The small crack in the window let in enough snow-covered air to cool down the humid kitchen. She had one loaf of bread in the oven and was kneading a second. He built this kitchen just for her. She baked in it every weekend just for him.
She tucked a loose piece of hair behind her ear when she heard the front door. He was back with more firewood. More cool air from outside came in with him. He walked into the kitchen, stood behind her and wrapped his arms around her waist. She stopped her work, closed her eyes and inhaled him. He smelled like trees and snow and the deepest, darkest nights.
The farmhouse was a soft yellow on the outside, with a kitchen of the same color. Those were her only requests all those years ago. The rest was up to him. He used a mix of oaks, maples and pines. He included a breakfast nook, a fireplace and a room just for her when she wanted to read.
Twenty years had passed. Twenty Christmases. Forty birthdays. Fifty-two weekends of escape, even if only for dinner. This place was their own. No children. No friends or relatives. Just the two of them.
He built it for her and she loved him in it, endlessly.
She put the second loaf in the oven while he hung up his coat.
A fresh fire was lit and they snuggled in their established places by the fire.
Her head nuzzled into his chest, in its usual position. She listened to his heartbeat and smelled his sweater that had hints of cedar and smoke. The heartbeat was slower than usual. She knew to treasure it. Knew it wouldn't last forever.
He ran his fingers through her hair. Inhaled its hints of coconut and lavender. He kissed her head, knowing he would not always have that chance. He studied each strand of her hair, wished he could memorize each one. Wished he could imprint each strand into his memory to keep with him until the end. He inhaled her again and pulled her in closer.
The fire heated their bodies, stilled their minds as they lost themselves in the flames. The smell of fresh bread blended with the burning wood, surrounding them. They let the elements take over their senses, if only for a moment.
This would be their last night by the fire. Their last trip to the farmhouse. Their last embrace. They held each other and fought to record the moment. To hold it tight and never forget. Each smell. Each sound. Each touch. He'd fight to hold on. She'd fight to never let go, to always remember.
"I love you."