Home > The Fall of Us (Love in Isolation #5)

The Fall of Us (Love in Isolation #5)
Author: Kennedy Fox

 

CHAPTER ONE

 

 

OAKLEY

 

 

DAY 1

 

 

A light-blue Chevy truck that looks like it fell straight from an old film slows down in front of me. My lips part when I read Bennett Orchard Farms on the side and meet the deep-brown eyes of the man driving.

He’s here to pick me up.

I flew from California to Vermont, and after two connecting flights and three gigantic coffees, I’m finally here. The Bennetts insisted they drive me to the farm from the airport, and after pricing a rental car, I agreed. It was too expensive.

His gaze licks up and down my curves before he rolls down the window.

“Oakley Benson?” he barks in a deep gruff. If chocolate made a sound, his low, smooth voice would be it.

“Yep, that’s me,” I offer politely. I’ve been known to be flirty at times, and it’s always fun to test the waters, even if I’m here for business.

“Okay, get in,” he urges with a jerk of his head.

I smile, realizing I was gawking, even if the gesture’s not returned. I easily lift my carry-on and duffel to put them in the back but struggle with my oversized suitcase. Although it’s in the lower sixties and I’m wearing light clothing, I’m breaking into a sweat trying to deadlift it. After two minutes of me failing, the guy who looks like ice cream on a hot summer day finally gets out.

He’s tall, wearing a plaid flannel, jeans, and boots. Scruff grows along his chin and jawline, and when his tongue darts out to lick his plump bottom lip, I have to force myself to look away.

I take a step back, and he grabs my hard-shell suitcase, then tosses it into the back of the truck with a heavy thud. Based on his body language, he’s not thrilled about being my ride. This isn’t the reaction I expected after he drank me in just a few moments ago.

“Hey! There are things that could break in there.” I scoff, but he ignores me.

“We don’t have time to stand around all day. Get in.” He taps his knuckles against the roof of the truck before climbing in and slamming the door. No hello, nice to meet you, or even a friendly introduction. Not even the hint of a smile. First impressions are everything, and he just failed. He’s a grump who’s acting like someone pissed in his apple cinnamon oatmeal this morning.

One thing I can’t stand is being rushed. It’s one of my biggest pet peeves, but I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt. I try to push my annoyance aside because I’ll have to deal with this guy for the next hour.

After we drive for a few minutes in silence, I open my purse and grab some gum. “Want a piece?”

He looks at the package, then at me before turning his gaze back to the road.

“Okay, guess not,” I mutter, shoving one into my mouth. I keep my eyes focused away from him, but then I remember I need to text my sister so she knows I made it okay.

Oakley: I’m alive in Vermont!

 

 

Tatum: Oh good! Don’t forget to send me pictures of all the pretty leaves! I need to live vicariously through you since I don’t know what fall looks like anymore.

 

 

I snicker. My sister’s sixteen years older and lives in Florida with her husband, Easton. She’s told me it’s either warm, hot, or scorching, and the four seasons we were used to in the Midwest don’t exist down there.

I snap several pictures of the gorgeous trees, then send them her way. I chuckle at her emoji choice—a smiley face slurping.

Now that I’ve seen the bright oranges and burnt reds, I’m even more excited to paint the Bennett’s orchard farm for their centennial celebration in ten days.

Oakley: The guy who picked me up from the airport is a jerk. And of course he’s hot. All the hot ones are rude.

 

 

Tatum: Damn, that sucks. Scale from 1-10, how hot are we talking?

 

 

Oakley: A total ten, but his shitty personality brings him down to a two.

 

 

Tatum: Maybe he’s married, and that’s how he makes sure no women flirt with him?

 

 

I peek over the top of my phone and look at his left hand resting on his thigh.

Oakley: Nope. No ring. But I guess that doesn’t always mean anything. I know plenty of men who purposely don’t wear theirs.

 

 

Tatum: It’s times like that I’m glad I’m not single and searching.

 

 

Oakley: Who said I’m searching?

 

 

Tatum: Oh please. *Eye roll emoji* You’ve always been my boy-crazy little sister, and that hasn’t changed.

 

 

I chuckle, and that’s when Mr. Grumpy glances in my direction.

Oakley: Fair enough. But this farm guy ain’t it, sis. Even if he looks like a Greek god. I’ll be happy when we get there, and I never have to speak to him again.

 

 

I pretend I’m taking a picture of the barn we’re passing on his side but zoom in on his forearm. Holding back my laughter, I send it to her.

Tatum: Muscular, nice. How old does he look?

 

 

Oakley: Early to mid-thirties. But you know age doesn’t matter to me. I’d be a baddie and date a Daddy.

 

 

Tatum: Oakley Jane!

 

 

I snicker, knowing how much she cringes when I talk about dating older men. She’s nine years older than her husband so she’s one to talk.

After I send her three kiss emojis, I lock my phone. My sister is my rock and best friend, and I tell her everything. We vowed to have no secrets after she ended things with her abusive ex-husband. I knew something was wrong before she left, but she didn’t want me to worry and lied about how bad things really were.

“So how long have you lived in Vermont?” I ask, trying once more to strike up a conversation.

He keeps his eyes planted on the road. “All my life.”

“Do you like it here?” I ask.

“Yeah.”

Reba McEntire sings in the background, but other than that and road noise, it’s quiet and awkward.

“Are you shy or something?” I finally ask because I’ve never experienced someone treating me like I’m a nuisance before they even get to know me. I literally said three words, and I was on his shit list.

“No.”

He doesn’t give any more explanation, and I take the hint—he just doesn’t want to talk to me. I could have a more enjoyable discussion with a rock. Instead of trying again, I keep to myself. It’s obvious he has nothing to say, and I’m too tired from traveling three-thousand miles to care. I just hope this is the last time I have to deal with this guy.

I focus on filming the passing farms and the different shades of leaves as the sunlight hits them. While the company isn’t the best, Vermont’s beauty is everything I expected it to be and more.

Before accepting the job, I did a lot of research about what to expect once I was here, but the photos didn’t do it justice. Leaves hang from the tree branches, and some are even scattered on the ground and road. I’m more of a summer girl, but Vermont's cooler temps and scenery are quickly winning me over.

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