Trey smoothed the hair out of SueAnna’s eyes. “You’re doing great, Annie.”
She smiled at him, then closed her eyes and arched her back. “How would you know? You ever have a baby?” She let out a whoosh of air and glared at him.
Was this his Annie talking? He knew she was feisty but she bordered on meanness. Did all women get like this when they had a baby? She had turned into a wildcat, snarling and lashing out at him. Why hadn’t Doc warned him?
He kissed her hand. “Fred and Lorna say you’re doing great.”
“And how many babies have they had? Huh? Get out of here. I can do this myself.”
A good excuse for him to use the necessary, and take a good long suck of fresh air. He turned and took two steps toward the door.
“You leave this room, Trey Martin, and you can’t ever come back in. You hear me? Do you think I got this way by myself? You stay, mister.”
Fred Thayer chuckled from the corner of the room. “Probably should stay, mister.” He wiggled his eyebrows at Trey.
“Very funny,” he mouthed at Doc. How long would this take? It’d already been all night.
“SueAnna, I’m going to check you again. Trey can go see how Lily is doing.” Doc motioned for Trey to leave.
Strangely quiet, she shook her head in response and turned her head to the wall. “You could at least kiss me goodbye. If you don’t kiss me now, you can’t ever kiss me again.”
Trey stepped back to the bed and leaned down to kiss her and was met by two eyes round as saucers. ‘You think you can just come over here and kiss me anytime you want? Go away.”
He didn’t waste any time. The woman was out of her mind. Did she think he was one of those puppets on a string. Come here. Go away. Kiss me. Don’t ever come near me. He slipped through the door and was at the bottom of the steps when she screamed, “Treeyyy Marrrtin. This is all your faulllt.” Then all was quiet.
He couldn’t breathe. Why was it so still? He wanted to run to her, but his legs wouldn’t work. “Please Annie,” he begged her silently. “Scream. Do something. I have to know you’re still with me.”
Frank Mercer’s words slammed at him with a vengeance. If she died…if the baby died, he would be the guilty one.
One heavy foot in front of another, he trudged his way back up the steps. Three more steps—then a baby’s cry. A mad, loud, healthy sounding cry. And in the background Annie was laughing—laughing.
Lorna met him at the door. “You can’t come in, yet. She doesn’t want you to come in until we get her cleaned up and her hair combed.” She leaned against the doorway and laughed until until the tears rolled. “Know what she said? She said, ‘a lady doesn’t want her husband to see her like this’.”
Trey took a deep breath and nodded. A lady, huh.
Fred Thayer thumped him on the head as he nudged past him to do down the stairs. “You have a beautiful little daughter, Trey. And your wife did fine. Just fine. Can’t wait to let Frank Mercer know. She’s made to have babies, my friend. Wouldn’t be surprised if she wants a dozen.”
A dozen? She was made to have babies? She did fine, just fine? Visions of Alice Rawlings danced in his head.
But when Lorna finally let him in the room, his heart lodged in his throat. More beautiful than he could remember seeing her, Annie sat propped against pillows. Her hair spread around her like a huge fan, and in her arms, in a soft pink blanket, was the tiniest little person he’d ever seen.
He walked to her bedside, never taking his eyes from Annie’s. “You’re beautiful,” he whispered. “I’m so sorry I put you through so much.”
She reached with one hand to pull him close. “Trey Martin, I’ll do this a dozen times and love every minutes of it.” She pulled the blanket away from the baby’s face and a mop of black hair greeted him, along with two big beautiful blue eyes that were wide open. Could she see him? Did she know he was her papa?
“This is our daughter, Trey. Do you have a name for her? I’ll name the boys, and you name the girls. Okay?”
He swallowed past the lump in his throat and took the pink bundle from wife’s arms. So small. So very, very small but already filled his heart in ways he couldn’t have thought possible. He kissed her button nose and wiped his tears from her face. “She’s like another chance, Annie. We’ll call her Grace—Anna Grace. She’ll be an every day reminder of what God has done for us.”
“Ahhem.” Adam stood in the doorway, flanked by Bed and Lily.
“Hello, Grandpa Martin. Don’t you want to see this fine little lady? You can all come in. She’s most anxious to meet her family.”
Trey handed the small bundle to his pa. “Her name is Anna Grace.”
The older man brought the babe to his face an kissed her cheek. “She’s beautiful. More beautiful than I’d ever imagined a newborn could be.” He handed the babe to Ben.
Ben squatted beside Lily. “This is your new little niece, Lilly. You’re an aunt, now. Aunt Lily. Isn’t that something?”
Lily’s brow wrinkled as she examined the newborn. She touched her nose, counted her fingers and unwrapped her to touch each tiny toe. Then, like the angel at the Christmas pageant, she spread her arms and gave the benediction.
“This is just the bestest day and you know what I figured out? OnlyI didn’t figure it out all by myself. Miss Libby helped—’cuz she’s really smart and knows a lot of ‘portant stuff—if I don’t say the T on that funny word I call Trey, it says yahoo! Isn’t that a happy word? Let’s all say it together.”