'And you're not about to tell me,' I said.


I looked at Barr again. Still grinning. Well, if it was going to make him that happy. I turned. 'Don't tie it too tight.'

'Afraid he'll mess up your hair?' Meghan asked.

'Shut up.'

He finished tying the blindfold, and put his hands on my shoulders. 'Out front.'

What on earth?

I stumbled on the front step, but Barr caught me. Carefully he led me down the sidewalk, then we paused and he opened the gate. The sun was warm, the silk was soft against my face, and chickadees called to one another up and down our street. I heard Meghan's steps behind me.

'You didn't buy me a pony, did you? Because I've always wanted a pony, ever since I was a little girl.'

'In a manner of speaking,' Barr said.

'What? Tell me you didn't go get me a horse or some such nonsense, Barr Ambrose, because I don't know how to ride a horse, and I don't have time for a horse, and I don't even know if I like-'

Barr grabbed my hands before I could rip the blindfold off.

'Will you relax? Geez, sometimes you make it awful hard to be nice to you.'

Chastened, I dropped my arms.

'Now come down here,' he said.

I did what I was told.

More footsteps behind, and Erin 's breathless voice. 'Has it happened yet?'

'Not yet,' Meghan said.

God, even the eleven-year-old was in on it.

'Okay. I'm going to take the blindfold off now. Hold still,' Barr said.

The fabric slid away, and I squinted into the sunlight. We were standing on the sidewalk in front of the house.

In front of a Land Rover.

And not just any Land Rover. It was dark green, an older model, maybe from the nineteen eighties, in perfect gleaming condition. How had he known?

'Oh, my God,' I breathed. 'It's wonderful.'

Meghan laughed.

'Will you take me for a ride?' I asked.

'For Pete's sake, Sophie Mae,' Barr said. 'It's not mine. It's yours.

I whirled to look up at him.

He smiled. 'Look inside.'

Bewildered and a little giddy, I walked to the side and peered in the window. In the back seat sat a fully assembled Ashford spinning wheel, like Ruth's. He'd stained it golden pecan, and the wood glowed where the sunlight struck the edge of the drive wheel. Piled around it were bags of wool, puffs of fiber, long snakes of roving, a stack of delicate rolled batts. A handkerchief of silk fiber hung from the rearview window.

I turned and blinked. 'You did all this for me?'

There was that grin again. He nodded. 'You like it?'

'I love it. Oh, but Barr, it's too much. Way too much.'

'In case you haven't heard, I'm a millionaire. That means I get to buy you pretty things if I want to. Ruth helped me pick everything out.'

Meghan had that grin on her face now, too. And so did Erin.

'I… I don't-' My voice broke. My vision grew watery.

He took a step toward me. 'Oh, hey. Don't get all girly on me, now. Don't cry. You hear me?'

I sniffed. Nodded. 'Thank you. It's all just perfect.'

'That's better. You're welcome. There's just one more thing.' He held out a small velvet box.

'The key?' I asked, and opened the box.

A big fat diamond glinted up at me.

Speechless, I watched as the man I loved sank to one knee on the sidewalk. Erin started to say something, but Meghan shushed her.

'Sophie Mae Reynolds, will you marry me?' Barr asked.

I felt my eyes go wide. Next to Meghan, Erin started jumping up and down.

Wow. Oh, wow.

Cricket McRae

CRICKET MCRAE has always enjoyed the kind of practical home crafts that were once necessary to everyday life. Her first Home Crafting Mystery, Lye in Wait, focuses on soap making; the second in the series, Heaven Preserve Us, features canning.

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