Her first thoughts were of Pain and Bright Sunlight. “The curtains...” instantly they were drawn and Louise opened her eyes with some effort. Taking in a deep breath she swept the air above her and looked up into Emma’s tender gaze. “Emma? You came.”

Emma wiped her forehead with a soft warm cloth and leaned close, “Came? ‘belle, I was here hours ago.”

Her thoughts drifted back, remembering the two women who had been her support through the final hours of her labor and Louise smiled, “I remember, I think.” Lou struggled to sit up and winced at the pain in tender unmentionable places. She felt Emma’s strong hands lifting her up and breathed a ’thank you’ for her help. It was then that soft murmurs and the trickle of water set a flutter in her heart, “Emma?”

Setting a hand on Louise’s shoulder Emma sat on the edge of the bed. “Loulabelle, he’s fine. Rachel’s just giving him a bath.”

“He?” Lou’s heart leapt at the sound of that one beautiful word. “You-” Lou touched Emma’s arm, her fingers shook like a leaf tossed in the wind, “you said he?”

Emma nodded, and helped her sit up, placing pillows behind her head and tucking the comforter around her.

Louise stared at Rachel’s back with such an intense longing that Emma’s heart went out to her. It had been just a year ago that she had felt that longing, her own daughter was in the next room with the men. She longed to gather Lou in her arms and wait with her, but she knew that there was only one thing to settle her worries.

Rachel reached for the towel on the table beside her. Gently she dabbed at the water, humming along with her movements. Shifting, she took a soft downy blanket, one Louise would’ve recognized as Emma’s handiwork if she’d been paying attention to it. A few quick wraps of cloth and Rachel turned, a tiny bundle held before her. Louise sat up and tried to catch a glimpse of her son. Rachel beamed with pride as she whispered into the still afternoon air, “Oh Louise, he’s the most beautiful baby in the whole world!” Her words seemed to pass right through the young woman, her only thoughts of the child in her friend’s arms.

The walk from one end of the room to the side of her bed seemed to take an eternity. Her eyes could do little more than stare at that precious little bundle.

Emma moved back a step and Louise reached out her arms toward Rachel, who smiling, set the tiny baby into her arms. “Louise, you have-” it probably would have made her happy to listen to the heartfelt words of praise from both women, but the instant she tucked the baby into the bend of her arms, nothing else mattered.

For Louise, the moment she touched his warm little body, the world began again.

Quietly, Louise said a prayer of thanks as she, suffering from curiosity and motherly anxiety, unwrapped the blanket from around his body. She set the baby against her legs and she stared intently at his hands, counting again and again; ten fingers ten toes two eyes one nose.. “It’s all there,“ she breathed.

Sometime during the loving inventory, Emma and Rachel left, closing the door behind them. The door could’ve fallen off and Louise wouldn’t have cared, she found her eyes roaming over his face trying to memorize each precious inch. Softly shut, his lashes swept his cheeks, shielding his eyes from hers. Would he have eyes like hers, brown with little bits of gold, or like his father? Sadly, there would be no way of know... until-

Tiny lips smacked together, as if somewhere in a dream he found some tasty morsel to eat. Louise felt her heart dance at the sound, life was a miraculous thing. Joy took over and she hugged the tiny baby to her, her cheek brushed against his downy skin and she breathed in his scent.

Today was the birthday of the sun and the moon... the stars and all the living things on the earth started over, bright and shining. “It’s almost like it’s my birthday too.”

A kiss, soft and tender, she touched her lips to his forehead, his cheeks and his little nose. Smiling, Louise rubbed her cheek against the downy hair on his head. She cuddled him close and listened to the his even breathing, feeling the light gusts of warm breath on her skin. It was heavenly.

Voices outside her window told her that life continued in another place, but here in her bedroom she had a world of her own.

Louise smoothed the blanket back again and watched as the soft light of the approaching night sweep over his head. She looked up at the empty room, with Emma and Rachel gone, the room seemed cavernous. Turning back to her newborn son, Louise suddenly felt that nothing really mattered except for the baby in her arms

A soft yawn drew her eyes and Louise felt some new and unnamed feeling wrap itself around her heart.

“I remember how to change a diaper and feed a baby with a bottle, but...” eyes, hazel and brown drifted closed taking her thoughts with their sight. “I don’t have much in the way of real motherin’ skills, so you’ll have to be patient.” In sleep, her son looked as if he was pouting, his lower lip set a bit further out than the top. Gently, she traced the bow of his tiny lips, “Now, don’t go worryin’ on me.” The soft sound of footsteps outside the door drew her gaze. A second set, softer, but just as solid joined the first. “Sounds like your father wants to see you, we’ll call for him in just a minute.”

Louise froze as a tiny whine rose up to her ears. Looking down she stopped thinking, her son’s eyes looked back at her with a strange mixture of innocence and wisdom in his gaze. “What did I ever do to deserve you?”

The whine grew to an insistent wail, his arms reaching blindly toward her. Somewhere deep inside her, her body answered the age old call and Louise unbuttoned her nightgown and drew him closer to her body. She remembered her own mother doing the same thing with Teresa as a baby, but this was all so different. Tiny hands brushed against her skin as the baby rooted himself to her breast. There was a few seconds of pain before she settled into the sensation.

Louise slipped down against the bed, careful not to disturb him. Settling against the mattress she closed her eyes, listening to the sounds of her own heart beating. She touched her hand to his little chest, gently stroking the warm skin just under his chin. “Hello my little one.” Just beneath her hand, the strong beat of his heart touched her hand and tears came to her eyes. No ride, no adventure, no other moment the world had ever seen could take the place of this one.

She heard the door open and felt the side of the bed bend under the weight of her husband. “I love you.”

Louise smiled, “I love you back.”

“He’s beautiful, like you.”

“He’s just beautiful.”

“Yes, he is.”

Sleep claimed her as she felt an arm wrap around her waist. Gently she stroked the tiny head nestled against her body. “Life,” she sighed, “doesn’t get better than this.”

The first time ever I saw your face

I thought the sun rose in your eyes

And the moon and the stars were the gifts you gave

To the night and the empty skies my love

To the night and the empty skies

The first time ever I kissed you

I felt the earth turn in my hand

Like the trembling heart of a captive bird

That was there at my command my love

That was there at my command

The first time ever I lay with you

And felt your heart beat close to mine

I thought our joy would fill the earth

And would last 'till the end of time my love

And would last 'till the end of time

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