It is the sweet, simple things of life which are the real ones after all. - Laura Ingalls Wilder.

Hearing her children laugh was normally a great pleasure for Louise, but when it involved the brood darting in and out of her laundry it was a recipe for disaster. “Careful now…”

Mary scrambled in between the sheets and jumped over the wicker basket with the rest of the wet laundry.

“Hey now,” Louise cautioned her oldest, “before you-”

Too late. Billy saw the basket a moment too late as he dashed after his sister. He tried valiantly to lift his boot over the edge, up-ending it instead.

Louise hung her head and counted under her breath. “How many times have I told you both to-”

“Nothing damaged this time.”

She looked up and smiled. “This time,” she groaned, “but what about last week… or next week even. Why does this happen every single time?”

Buck gave her a grin and lifted a pillowcase out of the basket with one hand and handed it to Louise. “Need a little help?”

She took the pillowcase from his hand and reached into the bag hanging from the line searching for a single pin with her fingers. It took a few seconds before her fingers could close over the wooden clip and right before she pulled it free she froze as an arm snaked around her waist.

Feeling the hard plane of her husband’s chest against her back she raised a brow at the interruption. “I thought you said you were going to help?”

His lips brushed the edge of her ear. “I am… I’m helping myself.” He turned her around and backed her up into the sheet she’d just hung, his lips slanting over hers.

Louise managed to lean back out of range for a moment. “And just how do you suppose the laundry is going to get itself hung up on the line if you’re ‘helping’?”

He adjusted his hold on her, lifting her feet from the ground by a couple of inches. “I’ll help you… later.”

*** ***

Emma leaned her head on Sam’s shoulder in the cool shade of the porch. “It’s quiet.”

Reaching over, Sam stroked the back of her hand with his fingertips. “I’m not complaining.”

“Me neither.”

“A year isn’t so long, you know.”

“I know.” She sighed her words into the breeze that swept past. She watched the leaves of the poplar tree shiver with it and wondered aloud. “Do you think Jimmy will write?”

Sam adjusted his position on the swing and curled his arm around his wife’s shoulders, brushing a kiss against her temple and the silver strands that were now mixing in with the gold. “He will if he knows what’s good for him.”

Emma laughed and leaned into her husband’s gentle embrace. “That’s what I’m supposed to say. I’m his mother.”

Taking in a deep breath that only served to emphasize the ache in his chest Sam nodded even thought she couldn’t see. “I know, Emma… but I’m gonna miss him too.”

Reaching her hand up, Emma covered his as it lay on her shoulder. “That’s what I love about you, Sam. You’re not afraid to say things like that.”

He breathed the sunlit scent of her hair. “Is that all you love about me?”

Her laughter shook them both. “Silly man… you’re a silly, silly man, Sam Cain and you know I love you for more than that.”

“And I love you Emma…”

*** ***

Cassie reached out and wrapped her fingers around the coffee cup and sighed when it lifted from the table all too quickly. Tipping it toward her she saw the flecked blue bottom. She released the cup and braced her other hand on the table.

Before she could stand, she felt a strong hand press gently on her shoulder. “Sit,” the single word wasn’t spoken as a command, but an entreaty and she settled into her chair as a yawn stretched her mouth into a long ‘o’.

“Sorry I missed supper.”

She smiled at his words. “Louise came over to let me know you were still on the trail.”

Noah smiled at her as he reached for the coffee cup, his hand brushing against hers as he lifted it up. “You know I would’ve been here if I could.”

“I know.” She took the mug back in both hands and breathed in the heavenly scent. “Quinn and I missed hearing your voice during grace.”

“I’m sure he did a good job.” Her younger brother had matured in the few months that Noah had known them and he was very fond of the young man.

She nodded as Noah took the seat across from her on the small square table, the planes of his face burnished with gold from the lantern. “He did… but I missed you, Noah… missed seeing your smile.”

“And I missed you, too.”

*** ***

“Papa?” The tiny voice seemed to glow in the darkness of the room. “Do you hafta go?”

Kid turned around, his gaze falling on the little girl even though there wasn’t enough light to see. “It’s late, honey…”


He retraced his steps and slid his hand along the edge of the bed frame to make sure that he didn’t sit on a little hand or foot. He laid the bible in his lap and smiled. “What was it that couldn’t wait until morning?”

She lay on her hand on his arm and cuddled close to his side. “I wanted you to stay until I fell asleep, Papa, just,” she paused and the silence told him she was yawning into the darkness, “a little while, Papa. Just a little while.”

He covered her hand with his and leaned back against the wall closing his eyes. “Alright, honey… just a little while.”

*** ***

Jimmy slid his hand to the back of the saddle and tried to sound calm even when his stomach was tied in knots. “Lighten up a bit on the reins, sweetie… the horse isn’t gonna run away with you.”

Lily turned and gave him a gap-toothed grin. “I wanna let her run, Papa… I wanna ride fast.”

He nodded his head a few times and tried to fight down the panic that dotted his forehead with sweat. “Not for a bit, darlin’…” and added under his breath, “not while I’m alive.”

“Mama said you used to ride like the wind,” she announced as she leaned forward in the saddle, one hand dropping the reins to pet the long mane of her horse. “I’m gonna do that too, Papa. I’m gonna ride like you.”

“Well you tell your Mama to stop makin’ up stories and tell you about what she used to do when she was younger.”

Lily swung her head around and her braids swung in a wide arc around her neck. “Mama don’t fib, Papa. I’m gonna be just as wild as you was and so when I’m old like you, I’m gonna have all kinds of things to tell my daughter that I did.”

He ground his teeth together and wondered where his darling wife had hidden and exactly what kind of revenge he was going to take on her. “Well it may sound like a good idea right now, darlin’… but if you want to live long enough to have a daughter, you’d best learn how to keep a hold of the reins and not give your Papa an attack.”

She laughed, her head tossed back and arms spread wide in the sunlight. “Faster, Papa, make her go faster!”

Jimmy shook his head. He should never have agreed to teach Lily to ride. They’d created a monster. He knew it was true, but he couldn’t stop smiling. Not while his daughter was laughing like that.

*** ***

Rachel felt the bed dip as Janusz settled beside her to peer into the swaddling the mid-wife had wrapped around their child.

She heard the hoarse scrape of his voice as he struggled to talk. “It is a boy?”

“Yes,” she breathed as she lowered the edge of the blanket so that they could both see the baby and his thatch of red-gold hair, “he is beautiful.”

“A fine boy.” Janusz clutched the part of his shirt that covered his heart as he leaned in to brush a kiss on the boy’s head. He gave his wife a kiss, tender and reverent. “Thank you.”

Rachel’s laugh drew the baby’s curious gaze. “You’re most welcome.”

His hand, worn with hard work and years of pain gently cupped his child’s head, soft lengths of hair brushing against his palm. “So perfect.”

She leaned against her husband’s side Rachel smiled. “Yes… it is.”

This is from a prompt by Tracy L

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