Their mothers had been close friends and so Katherine, Austen, Taylor, and Blake had always been together.
Katherine looked around from her seat in the tree and caught glimpses of her home in the distance. It was almost completely hidden from view behind the magnolia trees, their magnificent branches draped with long gray wisps of Spanish moss.
The main house was two spacious stories of wood painted a brilliant white with dark blue plantation shutters that framed each window. The front of the house had five snowy marble columns that spanned from the veranda all the way to the roof perched above the second floor.
The first level was a wide veranda with steps that led to the wide, double-door entry. The second floor had a balcony that matched and spanned the length of the house. Thats where Katherine spent most of her time. She often enjoyed the warmth of southern evenings and wrote letters to Austen by lamplight while she gazed at the stars.
"All done." Austen smiled and lifted Katherine with ease out of the tree. He gently set her on the ground to admire his handiwork.
She smiled when she saw AD + KJ surrounded by a heart. She traced the carving with her finger, feeling every bump and rivet in the trees bark.
"May I kiss you?" he asked her politely.
"I dont know, Mister Dailey. Do you deserve it?" She toyed with him, but he didnt mind.
"I most certainly think so. I just spent a good, what..." He glanced at his pocket watch before continuing, "twenty minutes carving our initials into this here tree so the whole world could see how much I love you."
"Well then," she smiled. "You may."
He laughed as he grabbed her by the waist and pulled her close. His lips touched hers softly at first before the kiss grew in intensity. The connection between them was so raw and instinctual, they almost couldnt control it. It had always existed between them, so they never questioned it. To Austen and Katherine, the way they felt about each other was just the way it was supposed to be. They didnt know any differently.
Footsteps crunched against fallen leaves in a hurried pace. Austen gently pulled his lips away. He held Katherines face in his hands as Cooper ran up, breathless. "Ive been looking for you everywhere, Aus. Somethings going on in town with Danny. We need to go."
Cooper glanced at Katherine; the slightest hint of jealousy flickered in his worried green eyes. "Afternoon, Katherine," he said politely, as he tipped his hat.
"Afternoon, Cooper." She smiled sweetly at her boyfriend's best friend.
Austen looked at Katherine and with one last kiss promised, "Ill be right back."
He turned back to Cooper.
Before the Dreams- Coming Fall 2012