After having been on the road for over a year with just a couple of extremely short visits home, today marked the first day of their two-week break. Home for Christmas. Home for New Year’s. Before it started all over again.
Will knew the vacation would vanish with a click of fingers, but that was fine. Two weeks should be long enough for him to accomplish what he wanted.
The months of being on the road and performing didn’t show on Kayla. Her green eyes glittered and she threw her head back and laughed at something Jasper, the third in their trio, said. She caught Will’s eye and winked and he wondered if she had the slightest idea of what that did to him. He smirked and looked out the window at the slowly falling snow that looked as though someone had shaken a snow globe. The bus ambled toward home, up the West Virginia mountains to the little town they had grown up in.
Kayla sat beside him, leaned in, drew a heart and for a moment, he held his breath, but she wrote “home” in the middle of the heart. He squeezed his eyes shut.
“I’m so excited,” she said. “We had one day home last year. Everyone’s going to be there.”
“I hear Blake’s going to be there, too,” Jasper said.
Kayla’s body tensed and Will’s heart clutched. After two years, Blake’s name still had that effect on her. She settled back against the seat and he did what he always did. He entwined his fingers with hers and rubbed his thumb over her smooth skin.
“He doesn’t affect me anymore,” she said.
“I’m lucky to have you as my best friend,” she said.
“I know.” Best friend. Knife to chest.
“What about me?” Jasper asked.
Kayla laughed. “Good question. What about you?”
Jasper’s face fell, but she reached forward and planted a kiss on his cheek and he chuckled. “I know you love me best.”
The bus eased into the parking lot of the Thurmount Chamber of Commerce where a group of relatives, friends, and fans stood, bundled up against the cold and holding signs that said: Welcome Home Thurmount Trio!
Kayla’s big, twinkling laugh sounded again and Will found himself smiling, thinking that there could definitely be worse things in life than being the best friend of Kayla Ford and maybe, just maybe, one day she would see him, really see him, and decide that being best friends wasn’t enough. She stood up, shrugged into her red wool coat that seemed to make her hair gleam like fire. She wound her arm through his and pretty much dragged him with her through the bus.
When the door opened, she stood there just an instant, an effect that for someone else would have seemed forced, but he knew she was catching her breath before she yelled her trademark “Hey, y’all!”
Everyone “whooped” in return.
Will shook his head, grinned, and followed her into the crowd. Men slapped him on the back and women placed sloppy kisses on his cheek, when they were tall enough to reach. Over their heads, he saw Kayla begin to disappear, but she looked back at him, one last time, and winked.
It wasn’t everything, but it was something.