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Sunday, April 10, 2005

A Day To Remember - Part 2

This is Part 2 of A Day to Remember (Part 1 posted March 29th). This story continues from Ray and Livy’s falling asleep in front of the fire after Livy was lost in the snow storm and rescued by our hero, Ray (you may remember that a “foot rub” took place before they fell asleep). It is the weekend of Daniel’s christening (very early Saturday morning).

A couple of important acknowledgements: jecorbin suggested one night on chat that Livy’s father would not attend the christening, but would send a bible along instead. You’ll see I’ve used that idea in this story. Pbright helped with technical advice and with giving Livy’s father a name. Finally, Chris wrote a line in one of her stories that I thought was lovely and I have used the same line here to finish this story (Chris’ line is the one that is in bold at the very end of the story) – thanks to all of you!


Livy awoke at some point during the night to find herself feeling very hot. The fire Ray had stoked before they fell asleep was still burning and underneath the blanket together, Ray had his body pressed up against hers, his arm thrown around her. As she listened to Ray’s even breathing, she remembered that just twelve hours ago she’d wondered if she’d ever feel warm again and here she was about to break out in a sweat. She smiled as she thought that there was no end to the warmth that Ray brought into her life! She drew Ray’s arm more tightly around her and contentedly, she drifted back to sleep.

She awoke again to the sun shining in through the window. She had fed Danny once during the night and knew he would probably awaken again soon for more. Ray still slept soundly, now on his back, no doubt tired from yesterday’s heroism and their christening the night before of the rug they slept on . She couldn’t resist the urge to lift the blanket and covertly admire her husband’s lean and muscular body. Her enjoyment turned to concern as she noted a large bruise on his abdomen and she reached out to gently touch it. Ray stirred as he felt her hand on his abdomen and looking over at her from the corner of his eye, he asked, “Livy?”

“I’m sorry I woke you, Ray,” she said. “What happened here?” she asked, gently touching the bruise.

Ray lifted his head to see what Livy was referring to and noticed a bruise that had formed where Chester had run into him yesterday. “Oh that’s from Chester – he ran into me with the ratchet yesterday,” he answered, returning his head to the pillow.

Livy had to smile a bit as she said, “I guess yesterday just wasn’t Chester’s day. It looks awfully sore.”

Ray smiled devilishly and said, “No, but because of him, you were indebted enough to me last night to give me a foot rub and then some.” He reached for her and continued, “And has this bruise made you sympathetic enough to kiss me back to good health?”

Livy smiled and said, “I suppose,” but the last part of these words were muffled by Ray’s lips covering hers. Ray had rolled over so his upper body was over Livy. His hands began to explore her body and there under the blanket their love ignited again and brought them to a second christening of that fireplace rug.

Afterwards, as they lay on the blanket in each other’s arms, Danny began to stir. Ray quickly jumped up to get him and brought him to Livy. “I best get up and get a move on, Livy,” he said as he picked up some of the clothes that they’d thrown off in a hurry the night before. As he pulled on his pants he said, “I’ll fix us some breakfast while Danny has his.”

Livy also wanted to get her day started. After she and Ray had eaten and showered, they reviewed the schedule for the day. They expected Abby sometime after lunch. Abby would stay in Martha’s old room overnight and would be here for the christening tomorrow. Reverend Dunne would not be coming – he said he couldn’t leave his duties at his church, especially not on a Sunday. Livy was disappointed, but truthfully couldn’t say she was surprised and had not really expected him to come. She would never stop hoping though that some day he would want to see her again, and to meet Ray and Danny. She thought about Danny’s only grandparent and wondered if she’d have to one day explain to Danny why his grandfather didn’t visit them.

The Stewarts would host them for dinner tonight, there would be the christening at the church with Reverend Case in the morning, and a lunch at Ray and Livy’s right afterward. Livy completed the last minute cleaning to make the house shine and then went to get out the good dishes, arranging them in piles on the dining room table.

Hank and Chester arrived to pick up Ray and taking the gas can, they drove out to get the beet box and drive it back home. A little later, Ray walked in carrying the groceries Livy had purchased in Wilson the day before and a package wrapped neatly in brown wrap. He placed them on the table in the kitchen. “Your groceries stayed nice and cold in the truck overnight – hope whatever is in this package didn’t get damaged,” he said. Embarrassed and continuing to be secretive, Livy took the package from Ray and thanked him before she ran up the stairs to hang the suit to remove the wrinkles. She returned and joined Ray who was taking the groceries from the box. Ray looked at her inquisitively, but Livy didn’t offer any information about the package, and Ray did not ask. He went outside to clear the walkway and porch and before they knew it, Abby arrived in a flourish.

They sat and visited with Abby for a while over coffee. Abby admired Daniel and fussed over him, but caught herself before she exclaimed that he looked like a Dunne. “Liv, you are positively glowing!” exclaimed Abby as they drank their coffee. “Motherhood must certainly agree with you,” she continued.

Livy smiled, “Abby, I never imagined that having a baby could be like this – every little thing he does amazes us! And he’s only a tiny baby yet!” Livy laughed as she looked over at Ray. Ray shyly nodded in agreement, still trying to be comfortable in Abby’s presence.

Livy continued, “Danny’s first smile was for Ray of course and you should have seen Ray – you’d have thought it was the first time a baby had ever smiled at anyone!” She looked fondly at Ray as she said this.

Ray smiled sheepishly, “It was really something, I can’t deny it.” He continued to smile back at Livy. Abby looked from Livy to Ray and then back to Livy – they never took their eyes off one another. Things had really changed since she last visited and she knew now that Livy had been truthful when she’d told her that she’d fallen in love with Ray. That was perfectly obvious as was the fact that he was very much in love with Livy. Abby missed Kent very much at that moment as she realized that Livy’s glow was as much from marriage to Ray as it was from motherhood.

Later they went to Martha and Hank’s for dinner where the Stewart family fussed over Abby, and Martha later offered a listening ear to Abby as she talked about missing Kent. Martha promised her prayers for Kent’s safe return and a quick end to the war. Although Abby missed Livy very much and would love to have her back in Denver, she couldn’t help but think how pleasant it was being there in the heart of such a warm and loving family. It was a far cry from the rather impersonal and stilted environment of their father’s home. Abby continued to watch Livy and Ray interact with each other and noted with amazement that they were like normal newlyweds, not two people who had been brought together in an arrangement to appease the norms of society.

As Abby quickly grew comfortable with Martha, she commented later in the evening, “It’s no secret that my father arranged this marriage for Livy to save the family from shame and partly to punish Livy. Reverend Case assured us that Ray was a good man who would care for Liv and the baby, but who would have imagined the extent to which he would love this baby and that Livy would fall in love with him? To be honest, Martha, I didn’t think this would end up being a good thing for Livy, but it seems that it was just what she needed.”

Martha agreed. “Truth be told though, Ray needed them as much as they needed him. I have never seen him as happy as he is now. The Lord works in mysterious ways, there’s no doubt about that.”

Soon it was time to return home and there were lots of hugs as the group looked forward to seeing each other at the church in the morning. When they returned home, Ray and Livy said good night to Abby and then retired to their room. Behind the closed door, Ray took Livy into his arms. “If your sister weren’t here, I’d suggest we sneak back downstairs and christen another room in the house, Livy,” he said as he leaned in to kiss her. She put her fingers to his lips and smiling up at him said, “Why Ray Singleton, you are turning into a beast!”

Ray removed her hand, raised his eyebrows at her and said defensively, “I’m just trying to keep with the christening theme this weekend.” He leaned down to kiss her again and this time she did not stop him. Not from kissing her and not from making love in whispers under the blankets of their bed.

*****************************

The alarm clock went off early and Livy got up and went downstairs to start the coffee and squeeze the oranges for juice. Ray followed shortly, carrying Daniel who had awakened hungry. Livy moved to the chair that Ray had placed in the kitchen for her and sipped her coffee while she nursed Daniel and chatted with Ray who sat and drank his coffee and watched them.

Abby walked into the kitchen and stopped in the doorway to survey the domestic scene in front of her. Ray stood quickly when he saw Abby and offered to get her some juice or coffee. “Is he always this helpful?” she said to Livy as she gratefully accepted the coffee.

“Actually, he is Abby,” said Livy as she beamed at Ray who was now refilling her cup, too.

After breakfast they all went to dress and Ray came downstairs first, bringing Daniel who had been dressed in his christening gown by Livy before she started to get herself ready. Abby came down next, looking glamorous in her outfit and matching hat and gloves. Abby asked to hold Daniel and she and Ray were managing some conversation about Daniel as they heard Livy coming down the stairs.

Ray turned and looked and stopped what he was saying as Livy appeared in a new winter white suit that fit her perfectly and accentuated her figure, particularly the “nursing mother” portions of her figure. Livy looked at Ray nervously, waiting for him to comment. Abby looked on, once again feeling fairly invisible in their presence.

“Wow Livy,” he said softly. “You look beautiful. I didn’t know you got a new dress.”

She smiled and said, “Actually, it’s a suit, but I’m glad you like it because it is what I was getting from Rose and Florrie yesterday.”

“Aha,” he said. “I’ve been wondering what that was about.”

Livy walked toward him and said, “I know, I’m so sorry I was secretive – I just really wanted you to be surprised.” She stroked the lapel on his new suit. “Your new suit is nice Ray – you look so handsome.”

Abby couldn’t help but roll her eyes at yet another intimate exchange between Ray and Livy. She looked down at Danny who was in her arms and clearing her throat, she said, “We better get you to the church, little Daniel so you can be baptized before your mama and papa forget we’re here.” Livy and Ray blushed as Abby smiled at them, shaking her head slightly.

It was time for them to head to the church. As part of the usual Sunday service, Daniel was christened with Abby as his godmother and Hank as his godfather. Ray had assured Martha that he would do everything in his power to make sure she had a godchild in the future, but she assured him that she understood that Livy and her sister were close.

Despite the cold, the sun was shining and Friday’s snow had been packed down so many of the church goers elected to make the trip to the Singleton farm for lunch. Among the guests were Reverend and Mrs. Case along with Miss Parker and Mrs. Pratt, Rose and Florrie, and all the Stewarts of course. Everyone complemented Livy on how the house looked. They noticed the return of a woman’s touch to the house and congratulated Ray on his good fortune. The guests enjoyed all the food that had been assembled and Ray and Livy once again rejoiced in their blessings.

Livy managed to find a minute to survey the group assembled in their house and thought how fond she had become of everyone there. They had welcomed her and, as Ray had predicted so many months before, they had not gossiped about Daniel’s birth happening sooner than it should have given her and Ray’s wedding date. It seems that they really did want the best for Ray and Livy and she cherished this sense of community.

There were gifts for Daniel, and Livy opened one that Abby had brought with her – it was from their father. It was a bible in which he had inscribed the date and the words, “For Daniel Raymond Singleton on your baptism” and he had signed it “Your Grandfather, John Stephen Dunne.” Livy’s eyes watered as she passed it to Ray, not able to speak for the lump in her throat. Ray smiled when he read it and grasped her hand. A small step and reason to hope that Livy and her father might be reunited.

Reverend Case pulled Ray and Livy aside before he left to tell them how pleased and proud he was of their family. “Even in my line of work, I never cease to be amazed at the goodness of God and he has blessed every one of us with your union” he said as he shook Ray’s hand and accepted Livy’s hug. He encouraged Livy to consider teaching Sunday school at the church when she was ready and Livy agreed to think about it.

The guests were all gone and it was time to say good bye to Abby who wanted to get back to Denver before it got dark. Abby and Ray gave each other a quick hug good bye as Livy looked on. Then Abby and Livy embraced and shed a few tears over their good bye. “I’m so happy for you, Livy. You’ve deserved this happiness for so long and I couldn’t be more pleased,” said Abby as she got into the car.

“Thank you for coming, Abby – you have no idea how much it meant to have you here and to have you as Daniel’s godmother,” Livy said as she closed Abby’s car door.

Ray and Livy stood and watched her drive off before turning back to the house to get out of the cold.

The ladies had all pitched in to wash and dry the dishes and Livy insisted on putting them away before she would take Ray’s advice to sit and put her feet up by the fire. Ray busied himself with the fires as she took care of the dishes. By the time she finished and sat down, Daniel was up from his nap and ready to eat again. Ray sat with her as she nursed Daniel and they relived the events of the day, feeling very satisfied with how it had all worked out.

“I’m glad that you and Abby are getting to know each other better, Ray,” said Livy. Ray agreed that he was too. After Daniel ate they had a light supper themselves and sat down in front of the fire again. “It’ll be back to work tomorrow,” Ray said after Daniel had gone to bed. “For a day of rest though, today was pretty busy. You must be tired, Livy.”

He took Livy’s feet and said that he owed her a foot rub. Livy eyed him suspiciously. “We know where last night’s foot rub led,” she said.

Ray laughed, “Well, I didn’t necessarily have such motives, but if this foot rub goes that way, I wouldn’t object.”

After a moment he said “Livy, I was worried when I thought you were keeping something from me about going to Camp Amache. I don’t ever want there to be any secrets between us. I guess I’ll have to remember that there is a difference between secrets and surprises.”

“Ray,” started Livy, “I felt guilty about that secret, especially when it led to me getting lost in that storm. Please know that I will never keep a secret about anything important – only if it’s meant to be a surprise for fun will I ever keep anything from you. I promise you that.”

Ray eyed her seriously and then smiled. “I can live with that.”

And they relaxed in each other’s company as once again there had formed a bond and agreement between two people to spend each day celebrating the ordinary, and teaming up against the struggles that challenge the magic between them.

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