“I don’t think I can do this,” Isabella said staring out the window towards the farmhouse “there’s just too many memories.”
“Belle please they’re not the same people you remember…”
“You mean they’ll welcome me with open arms,” her tone showed she didn’t believe that anymore than Colt did.
“Give them a chance,” Colt said “they’re old you don’t have forever to make peace with the past.”
“Come on mom” Kirk said getting out of the car “just imagine how you’d feel if I had ran away and came back years later.”
“Come on Belle,” Colt encouraged taking her hand and squeezing it “you’re not alone.”
She looked out the window at her son then at her brother “I never could say no to you,” she said getting out of the car “either one of you.” She hugged her son “I just don’t want you getting your heart set on running this place.”
“I won’t mom I promise,” he said even though his eyes were bright and he could barely stand still. They waited for Colt as he finished his call to Diana. He looked up giving them a sheepish grin “I told Diana we’re here and she’s having a terrible time keeping mom inside the…” as he spoke his mother ran from the house.
“Isabella, Belle,” she called looking around frantic “oh my sweet girl,” she cried coming up to them “I never thought I’d see you again.”
“Isn’t that what you wanted?” Belle asked ignoring the older woman’s tears and attempts to hug her.
“That’s no way to talk to your mother girl. Show some respect.” They all jumped upon hearing their father’s voice.
“She’s the one who forced her to run away,” Kirk stepped between his mother and grandfather “respect is earned not a right.”
Glaring at the younger man “who the devil are you?”
“I’m your grandson old man,” Kirk snarled at him.
“You’re not wanted here,” the old man waved his hands dismissively “get off my property.”
“Gladly,” Kirk took his mom’s arm “come on you don’t deserve this.”
Shaking him off she yelled “how dare you talk to my son like that. All he’s ever wanted was to meet you, his grandparents…”
“Mom please ….”
“I had to listen you cry yourself to sleep at night because you didn’t have a family like all the other kids. Even the ones whose parents were divorced had Aunts, Uncles, Grandparents and cousins but you only had me.” Looking around “this is your chance to have that.”
“You’re all I need,” Kirk told her putting his hands on her shoulders “I’m sorry for searching for them. For thinking they’d want to know me…us.”
“But we do” Colt asserted into the silence “at least I do.” Walking up his sister “Please Belle don’t take my sister away from me again. It was bad enough when I thought you were dead but knowing you were out there somewhere nearly drove me crazy.”
“I’m sorry I can’t” she shook her head “I shouldn’t have come. I knew they’d never be able to accept me.”
“Where will you go,” Diana asked coming up behind her husband.
Shrugging “to the next hovel” she laughed at Kirk as he hid a grin “we’ll be fine…”
“Colt she can’t” Diana turned to her husband “they’ll come and live with us in Starlight Shores until they can find something else.”
“Of course come and stay with us…”
“No absolutely not” there father interrupted them “I won’t allow it.”
“It’s my home,” Colt protested “I can have anyone I want stay there.”
“You’re taking over the farm.”
“No I’m not,” Colt turned to look at Diana a helpless look of desperation upon his face. “I’m not a farmer. This was only ever going to be temporary.”
“You’ll learn to love working the land,” his father told him “it’s a much better job then wasting your life away on a dream.”
“It’s not a dream. I’m good at what I do,” Colt shouted back at him “Why can’t you accept me for who I am?”
“You’re my son it’s time you come home and took over the farm. Quite being a child. You have a family to take care of now. It’s no time to be playing at being a rock star.” His father crossed his arms refusing to listen to anything else.
“Colt’s my husband and the father of my children. I will not let you belittle him in this manner. He’s your son but that does not give you the right to dictate what he does and does not do.” She put her arms around him “come on honey it’s time we go home.”
“Wait please,” Colt’s mom cried out “this is all my fault if I hadn’t been so rigid and told my daughter to go when she needed me none of this would be happening now.” Turning to her husband “please don’t make my little girl go. I want her to stay. Now that she’s back I need her to stay.” Turning to Isabella “please stay. I’m so desperately sorry….”
Shaking her head Belle turned to Colt “I can’t please just get me out of here.”
Upon hearing that their mother dropped to her knees sobbing. Instead of doing as his sister asked Colt went to his mother. “Mom please maybe with time. I’m sorry. I should never have brought her here like this.”
“It’s not your fault son,” she looked up at him “it’s mine and your father’s. We chased our children away. Go and live your lives. I won’t stop you.”
“No” everyone looked towards the sound of the indignant irate voice. Diana moved towards the children “Izzy take your brothers back inside the house and wait for us.”
“No” Izzy shook her head “stop being mean to Grandma. Grandma told me about her little girl. She speaks about her all the time and how much she misses her and wishes she had done things differently.” Looking at the woman standing behind Colt Izzy said “if your Belle you should be ashamed of yourself for making her cry. All she want’s is to earn your forgiveness.”
“Go back inside” Belle said dismissively to the little girl “you don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“Don’t just dismiss her like that,” Colt whirled on his sister “my daughter made valid points. Mom is trying and we’re all locked into what happened twenty-two years ago we can’t see what’s happening now.” Going over to the kids he looked down at Izzy saying “I’m sorry sweetheart.” Turning he addressed his family “mom I’m sorry I thought it’d be a good idea if Belle came. I think she needs more time. Dad I’m sorry but I’m not taking over the farm. I’m not good enough not do I have the desire to learn to be. Kirk went to school to learn all about the stuff you’ve tried to teach me. You should get to know your grandson. You might find you like him. Diana we’ve got some packing to do.”
“Colt” his father’s voice halted them before they could take more than half a dozen steps. “You can’t leave yet.”
Colt sighed closing his eyes “dad how many times do I…”
“You can’t go” his father continued as if Colt hadn’t said anything “until my grandson has been shown the ropes. You can’t expect me to hand the farm over to someone until I’m confident he can do the work.”
“No dad,” Colt smiled for the first time all day “you can’t.” Turning to Kirk “what do you think? Do you want to run the family farm?”
“Boy would I,” he grinned from ear to ear “but I won’t stay if mom isn’t welcome.” He put a protective arm around her shoulders.
“Son this is your dream. Don’t let me hold you back from it,” she blinked back tears “I’ve already done too much of that.”
Shaking his head he wasn’t giving up on her quite yet “please your mom wants a chance.”
“Please Isabella I promise I won’t say anything against your lifestyle…”
“Mother please after I left home I became you,” Belle laughed bitterly “all the things I used to hate suddenly made sense. I should have come home sooner but I was too hurt and stubborn. I didn’t want to be the first one to give in.”
“Belle it seems we make quite the pair,” her mother said wiping her eyes dry “I never quit hoping you’d come home. Buy the time I was ready to forgive you the detective we hired couldn’t find any trace of you.” She approached her daughter her arms wide open until Belle moved into them where they cried on each other’s shoulders.
Colt turned to Diana as they walked towards the house “thank you.”
“For what?” she asked looking up at him.
“For that,” he nodded towards the hug fest behind them “I’ve never seen them so happy and we owe that to you.”
“You don’t owe me anything,” Diana shook her head “what I did was for you. I wanted you to have your family back to have the answers I wish I had.”
“What questions do you have?” he asked turning to her.
“Like why did she do it? I’ll never know for sure because she’d lie just to spite me. It used to bother me. But I’ve realized something over the years that it doesn’t matter. I could let it effect me for the rest of my life or I could put it aside. Accept it and go on. I want the best for me, for you and our children. They deserve someone who is in the here and now and not walking around with their head in the past.”
“You are are amazing,” he told her pulling her close “what did I do to deserve you?”
“You saw me,” she told him honestly “you saw past the single mom with the little girl. Saw past my horrible job as a stripper and saw me. I loved you for it.”
“I saw a beautiful young woman who was braver than she thought she was. I was attracted to that strength. I admired you for it.” They stepped closer to each closing the gap between them.
“Kiss her already son,” his father said from behind them.
They looked up startled to find everyone had gathered around them. “We seem to have an audience.” Diana laughed up at him.
“Well I don’t mind if you don’t,” he gathered her in his arms bring his mouth down to hers.
“It’s almost like getting married all over again,” she told him.
“I hope that’s the way it always feel like too.”