“Hey, where’d you go?” Daniel asked, drawing Harper back to the present.
They’d reached the cabin, which looked about the same as the last time she’d seen it. The structure was over fifty years old, and while Bernie had kept it up as best he could, in the last few years it had really begun to show its age.
Daniel had obviously cleaned it up some, replacing the shattered front windows and a log that had rotted out. He left the flowering ivy growing up over the far side of the cabin, small purple and blue blossoms on it, but he’d trimmed it back from the windows and the roof.
“Sorry.” She smiled up at Daniel. “I was just thinking.”
“Bernie used to say there were fairies out here,” Harper said, and she turned to survey the wind blowing through the trees. The way the shadows and the light played together, as well as the birds and butterflies flitting through the trees, it was easy to imagine that she saw them now.
“Did you believe him?” Daniel asked, watching her as she stared out at the trees.
“I didn’t, not then.” She shook her head. “No, I did at first, but then I grew out of it and stopped playing make-believe.” Harper looked back at Daniel. “But now I wonder, maybe there really are fairies.”
“What makes you believe in them now? Did you see one flying around?” He glanced up, scanning the skies for any signs of one.
“No.” She smiled, but it was pained and fell away quickly. “With everything we’ve seen lately, it’s made me realize that there has to be more than meets the eye. There have to be so many creatures that we don’t even know about.”
“I know,” he agreed and stepped closer to her. “Isn’t that wonderful?”
“How is that wonderful? I think it’s scary.”
“You’re missing the beauty of it,” Daniel said. “There’s so much magic in the world, so much more than I’d ever even believed there could be. We’ve only just seen the tip of it. Pixies, gnomes, even unicorns and dragons. Who knows what more is out there?”
“You’re only listing the nicest parts of the fairy tales,” Harper said, looking up at him. He was so close to her, they were nearly touching. If she breathed in deeply, her chest would press against his. “What about the monsters?”
“Dragons aren’t the nicest parts of the stories,” Daniel countered, and she smiled crookedly. “But you don’t need to worry about the monsters. I’ll protect you.”
A breeze came up, bringing the sweet scent of the roses with it, and a lock of Harper’s hair came loose and blew in her face. Daniel brushed it back, but let his hand linger on her cheek for a moment as she stared up into his hazel eyes. The way he looked at her made heat swirl in her belly.
She was hoping he’d kiss her, but instead he dropped his hand and took a step back.
“Are you ready to come inside and see what I’ve done with the place?” Daniel asked and moved backward to the cabin door.
“What did you do?” Harper asked, tilting her head.
He smiled. “Come here and you’ll see.”
When Daniel had moved out here two weeks ago, Harper had helped him, but she hadn’t been able to visit him since. Then, the house had been in disarray as he tried to unpack and fix up some of the damage the sirens had left.
He leaned back on the front door now, reaching behind himself to turn the handle, and he stepped backward with it as he opened it. Harper stepped inside cautiously, unsure of what to expect.
She’d expected him to clean it up but she hadn’t known he would redecorate. The walls had been left their natural wood color, but Daniel had painted over them with a varnish, making them look brighter, cleaner, and more modern.
The countertops in the kitchen had been old and cracked, and he’d replaced them with dark stone counters. Bernie’s old furniture had been traded in for a soft couch, and for a coffee table Daniel used an old steamer trunk.
Somehow he’d managed to make the place look fresher and more contemporary, yet still maintain its rustic, seaside appeal.
“This looks amazing,” Harper said and turned around to look at him. “How did you do this? How could you afford all this stuff?”
“I’ve got my ways,” Daniel said. “I did some work for people and collected hand-me-downs and thrift store stuff. Then I just put it all together.”
“This is incredible.” She looked around the cabin again. “You’re really good at this. The sets for Gemma’s play are going to look amazing.”
“I know.” He smiled. “So do you wanna hear what I have planned for our anniversary dinner?”
“It’s not really an anniversary dinner,” Harper said, mostly because she felt a little silly celebrating a one-month. “That was technically two days ago. I think. We did decide that we officially started dating on the Fourth of July, right?”
“Right. It sounds more romantic that way.” Daniel grinned. “We kissed, and then there were fireworks, and we’ve been together ever since.”
She laughed. “There were literally fireworks.”
“That’s the point,” he said. “Now go have a seat. I’m making you dinner.”
“You’re making me dinner?” Harper tried not to look skeptical. “I thought you said you couldn’t cook.”