Hey. I have a problem. You see, I'm gonna have this entire plantation to myself. I have Patricia to call up, but she hasn't been the same since Otis's death. I could easily sell it and gain enough money for an apartment and a car. It's gonna hurt, though. This is the last thing I'm gonna have left of Daddy, of the times when my family was still whole and happy.

Maggie hates me. I'm kinda glad. I knew she was gonna leave me sooner or later. She has Glenn now, and they love each other. So why don't I just allow her to leave already and get it over with, right?

She just doesn't understand why I —

Beth looked up from her bed when Glenn rapped on her bedroom door. She would've left the door closed, but the heatwave was burning her and the open windows weren't enough.

"Maggie's looking for her jean jacket, the one you wore last night," he told her.

Without a word, she closed her journal and trudged over her closet. Once she opened it, she instantly remembered what she did to the jacket.

"I left it in Daryl's truck," she told him.

Glenn furrowed his eyebrows. "How'd it get in there?"

"He drove me home."

His eyes widened in shock. "Seriously? You didn't, like, put a gun to his head and demanded him to take you home?"

She shook her head no.

At first impression, Daryl was a callous, tense man that looked like he was ready to wreak havoc when provoked. Her daddy taught her not to judge a person if you didn't know them, but he practically laughed at her — in his own way — last night. Shockingly, he offered her a ride and seemed like a nice guy with a rough exterior.

Yes, he had a rough exterior, but he was handsome. He had the kind of appearance that didn't awe you at first glance. Beth noticed that when she looked at him from time to time he grew handsomer and handsomer. She also didn't realize she had a preference for shoulders and arms until she saw his.

Glenn narrowed his eyes, staring out the window. "That's … interesting," he murmured. "Um, anyways, did you want me to call him?"

"Yeah, if you don't mind," Beth said. "Is Maggie almost done?"

He nodded. "She just needs to organize her belongings in her truck. I got the rest of her stuff in my car." He paused as he took out his phone. "You need help with anything?"

"No. I'm fine. Just … just take care of her, all right?"

Glenn stared at her for a moment and then sighed. "I will," he said determinedly. He waited for Daryl to pick up. "This damn redneck is horrible with cell phones, I swear."

Beth fiddled with her necklace while they both waited.

"Daryl? Hey, yeah, you — wait, you're on your — ?" He headed towards the window. "You're on your way here? Why? Oh, you're returning — okay. You need directions? Ha! Nighttime, my ass. It's left, man. Yeah, okay. O-Okay, see ya."

"So, he's on his way then," Beth stated unnecessarily. She felt flattered. Although she acted like a child with the jacket, he was kind enough to bring it back to her.

Glenn pocketed his phone. "Despite how he looks and seems, Daryl's got a huge heart. Not kidding."

She hummed in response.

Maybe she and Daryl could be friends. After her dad's death, she drifted away from her friends. They always wanted to go out and believed that in doing so it would help her cope. But it didn't. Beth coped by staying indoors, writing in her journal, and listening to music. Since she took a break from school, she managed to get more hours in working at the daycare center. That was how she coped. She didn't want to be surrounded by people. Her routine helped her cope.

It seemed Maggie and Beth's friends didn't understand her way of coping.

There's nothing wrong in staying indoors and wanting to be alone, Beth argued mentally. People have different ways of coping with their feelings. Why is that so damn hard to understand?

Glenn pointed out the door and said, "I'm gonna check on Maggie."

She nodded and followed him out. She didn't leave her room ever since her sister arrived. Unfortunately, she was getting parched and she remembered the iced tea she made last night.

Once Beth entered the kitchen, she saw Maggie drinking iced tea and offering Glenn some as if she was the one who spent the night making sure the iced tea tasted exactly how Daddy used to make it. And how dare she use her favorite mug?

Before the happy couple could see her, Beth went straight back to her room. Her ears detected the sound of a low rumble getting closer and closer. She walked outside of her house, screen door slamming shut.

It was Daryl. He parked near Glenn's car and shut off the engine to this truck. He got out, wearing a sleeveless vest and holding Maggie's jean jacket with one hand.

It was like he knew she liked his arms.

"You brought it," she stated. Yeah, state the obvious, Beth.

His eyes weren't looking anywhere at her. He chewed on the left side of his mouth and held it up. "Here," he said. "Thought you'd need it or somethin'."

"I don't. Maggie does. She's inside."

He held it out further to her, waiting for her to take it.

She shook her head. "You give it to her."

The screen door opened and slammed shut again. Glenn went down the porch steps and approached the two. "Hey! Thanks, man. Maggie was looking for that," he said, grabbing the jacket from Daryl. "You busy?"

"Nah. Nothin' new at the scrapyard."

Scrapyard … , Beth wondered. That must be his occupation, salvagin' car parts.

"Wanna help me transfer some of Maggie's stuff to her truck? My car can't take the excess weight."

"That's why I keep tellin' you, Glenn. Change your damn car. You're startin' to rub off on it." He smirked at his friend and dodged the punch Glenn gave him. He then followed Glenn to Maggie's truck.

Beth watched them leave before heading back inside. She checked the kitchen to see if Maggie was there, but she wasn't. Satisfied, she poured herself a glass of water and drank it.

Daryl seemed like a reserved guy, one that would be uncomfortable if placed in situations such as giving back a jacket to an eighteen-year-old girl that you barely knew. Beth could see that he did, in fact, have a good heart, though. It was enough to be want to be friends with him.

Why did she want to get to know him? She didn't know for sure if she should attempt to, but since he came all the over to her house to return a jacket that didn't belong to her, that action itself established her desire to get to know him.

She placed the glass in the sink. Maybe he pities me, she thought before turning on the faucet and washing the glass. How could he possibly know that jacket's Maggie's favorite?

Beth looked at the clock and realized it was almost lunchtime. She grabbed a pot and filled it with water from the sink. After that, she took out the meat in the freezer and put it in the pot to thaw.

The screen door slammed. Maggie entered the kitchen, duffle bag hoisted on one shoulder.

"I'm gonna head out now," she said, voice solemn.

Beth nodded once, unsure of what to say.

"You do know that — that I'm just one phone call away, right?" Her eyebrows were furrowed, and the concern was prevalent in her green eyes. No matter what, Maggie would always be in big sister mode. Usually, it'd annoy Beth, but right now, it made her chest tighten.

"I know," Beth said quietly.

Maggie sighed. "Beth, I know you're hurting. I am, too. But you never told me anything, and how am I supposed to — ?" She broke off, shaking her head. "Glenn's waiting."

"Goodbye."

"You can call up on Patricia, you know."

"Goodbye, Maggie."

Without another word, Maggie turned and left, screen door shutting, and then silence.

Beth never truly experienced being alone in her house until now.

Until she heard a car start and drive away, Beth didn't know that Glenn and Daryl were outside her house conversating. She assumed Glenn followed after Maggie and Daryl left already.

She placed her book on the coffee table and headed outside. She welcomed the cool wind. Fortunately the heatwave simmered a bit.

Daryl was getting ready to get inside his truck when she yelled, "Hey!"

Stopping, Daryl whipped his head her direction. She stood at her porch and waited for him. He seemed to get the signal and walked rather reluctantly to her. She tried not to be affronted by that.

Daryl offered her a ride and returned Maggie's jacket out of the goodness of his heart — or perhaps he did pity her. He was an older man, too. Why in hell did Beth think he would even consider her as someone he could be friends with? She was most likely a kid in his eyes.

But it didn't hurt to try. It didn't hurt to try and step out of the shell she created after her daddy's death. She could connect with her friends and maybe even Jimmy. They had their own little world, though, and Beth wanted to welcome something new in her life.

"Yeah?" Daryl said once he was near. He was at the foot of the porch steps. His expression was uncomfortable and tense.

"You want some iced tea? It's freshly made," Beth offered.

"'S all right."

"I insist. The heatwave's unbearable, and Lord knows your windows aren't enough to cool you down during the drive back. Just one drink." She tried to not sound desperate.

She saw his eyes glance up at her briefly. She couldn't see the pity in it, but once he sighed and nodded, she felt uneasy for a moment.

Beth poured iced tea in two glasses. Daryl leaned against the counter across her and looked around, eyes landing on the pictures on the refrigerator. She handed him a glass, sipping from her own.

Internally, she was panicking. She hoped he wouldn't ask about Mama and Shawn.

"What's your plan now?" Daryl asked.

Beth sighed inaudibly, partly in relief and partly in reluctance. She didn't even know where to start. "I might sell this area," she replied.

"A damn waste. Ya got good terrain, quiet surroundings." He was already finished with his drink but was still holding the glass. Beth took that as a good sign. He must not be in a hurry to leave.

She nodded. "Yeah, but I don't have the manpower or skills to handle this area. I could hire people, but I can barely pay for the bills. We've also got horses in the stable … " At that last statement, Beth felt like crying. She was going to have to leave Nervous Nelly.

Daryl was eyeing her carefully. "If you sell the place, you'd get a load of money. You could buy yourself a nice home suited for you and a car."

She turned the glass around on the counter. "Been lookin' at apartments near the college I'm attendin'," she said. But she was still thinking about the horses. She was still thinking about the flower patches. She was still thinking about that lake her, Maggie, and Shawn used to sneak off to. She was still thinking about going out on the field with a picnic blanket underneath, watching the stars with Maggie. She was still thinking about listening to her Daddy preach to her and drinking iced tea every Sunday morning on the porch.

"We don't get to be upset" was what she used to tell Maggie when she'd come in her room crying after Mama and Shawn's death. They had to take care of Daddy. There was no time to grieve for themselves. They had each other, and they had to make sure Daddy wasn't going to spiral out of control.

Maggie wasn't here anymore, though. She left. Beth was all by her lonesome. She was the one that had to deal with the empty farmhouse, so she had a right to be upset.

"Guess you got to finish your job now, Beth," Daryl said quietly, blue eyes locking with hers briefly.

"We don't get to be upset, Maggie. We've all got jobs to do. We have to move on forward."

Daddy's advice circled in her mind continuously as she watched Daryl leave her home. She did have a job — jobs — to do. She had to finish them. Hopefully she had coped enough to get on with what she had to do.

Without a doubt, she could finish her jobs. Moving on, though? That was something she might have trouble doing.

A week later, Beth met up with a real estate agent with the help of Patricia. He said that they were able to sell the land and farmhouse since there were a good amount of potential buyers. Some buyers were within the area, and some were from different states. The farmhouse had a bit of history too, so that added onto its reputation.

Since the land was still under Beth's name, a certain percentage would go to her account. Unless she handed the deed to the house, she would have nothing to do with it.

She wasn't ready to hand it over. That meant she was officially letting go of her home.

"You all right, honey?" Patricia asked from across the booth.

Beth managed a small smile before continuing to eat her lunch. While she chewed, her blue eyes flitted over to the window next to their booth.

She stopped chewing momentarily before swallowing.

Daryl was talking to two men. From the looks of it, their car broke down since the three of them were huddled around the engine which had smoke wafting off it. Daryl then bent over the engine and began doing something to it.

Beth leaned forward to catch a better look. She saw Patricia giving her a confused look before checking out what she was looking at.

"What're you looking at?"

"Just … admiring the scenery." Beth was for once glad for the heatwave. She could never get enough of those arms.

Patricia smiled slyly. It was the first time such an expression appeared on her face ever since Otis's passing. "The scenery. Of course."

Luckily, she didn't press onto the matter. Once Patricia resumed eating, Beth looked back at her scenery. As far as Beth can tell, Daryl was checking the oil in the engine. He said something to the men, and they both nodded. Daryl pointed out north. The two men thanked Daryl and started walking toward the direction he pointed at.

A smile formed on her face.

She continued watching him. He leaned against his truck. Beth noticed his eyebrows were furrowed and that he was watching the two men. He looked down on the ground, concentrating hard. Briefly, he closed his eyes.

It was as if the two men reminded him of something. Did he have two friends that looked like them before? She wondered what got him looking like that.

Beth wondered about loneliness. She wondered if he was feeling loneliness like she was right now. He couldn't, though. He had Glenn. But then again, Glenn had Maggie. Beth had Patricia, but she was always off in her little world. Patricia actually vied for some alone time.

Underneath her lashes, Beth glanced at Patricia. Predictably, Patricia was staring at her wedding ring, food abandoned.

Beth chewed for a bit but had trouble swallowing. She sighed lowly.

"Maggie talked to me," Patricia announced.

Great. "What'd she say about me?"

"She's worried about you. She asked about the farm and what your plans are for it. Told her what we did today, and she has no complaints."

Beth didn't say anything.

"Beth … sweetheart, you don't have to be lonely." The concern was leaking in her tone.

You say it like I have a choice, Patricia, she refused to say aloud.

"I found an apartment, rent's reasonable, and it's near school," Beth informed her. "I'll give you the address once I get settled in."

Patricia sighed. "I'll help you move in."

"No need. I got it."

"Beth — "

"Hey, Patricia. Remember that little cottage you and Otis purchased? You said that the area's got nice plots for gardenin'. You should take advantage of that area. You deserve it especially after — after Otis's passing." Patricia's face crumpled a little, but Beth continued, "I remember you told that me that your bouquet at your wedding was carnations and lilies. You should plant 'em in memory of him."

Beth cursed inwardly when she saw Patricia tear up and sob quietly. She only wanted to ease Patricia's worries. Beth knew she was lonely and hopefully moving into that cottage could give her a peace of mind and serve as some sort of acceptance over Otis's death.

"Thank you for reminding me, Beth," she said, tears streaming but smiling. "I've always admired how you were able to get through to people and, y'know, just wake them up."

"Just like my daddy always said, 'We've all got jobs to do.'" Beth grasped her hand with both of hers. Her blue eyes shot straight through hers with conviction. "This is your job now — to relax and focus on yourself. "

While Patricia paid at the cashier, Beth looked out the window again. She saw that two men's car was gone and Daryl's arms were propped over the driver's door of his truck. He was smoking.

Oddly enough, he seemed to sense her stare and looked at her. A blush formed on her cheeks, but she didn't look away.

She smiled and waved.

He furrowed his eyebrows again but nodded at her.


— thanks for waiting, guys.

sorry it might to start off slow. i just wanna get you guys settled in with the story.

i really appreciate the positive feedback, too. means so much. :)

more feedback is appreciated. hope you guys smiled today.