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Nick was glad when Saturday finally rolled around. He welcomed the distraction and knew he would be able to have a good time. Driving to Emma’s, he stopped and picked up some coffee. He pulled in a few minutes early to find her waiting on the front porch. She stood up and Nick couldn’t help but stare as she walked down. Her brown hair was pulled up into a ponytail and she was bundled up in a sweatshirt. He wouldn’t ever admit it to Howie or J, but he had to agree that Emma was really pretty.

“Hey stranger.” Emma said with a smile.

She climbed into the truck and got herself settled. Once she was done, Nick handed her one of the coffees he had bought.

“What’s this?”

“A medium French vanilla with extra cream and three sugars.”

Emma’s mouthed dropped open. “How did you know what I order?”

“I remember you telling the story about how someone messed up your coffee and it threw your whole day off. Did I get it wrong?”

“No, it’s perfect. You just surprised me.”

Nick grinned. “Glad I can do that!”

“You definitely can.”

Emma sipped the coffee as she gave him directions to the farm. They decided to go apple picking first and then find the pumpkin patch and apple cider. The hayride would be saved for last so it would be dark enough to be scary. When they pulled in, there were tons of excited little kids and some harried parents.

“Wow.” Nick said. “This is crazy.”

Emma smiled. “This is awesome. Make sure you put on your baseball cap though. We don’t want a riot if someone recognizes you.”

“Absolutely not. I just want to enjoy myself today.”

“I’ll make sure you do.”

Emma linked her arm through his and led him down the path to the apple orchard. Nick offered to carry the basket and reach up to grab any apples she couldn’t. Most of the time, he just watched Emma run back and forth between the trees looking for the perfect apples. She had this amazing smile on her face and it reminded him of the a little kid’s face. Her eyes lit up as if this was her first time.

“How often do you do this?” Nick asked when she stopped to add some apples to the barrel.

“Every year.”

“Every year?”

“Yup.” Emma answered with a smile. “Fall has always been my favorite time of year and doing this reminds me of all the times my parents took me.”

“Do they live around here?”

“No, they moved to Florida a few years ago. It was getting too cold for them. I offered to have them live with me but I think they like their independence too much.”

Nick chuckled. “How did Jessie’s feel about that?”

Her eyes darkened slightly. “He hated the idea. It almost split us up.”

“Oh, I’m sorry.”

The clouds in her eyes passed and her smile came back. “There are a few more trees down back that I want to check out before we head back to the barn.”

Nick followed her down and watched as she surveyed all of the trees. She was just about to pick one of them when an apple came crashing down on her head.

“Ow!” Emma cried as she put her hand onto her head.

Nick rushed over and set down the basket.

“Let me see.”

He pushed her hand down and ran his hand over her hair. There was a large knot forming but he didn’t see any blood.

“I think I just hit the trifecta.” Emma said as she rubbed her head.

Nick laughed. “Nope, not yet. In order for it to be the trifecta, I actually have to save you before something happens.”

“Good to know.” Emma said with a smile.

“I think you have enough apples now. We should probably head back and check out the pumpkins.”

Without thinking, he reached out his hand for hers and she took it after a few seconds. She nodded and followed him to the pumpkin patch. They spent an hour searching for a few pumpkins that would be good for carving. Once they had what they needed, they checked out and stowed all the stuff in the back of Nick’s truck.

Making their way back, they purchased tickets for the hayride and got in line with a few other people. Emma noticed that most of them were couples and it made her sad that she wasn’t able to enjoy these things with someone she loved. Nick was great company but it’s not like they were together.

The wagon finally pulled up in front of the barn. Nick and Emma got stuck with the end seats on both sides of the wagons. The couples didn’t want to be split up and since there were seven seats on each side, that meant they couldn’t sit together. The driver got the horses going and they started through the corn fields. There were small scenes cut into each of the fields and the workers elicited screams from each of the passengers. Once they were sufficiently scared, the driver would pull through to the next scene.

“Is it always like this?” Nick asked, leaning in towards Emma.

“Always!” Emma said with a smile. “That’s why I like them so much.”

Pulling into the next scene, Nick turned to get a look at what was behind him. As the workers backed away into the field, he turned back around and caught a glimpse of something behind Emma’s back. The wagon started forward and he got a better view.


Before Nick could get his warning out, one of the workers pulled the rope on a chainsaw. Emma was so startled that she jumped up and was caught off guard by the moving wagon. She started to fall over the back gate and someone yelled at the driver to stop. All she could do was brace for the impact.