UNTIL I REALLY DO CHAPTER 14 THE END

UNTIL I REALLY DO CHAPTER 14 THE END
Sweat beaded her forehead as she pressed her lips together, fighting helplessly to ward off yet another contraction. Her body jerked upright in response to the pain that most often than not, left her breathless. Barely able to contain her tears, she let them fall uncontrollably down her cheeks as she fell back against her pillow and gritted her teeth, fear clouding her mind; she was afraid of dying and taking the baby with her. She was afraid of leaving Matthew. It was the very thought of leaving him behind with the impression that she wasn't in love with him that made the pain she was experiencing feel even worse. “Oh dear,” Nana Lois dabbed at her sweaty forehead just as yet another contraction seized her body. She cried out this time, her fingers tightening their grip on the bed sheets. Gasping as the pain subsided, she fell back against her pillow. “Hang in there, it will soon be over.” Nana Lois said. Craning her head to the side to look at her, Sharon shook her head; she didn't want Nana Lois with her, she wanted Matthew. But Dr. Hector made it very clear that he didn't want Matthew in the room because according to him, Matthew was going to be more of a distraction than he was going to be of any help. Nana Lois on the other hand two births credited to her. “Almost there,” Dr. Hector said. She wanted to yell, angered by the fact that he had been saying the same thing to her for what felt like an eternity but her pain only grew worse with every contraction. Clenching her teeth, she said, “Matthew,” she breathed. “I need Matthe—” Yet again she jerked upright, pain rippling through her. Nana Lois nodded hurriedly. “I'll get him...” She was saying but Sharon could barely hear her past the pain she was experiencing. “Sharon,” Matthew's voice by her side felt like healing balm poured over her hurting body. She craned her head to the side so she could look into his eyes as the next contraction followed closely, the intensity of the pain much worse than the last one. Matthew trapped her hand in his and she held on tight, burying her nails into his skin. She waited a while for the pain to pass before turning to him. “I'm sorry. I'm so sorry I ran off.” She spoke in a hurry, afraid the pain would disrupt her speech when she really needed to get the message across to him. “I was misinformed and not trusting you—” Tears ran down her cheek, her lips pressed together to keep from yelling. She couldn't do this anymore; she couldn't take this pain for much longer —it felt like such a terrible way to die. “Blondie,” His lips brushed her white knuckles. “...is the worst thing I've ever done in my life because I love you, Matthew, I really do.” Her words came out in broken sobs, her emotions helping to weaken her body further. He leaned forward, his gaze holding hers. “I love you, too Blondie, much more than anything in the world.” A thin smile curved his lips as his fingers brushed her damp hair off of her forehead. “Really?” She asked. “Yes, Sharon Freelance Steiner, my beautiful wife. I love you, I really do and I'm so sorry that I ever made you doubt that.” She heard a strange sound, only realizing after a second that she was laughing. With so much pain racing through her body, she was surprised she could find it in herself to laugh. But the thought of Matthew by her side, loving her —really loving her— gave her the strength that she needed. “Now, Blondie,” he knelt by her side. “Let's do this; let's have this child together.” * It was day break before the sound of a yelling child reverberated through the walls of the building. Sharon had a difficult birth and by the time the child finally decided to make her dramatic entrance into the world, Sharon was too exhausted to even hold her and quickly fell asleep. Staring down at the sleeping child in his arms, a small smile settled on Matthew's lips. “Matthew, put that child down for a while and come down for breakfast.” Nana Lois called from the doorway, but Matthew ignored her. He couldn't tear his eyes off of his baby long enough to acknowledge her. “Now!” She said sharply, her voice laced with the same authority she used on him growing up. “I'm not hungry.” He said. The sound of her approaching footsteps drew his attention. He turned to her, a frown on her face as she reached forward and wrestled the sleeping child from him. “I'll take her and you'll eat something.” She turned from him. He sat eating his breakfast in the kitchen as quickly as he could and once he was done, he returned to the room and spent the entire day by Sharon's bedside watching her sleep, while Nana cared for the baby. Leaning down over her, he brushed her forehead and she moaned, her eyelids flickering apart as tired blue eyes came to rest on him. “Hello beautiful.” He smiled, smoothing her hair. “Matthew?” She whispered. “How's the baby?” Her gaze shifted from him and to the room. “According to the doctor, she should be fine. But of course he'll keep an eye on her.” He said and she nodded. “Do you need anything?” “Just to see her,” she said. “She's with Nana. She was afraid she'd wake you up. Do you think you'll be fine while I go get her?” He waited until she nodded once, before rising to his feet and making his way out of the room in search of Nana Lois whom he suspected was in the guest room they had turned into a nursery. Entering the room, he found Nana Lois seated on a rocking chair with the a pink bundle in her hands. “Matthew?” He nodded, motioning to the bundle. “Sharon wants to see her.” “Very well,” she rose to her feet and crossed the room, placing the baby in his arms. “She's such a sweet pea.” He grinned, glancing down briefly to stare at the red cheeked, bald beauty in his arms; she was perfect. He muttered a 'thank you' to Nana Lois before making his way back to Sharon's room. He placed the baby in her arms and watched as her countenance lighted up. “She's so beautiful.” She exclaimed before turning sharply to him. “She's a she, right?” He laughed at the expression on her face. “What do you think?” “Oh, I can't tell, Matthew! I thought I heard the doctor say it's a girl but I was too exhausted to pay attention. Half of last night is lost in my memory. I think the only thing I remember is saying I'm sorry.” Her eyes grew sad. “You know I really am sorry and I wasn't just saying that.” “I know.” He nodded, leaning down to kiss her head. Straightening, he heard the door open behind him and turned around just in time to watch Nana Lois enter the room. “Matthew, I think you need to see this.” Nana Lois called from the door way, interrupting their precious moment. “What is it?” He grumbled. “A letter.” “It can wait,” he waved her off. “I'm afraid it's important.” She held the letter out to him, maintaining her position by the doorway. It was on the top of his tongue to ask her to bring it to him, but there was something about the look in her eyes that silently urged him to go to her. Reluctantly, he rose to his feet, covering the distance between them and retrieving the letter from her hands. “It's from your mother,” she said, watching him. Nodding, he stared at it, unsure of how to feel about hearing from his family after so many months. The last time he was with them, he had kicked them off of his farm. He knew his mother wasn't to blame for the actions of his father, but he wasn't sure she was ready to resume communications with them just yet. “I'm afraid there's some bad news as well, Matthew.” Nana Lois's small whisper reached him as he turned to go back to Sharon's bedside. Stiffening, he turned back around. “What bad news?” “It's George Freelance,” His heart immediately sank at the mention of Sharon's father. Stepping outside the room, he closed the door silently behind him before turning fully to face Nana Lois. “What about Sharon's father?” “He's dead.” The thought of the death of Sharon's father never left Matthew's mind. He couldn't get himself to think past the fact that he had to be the one to break the news to her; news he knew would wreck her completely. He couldn't bring himself to tell her, no matter how hard he tried. And he did try. For three days, he tried, going over it various speeches continuously in his mind with each new speech sounding more pathetic than the last. There was no easy way to possibly break the news to her without wiping that glimmer of joy that sparkled in her eyes every time she held their new baby close. Unable to keep the news from her any longer, Matthew reluctantly entered the nursery. He paused by the door, his heart skipping a beat at the sight that greeted him. Seated on a rocking chair with the baby in her arms, a breathtaking smile lighted up Sharon's face. It was the happiest he had ever seen her. It was the first time that he truly believed she was happy -she was happy being here, with him, and in his home. It was the first time he believed he wasn't going to wake up one day to find that she had run off on him again. And for the first time in many months, the feeling of contentment washed over Matthew; he was content knowing his wife was happy. For several seconds he stood watching the scene behind him, the memory of his intention for coming here in the first place, completely gone until she raised her gaze to him and smiled. It was then that he remembered, knowing full well that he was about to convey news that would take the smile off of her face. Letting out a weary sigh, he crossed the room. "I need to talk to you" He said, taking the baby from her arms and placing her in the crib. "What is wrong?" A frown quickly displaced her smile. He ran his fingers through his hair, unsure of how to break the news to her. He had wasted three days contemplating the easiest way to tell her, but had come up with nothing. "Sharon, your father passed away." He finally said. She sat still for several seconds, the color draining from her face. She opened her mouth as if to speak, but her lips produced no sounds. Then, she shut it again. "I'm so sorry." He knelt before her, taking her trembling hands in his. "What happened?" She whispered, shaking her head. "No one knows. He was found dead in a dark alley. There were no wounds or signs he was murdered. He might have been sick." She let out a shaky breath, tears slipping down her cheeks. "Pa was a good man" She glanced up at him, sadness clouding her eyes. "He was a really good man, Matthew!" She said, before falling into his arms, her loud sobs ripping his heart into millions of pieces. 4 ~*~ It was all her fault! George Freelance was dead because Sharon had abandoned him. She had been selfish enough to think he could survive without her. He had been her responsibility and she had abandoned him. She sat grieving for her father, inconsolable even by Matthew's presence. His firm hold on her proved incapable of keeping her from falling apart as the image of her father appeared before her eyes. She saw him; a man damaged enough to place his daughter on the gambling table. He was damaged enough to lose her to the vile man that was Jenkins. He was damaged enough to let Jenkins haul her over his shoulder and carry her out of that tavern, kicking and screaming. But he came back. George Freelance, as damaged as he had been, had come back for her. Surely that had to mean that he loved her! Surely it was the part of him that cared about her that caused him to come to the farm that afternoon, looking for her. It was true that he had attacked Nana Lois and his presence had caused a lot of trouble, but it had been the best he could do -for some sick, twisted reason, it had been his best way of expressing his love for her. He hadn't been the best father, but he had her father. He had been all she had left. He hadn't taken care of her in anyway, but he had been her only family, and that day, when he showed up on the farm and caused a scene, begging for her return, she had turned from him. She, like every other person in the world had turned her back on her father and he had died alone, on the streets. "I should have gone with him." Her words came out in broken sobs. "I should have been there for him -with him. It's my fault, Matthew. I turned my back on him like everybody else. I neglected him when he needed me the most. I was selfish." "You couldn't save him." Matthew tried to reassure her but she shook her head; she should have tried. "Blondie, you can't blame yourself for something you couldn't help." His chest rumbled against her back. "I know I can't take his place but at least know I'm here. I'm always here for you, Blondie." He tightened his hold around her and she leaned further in. Sharon didn't know if she could trust that Matthew would always be here. Hadn't she already lost all the people she cared about? Slowly, she turned to look at him, her gaze searching his for signs of deceit; she found none. She instead found that the slight pulling of his brows together was brought about by the concern he felt for her. She knew the sadness in his eyes reflected the sadness of her soul. But so much more than anything, she knew he loved her, and it was his love for her that was never going to die. Time passed before Matthew found the lone piece of paper that sat on his desk; his mother's letter. He had been so occupied with the death and burial of George Freelance —who was buried on his property beside his wife— that he had forgotten about the letter. He wondered what was in it and if he was even ready to read it. Time might have passed, but the hurt and anger he felt toward his father remained. He imagined that his mother had written to try to talk him into forgiving his father, and while Matthew knew he would eventually be forced into doing so, he didn't think he could ever trust the man not to try to ruin his marriage once more. He let out a sigh, settling on the chair and tearing the envelope open. Pulling out the note inside, a frown immediately settled on his face as his eyes ran over his mother's words. He shook his head, unbelieving of what it was he was staring at. It was simply impossible! And it it hadn't been written in a very familiar handwriting he knew belonged to his mother, he would have doubted the validity of it. Yet, here it sat in his hands, a white sheet of paper, proclaiming him the heir to his grandfather's estate that he was sure was worth more than three times the size of his farm. His grandfather had died a wealthy business man but Matthew apparently hadn't known the extent of his wealth. And the more he read, the more he realized that it wasn't only the extent of his grandfather's wealth he had been oblivious to, he had also been oblivious to the extent to which had been willing to go to keep truth away from him. I have attached your grandfather's will to this letter. Her letter read, and true to her words, he found the will attached; not only was he entitled to seventy percent of his grandfather's estate, and Grace to thirty percent, his father was entitled to nothing. I plead with you to forgive your father's greed and my selfish attitude. He stared at the words of his mother, struggling to keep his hands from crumbling the note. His father had practically ruined his life. Worst of all, his father had nearly succeeded in ruining his marriage. He could think of many things he wanted to do to the old man, but forgiveness was not one of them. Still, he knew he would forgive his father eventually because in spite of everything the old man tried to do and failed, Matthew still had a family, and a baby. Even now, as he rode into town for supplies, he thought of Rosie, his nine month old daughter, and a smile spread across his face. She was turning out to be quite lovely. Her deep blue eyes reminded him of Sharon's —they were as captivating and breathtaking as hers. He also thought Rosie possessed traces of Grace, his little sister; her loud, adventurous personality had already seen her eating so many bugs around the farm that Matthew feared she might have succeeded in forming a colony in her stomach. Her dark brown curly hair that framed her cute round face was the only thing she had in common with Matthew, but she was his world —Rosie, as well as Sharon. They were his family and suddenly, all of the things they had been forced to endure in the past few months seemed worth the joy they had right now. He brought the wagon to a halt by the curb and climbed down, making his way into the dress shop to get some fabric for Sharon and Rosie who outgrew her clothes with every passing month. A few hours passed by before he was finally settling in his wagon. He drove the long distance to the farm, the soft breeze caressing his face and the anticipation of spending some play time with his daughter, leaving him speeding carelessly up the hill. The sun was beginning to disappear over the horizon when the farm's gate appeared and he drove in. Pulling the wagon to a halt before the house, he jump down and turned to go into the building when he was interrupted by the loud pounding of hooves. Turning sharply around, he found Stanley racing urgently toward him on a horse. Matthew could tell by the speed at which the horse was moving that something was wrong, and it was the thought that saw him racing to catch up with Stanley. They met in the middle of the field. Reaching up, Matthew helped the farmhand down the horse. “What happened?” He called, breathless. “Sharon,” Stanley hunched forward, breathing heavily. Matthew felt the blood drain from his face at the mention of Sharon's name, his lungs instantly constricting. “What happened to Sharon?!” He asked, stepping forward. But the farmhand seemed incapable of answering his question as he remained hunched over, gasping for breath. Impatient, Matthew took both his shoulders in his hands and shook him. “What happened?! What the heck, Stanley, answer my question! Where is Sharon? What happened?!” Stanley shook his head. “Horse,” he gasped, pointing in the direction from which he came. “Lake.” Matthew instantly connected the farmhand's words; Sharon had fallen off of a horse by the lake. He shook his head, unbelieving of what it was he was hearing; it couldn't be! “What?” He managed to speak past the lump in his throat. “She fell off of the horse. We found her, tried to bring her but something could be broken and I didn't want to move her...” Stanley was saying but Matthew could barely hear him. He couldn't think, neither did he find it easy to move. Everything in him trembled with crippling fear as he stepped forward and shoved Stanley from his part and forced his numb body up the horse. He urged the horse into a run, breathless as he raced to get to his wife before it was too late.He wasn't moving fast enough —Matthew growled, burying his heel in the horse's flank. But it didn't matter how hard he pushed, the horse just didn't seem to go fast enough. The horse wasn't the only thing that stubbornly appeared to maintain a slow pace, his heart seemed to follow suit —his heart, his breathing, and even the darn time seemed to be moving at a snail's pace as images of Sharon filled his mind. She was all he could think of, her still form lying unconscious somewhere by that lake, fighting for her life. He was desperate to get to her, and to help her fight like he had done on the day Jenkins had practically dragged her to his farm unconscious. Even now, as he hurried to get to her, he could still see her still, battered form on his bed with blood stains all over her. But it hadn't mattered to him; he had still found himself thinking she was beautiful. He had found the thought of marrying her to be a pleasing one, and while her rejection of his proposal had been a mighty blow to him, they had eventually worked things out, and had managed to fall in love in spite of all the odds that had been against them. And there had been many odds against them —from both their egos, to his poor financial state, to his father's interference in their lives. They had battled all of those things and had finally gotten the break they deserved and for a few months, Matthew thought they could finally be happy. Until now —until he was suddenly facing another obstacle; one he didn't even know how to fight; death. Death was not something Matthew thought he knew how to fight. He didn't think he could live without Sharon, neither did he even want to consider the possibility of raising their daughter alone. Tears filled his eyes, blurring his vision. Shaking his head, he focused on trying to get to the lake; he couldn't give up now, not when there was still the possibility of saving Sharon. It seemed like an eternity before he was bringing the horse to a halt by a blurry image of the lake, his limbs trembling as he dismounted the horse and settled on his wobbly legs. He forced one foot after the other forward, realizing then that he had failed to get her exact location from Stanley. “Matthew,” He stiffened. Sharon's voice filled his frantic mind, momentarily distracting him from the mission before him. “Matthew,” Turning around sharply, a small frown immediately settled on his face as his eyes came to rest on her. “Sharon?” He breathed, unsure of what it was he was looking at. It was unreal, he told himself, shaking his head as his gaze ran down the length of the woman who stood before him, an image of perfection. Stanley said she fell down a horse, didn't he? Surely Matthew was imagining things! Surely his mind was so desperate to find her, it was conjuring false images before his eyes, for the woman before him did not appear to have fallen down a horse. Indeed she was perfect —too perfect. Her lovely white dress that eased perfectly down every curve in her body, bore no signs of mud stains that should have been obtained from a fall. Her golden locks were pulled to the back of her head in a perfect braid, a beautiful red rose flower tucked behind her hair. Not a single strand of hair was left out of place, and Matthew was quite certain he had never seen her look more beautiful. He told himself that it wasn't real, but he found it impossible to turn away from her. He hated the way his heart raced for her ...it —he couldn't tell. He didn't even know what it was that he was looking at! “Matthew,” A breathtaking smile seized her face as she reached up and touched his cheek. She touched him! And it felt real. Perhaps it was indeed real?! “You are the most incredible, amazing, outstanding, unbelievably kind man I have ever met and I'm the luckiest woman that ever existed.” She touched him again, her fingers lacing themselves with his hand as he scanned her face. “You are every part of me. You are my soul mate, my peace, my joy, and my heartbeat,” Slowly, her hand urged his upward until it was settling on her chest. “Feel that? It's beating for you and because of you.” His own heart was beginning to pound at a rather alarming rate as he watched her. “My life with you is something that I would not trade for the entire universe. So, I'm asking you, Matthew Christopher Steiner,” stepping back, he watched as she settled on her knees before him. “If you'll have me yet again, and do me the honors of marrying me?” Matthew stood motionless for several seconds, his mind fighting desperately to fully comprehend what it was that was happening. He stared at Sharon who was safe and sound before him, not unconscious in the sand. She was alive, she was here, and she loved him. He always knew she loved him, but for some reason he felt even more certain about her love in that moment. It was probably because she was here —it was probably because she was on her knees— Just then, as the thoughts raced through his mind, it occurred to him what was happening; she was proposing! The thought had barely settled in his mind when movement afar off caught his attention. He raised his gaze then, his frown deepening as his eyes came to rest on the small crowd of distinguishable faces, one of which was Stanley's. The conniving farmhand stood grinning from ear to ear, visibly proud of pulling off a cruel prank. Then there was Nana Lois struggling to maintain her hold on the overactive Rosie who sat in her arms. And there was his mother... and Grace... and every farmhand on the farm, all dressed up. They planned a wedding?! Realization struck him then, his gaze shifting back to Sharon's. True enough, he recognized the dress she was wearing; his mother's wedding dress! Relief flooded every muscles in his body, love for the woman before him forcing him to his knees as well. “You know darling, there's one problem with all of this.” He whispered, breathless. All he wanted to do was pull her into his arms and kiss her senseless. “What?” She frowned slightly. “The groom's the only one who looks absolutely horrid in his work clothes.” He grinned. Leaning forward, his heart skipped a beat as she cupped his face in her hands. “I love you Matthew, I really do.” “I love you too Sharon,” he said, wrapping his arms around her waist and pulling her forward. “I really, really do.” He finished, capturing her lips and closing his eyes as the world faded all around him until all that mattered was the woman in his arms. The sight of Matthew in his black suit managed to knock the air out of Sharon's lungs. Her heart pounded wildly in her chest, every step she took accelerating its movement until she feared she would die of a heart attack. Still, his eyes urged her forward, one hand holding on to the bouquet of flowers, while the other held on to Nana Lois who walked side by side with her, carrying Rosie. Briefly, she stole a glance at Rosie and Nana Lois —the two dressed in identical peach dresses— and she could not help but feel thankful for her new family. She was blessed to have them here beside her, knowing full well that she would never be made to walk alone again. She was not only being given a new family, but a new beginning as well, one that would be strong enough to wipe the past away. “Dada!” Rosie squealed, pointing her chubby hands at Matthew who stood at the end of the aisle. “I think that's her way of saying it's about time,” Nana Lois giggled as they reached the end of the aisle. “Who gives this woman away in holy matrimony?” The preacher asked, turning inquisitive brown eyes to Nana Lois. “Oh, I do! Here, he can have here!” Nana Lois said, placing Sharon's hand in Matthew's. He made to take it, but she stopped him, maintaining her hold on Sharon's hand. “And for God's sake, Matthew, try to keep her this time?” She raised a brow in question, her eyes holding Matthew's until he nodded swiftly to her words. “Good!” She scoffed, turning to Sharon. “That goes for you too, Sharon,” Unsure of how to respond, Sharon nodded as well, gaining herself a smile from the older woman. “Good. Now, you two go and be happy.” She said, before turning from them and resuming her position beside Grace. Sharon turned fully to Matthew, her heart skipping a beat at the look of complete adoration in his eyes. “Have I told you just how much I love you, Sharon —Blondie— Freelance Steiner?” He whispered, covering the space between their bodies as his arms wrapped themselves around her waist. She nodded, her hands settling on his chest; he had said it much more than a few times, and every single one of those times, she responded the same way. His brushed her cheek. “I'd like to say it again,” his warm breath tickled her skin. “I would like to spend the rest of my life telling and showing you just how much I love you,” his fingers ran down her face to her neck, setting her skin on fire. “Just how much I'll always love you... No one else but you,” She closed her eyes, his words slowing her heart as their implications sank in; he loved her, no other woman but her. She opened her eyes once more to find him staring at her, his question hanging in the air. Nodding, she said, “Say it.” Leaning down, his lips hovered closely over hers, his warmth filling her with indescribable desires. “I love you,” he whispered, kissing the top of her nose “Yesterday,” he kissed her upper lip. “Today,” he kissed her lower lip, guiding her hand to his chest and holding it captive there. “Forever,” A small smile settled on his lips as he raised her hand to it, its warmth brushing her palm. “Now, let's get married so I can kiss my bride.” THE END

0 Comments