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Authors: Ruth Ann Nordin

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BOOK: To Have and To Hold
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relaxed, she held him close to her, enjoying the way their hearts beat in unison.

He remained inside her for a few minutes, taking his time to kiss her and brush her hair from

her face. Smiling at her, he said, “I think the thunderstorm is over,” he said.

“Is it?” She turned her head to the window and realized he was right.

“I’l be right back.” He kissed her before he got out of the bed.

She watched him as he opened the window. The breeze drifted into the room, the smel of rain

stil in the air.

“Do you want the light on or off?” he asked her.

“Off.”

As he went to the dresser, she watched him, intrigued by his naked body and disappointed

when he turned down the knob on the lamp so that the room was, once again, plunged into

darkness. She wished she could spend al night feasting her eyes on him. He had a

wonderful y masculine beauty. He returned to the bed and she snuggled into his arms. After he

kissed the top of her head, she closed her eyes and soon fel asleep.

Chapter Six

When Mary woke up the next morning, she was aware of the gentle breeze coming in through

the open window. She smiled and snuggled closer to Dave. Opening her eyes, she saw that it

was almost time to get up for the day. Disappointed that she’d be leaving her husband’s warm

embrace soon, she closed her eyes and tried to savor every moment while she had it.

To her surprise, soft lips brushed her cheek. “Morning,” Dave murmured in her ear.

Tingles of delight raced up and down her spine. Her eyes fluttered open and she saw him

grinning at her in the early morning light. She returned his smile. “Morning.”

He leaned forward and kissed her.

Content, she wrapped her arms around his neck and returned his kiss. Her body throbbed from

the memory of their night of passion. It was a shame she couldn’t spend al day in bed with

him.

“I love thunderstorms when they happen at night,” he whispered before he brought his lips to

her ear.

Aware of the way his hand cupped her bare breast, she softly asked, “You do?”

“Yes.” Lifting his head, he made eye contact with her and gave her the most deliciously wicked

grin she’d ever seen. “We end up making love.”

“We do?”

He wiggled his eyebrows. “It’s the best way to distract you so you don’t think about the loud

thunder anymore.”

Giggling, she shifted her body closer to his, purposely rubbing his erection. “Wel , since there’s

no storm now, I suppose I don’t need distracting then, do I?”

He let out a low growl and brought his mouth back to hers. She settled into the bed and urged

him to rol on top of her, eager to make love to him once more. He obliged her, and their

lovemaking was leisurely as they took their time to enjoy each other. Afterwards, he remained

inside her, stil kissing her on the lips and cheeks.

She sighed, content. Marrying him was a smart move on her part. Wondering how they met,

she got ready to ask him when Rachel cal ed out for her from her bedroom.

Dave pul ed out of her and rol ed off the bed to get dressed, and she quickly got out of bed so

she could slip into her clothes. “At least they let us make love this morning,” he said as he

buttoned his shirt.

She glanced at him as she brushed her hair. “They never come in here while we’re—” she

motioned to the bed—“you know…”

“I lock the door, so they can’t. Rachel won’t leave her crib until you get her, but Isaac’s old

enough to get out of bed when he gets up.”

She nodded, relieved the children didn’t ever catch them in bed together, and left the room as

she tucked her hair into a bun. As she entered Rachel’s room, she saw the girl was sitting up in

the crib and laughing as she inspected her fingers. With a smile, Mary rested her arms on the

crib and chuckled. “I don’t know what you find so interesting about your fingers.”

Looking up at her mother, she wiggled her fingers and laughed harder.

Amused, Mary smiled and picked her daughter up. Now familiar with the routine around the

house, she got Rachel ready for the day and then got Isaac up. Since Isaac wanted to join his

father out in the barn, it was just her and Rachel as she made breakfast. She actual y

preferred this since it seemed to her that Rachel played quietly more often if Isaac wasn’t there

to distract her. Isaac was a good boy, but he had a tendency to get bored easily if there was

nothing to do. Thankful y, he’d be five next month, which meant he was old enough to take on

the simpler chores.

Once breakfast was ready, she went out to the porch and got ready to ring the cowbel when

Dave came out of the barn with Isaac on his shoulders. He held Isaac’s foot with one hand and

a pail of milk with the other. She grinned. It was fun to watch the two together. She returned

to the kitchen and put the cowbel on the shelf just in time to see Rachel pul ing on the

tablecloth. Running over to her daughter, she stopped her before the plate nearest her fel off

the table.

“And here I thought you knew better,” Mary admonished while she put Rachel in the highchair.

“You didn’t do that before.”

“Drink, Ma,” Rachel said and held her hands out.

“Is that what you were trying to get? Some water?” She went over to the table where she’d

set the cups and poured water into Rachel’s. “Next time, ask me for a cup before you try to get

it off the table yourself.”

Rachel took the cup and drank from it.

“You real y were thirsty, weren’t you?” She needed to remember to offer Rachel water before

she started making breakfast in the future.

Dave and Isaac came into the dining room, and Dave set the pail of milk on the worktable as he

always did. She thanked him and poured milk for everyone as they settled into their chairs.

Taking a moment to look at her happy family, she smiled again and slipped into her s eat so

they could start eating.

***

That evening, Mary decided to try her hand at milking the cow. She felt something was familiar

about it and wanted to see why. She didn’t think she milked the cow often because she hadn’t

done it since losing her memory, but she figured she’d done it at some point in the past.

Grabbing the empty pail on the worktable, she told Rachel they were heading on out, and the

little girl fol owed her to the barn.

As they entered it, she saw that Dave was cleaning out a stal while Isaac was playing with the

dog. The dog bolted over to them and Rachel hugged him. Mary sighed. “You’re getting al

dirty.”

“It’s alright, Ma,” Isaac was quick to assure Mary. “She has another dress.”

Maybe, but she thought her daughter could get away with wearing that same dress for another

day. Oh wel . She pretty much asked for more laundry when she decided to go out to the barn

with her. “Isaac, I want you to watch Rachel while I milk the cow.”

“Do you remember how to do that?” Dave asked as he raked up more hay and manure from

one of the stal s.

“Wel , no,” Mary admitted as Isaac led Rachel and Jasper out of the barn. Turning to them,

she yel ed, “Stay where I can see you!”

“He’s good about watching her,” Dave said and set the rake against the stal door. “Here. I

can help you.”

She considered trying this task alone but then thought better of it. If she messed up, he’d be

there to tel her. Nodding, she waited for him to bring her a stool. He opened the stal for her

where the cow munched on its hay.

“There won’t be as much milk as this morning, but there’l be enough for you to get used to it

again,” he said, taking the pail from her and setting it under the cow’s udder.

Mary took a deep breath and sat on the stool. If she didn’t feel comfortable with him, she

would have felt awkward, but in a way, he seemed to be a part of her. She supposed the

connection between them was due to the fact that they were married. Wiping her hands on the

skirt of her dress, she said, “I saw you squeezing her teats the other day. Isn’t that al there is

to it?”

“Pretty much.” He knelt next to her and motioned for her to give it a try.

With a nod, she leaned forward and reached for the teats. In her mind, she got a glimpse of a

time when she did this for the first time and he had wrapped his hands around hers to help her.

Glancing his way, she smiled. “You put your hands around mine the first time I did this, didn’t

you?”

Scooting closer to her, he placed his hands over hers. “Yes. Like this.”

His hands were warm and strong, and her cheeks grew warm. She recal ed feeling shy and

pleased the day they’d married because he’d taken such delight in her. As he squeezed her

hands and moved them down to get the milk out, she said, “You wanted to be with me when

you married me.”

He chuckled. “Of course, I did. I wouldn’t have married you otherwise.” When he brought his

lips to her neck to give her a kiss, tingles ran up and down her spine. “You’re so beautiful,

Mary.”

She giggled. “I don’t think you’re that interested in making sure I can milk the cow.”

“Maybe not as much as reminding you how happy I was when you agreed to be my wife.”

“I was happy to be your wife, Dave. I feel it. In fact, I get the feeling that I haven’t been

happier than when I met you.”

“I hope I can make you happier every day we’re together.”

“I think you do. Do I make you happier every day?”

“Yes. There’l never be anyone but you in my life.”

She finished milking the cow and straightened on the stool. Glancing at the doorway of the

barn, she saw Isaac and Rachel sitting on the grass with Jasper. “They found something of

interest in the grass,” she told Dave.

He looked over his shoulder and grinned. “Probably a frog. Isaac’s been fascinated with them

recently. He’d bring one into the house to keep if you let him.”

She grimaced. “I don’t like that idea at al .”

“Don’t worry. No frog has lived in the house with us.”

“That’s a relief.”

He kissed her again, and this time, he brought his arms around her and pul ed her close to him.

Content, she wrapped her arms around his neck and returned his kiss. It seemed to her that

being here with Dave and their children was as close to heaven on earth as anyone could get.

When he ended the kiss, he helped her stand up before he picked up the stool and pail. “I

reckon we better go into town tomorrow so you can see Sal y and then we can stop by the

mercantile to buy whatever you need.”

“It’l be nice to see her again.”

“Do you remember her at al ?”

She thought over his question as they left the stal . As she latched it shut, she said, “A little bit.

I mostly recal that she’s a good friend.”

“Yes, you two are close.”

“I think the same is true for Jenny and April, but why do I sense I’m not as close to Jessica?”

“Jessica spends more time with her friend Margaret unless we’re harvesting. Then you spend

more time with her.”

She nodded and waited for him to put the stool away before they headed out of the barn. They

stopped by the children and dog, and she struggled to make out what it was they were

inspecting in the grass. When Isaac picked up a snake, she jerked back.

“It’s a garden snake,” he said, watching as the green snake wrapped around his arm.

“You need to leave that out here,” Dave told him.

“I know, Pa. I won’t take it to the house.”

“Good.”

“I’l take the milk to the house,” Mary said and took the pail from Dave. “I’l let you get back to

work.” She gave him a quick kiss and then turned to their children. “You two need to get ready

for bed, so you’re coming with me.”

Isaac sighed. “But I just found this snake.”

“Listen to your mother,” Dave said before he turned to Mary and gave her a heated look that

made her heart flutter in excitement. “I won’t be too long.”

Blushing as he went back to the barn, she waited for Isaac to put the snake in the grass before

taking the children into the house.

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