Livy had fallen asleep in the rocking chair and awoke when she heard Ray come in. She looked at the clock by her bedside and it was a quarter past one in the morning. She had two thoughts, first relief that he was home and the second how exhausted he must be. She had left him a covered plate on the table. Although it would be cold, at least there would be something to eat. She had worried he hadn't eaten anything.
When he didn't come up immediately, she thought of going downstairs to him. She decided not to because there were no words to fix last night. She faintly heard the movement of a chair in the dining room. She knew he would try to be quiet so as not to wake her. "Good, he's eating," she thought. She stilled herself and concentrated on every sound. He didn't get up immediately. She was surprised how delighted she was to think he was eating her casserole. She smiled to herself at how much pleasure that brought her.
Livy thought back to earlier in the evening. She had gotten ready for bed at 9:00 p.m., turned out the light and gone to the rocking chair to think about Ray. Really, to think about Ray, and her, and the baby. Where to start, she thought.
She thought of the first moment she saw him. She was surprised and relieved at his age and looks. She had supposed him to be an older, homely bachelor who couldn't get a wife. Ray's look of surprise indicated to her that he had similar thoughts regarding her looks. He seemed stunned and shy. He didn't say a lot, but later she would learn that Ray spoke when he had something to say. She learned he was a man of deep convictions, feelings and thoughts. When he decided to marry Livy, he took her on faith. Ray didn't ask qualifying questions as she expected because he had made his decision or he wouldn't have been there.
She on the other hand, had always tried to have a contingency plan. Even after she wrote Edward telling him he would have no place in this baby's life, she kept "an out" with the plan to deliver the baby in Denver.
Ray had no out. Ray answered with no hesitation when she asked if he could love the baby, she realized, because he had already asked himself that question. Ray came prepared to give himself completely or, as she now knew of him, he would have never been there. Livy stopped gently rocking in the chair as her realization of Ray's motivations dawned on her. She couldn't understand his reason for marrying her because they were so pure. She needed a husband and he offered himself. But not for the reasons she thought, to gain: a cook (she smiled to herself), a housekeeper, a provider of offspring, no all these things were side issues. She needed him...and he needed...her.
He came into this marriage with every hope that anyone who married for love had; he came to this marriage, his marriage wanting,...needing love. And he had faith that they would find it.
Her eyes filled with tears and her heart overflowed as she thought about moments with Ray, answering her question about loving the baby; welcoming her home at the door when she first walked in this house; putting in the bathroom; taking her to the pond; digging the swimming hole; reading the book about Troy. Everything he had done to make her at home, was because...he had thought she was...home.
And Ray expected in her that which he was willing to offer. He had forgiven, overlooked and accepted everything else because he had believed. But when she wrote another man, he realized she hadn't brought to him what he had brought to her. She hadn't brought her heart. That was the betrayal that cut him so deeply, maybe too deeply. That's why he hadn't reacted when she said she wanted the same thing in this marriage that he wanted; it was because she hadn't wanted it from the first day like he had. She hadn't played fair.
The full weight of what Ray had given her sunk in and left her humbled. If she could have taken back every moment since they met; had given him the same faith he gave her..."Ray, I couldn't have known how," she said into the stillness, "until you showed me how." Livy knew then what she needed to do.
Ray was lying on his side facing the open door. As tired as he was, he couldn't sleep. All his thinking at the beet factory hadn't resulted in a course of action. He felt betrayed. He thought of Hank's words and he tried to think about how he wanted Livy; he wanted her so much. She had said she wanted a real marriage, but his heart couldn't let go of the pain. He felt he had given all that he had. What else could he do? Maybe time would help, as Hank said. Maybe tomorrow would seem better if he could just sleep.
Ray stared into the dark and tired to stop thinking. To Ray's surprise, Livy quietly appeared in his doorway. Ray guessed she was trying to determine if he was awake.
"Are you alright?" Ray asked. "Yes" Livy answered quietly. When Livy didn't speak again, Ray thought she might have come to talk.
Ray said quietly, "I don't want to talk."
Livy walked to the side of his bed and looked down. She could see his face in the moonlight. His eyes were dark pools. She said nothing. She picked up the covers and Ray understood her intention. In spite of his pain, he moved over for her instinctively. Livy slid in beside him and lay facing him. Ray realized her back was exposed to the cold night and he tucked the covers in so she wouldn't get cold. After tucking her in, he laid on his back and she snuggled into his side with her head on his shoulder. His right arm was under her but he resisted putting it around her. Still she said nothing. She reached around under the covers and gently pulled his arm around her as best she could. He responded by holding her. Both laid tensely. After a few moments, Ray's body relaxed and he felt tension leave her body in response. Her head settled more fully onto his shoulder.
She was soft and warm and a mixture of smells that he had come to know. He could smell the soap she used on her face and the shampoo she used in her hair. In spite of himself he breathed her in. He felt her heart beating rapidly against his side. He knew it took courage to do this given what had happened earlier in the evening. He admired her courage as he understood the fear of rejection.
Her whole body wrapped around his and he felt her stomach against his side and hips. He felt her breasts against his side. She fit into him just as he had thought she would in his dreams. She moved her head slightly and kissed his shoulder softly. She looked into his eyes but he couldn't see her eyes in the light but he thought they shined as if in tears.
She laid her head back on his shoulder and moved in a little more closely. Although she was gentle, she held him tightly as if she would not let him go. Still she didn't speak.
Livy had come to his bed. The act touched him deeply. His heart reacted before his mind could name the emotion. A slow thaw spread out from his chest as emotion broke through his dam of pain. All his feelings of betrayal started to fade as her actions told him what he needed to know.
He pulled her more close and heard her let go of a sob. He turned his head and kissed the top of her head. Livy couldn't hold back now. She cried. He felt his shirt get wet while he felt himself becoming lighter. His mind named what his heart already knew. He gently started to rock her. Time passed as they both took in the moment and understood its meaning. At this moment Ray felt needed and he knew loved. It would live if his memory as long as he lived because this was the moment of their marriage vow. It was spoken in Ray's language and both of them knew it.
Then a second miracle happened. The baby kicked. Livy felt for his left arm and moved down to his hand. She squeezed it and he returned the gesture. She moved his hand to her belly and he turned on his side to accommodate the move. She gently spread his long fingers and placed his hand on the underside of her stomach were the kick had occurred. It was the most intimate touch they had ever had between them and it seemed so natural, so right. He moved his hand to cup her stomach to feel its hardness. He was amazed at how if felt. He started to move his hand in a more circular pattern taking in the whole experience of its roundness, resiliency, warmth, when another kick took place. He laughed out loud with surprise and amazement. Livy laughed too.
"Can you feel the foot? If you rub your hand there sometimes he'll put his foot back up and you can feel it." Livy whispered. Ray rubbed the spot and a foot appeared. He thought it was the most wonderful thing he had ever felt. The baby didn't move his foot away. Instead he seemed to like Ray's hand.
"You called the baby, him." Ray whispered as he rubbed Livy's stomach and the baby's foot. The baby moved again and the foot disappeared.
"Every time I dream of the baby, it's a boy." She answered dreamily. Livy was lost in the moment, of being close to Ray, of sharing this moment with him, of feeling his hand touching her, exploring her stomach. She was in awe of how she felt so natural in Ray's arms, experiencing his touch. It was as if this had always been.
"A boy," Ray repeated absently as he was lost in this moment also. The intimacy was overwhelming. It wasn't sexual, although on some level it was. It was the sheer experience of being this connected to someone else and his closeness to her body, the freedom to touch her openly. For someone who had spent years in a desert of loneliness, this was an oasis he could only imagine until now.
"Of course, we won't know for sure until birth." Livy said absently still lost in the overpowering feeling of this intimacy. She felt Ray stiffen and understood he was thinking of her Denver plans. He started to pull away.
"We're not going anywhere." Livy said as she guided Ray's head back to her. No contingency plan, no out. Livy was in by faith, just like Ray.
"I thought..." Ray started.
"Not unless you're there," Livy whispered as she kissed Ray's cheek. Livy could see his face in the moonlight. She could make out a smile and she felt home. Ray leaned in and kissed her, lightly at first, then deeper. His right arm turned her into him and he held her tightly. Her arm went around him and she felt his kiss in every part of herself.
Ray lips moved from her mouth to her ear. "All of us were born in this house. I could take you to the hospital in La Junta but with the winter weather slowing us, you'd be more comfortable here," Ray whispered in her ear.
Livy smiled at that statement as Ray's mouth started down her neck. "I personally doubt you've given birth, so I don't know how much you really know about how comfortable I'll be." Ray laughed a muffled laugh against her skin. His breath on her neck was intoxicating.
In the safety of their house and the warmth of their bed, Livy got to know the fullness of Ray's lips on her face and the taste of his skin, the soft bend of his ear and the touch of his breath on her shoulder. She discovered the feel of his shoulder blades beneath her outstretched hands and just how far her hands could encircle his back. Ray touched her as if Livy was the curved and delicate handle of a china cup, but held her tightly just as she was, flesh and blood and full of human flaws and fears. In his arms, Livy wasn't a girl dreaming of sailing the high seas, but a fully grown woman riding the soft side of a crescent moon.
This final paragraph is directly from Ann Howard Creel’s book (with pronoun change) because I always loved this paragraph. I love the economy of words and imagery she created. I didn’t know how to describe it better.
< previous story___________ *HOME*____________ *Fan Fiction*_____________next story >