What happens when a major earthquake changes life as you know it and the boy you thought you hated ends up saving you? Three times! Courtland Reese is the guy everyone hates and makes fun of because … well, he is weird. He communicates with animals. Strange or interesting, seventeen-year-old Adela Castielle can’t quite figure out, but when he saves her from being trampled by her own horse, she begins to understand him a little better and wants to learn more about him. But, Max—her best friend/dream guy/someday-to-be-her-husband-only-he-doesn’t-know-it-yet—hates Courtland with a passion. Adela wants to know why, except neither boy is talking. When Max leaves her stranded in his parents' wine cave with his worst enemy, Courtland, after what the experts are calling a “megathrust” earthquake, Adela starts to question her loyalty to Max as steamy kisses in a dark damp cellar only fuel her emotions with more conflict. But does she really have time to worry about that when fire, destruction and mayhem surround her?
read the first two chapters now!
~~ Adela ~~
An enormous amount of shaking jerked me awake. My freaking bed was bouncing underneath me. A deep growl from somewhere below rose to a violent rumbling, rocking me and everything else around in my bedroom. I bolted up in my bed not really fully awake enough to comprehend exactly what was going on. My eyes darted to the swaying floor lamp threatening to tumble over in the corner. For a moment, I sat frozen, unable to move as I watched my silver jewelry box slide off my dresser and crash to the floor. Bracelets, earrings, and necklaces scattered over the hardwood surface. Shoving the covers aside, I jumped out of bed and tripped over the blankets hanging from the side of the mattress, falling on my hands and knees in my haste to get to my parents’ room. I picked my wobbly self up and took off toward their doorway, colliding with my dad. We held on to one another to steady ourselves from the swaying movement of the rumbling house. My little sister screeched from down the hall, “What’s happening, what’s happening?!” I glanced toward the sound of her piercing squeal, which only fueled the deafening roar with more hysteria. “Go to your mother.” My dad shoved me in the direction of their king-sized bed as he took off toward the room my four-year-old sister and brother shared. I jumped into my mom’s out-stretched arms and we huddled together in the center of the bed. For a split second I thought, are we at war? It may have been a stupid notion, but you’d be surprised at what flips through your mind in the middle of a disaster. I didn’t know what war felt like, but I was positive it had to be something this frightening. My mom’s arms wrapped tighter around my shoulders, the bed bouncing and rocking beneath us as I tried to think who might be bombing us. Because, if we were being bombed, surely that big blast of light would come at any minute and it would all be over. Somehow, through my fear I wracked my brain trying to remember which countries possessed nuclear weapons. North Korea came to mind, a topic we’d discussed at length in history class only last week. The bedroom windows shook and rattled and I thought they would explode any second. A crashing sound came from somewhere else in the house and the earsplitting shatter of glass rang in my head. As my mom and I huddled together, I stared out the large sliding glass door leading to the swimming pool. Traces of the early morning sun made things barely visible as water sloshed around, spilling over the edge. The surrounding pavement rippled in waves. The bedside lamp toppled over and I almost jumped out of my skin when the bulb exploded as it hit the hardwood floor. This is it. I was sure my life was over. My father shouted from down the hall, “They’re okay!” My mom sighed, squeezing her arms around my body even tighter and whispering close to my ear, “It’s an earthquake.” “An earthquake?” I wasn’t quite sure which was worse, being blown to smithereens or swallowed by the earth as it cracked wide open. Maybe the roof would cave in and crush us to death. Not that it mattered. Dead is dead. In what seemed like an eternity of seconds later, the shaking stopped. The roaring and rumbling ceased and quiet settled around us except for my sister’s whimpering and my dad’s soothing voice. The sudden stillness seemed eerie, as if it was only temporary and the shaking and rumbling would start up again any second. My mom cupped my face in her hands and made me look in her eyes. “Are you okay, Adela?” Her voice had the uncanny ability to soothe me even in a nerve-wracking situation like this. Maybe that’s why my dad called her Angel, aside from the fact that it was short for Angelica. Angelica Castielle … sort of had a solacing ring to it, I always thought. I nodded and swiped away the uncontrollable tears rolling down my cheeks. “Come on, let’s go see the twins.” We got up from the bed and walked down the hall to the twins’ room. Aaron, my little brother and Ambrosia, my little sister sat on the bottom bunk; our dad between them, his big hand fluffing Aaron’s hair. His broad smile lightened the situation as he glanced up at my mom and me. Aaron studied his fingers, twisting them in his red Superman blanket and Ambrosia sniffled against Dad’s broad chest. “There, it’s all over now,” he cooed softly and squeezed them close. My mom took a step toward them and they jumped into her arms. I hung back, leaning against the door, too devastated at the sight of the toys and decorations that had fallen off the shelves and now lay strewn about on the floor. A picture of me and the twins my mom had made us pose for last Christmas lay face up on the floor, the glass of the frame broken into a million tiny pieces. I tried to swallow the lump in my throat. The last thing the twins needed was to see me cry. “Look, Mommy, my fire truck ladder.” Aaron’s bottom lip protruded slightly, but he managed to keep his tough boyish bravado in check as he held two halves of a white plastic ladder in his hands. “Sorry, sweetie.” “Give it here, pal. I think I can glue it.” Aaron handed the two pieces of the ladder to my dad and sat back down beside him on the bed. Dad patted Aaron on the head and stood, approached me, and placed his fingers under my chin as I lifted my eyes to his. “Okay, Dely?” Words stuck in my throat and a sob threatened, so I only nodded. He smiled but his eyes stayed firm and serious as he walked out of the room. I turned and ran after him. “Dad, what about the horses?” I asked, struggling to clear the sob from my voice. “I’m gonna get dressed and check on them now.” “I want to come.” “I think your mother needs you here.” “Dad, please? Big Blue needs me. The earthquake had to scare him. He’ll be so frightened. Please.” This time, his dark eyes smiled along with his mouth. “Okay, Adela. But once we see he’s okay, you’re back here, helping your mother.” “Okay, I promise.” I sprinted to my room and stopped in the doorway, taking in the horrible sight. My favorite picture lay on the floor. I picked it up and turned it over before placing it back on the dresser. Luckily, there wasn’t a scratch on it. My mom had taken it two years ago at my fifteenth birthday party. Max and I had just had a cake fight, and we smiled for the camera with our heads close together, faces smudged with chocolate frosting. I loved that picture; it represented one of the happiest times in my life. I turned to grab the pants I’d left draped over the back of the glider in the corner of my room, a habit that always invoked a threat of donation to Goodwill by my mother. On my way, I tripped over the jewelry box still sitting in the middle of the floor. I sighed at the sight, all my jewelry tangled and scattered around the floor, including the delicate heart pendant my mom had given me on my seventeenth birthday four months ago. I picked it up and put it on, stared at the other stuff on the floor, and sighed. I’ll worry about the rest of the mess later. I tugged up my jeans and shrugged on a long-sleeved shirt, buttoning it one-handed, grabbing an elastic band from the doorknob with the other. I didn’t even bother combing my hair, just ran my fingers through the tangles, and pulled it back, looping the hair band several times around it. I snatched my jacket from the hook behind the door, pulling it on as I ran to the kitchen, grabbed an apple from the bowl filled with assorted fruit on the counter, and shoved it into my jacket pocket. Passing the living room, I saw the mess of scattered, broken china on the floor in front of the hutch. Mom stood at the edge of the room, shaking her head. I could almost feel her anguish at the sight in front of her. With her hands clasped together, fingers folded into the soft peach Angora wool of her sweater, she crushed the collar close to her chin as if it was a security blanket; maybe it was to her. My dad had given her that sweater last Christmas and she wore it all the time. “Sorry, Mom.” I wanted to comfort her but she waved me on, not even looking at me. The china set, an heirloom from my mother’s family, passed down for five generations, would have one day belonged to Ambrosia or me. Well, that decision was no longer an issue. At that moment, I realized nothing lasts forever. Particularly porcelain china. The smell of hay mixed with horse manure assaulted my nose when I strolled into the stable no less than two minutes later. Most people cringe at that smell, but I embraced it. It meant I was near Big Blue. I walked past my dad who’d already shoveled most of the hay into the trough, and headed straight to Big Blue’s stall. “Adela, don’t go in there yet. He’s very skittish and might stomp on you by accident. I’m going to give Courtland Reese a call. I want him to check out Blue before you ride him. That is, if he hasn’t already been solicited by another rancher around here.” “Dad, seriously? Courtland Reese? Come on. I know Big Blue better than anyone. I can handle him, can’t I, big boy?” I said, as I got closer to my horse. Courtland Reese was the boy everyone at school hated and made fun of because of his freakish connection to animals. Well, Max hated him, mostly. Everyone else just went along with whatever Max said. I reached over the gate and placed my hand on Blue’s head and he reared back, flaring his nostrils as if he didn’t know me. I recoiled in shock. No. Big Blue can’t do this. He’s my baby. I had been there when he was born, the very first person he’d seen as he lay there covered in that white gooey-looking transparent sac. It gave his midnight black coat a bluish tint. I’ll never forget Dr. Showbert, the veterinarian, saying Blue was the largest colt he had ever seen. I knew from that very moment what I would call him. “Shhhh. Big Blue, shhhh. That’s it. Come on, it’s okay,” I coaxed in my softest persuasive voice as Big Blue inched closer to the gate and let me stroke his beautiful black face. I gently traced the white diamond on his forehead, a gesture he always seemed to love, and a bubbling thrill tingled throughout my blood when he nuzzled my cheek. I was pleased that Blue let me pet him, but my mind seethed with anger over the prospect of Courtland Reese, a guy my own age, handling my horse. A boy Max despised. A boy who was the talk of every rancher within ten miles of Pleasant Ridge. He always seemed different from other boys, standoffish, and he looked a bit older than the rest of the guys in school. It was rumored—if you paid attention to those sorts of things—that Courtland had some weird ability to communicate with animals, particularly horses. Back in elementary school, kids made fun of him, calling him “Dr. Doolittle” and “freak.” Not so much anymore though, now that we were all seniors and way too cool for such immature behavior—well, most of us. Max still referred to him as “Freakazoid.” Courtland was also half Miwok Native American and most people said that was where he got his strange ability. I think a lot of the kids regarded him as scary and unapproachable more than anything else. He was quiet and didn’t socialize much, which didn’t help his reputation. I’d always thought he had a certain bad-boy look—sort of a leftover hot guy from that movie, “The Outsiders.” Yeah, I’m an 80’s movie nerd. Certain that I could do better than Courtland, I smiled and nuzzled Big Blue right back. Courtland Reese had nothing compared to this kind of love. Big Blue was mine and nobody could ever soothe him the way I could. “See, Dad? Big Blue is fine. We don’t need Courtland.” It wasn’t that I didn’t like Courtland. All I really knew about the guy was what Max told me. Maxen Wendell, my best friend, future boyfriend and husband, only he didn’t know it yet, was an excellent judge when it came to sizing up people. Max was popular, always had been, just the opposite of Courtland. I sort of felt special that Max actually hung around with me … considering I wasn’t popular. Max and I became friends outside of school because we lived close to each other and I was probably the only other person his age within six miles other than Courtland. Max said Courtland was too “sweet” so he must be a mama’s boy as well as a pansy. I’d thought about pointing out that Courtland’s mother died several years ago so he couldn’t possibly be a mama’s boy, but it really wasn’t something worth starting an argument over. I wasn’t even sure about the sweet part; he didn’t look very sweet to me. He frowned a lot and never spoke to me unless I said something to him, which rarely ever happened, mostly because we really had nothing in common except for our love of animals. Court wasn’t a bad guy. I guess I just never really took the time to get to know him, but today wasn’t the day to start. I didn’t want him near Big Blue, except my father seemed to think Courtland Reese had what it took to make or break a good stud like my horse. “Well, I’m calling him anyway,” my dad said, interrupting my thoughts. “There are other animals around here besides Blue that could use a bit of calming.” Convinced that Big Blue was steady and unflustered, I trucked back inside the house to help pick up china with my mom, another spirit in dire need of appeasement. Mom sniffled as she swept up shattered pieces of china and my heart felt as broken as Mom’s dishes, not for the china, but for my mother. She put so much stock in preserving the past. Personally, I didn’t see the importance but respected the fact that she did. “Sorry, Mom.” I didn’t really know what else to say to her so I grabbed another dustpan and broom. Angelica Castielle, the ever-protective angel, shooed me away. “Careful, honey. I’m afraid you’ll cut yourself. I’ll finish sweeping this up. Why don’t you go help with the twins instead? Could you get them dressed and give them some cereal?” Did it bother me that my mother would, on occasion, treat me like a twelve-year-old? Yeah, but this particular time I was thankful to be away from her sniffling over broken antique porcelain. “Sure.” I forced a smile and headed toward the twins’ room. I’d rather help them figure out what they were going to wear anyway. My siblings’ choices of clothing never failed to amuse me. Ambrosia always wanted to mimic Aaron. She was no doubt slated to be the next great tomboy in our small town of Pleasant Ridge, following in my very own footsteps. In fact, I still wanted to do everything Max did. I’d been following him around most of my life. Max is the one and only child of Julie and Carl Wendell, owners of Wendell Winery, the second largest vineyard in Pleasant Ridge, California. My parents provided Max with free riding lessons from the time he turned ten years old. They also allowed him to board his horse Misty, a golden mare, in our stable in exchange for some great—from what I’d heard—wine. Max joked that Misty had the hots for Big Blue. Hell, he might’ve been right. As I rounded the corner, I smiled at the usual banter coming from the twins’ room. I paused at the doorway and shrieked when I saw Ambrosia sporting a plastic baseball bat in her hands ready to swing it at Aaron’s head. “Ambrosia, don’t you dare hit Aaron with that bat! Give that to me. Do you want to put your brother in the hospital?” Ambrosia dropped the bat as if it suddenly acquired some magical power and singed her hands. Sitting on the lower bed, she pulled the pink comforter up to her chin, and shook her head, her reddish brown curls dangling over her face and down her back. “He called me a baby because I cried when the earthcrack happened this morning,” she confessed with an angelic pout. “Earthquake,” I corrected and looked at my little brother. “Aaron, I cried too. Does that make me a baby?” Well, I hadn’t exactly cried, but almost and he didn’t need to know that. Aaron scrunched his eyebrows together, jumped off the bed and stood, shooting his fists straight up in the air. His identical reddish brown curls fluffed around his head, and a thin red blanket tied around his upper chest hung down his back. Mom made sure he knew never to tie anything around his neck and he took it literally. “Don’t worry, I will protect you. Me and Dad. We’re the mans of this family.” “Well, I feel much better now, don’t you, Ambie?” Ambrosia rolled her eyes and giggled. I’d taken to calling her that after I read in some paranormal story that ambrosia meant “food of the gods, said to bestow immortality.” Picturing my little sister as some immortal’s snack sort of grossed me out. My mom thought it would be cute for all of us to have the same initials as she and my dad, ARC. Actually, I thought it gave us all some sort of bond, something that connected us, more than just blood. “Let’s see, what do you guys want to wear today?” “Mama said we didn’t have school today ‘cause of the earthcrack,” Aaron pouted. “Right.” “When can we go back to school?” he asked. “Stupid earthcracks. I don’t like them.” Ambrosia jumped off the bed, standing stiff with her arms crossed over her chest and sticking out her bottom lip, while Aaron stood at her side, a mirror image. “Yeah, stupid earthcracks,” he mimicked. “In about a week, I guess.” I handed Aaron a pair of jeans and a blue shirt I pulled from his drawer. “Here, put these on. Ambrosia, you have a blue shirt, don’t you? Oh here it is,” I said, rummaging through the messy drawer that my mom would no doubt have a fit over. That is, if she ever got over the mess in the rest of the house. “Who’s here?” Aaron asked at the sound of a knock on the front door. “Probably that obnoxious Courtland guy. Daddy wants him to help soothe the horses,” I said with a sigh. “He’s not noxious. He’s nice and handsome, like Daddy. I want to marry him when I grow up.” Ambrosia twirled around, holding her clothes out in front of her so they flowed through the air. “You’re stupid.” Aaron rolled his eyes and pounced onto his bed. “Shhh. Both of you get dressed; I’ll go tell him Daddy’s in the stable.” I strolled toward the door, glancing in the living room on my way. The vacuum roared with an occasional crunching sound as my mother pushed the beast over and over the area in front of the hutch. I opened the door to find Courtland Reese. His already broad shoulders seemed huge in that dark green hoodie zipped halfway up his chest, revealing a dark blue and black checkered shirt I’d seen him wear before. As I remembered, it had tight short sleeves that made him look rather tough the way his muscles peeked out from the hem of the sleeve, not like the freaky weird guy everyone claimed he was. He ran his fingers through his dark hair and gave me an almost dangerous looking half-smile then looked down at his feet. He shifted from one foot to the other, sticking both hands in his pockets before glancing back at me with vibrant green eyes. I don’t remember ever being this close to him and I suddenly felt like I’d forgotten to get dressed. I’d never noticed his eyes before or the way they could make me feel so defenseless. He kept glancing around the front yard as if he was looking for something. Why did he always act like there were a million and one things he’d rather be doing than talking to me? Well, the feeling was mutual, I’m sure. His dog Shiloh, on the other hand, a black mixed lab, took a step forward, wanting my attention. My heart melted as she wagged her tail fast enough to knock a small child across the porch and nuzzled the palm of my hand, her wet cold nose sliming my fingers. I smiled at the feeling and looked up into Courtland’s eyes that lingered on me for a few seconds before he averted them back to the ground once again. “Ah, is your dad home?” I nodded, unable to find my voice. Why was it again Max hated Courtland? “He called me to come over to check on the horses,” Courtland said, his eyes squinting from the sun, making him frown a bit, adding to that dangerous look he sometimes had going. Now I was the one studying the cracks in the old red-painted concrete porch my dad had been threatening to remodel with wood decking since we’d moved there eight years ago. Why anyone would paint concrete is beyond me. What’s wrong with plain gray? I mean, everybody knows it’s concrete. “He’s over at the stable,” I said, managing to locate my voice somewhere down past my esophagus, the statement so curt, I even surprised myself. “Thanks.” He turned and headed down the pathway. “Wait,” I shouted, not sure what I wanted to say. I wasn’t about to apologize for my rudeness, that’s for sure, but I didn’t want him to mess with Big Blue. I wanted to be the one to calm him and talk to him. Big Blue was my horse and I didn’t see the need to have a stranger whisper in my horse’s ear. If anybody was going to do any whispering to Big Blue, it was going to be me, no matter what my dad said. He turned and stared at me; the cool morning breeze blew his thick dark hair into his eyes. He brushed the strands away with long slender fingers and for the first time, I noticed that his eyes were not only green but also the deepest shade of emerald I’d ever seen. “Yeah?” he said coolly. “Um …what exactly are you going to do?” His lip curved up on one side. “Well, I don’t know yet. I’ll have to ask the horses what they want.” I blinked. “Oh,” was all I could think of to say to such an odd statement and he turned and walked away. Shiloh pushed her nose against my hand one more time before turning to follow Court. What did he mean, “ask the horses?” At this, I ran to my room to put on my riding boots. I wanted to be there when Courtland asked Big Blue that question. I chuckled at the image of Big Blue neighing and shaking his head in my direction, indicating it was me he wanted. I glanced in the mirror on my way to the closet and froze. Did I really just answer the door looking like this? My shirt was buttoned crooked; the last button was completely undone. I hadn’t even brushed my hair before pulling it back into a ponytail and it was all bumpy and lumpy with tons of escaped strands sticking out. I yanked the elastic from my hair, cringing at the broken strands that came with it. Running the brush through the tangles, I smoothed out the knots, and pulled it back into a neater ponytail this time. I tugged off my shirt and pulled on a grey sweater instead. It had been a little nippy outside and besides, the sweater stopped short of the silver embroidery on the flaps of the back pockets of my jeans, which accentuated the little curve of my never-to-be-perfect bottom—not like my mom’s. I think I must have inherited some ancestor’s butt from my dad’s side who hadn’t had much in that area. Kicking off the old brown boots my dad referred to as my shit-kickers, I opened the closet door to get my black riding boots and screamed.
Chapter 2 ~~ Courtland ~~ I moped my way to the stable, kicking at almost every rock I saw along the way. Shiloh trotted beside me and leapt after several of them. What a freakin’ douche. I’d been totally tongue whipped. Good thing Adela couldn’t read my mind. When she opened the door, I thought I’d died and gone to heaven. What a sight. I had to keep my eyes from hers in order to refrain from laughing. As beautiful as she was, this morning she was a mixture of sweet and ruffled. Not the normal angel I’d come to covet. But then, we don’t have major earthquakes every morning, so I guess I could understand her appearance. I bet she threw those clothes on in a hurry to get to her horse. Adela’s dad was pitching hay in the back of the stable when I entered. He looked up and smiled at me, a huge welcoming grin, and I instantly felt at ease. “Hey, Courtland. Am I glad to see you!” “Hey, Mr. Castielle.” I waved my hand and made my way to the first stall where Adela’s horse, Big Blue, stood. He stepped back and snorted at me as I approached. His breathing quickened and his neck muscles stiffened as he raised his head—a sure sign that he was anxious. Mr. Castielle walked over to us, careful to keep his distance. “When I came in here this morning, Blue’s ears were pinned back and his muscles seemed mighty tense. Adela was able to calm him some, but I still want you to see what you can do for him as well as Misty over there.” I glanced over at Misty, Max’s horse, and nodded at Mr. Casteille. If I didn’t care so much for animals, I wouldn’t give Misty the time of day, knowing she was his horse. But I knew deep down that Misty really had no choice in who she belonged to and thank God she didn’t have the same personality as her owner. I stretched out my hand toward Big Blue with my palm open and he walked forward a little bit, but he was swishing his tail, showing me his agitation. I noticed him grinding his teeth so I grabbed an apple out of the basket on the ground next to his stall and held it out to him. He was hesitant at first, but soon started to nibble. I petted his side and he began to relax, resting his rear foot with the tip of his hoof barely touching the ground. “That’s it, boy. All the ruckus is over. No more shaking and rumbling.” At least for now. I was certain there would be aftershocks. I know for a fact that Adela wasn’t happy about the idea of me being here to calm down her horse. I can only guess at the expletives she used in her mind when she found out I was coming over. It was no secret to me how she felt—just like everyone else around this too-small-to-be-called-a-town and at school. I knew they all thought of me as a freak. I’d heard it said that five years after graduation, everything that happened in high school would be forgotten. Hmmm … somehow, I didn’t think that would to be the case for me, thanks to Max. My life would be so much simpler if Max Wendell bit the dust. If there was one person I wish I’d never met, it was him. Sometimes I wondered if there was such a thing as the butterfly effect like that movie and if so, maybe I could go back in time the way Ashton Kutcher did and change things for the better. But like him, I’d probably end up making things worse or even lose an arm or two. I shook my head, shuddering at the thought and dreamed of Adela instead. Sweet, sexy Adela. The way she stood at the door frowning, looking frazzled but beautiful. took my breath away. I cannot fathom what it is that she sees in Max. He had to be the most obnoxious, arrogant, spiteful human being God ever planted on this earth. I could only hope and wish that someday Adela would look at me the way she looked at Max. I sighed at the thought and tried to concentrate on Big Blue. I had to admit, I was ecstatic this morning when my dad told me Adela’s father called to ask if I would come over and help calm his horses. My dad didn’t seem to be his usual morning-after-binge self. But then, maybe the earthquake sobered him up. I was a little surprised to see him drinking coffee this morning when I walked into the kitchen and at first, I thought that he was coming down from a drunken binge, using coffee to sober up. But after I called Mr. Castielle back, I realized my old man was actually lucid for once. I’d been in love with Adela since the day she moved to Pleasant Ridge, the very first time I ever saw her sweet face sprinkled with freckles. We’d been in the fourth grade. But once Max wormed his way into her world, I became invisible to her, or maybe like everyone else, she simply regarded me as a freak to be avoided. I never asked for this weird freakish talent I have to calm animals. It really wasn’t any type of paranormal ability; at least I didn’t think it was. All it took was a little patience and understanding, except sometimes I could actually sense what they felt. It was spooky, even to me. After Blue finished his apple and calmed down, I walked over to Misty. She had similar reactions as Blue, so I talked softly to her and coaxed her forward with an apple, the same way I did with Blue. As much as I wanted to, I couldn’t seem to get my mind off Adela and her disheveled appearance when she answered the door a few minutes ago—not to mention the fact that I was actually standing in her barn, tending to her horse. Surreal. She was a goddess even when she was flustered. I know these feelings I have for her are only one sided, though. They always have been. Mr. Castielle turned up the radio. The announcer’s loud voice spooked Misty a bit and she started to fidget, swaying her rear back and forth. I searched my mind for a tune I knew and the only one that came to mind was Aerosmith’s “I Don’t Want To Miss a Thing.” My mom used to sing it to me when I was a kid and had trouble going to sleep. I leaned in close to her ear and sang the few verses that I could remember, wondering if Adela would come into the barn.