Forty-five minutes later, they arrived at the entrance to Grandfather Mountain. While remnants of snow remained, their drive up the mountain was clear.
Instead of taking the stairs from the parking lot, they accessed the bridge using the elevator located inside the Top Shop. It felt as if the temperature had dropped several degrees from the time they’d left the cabin until now. She zipped her coat higher.
“You ready?” Roth asked.
Staring across the lengthy structure, Tressa experienced a brief moment of hesitation, then she glanced up at Roth and an instant calm washed over her. “Yes.”
Roth splayed his fingers and she joined her hand with his. They took several steps until they were standing on metal. Her grip on his hand tightened.
“You know you don’t have to do this, right?”
“I know. But I want to.” Needed to, actually.
Several moments later, they stood in the center of the bridge. Though her heart thumped in her chest a little harder than normal, her temperature rose despite the cold and the slight tremble of her body. The 360-degree, panoramic view of the mountains was amazing.
She closed her eyes and inhaled the cool, crisp air, but popped them open when the bridge swayed harder than it had before. Gripping the rail, she gasped.
“You’re okay,” Roth said.
When they finally reached the opposite side, Tressa blew a sigh of relief. Roth wrapped his strong arms around her, and it felt as if she’d been awarded a medal of honor.
“You did it,” he said, lowering his mouth to hers.
They shared a celebratory kiss. Briefly, everyone and everything around them disappeared, and she forgot they were standing a mile above sea level. Her connection with Roth made her feel invincible. That’s how she knew this thing they shared was real.
The trip back across the bridge was a breeze. You never would have known that just twenty minutes prior, she’d been a bundle of nerves. Making their way back to the car, Roth pulled her hand to his mouth and kissed her wrist.
“I’m proud of you,” he said.
The simple affirmation lit her soul. “Thank you.”
Once she was settled inside the vehicle, Roth rounded the vehicle and slid behind the wheel.
“I hope you don’t mind, but I told Nettie and Glen we’d stop by for lunch. I hate coming to Silver Point and not spending a little time with them.”
“I don’t mind, but I look a mess. I need to change.”
Roth leaned in to kiss her on the cheek. “Baby, you look fine. You always look fine, fully clothed or naked.”
He bounced his brows twice.
When they arrived at Nettie and Glen’s place, Tressa admired the ranch-style brick home. A wide porch spanned the entire length of the front of the house. Four white rocking chairs rocked faintly against a bitter breeze. In the distance sat a barn and a stable. She wondered if there were horses inside.
Roth got out and rounded the vehicle. When her door opened, a hint of nervousness fluttered in her stomach. For some reason she felt as if she was about to meet his parents for the first time.
She imagined saying, “What if they don’t like me?” in a whiny voice. Instead, she smiled and said, “I’m really going to miss Silver Point.”
“We’ll come back anytime you want.” He placed a kiss on her forehead, then led her to the front door.
Glen made a thunderous sound of excitement when the door opened. If nothing else, the man was jolly. He gave Roth a manly handshake, then pulled Tressa into his arms.
“I’m glad y’all could make it. Come on in.”
Glen stepped aside and they entered. Instantly, Tressa had her answer about whether there were horses in the barn. The spacious sitting room was like a horse museum. Cowboy hats, pictures of horses and horseshoes all claimed space on several walls. Horse figurines, medals and trophies were on display in a well-lit wooden cabinet.
Yep, there were horses. Or at least there used to be.
Tressa eyed a picture of a group of men posing at what looked to be a rodeo. Her eyes narrowed on one of the men in the frame. Though he was several years younger and several pounds lighter, the wide smile was unmistakable. Glen. Had the man been a cowboy in his youth?