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    Valkyrie
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The Hollow Hills - 8. Chapter 8

Galen

The next couple of months passed in a bit of a blur. Josh and Alannah spent four weeks in Florida competing in horse shows. Alannah won a major competition and only needed a few more points to qualify for the World Championships later that year. Josh was never far from my thoughts, but I honestly didn’t miss him as much as I thought I would. I made sure to keep myself busy enough to keep my mind off him. Caroline took over teaching Josh’s lessons while they were gone, so I continued to ride every weekend. I was eager to show Josh what I had learned when he came back. I spent a lot of time with Liam and Jody.

I met Ethan a few more times when I was hanging out with Jody. Every time, when it was time to leave, Ethan would ask me if I wanted to go for coffee. It became a bit of a running joke.

About a week before Josh was due back from Florida, I spent the night at Jody’s. We were curled up together on the couch watching a movie. One thing that made Jody such a great friend was that he put up with my horrible taste in movies. I was a sucker for a good, cheesy romance. I loved Hallmark movies - the cheesier the better. I think Jody secretly liked them as much as I did; although he’d never admit it.

“Have you thought about dating again?” asked Jody.

“I told you about Josh. He’s already taken.”

“He’s not the only man out there, Galen. What about Ethan?”

“What about him?”

Jody nudged me. “You know exactly what I’m talking about.”

I frowned. “He’s always asking me out for coffee, but I figured he was just kidding around since I keep shooting him down.”

“Why are you shooting him down? He’s a great guy.”

“Jo…I’m not ready for another serious relationship.”

“Don’t give me that crap. You’d date Josh in a heartbeat if he asked you. Besides, who said anything about a serious relationship? He’s asking you out for coffee, not proposing.”

I was silent as I thought about what he said. He was right. Besides, Ethan was nice enough and pretty cute.

“Ok fine.”

“Fine, what?”

“I’ll go out for coffee with him.”

“Yeah?”

“Yeah. If it’s a total disaster, it’s all your fault.”

“Oh it is, huh?”

“Yup.”

I yelped as Jody tickled my side. I smacked him on the arm. “Jerk.”

“You know you love me.”

I sighed. “God help me, but for some strange reason I do.”

*****

Jody invited the guys over the next Saturday for a barbeque. I had a nice time, even though I didn’t have much in common with Jody’s friends. I spent most of the time chatting with Liam, Jody, or Ethan. Sally was visiting her sister. At the end of the day, Ethan walked out of the house with me after I said my goodbyes. I thought it was kind of cute how he did that every time. I knew what was coming next.

“So Galen, when are we going to get that cup of coffee?” Ethan smiled, but the look on his face told me what answer he was expecting.

“Tomorrow night, seven-thirty at the Coffee Spot.

He stood in stunned silence for a minute before he was able to respond. “Really?”

I smiled. “Sure. It’s not far from my apartment. I go there when I get sick of working at home.”

Ethan turned away from me, trying to hide the grin that spread across his face. “I can’t wait. See you tomorrow.”

“See you.”

*****

I arrived at the Coffee Spot about ten minutes early. I wanted to give myself some time to organize my thoughts. I sipped my hot chocolate and thought about Josh. A part of me felt like I was betraying him, but I pushed those thoughts aside, feeling stupid. It’s not like we ever dated. Josh had made his choice. I sighed. I felt like a louse for thinking about Josh while I was waiting for Ethan. It made me wonder if I was making the right decision. I scowled into my cup. I was being ridiculous. Josh was a good friend, nothing more. Jody was right; it wasn’t fair for me to put my life on hold for someone who might never choose me. Besides, this was just coffee, right?

The door opened and I watched Ethan nervously enter the shop. He looked around and his face lit up the moment he saw me. He really was cute. I pushed thoughts of Josh out of my mind and smiled at my date.

Ethan slid into the chair across from me after ordering his cup of coffee at the counter. “Hi, Galen.”

“Hi, Ethan.”

He took a sip of his coffee. “This is really good. I’ve never been here before.”

“I come here almost every day. They have really good cocoa.”

“Don’t you drink coffee?”

I shook my head.

“So I’ve been asking you for coffee all this time and you don’t even drink it?” He looked mortified.

I laughed. “There’s plenty of other stuff here I drink. They have good tea, too.”

“I’ve never been much of a tea drinker.”

“I like herbal tea. I can’t handle caffeine. It makes me too hyper.”

We each took sips of our respective drinks.

“What made you change your mind?” Ethan asked.

“What do you mean?” I knew what he meant. I was stalling while I thought of a response.

“I’ve been asking you out for like two months now. Yesterday was the last time I was going to ask.” He smiled. “I’m glad I did.”

“Honestly, I had a talk with Jody.”

He frowned. “So you’re only here because of Jody?”

“No, I didn’t mean it like that. I’ve been too hung up on Jamie.” I decided it wasn’t a good idea to mention Josh. “Jody opened my eyes to other possibilities.”

The corner of Ethan’s mouth lifted in a half smile. “I’ll have to thank him.”

“Ethan, please don’t think I’m only here because Jody told me to go out with you. He told me no such thing. I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t want to be.” I reached across the table and squeezed his hand.

He squeezed back as a broad grin spread across his face. He blushed and tried to turn away to hide it.

“You’re pretty cute when you smile like that,” I said.

“You think I’m cute?”

I nodded.

“Wow. You’re gorgeous, you know that?”

“Thanks.”

We stayed in the coffee shop for a few hours, talking. We talked about Jody and Ethan’s construction business, how we each met Jody, and our likes/dislikes. I even found myself telling him about Jamie. Ethan was very easy to talk to. We ended the evening by making plans to go out the next Saturday after my riding lesson.

*****

The week flew by. I switched my lesson to the morning, instead of the afternoon, and let Josh know I wouldn’t be able to stay for dinner. He sounded disappointed.

My thoughts were on my upcoming date as I groomed and tacked up Buck for my lesson. Ethan wouldn’t tell me where he was taking me and my imagination was in overdrive. My dates with Jamie usually consisted of going out to the clubs, but I didn’t see Ethan as the club type.

Josh was just finishing a lesson, so I mounted Buck and walked around the perimeter of the ring after adjusting my stirrup length. He motioned me into the center of the ring after he finished.

“I thought we’d do something a bit different today. How do you feel about learning to canter?”

“You’re the boss. If you think I’m ready for it, I’d love to try.”

“You’re doing great, Galen. You have good balance and a nice position. You’ll find that cantering is a lot more comfortable than trotting.”

I grinned. “Sounds good, thanks.”

Josh was right; cantering was a lot more comfortable. Buck was a bit lazy and trotted around the ring really fast before he broke into a canter, but our transitions got better as I adjusted to the new gait. I felt like we were galloping into the sunset, even though we were doing a very slow canter. I preferred my romanticized view.

“Great job, Galen. You keep doing this well and you’ll be jumping in no time.”

I looked at him dubiously. “I’m not sure I really want to do that.”

“That’s ok. One step at a time.”

After Buck was cool, I led him into the barn and untacked him. He was still a little sweaty so I threw a cooler over him and walked him around in the bright May sunshine. Josh had a brief break in his lessons so he fell into step next to me.

“So you have plans tonight, huh?”

“Yeah. I have a date.”

A brief look of disapproval flashed across Josh’s face. “Oh? With whom?”

“Ethan. One of Jody’s friends. He’s been asking me out for a couple months now, and I decided it was time I said yes.”

“Where are you going?” Josh’s face was impassive.

“I don’t know. He won’t tell me. It’s a surprise.”

Josh nodded, acknowledging what I said. “You haven’t been over for dinner in a while. Any requests for your next cooking lesson?”

“Not really. Whatever you decide is fine.”

“I think it’s time you learned how to cook some protein. Do you like stuffed pork chops? I think we’ll stay away from chicken for now.” He smirked.

I smiled. “Jerk. Stuffed pork chops sound really good.”

“Great. Just let me know when you want to come over. I’ll be in town for the next couple of weeks, then Alannah has another show circuit she’ll be competing in.”

“Ok. I’ll call and let you know.”

Josh walked back to the ring to teach his next lesson.

 

Ethan arrived at my apartment right on time. I slid into the passenger side of his truck and he headed north out of town. “You look great, Galen.”

“Thanks. So will you tell me where we’re going now?” The only clue he had given me was to tell me to dress casually.

He smiled. “Nope. You’ll see when we get there.”

We chatted amiably for the half hour it took to arrive at our destination. I told him all about my lesson and how much fun it was learning to canter.

Ethan drummed his fingers on the steering wheel and looked at me nervously as he pulled into the parking lot of a miniature golf course.

I raised an eyebrow. “Mini golf?”

He grimaced. “We can go somewhere else if you think it’s too lame.”

I grinned. “Nah. It looks like fun. I haven’t been to one of these since I was a kid.”

Ethan exhaled and wiped his hands on his jeans. “That’s a relief. I was worried you wouldn’t like it.”

I put my hand on his shoulder and squeezed. “Relax, Ethan. I’m sure we’ll have a great time.”

He smiled at me gratefully.

We did have a good time. Ethan was a lot of fun to be around, once he relaxed. We played a round of golf, dissolving into hysterics when I hit the ball a bit overzealously and it sailed over the fence. The course attendant frowned when I asked for another ball in a fit of giggles.

We sat at a picnic table and ate burgers and fries before playing a second course. The first course consisted of giant zoo animals. This one consisted of giant replicas of dinosaurs. I couldn’t remember the last time I had so much fun on a date.

On the drive home we relived our wilder shots and laughed again at the attendant’s reaction the second time I sent a ball sailing over the fence. I watched Ethan as he drove, silhouetted against the headlights of oncoming traffic. Before today I found it hard to imagine dating Ethan. He was easy to talk to and had a quirky sense of humor. The looks and smiles he flashed me when I caught him staring at me were adorable. I was looking forward to going on a second date with him.

He pulled up next to my apartment and put the truck in park. “I had a great time today, Galen.”

“So did I.”

“I’d really like to go out with you again.”

I smiled. “I’d like that.”

Ethan’s smile could have lit up the entire truck. “Great! I’ll call you, ok?”

I nodded. He looked away, bouncing his leg and fiddling with his hands. It seemed like he was contemplating something.

“Good night, Ethan.” I moved to open the truck door and he put his arm on mine, stopping me. He leaned close and kissed me quickly, turning a bright shade of red.

“I hope you don’t mind, but I’ve wanted to do that ever since I first saw you.”

“I don’t mind.”

He looked like he wanted to kiss me again, so I leaned in and we kissed again.

“Good night, Ethan.”

“Good night, Galen.”

 

Sleep eluded me for a long time that night. I had a lot to think about. I remembered the look on Josh’s face when I told him I was going on a date and frowned. I shifted onto my side and drew my extra pillow close. I thought about my lesson and the feel of Buck cantering beneath me and the freedom I felt. I was really happy with how well I was doing with my riding lessons. Josh was a great teacher. I smiled as I reminisced about my date with Ethan. It was unlike any date I had ever been on. I wondered what he had in mind for our second date. Tigger curled up on my chest and I petted him absently. I thought about what I felt when Ethan kissed me, and my thoughts drifted to those few times Josh and I had made out so passionately when we first met. I didn’t feel anywhere near that level of passion for Ethan. I sighed and Tigger stretched before curling into a different position. I felt like a real asshole for thinking about Josh when I had just returned from such a fun date with Ethan. Ethan really was a good guy and I’d be a fool not to give him a chance. I pushed thoughts of Josh out of my mind until I finally drifted off to sleep, no less troubled.

What do you think of Ethan and Galen's first date? Thanks, as always, to the very awesome Lisa and Cole Matthews for their input into this story. Please leave me a review and let me know how you liked the chapter!

Copyright © 2018 Valkyrie; All Rights Reserved.
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Chapter Comments

I really hope he gives Ethan his fair chance b/c Josh doesn't want him that way. He had his chance. sadly, Josh and he aren't good as friends right now. By Josh showing he is no thrilled with him dating is unfair. he can't have it both ways. that is selfish. I fear Ethan is going to get hurt. clearly he really likes Galen and can Galen give him a chance when he is around Josh regularly? I don't think so. the date was fun and different. I think Ethan could be good for Galen. I just hate to see him hurt. Galen needs to think if he can do this before he continues forward.

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Galen really shouldn't be dating right now or at least not be physical. He's setting Ethan up to be hurt, whether he means to or not. It will be hard for Galen to put his feelings for Josh behind him when they keep hanging out and Josh (sneaky bastard) tries to keep him interested.

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I think the name of the story is fitting. I think a life with Josh would be hollow. He's a cheater. Galen is willing to be with a cheater after leaving a cheater... it is a recipe for disaster. I feel bad for Ethan. Galen will be a fool and break Ethan's heart, because he is an absolute mess. All I can hope for is that Galen learns from the past and consider himself lucky that Ethan cares for him... cheers...Gary...awaiting the next chapter...

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On 04/11/2015 05:49 AM, Cannd said:
I really hope he gives Ethan his fair chance b/c Josh doesn't want him that way. He had his chance. sadly, Josh and he aren't good as friends right now. By Josh showing he is no thrilled with him dating is unfair. he can't have it both ways. that is selfish. I fear Ethan is going to get hurt. clearly he really likes Galen and can Galen give him a chance when he is around Josh regularly? I don't think so. the date was fun and different. I think Ethan could be good for Galen. I just hate to see him hurt. Galen needs to think if he can do this before he continues forward.
We'll see what the future holds for Ethan and Galen. Thanks for the review. :)
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On 04/11/2015 06:31 AM, Puppilull said:
Galen really shouldn't be dating right now or at least not be physical. He's setting Ethan up to be hurt, whether he means to or not. It will be hard for Galen to put his feelings for Josh behind him when they keep hanging out and Josh (sneaky bastard) tries to keep him interested.
I'm not sure how Josh is being a sneaky bastard...:/ He did show that he's not thrilled with Galen dating, but I think that's coming from a place of jealously vs Josh wanting to keep Galen interested. Josh really isn't a bad guy...I know he has his share of flaws, but don't we all? ;) We'll see what the future holds for Galen and Ethan. You're right that Galen needs to be careful, otherwise Ethan will get hurt. Thanks for the review!
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On 04/11/2015 11:49 AM, Headstall said:
I think the name of the story is fitting. I think a life with Josh would be hollow. He's a cheater. Galen is willing to be with a cheater after leaving a cheater... it is a recipe for disaster. I feel bad for Ethan. Galen will be a fool and break Ethan's heart, because he is an absolute mess. All I can hope for is that Galen learns from the past and consider himself lucky that Ethan cares for him... cheers...Gary...awaiting the next chapter...
Josh and Galen aren't in a place where they're ready to be together right now. Galen took a stand and gave Josh an ultimatum, so I think he's shown he's not willing to be with a cheater. We'll see what the future holds for Galen and Ethan. Thanks for reading, Gary. I love reading your reviews. You always make me think! :)
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OH, a date with Ethan! YEY…this line had me laughing: “So I’ve been asking you for coffee all this time and you don’t even drink it?” He looked mortified.” Too funny!

 

I really liked this chapter, and felt drawn in by it for a few reasons. One, the structure seems so well crafted – from the kinetics of the lessons and good feelings for Galen that he's advancing, to the coffee and golfing dates where Ethan is allowed to shine as his own blushing-self, to Galen's introspective thoughts of Josh 'intruding' on his giving Ethan a fair shot.

 

And then there is the pure sweetness of this chapter, something not really needed or seen in the previous segments. Here, Jody and Galen watching a sappy movie is reinforced by the advice, the blushes and smiles of the coffee encounter, and best of all, the shared laughter over lost miniature golf balls. I loved every moment of it. I really did.

 

Great chapter!

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On 04/20/2015 07:03 AM, AC Benus said:
OH, a date with Ethan! YEY…this line had me laughing: “So I’ve been asking you for coffee all this time and you don’t even drink it?” He looked mortified.” Too funny!

 

I really liked this chapter, and felt drawn in by it for a few reasons. One, the structure seems so well crafted – from the kinetics of the lessons and good feelings for Galen that he's advancing, to the coffee and golfing dates where Ethan is allowed to shine as his own blushing-self, to Galen's introspective thoughts of Josh 'intruding' on his giving Ethan a fair shot.

 

And then there is the pure sweetness of this chapter, something not really needed or seen in the previous segments. Here, Jody and Galen watching a sappy movie is reinforced by the advice, the blushes and smiles of the coffee encounter, and best of all, the shared laughter over lost miniature golf balls. I loved every moment of it. I really did.

 

Great chapter!

Thanks so much, AC. I loved reading your review. I'm so glad you enjoyed the chapter so much. Ethan is a total sweetheart. Thanks for the kind words and great review! :hug:
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I loved Ethan's nervousness around Galen. Frist days when their right at so cute no matter what age you are. And their first kiss was adorable. Great chapter.

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On 06/01/2015 12:31 PM, keyisfake said:
I loved Ethan's nervousness around Galen. Frist days when their right at so cute no matter what age you are. And their first kiss was adorable. Great chapter.

Thanks, Key. I'm glad you liked it. :)

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Ok well I'm glad they went out. Doubt much will ome of it, but they tried. Ethan will be hurt and that's sad. Good chapter though, nicely done.

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On 04/27/2016 01:07 PM, Mikiesboy said:

Ok well I'm glad they went out. Doubt much will ome of it, but they tried. Ethan will be hurt and that's sad. Good chapter though, nicely done.

Thanks :) It's fun re-living the beginning of the story from all your reviews. I'm glad you like it so far. :)

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15 minutes ago, Albert1434 said:

Another Great chapter well written. I want more lol

Well there's another 12 chapters posted ;)  :gikkle: Thanks for reading. :)  

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19 hours ago, Albert1434 said:

I think this is maybe your best chapter so far loving this story:yes:

Thanks :)  I'm so glad you like the story so much :hug: 

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Ethan sounds adorable and like a total sweetheart.  I hope Galen doesn't break his heart.  

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14 minutes ago, CassieQ said:

Ethan sounds adorable and like a total sweetheart.  I hope Galen doesn't break his heart.  

Ethan is definitely a total sweetheart.  We'll see what the future holds ;)  Thanks for reading!  

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“I’ll go out for coffee with him.”  Of course he didn't listen. :angry:

I felt like a real asshole for thinking about Josh when I had just returned from such a fun date with Ethan.  Yeah you should feel like that. What's up with him? And Josh too.

Find someone nice for Ethan.

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52 minutes ago, aditus said:

“I’ll go out for coffee with him.”  Of course he didn't listen. :angry:

I felt like a real asshole for thinking about Josh when I had just returned from such a fun date with Ethan.  Yeah you should feel like that. What's up with him? And Josh too.

Find someone nice for Ethan.

:whistle: :X 

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