2 years later:
"Ryleigh! I thought I'd find you here!" I looked up to see Lynette walking toward me.
"Mrs. Hayes, I didn't expect to see you today."
"We need to talk."
"Ok, give me 10 minutes, I'll lock up the store and we can go talk."
I've been back in Louisiana for 2 years now. Hunter and I have been dating in secret ever since I left. A year and a half ago, I got so bored that I bought a cheap, old abandoned store in New Orleans and began to fix it up. It has now transformed into my own little nail salon and spa. When I bought the building, it came with the downstairs store space as well as the upstairs apartment. It was in terrible shape when I bought it, paint was peeling, floors looked awful. Everything looked like it was falling apart. So, I spent the first 6 months repairing, repainting, pretty much everything needed to be replaced or fixed. I finished painting, replacing the flooring and everything that needed to be done in the apartment, while I was staying in the Hayes family's guest room. As soon as that apartment was updated, everyone in town who already knew I was back in town, was helping to furnish my apartment. I ended up only having to purchase my own bed. Soon I was moving into my new place where I continued to update the store.
My new salon and spa has a fresh lavender paint color on the walls as well as laminate flooring that looks like dark hardwood. There's also a brand-new front counter that's dark wood as well, so it looks like an extension of the floor. I've installed 4 foot bath stations and 4 hand stations.
Now, I have 5 young ladies working for me, so now I usually run the register unless it's really busy. Finally, I let the 3 that were working that day go home, latched the door behind them and turned around saying,
"So, what did you want to talk about?"
"Hunter called last night. He's coming back home in a couple days and I thought maybe you'd want to surprise him and show up," Lynette told me.
"I'd love to! He doesn't know I'm in New Orleans now, does he?"
"You didn't tell him?"
"It just never came up. We've talked on the phone, but not as often as I'd have liked. I don't know, it just never crossed my mind to mention. I mean, it's not like I lied to him, I told him I was going home to Louisiana. And I did. Anyway, I'd love to surprise him. When is he getting here?"
"He's coming in at the end of the week. Saturday, to be exact. He said he should be getting here at around 1 in the afternoon."
"I'll be there," I promised her.
Before I knew it, it was Saturday. My Iphone alarm rang at exactly 8am. I sat up and stretched just before I stood up and walked over to my closet. I browsed through until I picked out my favorite dark wash jeans and hot pink flowing tunic top. From there I went into the bathroom where I proceeded to get into the shower.
20 minutes later, I was dressed and stepping out of the bathroom. I walked into the kitchen, grabbed a quick bite to eat and went out the door, locked it and moved downstairs to open the salon for the day. I went over to the front counter where I browsed the appointment book to see how many were scheduled for today. At 9:30am I unlocked the front door and went back to the counter to wait for someone to come in.
Finally, just before 10, one of my regulars walked in.
"Ryleigh, do you have time to fit me in today?"
"Absolutely, Rebekah, you want the usual today?"
While I was helping her, Kate and Sarah, two of the girls who work for me, came in for their shifts. And I left at 11:30, knowing I could make it to Breaux Bridge by 1:30.
My drive back to my hometown was uneventful. I spent it listening to my favorite country radio station. As I pulled into the outskirts of the town, I cranked up the volume on my current new favorite song, 'Girl in a Country Song'. I turned the volume down again as I turned onto my old street. I pulled into my parents' driveway first. I had called them on my drive and they insisted that I should stop in before surprising Hunter.
The door opened and my mom said, "Ryleigh! You're here!" She threw the door open wide and grabbed me into a hug.
Once she let go, we were inside the house and my dad and sister were joining in on the group hug. Finally, we all sat down in the living room and started talking. Towards the end of the conversation, my mom said,
"What ever happened to you and Hunter? The two of you used to spend every possible minute together."
I couldn't get any words out, so, Layla cut in,
"Mom, that's... There is a reason for that, but it's complicated. And the two of them are really the only people who know the whole story. I really don't think we need to push Ryleigh for an explanation."
She finally agreed and I pulled my sister out onto the front porch swing where I told her,
"Thank you for piping in back there. I didn't really think they'd ask about him."
"You're welcome. What is going on with you and Hunter, by the way? You haven't talked to me about him recently. And he hasn't come home in quite a while, has he?"
"No, he hasn't been here for a while. We talk on the phone occasionally, but not as often as I'd have liked."
"But, do you still love him?"
"Yeah, I do. But with Libby still in the picture, there's nothing I can do about it. Layla, I've known him since we were babies. That kind of connection doesn't just go away."
"I know. We've both known him for a long time." Before she could say anymore, her phone rang. She looked at the screen to see who was calling and said,
"Ryleigh, it's him."
"But why would he call you? Wait, cause I left my phone in my car." She pushed 'answer' and said,
"Hey, Hunter, what's up?"
"Hey, is Ryleigh there? I need to talk to her. I tried calling her but she didn't answer."
"Yeah, she's sitting right next to me on our parents' porch." She passed me the phone and went back inside.
"Ryles? Mom told me you were coming over to surprise me. But when she saw who came too, she knew she had to say something. I would have loved you to come even if it meant a surprise, you know that. But, Ryles, she insisted on coming with me. Libby's inside this house trying to convince my parents that she loves me."
"Ok, I won't come over then. I was looking forward to seeing you, though."
"I didn't say you wouldn't. Do your parents still have the swing in their backyard?"
"Yes, they do. Why?"
"I'll get out of here. Libby doesn't know where you live, so she should believe it when I tell her I'm going out for a walk."
"Alright, I'll be waiting."