Chapter 1 [Kent Farmâ€”early March]
The western Kansas prairie still lingered under winterâ€™s chill on that day. While only a few splotches of white dotted the grasslands, the sunâ€™s light didnâ€™t do much to warm its denizens. A few songbirds whistled from their perches in anticipation of promised warmth.
Inside of the barn, Clark worked at his chores. While the fields didnâ€™t need work and the fences were okay for the moment, he wanted to make sure everything was done right for his parents. Heâ€™d already milked the cows and changed the stallsâ€™ hay in the span of five minutes. Heâ€™d insured that the tools were all back in place. Now he sipped deeply from a mug of coffee and set it back on the workbench to his left.
While it wasnâ€™t as good as the Talonâ€™s divinely-brewed java, it would have to do.
Especially with the thirty foot pile of hay bales reaching to the ceiling in front of him.
He eyed the pile and then the cup. Is it the coffee, the work or who makes it? He sighed wishing that money wasnâ€™t so tight so he could get over to the cafĂ© more oftenâ€¦.
â€¦so a certain brunette barista could brew the magic nectar for himâ€¦.
He shook his head recalling the attempted relationship from the previous fall. Their one and only date had flamed out over a red-k incident at a biker bar. Then sheâ€™d rejected his apology even if they were still friends. Heâ€™d tried to move on with Kyla Buckwater but that had ended badly. Lanaâ€™s still dealing with Whitney and Tina. Iâ€™ll never get that chance. He shut the door and made sure he was alone. Then he started into his work at super speed.
Almost like a spray of machine gun bullets, the hay bales flew up from his hand into the loft crashing into a heap there. For thirty seconds, this activity melted the pile away.
Then Clark sped up the stairs and into that area. At a pace that wouldâ€™ve made Hermes jealous, he rapidly stacked the bales and took a deep breath. â€śThatâ€™s done.â€ť
A creak came from the floorboards below.
His heart stopped. He could still hear Jonathanâ€™s lectures about being careful with his gifts. I canâ€™t even use them at home? What gives? He peered down toward the workbench to see Pete Ross standing there.
A huge sigh of relief escaped his lips. â€śHey, Pete! Be right there!â€ť He started toward the stairs.
Pete gave his friend a smile to let the other know that things were cool. But the Secret had weighed on him as well. He always took great pains not to say too much to anyone about his plaid-clad friend. Still he agreed with Jonathan that sometimes Clark wasnâ€™t as careful as he mightâ€™ve been. â€śThatâ€™s cool, Bro.â€ť
â€śBut?â€ť Clark could almost feel the lecture coming.
â€śDude, I came in on your performance. What if Lex had seen you? Or Chloe? Or Lana? Love to see howâ€™d you explain that one?â€ť Pete supposed.
Clark fought the urge to roll his eyes. The constant threat of spies and peeping toms really irritated him to no end. He took a draught from his mug. â€śPete, I made sure the door was closed. I was watching.â€ť
â€śI still snuck up on you. It only takes a second especially if theyâ€™re sporting one of those meteor rocks,â€ť Pete reminded him. Then he relaxed. â€śHey, ummâ€¦sorry about the hard line. I donâ€™t want anything happening.â€ť He observed Clark suffering through the coffee. â€śNot that great, huh?â€ť
â€śIt works.â€ť Clark assured him. â€śGets me through chores.â€ť
â€śYeah wellâ€¦thereâ€™s better stuff out there. Come on. I did some filing for Mom and earned a few extra bucks. Letâ€™s do some good coffee. After stacking that hay, you deserve it,â€ť Pete invited. â€śMy treat.â€ť
â€śPete, I canâ€™tâ€¦.â€ť Clark hedged not wanting his friends to go into dutch for him.
â€śDude, itâ€™s okay. I invited you.â€ť Pete grinned. â€śBesides Lana looked like she needed some cheering up. Maybe you can score some points with her?â€ť
Hearing that name made his heart skip a beat. Suddenly his inhibitions about money disappeared. I can do that. At least I can be a friend! Clark grabbed his padded flannel shirt and followed Pete toward the latterâ€™s car.
Maybe in being a friend, he could accomplish something after allâ€¦..