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Wishes

 
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Jessamin Taylor
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PostPosted: Mon May 15, 2017 5:58 pm    Post subject: Wishes Reply with quote

Will was late. He'd left at sunrise on a routine trip to deliver a few cases of the Brambles' stock over the mountains to a distant country that had been clamoring for the stuff. Even without a war going on and other planes trying to shoot him out of the sky, flying a WWI bi-plane was still a dangerous business. Anything number of things could and sometimes did go wrong, and yet, Will hadn't stopped flying. Flying was in his blood. It was what made him who he was, and he never felt so free as when he was soaring high in the sky, the hills and plains and forests of Rhy'Din far below. It was peaceful up there, but it was lonely, too, and as much as he loved flying, there was a piece of his heart that he always left behind whenever he took to the skies. That was the piece that belonged to his wife, Jessamin. And so, as the sun started to set on Rhy'Din and night was closing in and Will still hadn't returned, it became worrisome.

It certainly worried Jessamin. Will had left before she'd woken up that morning, which was a bit of a blessing in itself - she still hadn't told him that she wasn't ill, but it was getting more difficult to explain away the need to vomit first thing in the morning. Today, however, it seemed as though that phenomenon the other ladies had called "popping" had happened far earlier than she had been expecting - there was no way she could hide the curve of her belly, and a quick consultation with Marissa had revealed that the woman's fertility treatment appeared to have worked almost too well. So much for saving the surprise for their anniversary. But as the sun began to set, the anticipation of sharing that surprise was replaced with concern. He was usually home by now. At a loss, and not ready yet to spread her panic around, Jess sat out on the porch, Boots in her lap, and watched the darkening sky, praying for her husband to come home safely.

Maybe it was the prayer that did it or maybe it was just sheer determination, but as the last light in the sky was fading, there appeared a shadow on the horizon that couldn't be mistaken for anything but an airplane. She was dipping a little low and listing to one side, but she was flying, returning her pilot home to the woman he loved, if it was the last thing she did.

Inside the cockpit, Will was giving his first love a pep talk. "Come on, darlin'. Just a little bit farther."

Keeping watch as she was, there was no way Jessamin could miss the stuttering approach of the plane she knew so well. Well enough, in fact, to recognize that she shouldn't be listing at all, and certainly not flying so low. Her heart in her throat, Jess rose abruptly, dropping Boots onto her seat, and ran from the porch, up to the main house. "Mr. Lassiter! Mr. Lassiter, Mr. St.Clair! Something is wrong with Will's plane!"

She was close enough now that the stuttering of the engine could be heard, like a heart that was about to give out but was still too stubborn to quit. Evan emerged from the main house, boots on but no hat on his head, brows furrowed in alarm at Jessamin's summons. Even at the main house, they'd noticed the pilot hadn't returned yet and shared her worry. They'd have heard the whir of the engine and the children would have rushed outside to watch her land, but the skies had been far too silent for far too long.

Evan turned his gaze to the sky, hearing the plane before seeing it on the horizon. He didn't know much about planes or modern contraptions, but he knew enough to know she didn't look right. "She's coming in too low," he murmured in agreement with Jess. "Mare! Best get some lanterns and make it quick!" he shouted, turning to shout orders at the hands and anyone else who was nearby to help. If that boy crashed, it would be on them for sending him on that wild goose chase to begin with.

Behind him, Bill St.Clair was already moving to stamp into his boots, both men not needing to look to know that Marin and Jodie were running for the store to fetch out the lanterns usually held for lighting the orchards in the gathering season. Jess hugged her arms about her waist, watching in panicked concern as Bill and his son took an armful of lanterns each, running headlong for the nearest wide space to mark it out as a safe zone to land.

There was suddenly a flurry of activity, everyone rushing about to prepare for what they hoped wouldn't be a crash landing. Lanterns were lit and laid out in as straight a line as possible in a field that was far enough from the house to hopefully avoid a collision. They didn't have much time, as evidenced by the stuttering whir of the engine that was growing louder by the minute.

Inside the cockpit, Will was fighting to keep her level and praying the engine held out long enough to get him down safely. If he had to, he'd glide her in on a wing and a prayer. The hard part was seeing as the bi-plane wasn't made for night flying, but thankfully, it was a clear night, and as he drew closer to Rhy'Din, he noticed lights on the ground leading the way. They were tiny and dim, barely visible, but unmistakable, and he couldn't help smiling. They must have seen or heard him coming and laid out a makeshift landing strip to point him in the right direction.

Beside the main house, Jess watched in muted horror as the bi-plane struggled toward them, held in place by Jodie's arm tight about her shoulders. She was in no condition to go running into the field with the others, after all. "Please, sweetheart," she whispered softly, her eyes on the dipping plane. "Please land in one piece."

Once the lights were in place, there wasn't much that could be done, but watch and hope and pray. The plane dipped lower in the sky, listing to one side before straightening out, the pilot obviously fighting to keep her level. It was only a matter of luck that the weather wasn't working against him. The little group watched as the plane dipped lower and lower, the engine making a sickly sound like she was going to die at any given moment. Lower and lower she flew, until it became apparent she wasn't straightening out and the engine was sputtering. She dipped lower in the air, her wheels touching the ground, but that wasn't the problem. Without brakes, the problem was hoping she had enough room to stop before crashing into anything that might be in her way. Normally, Will would land her farther out, well away from the house and the barn and the orchard, but without being able to see and with an engine that was dying, that wasn't as easy as it sounded. The plane listed left as her wheels touched the ground, one wing scraping the ground until it was torn clear off, the plane skidding across the field until she landed on her nose.

"Will!" Jess' anguished cry was audible even above the screech of metal shearing, but the members of the Brambles household were already moving. Men and women hurried over to the plane almost before it had stopped moving, wrenching debris away from the cockpit to extract the young man still inside.

It was nothing short of a miracle that the young man climbed out of the wreck, not only alive but all in once piece, but for some minor cuts and bruises. The same couldn't be said for his plane, which was quite possibly beyond repair, but somehow she'd gotten him home. Clearly shaken, Will heard his wife's voice amidst all the confusion and called back to let her know he had survived. "Jess, I'm okay!"

From the house came the sound of Jessamin bursting into relieved tears at the sound of his voice.

Marin laid a hand on her hip as Bill and Daniel worked to disconnect the engine from the fuel source, just in case. "You certainly know how to make an entrance, William."
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PostPosted: Mon May 15, 2017 5:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

So much for airborne deliveries for a while, though Evan was hardly complaining. He was just grateful the young man was alive. "Sorry about your plane, Will," he said, squeezing the young man's shoulder once he was free of the wreckage. It was probably nothing short of a miracle that the plane had lasted this long with everything she'd gone through.

"Just glad to have my feet back on the ground," Will said, knowing the plane could be replaced, but he couldn't.

"You're not the only one who's glad about that," Marin pointed out with a faint grin. "Just remember to be gentle with her and let her look after you. She's been sitting on the porch for hours waiting for you."

"Yes, ma'am," Will replied, turning toward Jessamin and taking her hands in his. He wasn't surprised to hear she'd been worrying and waiting for him, probably dreading every time he went up in that flying coffin of his. "I'm sorry for making you worry, Jess," he told her, an apologetic look on his face, through the grime and the cuts and bruises. He wasn't sure why he was being warned to be gentle with his wife, when he'd never been anything but.

Tear-stained, Jess turned her face to his, squeezing his hands for long moment. Then abruptly she threw her arms around his neck, holding on for dear life. "Don't you ever scare me like that again," she scolded him tenderly. "I've been worried sick about you."

Taken aback by the way she launched herself at him, all he could do - all he wanted to do - was slide his arms around her, hold her close, and memorize everything about her. It wasn't the first brush he'd had with death, but it was the most recent, and though he might not admit it, it had left him shaken. "I'm here, Jess," he whispered reassurance. "I'm all right."

"Not much more we can do 'til mornin'," Evan remarked, as he rejoined Marin with a glance at the younger couple.

There was a little something new about her that he probably hadn't noticed before today, given that it had only made itself known that morning. The little bump at her waist certainly gave their embrace a new dimension, that was for certain, but Jess hadn't even considered it. She kissed his cheek, pulling her fingers through his hair as she looked at Will. "I don't know what I'd do without you," she told him in a fierce tone. "You can't take risks like that again, you just can't."

Will was too relieved to be back safely on the ground and in her arms, and too shaken from what had just happened to notice the change in her figure just yet. It wasn't what he was expecting and hence, wasn't something he noticed right away. "I know," he whispered against her hair as he held her close. "I'm sorry."

Marin followed Evan's glance toward the younger couple with a grin. "Well, that field's fallow this year anyway," she commented. "We've got time to deal with the wreckage." She tapped Will on the back. "Home's that way."

Will knew Jess was shaken by the crash, but the way she clung to him surprised even him. Then again, he'd never come that close to disaster before - not since he'd met her anyway. He arched a brow at Marin as he glanced her way, wondering why she was reminding him of something he knew very well. Then again, "home" was a strange word where Jess and Will were concerned. "Yes, ma'am," he replied, taking the hint and leading Jess toward the little house they shared at Brambles Orchard, one arm around her waist.

"I give it half an hour," Marin predicted cryptically as they walked off, flashing Evan a wide grin. "C'mon, our home's this way."

Tucked close against Will's side, Jess was beginning to get control of herself once again as they headed for their little house. "I'm sorry," she apologized, wiping her nose on her hanky. "I didn't mean to cry. I was just so relieved that you're well and safe."

Will wasn't too sure what Marin had meant by that cryptic remark and was too focused on Jessamin right now to ask. Evan led Marin away, as relieved as the rest of them that the young man had returned safely and muttering to himself something about if God had wanted men to fly, he'd have given them wings. Will frowned at sadly at Jessamin's apology. While some men might have promised they'd never fly again, they both knew he couldn't do that. It was in his blood, it was part of who he was. Asking him to never fly again would be like asking him to deny who he was, but he didn't want to talk about that now. In any case, he wasn't going back up in the bi-plane for a long time, if ever.

Once they reached their little house, he turned to face her again, brushing the tears from her face with his fingers. "I'm sorry I worried you, Jess. I don't know what happened. Something with the engine, I think," he explained, though he couldn't really give her a proper explanation until he'd picked through the wreckage. "I'm here now. I'm okay. Everything's okay," he assured her again, as he pulled her close.

She pressed into his arms, reassured now he was on the ground safely. She knew he was a good pilot - indeed, he had just proved how good a pilot he was - but he was never going to cure her of the anxiety that fluttered in her heart every time he left the ground. That anxiety was going to be worse now, but she could always hope that it would bring with it a distraction, too. "You're all right," she repeated softly, taking in a deep breath before suddenly pulling back. "You're hurt. We should clean you up and look at those cuts."

He smiled, a little amused to find she was still worried about him. Yes, he was a little banged up, but he'd walked away from a potential disaster without so much as a single broken bone. "I'm all right, Jess. Really. At least, no one was shooting at me this time," he said, almost without thinking. The life span of a WWI fighter pilot wasn't very long; he'd beaten the odds there anyway and somehow wound up her in Rhy'Din. "I'm hungry though. You got any leftovers?" he asked, trying to reassure her with a smile.

"If anyone starts to shoot at you, I will insist that you never leave the ground again," she warned him, taking his hand firmly in her own as Boots sidled up onto the porch to rub against Will's legs. Opening the door, Jess pulled her husband inside, ushering the cat ahead of her. "At least wash your hands," she told Will. "Your dinner is warm in the oven."

He didn't want to worry her anymore than she was already worried. He was lucky to have only suffered cuts and bruises in the crash. He'd had plenty of friends in the war who hadn't been so lucky. He hardly thought of them anymore now, except when he woke in the middle of the night after dreaming about one crash or another. "Yes, ma'am," he told her obediently as he followed her inside after the cat. "She's wrecked, so I won't be flying for a while anyway," he added, though that seemed obvious enough.

Jess couldn't deny that she was pleased about that - not just that he would be out of airborne danger for a while, but that he would be home. "Does that mean your schedule has opened up then, love?" she asked curiously as they entered the kitchen, moving to lay the table for him as the smell of roast chicken enveloped him.

There was only one thing that smelled better than his wife, and that was her cooking. His stomach rumbled loudly, reminding him that he hadn't eaten in hours, reminding him of the hunger that proved he was still alive. "I reckon so," he replied as he went to the sink to wash his hands and splash some water on his face. A bath could wait until later. "Probably a good thing. It's almost time for spring planting, isn't it?"
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PostPosted: Mon May 15, 2017 5:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

"Yes, I should really plant the vegetable garden before the end of May, too," she agreed, bending to open the oven and extract the warm plate piled with roasted meat and vegetables to lay it on the table for him. Boots made it onto the table before she could stop him, but the cat was no match for Jess' hands around his middle, scooping him away before he could attack Will's dinner. "You're such a greedy little nonsense."

"I'll help," he told her, as he patted his face and hands dry, not noticing anything different about her yet until he turned around. Now that they were inside and he'd calmed down a little and there was light to see by, he thought he noticed something different about her, but he had to be imagining it, wasn't he?

With Boots hugged to her chest, there was no disguising the bump at her waist as she turned away to set the cat down on the ground, her profile enhanced despite the discreet layers of lace that made up her dress. Turning back to Will, Jess paused, surprised by the look on his face, and blushed abruptly, glancing down at herself. "Is something wrong?"

"Uh, no, I just ..." He'd only been gone a few hours. She couldn't have sprouted a baby in that short amount of time, could she? It must be his imagination. "It's nothing, I guess," he dismissed his own observation. It must be the way her dress was hanging or some other trick of his eyes.

She raised her eyes shyly to his with a soft smile. "Two nothings, in fact," she told him. She had intended to hold off until their anniversary, but it was impossible to hide the little bump, distinctive as it was, for any longer.

"Two nothings?" he echoed, obviously confused. He shook his head lightly, unsure what she meant by that remark. Maybe it was crash, though he didn't think he'd suffered any serious injuries.

Gently, she took his hand, laying his palm over the bump he thought he'd seen and then told himself couldn't be there. "In here," she said, shy and quiet and deeply pleased to be sharing it with him. "But I don't think we should call them nothing."

His eyes widened as she laid his palm over the bump he thought he'd only imagined, realizing with a shock that he hadn't been imagining it, after all. They'd been married nearly four years to the day and still had no child to show for it, until now, it seemed. "Jessi," he whispered her name softly. "Are you?"

She nodded, her own eyes filling with tears. "I am," she told him softly. "I truly am." It had been her dearest wish for years to give him a child, a wish that had been cruelly prevented by the somewhat jealous machinations of a woman they had both trusted until her spells had been revealed, and now, finally, that wish was being fulfilled. "It's twins, Will."

Marin had predicted half an hour, but it hadn't even been that long before Will had noticed the change in his pretty little wife - a change they had both been hoping and praying for, for too long. "Twins," he echoed, unbelievingly. A smile spread across his face at the news, his eyes filling with happy tears as he took her in his arms and pulled her close. He held her there for a moment, both of them crying happy tears before her news really sank in. "Wait, did you say twins?" he asked, pulling her away from him to meet her gaze.

She went into his arms happily, pressing her smile against his neck as he held her, glad that he seemed so very happy himself with the news that they were finally going to have the family they'd been hoping for so long. His repeat of the word made her laugh as he pulled back to meet her eyes. "Yes, I did," she assured him with a soft giggle. "Marissa did say that the potion she gave me might result in more than one child. She confirmed it for me today."

"Twins," he echoed again, laughing through the tears, despite the shock of the crash. It had been one hell of a day, and he could have returned home to no sweeter news than this. He picked her up and spun her around in a circle, very gently setting her back down on her feet. "I love you," he told her, touching a kiss to her lips that proved it in no uncertain terms.

Jessamin giggled as he swept her about in that circle, her happy laughter swallowed by his kiss as she curled her arms about his neck, combing her fingers through his hair as she answered that tender gesture with a kiss of her own. "I love you," she replied softly, nuzzling close for a long moment. "You should eat. You have to keep up your strength, love."

"I'm not the one having the baby!" he pointed out with a grin, in no hurry to let go of her, though she did have a point. He was starving, and the chicken smelled delicious, and he didn't want to leave it for the cat, but first things first. "I'm glad to be home, Jess," he told her quietly, not quite admitting to his fear.

Nose to nose, she smiled back at him, glowing as much with delight at his reaction as with the simple fact of her pregnancy. "I'm glad, too," she promised him, stroking her fingers against his cheek. The scrabble of paws on wood caught her attention - Boots was making another attempt to steal a significant part of Will's dinner.

Will laughed at the cat's antics. He was a persistent one, that was for sure. "Oh, let him have a little," he told her, despite the fact that rewarding the cat for his behavior wasn't going to teach him to behave.

"He has already had his piece of chicken," Jess pointed out, scooping the little cat off the table once again. She held him up, looking into the innocent face with a smile. "You are an opportunist and a con-artist, Mr. Boots."

"Aren't they all?" Will asked with a chuckle regarding cats. "I wonder what he's going to think about us having children," he mused aloud as he took advantage of the moment to relax and enjoy his dinner finally.

Sitting down with him at the table, Jess held Boots on her lap as Will ate, distracting the cat with affection. "I do not know," she admitted. "There were awful stories about cats smothering babies if they were allowed near them, but that doesn't make any sense. He likes the children, he seems to understand that they are simply young humans. So why would he smother a baby?"

"I don't think they mean to smother them, Jess," Will pointed out, though he didn't know for sure. "Maybe they just like to sleep close. We'll just have to be careful," he told her as he cut into his chicken, shoveling into his mouth like he was half-starving to death.

"I don't think Boots would ever hurt our children, would you?" she said, kissing the upturned nose in front of her. She laughed as Boots sniffed her mouth curiously and licked his nose, settling down to watch every mouthful of meat going into Will's mouth with intense envy. "Children," she repeated, a little in awe of the concept. "We will have two children. Goodness."

"I don't think so. Not on purpose, anyway," Will said, eyeing Boots as the cat eyed his dinner. The cat was obviously not going hungry, and yet, Will couldn't help but offer the poor thing a sliver of chicken. He smiled as the reality of her news seemed like a shock, even to her. "What do you think they will be? A boy and a girl?" he asked her, though she had no way of knowing for sure.

Laughing as Boots chowed down on the sliver of chicken he was offered, Jess stroked her fingers through his fur, smiling with Will as they looked to their not-so-distant-future. "I have no idea," she admitted in amusement. "I should like one of each, and yet I would not be unhappy with two boys. I would like to give you at least one son, love."
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PostPosted: Mon May 15, 2017 5:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

"Wouldn't you like a daughter?" he asked, a little surprised. He'd always assumed they'd have a daughter someday, but he wasn't expecting twins. As for himself, he didn't much mind whether they had boys or girls, so long as they were healthy.

"I would like a daughter," she said shyly, not one at home with expressing her wishes and desires, even now. It had taken him almost three years to get her to admit when she wanted to sleep with him out loud, after all, and they were married for most of that time. "As I say, I should like one of each. What of you, Will? Which configuration are you hoping for?"

He shrugged, only realizing once he'd done it how banged up he really was, but doing his best to hide the wince. "I'd like both someday, but as long as they're healthy, that's all that really matters," he told her, with a smile before turning back to his dinner with gusto. "That why you've been sick every morning?" he asked. Oh, yes, he'd noticed.

"Indeed, that is true," she agreed. He hadn't managed to hide his wince from her, but Jess had learned a long time ago to let him suffer in silence until she could pin him in place and deal with his aches and pains on her own terms. She blushed a little as he queried her morning sickness. "Yes, it is," she admitted awkwardly. "I did not wish to worry you."

"Can Marissa give you anything that will help?" he asked, unsure if it was too soon to see a doctor or a midwife, but wanting to make sure both mother and babies were healthy and strong. He shoveled the last bit of chicken and veggies into his mouth, while awaiting her reply, one last bit of chicken offered to the cat.

"It is normal," she told him with a wry quirk to her smile. "Such morning sickness is usual in the first months, but it will be passing soon. There is a thing - a scan, I believe they called it - that we should talk to a doctor about having done in the next couple of weeks. Apparently you can see a child in the womb with technology."

"See a child in the womb?" he echoed, brows arching upwards. He knew Rhy'Din was full of technology far beyond that which had been available during his own time, and yet, that seemed almost unbelievable. "How do they see inside there?" he asked, with a puzzled look on his face.

Jess looked at him significantly. He was from further into the 20th century than she was, and he was asking her how it worked? "I cannot say," she answered, all the same. "Perhaps it is some development from photography, some form of double exposure that somehow ignores the barrier of skin and organs."

He'd seen photographs and moving pictures, of course, but knew of no technology that allowed anyone to take a picture of a baby growing inside the womb. Not even x-rays could do that. "Maybe we should ask Marissa," he suggested, or maybe even Marin.

"Perhaps we should," she agreed. "But I have an appointment to keep with the doctor next week, so perhaps we should ask her instead. You will come with me, won't you? I am told that it is common practice for the husband to be closely involved in the bearing of a child; I should like you to be so."

This was something else that came as news to him. He almost wished someone had warned him about all this, but he supposed he and Jess would learn together. "If you want me to," he replied, still looking a little puzzled. In his time, birthing was completely women's work. Men didn't have anything to do with it, except for conception.

It was the same in her own time, but Jess had no close female relatives here to lean on, only friends who had families of their own to care for. "I do want you to," she nodded, reaching to touch his hand. Boots took the opportunity to scrabble back onto the table, leaning close to sniff at Will's plate in the hope of finding more chicken scraps.

"Then I will," he replied, linking his fingers with hers, a soft smile on his face - at least, until Boots distracted him by poking at his dinner, and he chuckled. "You'd think he was starving to death!" he said, making no move to stop the cat, now that he'd finished his dinner. If Boots was lucky, he might find a scrap or two of chicken that Will had overlooked.

She laughed at the cat's antics, knowing perfectly well that they should probably stop him from doing this but not having the heart to shoo him away again. "He brought me a mouse today," she confessed in embarrassment. "I screamed so loudly that Duncan came running from the stables with a sword in his hand."

Will chuckled at the image that created in his mind, though it pained him a little to know it hadn't been him to come to the rescue. "That just means he loves you," he said, reaching over to run his fingers through the cat's fur. They'd had plenty of barn cats back home in Texas, and he was never too surprised at Boots' behavior. "Sorry I wasn't here," he apologized again, though the flight had been fairly routine.

"I would have appreciated a flower more than a mouse," she pointed out, though she knew well enough that Boots giving her a flower was about as likely as her aunts showing up in Rhy'Din of their own choice. "Will, stop this," Jess told him firmly as the cat pressed into his affectionate hand. "I worry for you when you are gone, of course I do, but that is a part of being in love. I am sure he will find new awful things to bring me just to make me scream, and you will be a witness to them."

It was highly unlikely the cat would be bringing her flowers, though that was something Will was more than capable of doing, and he made a mental note of it. He shrugged again, trying to put on his bravest face, if only for her sake. "Doesn't matter. She's wrecked. I don't think she's gonna fly again," he told her and without a plane, it was unlikely he'd ever fly again either.

"She might not, no," Jess agreed softly, "but I very much doubt that you will always stay on the ground, love. We will find a way to get you back in the sky, somehow." She squeezed his hand tenderly. "Now ... are you prepared to admit that you are in pain, or do I have to pretend I haven't noticed for a while longer?"

He knew she'd have been happy to keep him grounded, but she also knew how much flying meant to him. At best, maybe he'd be able to find a plane that was less risky to fly than his Nieuport. "I'm alive, Jess. And we're gonna have twins. Can't ask for much more than that," he told her, leaning close to kiss her lips.

She kissed him in answer, leaning her elbow onto the table as her lips brushed his, curving into a warm smile. "Masterfully ignored," she complimented him on his side-stepping of her question, kissing the end of his nose before moving to rise. "I am going to run you a hot bath, though."

"Yes, ma'am," he replied, once again, making no attempt to argue. Even after nearly four years of marriage, it felt a little strange to have a woman wanting to take such good care of him, but he wasn't complaining. He felt guilty for making her worry, but he couldn't help but be glad he had someone like her who cared so obviously much about him.

"Shoo, you, gravy is not good for cats," she said to Boots, waving the feline away from licking at Will's plate as she collected it to set it in the sink. Despite everyone's best efforts, Jess was still very much a product of her time, happiest when utterly domesticated, and genuinely eager to please her husband whenever he was home. She took Will's hand, drawing him toward the bathroom to set the tub to filling. "Now ... where does it hurt most?"
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PostPosted: Mon May 15, 2017 6:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Where didn't it hurt was the bigger question, and he found himself frowning, unsure how to reply. He knew what he was feeling today was nothing compared to how he was going to be feeling tomorrow. He'd been involved in a few minor accidents before, but this was the worst crash he'd ever been involved in, and he knew he was lucky just to be alive. "Hurts everywhere," he admitted with a reluctant frown.

She frowned in concern. "You haven't broken anything, have you?" She didn't think he had; he wouldn't have been able to pick her up earlier if he had broken bones. Hopefully it was just contusions and bruises they needed to worry about.

"No, I don't think so. Just bruises, mostly," he told her, though he couldn't be sure. He didn't feel bad enough for it to be anything more than sore muscles and a bruised ego. All things considered, he'd been very lucky.

She kissed him softly, stroking her hand against his cheek. "Have a good soak, and I'll massage you when you get out," she suggested, patting his chest. "Get in, love."

"Is that an order?" he teased, as he started to unbutton his shirt. Now that he was up and moving around, it was obvious he was moving a little stiffly, as much as he tried to hide the fact.

"Yes, I do believe it is, Mr. Taylor," she informed him with a smile, turning away to test the water as he began to undress. She didn't often lay down the law to him, but when he was hurt, he rarely won if he tried to argue against whatever it was she asked him to do.

He might have reminded her that he'd been a Corporal during the Great War, but he was a civilian now and held no military rank - and he was just as happy that way. He might love flying, but he'd never been too fond of war. "You're going to spoil me, Mrs. Taylor," he replied as he gingerly shrugged his shirt off.

"Of course I am," she agreed, straightening after turning off the taps. "I love you, I reserve the right to spoil you whenever I can get my sticky fingers on you." She flashed him a sweet smile, moving to help him undress as she noted the difficulty he was having.

He chuckled a little at her reply, but brooked no argument. It took a little longer than necessary to get him undressed and into the bath, but once there, he was grateful to be immersed in the soothing hot water. There were scattered bruises here and there, the worst of which was a large patch of black and blue across his right side and back, but he didn't seem to have any broken bones.

As he lay in the water, letting the heat soak through his sore muscles, Jess went to work in their bedroom, preparing the space for what she intended to do next. Mara had taught her how to do this, with a lot of giggling once Jess had gotten over her shock at discovering that her friend had been trained as a high class prostitute. With towels laid over the bed, the heating turned up just enough that Will would be comfortable, and a bottle of unscented oil placed nearby, she was ready for him when he was ready.

It was a little humbling for the young man to accept the way his wife fussed over him, but despite his initial embarrassment, he knew she was only acting out of her love for him, and he could find no fault with her there. He soaked his hurts in the bath for nearly an hour, until the water lost its heat and before he could take a chill, but getting out of the bath was proving even more difficult than it had to get into it.

She was there again to help him, though he had a tendency not to lean on her at the best of times, and now he knew she was pregnant, she knew she was probably quite lucky he was allowing her to do anything at all. "Just dry off and cover up, love," she told him fondly. "And come to lie on the bed."

He might have joked that he felt like he'd just been in a wreck if it wasn't so close to the truth. He was slow in moving, but somehow with her help, he managed to get dry and get a towel wrapped around his waist and find his way to the bed. He came to a halt when he saw the preparations she'd made in the bedroom for his arrival. "What's this?" he asked curiously, unsure what to make of it.

She blushed, biting her lip with vague embarrassment. "Mara has been teaching me how to massage," she offered. "It will help your muscles relax, love, so you are not in so much pain tomorrow."

"Oh," he murmured, almost blushing himself, even after nearly four years of marriage. They were, after all, products of a different time when the world was a far more innocent place. "Are you sure you want to do this?" he asked, with a pointed glance at the barely-there bump at her abdomen.

Her eyes widened as she looked up at him, not entirely sure she was correctly following his line of thought. "Would you rather I did not?" she asked him in return. "Perhaps I should wait until tomorrow?"

He frowned thoughtfully, not wanting to disappoint her, but the truth was now that he'd eaten and had a bath, he felt thoroughly exhausted and all he really wanted to do was lay down beside her and get some rest. "Do you think it can wait until morning?" he asked, not wanting to hurt her feelings.

"Of course it can, love," she assured him, stroking her hand against his arm. "Pajamas then, while I tidy up." She rose onto her toes to kiss his cheek, turning to sweep away her preparations as though they had not been there at all.

He really wasn't sure what he'd done to deserve her, but he couldn't see himself ever being with anyone else. "Are you sure you don't mind?" he asked. "I just want to ... to hold you close," he admitted quietly. He'd had a close brush with death and they'd both had a scare. There was nothing he wanted more than to just hold her close and know she was real.

"Oh, Will, of course I don't mind," she promised him, stroking her hand down his back as she passed him his folded pajamas. "What I want is for you to be well and comfortable, and if this is what you need for that to happen, then why should I mind it? I will try not to take too long in preparing for bed."

It was early for them to be turning in, but it had been a long day for both of them, and the day started early here at the Brambles. He had a feeling they'd be left alone for at least another day though, until they were over the shock of the day's events. "When are you supposed to go to the doctor?" he asked as he pulled his pajama shirt on over his shoulders and arms.

"Next week," she answered, her fingers undoing the buttons at her back as she walked across the room to where her own clothes were kept. "I do not quite know what to expect. After all, pregnancy was not something spoken about back in England in my time, and yet here, Marin and Mara will quite happily talk about their own pregnancies in excruciating detail given the slightest hint that you might be interested."

Being a man, he probably didn't know much more about pregnancy that she did, but this was Rhy'Din, and things were different and more open here. "Marin gave birth at home. Evan said ..." He trailed off, not wanting to scare her. Evan had told her that Marin had almost died in childbirth, though that didn't mean that would happen to Jess.

"I know." Jess didn't need him to say it aloud to know what it was Evan had told him about that particular birth. But then, she was a product of her time, and she accepted the danger inherent in childbirth without much concern. It was her place to weather that danger and pass through it, if she was so blessed. Shimmying out of her dress, she twisted to hang it up, the cling of her camisole and bloomers outlining the little bump at her waist for his viewing pleasure. "Rhy'Din has marvels."
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Jessamin Taylor
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Joined: 13 Nov 2011
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PostPosted: Mon May 15, 2017 6:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

And she was one of those marvels, he thought as he followed her movement, admiring not only the little bump at her waist, but all of her. She was so beautiful it made his heart ache, but it wasn't just the beauty of a pretty face and figure, but that of a pure and good and heart. "I'll make sure that doesn't happen to you, Jess. Promise." He wasn't sure how he could do that exactly, except to make sure she had the best of care. Maybe that was where Marissa came in. She seemed to know more than Mara and even Marin about those so-called marvels of Rhy'Din. Was it only coincidence that Marissa was with child, too?

She twisted, showing him her smile, her nightgown hanging from her fingers. It had taken a long time for her to overcome her shyness enough to change her clothing in front of him, and even now, she had moments when she felt the need to hide away, but today was not one of those days. She wanted him to see the change in her form as she stripped out of her underthings, pulling the nightgown over her head before turning her attention to her hair. "I refuse to believe that we have waited this long for our family only for something dreadful to happen, Will," she told him simply. "It just wouldn't be fair."

Life wasn't fair. He knew that, but she was right. Whatever higher power had brought them both here hadn't done so to cause them pain, in the end. He refused to believe that. He'd been brought here to save him from the war and to give him a new chance at life. She was right - it wouldn't be fair. Now that they were both dressed again, he moved over to her, to wind his arms around her waist, the palm of one hand splayed against the bump at her middle. "There's a greater power watching over us, Jess. I really believe that. We're gonna be all right."

She smiled, leaning back into him as her fingers busily undid the braid of her hair. "We will be all right," she agreed fervently. "We have been through too much not to have our reward, darling." Hair loose, she let it fall over her shoulder in a tumble of chestnut, raising her hand to stroke his cheek as she kissed his jaw.

"The only thing I could think of when I started having problems with the plane was getting home to you," he told her, turning his head to catch her lips in a soft kiss of his own before taking her hand to lead her to bed.

She didn't know what to say to that, shocked that he would take such a risk to come home to her and touched by the strength of his love in the same instance. Hand in hand, she let him draw her over to the bed, unsurprised to see Boots jump up onto the end of the bed and claim the spot where Will's feet would eventually end up. "I am glad you got home safe, love," she said finally, turning to wrap her arms about his waist. "But I would rather be an extra night away from you, than have to hear that you have come to harm because of our attachment to one another."

"No, Jess, you don't understand ..." he started, drawing her beneath the blankets and into his arms. "I didn't start having trouble until I was halfway home, but somehow I knew I'd make it. I don't know how I knew. I just did." He hadn't been shot down over France but brought here for a reason, and he believed she was that reason, even if he'd never told he that.

She nestled close as they settled together beneath the sheets, her head comfortable against his shoulder. "I don't understand," she admitted with a curious frown. "How could you be so certain of such a thing? I saw you land, it was horrifying."

"I don't know. I just was," he said. "Jess ... When I first came here, I was in the middle of a battle. I'm pretty sure if some ... thing ... some force hadn't brought me here, I wouldn't have made it. I've been trying to figure out why I was spared, why I was brought here, and I think I finally figured it out. It's you, Jess. I'm here because of you."

Her arm tightened over his chest as he mentioned the battle. She had never seen aircraft fighting, only heard his descriptions of battles he had been a part of, but the mere thought of him in so much danger was terrifying to her. "We should discover what that force was," she said quietly. "I should thank them. I am only here because of some dreadful Nexus storm; if you had not found me when you did, I truly do not know what might have happened to me."

Will frowned thoughtfully and a little sadly at her confession. He was pretty sure that if the Nexus or whatever force was responsible for bringing him here had not done so, he would probably not have survived the war. "I like to think it was God," he admitted quietly, though he knew few people on Rhy'Din believed in such things.

Her lips brushed his shoulder with a gentle kiss as she sighed softly, content in his arms. "As do I," she confessed in return. "We are alike in our beliefs, Will. We always have been. And though I do not deny the existence of other deities any longer, I still prefer to put my faith in the God I was raised to worship."

"I lost faith in God after my Ma died," Will confessed, his fingers stroking her shoulder as he held her close. "We lost the farm, and then there was the war." He closed his eyes a moment, as if trying to call up the faces of the friends he'd lost in the skies over France all those years ago. "I don't think I would have survived it," he admitted quietly. He rarely spoke of such things, believing it was better to leave it alone than dredge up the past, and yet, there were times when the past needed to be acknowledged. "I looked it up, you know. We won the war, only to have another take its place," he said with a sigh.

"War is an evil mankind does not seem to be able to set aside," she murmured softly. Like him, she had looked up the history of their world that she had not lived, and she had been saddened by what she found. "Power and religion and greed combine to bring out the worst in our species, and yet it is not the people who begin such conflicts that truly suffer because of them. I have never liked politicians. I am glad Rhy'Din does not suffer under the whims of the elite."

"No, but Rhy'Din isn't perfect either. It has its problems," Will remarked, though he wasn't sure he wanted to go down that road right now. They'd experienced some of those problems first hand with a witch for an ex-landlady, and not a good witch either. And then, there had been all the conflict in the city, which thankfully, they'd managed to escape here at the Brambles.

"I think every society has its own problems," she agreed in a low tone. "No accumulation of traditions and cultures will ever live in absolute harmony. Sad to say, humanity does seem to be more warlike than any other race, though I could not say it with any certainty. I have not exactly studied others."

"I don't miss it," Will said, meaning Earth. He hadn't really left anything or anyone behind when he'd found himself in Rhy'Din, so there wasn't much for him to miss about the place. "I'm happy here with you, Jess. I've never been happier in my whole life."

"I quite agree," she nodded, tightening her embrace for a long moment before relaxing once again. "I am more than happy here with you, Will. I am content, and at peace, for the first time in my life. That is all because of you, and our life together, and I fully expect it to remain so for many, many years to come."

"Reckon I won't be flying for a while," he said, with a small smile that was only a little bit sad. As much as he loved flying, he loved Jessamin more. He placed a warm, gentle hand against the slight swell of her belly once again, still in wonder of that little miracle. "I was raised on a farm. Reckon I could be happy farming again."

"For a while, perhaps," she agreed softly, though she was fairly certain that the Lassiters were already working on a way to get Will back in the air. They all knew how much it meant to him. The sensation of his hand on the little bump at her waist made her smile, nestling closer as her own hand covered his. "Near the end of November, we will have two little people to begin raising, darling."

Despite everything that had happened that day, he couldn't help but smile. He was home again, safe and sound, and in the arms of the woman he loved more than life itself - the woman who was going to be the mother of his children. Just the thought of it made his heart soar and his eyes well with tears. "I love you, Jess," he whispered before tenderly kissing her lips. This was what home was all about - about being with someone you loved and raising a family.

She smiled into his kiss, her answer wordless but no less tender, the same words, the same feeling, echoed back to him in the softness of her lips and the gentle curl of her hands over him as they lay together in the gathering darkness. This was home. It was their home, and they belonged together. No matter how many incidents came their way, how many strange occurrences disrupted their peace, they would stay together, and raise their family here, far away from the disturbances and pain of their disparate origins. If home truly is where the heart is, then Will was home, right there, in his Jessamin's arms.
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