Monday, November 27, 1944
It was nearly supper time, and Ray opened the kitchen door just in time to hear Livy gasp. Her knees buckled as she gripped the edge of the sink to keep from falling to the floor.
"LIVY!!" He reached her before either of them believed it possible, scooping her up in his arms. He was alarmed to see how pale she was. He held her close, his heart thudding against his ribs in fright, as she slowly focused her eyes on his.
"What happened, Liv, is it--?"
"I think...it was just...this pain--"
"Pain!? Are you---"
"Ray, no, no...it's ok ..."
He carried her into the living room, his own legs shaking from what he had just witnessed. He gently put her on the couch and kneeling in front of her took her cold hands in his, rubbing them till he could feel warmth creeping back into them.
"Good Lord, Livy, I thought...I thought...hold on, I'll call Doc McCutcheon."
Livy had caught her breath, touched at Ray's reaction. She gripped his arm to stop him.
"Ray, it's all right. The doctor told me I would have these...these pre-labor pains of sorts. That was the first really hard one. It took my breath away, that's all." He stared at her incredulously.
"That's all?? It took 20 years off my life when I saw you! What do you mean--you've had these before? Livy, why didn't you tell me?"
"I've only had a couple, honestly. And they weren't that strong. This one just caught me off guard. Really, call Martha if you must, she'll tell you. They're completely normal."
Ray cupped her face in his hand and searched for a sign that she was hiding any pain or discomfort. Her cheeks were starting to pink up again, and she actually looked like she was fighting a smile. His eyes narrowed shrewdly.
"Ok...but from now on, I'm sticking close! There are plenty of things I can work on here in the house so you won't be by yourself."
"Whatever you say! Now, let me up so I can get supper?" She was feeling a little embarassed with his close scrutiny. She started to get up, thinking Ray would stand aside, when he sat down next to her.
"I know for a fact there's ham and soup in the icebox. I'll see to our supper in a bit. Just sit here with me, Livy? Least till I know for certain you're all right..." She sighed, knowing he would not give in on this until she did as he asked. So nodding her head, she leaned into his outstretched arm. He breathed a sigh of relief, grateful she agreed to let him hold her. He aimed to keep her there, calm and quiet, as long as he could. For a few minutes, the only sound was the radio playing softly in the kitchen. The sun was fading fast, and other than the low fire in the grate, the house was getting dark. Livy's hand was splayed across her tummy, and Ray laced his fingers with hers, comforted by the baby's movements.
"Did I ever tell you about the day Mama had Daniel?" He gave a low chuckle.
"Whew...guess all this is making me remember. I came home from school that day, and the house was sparkling, like Mama had polished the whole place. Martha was fixing dinner and she had a twinkle in her eye. Let's see...I'd just turned 10, so Martha was 16. Course, I was kept pretty much out of the loop. Oh, I knew the baby was coming, but Mama never let on that she so was close to her time. Anyway, she was upstairs resting and Daddy hustled me out to the barn with a whole list of things to do after my regular chores. I wasn't happy, but I sure didn't let him hear me grumbling..." Livy could feel Ray smile against the top of her head.
"It was only March; planting hadn't started yet. So...I was out there a few minutes when Martha brought me a glass of milk and a plateful of cookies. She said, 'The baby'll be here soon, Ray--just think! Oh, I hope it's a girl!' Well, I just laughed, 'cause of course, I was hoping for a little brother" Ray scooted over some, so Livy could settle against him more comfortably.
"Anyway, 'bout an hour later, I heard Daddy yellin' for me! I went running, and he's up here on the porch grinning, puffed up like an old rooster! I'm hollerin' --'what is it? what is it?' Daddy just laughed, 'Well, son, go on up and see for yourself!' I flew up the stairs--Martha shushing me all the way! When I peeked in at Mama, she smiled and waved me into their room. She handed me this little bundle of nothin', 'Ray, this is your brother Daniel' He was so tiny, Liv, with hair like new cornsilk! He just looked up at me with those big blue eyes. Well, I knew right then that he was mine to look after. Mama said as much to me that night. 'Ray, this little fella's gonna want to be just like you. I want you to remember that when he's following you around, pestering you in a few years--' she just smiled..." Ray was lost in his story, still seeing baby Daniel in his mind.
"It was like we were bonded in that moment, Livy. Me and Danny. Forever...."
Livy was touched by Ray's story, the way he smiled when talking about his family. This was the most he had ever shared with her and she was happy to hear him relive this special time. It also made her think that he would be comfortable when....if....she came back with the baby. She was drawn from her thoughts as Ray cleared his throat, as if he was a little embarassed at his emotional recollections.
"Here now, I'll get supper. You be all right?" She nodded. He gently removed his arm from around her and stood up, stretching a bit.
"Let me stoke the fire for you...." he threw a couple of logs on the embers. He turned and smiled, pausing to stroke her hair before he went into the kitchen. She leaned her head back, closed her eyes and listened to him humming to the radio as he put the tea kettle on. She had never been so content in her life, had never felt so nurtured. He was such a good man, and she knew he cared for her some, but she didn't want to be a burden, to make him feel he was duty bound to stay in this marriage. When she came here, she never dreamed she would fall in love with Ray Singleton! Now she can't imagine life without him, without this place, this family. She dreaded the thought of leaving here--and hoped she was strong enough to do so when the time came. Less than two weeks until the train would take her back to Denver. She knew she had to go, knew it would be best for Ray in the end. But she couldn't help wondering what God had planned for the three of them.
to be continued....
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