I‟m back with the latest installment of the Bradford family‟s story. Last time, Jan died; Phily continued tocampaign for suffrage in honor of her sisters and finally won women the right to vote; Prohibition becamelaw, making Marsha happy and James not so much; James worried about his future; James, Taddy, andSterling headed off to college, Melanie returned from Sarsimsota Springs a new woman, Cyrus‟ obsessionwith automobiles got him into trouble; and James met Cindy Selby and soon fell for her, despite a roughbeginning to their relationship. And some other stuff, but you can go back and read the last chapter if youwant all the details.Blanket warning about language, topics, adult situations, etc. There is also one pic with nude sims, but youcan‟t see anything naughty.Enjoy Chapter 22!
“Anything good in the mail today?” Jefferson asked as Marsha came in from the post box“A note from Viola, by the looks of it. A bill from Simlene‟s, the department store in Portsimouth – James orViola must have gone shopping. And there‟s a package here for you.”“Really? From whom?”“No idea, dear.”Jefferson unwrapped the brown paper to reveal a small box and a note. He began to read.
Jefferson,I wish to apologize for all the pain I have caused your family over the years. I know that no words canerase my actions, but I hope that this small gesture will atone for some of them. Enclosed you will find the engagement ring you gave me. I know it is a valued family heirloom, and Ishould have returned it ages ago. It is not too late for you to give it to its rightful owner. I also understand,through my conversations with Sterling, that James may be in need of it as well. Either way, it belongs toyour family, and the Bradfords should have it back.Again, I am sorry for all I have done. I hope that you and your family will someday be able to forgive me.Melanie
“Is that…” Marsha asked as she watched Jefferson open the box.“Yes. It‟s the family engagement ring. The one I should have given to you.”“Has she had it all this time?”“Apparently.”“Well, at least she decided to return the Bradford diamond to its rightful owners.”Jefferson raised an eyebrow at his wife. “Do you think, perhaps, you could be a little more gracious toMelanie, when she‟s decided to do the right thing for once? And why are you referring to it as the „Bradforddiamond?‟ That‟s the kind of highbrow thing that my mother would have done.”
“It seems odd to refer to it as just a ring, when it‟s been in the family for so long,” Marsha said with a shrugand a look that suggested her feeling about being compared to her deceased mother-in-law. “And you‟reright. I expect that Viola and Sterling will announce their engagement any day. I should be more graciousto Melanie. It won‟t be easy, though.”“I‟m sure it wasn‟t easy for her to write this letter either. I‟m glad she decided to do the right thing, andreturn the ring to our family. Would you like to wear it?”Marsha shook her head. “If what Melanie writes and what Viola tells me are both true, James will beasking for it before long. We can put it aside until then.”
“Will you stop fidgeting, doll? You have nothing to worry about.”“Says you,” Cindy replied. “As I said to you once before James, I‟m not the type of girl that you take hometo meet your mama.”“Says you,” he retorted. “Really, it‟ll be fine. My mother will love you. Just focus on the fact that you‟re anorphan and don‟t mention exactly where you work.”“Right, she‟s a teetotaler,” Cindy muttered. “So steer conversation away from the fact that I‟m employedby a speakeasy owner.”“That would be prudent.”The train rattled to a stop. “Ready?” James asked, offering Cindy his hand.
“This place is so much like the town where I grew up,” Cindy said as they walked towards the BradfordFarm.“Don‟t let that worry you – Simsfield might be a small town, but it‟s not at all far from the city. You sawthat.”The front door suddenly flew open, and Marsha came out on to the steps. “I‟m so glad you‟re here!”Jefferson followed her out. “Give them a chance to get all the way here before you accost them, dear,” hesmiled.Cindy tightened her grip on James‟ hand.
Later, while Marsha was giving Cindy a tour of the house, Jefferson pulled James aside. “She‟s a nice girl,James.”“Thanks, Papa. I…I really like her a lot.”“I thought so, otherwise you wouldn‟t have subjected her to your mother‟s fussings. Are you planning onmaking things between you two more official anytime soon?”“I‟d like to, Papa. We haven‟t talked about marriage per se; I know that her parents were trying to force iton her before they died, and I don‟t want to drag up bad memories. Plus, I kind of wanted to see how youand Mama liked her, and to see how she reacted to you.”Jefferson smiled. “If you like her, your mother and I will like her.”James clasped his father on the shoulder. “Thanks, Papa.”
After sitting down to one of Marsha‟s delicious dinners, James sensed that his mother wanted a word withhim. He offered to help clear the plates, and followed her into the kitchen.“Oh, James, she‟s just charming!” Marsha gushed.“Thanks, Mama. I really like her.”“Of course you do, dear. I saw how you watched her at dinner.”James colored a little bit at his mother‟s remark.“Scrape the plates while I put them in to soak?” she asked.
After the dishes were in the sink, Marsha went over to the pie on the counter. “I hope she likes cherry.”“She‟ll love it, Mama. Don‟t worry.”Marsha gave her son a knowing look. “I supposed you‟d like the Bradford diamond soon?”James chuckled. “Is that what we‟re calling Great-Grandma Chris‟ ring now? But to answer yourquestion, yes, Mama. Sometime this summer.” Marsha beamed. “Take the dessert plates into the dining room, please? I‟ll be right behind you once I getthe pie cutter out.”
Alone in the kitchen, Marsha hummed to herself. Her son would be getting married soon, and then therewould be grandbabies for her to dote upon.Cindy was such a sweet girl. And an orphan! Marsha shook her head. The poor thing.Of course, she didn‟t want to rush things. James hadn‟t even asked her to marry him yet. Marsha hadseen what the pressure of needing to get married did to someone, and she did not want to be the cause ofany anxiety.Marsha got the pie cutter out of the drawer and carried up the pie to her soon-to-be-family, a huge smile onher face.
Spring was beginning to give way to summer, and Meadow had been eager to show off her work in therose garden to Phily.“It looks as fine as it did when Victor and Jane got married,” Phily complemented.“I did think that myself, but didn‟t want to be too presumptuous.”“You? Never!” Phily teased. “Are you alright, darling? You seem rather pale as of late.”“I will admit that I don‟t feel myself lately, but then again at our age, who expects to?”Meadow shivered, though the sun was rather warm that day.“Maybe you should go inside and lie down for a bit,” worried Phily, thinking back to how quickly Meadow‟sown parents had become ill years ago.“Perhaps I will. Will you bring up some tea?”“Of course.”
Once up in the room she shared with Phily, Meadow still couldn‟t shake off the chill she had felt outside.She rummaged about in her drawer for a shawl, but realized that all her warm things had been put in thecedar chest for storage over the summer.Never mind, she though. I’ll just wrap myself up in the quilt from the bed. Once I have some tea in me I’llwarm right up.
“Jane will bring the tea up in a few moments; she already had a pot on for…” Phily said as she walked intothe room. She paused when she saw how badly her partner was shaking.“Perhaps you ought to send for the doctor?” Meadow managed to get out between her shivers.Phily turned and hurried down the stairs faster than she had ever moved before in her life.
After making the call, she hurried back up the stairs, Jane hot on her heals. But it was too late.
The door to the bedroom closed behind them. It was over as quickly as it began. Meadow was gone,slipping away quietly as the day gave way to night. Meadow had not allowed Jane and Phily to call for therest of the family at the last – she had not wanted her grandchildren to see her suffering.The sound of the door closing was what did her in. As it clicked, Phily crumpled to the floor, sobbing sohard that she could barely breathe. Jane had panicked, and cried for Victor. He rushed to the scene, andcarried his sobbing aunt to the spare bedroom.
The next morning, Phily awoke in the room that used to be Henri‟s, more exhausted than she everremembered being.A soft knock announced Jane‟s entrance with a breakfast tray. “How do you feel?”“Horrible. I just can‟t believe she‟s gone.”“Neither can I.” “Oh, Jane,” sighed Phily. “I‟m being a horribly selfish creature, aren‟t I? Here I am, lamenting the loss ofmy…” she hesitated for a moment, “dearest friend, and you‟ve just lost the woman whom you called„Mother.‟”“We all loved her, Phily. You have just as much of a right to mourn as I do.”
More of a right than you know, the older woman thought.“What were you thinking just now? The strangest look crossed your face.” Phily hesitated. Should she be honest with her little girl at this moment, or should she allow the secret toremain? Would Jane understand? If she told her daughter the truth about her relationship with Meadow,would she be able to look at Phily the same way? Phily elected to go with her first instinct.
“Jane, there‟s something that I need to tell you. Come, have a seat.”Jane sat down on the bed next to Phily, and Phily began to speak. “You may have wondered why I never married. Of course, with hearing about how my sister Henri‟smarried life was, or how my brother Matthew tried to force his siblings into marriages to benefit himself, itprobably never crossed your mind. I‟m sure you wondered why Meadow, who was considered quite thecatch in her day, didn‟t marry either. There was a reason for that.“Many years ago, when Meadow and I were on our grand tour, we both came to the realization that wewere in love with each other.”Phily paused as Jane drew in a quick breath.
“Of course, society being what it is, we knew that being together would be difficult if not impossible. Whenthe Professor died and we had to come home, Meadow and I were devastated. On the ship home, wemade vows to each other that we would be together, no matter what. Neither of us knew what the futureheld; we were both worried that our parents would force us into a marriage. But we got lucky, in someways.“I decided to stay with Henri, because she needed me for emotional and financial support – that‟s why Itaught for so long. Meadow lost her parents not long after we got back, and she asked Henri, Victor and Ito move in here. Meadow and I were able to live together. Henri knew about us – I had to tell her why sheand I would always be welcome in Meadow‟s home. I think you know the rest of the story from there. Weadopted you, even though Meadow‟s name was the only one on the paperwork. But we always thought toyou as our daughter, no matter what anyone else said.“That‟s why I‟m so lost without Meadow. I lost the love of my life yesterday.”
Jane was silent for a long time. Phily began to think that she had erred in telling Jane her secret. Then,Jane took Phily‟s hands in hers. “I think, somehow, I always knew that you and Mama Meadow were more than just friends who shared ahome for convenience. I saw the way you two would gaze at each other when you thought no one waslooking. I did wonder why neither of you married, but after hearing from Victor about his mother‟sexperience, I stopped.”“It doesn‟t bother you, Jane?”“No, Mama Phily. In fact, I think it‟s a shame that two people who really love each other can‟t be together,and that people like your brother could force a woman into marrying someone they didn‟t care for justbecause it suited someone‟s needs.”Phily let out a breath she didn‟t know she was holding. “I‟m glad. I wasn‟t sure I should tell you – I didn‟twant you to think poorly of either of us.”
“I could never think poorly of you or Mama Meadow.”“Thank you, Jane. It‟s a relief to have someone else know the truth.”Jane smiled at Phily. “Are you feeling up to helping me make funeral arrangements? I need your opinionon a few things.”“No, but I‟ll help you anyway,” replied Phily. “Just give me a few moments to dress, and I‟ll be right down.”
“Everything will be fine, baby. Remember, Mama‟s the one who asked for this dinner.”“I can‟t help it, Sterling. You weren‟t there to hear the venom in her voice when she burst into my houseand accused me of being a hussy to my mother.”“I know that, but she‟s trying to make amends for all that. It means a lot to her that you‟re here tonight.”“I‟ll do my best.”“That‟s all I‟m asking you. And if it gets really bad, we‟ll leave.”
Sterling and Viola walked into the restaurant, and the maître de took them directly over to a table whereGeorge and Melanie were waiting them. As Sterling pulled out Viola‟s chair for her, he stole a glance at hismother. She was smiling a tentative smile, betraying the fact that she was just as nervous about this wholeordeal as Viola was.He thought back to his first trip home after Melanie‟s return from Sarsimsota Springs.
George had greeted him at the door, a bigger smile on his face than Sterling could remember seeing.“You’re mother’s waiting for you in the parlor. She’s so glad you came home to see her.”
Melanie was sitting on the sofa, a pot of coffee and a plate of cookies in front of her. She smiled hopefullywhen Sterling walked into the room.“Hello, son.”“Hi, Mama.”“I’ll leave you two to talk. I’ll be in my study if you need me.”
Melanie poured them both a cup of coffee and added milk and sugar to hers. Sterling helped himself toone of the cookies. They sat in silence for several very long moments, sipping at their coffee. Finally,Melanie put her cup down.“There’s no easy way to say this. I acted horribly, and did things that I hardly deserve to be forgiven for. Ionly hope that my promise that I’ve changed and I’ll not do them again is enough for you to allow me backinto your life.”
Sterling put his cup down as well. “Is it really that simple, Mama? You made my life miserable when I waslittle, telling me that I shouldn’t play with James because he came from a horrible family. When I got older,you tried forbidding me from going to his parties. And then, probably the worst of all, when I startedcourting Viola, you barged into her house and accosted her mother! And the worst of it, you never told mewhy. Papa had to tell me your dirty little secret. If it wasn’t for him, I never would have had the slightestidea about why you hated the Bradfords.”
After Sterling’s outburst, Melanie’s shoulders dropped. “I deserved that. I should have told you why I wasso angry with them. I should have chosen forgiveness over anger. I should have let you live your life. Ihave many regrets in my life, Sterling. But you and your father are not among them.“I don’t expect you to forgive me today. I don’t even expect you to forgive me in the immediate future. AllI’m asking for is a chance to show you that I’m a changed person in the hopes that you’ll be able to forgiveme someday.”
Sterling felt slightly rebuked by his mother’s remarks. The whole reason he had agreed to come hometoday was so that he could start to mend fences with Melanie in anticipation of his proposal of marriage toViola in the near future.He sighed inwardly. His mother was trying. Wasn’t he obliged to do the same thing? “I’m sorry, Mama. I needed to get those things out in the open so they didn’t come back to haunt us in thefuture. I do want to give you a chance to show me that you’re a different person than you were. Forgiveme if it’s a little hard to do so straight away.”
“What do I need to do to show you that I’m not the same person I was before I left?”Sterling thought for a moment. An idea struck him.“Well,” he began, “I do need help with something, and I think a woman’s advice is exactly what I need.”“Anything, Sterling.”“I need help picking out an engagement ring for Viola. Not right now, of course, but soon.”
Sterling watched his mother’s reaction carefully. Her face twitched in shock at first, and it looked as thoughthere were tears pooling in her eyes. Then she smiled hesitantly. “She’s quite artistic, so you would needto find something unique. Perhaps something in the new style? I think they’re calling it art deco?”Sterling smiled a tentative smile back. “That’s what I was thinking.”
“I‟m so glad you could make it tonight, Viola. I know that you must have your hands full with exams comingup.” Melanie‟s voice brought Sterling back to the present. “Yes, Mrs. Alcott. My Renaissance art class is particularly challenging; I can never keep the artistsstraight since their works look so similar to me.”“I was never a fan of that period myself. I prefer the Impressionists.”Viola‟s face brightened. “That‟s my favorite period!” George and Sterling looked at each other and exchanged grins. It looked like dinner was going to go offjust fine.
Summer break was over, and James had returned to Portsimouth to finish his last year at SimHarvard.Cindy was especially glad that he was back, a fact she kept reminding him of as the strolled lazily along theCommon the day before classes started up again.“It‟s been so boring here without you,” she whined.“Hardly,” he chuckled, taking her hand in his. “I‟ve been here more than I‟ve been home during break. Myparents were beginning to wonder why I bothered to go home at all.”“But you always went back to the farm at night. I couldn‟t just run over to Simsfield before work to say „hi‟to you, or to grab a quick bite of whatever Sterling‟s made you guys for dinner.”“True.”
They walked until they reached the bench where they had met. Without warning, James threw Cindy overhis shoulder.“James Bradford, what exactly do you think you‟re doing?” she gasped.“Being chivalrous,” he replied, a wicked gleam in his eyes. “I‟m protecting you from rouge spiders.”“Put me down this instant!” she ordered as she laughed. “I‟m not afraid of spiders anymore. In fact, I‟meager to stomp on one.”
He did as he was told, and plopped down on the bench. He patted the space next to him, an invitation, andCindy, after smoothing her skirt and hair, joined him.“This is your last year of school, huh?” she asked, cuddling up to him.“Yup. Soon, I‟ll have a fancy piece of paper to hang on the wall, and I‟ll be expected to become aproductive member of society,” he sighed.“You still don‟t know what you want to do, do you?”“Not a clue, and it‟s so frustrating! Everyone else knows what they want to do. Even my little sister andbrother. But nothing appeals to me. I just can‟t figure it out.”
Cindy squeezed his knee. “It must be very hard to not know what you want in your life, especially whenyou‟ve got a lot of pressure on you to know.”“See, that‟s the thing,” he said, turning a little so he was facing her. “There is something I want.”“Then you need to get it.”“I was hoping you‟d say that,” he grinned. He slid off the bench to his knee, and took Cindy‟s hand in his.
“Cindy, I might not know what I want to do with my life, but I do know that I want to have you by my side.Will you marry me?”“Oh, James,” she said, biting her lip.His face fell. “You don‟t want to marry me?”
“It‟s not that,” she said, cupping his crestfallen face in her hands. “I never want to get married to anyone.Growing up, I saw how my mama was nothing more than a glorified servant, and how disappointed Papawas in her when she didn‟t give him a son. I swore I‟d never be end up like her.” “Marriage doesn‟t have to be like that, Cindy. My family is rich; we have a housekeeper, and my motherloves to help out around the house. The garden is the only thing that you‟d be expected to help out with,but it‟s just a little kitchen garden. You could even keep up your singing gig if you wanted; the city‟s only anhour away by train. You could keep that money for yourself.”“But what about the matter of a son? I‟ve never really even liked kids, not even my little sisters, and Ihelped raise them.”“There is that. But again, my mother loves kids. She‟d help out without needing to be asked. Papa too.Yes, we would have to have a son. That I can‟t change.”
An uncomfortable silence settled between then. James remained on bended knee, praying that Cindywould accept his proposal. Cindy had closed her eyes. She wondered why she and James couldn‟t just go on the way they were. Butthat wouldn‟t happen. If she refused James, he would move on. He had to get married and have a son toinherit the farm and carry on the family name. The thought of James with another woman made her bloodboil. He was hers, damn it!“Cindy?” he asked tentatively. She opened her blue eyes to gaze into his. She loved him more than she had ever loved anyone, evenher parents and sisters. The idea of not being able to gaze into his eyes like this terrified her. Her facesoftened. “James, I do love you so much. I guess I‟m just scared because of the examples of marriage I‟ve seen. Ican‟t imagine being without you.”“Are you saying yes?” he asked, sucking in a big breath with his words.“I am.”
“Thank you,” he replied, letting out the breath. “Then this is for you.” He reached into his pocket to pull outa ring.“This ring,” he said, slipping it on her finger, “Is a family heirloom. I hope you like it.”Cindy held it up to the light, letting it sparkle and shine. “It‟s the nicest piece of jewelry I‟ve ever seen orowned.”She wrapped her arms around him. “I‟ll have to tell Russ. I hope he doesn‟t mind.” “I meant what I said – you can keep singing in the club as long as you want. Of course, I‟ll have to bethere to keep all the guys from staring at my beautiful wife.”“Oh, James,” she sighed.
The letter sat unopened on the desk, its familiar handwriting calling out to Phily. Since her twin brother‟svisit back East for Peter‟s graduation from SimHarvard, Phily and her sister-in-law Kaylynn had struck up aregular correspondence. Kaylynn – Katie really – she now hated to be called by her full name, wrote aboutthe goings on in Simta Fe, and told tales of their journey West all those years ago. In return, Phily sharedthe goings on of her family, and stories of Alex‟s childhood, sure to embarrass her brother and make Katielaugh. Normally, she would have torn into the envelope and read the letter before she even got back into thehouse from the post box. Today, however, the letter brought a sense of foreboding. Katie‟s handwriting,normally so neat and even, wobbled, as if she could not keep her hand steady while addressing it. Theletter was also dotted with water drops, as if the writer had been crying at the time. Add that to the odd,hollow feeling that Phily had felt for the past week or so, and she was dreading the news Katie‟s lettercontained.
Dearest Phily,I write to you today with the heaviest of hearts. My beloved Alex, your darling brother, has passed on. Itwas sudden, and he went peacefully, but that does not diminish the tremendous loss we all feel. But perhaps you already knew this. Alex seemed to know when something wasn’t right with you, evengoing back to when you were on your Grand Tour with Miss Thayer, and usually a letter followedconfirming his suspicions. It was the bond between twins, he always said, and it always made me a littlejealous.
But enough of that. I have a few more practical matters to discuss before I close this letter. We’ll beheading East for good. Lenora never liked it out here – too rough she said – and she has convinced Peterto pull up stakes and return the family to Massimchusetts. The farm has been sold, our belongings packedas I write. It pains me to leave the home Alex and I built together, but I am not in a position to argue.I would ask a favor of you. We arrive in Portsimouth on the 8th. We’re bringing Alex home, to be buriedper his request, hence the haste. Would it be possible to intrude upon your hospitality and stay with you fora brief time, until we can get things settled and arranged? If not, I ask that you make arrangements with ahotel in the city on our behalf.I shall see you soon. Until then, I remainYour dear sister,Katie
Phily let the letter fall to the table as her head dropped along with it. Katie was right – Phily had sensedthat something was wrong with Alex, but she had attributed the feeling of loss to the death of Meadow andthe gaping hole left in her heart from the absence of her love. Now it was all too obvious that the hole wasfrom her twin brother‟s death. So she did the only thing she could do – she sobbed. She sobbed for loss of her dear brother. Shesobbed for the death of her one true love, a loss she could not publicly mourn. And she sobbed becauseshe was the last one of her siblings left.
Jane came into the study, and rested her hand softly on Phily‟s shoulder.“Alex is dead.”Jane‟s face softened. “My poor Mama Phily. So much loss to handle all at once.”“Katie writes that the family is moving back East for good. They‟ll be here by the end of the week.”“I‟ll send Victor and the boys to meet their train. They can stay with us until they can get settled.”“That‟s what Katie was hoping. You don‟t mind?” “Not at all – they‟re family. We‟ll have to rearrange some things, and the house will be ridiculouslycrowded for a while, but we‟ll manage.”
“Peter and Lenora can use my room,” Phily offered, though she had not set foot in „her‟ room sinceMeadow‟s death, “And their daughter, Mildred, can share with Octavia. Katie and I can share what used tobe Henri‟s room.”“That sounds perfect. I‟ll go get the housekeeper to start moving things around. Would you like to be leftalone for a while?”Phily nodded. “Thank you.”“Don‟t mention it. As I said, they‟re family.”
Jane left, closing the door softly behind her. Phily read over Katie‟s letter again, still not wanting to believeits contents. She would have to offer to have Alex buried in the Thayer family plot. That way, Phily couldbe with those she loved the best when her time came to join them. She rose. There would be a time to mourn later, when Katie was there to share her tears. Now it wastime to prepare the house for its visitors, and to make sure that they too were comfortable in this time ofgrief.
It was another Saturday night, and James arrived at the speakeasy with Taddy, Calla, Sterling and Viola intow. The group no longer had to endure the scrutiny of the doorman Stanley, as he had been “reassigned”to other duties. Everyone at the club knew James, if not by name by sight, and knew that he was to beallowed in, no questions asked, along with anyone else who arrived with him.
That particular night, the band happened to be playing a slower tune when they reached the top of thestairs. Calla immediately dragged Taddy onto the dance floor while the rest of them made their way over tothe bar.“Hey, James,” smiled Carlos the bartender. “Sterling, Viola. The usual?”“Please, and get one started for those two,” James said, nodding over his shoulder in the direction ofTaddy and Calla.“Sure thing. Be right up.
The drinks arrived, and as they sipped them, the three fell into a comfortable chatter. James glanced atclock behind the bar, and smiled when he saw that Cindy would be onstage shortly.He felt a tap on his shoulder.“Hey, Bobby,” he said with a nervous smile. “What can I do for you?”“Boss wants to see you,” the tall man replied in a deep bass voice.“Uh…sure,” James said, trying not to let his nerves show. He turned to Sterling. “I‟ll be back in a fewminutes. Save me a seat for the show?”Bobby turned and said, “Follow me.”
They went through the door to the kitchens and up a set of stairs to the third floor of the building. Bobbytook James over to a door, knocked on it, and opened it.“Boss‟ waiting for you.”
James entered the room as Joe pulled the door closed behind him. It was not what he was expecting tofind in the abandoned store – the room was well decorated and had a plush feeling too it. Russ Savage,the owner of the speakeasy, sat behind a desk. He looked up and smiled.“James, thank you for coming. Please, have a seat.” He gestured to the comfortable-looking chair thatwas in front of the desk.
“Can I offer you something? Whiskey, or perhaps you‟re a scotch man?”“Whiskey‟s fine, sir.”“Respectful. I like that.”Russ poured two glasses, set them down on the desk, and took his seat.“Now, James, there‟s something I‟d like to talk with you about.”
Each man took a sip of their drink, and then set them down.“Cindy told me that you two are getting married. Congratulations.”“Thank you, sir. We‟re very excited about it.”“As you should be. It‟s an important milestone in your lives. She mentioned that you would be okay withher continuing to perform here.”“And I meant it. For as long as she wants to.”Russ smiled. “I‟m very glad to hear that.”
Russ took another sip of his drink and looked at James. “You must understand, James, I‟m very protectiveof my employees, especially the ladies. Cindy‟s like a daughter to me, and I want to make sure she‟shappy.”“I intend on doing everything in my power to do so, sir.”“And what about providing for her?”
James‟ face must have betrayed him, because Russ‟ face changed. It was a subtle change, but it wasclear to James that Russ was not pleased. James gulped.“James, I know your family is well off, but a man needs a purpose in life. He needs something outside thehome to be proud of, and, of course, to escape the naggings of everyday life when needed.” “I‟m very much aware of that, sir,” James replied, trying to keep the sarcasm out of his voice. “But whenyou‟ve been told that your entire life it‟s hard to just come up with a solution out of the blue.”Russ nodded, a smile crossing his face.“I might have an answer for you, son.”James looked Russ square in the eye. “I‟m listening.”
“I‟ve watched you since you started coming to the club,” Russ began. “You‟re good with names and detailsabout what people like. I need someone like that in my organization.”James was taken aback. “Forgive me, sir, but I‟m not sure exactly what you do.”Russ laughed. “Well, I run this place, of course, and I have suppliers that smuggle supplies in fromSimCanada, the SimCaribbean and some that manufacture homebrews.”“So, the import and export business.” “Exactly. And I‟m looking to expand. I‟d like to have another club, but I need someone to keep an eye onthis one while I get the other one set up. I‟d like you to be that person.”
“And what does that mean, exactly?” “Keeping the staff in line, especially the doorman, as you well know,” Russ chuckled. “Checking thesupplies to make sure that you‟re not being swindled with watered-down liquor. Negotiating with themwhen necessary. With your eye for detail, it‟ll be like second nature to you.”“What about the Prohibition agents?”“Bought and paid for, James. You won‟t have to worry about them at all.”
James took a sip of his drink and contemplated the offer. It would solve the problem of what to do with hislife, and, judging by the décor of the office, would provide for a comfortable living. And there was theadded bonus of being around during his soon-to-be wife‟s performances, to keep the leering men at a safedistance. Of course, he would have to come up with a plausible lie to tell his parents – he knew that theywould not approve of their eldest running an illegal drinking establishment.Russ‟ voice broke through his thoughts. “What do you think, James?”“I think I‟d like to accept your offer, Russ.”“Excellent.”
The two men shook hands. Russ quickly downed what was left in his glass. “Now, I suggest we getdownstairs to see that girl of yours sing. Her performances are always better when you‟re in the audience.”
Later that night, as James and Cindy walked back to the fraternity house, Cindy was gushing about James‟news.“I‟m so glad that Russ asked you to manage the club! I‟ll feel so much better knowing it‟s you and not oneof his other guys.”At that moment, a thought popped into James‟ head.“Doll, did you say something to Russ about me not having a job lined up after college?”Cindy‟s step hitched.
She turned to James, with a sheepish look on her face as she bit her lip. “It might have come up inconversation.”“Damn it, Cindy!” he exclaimed. “I told you that stuff in confidence. I didn‟t‟ think you go spilling it toeveryone and their brother.”
“Now hold on just a moment there, mister,” she said, stepping in front of him. “I wasn‟t planning on tellingRuss what you told me, but he asked, and I didn‟t want to lie to him. Second, have you thought about howthis arrangement might make me happy? Did you know that Joe was up for that job, until you got it?”“Joe?” asked James. “He‟s a dolt.” “Yeah, and he also gives me the creeps. It‟s not so bad when Russ is around, „cause I know that Joe‟s notstupid enough to try something. But when Russ opens the new place…”“If he lays a finger on you, it‟ll be the last thing he does.”“He wouldn‟t dare, not with you in charge. Maybe Russ‟ll even take him to work at the new place. Thatwould solve all our problems.”
They began walking again. “I‟m sorry I told Russ without asking you first. I should have said something toyou about the new club, and asked if you wanted me to say something to Russ.” “And I shouldn‟t have lost my temper so quickly. It is a good job, and I‟m glad to have that settled. It justfeels a little demeaning that my girl had to help me with something I should have figured out already.” “I was just looking out for us,” she replied sweetly. “You can‟t tell me that your mother hasn‟t done thesame with your father.” “You‟re right. She‟s helped him out of countless tough spots.” He offered his fiancée a smile that shereturned.
“So, what exactly should we tell my parents that I‟m doing?” James asked as they continued their stroll.“Somehow, I doubt my mother would like hearing that I‟m the manager of a speakeasy even less thanshe‟d like knowing that you sing at one.”Cindy‟s laughter trilled across the night. “No, I don‟t think she would.”
“What time does the Langeraks‟ train get in?” Victor asked over breakfast that morning.“It‟s scheduled for 11:20, but Katie‟s telegram also said that all their trains have been early so far,” repliedPhily.Victor nodded. “The boys and I will be there by 10:30 to meet them. I think between the three of us andPeter we‟ll be able to manage the luggage.” “Do you think it will take long, Papa?” asked Raymond. “I kind of promised some of the boys from classthat I‟d meet them on the Common this afternoon.” Victor leveled a look at his eldest. “This is your family, son. I‟d prefer it if you spent the afternoon with ustoday.” “Yes, Papa,” the youth replied, disappointment obvious in his voice. “May I be excused so I can „phonethem to let them know I won‟t be coming?”
After Raymond had left, Asher turned to his sister. “Come on, Octavia. I‟ll help you move your bed over tomake room for Mildred‟s cot.” Jane beamed at her two children. “When you‟re done, Tavia, please come down and help me with lunch.I‟m sure our guests will be hungry when they arrive.”“Of course, Mama,” she replied as she and her brother got up from the table.
“I‟d be happy to come with you, Victor,” Phily said.“I know you would, Aunt Phily, but I think the boys and I will be able to handle it.”“But you only met them that one time. Are you certain you‟ll remember them?”“Yes, Aunt Phily,” he replied. “Besides, this way you‟ll be able to greet Aunt Katie without having to worryabout keeping your emotions in check.”“You know me too well, Victor,” Phily admitted with a sheepish blush. “Very well, I‟ll wait for them to arrivehere. I‟ll do one last check of the house to make sure it‟s ready.”
Victor rose. “I‟m going to reserve a couple of cars to bring us home; we can walk to the station.”He paused to kiss Jane on the cheek and then left the room.Jane‟s eyes followed her husband as he left the room. Phily watched the two of them, still so very much inlove. She began to blink very fast to hold in the tears that were pooling in her eyes. “Now, I‟ll go see to getting lunch started. I was thinking a roasted leg of lamb with mint sauce, and earlyvegetables? Do you think they‟ll like it?”“Alex never liked mint sauce,” Phily said, glad to have the distraction. “I‟m sure his family‟s not used to iteither. Perhaps the sauce on the side?”“I can do that. Will you go check on Asher and Tavia? Victor will want to be leaving shortly.”
The station master‟s voice rang out over the sound of the steam engines. “11:20 from Simadelphia arrivingon track 8!” “That‟s their train. Come on, boys,” said Victor as he got up from the bench. Raymond and Asherfollowed him as the moved down the platform.
The three of them scanned the crowd, searching for their cousins amongst the strangers. Finally, when theplatform was nearly clear, Raymond noticed an elderly woman, a woman and man who appeared to behusband and wife, and a girl about his age emerging from a car near the end of the train.“Papa, I think that‟s them,” he said, nodding in their direction.“I believe you‟re right,” agreed Victor. “Let‟s go introduce ourselves.”
As they approached the group, a smile of recognition crossed the man‟s face. “Cousin Victor!” he calledout with a relieved smile. “Thank you for coming.”“Not a problem, Peter” replied Victor as he clasped his hand. “Lenora, Aunt Katie, good to see you again.And this must be Mildred.”“Hello, sir,” the girl said in quiet but clear voice.“And these are my boys, Raymond and Asher.”“Hello,” they said in unison.
“Lovely,” said Lenora as she brushed a non-existent speck of dust off her dress. “It‟s been a rather longtrip for us…”“Of course,” replied Victor, picking up on his cousin‟s innuendo. “We‟ve got two cars waiting to take you toour house. And,” he turned to Katie here, “The undertaker will be taking care of Alex. We‟ve madearrangements for burial tomorrow afternoon.”“Thank you, Victor,” she replied, doing her best to smile. “I appreciate everything that you and Jane aredoing for us.”“You‟re family,” he stated, as if that explained it all. “Now, who do we need to see about your luggage?”
Before long, bags and boxes were loaded into the cars, and the party was on their way back to themansion on Elm Street. Phily was waiting for them when they pulled up, and she rushed down to greetKatie with her arms open.“Oh, Phily,” Katie cried as she stumbled from the car and fell into her sister-in-law‟s waiting embrace.“I know, Katie, I know.”
Jane and Octavia soon came out and joined them. “Welcome to our home,” Jane said as she approachedLenora.“Thank you so much for allowing us to stay here while we get ourselves settled.”“You‟re family. Our home is your home.”“This must be your daughter,” Lenora said, giving Octavia an appraising look.“How do you do?” the teen quickly asked.Lenora rewarded her with an approving smile. “Could you show me to my room, dear? I‟d like to freshenup before we eat. Victor mentioned that you had a luncheon prepared.” “Yes. Tavia, show Mrs. Langerak where she and her husband will be staying. The boys can bring herthings up.”
While the women were chatting, Raymond was helping Mildred out of the car.“Thank you,” she said with a sweet smile in that quiet voice.“Not a problem,” he replied with a smile. “Is there one of your bags you‟d like straight away?”“Please, the floral carpet bag. Mother will want me to clean up before lunch.”“You‟ll be staying with my sister in her room. If you wait a moment, I‟ll carry your bag up and show you.”Raymond grabbed the requested satchel and another bag. Mildred then followed him into the house.
Asher smiled to himself as he knelt down to untie the luggage on the back of the car. He had seen how hisolder brother had not been able to take his eyes off of their youngest guest, and how he colored slightlywhen she spoke to him.Raymond likes a girl. Raymond likes a girl.Oh, this was going to be fun.
James and Sterling were enjoying a quiet evening in front of the fire, a bottle of SimFrench wine open onthe table in front of them, a congratulatory present from James‟ new boss. Sterling didn‟t seem to object tothe presence of the alcohol any longer; his time in law school had brought him around to James‟ way ofthinking.“So, where was Taddy taking Calla again?” James asked.“Londoste. He‟s playing the big man now that his daddy helped him get a job when he graduates.”James snorted. “Gotta impress the lady, I guess.”
The front door opened and closed. Taddy soon strolled into the room, a slightly wistful look on his face.“She said yes.”James and Sterling made exclamations of congratulations.“Here, let me pour you a glass and we‟ll have a toast,” Sterling said as he rose.“Thank, man.”
“So,” asked James after they had raised their glasses to Taddy and Calla‟s engagement, “Why the longface? You just got engaged. Did something go wrong?”
“She acted all excited, but I think she was happier about the size of the ring I got her than she was aboutactually marrying me.”
“That doesn‟t sound very good,” Sterling said. “Are you sure you want to go through with it?”“Of course. She loves me, and I love her. I guess both of us don‟t fully understand why we have to getmarried. It‟s mostly the Old Guard that insists on such formalities.”“I don‟t think Aunt Lizzie and Uncle Jason would agree with what you‟re saying, Taddy.” “No, I don‟t think they would, James, which is why Calla and I will do the whole marriage thing. I supposein the long run it won‟t be so bad.”Each man took a long drink from their wineglasses.
“So,” began Taddy with a wicked smirk on his face, “Sterling. When are you going to pop the question toViola?”“Yeah,” agreed James. “You are planning on asking my sister, right?” “Yes, I am,” he retorted. “I just don‟t know when. She‟s still got more than two years left of school, sothere‟s no real rush.”“Don‟t make her wait too long, Sterling. Especially now that Calla‟s got a ring,” James advised.“I know. Thanks, Taddy,” Sterling muttered, sarcasm heavy in his voice.“Glad to oblige,” Taddy smirked.
“Will you get those things away from me, Calla?” scolded Viola as her cousin came a little to close with aset of crimping tongs.“But Viola, he‟s taking you to Londoste,” fawned Calla as she flopped on the bed. “That‟s the mostexpensive restaurant in the city! You have to look your best.”“And I want to look like myself, thank you very much.”“But Viola,” Calla retorted, practically bouncing from excitement, “He‟s going to ask you to marry him!”
“I don‟t know that for sure,” sighed Viola, as she turned to look through the dresses in her wardrobe. “He‟sbeen so busy with law school that we haven‟t seen each other for weeks.”“Viola, he wouldn‟t go through the trouble of taking you out for a fancy dinner if he wasn‟t.”Viola tried to smile. “I hope you‟re right. Now, help me pick out something to wear.”
Sterling arrived at the girl‟s dorm, a bouquet of white roses in hand for Viola. Calla smiled a knowing smileas she watched her friend blush as she accepted them.“I‟ll put those up in your room for you, Vi,” she said. “You two have fun.”
Viola and Sterling enjoyed an excellent dinner at the fancy restaurant. After their plates had been cleared,Sterling turned to Viola.“I feel horrible about how I‟ve been neglecting you over the past few weeks.”“I know that you‟ve got a ton on your plate with law school.”“Still, that doesn‟t make it right. I‟m sorry.”“I forgive you.”
“Good,” he said as he reached into his suit coat pocket. “Because I have something I‟d like to give you.”Viola suppressed a squeak of joy. Calla had been right!“Viola Bradford, will you do me the honor of becoming my wife?”“Yes!” she exclaimed.Sterling smiled as she slipped the ring on her finger.
“It‟s beautiful,” she said as she admired the ring as it sparkled in the light.“I‟m glad you like it. My mother helped pick it out.”Viola heard the unspoken message in what Sterling had just said: Melanie approved of the engagement.“Please tell her it‟s perfect.”“I will.”
When Sterling returned Viola to her dorm, she rushed upstairs to her best friend‟s room. She threw openthe door.“You were right.” Calla jumped up from her bed where she had been reading, squealing with joy. “Lemme see! Lemmesee!”Viola obligingly held out her left hand.“Oh, pretty!”“Mrs. Alcott helped pick it out.”“Hmm,” said Calla. “That bodes well.”“I know,” Viola replied, but Calla‟s attention had been lost.“I still think my ring is prettier.”Viola just shook her head. It was such a Calla thing to say. Beside, Viola thought her ring and proposalwere the finest in the world.
Phily and Katie spent many afternoons together, talking and sharing stories. It helped Katie with her griefto share her memories of Alex, and Phily rejoiced in hearing about her brother‟s adventures, as itreassured her that he had made the right decision when he chose to go West so many years ago.“I still can‟t believe he‟s gone,” Katie sighed.“I know what you mean. I keep expecting him to walk through the door. But I see so much of him in Peter.His mannerisms are exactly like Alex‟s.”“I know. It‟s such a great comfort to me. But he doesn‟t have the same spirit that my Alex did. Lenora justwalks all over him. If it weren‟t for her, we‟d still be in Simta Fe.”
“Perhaps it‟s for the best. I know how much leaving the farm hurts you, but you‟re closer to me now.Mildred will get a chance to know her family. Peter will finally get to study the ocean like he‟s alwayswanted. And Lenora can be a society wife, her dream.”Katie suppressed a snort. “She‟s quite a piece of work. If I had known who she‟d become, I might nothave encouraged the match.”“You never know how these things will turn out. And you can‟t judge other people‟s relationships.”
“No, you can‟t,” Katie said. “Phily, forgive me for being forward, but Alex told me about you and Meadow. Iknow that you‟ve suffered a double loss here, and I wanted to thank you for being so considerate to mesince we got here. You put your sorrow aside to see to my needs.”“It was nothing. You‟re family.”“Still, Phily, with everything you‟ve gone through, I‟m amazed that you haven‟t become bitter.”“I chose happiness, like Henri did. No one, not family or stranger, was going to dictate how I should live. Ijust hope that‟s the legacy I leave to my daughter and grandchildren.”
“They have. Especially your grandchildren. They‟ve been so delightful, and so kind to Mildred. Raymondespecially. He‟s one of the kindest souls I‟ve ever met. I can‟t believe he‟s adopted; he fits right in so well.”“I know. I don‟t know why he was left at the orphanage for so long, but I count my lucky stars every daythat he was.”The two women lapsed into silence.“Do you feel like taking a walk? I‟d like to leave some of the roses from the garden for Meadow. The pinkones were always her favorite.”“Only if I can bring some for Alex as well. We tried growing some in Simta Fe, but they didn‟t survive thedesert climate.”“Of course. I‟ll go in and get the shears and tell Jane that we‟re stepping out for a few.”
Natures first green is gold, Her hardest hue to hold. Her early leafs a flower; But only so an hour. Then leaf subsides to leaf. So Eden sank to grief, So dawn goes down to day. Nothing gold can stay.-Nothing Gold Can Stay, Robert Frost.
The big day was finally there. James had graduated from college a few weeks ago, with little fanfare, andlater that day, he would marry Cindy.“Don‟t you want to get up, darling?” Jefferson asked. “You were going on and on yesterday about howmuch you still have to get done.”“In a moment,” she said, snuggling closer to her husband. “Can you believe our little boy is gettingmarried?”Jefferson chuckled. “Not really. Wasn‟t it just yesterday that we were bickering about whose turn it was tochange his nappies? Before long, he‟ll be having the same argument with his bride.”“I know. I can‟t wait for them to have children of their own. And then Viola will get married, and Cyrus, andwe‟ll get to spend out days surrounded by our grandchildren. Won‟t it be lovely?”“It will. Now, we really should be getting up. I need to get the boys up, and start getting the orchard set up.And I think you have a cake to bake.”“I do,” she admitted reluctantly. “Let‟s get our son married!”
The day of James and Cindy‟s wedding had finally arrived. Marsha was busy in the kitchen, seeing to thefood arrangements. Jefferson, with Cyrus‟ assistance, was getting the garden set up for the ceremony.James was in his old bedroom, struggling to tie his bowtie. Viola, after making sure that Marsha was allset, went upstairs to check on Cindy.
She knocked softly on the door of the bedroom that had belonged to her grandparents and would soonbelong to the newlyweds. When a soft voice called for her to enter, she did so.“Wow,” she breathed, taking in the blonde‟s appearance.“You like it?” Cindy asked nervously. “Not too much?”“Well,” said Viola, as her eyes flicked between the low-cut neckline and back, “Maybe a little bit. But Idoubt my brother will be complaining any.”“It‟s not your brother I‟m worried about offending.”
Viola laughed as she sat on the bed. “Don‟t worry about Mama – she realizes that fashions are changing.And with your veil, the back won‟t be so bad. Besides, she hasn‟t seen what I‟m wearing yet. If anyone‟sgoing to get a lecture on inappropriate necklines, it‟ll be me.”“I hope you‟re right.”The two lapsed into silence for as Cindy touched up her makeup and put on her jewelry for the day.
“You know,” Viola said, hesitation in her voice, “I always wanted a sister.”“I had two, you know,” Cindy replied, “and I was never really fond of either one. They were younger, and Ihad to watch them while my parents worked in the fields. They never minded me, and it drove me crazy.But I think I‟ll like having you as a sister. After all, I think you‟d listen to me if I told you to wash yourhands.” “Because I probably need too, with the amount of time I spend painting,” Viola laughed. “I don‟t want totake the place of the sisters you lost. I‟d just like to have more female friends. Calla‟s great, but she canbe so silly sometimes.”
“I‟d like to have more friends too.”The two women smiled at each other.“Would you like help with your veil?” Viola asked when the moment had passed.“Please.”
“Cindy, dear,” called Marsha as she simultaneously knocked and opened the door. “It‟s almost time. Areyou ready?”“Yes, Mrs. Bradford.” “Dear, I‟ve told you that you don‟t have to be so formal with me. You can call me Ma...rsha,” she said,catching herself before she said “mother,” not wanting to call attention to Cindy‟s orphan state on this day.“Thank you, Marsha.” “Oh, and here‟s your bouquet. So pretty. Now, I‟ll come get you when James is in place. Viola, you‟re noteven dressed yet! Come with me; I‟ll help you change. Really, you should have been paying attention tothe clock. You need to be finding your seat!”“Yes, Mama.”
Marsha left the room, humming to herself. When the door closed, Viola turned to Cindy and winked.“What‟d I tell you? Not a word about the dress.”Cindy laughed as Viola walked out of the room.
Cindy wandered over to the window, careful to stand just to the side of it so she couldn‟t be seen. Theguests were finding their seats, and James was walking out with Taddy, his best man, to take his place.She smiled to herself. Despite her initial reluctance, she had to admit that the idea of being Mrs. JamesBradford brought with it a kind of certainty that she‟s not known in a long time, and she liked it. Shewouldn‟t have to worry about keeping her boss happy (thought that would be easy now, considering hewould soon be her husband), and if she decided to stop performing after babies came, she could do so.And James‟ parents were so nice, if a little old-fashioned. It was turning out to be an ideal situation.
Again, Marsha knocked on the door and opened it at the same time. “Dear, come away from that windowat once! What if James sees you?” “He‟s not even paying attention to the house, Marsha. He‟s too busy watching everyone file in. And I wascareful to stay out of sight.”Marsha smiled at Cindy. “It‟s time. Are you ready?”Cindy nodded. “It looks very pretty out there. Thanks for getting it all set up and arranged.” “Oh, it was nothing,” Marsha dismissed. “But I‟m glad you liked it. I didn‟t have a real wedding, you know.James‟ father and I eloped. It was quite the scandal, believe me.” “Really?” Cindy asked, slipping her arm through Marsha‟s as the exited the room. There was a lot she hadto learn about her in-laws, it seemed.
Marsha left Cindy at the door and hurried to take her seat. After waiting several long moments, Cindybegan her march up the aisle.There are so many people here, she marveled. And most of them are related to James in some way. Oh, Ihope I don’t trip. Look at everyone looking at me. Does it look like they disapprove of me? Maybe Ishouldn’t have worn such a dramatic dress. Everyone else is dressed rather conservatively.Am I really ready for this? I never wanted to get married. Marriage made Mama a glorified housekeeperand nanny. I wanted adventure. I wanted romance. But a life without James is not one I want to live.We’ll have adventures and romance together. I hope.But look, James see me, and he’s smiling. He loves me. I can do this. Breathe, Cindy. Just breathe.
James‟ smile grew larger as Cindy got closer to the wedding arch.Damn, she’s beautiful. And she’s mine. Thank the powers that be, she chose me. How did I get so lucky?Mama and Papa certainly look happy. They’ll be wanting grandchildren before long, but I’ll let Cindydecide when she’s ready for that.She’s almost here! We’ll be married in a few minutes. I can’t believe how excited I am for that. I neverthough I’d see this day. I’ll do anything to make her happy. I can’t wait to spend the rest of our livesshowing her how much I love her.
Cindy reached the wedding arch, and turned to face James, a nervous smile on her face. Now, she couldsee the faces of the guests, watching her and James with content smiles on their faces. Viola caught hereye and winked at her. Cindy visibly relaxed at the gesture. The Bradfords were a good bunch, and shewas excited to become one of them.
She handed her bouquet to Marsha, and turned to face James.“You look gorgeous.”“You clean up pretty good yourself,” she grinned.“Ready to do this?”She nodded.
James took Cindy‟s hands in his.“I, James Bradford, take thee, Cindy Selby, to be my wedded wife and I do promise and covenant, beforeGod and these witnesses, to be thy loving and faithful husband; in plenty and in want, in joy and in sorrow,in sickness and in health, as long as we both shall live.”Cindy took a deep breath. “I, Cindy Selby, take thee, James Bradford, to be my wedded husband and I dopromise and covenant, before God and these witnesses, to be thy loving and faithful wife; in plenty and inwant, in joy and in sorrow, in sickness and in health, as long as we both shall live.”
James smiled at Cindy. He knew what her saying those words meant, considering her original position ofnot wanting to get married.He then reached into his coat pocked to retrieve a platinum band. He slipped it on Cindy‟s finger as hesaid, “I give you this ring as a symbol of my love; and with all that I am and all that I have, I honor you.”Viola reached up to press a similar ring into her new sister-in-law‟s hand. Cindy took the ring and placed iton James‟ finger as she recited the same words.
Cindy breathed a sigh of relief. She hadn‟t tripped going up the aisle or flubbed the vows or dropped thering.The guests rose to their feet and applauded. “Why are they doing that?” she asked James as he pulled herclose.“Simple. They‟re happy to see us happy. And because they‟re waiting for the best part of the ceremony.”“What‟s that?”
“The part where I get to kiss my beautiful bride.”“That is the best part,” she agreed as she closed the gap between them.
Taddy was the first one to make it to James. “Congratulations!”“Thanks, man,” James replied.“Does it feel any different?”“Not really. When it‟s your turn, you‟ll be fine. Trust me.”“I hope you‟re right. Calla‟s actually getting excited about the whole wedding thing, now that she‟s seenyours.”
Taddy then turned to Cindy. “Congratulations to you as well. My best friend here can be a pain in the asssometimes, so if you need me to set him right let me know.”“I‟ll certainly keep that in mind,” she laughed. “But I think I can handle him. I‟ve managed fine so far.”“That you have. Anyway, I should be getting back to my girl.”“We should go out and get dinner sometime when James and I get back from our honeymoon.”“Sounds swell. Talk to you later.”
As the guests mingled after the ceremony, Phily took the opportunity to introduce Katie to Marsha.“I‟m so sorry for your losses,” Marsha said, looking at her family. “But we‟re so glad you were able to cometoday and share in our happy occasion.”“It was very kind of you to invite us,” Katie replied, remembering her last visit to the Bradford Farm so manyyears ago.“It‟s nothing. You‟re family. And unlike some people,” Marsha let the unspoken names of her later in-lawshang in the air, “Jefferson and I understand how important that is. I‟m glad to have you here as guests.”“Thank you, Marsha. The family really struck gold when Jefferson married you. Let‟s hope that James isas luck with Cindy.”“She‟s a delight,” replied Marsha. “An orphan, the poor thing. I can‟t wait to get to know her better. And tohelp her care for the children that will come soon.”
“Well, Mrs. Bradford, was it as bad as you thought it would be?” James asked as he kissed her again.“No, it was nice. I kind of like being Mrs. Bradford. But don‟t call me that; it makes me think you‟re talkingabout your mother.”“Your wish is my command. Now, my mother baked us a wedding cake. You have yet to experience thewonder that is my mother‟s cakes.”“If it‟s half as good as her pie was, I‟ll be in heaven. Let‟s go cut it so our guests can enjoy it as well.”
The party moved into the dining room, where the delicate wedding cake was waiting. James cut a slice ofcake, and turned to his bride.
“Open wide,” he said with a wicked grin as he shoved a rather large piece of cake into Cindy‟s mouth.“Isn‟t that good?”“Mph!” she said, her mouthful of cake. She swallowed. “Don‟t you ever do that again, James Bradford, oryou‟ll be sleeping on the sofa in the music room for a month!”
The rest of the room burst into laughter at Cindy‟s remark. She gasped and hid her face when she realizedwhat she had said.“Oh, my God,” she muttered. “What was I thinking?”“You were thinking that your need to put your new husband in his place,” James laughed. “And everyoneelse is in agreement with you. I‟m sorry. I shouldn‟t have done that.”
Later that day, after the rest of the guests had gone, the family sat down to dinner and to finish off the restof the wedding cake for dessert.Marsha was still gushing about the day, and Jefferson was interjecting his thoughts as well. Cindy wasdoing her best to tune them out, choosing to focus her thoughts on the impending departure for herhoneymoon in a few hours. One of Marsha‟s comments made its way through to Cindy‟s ears.“And of course, I‟ll be expecting grandchildren from you two soon.”“Mama,” James said with a roll of his eyes.
It’s starting already?! she thought to herself, trying to keep her face from betraying her panic. James saidwe wouldn’t have to think about that straight away. What am I going to do?
A few hours later, the car arrived to take James and Cindy to the train station. From there, they would begoing to New Sim City to catch a ship to their ultimate honeymoon destination: SimBermuda. James hadchosen it because the travel agent had assured him it was all the rage, and Cindy had squealed withdelight when he mentioned it as an option. He had to admit that the idea of seeing his very shapely wife ina bathing suit frequently also influenced his decision.“Let me get that for you,” James said, reaching for Cindy‟s suitcase.“I‟ve got it,” she said too quickly, and hurried out the door.
James followed his wife out as she walked at a rather brisk pace towards the waiting car. He had seen herreaction to his mother‟s comment about grandchildren, and he was worried. It had been a big step forCindy to get married to him in the first place, and he didn‟t want her to feel pressure to have a baby justbecause it would make his mother happy.When we get to the house we’ve rented, I’ll talk to her. I meant what I said when I told her that we wouldn’ttalk about children until she was ready.He sighed inwardly. He‟d have to have a talk with his mother, too, when they got home from thehoneymoon. He wasn‟t going to have her ruining their newfound happiness.
Two days later, James and Cindy were standing in the house that they had rented for their trip.“What do you think?”“It‟s nice,” she replied. “Right on the beach, too. I think I‟m going to go and check it out.”“Okay. I‟ll go unpack our stuff, and then maybe in a little while we can go check out some of those ruinsthe driver talk about.”“That sounds nice,” she said on the way out the door.
Cindy went out to the beach, and sat on the warm sand. The waves crashed gently onto the shore, and thesmell of the salt water was divine. Cindy imagined for a moment that she was sitting on the beach inCalsimfornia, relaxing after a long day of filming.The dreams that she‟d had when she was younger seemed so silly now. She was married now, and soonwould be expected to have a baby. And not just necessarily one! James‟ family home had been passeddown to the firstborn son for generations – she‟d have to have babies until there was at least one boy.At least Marsha would help with the actual care of the kids. After practically having to raise her sisters, thatwas the part the Cindy was looking forward to the least.
Staring at the waves could only keep Cindy occupied for so long. She moved up the beach a little, andbegan to dig in the sand, hoping to find some sea glass to take home.“Whatcha doing, doll?” James asked as he approached her.“Looking for sea glass. Wouldn‟t it look pretty in a dish on our dresser?”“Sure,” he shrugged. “Hey, I‟m done unpacking. Feel like taking a walk to go check out those ruins now?”“Okay.”
They walked about the ruin site for several hours, taking in the crumbling walls and relics of a civilizationpast. Eventually, they came upon a large fountain shaped like what looked to be a monkey, water pouringout of its mouth.“Is that one of the gods they worshiped?” Cindy asked, a incredulous look on her face.“Apparently. What are you doing?”“Making an offering,” she replied as she pulled a coin from her pocket. “Why not? It can‟t hurt, can it?”“I guess not,” he replied with a shrug, thinking to himself it was a waste of perfectly good money. “I‟mgoing to sit down for a minute; my feet are killing me.”“Suit yourself,” she replied, thinking about what she would ask in return for her offering. Let me have madethe right decision by marrying James. Let it all work out, she thought.
She tossed the coin into the fountain, listening to it plop into the water. She then turned to look at James,who was sitting nearby on the edge of the pool. She felt horrible about how distant she‟d acted during theirtrip to the island; they‟d hardly talked let alone any of the usual canoodling they got up to when they hadany time alone.If this is going to work, I need to tell him that I need time to adjust to being married before we even thinkabout having children. I know it’s expected, but I need more time. I need to learn how to be CindyBradford before I can be a mother. Surly he’ll understand that.“Sweetie, do you think we could grab something for dinner and bring it back to the house? I think there‟ssome stuff we need to talk about.”“That sounds great; I‟m starving. There‟s a food stand just over there. Let‟s pick something out, and thenwe‟ll go back and have a nice chat.”She smiled at him, the first genuine smile he‟d seen from her since before their wedding. “That soundsperfect.”
Over dinner, Cindy told James how uncomfortable Marsha‟s seemingly innocent comment had set herreeling. “I knew going into this that we‟d have to have kids, but your mother‟s expecting them now! I‟m notready for that James. I want to work for at least another year or two, and I can‟t do that if I‟m knocked up.”“I know, doll. Part of this is my fault; I should have told my mother beforehand that we wanted to enjoybeing married for a while before we got around to the family thing. She‟ll be a little disappointed – babiesare all she‟s ever thought about – but she‟ll get over it.”“So you…”“I meant what I said before we got married. When you‟re ready, we‟ll start our family. You will be ready atsome point, right?”She nodded. “If I‟m going to have anyone‟s babies, they‟ll be yours.”He grinned at her.“So,” she said, a twinkle in her eye, “Why don‟t you clean up from dinner while I go slip into something alittle more comfortable?”James watched as Cindy got up from the table and sashayed up the stairs. Then he jumped up so fast heknocked his chair over and nearly broke the plates as he hurried to clear the table.
“What do you think?” Cindy asked with a grin, knowing full well what James‟ response to her would be.“I like it, but there is one problem.”“Oh?” she replied as she bit her lip. “And what‟s that?”“You‟re over there, and I‟m over here. Why don‟t you join me?”“I thought you never ask.”
Their innocent kissing soon turn more passionate, and James hesitated.“What?” Cindy breathed.“Can we? I mean, is it safe? I don‟t want…”“We should be fine. And if not, then it‟s meant to be, right?”“But we just discussed.”“James, finish what you‟ve started.”
The next morning, as the early sunrays streamed through the open window with a gentle sea breeze,James awoke to find his beautiful new wife using his shoulder as a pillow. He wrapped his arm around her,and she stirred.“I didn‟t mean to wake you.”“You didn‟t. Blame the sun for that,” she replied in a groggy voice as she snuggled closer to him.He chuckled softly, enjoying how her soft blonde hair ticked his chest. “Should we get up?”“Do we have to?”“No. We are newlyweds, and therefore entitled to spend as much time in bed together as we want.” Hewagged his eyebrows at her. “However, I don‟t know if we‟ll be able to come here again, so we shouldprobably spend a little time exploring the island.”“You‟re so practical.”“I‟m not sure you meant that as a complement,” he teased, kissing her forehead. “You can have the tubfirst. I‟ll go downstairs and fix something to eat. Thank goodness Sterling managed to teach me to fryeggs.”
“Why am I so sore?” James asked as he stretched.“Well, you did exert yourself quite a bit last night,” Cindy giggled as she picked her rumpled nightgown offthe floor and pulling it on.“I don‟t notice you complaining about that any. In fact, I seem to remember you enjoying it quite a bit.”“I certainly wasn‟t complaining, and you‟re right about me enjoying it. Oh, you might want these,” she said,tossing his underwear in his direction.“Thanks,” he replied as he pulled them on. “I was thinking to get that errand Russ asked of me out of theway today. I‟ll catch up with you after that, and we can go exploring.”
While James went off to meet with one of Russ‟ rumrunners, Cindy put on her bathing suit and headed forthe shoreline outside their house. She felt so much better than she had the day before, after hearingJames reiterate his stance on them starting a family. She only hoped that Marsha would understand, butnow was not the time to worry about it. In fact, Cindy had decided that nothing was going to get in the wayof her and James having fun on their honeymoon.The sound of the waves breaking on the sand and the gentle calls of sea birds combined with the warmsun and gentle breeze lulled Cindy into sleep.
When Cindy awoke a few hours later, she found that she had paid a high price for her dozing. She had ahorrific sunburn.“Damn it,” she swore, and went into the house to take a cool bath.
When James returned from his errand, he found Cindy relaxing in the house.“Ouch,” he said when he saw her. “You look like one of the tomatoes from my mama‟s garden.”“Ha ha,” she replied. “It hurts like the devil.”“What happened?”“Fell asleep while I was sunbathing. Is everything all set?”“Yup. We‟re free to do what ever we want for the rest of the trip. Do you feel like going out?”“Yeah. Let‟s go check out the old pirate ship we saw when we got here.”
They passed the rest of the day at the pier exploring the old ship, playing on it like they were childrenplaying pirtates.
The next day, James took Cindy to the spa on the island, thinking that she might find relief from hersunburn in one of the treatments they offered. James stayed close to her during the process, as he didn‟ttrust the male spa attendants around his wife while she was wearing only a towel.
Cindy did her best to make sure that her sunburn didn‟t get in the way of her and James enjoyingthemselves on the trip.
Though there was one thing that it did change.“I‟m sorry, James. It just hurts so much when you tough me. Not tonight, okay? I should be back tomyself in a few days.”James managed to suppress a groan. “Okay.”“Soon,” she promised as she kissed him. “I‟m going to go take a cool bath before bed.”When the door to the bathroom closed, he flopped on the bed. This was not how he imagined spendingthe nights of his honeymoon.
James was preparing for another rather lonely night when Cindy came out of the bathroom in the cute littlenightgown that she‟d worn their first night at the house.“Guess who‟s sunburn is gone?” she sang as she crawled across James to get to her side of the bed.
“Now,” she purred, as she shimmied up to him, “I believe we have some catching up to do.”
They spend the rest of their honeymoon catching up, and rarely left the house.
Their trip was drawing to a close, and Cindy insisted that they needed to spend a little time enjoying thebeach before they had to go back.“This is the life, Cindy,” James sighed as he took another sip of his planter‟s punch.“That it is,” she agreed from the chair next to his where she was soaking up the warm SimBermuda sun.“And having our own house is so much nice than staying in a hotel.”“Doesn‟t hurt that Prohibition doesn‟t reach here, either,” he grinned, finishing off his glass.“Which is why Russ was so agreeable to the duration of our honeymoon once he learned the destination.How much rum does he want us to smuggle back?”“Just a couple of cases – he‟s got regular rumrunners for most of his supply, but he couldn‟t pass up theopportunity to get some premium stuff for his best clients.”
“And just how,” she asked, as she rolled over in her chair to face him, “are we supposed to do that?”“Easy. Got a note from one of the doctors Russ employs, authorizing the rum as a cure for my „poorPapa‟s rheumatism.‟ Really, doll, when you look at it there are so many loopholes in the Prohibition lawsthat you could drive an ocean liner through them.”“All the better for us.”“Precisely.”
“I‟m hot,” Cindy suddenly announced as she got up from her chair.“Yeah, you are.”“Ha ha. No, I‟m overly warm. I‟m going for a dip. Wanna join me, or are you just going to sit here andadmire the view?”“Maybe in a minute. I‟ll go refill these first.” He gestured towards their empty glasses.“Your loss,” she shrugged and headed down the beach to the ocean.
James watched his new wife stroll across the sand and wade out into the water until it was deep enoughfor her to dive in. As he had on the day of their wedding, he marveled that he, James Bradford who didn‟thave a clue what he wanted out of life, had managed to land such a confidant woman as his wife.His attention turned back to their empty glasses. There was a whole pitcher of planter‟s punch in theicebox, and he was thirsty. Picking the glasses up, he headed up the slope to the house. He would join hiswife shortly.
Cindy, meanwhile, was enjoying the warm, gentle surf. SimBermuda was a lovely place to visit; she hopedthat she and James would be able to come back.So far, being married wasn‟t so bad. James was certainly attentive, and overall kind though his temperwas rather quick. But that was James, and she loved him, temper and all.She looked up to see that the sun was beginning to hang low in the sky. It was time to get out of the water,get cleaned up, and start thinking about where to go for dinner. Hopefully, she‟d be able to convince him togo dancing afterwards as well.
As Cindy was emerging from the ocean, James was walking down the beach towards her. He gatheredher in his arms.“I‟m going to get you all wet,” she warned.“Don‟t care. You looked so cute I had to kiss you straight away.”“Well, then,” she smiled. “I wouldn‟t want to keep you waiting.”“Smart woman.”“I married you, didn‟t I?”
Before they knew it, it was time for James and Cindy to head back to Simsfield and resume their normallives.“What time does this ship leave again?” she asked.“Two. We have a little time if you want to do something before then.”“I‟d like to relax on the beach for a little bit – oh, I‟ll be careful and stay under the umbrella. I don‟t want toend up with another sunburn either.”James smiled. “I‟ll get stuff packed then. You go watch the waves one last time.”
James found her sitting in one of the chairs, sipping on one last legal rum punch.“Doll, it‟s time to go.”Cindy got up slowly. “I really liked it here. D‟ya think that maybe, we can come back someday?”“I‟d like that.”
“So your parents are finalizing the paperwork on the new house?” Raymond asked Mildred one afternoonas they sat in the garden.“Yes, Mother appreciates your family‟s hospitality, but she says it is high time that we have a place to callour own.”“I‟ve liked having you here these past few years.”“I have enjoyed staying here as well. I believe that you, Asher, and Octavia are the first friends my ownage that I have had.”“But you‟re so nice!” Raymond burst out. “I have a hard time believing that you didn‟t have any friendsback in Simta Fe.”
“May I confide in you, Raymond? I always had a hard time making friends, because of something thathappened before I was born. The town was always scandalized by the fact that the Langeraks took in mymother when she was small.”“But why?” “My mother‟s mother was called Holly. She was a prostitute, and she died giving birth to my mother.Grandpa Isaac was a particular friend of Holly‟s and Grandma Katie convinced him to take Mother in whenthe family who took her in initially could no longer care for her. Mother cannot say for certain whom herfather is, though Grandpa Isaac claimed her as his.”
“I can certainly understand wanting to leave that behind,” Raymond muttered.“What was that you said?”“The spirit of what I said is I can understand wanting a second chance.”“Can you really? You were born into a wonderful family that gave you every advantage in the world.”“No, I wasn‟t.”
Raymond took a deep breath and looked Mildred square in the eye.“I‟m adopted. Mama and Papa took me in when I was six years old, mostly because Mama herself wasadopted and she wanted to give another child a chance. I was left at the orphanage when I was four daysold. The only think I know about my birth family is that my mother gave me my name, and that she had theappearance of a woman who was in the same trade as Holly.”Mildred‟s face softened. “You do understand, then.”He nodded. “If Mama and Papa hadn‟t taken me in, I don‟t know what would have happened to me. Theother children at the orphanage at least had the advantage of parents who died. I was the son of a whore.No one wanted me.”
“That‟s not true, Raymond. Your parents love you very much. They picked you especially.”“They did. It makes me feel lucky.”“We‟re both lucky,” she said taking his hand.
Raymond looked down to where his hand was linked with Mildred‟s. It brought a smile to his face.“Oh,” she said, following his eyes with hers. “I didn‟t realize…” She began to pull her hand away.“You don‟t have to,” he said. “I kind of like that.”“So do I,” she admitted softly.
Raymond leaned towards Mildred and kissed her lightly. When he pulled back, he grinned. “D‟you think that I‟m refined enough for your mother to agree to uscourting?”“Don‟t care,” she said. “You‟re refined enough for me. Now, kiss me again.”“Yes, ma‟am,” he replied.
Marsha waved her new daughter-in-law off with a plastered-on smile. She and James had been marriedfor just over six months, and still Cindy went off to work, several nights a week.“I just don‟t understand it,” Marsha said to the empty room. “She‟s married now. Her place is at home.”
“What was that?” Jefferson asked as he came into the parlor.“Just me mussing out loud.”“About?”“It just strikes me as odd that Cindy still works. After all, she‟s got James to provide for her now. It‟s notnecessary.”
Jefferson sat down next to his wife. “No, it‟s not necessary. But perhaps keeping a small part of her oldroutine is comforting to her.”“Whatever do you mean?”“Cindy‟s had to make it on her own for quite some time now, poor soul. She‟s used to the routine ofworking, and with so many other changes occurring in her life, to have one piece of her old life around mustbe a relief.”“I suppose it could be,” Marsha said, her voice betraying that she didn‟t fully believe her husband‟sexplanation. “I certainly didn‟t feel the need to do such a thing when we got married.”
“No, but you used to spent all your time at Lizzie‟s when we were first married.”“To avoid your parents…Jefferson, you don‟t think Cindy‟s doing this to avoid us, do you?”“Not at all. She‟s perfectly content when she is around us. I just think she‟s not quite ready to let go of allof her old life yet.”
Marsha pouted for a moment, and then brightened. “Well, with any luck, she‟ll find herself with child soon,and that will put an end to the work nonsense.”“Are grandchildren all you think of, dear?” “Well, it is on my mind, what with James married and Viola about to be. Can you imagine how adorablethey‟ll be?”Jefferson laughed as he put his arm around his wife. “Yes, my dear. I can.”
The day was fast approaching when Taddy and Calla would get married. Lizzie was very excited about heronly child‟s wedding, and spent much time planning the day with Esther, Calla‟s mother. Jason on theother hand, sensed that his son had some reservations about the impending event, and tried to get him totalk about it.“Look, Pops, I get what you‟re trying to do, and it‟s not helping. No, I really don‟t want to get married.Neither does Calla. But in order for us to be together, which we both do want, we have to. So it‟s settled.”
And then they day arrived. With family and friends waiting, Taddy did his best not too fidget and fought theurge to wipe the sweat off his brow.
The ceremony went off without a hitch, and before the bride and groom were able to think about it, theywere pronounced husband and wife.They smiled at each other as their guest hooted and hollered in congratulations. James had been right – itdidn‟t feel any different, but time would tell if that would remain the case.
Of course, marriage did have its advantages, as they discovered when the guests had departed.
A few weeks after Taddy and Calla‟s wedding, it was time for Sterling and Viola‟s. The night before,Sterling was enjoying lunch with his mother, something that they did often now that they had mended theirrelationship.“I‟m so excited for tomorrow,” she sighed. “I can‟t believe you‟re old enough to get married and start afamily of your own.”“I‟m excited too. I know that Viola wants to keep painting for a while, but she wants a family pretty quicklyas well. About tomorrow, Mama…”“I‟ll stay away from Jefferson and Marsha, and only speak when I‟m spoken too. I really want to show themthat I‟m a new person, and I hope that tomorrow will be a start.”
The next day, Marsha and Jefferson did their best to put their feud with Melanie behind them for the sake ofgiving Viola the perfect wedding that she wanted. As Marsha helped her daughter dress, she rememberedback to a time when Viola was small, and wanted nothing more than to make “pi‟tures.” Jefferson toowondered where his little girl had gone, and marveled that he had a hand in raising the beautiful, confidantyoung woman who stood before him.
It was another picture-perfect wedding, and everyone in attendance cheered when the couple wasintroduced for the first time as Mr. and Mrs. Sterling Alcott.
But perhaps the biggest success of the day was Marsha and Melanie having a civil conversation for thefirst time in their lives.
“I‟m so proud of you, darling,” George told Melanie after the guests had departed. “I think that today,combined with you returning the ring, has done wonders for how Marsha and Jefferson see you.”“Do you think so? I truly want them to feel comfortable here when they visit Viola, and for her not to feelshe always has to go to them when she wants to see them. And of course, it will make things easier whenshe and Sterling decide to have children.”“You‟re the woman I remember from my college days,” he smiled. “Sweet and considerate of others.Come on; we‟re going out for dinner. No protests. You were on your feet all day yesterday preparing fortoday. Besides, it‟ll give the kids a little alone time.”
And Viola and Sterling took full advantage of that alone time.
“Another phenomenal show tonight, doll,” James smiled at his wife.“You know I sing better when you‟re around. I‟m singing to you.”“Feel like going somewhere before we head home?”“Nah. Let‟s go back. I‟m exhausted, and all I want to do is crawl into bed.”“Okay,” he replied, sounding a little disappointed. “You get changed, and I‟ll go tell Bobby to lock up for metonight.”
The morning sun was fully up, and its rays were dancing across Cindy‟s face. She, or James perhaps, hadforgotten to close the curtains last night.She rolled over and snuggled into the blankets, hoping to catch a few more moments of sleep.
She had been so tired lately. The late nights at the club were wearing on her like they never had before, tothe point where she was napping in her dressing room between sets. Add that to the stomach bug she wasstill fighting, and the past month or so had been miserable.
It was no use; she was awake, so she might as well get up. She stretched like a cat as she threw off thecovers. James was already up and off somewhere. No matter. She‟d treat herself to a nice, long bubblebath and then go rummage in the icebox for something to eat.
As she coaxed her hair into finger waves, she realized that she hadn‟t felt sick to her stomach.“Thank goodness,” she murmured, hoping that she might finally have beaten that flu at last. That thoughtbrought a smile to her face. Today was starting to look up.
She went over to the wardrobe, and began pulling on her clothes without really thinking about it.That’s funny. My skirt is awful tight. With how sick I’ve been, I’da thought it’d be loose. As she moved towards the dressing table for a splash of perfume, she gasped. Her hands went to herlower abdomen.
I’m pregnant.Oh, merciful heavens, I’m pregnant.How…now that’s a silly question, Cindy. You know exactly how it happened.James and I can scarcely keep your hands off each other, and we haven’t exactly been careful about whenor where we get a wiggle on. Shoot, I can’t count the times we’ve done it in this very room, and that onetime in my dressing room when I sang that particularly sultry number and James couldn’t wait.
The realization sank in quickly. A baby! She was having James‟ baby. He‟d be thrilled to hear the news.Marsha and Jefferson too. Marsha especially. She kept dropping hints about knitting patterns for bootiesand the like. Well, she‟d have her chance to knit to her little heart‟s desire now.Thank goodness I’ve been such a homebody these past months. I haven’t touched any booze or acigarette in ages. I know they say it doesn’t matter, but I’m not taking any chances with this baby. Iwonder when I’ll start to show. I can’t wait to tell James…
Oh, horsefeathers! James will have to tell Russ. He’s not going to be happy about me not being able tosing at all. I bring a lot of business into the club. Her joy gave way to dread. Not only was she going to have to give up her gig, there was no certainty thatshe‟d be able to get it back after the baby came. She wanted this baby, there was no doubt about that, butshe swore that she‟d not become like her mother, stuck at home with kids climbing all over her. No, she‟dfind her way back to the stage somehow.Her stomach rumbled. It was strange to be hungry again. It was time to go find some food, and figure outwhat she was going to say to James and the rest of the family.
Before she got far, James came into their room. “What‟s wrong?” he asked when he saw her face.She did her best to smile. “I think I‟m pregnant, and the realization of that threw me a little. I‟ll be fine,” shesaid as she got up and tried to walk away.“Hey,” he said, wrapping his arms around her. “It will be fine. I‟ll talk to Russ. And I‟ll keep Mama fromgoing into full-on mother hen mode.”“Thank you. I am excited; I do want this. It‟s just…”“It‟s a big step for both of us,” he replied. “I‟m going to be a dad.”Cindy could feel his face move into a smile on the back of her head. “Yeah, you are. And you‟re gonna bea great one.”“And you are going to be a great mom. Just you wait.”Cindy squeezed his hands, hoping her grip conveyed that she felt the same way about her abilities asmother as she heard in his voice.
Later that day, over dinner, Cindy shared the news with the family. Everyone, even Cyrus who was monthsaway from leaving for college, was excited by the news. But no one was happier than Marsha, who beganmaking silent plans for the nursery and knitting blankets and booties.
As the months passed, Cindy grew bigger.“I felt him kick!” James exclaimed.“You‟re so sure it‟s a boy?” she asked, raising an eyebrow.“Well, that would make things simple, wouldn‟t it?”Cindy shrugged. “I don‟t mind being pregnant, now that the morning sickness is behind me. It‟s kind ofnice to get waited on hand and foot by you and your parents.”“So, if it is a boy, you‟re saying you might want more?”“Let‟s get this one born, James, and we‟ll go from there.”
Cyrus soon went off to SimHarvard, with hugs and kisses from his family. He made sure to remind hisfather that he had promised to buy him an automobile upon graduation, and Jefferson assured his son thathe had not forgotten.
Later that day, James found Cindy staring at the walls in the parlor.“Hey, Hot Stuff,” he greeted her.“Ugh, please. I‟m as big as a house. I do not feel like Hot Stuff.”“Stop. You‟re glowing, and you‟re gorgeous. You always have been, even when you were shrieking yourhead off about that damned spider.”Cindy chuckled weakly. “The baby will be here soon.”“You‟re nervous.”She nodded.“Everyone, including that little one in there, is rooting for you, doll. I‟ll help you. Mama will help you. Papawill help you. You‟re going to do great.”I hope you’re right, she thought.
*************************************************************************************************************************I think I‟ve rambled on for long enough. That‟s all there is of Chapter 22. Have a sweet picture of Jamesand Cindy. I think these two just might be my new favorite legacy couple.Up next– generation 7 arrives! Will it be a boy or a girl? Stay tuned.Please leave all comments on the Bradford Legacy thread at Boolprop.com. Until next time!