She remembered the radio playing on the porch. It was old even then, battery operated, and had an awful habit to cut out here and there. Her grandfather would curse under his breath and walked up to bang on it with a flattened hand.
When she discovered it hidden on a shelf in the dust-ridden basement, she was surprised to find it still worked – only even if for one station. She didn’t tinker with the dial anymore after minutes of frustrating static. She endured hours of country music for the rest of evening, retiring on the porch with a refreshing glass of lemonade she prepared earlier that afternoon.
She could almost envision her grandmother coming out of the screen door, towing a blue tick hound behind her. She’d sway on the wood with bare feet, swishing her skirt along with the melodies and beckoning Adalind’s younger self to join. Her grandfather would take her place, taking her grandmother’s hand and curling his around her waist just as they would at the dance center.
A deep feeling settled in the pit in her stomach. Home sickness, Adalind realized. She’d spend her summers there until she was twelve, when her mother dragged her back to Portland for good. She forgotten how easy it felt to be back, even though the absence of the two people she missed dearly sat heavily on her conscience.
They died before she turned eighteen but the letter informing her of her inheritance didn’t come to her until her late thirties. The farm was first granted to her great uncle – her grandmother’s brother – before he, too, died. While Adalind knew next to none about Simon, he knew enough about her to grant the farm deed in her name.
She spent the next two days since her arrival getting reacquainted with the homestead. The main house wasn’t big by any means. The older generation of Schade’s were a simpler kind of people. Two stories, three bedrooms, and sixty acres of crops. The furniture barely aged since she last visited. She scavenged a yellowed mop and duster from the closet and did the best job she could to freshen up the space.
By far, the best discovery she made came in the form of her mother’s old wardrobe – the one she left behind before her sixteenth birthday.
She didn’t know much of her mother’s upbringing, but it wasn’t as good as the one Adalind remembered for herself. The late Catherine was always at odds with her stepmother, the sweet woman Adalind fondly called Grandma. Edward’s first wife, Adalind’s biological grandmother, skipped town shortly after Catherine’s eight birthday. Edward married Corinne on her eleventh. The two never bonded mainly due to Catherine’s resentment – for both her father who dared to move on and for Corinne who ‘stole’ his affections.
Ironic how life played itself. Adalind was quickly sent away the moment her mother caught wind of another man’s attention. Adalind didn’t mind too much. Corinne was much more of a mother than Catherine and Edward stepped up to be the father Adalind barely had a chance to enjoy.
The dress Adalind recovered fit like a glove. Sure, it was like stepping back in time, but it remined her the same style Corinne fancied, and the kind Catherine never dared to wear in Adalind’s memory. She liked the way the skirt swayed, or how the baby blue suited her eyes. Corinne would complement blue was always her color, pinching her cheeks until they were rosy. She liked to imagine Corinne behind her, laughing at Adalind’s two left feet or her lackless musical talent.
She danced along to old tunes, brightening up the kitchen and leaving the door open with reckless abandon as if the expect her grandfather to roll up in a storm of dust up the driveway. The red beater was tarped up in the barn behind the house, likely busted for good, but Adalind was curious about whether it or the old vintage Ford would start when she found a set of keys in a miscellaneous drawer.
Much to her delight, the mustang was revivable, and roared to life after two unnerving kicks. Like a child, she giddily took the collectable on a joy ride and thanked her late great-uncle for taking the time and effort he did to restore the beauty. She even tied a scarf around her head the way Corinne did and borrowed her old retro glasses, fully embodying the aesthetic Corinne was well known for.
Slow down, girl! She could almost hear her grandfather’s voice. Now, ease off the clutch and switch to the third gear – just like I showed you. Atta girl! Now you got it!
She got a few honks along the way when she cut through the main street, skimming over the shop fronts, and smiling at the locals who turned their heads to admire the sight. One man even offered to ‘look it over’ and put in an offer when she stopped briefly for gas.
This one is for you, Grandma, she thought when she plowed through the strip of road way over the speed limit.
Told you she took after me, Ed! She swore she could hear Corinne scream in the wind.
The next morning she spent easily an hour lost in the radio while washing off the dirt and grime off the mustang. She was so immersed she didn’t realize Nick had arrived a day early, parking in front and out of sight. Lured by the sound of Adalind and Madonna in poor harmony, he cut through the side and into the back lot unnoticed.
He raised his finger to his lips when Kelly followed a moment later. “Shh,” he urged to his son.
“Mom’s not a good singer,” a teen Diana giggled.
“Mom looks different,” Kelly noted.
Their father stared ahead, grinning with amusement as he took her in. She was in unusual attire – bare footed, jean shorts, a green camisole, and hair pulled into a high ponytail. She was tiny compared to the muscle car. The picture was too good to resist. Nick made sure to snapped one or two for keepsakes while she was blissfully unaware.
“Adalind!” Nick called out when he waited long enough. He was unheard.
“Mom!” Kelly yelled. He ran ahead, hugging her from behind.
She squeaked, surprised, and dropped the hose in haste to hug her son when she recognized the head of dark hair from her peripheral.
“Mom!” Diana seconded, rushing to her from the other side. Adalind was sandwiched between the two children and kissed them both on the crown of their heads.
“Where’s your dad?” she asked, looking around curiously. She didn’t have to scan for long to notice his figure striding towards them.
“Nick!” She greeted warmly, leaning up for a kiss. They lingered for a moment while the kids dispersed, sickened by the affectionate display. “You’re supposed to be here tomorrow,” she stated while wrapping her arms around his neck.
He shrugged. “Surprise,” he grinned, kissing her again. “Nice shorts,” he teased.
“Of course you’d notice those,” she rolled her eyes but couldn’t resist the smile widening on her face. “Are you hands comfortable?” she returned jovially, feeling his hands dip into her back pockets.
“Yes,” Nick nodded shamelessly. “Where’d you get the car?”
“Yeah! Where’d the car come from? Can we keep it?” Kelly shadowed, peering inside the window. “Cool!”
“In the barn,” Adalind replied. “Drives like a dream.”
“Oh, I plan to see that for myself later,” Nick winked.
“Can you drive manual?”
His smirk faltered. “No…” he admitted.
“Sucks for you,” she sang. “Looks like it’ll be me behind the wheel.”
“Since when can you drive manual?” Nick’s brows spiked.
“Since Grandpa taught me when I was ten. He needed me to move the truck a couple times.”
“Can I try?” Kelly asked from the passenger side, admiring the interior.
“Maybe later,” Adalind entertained.
Later that evening, with the kids exploring the wide terrain, Nick and Adalind retired on the porch with the same radio station playing. Nick insisted on them sharing the swing bench while watching the sunset descend over the endless fields. Her legs flattened atop of his. His fingers lingered over her knees, drawing circles with his thumbs.
“This is nice,” Nick announced.
“I know,” she agreed. “Enjoy it while it lasts.”
“We’re not keeping this?” Nick asked, alarmed.
“We don’t have the time,” she sighed.
“It’d be a nice retreat, or safe haven,” he offered.
“It would but it deserves a family to fill it, too, like the way I remember,” she mused.
“I can convince Monroe and Rosalee to venture out here, too.” Nick smiled. “They’d have a blast and so would the triplets. There’s a lot of space for the kids to roam and plenty of room to entertain. I think we should keep this place.”
“I’ll think about it,” Adalind considered.
“The barn is a nice touch,” Nick added.
“You’re already thinking of plans to incorporate your Grimm stash, aren’t you?” she chuckled.
“You know me too well,” he affirmed with a squeeze on her knee. “Also – this is a keeper, too,” he tugged at the hem of her shorts.
“You’re hopeless,” she laughed, throwing her head back.
“I’m a simple man who is in the company of a beautiful woman with legs for days,” Nick charmed.
“Does that work for you often?”
“I don’t know – does it?”
“If you think you’re sneaking into my room tonight,” she sat upright, almost nose-to-nose, “just know my bed squeaks – loudly.”
“Don’t worry,” he leaned forward, ghosting over her lips. “I have other places in mind.”
“Where,” she whispered.
“The Mustang,” he replied.
“There is no way we can even try to attempt that!” she boasted a hearty laugh. “The roof is too low. I’ll hit my head!”
“What are you talking about?” he hooted. “The car is too small for someone of my size,” he shook his head and then leaned back in, touching foreheads. “I’m thinking about the hood.”
“We are not desecrating my grandfather’s car with your teenage fantasy,” she giggled.
“You’re saying one thing,” Nick scrunched his face, “but your hands are saying another.” He intercepted her hand from his thigh and held it tightly in his own. “From the moment I saw you in these killer shorts washing a vintage car, I had a mission – and you know I don’t give up.”
“Absolutely not,” she toyed.
“You’re killing me here,” Nick whined.
“What about the hay loft?” she pushed further. The incredulously look on her face prompted her to sputter, laughing into his shoulder.
“Is that even comfortable?” Nick knitted his brows together.
“No more comfortable than being pressed against cold metal!” Adalind retorted.
Nick convinced her otherwise long after the kids went to bed, leaving her languid in his clutch and her shorts somewhere in the barn.
“I just washed this, too,” she groaned upon seeing the aftermath.
“I’m just as devastated as you are,” Nick appeased, kissing her once more.
He surrendered his sweatshirt to her. She wrapped her nearly-naked form in the lengthy material.
“Don’t kiss me,” she mocked disgust. “I know where that mouth has been.”
“You weren’t complaining a few minutes ago,” Nick grinned.
“Fuck, I’ve missed you,” she admitted heartily. She reached out with one arm to pull him into a longer kiss.
“And I’ve missed you,” he reciprocated, teeth lingering on her bottom lip. “I’ll take up your offer about the loft,” he mumbled. His hands drifted under the sweatshirt onto a familiar stretch of skin. “This time just be a little quieter,” he joked. “You almost rivaled the coyotes.”
“Fuck you,” she gritted her teeth.
“That’s the plan.”
He plucked her off the hood with one arm, while she held onto him with both, as they crossed the threshold to the pile of hay nearby. She expected her back to hit the straw but instead found herself looking down at Nick, lying underneath at her complete mercy.
“All yours, sweetheart,” he dared to flash his signature grin.
“Just keep quiet this time,” she repeated his words.
“Screw you,” he laughed.
“That’s the plan,” she said, fitting herself onto his lap.
The vision of Kelly and Diana making new memories in the same halls she had eventually persuaded Adalind to reconsider her original plans of disassociating with the old farmhouse. Nick was fond of it, too, and would make suggestions on how to make modern accommodations.
The image of Adalind comfortable in a sunlit kitchen, wearing nothing but shorts and tee, teaching Kelly and Diana how to make strawberry shortcake was all the affirmation Nick needed to keep the humble place within the family line. It was quiet, peaceful, and warm. Even if it was a week at a time, the moments spent there would last decades – just like they did for Adalind when she was a child.
And they did. When they found time, they headed to middle of nowhere Iowa for a weekly retreat.
The spent many nights around a blazing bonfire. They sought refuge in its walls during one bad stint, coming out unscathed. They reminisced about the time they were snowed in. They practiced shooting in the background – pleasantly surprised to learn Adalind was just as apt at the shotgun as she was about the shift stick. They killed hours on the porch, enjoying the peaceful evening with a cold drink in their hands. They enjoyed the only bar the town had to offer, getting friendly with the locals occasionally.
Nick wanted to retire there someday but his heart was in Portland and always would be. Adalind remained by his side faithfully, happy to retire in their city abode around beloved faces.
Kelly spent his weekends there when he was applied (and accepted) into the state University. Along with it, a dependable truck to replace the beater. He met his future wife on campus and she, too, began to get herself acquainted with its comforts before they even married.
There were many, many good memories made and many, many more to make, Adalind thought tenderly. Nick agreed wholeheartedly, curling his arm around her shoulder and swaying on the bench blissfully.