Mae Wedding–Free Short Story

Dani is running late for her sister’s wedding. As she hurries to the wedding site—far out in a mysterious stretch of woods—she runs into her ex, Gabe. Can Dani and Gabe rekindle their lost love? Or are they fated to remain on separate paths? (A paranormal romance short story by Catherine Mesick.)

Dani.

Dani.

Danielle!

There were three texts from my sister waiting for me on my phone as I hurried out the door.

Somehow I hadn’t noticed them before.

I closed the door of my town house behind me and then stopped to type a response.

I’m here, Audrey. What do you want?

I stared at the text for a moment, realizing that it sounded a lot sharper than I’d intended it to, and I paused with my finger over the “send message” icon.

I really didn’t want to start an argument with my sister on her wedding day.

Then another text from Audrey popped up.

Danielle! Where are you?

So I just went ahead and sent the text I had already typed.

A moment later, Audrey replied.

Thanks for finally answering. I thought you had overslept.

There was a pause and then another text.

Do you have the ring? You’d better not forget it.

Of course I have the ring, I typed irritably.

But even as I pressed send, doubt tugged at my mind.

I began to rummage around in my flower-covered purse.

I couldn’t find the little black ring box anywhere.

Another text came through.

I’m sorry to be pesky. But I know how forgetful you are. Love you.

I stared at Audrey’s text in irritation and then went back into the house.

I found the little black ring box sitting on the kitchen table, and I snatched it up, feeling its soft velvet surface under my fingers.

I opened the box, just to make sure the ring was actually in it, and the gold band sparkled back at me reassuringly, nestled in its little black cushion. Then I snapped the box closed and dropped it into my purse in annoyance.

Then I made myself pause and take a breath.

It wasn’t the ring’s fault that I’d forgotten it—and it wasn’t Audrey’s fault, either. My big sister wasn’t really a bridezilla—in fact, she’d been good-natured and patient throughout almost all of the wedding preparations.

It was just in the last few days that she’d been stressed out. And I really couldn’t blame her—she just wanted things to go well so that everyone—bride and groom included—had a good time.

As I hurried back toward the door, I paused for just a moment to check my reflection in the mirror in the hall.

I wanted to make sure I hadn’t forgotten anything else.

My sister, who was usually so calm and businesslike, had gone full-on Renaissance fair for her wedding. Audrey was twenty-seven—two years older than I was—and I would have thought that she was too old for that sort of thing.

But playing princess had taken a hold of her mind, and as her maid of honor, I was now dressed up in full maiden of yore regalia. My long blond hair, which I’d been growing out for the last six months, had been done up in braids and ribbons, and I’d been allowed to do my makeup any way I’d wished, as long as it was “natural.” But I couldn’t say the same thing about my dress. I was wearing a long and elaborate rose-colored gown that might not have been so bad if it weren’t for all the bows and ribbons and lace that had been attached everywhere.

And the puffy sleeves.

I really did not like the puffy sleeves.

But it was my sister’s wedding, and she liked the dress, so I was going to do my best to be happy wearing it.

Satisfied that Audrey would approve of my appearance, I hurried outside, slipping just a little in my flower-adorned sandals, and got in my car.

As I turned the key in the ignition—and prayed that my unreliable car would start—I found myself wondering if the princess bug would have bitten me, too, if things had worked out a little differently.

My heart fluttered a little at the thought, but then my car coughed to life, and I backed down the driveway and took off.

The wedding site was way out in the middle of nowhere, in the center of a heavily wooded state park, and luckily, my phone gave me good directions to the place. Even so, I was running short on time, and the parking lot near the site was filling up fast. I knew Audrey was basically ready to walk down the aisle, and our mother was there, but she still needed her maid of honor—if for no other reason than to steady her nerves. I parked quickly and jumped out of the car.

The wooded area where the wedding tents had been set up was vast, and I hurriedly pulled a scrap of paper with directions out of my purse.

My phone couldn’t help me where I was going.

I ran across the parking lot, slipping in my sandals again, and I soon reached the wide dirt path that the directions said would eventually lead to the secluded wedding site.

I hurried onto the path and soon found myself in the woods.

My sandals slapped at my heels as I ran along the hard-packed dirt, and my elaborate hairstyle was so full of bobby pins that I felt as if I had a metal helmet clanking against my head.

Luckily, the directions my sister had given me were good, and I was able to find all the landmarks and turn onto the right twisting dirt path that would lead me to the private area that was reserved for the wedding. I’d missed the rehearsal due to a sudden spring cold, so I was going to see the actual site and the tents for the first time.

I fished my phone out of my purse and looked for a photo of the site that Audrey had sent me. I found the photo and held it up in front of me—the site appeared to be in a little valley.

Then I put my phone back in my purse and hurried on.

As I ran, I kept an eye out for Gabe Kelley. He was the best man for Kevin Lattimer, the groom, and I wondered if I might run into him along the way. Gabe would surely need to arrive early, just as I did, and I wouldn’t have minded talking to him for a few minutes alone.

My heart fluttered again at the thought.

Gabe and I had once gotten along very well—we’d even been headed to a wedding site of our own. And then we had argued—disastrously—and things had come to an end. But time had passed—more than a year, in fact—and I’d found myself thinking about him again.

I wondered if he’d been thinking about me, too.

The path before me suddenly branched off into two, and I stopped to consult my directions.

My little scrap of paper seemed to indicate that I should take the path on the left side, but as I looked at the two forking branches, I saw that the left one was just plain dirt, and the right one had little glowing lights that ran along the ground.

The right one was definitely more festive-looking.

I consulted my little piece of paper once again. It still seemed to show that the left side was the correct path to follow, but as I stood staring at the directions, I could hear laughter and music floating up to me distantly. The sound was coming from the right-hand path.

I decided to follow the branch on the right, just in case.

Maybe Audrey had made a mistake in the directions.

I stepped onto the path, preparing to run again, but I was suddenly overcome by a sense of peace, and my feet slowed to a stroll.

I found myself admiring the decorative lights as I walked.

The lights were ingenious little glowing orbs that seemed to float just above the ground on both sides of the path, and they glowed in beautiful jewel tones—rich reds, deep blues, brilliant greens, dazzling yellows. I peered a little closer, wondering how the floating effect was achieved.

They really were lovely, and I marveled at the ingenuity of Audrey’s wedding planner.

I continued on down the path, and I found myself looking around in wonder. Somehow, the air seemed just a little sweeter, and as I looked up at the bright blue sky just visible through the trees, I found myself thinking that Audrey had chosen the perfect date and place.

May really was a perfect time for a wedding.

Soon I spotted people on the path up ahead of me, and I could hear the distant sound of conversation, along with more music.

I must have chosen the right path after all.

Suddenly, I heard someone calling my name.

“Dani! Dani, stop!” cried a familiar male voice.

I drew in my breath sharply.

The voice sounded like Gabe’s.

But when I turned to see who it was, there was no one on the path behind me. There was, however, a disturbance in a thick growth of bushes nearby.

Someone or something was shaking the branches violently.

I stepped a little closer, and then someone called out to me again.

“My lady!”

This voice was different from the first one—and unfamiliar.

I turned to see a man running toward me.

He was tall and blond, and he looked worried. His pale blond brows were furrowed, and the corners of his thin lips were drawn down.

“My lady!” he said again.

“What’s with the ‘my lady’ stuff?” I asked as he reached me.

Then I took in the belted tunic he was wearing with breeches and boots—definitely Ren fair style.

“Oh,” I said. “You must be here for the wedding.”

The man’s face lit up. “Yes, my lady. My name is Virgil. Your sister sent me to find you.”

I frowned a little as I looked at him. “My sister sent you? I’m afraid I don’t recognize you.”

Virgil looked embarrassed. “I’m a new member of the queen’s guard. But I’m quite capable, I can assure you.”

He held out a hand. “This way, if you please.”

“The queen’s guard?” I murmured to myself. It seemed to me that my sister was laying things on pretty thick.

I glanced up at Virgil as the two of us started walking along the path, and I saw the tip of a pointed ear poking out of his long blond hair—Audrey must have talked him into wearing prosthetics.

“She’s really gone all out for this wedding, hasn’t she?” I said.

Virgil glanced at me a little nervously. “Do you mean your sister, my lady?”

“Yes.”

Virgil cast his eyes down. “It’s not really for me to say.”

I sighed. So Virgil was going to stay in character as a member of the queen’s guard, and we wouldn’t even be able to make small talk. But at least I knew for sure that I had chosen the right path to follow.

I was glad I’d followed my instincts and ignored the directions.

There was a shout and more violent rustling from the bushes we had left behind, and I turned back quickly.

“What was that?” I said.

Virgil’s face hardened. “Nothing to worry about. My men will take care of it.”

I was surprised for a moment by just how serious he looked, but I supposed he was committed to his role.

I allowed myself to be led away.

As we walked along the path, Virgil kept glancing over at me.

“Is something wrong?” I asked.

Virgil’s fair skin went slightly pink.

“It’s just that your gown is most becoming, my lady,” he said. “And if I may say so, you truly are as beautiful as everyone says. And the accident that clipped off the tip of your ear has done nothing to mar your beauty.”

He frowned. “Although I thought it was just the one ear—but it looks like it was actually both.”

“My ear?” I said, puzzled.

Virgil’s blush deepened to red.

“I’m sorry, my lady. I was too free with my words. I shouldn’t have commented at all.”

Virgil’s posture became very stiff and formal, and I found myself thinking that Audrey’s friends were weird.

He continued to lead me along the brightly lit path through the trees, and soon we came out into a clearing.

The clearing sloped down into a little valley, and the valley was filled with white tents and lights that magically floated in the air in all colors of the rainbow. People with long, flowing hair, dressed in elaborate costumes, were hurrying back and forth between the tents, and on the far side of the valley, a white archway covered in flowers had been set up over an equally flower-laden altar.

I paused for a moment to take in the spectacle below.

Audrey and her wedding planner—a motherly woman named Betsy—had really outdone themselves.

I hadn’t paid much attention when Audrey had shared the plans with me, and I realized now that she and Betsy had really known what they were doing.

There was nothing tacky or clichéd about the setup—it looked like a real-life fairy tale.

Virgil had paused also and was looking back at me.

“My lady?” he said.

“Sorry,” I replied. “I’m coming.”

Virgil hurried on, and I followed him down the hill into the little valley.

He led me on to a tent in the center of the site—the largest and grandest one of them all, covered in golden swirls and flourishes—and he stood by the entrance to the tent as if he were afraid to move the gold-edged flap aside and enter.

Instead, he simply held out a hand.

“Your sister awaits, my lady.”

I glanced at him, puzzled, for a moment, and then I pushed the flap aside and stepped in.

Inside, there was a crowd of beautiful girls in equally beautiful dresses, and a soft, golden glow lit up the tent, making it nearly as bright as the day outside. The air smelled sweetly of flowers, and I could hear the murmur of soft voices as the girls fussed around something in the center of the tent.

As I entered, however, the conversation immediately stopped, and all the girls turned as one to look at me.

I realized then that none of the faces before me looked familiar.

“Hi,” I said uncertainly. “Is my sister here?”

The crowd of girls parted to reveal a regal young woman seated at their center.

She had long golden hair, and she was wearing a crown of flowers and a flowing white gown.

She was also stunningly beautiful.

I watched as her lovely features twisted into a frown that was somehow even more beautiful.

“Who are you?” the woman demanded in a clipped yet musical voice.

“I’m Danielle Williams,” I said. “I was looking for my sister—but I must have stumbled into the wrong wedding by accident.”

The woman stared at me as if I were a particularly loathsome bug, and I could feel outrage rolling off her in waves.

I took a step back. “I’m sorry I intruded. You’re a beautiful bride, by the way.”

The woman rose. That one simple movement was fluid, graceful, and somehow mesmerizing.

“Guard!” she screamed.

Virgil stepped into the tent, his eyes downcast.

“Your Majesty,” he said.

“Look at me,” the woman commanded.

Virgil complied.

“Who am I?”

“You are my queen, Your Majesty.”

“Am I? You seem to have forgotten that. What is my name?”

“You are Queen Leandra, ruler of all the Fae,” Virgil replied.

He was visibly shaking now.

I looked from one to the other, trying to figure out if they were crazy or if this was some kind of performance art.

Queen Leandra pointed a finger at me. “Now look at this creature.”

Virgil meekly turned his eyes toward me.

“Why did you bring her here?” the queen demanded, her voice rising.

“I—I thought she was your sister, Your Majesty.”

Queen Leandra fumed. “My sister? You dare compare this lowly thing to her? This is a human being. This is not my sister!”

I had just a moment to feel offended before another young woman suddenly rushed into the tent. She was breathtakingly beautiful like the queen, and she was wearing a rose-colored gown that was superficially like mine.

“Leandra!” the young woman cried, looking around.

Then she ran toward the queen—I assumed this was the missing sister.

“What is it, Iona?” Leandra said, stepping forward. “What’s wrong?”

“Humans,” Iona replied grimly. “They’re having a wedding nearby, and our wards don’t seem to be keeping them out. Several have stumbled close to the tents but have been scared off. One actually attacked our guards and has been taken into custody.”

“Humans?” I said. This was the second time someone had used the term as if it were something unusual. “Isn’t that what we all are?”

Leandra ignored my words and pointed an accusing finger at me. “And then there’s this one.”

Iona turned to look at me and gasped in horror.

“She got in here with no trouble at all,” Leandra hissed. “She could have killed me.”

“What?” I squeaked, startled.

These people were getting crazier by the minute.

Leandra stared at me with fury kindling in her eyes. “You and your conspirators have ruined my wedding!” She turned to scream at the hapless Virgil. “Guard! Do your job and put this miserable creature with the other one!”

Virgil turned toward me.

And I decided to run for it.

But as soon as I pushed my way through the tent flap, I found myself surrounded by a group of tall, blond guards that looked a lot like Virgil.

They led me away, and I fought down a rising sensation of panic.

First, that I’d been kidnapped by a bunch of crazy people.

And second, that they might not actually be crazy at all.

The guards marched me over to a white, unadorned tent on the far side of the valley—far away from the queen—and then they slapped a pair of ridiculously fancy handcuffs on my wrists.

But even though the cuffs looked more like jewelry than a form of imprisonment, they felt solid and unbreakable as I twisted my wrists against the cold metal.

The guards pushed me into the tent, which was dark inside, and they quickly attached my handcuffs to a chain, which they then wrapped several times around a large, sturdy pole in the center of the tent. Then one guard, who looked so much like Virgil that he could have been his brother, pushed me to the ground into a sitting position with my back against the pole.

He wrapped the chain around me several more times and then secured it somewhere out of my sight.

He gave the chain one last rattle, and then he and all the other guards departed, leaving me in the gloom.

But the tent wasn’t completely dark—a vaguely orange glow shone through the white cloth walls—and I wasn’t entirely alone.

I could tell that there was another person on the other side of the pole who was chained and seated as I was. I’d seen a dark form huddled by the pole when I’d been pushed into the tent, and I could hear someone rustling around now.

“Who’s there?” I said.

“Dani, is that you?” said a familiar voice.

It was a male voice—low and a little smoky—and I caught my breath.

“Gabe?” I said.

“Yes, of course, it’s Gabe.”

“What are you doing here?” I said.

“I was following you,” Gabe replied wearily. “You were headed the wrong way, as usual, and I was trying to stop you. And then a bunch of guys in elf costumes jumped me.”

I thought back to the disturbance in the bushes I had seen.

I realized now that that had probably been the queen’s guards grabbing Gabe.

“You were trying to help me?” I asked.

“Yes,” Gabe said in exasperation. “I was trying to help you, Dani. And as usual, that ended up getting me in trouble.”

I sat quietly for just a moment, letting his voice wash over me—I hadn’t seen him in a long time.

And yet I still felt a little tingle when he said my name.

“I’m sorry I got you into this,” I said at last. “But thanks for looking out for me. And I was hoping I’d run into you here—just not like this.”

“You were?” Gabe said. I could hear genuine astonishment in his voice.

“Yes,” I said simply.

“Even after the way we left things?”

“Yes.” There was more I could have said, but it didn’t seem necessary.

I moved a little, and my chains clanked. “So where are we?”

“I overheard some of the guards talking,” Gabe said, his voice tinged with sarcasm. “Queen Leandra of the Fae is marrying Aden, the Lord of the Summer Woods, here today, and apparently the spells they use to keep human beings away aren’t working.”

“I heard something like that, too,” I said. “Though I didn’t hear who the groom was.”

I paused. “Do you believe it?”

Gabe rattled his own chains. “I think we have to.”

“So the Queen of the Fae is getting married in May,” I said. “It’s sort of like a Mae wedding—you know, M-A-E.”

Gabe chuckled. “I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I’ve actually missed your corny jokes.”

It was my turn to be astonished. “You have?”

“Yes, Dani. I’ve missed you. I’ve even missed the things that used to drive me nuts. In fact, I’ve especially missed the things that used to drive me nuts.”

I felt a little rush of warmth when he said that.

Gabe went on. “You know, Dani, I’ve realized that I spent a lot of time trying to change you. You’re scattered and forgetful sometimes. But that’s who you are. And the good qualities you have far outweigh the less-than-perfect ones. I should have seen that a long time ago. I should have valued you just the way you were.”

“Uh, thanks, I think,” I said.

I turned my head in the orange glow, wishing I could see his face. I’d waited a long time to hear Gabe say something like that, and even though the delivery wasn’t ideal, I felt like the sentiment was real.

I just wished I could see his eyes to be sure.

“And I’m sorry I was irritable before,” Gabe said. “This isn’t your fault. There’s no way you could have known those elf guys or Fae guys—or whatever they are—were down here. You saw a likely looking path and you took it. Anybody could have made that same mistake.”

It definitely sounded to me like Gabe was being sincere, and my heart gave a little flutter.

This was the Gabe I’d always hoped to find.

“So you don’t think I’m trouble?”

I could hear a smile in Gabe’s voice. “Well, maybe a little. But you’re the good kind of trouble. And you’re exactly who you should be.”

I felt another rush of warmth. I wanted to turn toward him—to hug him, to kiss him. But all I managed to do was rattle my chains.

And suddenly I thought of my sister.

I groaned. “Audrey’s going to kill me. I’ve got Kevin’s ring.”

My purse, on its slender, flower-entwined strap, was somehow miraculously still dangling from my shoulder.

“And I’ve got Audrey’s,” Gabe said. “I’ve lost track of time, but I have to imagine we’re late by now.”

I glanced around the gloomy tent. “So how do we get out of here?”

“The first thing we have to do is get out of these handcuffs,” Gabe replied. “They’re sturdy, but they look pretty old-fashioned. If I had a pick, I might be able to unlock mine.”

He paused, and I could hear a smile in his voice again.

“Do you remember that survival skills class we took?”

I smiled myself in response. “Yes, I do.”

Gabe had talked me into the class—it had been part of his campaign to get me to be more responsible and less “scattered,” as he put it. But the class had actually turned out to be pretty useful, and I had learned a few things that had come in handy in my own life.

And—like Gabe—I had learned how to pick a lock on handcuffs.

“Wait a minute,” I said. “I’ve got a hairstyle full of bobby pins. Maybe we can use those.”

My hands had actually been bound pretty tightly with the chains, and I couldn’t lift them very high. So I began to brush my head against the back of the pole.

Maybe I could dislodge a few of the pins.

“See if you can scootch down a little,” Gabe said. “If you can brush up against the chains, you might be able to dislodge the pins a bit better.”

After much maneuvering on my part, I was able to loosen a few of the bobby pins, and eventually they fell to the ground with a soft thud.

Gabe quickly scrabbled around on the ground near the pole with his manacled hands.

“I’ve got one!” he said in hushed excitement.

I swept my fingers over the ground, too, and eventually I felt my fingers brush against the cool metal of a tiny bobby pin.

I picked it up carefully, and I got to work on my own shackles.

I could hear Gabe’s bobby pin clinking against the metal of his handcuffs, and before long, there was a tiny click.

“I’m free,” he said softly.

His chains rattled as he worked his way out of their grasp, and as he stood up, I felt my own handcuffs spring open.

I wriggled my way out of my chains and stood up also.

Gabe hurried over to me and wrapped his arms around me.

Then he stepped back, and I was able to look at him for the first time since I’d been brought into the tent.

His face was still a little rugged and weathered from all the time he spent outdoors, his eyes were still warm and brown, and his dark hair still curled a little at the ends.

But as he smiled at me in the amber-tinted gloom of the tent, I could see a look in his eyes that I’d never seen before—one that was open and vulnerable and trusting.

“Your hair’s all messed up,” he said, and he ran a gentle hand over it.

“Oh, Gabe,” I said. And for just a moment, I leaned against him, and he embraced me once again.

Then I remembered we were trapped.

With Gabe’s arms still encircling me, I glanced around.

“We’ve got to get out of here without being seen,” I said. “And I bet there are guards all around this tent.”

Gabe glanced around also. “I bet you’re right. Stay here.”

He turned and walked stealthily toward the side of the tent, and I giggled just a little to myself at the sight of him tiptoeing in his brocade tunic and breeches—Audrey had clearly gotten her hands on Kevin’s groomsmen, too. Then he crouched down, lifted the cloth ever so slightly, and peered out.

I walked over to the opposite side and did the same.

I could see the booted feet of at least three guards from my side of the tent.

I stood up and found Gabe standing beside me.

“So much for staying put,” he said softly.

“I was never good at that,” I replied.

Gabe smiled wryly. “I know. So I assume you saw guards just like I did?”

“Yes—I think we’re surrounded.”

Gabe nodded. “I think you’re right. I don’t know how we’re going to get out of here.”

I glanced over at the pile of chains we had left behind.

“I have an idea,” I said.

Soon we had gathered up all of the chains and unfastened them from their moorings. And then, on my direction, we tiptoed up to the flap that served as the entrance to the tent.

I didn’t know if the flap was tied shut or not, but it really didn’t matter. I doubted it was tied tightly—tents weren’t meant to hold prisoners.

“What do we do now?” Gabe mouthed silently.

“We throw the chains out,” I whispered. “Then we run the other way.”

Gabe’s eyebrows rose. “That’s it? That’s your big plan?”

“Yes,” I said. “Do you trust me?”

Gabe stared at me for a long moment. Then he smiled.

“Yes,” he said quietly.

I smiled back.

“Then on the count of three,” I said. “One—two—three!”

We both heaved our pile of chains out through the front flap of the tent.

“We’ve escaped!” I shouted at the same time. “You’d better come in here and get us!”

Then I turned and ran toward the opposite end of the tent.

Gabe ran after me.

We reached the far wall and ducked under it just as the first guards were entering.

We scrambled free of the tent, and I hurried over to the nearest tent pole.

“Help me with this,” I said.

I began to push at it.

Gabe saw what I was doing, and he pushed along with me.

Within a matter of moments, the pole collapsed, and the roof of the tent began to fall. Soon the big white mass of cloth was writhing as the guards struggled to get out.

Gabe stared at the tent. “They all ran in after us, and you trapped them inside.” He turned to me in wonder. “That really was a good idea.”

I grinned. “I know. Come on! We’d better run.”

I turned and fled toward the trees.

Gabe caught up with me and grabbed my arm. “You’re going the wrong way! The path is over here!”

He veered sharply to the left, and I turned and ran alongside him.

Soon we had scrambled up the hill out of the valley, and I could spy the dirt path with the brightly colored lights up ahead of us.

I glanced behind me.

A crowd of blond-haired guards was charging up the hill after us. Our guards had clearly worked their way free of the tent—and from what I could see—more had now joined the group to help them.

Gabe glanced back also.

Then we both ran even faster.

We ran, huffing and puffing, along the path with the colorful lights, with the shouts of the guards and their pounding footsteps growing closer and closer. We ran and ran and ran, until we finally broke free of the trees.

Then all the shouting stopped, and we nearly collided with two people who had suddenly appeared in front of us.

I stopped just in time, and Gabe skidded to a halt beside me.

I looked at the newcomers—a man and a woman—warily, but they seemed to be a normal human couple. They weren’t tall, willowy, or golden-haired, and they didn’t have pointy ears—instead they looked like typical tourists in shorts, T-shirts, and sneakers.

I glanced at the path behind us with the brightly colored lights.

It had disappeared.

The tourists glared at us and then moved on.

“Sorry,” Gabe called after them. “We’re late for a wedding.”

At that moment, both of our cell phones lit up and began to buzz insistently.

I glanced back at the spot where the vanished path had been. “Do you think we’re safe?”

Gabe breathed out heavily. “I think so—there’s no sign of pursuit.”

My phone continued to buzz.

I saw that I had a long line of texts waiting for me.

I clicked on the first one.

Where are you? Audrey demanded.

I looked up at Gabe. He was looking at his phone, too.

“We’re in a lot of trouble,” I said.

“Yep,” he replied.

“They’re never going to believe us,” I said.

“No—no, they’re not.”

Gabe smiled and held out a hand.

“Let’s go and get in trouble together.”

I took his hand.

“What are we going to tell them?” I asked.

“Let’s just tell them that I got lost,” Gabe said. “And you came and found me.”

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Thanks very much for reading!