Author's Note: this is a little sequel of my story 'The Only Thing' but it can be read without knowing the previous story.
I know I've got a really good life
In the slumber of my sleep I feel someone reaching for the bundle in my arms and instinctively I tighten the hold on my baby daughter.
"Sshh Lou, it's me." Kid's familiar and soothing voice reaches me and I relax, letting him take our Charlotte and put her in her crib.
Lottie and I have waited for him to come back, sitting on the rocking chair in front of our bedroom window. It's become a habit since in these days it is usual for Kid to leave in the morning and come back at night.
To start the ranch we both wanted was harder than we expected, especially because of my difficult pregnancy, which prevented me from doing as much as I'd have liked. If it was for Kid, he would never have left my side but we both know that we have to make sacrifices. The result is that I see my husband of almost a year less than when we were still working for the Express and we rode across the prairie seven days per week.
I know I should rise and go to bed but I'm so tired I can't even open my eyes, as much as I keep saying I'm well, I've not totally recovered from the delivery. I feel Kid crouch in front of me and take me in his arms, I feel a bit guilty because he must be as tired as me, but I can't help a sigh of pleasure on feeling his nearness. I hide my face in the crook of his neck and smell the soap which he washed himself with to take away the dust and the sweat of the day.
I smile contentedly, snuggling against him even more. I hear him chuckle and I grumble disappointed when he lets go of me to put me in bed, in much the same fashion he did with our daughter. He lies beside me and I snuggle against his chest.
"Good night, Lou." It's the last thing I hear before falling asleep again.
The following morning the bed is already empty when I wake up. I had to rise to breastfeed and check on Lottie a couple of times last night so I overslept again. I find Kid in the kitchen, holding a cup of coffee in one hand and our daughter with the other. Charlotte is the apple of his eye; she has my dark eyes and hair but her father's sweet smile. Smile that is now totally dedicated to him. They are both mesmerized by each other, I think with a strange lump of tenderness in my chest.
"Why didn't you wake me up?" I ask from the threshold.
Kid and Lottie both turn to look at me with the same startled expression. I go to them and take my baby.
"It's not right you have to prepare breakfast today too."
"It's no problem," Kid protests, "and I wasn't alone, Teresa and Jeremiah helped me."
"What would I do without you?" I sigh.
Rachel is a great help but she has her little Agnes too and her home to look after so, between the baby, the house and my siblings I sometimes feel overcome by all these new responsibilities I have. Kid helps me as much as he can but I can see he's as exhausted as me.
He gets up and puts his empty cup in the sink.
"I have to go now," he says, almost apologetically.
"Right now?" I can't help the pleading tone of my voice.
"Sorry Lou," he says nodding, "but I promise I'll try to get home sooner this evening."
I put an arm around his waist.
"Try not to overdo it." I say, looking at the lines of tiredness on his face.
"I'll try." He promises, bending to kiss me on the lips and then Lottie on her head.
He exits and I see him take the buckboard; Tessie and Miah scramble in it and they wave at me before heading toward town.
Sometimes I think about the way it was,
"Lou, sweetie, are you feeling well?"
I raise my head from the curtain I'm sewing, startled by Rachel's question. I must have dozed off on the work I was doing.
"Hmm…yeah Rachel, thank you," I respond rubbing my eyes, "it's just that I didn't sleep so well last night, you know, with Lottie…"
"Don't worry, I understand you perfectly," Rachel pats my shoulder reassuringly, "When she was Lottie's age, Agnes slept during the day and kept awake at night, a living hell!" she chuckles "but you should take it easier, you know?"
She puts a lock of hair behind my ear in an affectionate gesture.
"With all that Kid's doing it's just right I do my share here at home." I shrug.
"Do you know something? I think that both you and Kid are overdoing it. I know you need to get your ranch started, but you should take some time for yourselves once in a while."
"You're right Rachel," I sigh, "but right now I don't know how we can manage to do that."
The truth is that I miss my husband. It seems ridiculous since we sleep in the same bed every night. But the fact is that all we do is sleep! We are so caught up with the everyday occurrences that we barely manage a "Good Night" at evening and a "Good Day" in the morning.
I stop the wagon in front of Tompkins' store. I have to buy some supplies and then take Tessie and Miah back from school. Even this short trip is a nice diversion from my daily routine and I shake my head at this thought, sometimes it seems incredible that I'm the same Lou who worked for the Express, ran across the prairie day in and day out and wasn't afraid to use a gun when it was necessary. I'm a mother now, a wife, and I have my siblings near me.
That's what I always wanted, but I miss the days where it was only Kid and me, as complicated as they were. This day, one year ago, Kid and I made love for the first time and he asked me to become his wife; but all this seems so far away now.
"Hey Lou, good afternoon," Tompkins greets me when I enter, "Kid left a parcel for you here."
I squint my eyes, surprised. A parcel? I put Lottie's bassinet on Tompkins' counter to pick the brown package. It's soft…what could it be?
I open it…a soft light blue material comes out, it's a dress. The lovely blue dress I saw here weeks ago. Kid remembered it! My heart flutters in my chest.
"Try it on now," Tompkins says, "I'll watch Charlotte for you. C'mon, go behind the curtain."
I'm a bit hesitant for a moment, but then I see Lottie watching Tompkins' face smiling contentedly and I finally convince myself that leaving her for some moments with the old shopkeeper wouldn't hurt.
I put on the dress Kid bought for me. It has a round neck and lace trimmed on the hem of the sleeves and a million of tiny white flowers stamped on it. I love it.
I put my head outside the curtain, excited like a little girl.
"Tompkins, is there a mirror…"
I stop; Rachel, Jeremiah and Teresa are all there, looking at me with big smiles on their faces.
"What are you doing here?!" I exclaim surprised.
"We were waiting for you, what else!" my friend responds me, "right children?" she winks at my siblings.
"But why?" I can't understand what's going on.
"Because there's a certain young man waiting for you on the street, that's why! Now come here…" she gestures me with a hand.
Still astonished I do as Rachel said and, with a few expert moves, my friend rearranges my bun, putting a small satin ribbon in my hair and then a pair of pearl earrings on my lobes.
"That's it. You look lovely Louise." She says when she finally releases me.
"Rachel's right! You're beautiful Luly!" Tessie adds.
"Now go, I'll take care of Tessie, Miah and Lottie tonight. I think that Kid has planned something special for you."
"But I…the baby…" I'm still too surprised to think coherently, "she needs diapers and milk…"
"I said don't worry. Lottie is not the first baby I look after and I won't be alone. I have two special helpers here."
"C'mon Louise," Miah butts in, "go. We'll be at Rachel's with Teaspoon and Jimmy and the others, it'll be fun!"
I turn to look at my little Lottie, it's the first time I leave her and my heart wrings at the mere thought; but then outside the window I see my Kid pacing back and forth with his best suit on and a bunch of daisies in his hand.
"See you later baby angel," I say hugging my daughter one last time, "mama will come to get you back tomorrow!"
She gurgles happily in my arms but then I let her down on the bassinet again. I look at her one last time and then I fly out the door.
Kid's jaw drops open when he sees me. His warm and admiring look makes me blush.
"You're beautiful," he breathes and then he hands me the daisies, the same flowers he gave me that evening.
"You remembered, then…" I say.
"Of course, I remember," he responds taking me in his arms, "how could I forget the most special night of my life?"
His voice is a loving whisper in my ear.
"I'm sorry lately we haven't had any time for ourselves…but I want to make it up for you tonight. I want this night to be ours and ours only."
After a candlelight dinner, Kid surprises me again leading me to the town hotel, where he booked a room for the night. When I enter my breath is taken away. It's full of candles and daisies, just like the room on the Red Fern hotel where we spent our first night together.
"Oh Kid," I turn looking at him with tears in my eyes. "It's perfect!"
"Just like you," he responds, "you make me the happiest man on earth. I know things weren't always easy for us, we had to overcome many trials and the hard times aren't finished for us yet. But we are here together, with a beautiful daughter and a future to build and this night I want to celebrate."
I nod, unable to speak, and then I rise on my feet to kiss him on the mouth. It begins sweet but then it slowly rises in intensity, leaving me quivering and breathless. It's been so long since we were alone like this.
Baby lay me down on our bed
Kid begins to undress me slowly and I can't help but tremble under his touch, my heart pounds in my chest, my body hasn't still recovered from the pregnancy and the tough delivery it went through and I'm self-conscious about it.
A deep blush starts to creep on my cheeks but I don't stop him, I let Kid take off my dress and underwear, until I'm naked in front of him. He kneels in front of me with an adoring look in his eyes.
"I love you Louise." He says reverently.
He kisses my belly and then the stretch marks on my abdomen, slowly, thoroughly, until I feel like melting under his loving attack.
You're the one who really gets me
"Oh Kid…" I breathe, grabbing his head for support.
He carries me to the bed. I gently pull his head up to look at his face to respond to his declaration before kissing him again, with more urgency now.
I know you can keep me burning
It's been so long since we last made love. And only now do I realize how desperately I've missed his touch. I begin to pull at his clothes with a frenzy that makes him chuckle, but his laugh dies in his throat when my caresses become more brazen.
"Lou," he moans, almost in pain, shutting his eyes closed and arching his back under my touch.
"Love me," I plea hooking my legs around his hips, "love me and make me feel like a woman again."
Like a woman touched for the first time
Like a woman…
Author's Note: Thank you to Mercy and Francesca for their help!
Song is "Like a Woman" sung by: Jamie O'Neil