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Tuesday, January 31, 2006

To Denver and Back - Part 3

Livy shook her head slowly when Martha finished telling her Ray’s plan to go to Denver and bring her and Daniel back home. A wry smile crossed her lips as she thought of the irony of them both planning a surprise for the other and literally getting crossed.

Hank sat at the kitchen table with them. “Why I bet your trains probably crossed each other right on the tracks!” he said in amazement.

They all smiled and their heads turned at the sound of Daniel’s cooing, no doubt signaling satisfaction as Martha cradled him in her arms. “He’s so beautiful, Livy – such a little angel,” said Martha. “I’ve always loved everything about babies – how they sound, feel, smell – they are such a gift from God,” she said.

Livy nodded her head in agreement wondering what she should do next. She was so pleased and relieved that Ray still cared for her – a part of her had feared that he might have resented her leaving so much that it would eat away at him and change his feelings. Not every man would be so patient. She smiled to think him so heroic to go to Denver to get her, but she was disappointed that he wasn’t here and she would have to continue to wait to see him. Once she had decided to come back, the waiting had become almost unbearable and she’d hoped by now they’d be back home in the kitchen – their kitchen – admiring their new son together. She sighed softly, which prompted Martha.

“You must be tired, Livy – why don’t you go upstairs and lie down for a nap?” she suggested.

“I’m not so tired, Martha. I’m just still missing Ray – I know it’s my own fault that we were separated in the first place, but I needed to be away for a bit to sort out my feelings. I know now that this is where I want my home to be – right here with all of you and as Ray’s wife,” she said.

Martha reached out her hand and covered Livy’s. “We all missed you, Livy and we are so glad to have you back. I can tell you that no one missed you more than my brother.”

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

Ray hung up the phone and turned to Abby.

“Livy is at Martha’s – they picked her up at the train station and took her back to their place,” he said.

“I’m glad she arrived safely – what did she say?” asked Abby.

He shook his head, “I talked to Martha; Livy had fallen asleep and we didn’t want to wake her.”
Abby busied herself with the coffee and handed Ray a cup. He thanked her and followed her to the table and sat across from her.

“You won’t be able to get a train back today, Ray. Tomorrow is the earliest you’d be able to head back by train,” she said.

Ray nodded slowly and said he’d told Martha as much on the phone.

Abby could read the disappointment in his face. “These two really love each other,” she thought to herself. The ironic end to Father’s banishment of his unwed, pregnant daughter was that he had sent her to a good and decent man – a beet farmer – who had brought Livy a happiness she never could have imagined.

“Ray,” Abby started. Ray looked up at her, eyebrows raised as he anticipated Abby’s next comment.

“Ray,” she repeated. “This might sound crazy, but I’m an idle housewife these days with an automobile that doesn’t run just on a schedule. Why, if she’d have let me I would have driven Livy back, but she had it in her mind that she would show up on her own, with the baby, of course. Anyway, if you are up to it, we could drive back to Wilson.”

Ray’s eyebrows knitted into a brief frown as he considered Abby’s offer. He’d just been calculating how long it would be if he stayed overnight in Denver and endured the train ride and then truck ride back to Martha’s. It would be another 24 hours. If he and Abby left soon, they’d be at Martha’s that night – it would be late, but they’d be there and he’d see Livy and the baby.

“The baby,” he said to Abby. “Nobody said what his name is.”

Abby was caught off guard by his response to her suggestion that they drive to Wilson so she hesitated before saying, “Livy told me she wanted to tell you herself, Ray. I don’t want to interfere.” She hesitated again. “So, what do you think about driving back or are you politely trying to avoid being in the car with me behind the wheel?” she finally asked.

Ray smiled at her comment. “If it wouldn’t be putting you out too much, I’d much rather get home tonight than let another 24 hours go by,” he said.

Abby grinned and said, “Great, I’ll go pack a bag and we’ll be on our way!”

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

Hank had gotten a bassinet out of the attic and moved it into the room where Livy would sleep. Livy thought at first that she should go back to their house, but the Stewarts wouldn’t hear of it. “Livy,” Martha had scolded, “There’s no way you are going to spend your first night back in that house all by yourself with the baby. I won’t allow it and I know Ray’d never forgive me if I let you do that. You’ll stay right here and we’ll talk about what to do next tomorrow.”

Livy didn’t really mind as she was so happy to be back in the hustle and bustle of this house with its cozy warm fires and wonderful kitchen smells. Despite her afternoon nap, she grew sleepy after dinner and didn’t resist when Martha insisted that she head off to bed.

Before drifting off to sleep she wondered what Ray was doing right now. Would he stay with Abby or would he try to find another place to stay? She wondered how early a train he’d catch tomorrow. Although she knew he still loved her, she was a bit nervous about seeing him, but so eager to see him at the same time. She needed to tell him her feelings – he’d waited so long for her to figure out what was going on in her heart. She recalled his question to her that morning after the awful fight, “Is there anything you like about me, Livy?” he’d asked. Her heart ached and she groaned aloud for about the 100th time after thinking about how she’d made him feel. There was so much to make up to him and she needed to start. “Hurry home, Ray so I can tell you that you are the best man I’ve ever known and that I want to spend the rest of my life telling you everything I like about you. Hurry home,” was her last thought as she drifted off to sleep.

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

Livy awoke to the sounds of voices. Once again, she wasn’t sure just where she was – the noise made her first think that she was in Denver where it was always noisy when she first woke up. She looked around and realized that she wasn’t in Denver, she was in the guest room at Hank and Martha’s house. She heard more voices as she turned on the light and looked at the clock. “Why it’s midnight!” she said to herself as she climbed out of bed. She looked over at the bassinet where Danny lay sound asleep. Should she go downstairs? More voices and some laughter were heard. She grabbed her robe and tied it tightly around her waist. She ran her fingers through her mass of long curly hair and tried to make it behave as she headed down the stairs.

Livy slowed as she turned into the door leading to the kitchen. She heard Abby’s voice and saw her talking animatedly as she stepped in. In amazement she cried, “Abby? Abby?”
“Abby, what are you doing here? And where is Ray?”

Suddenly the kitchen door swung open and Ray stepped in carrying a couple of suitcases. He looked up at the faces that had all turned to him and in the dim light he scanned those faces until he found the one that he’d seen every night before he fell asleep and every morning when he woke over the past several weeks.

His eyes locked on Livy’s and she blushed as their eyes met. Martha and Abby looked back and forth almost as if watching a tennis match and time stood still.

“Ray,” Livy said softly. “Oh, Ray!” she said again as the tears filled her eyes and she moved toward him with her arms extending. Ray dropped the suitcases and put his arms about her waist as her arms went round his neck. He pulled her close as he closed his eyes and simply said, “Livy.” Livy clung to his neck as he smiled and kissed her hair.

They pulled back and looked into each other’s eyes. Livy smiled through her tears and then laughed. Ray laughed as well and the others moved in to share in the hugs and the laughter.

“Ray,” Livy said as the noisy chatter began to subside. “There’s someone I’d like you to meet. Would you come with me upstairs?”

Ray smiled knowingly and followed Livy out of the kitchen and up the stairs to the room where Danny slept.

Livy gently lifted the sleeping infant from the bassinet and handed him to Ray. Ray’s eyebrows went up in surprise, but he reached out to take the baby from Livy.

“Ray Singleton, I’d like you to meet your son, Daniel Stephen Singleton,” she said with a smile in her voice and on her face.

Ray looked down at the baby and then at Livy his mouth nearly agape with amazement.

“Daniel?” he finally managed to say.

She nodded and said, “I’ve already taken to calling him Danny if that’s okay. It seems to suit him. And Stephen is my father’s name. Ever the optimist I am that some day he’ll come around to us.”

Ray looked back down at the stirring baby and said, “Hey Danny, it’s nice to meet you.” He looked back at Livy and leaned over to kiss her – she leaned toward him and kissed him back. They smiled at one another and then back at the baby. When Ray started to sing the Singleton lullaby to Danny, Livy thought she’d melt and any last semblances of doubt that might have existed in her mind disappeared.

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

In the morning, Abby was ready to go back to Denver about the same time Livy and Ray were ready to head back to their own house. They said their good-byes and Ray took a moment to be alone with Abby to thank her again for taking such good care of Livy and for driving all the way back with him. Abby hugged Ray and simply said, “You’re welcome. I suppose I could tell you to take good care of her, but something tells me that I don’t need to do that.”

“No,” he agreed. “That’s something I intend to do every day of my life.”

They all said their good byes and Ray and Livy drove the 8 miles to their house, both unable to keep the smiles from their faces. Livy had heard all about the Christmas pageant from Ruth that morning Ray concurred on the ride home that it had been great fun.

Livy said, “You know, Ray - Abby took me to the symphony’s Christmas concert and all I could think about was missing that pageant.”

Ray’s eyebrows raised and then frowned skeptically.

“It’s true!” Livy defended. “It’s when I knew for certain that this was home for me, Ray, not Denver. I love the symphony, but nothing can compare to seeing a show with people you care about actually in it.”

He smiled at her and nodded as they pulled up to the house.

Livy noticed a wreath on the door as Ray opened the door and stepped back to let her through. “Livy,” he said. She turned to him and he said, “Welcome home” as he leaned down to kiss her and she kissed him back.

“Thank you, Ray,” she said. “It’s so good to be home.”

As she entered the house, she saw some of the things that she’d collected from the dugout had been arranged on the porch. Inside she saw that several more items had been hung on the walls or placed on table tops.

She looked around in amazement and said to Ray, “You’ve been busy! It looks wonderful.”

He smiled proudly and said, “You can arrange things anyway you want, Livy. This is your home and it needs to reflect that. You can make any changes you want and you can make any rules that you want. You are the lady of the house and can make any decisions you want.”

Livy laughed. “Oh, I’d be careful before giving me that much free range, Mr. Singleton.”

He put his arms around her and pulled her close. “You can have as much free range as you want Mrs. Singleton, as long as you promise to never go away again.”

She looked up at him and said, “I’ll never go away again, Ray. I promise. I love you.”
A small smile formed on Ray's lips as he said, "I love you, too."

As they kissed, Danny began to cry and Ray took him. Livy said, “Shall I make us some lunch?”

Ray looked at her teasingly and said, “Don’t tell me you took some cooking lessons in Denver!”

She swatted him playfully as they went into the kitchen, making the sounds of a happy family happy to be at home.

The End

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