Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Counting Down to Hidden Fire Day 6

Today -- the last installment in the further adventures of Randy and Sarah.

When Randy met Tucker

Sarah stood at the window and stared out into the winter darkness. She felt Randy's hands at her shoulders and leaned against him.

"You all right?" He nuzzled her hair. "You've been quiet lately."

"I'm fine," she said, but didn't turn around. No need for him to see the tears brimming in her eyes. She reached up and squeezed his hands.

As if he understood, Randy draped his arms over her and cupped her swollen belly. The child inside her gave a kick, whether in protest or recognition, Sarah never knew. But she knew that any time Randy touched her abdomen, the baby acknowledged it. She put her small hands over the much larger ones of her husband.

With a tremulous breath, she turned around and buried her face in his chest. His hands ran up and down her back as she wept, and she melted into him—at least as far as her belly would allow. As suddenly as they'd begun, the tears stopped. "Must be the hormones," she said.

"It's all right. I know it's hard. Tomorrow's the day, right? Three years since he died?"

"Yes, but…"

"But you're afraid I'll think you love me less if you miss David."

She gazed up into his eyes. Chocolate brown, flecked with hazel. And that lock of hair that refused to stay back. "I guess so," she whispered. "I guess I feel guilty. Thinking about him when I'm with you, and the baby's close, and I wonder what it would have been like if I'd had a child with David, and that's just not fair to you, and …"

"Shhh." He put his forefinger on her lips. "Sweetheart, you have every right to your memories. I don't begrudge the time you had with David. What you two had together helped make you the Sarah I fell in love with. And am still in love with. And if you'd had a child, I'd love the both of you."

She reached up and tugged at his ears, and he leaned down to kiss her. The kiss left no doubt he'd been honest with her. Once again she wondered how she had been blessed with two such wonderful men. Five years married to David Tucker, and now, the rest of her life with Randy Detweiler.

"You want some hot chocolate?" she asked. "Homemade, from scratch, not the packets?"

"Twist my arm a little harder, why don't you? But are you sure you can still reach the stove?"

"Are you calling me fat?" She grinned and headed to the kitchen. "You should know better than to insult someone who's just offered to cook for you. Why don't you go play your piano or something? I'll bring the cocoa when it's ready."

"Any requests?"

"Nothing in particular. But something happy, I think. I've been dreary long enough."

Randy left and Sarah busied herself measuring and stirring. She ignored the twinges that had plagued her all day. Braxton-Hicks contractions, the doctor had said, perfectly normal for two weeks before her due date. But she'd beg for a good backrub tonight.

She carried the mugs of cocoa down the hall to the music room. Randy was playing Rondo alla Turka, and she stood in the doorway and watched his fingers fly over the keys. She'd watched him play Chopin once, early in their courtship, and actually counted his fingers when he'd finished.

She set Randy's mug on top of the piano and hers on the table beside the old easy chair. Turning, she gripped both of its arms and managed to lower herself into its sagging seat. She'd mentioned replacing it once, but it had belonged to Randy's Gram, and the look on his face was answer enough. The chair would stay. It had been weeks since she'd sat in here while Randy played, and she was afraid she might need a crane to get her out. Another twinge, stronger than the others, gripped her abdomen.

"Stop it, kiddo. That one hurt!"

The music stopped abruptly. "What's wrong? Are you okay?"

"Fine. The little one's getting frisky, that's all."

"You sure?" Randy knelt at her side.

"Sure I'm sure. Doctor Zellner said everything is going fine. But next time, you get to carry it. You've got a lot more room than I do."

"If you can figure out a way, I'll be happy to." He leaned down and spoke into her abdomen. "Hey, quiet down in there. Your mom needs her rest."

Sarah laughed, then felt wetness between her legs. Oh, Lord, she hadn't peed on Gram's chair, had she?

"What?" Randy said.

"What do you mean, 'What?' I didn't say anything."

"You just had a really funny look on your face."

Before she could reply, more warm fluid gushed forth. "Oh, God. Randy, go get a towel. Two towels. Quick. I think I've just ruined your Gram's chair."

"What are you talking about?"

"Just get the towels, dammit. My water just broke."

Randy dashed from the room and came back with two bright yellow bath towels a moment later. He slid one under Sarah's bottom. "All right, we're going to the hospital. Now."

"Take it easy. First you call the doctor. Then you get my suitcase. And the bag of Lamaze things." A contraction made her gasp for breath. She remembered to do the breathing she'd learned, but had sudden doubts that it would work.

"Right," Randy said. He walked out of the room, and came back in less than a minute, a glazed expression on his face. He looked three shades paler than he had before.

"Doctor. Suitcase. Lamaze," Sarah repeated. "The list is on the fridge."

"List. Fridge. Right. Thanks."

She smiled and tried to rise from the chair. Moving caused another contraction, a bit stronger than the first, and she sank back down. "Randy! Bring me that long brown dress, and some dry undies. I'm soaked." Her hand moved absently around her belly and she spoke to their unborn child. "Are you sure you want out now? No tricks? I don't think your daddy can do this twice."

"Okay," Randy panted. "Everything's in the truck. Doctor Zellner will meet us at the hospital."

"My clothes?"

"Clothes. Right. You'd want them now, I guess."

Her chuckle brought on another contraction. "Don't make me laugh! But yes, that was the idea."

"Clothes. Truck. Be right back." He turned to go.

"Wait. One more thing."

"What? What did I forget?"

"Nothing. But we still haven't agreed on a boy's name, and I'm not leaving here until we do. We had a deal. No peeking at the ultrasounds, and I'd pick a girl's name, and you'd come up with one for a boy. Well, I did my part, and you approved Emily, after your grandmother. Now it's your turn."

"Sarah, you're kidding. You're in labor! Now is not the time."

"Now is the perfect time. You've avoided the topic for the last seven and a half months." She folded her arms across her chest and gave Randy the best "Don't mess with me" look she could manage, but the grimace as a contraction hit ruined the effect. Or not, because all of a sudden Randy grew calm. He knelt to her level, a gentle hand on her belly.

"I've had a name picked out for months," he murmured.

"So why didn't you say something?"

"I wasn't sure how you would react. I was afraid it would … would be hard for you. Especially now."

Sarah kept her breathing shallow, ignoring the tightening of her womb. "David? You want to call him David? Oh, Randy, I don't know …"

"No, not David. But I know you wanted something of him to live on, and I know you don't use his name anymore, because of the initials. S.T.D. just doesn't cut it. But, would it be all right with you if we called him Tucker?"

Her heart swelled, and any lingering doubts that Randy regretted not being her first love vanished. "Tucker Detweiler. Quite a handle for a little one." She smiled. "But if he's anything like his dad, he'll grow into it." She leaned over and kissed him. "Have I told you how much I love you?"

"Tell me later. Right now we need to get you to the hospital."


"I hate you, Randy Detweiler." Sarah gasped. "I hate you. And if you ever come near me again, I'll …kill … oh, God, here we go again."

"Atta girl, Sarah," the doctor said. "One more push. Help her out, Dad, she won't really kill you. This is it. Good girl. You've got a boy. A nice, healthy baby boy."

Sarah lay back in euphoric exhaustion and beamed at Randy, who wiped his eyes.

The nurse laid the squawking bundle on her belly. "Here. He's perfect, but I'm sure you'll want to count fingers and toes while the doctor finishes down there."

Sarah marveled at the tiny piece of perfection in her arms. "Good morning, Tuck. Say hi to your daddy."


Katie Reus said...

Aww, great excerpt Terry!!

Terry Odell said...

Thanks, Katie -- but it's not an excerpt. These recent posts are things I wrote when I finished Finding Sarah but the characters wouldn't go away. Chronologically, it would take place after Hidden Fire, but since Cerridwen doesn't "do babies" I don't think it'll be seen anywhere other than here and on my website.

I also didn't do much editing of these vignettes, which were written years ago. I figure they're a reminder that I've made progress with my writing since then.

ddurance said...

I'm loving this!


Terry Odell said...

Glad you're enjoying the countdown, Deidre.