by Laura Hamby
Beth's breath caught in her chest when Caleb, by way of answer, kissed her. She melted against him and nearly turned into a puddle when he put his arms around her. His hands splayed over her back, burning his fingerprints into her skin. The kiss had to end, but she didn't want it to, oh, how she didn't want that.
"I'll get the sleeping bags," she whispered. Her voice wobbled and she hoped her legs wouldn't do the same when she had to walk.
"I don't think we're going to need them tonight," Caleb replied.
So much for remaining in a non-puddle-ified state.
Any morning-after awkwardness that might've plagued Beth left her alone this fine, crisp morning. She attributed that to Caleb's tender manner and the way they greeted the dawn. If she wore a funny little smile and hummed a tune under her breath all day, who did that hurt? From the goodbye kiss they shared before they left the cabin, Beth was certain Caleb wore a funny little smile all day too.
The days passed, and before they knew it, Thanksgiving was a day away. The entire living history complex closed at four in the afternoon, rather than at five, to allow all the exhibit's participants to have a pre-Thanksgiving meeting in an atmosphere unconstrained by the colonial time period. They came away with a holiday meal planned and the work divided up between all those with the facilities to cook.
"Have you ever roasted a turkey on a spit?" They held hands on their stroll to the cabin, and Caleb swung them back and forth.
"Are you kidding? My mother has double ovens. A ginormous turkey goes in one, an equally ginormous ham in the other. Nothing as messy as a spit over an open fire. It's not sanitary."
"Amazing you grew up to be so normal," Caleb teased.
"Which makes me the family odd duck. I'm dreading the end of the month. I don't want to leave here and go back to the life I had before."
"What do you want, then?"
"This." She swept her free arm to indicate the living history museum. "I've finally found something I'm good at."
"And it has the added bonus of making your family crazy. Speaking of your family, don't look now."
Beth sighed. "Looks like she's wearing her Determined Face. I bet she's hired someone to kidnap and take me some place to deprogram me."
"Hello, honey. Nancy has your things all packed. You just missed Dad. He's taking your suitcase to the car."
"We've had this discussion, Mother. I can't leave until the end of the month. Signed a contract, remember?" She glared at Nancy, who looked all too smug standing there behind their mother.
"Nonsense. It's Thanksgiving tomorrow. A family holiday. You don't honestly expect us to just carry on without you, do you? We've never had a single Thanksgiving without the entire family present, Elizabeth, and I'm not about to let it happen this year just because you took a stupid, ill-considered job."
"Greetings, neighbors. George came in from milking the cow and mentioned you were standing outside your house. All is well?" 'Mr. Oterel' held up a covered hurricane lamp.
"Out of town guests," Caleb replied. "Trying to kidnap my wife."
"Please. Elizabeth is not your wife. You're only acting. This is the most ridiculous---"
"They stole my belongings," Beth said.
"Oh, for heaven's sake."
Caleb invaded the older woman's space. "Return Beth's satchel now and go home."
"Young man, I don't know who you think you are, but I will not be spoken to in that manner."
"I'm your future son-in-law," Caleb replied. "And I'm afraid I have to insist you treat Beth with the same courtesy and respect you demand."
"Just how do you think you'll enforce that?" her mother blustered.
"Beth, wanna move to California with me?" Caleb asked over his shoulder.
"Sounds great," Beth agreed. "I've always wanted to see the Pacific Ocean."
"Any more questions?" Caleb took a step back. "Just have Beth's father bring her things and leave them by the door. Happy Thanksgiving." He took Beth's hand and all but dragged her into the cabin.
"My prince in shining armour." She giggled. "That look on Mother's face was priceless. Wish I'd had a camera."
"Don't worry, honey. I'm sure she'll be wearing that expression a lot when I'm around."
Beth just giggled and giggled.