Two Years Later
Nora walked to the hearth where she and Wyatt would sit if they were lucky enough to get their twin boys to sleep. They were eleven months old and had just started to sleep in their individual cradles next to Nora and Wyatt’s bed. Nora was going to put them in one cradle, but Wyatt was adamant that they grow as individuals. Sleeping separately was the first step toward that end.
They had been given the Biblical names of Noah and Joseph. Wyatt hadn’t wanted to name them for his brothers or father because he didn’t want to be reminded of the tragedy that had taken their lives.
Some nights she played the piano which stood as the centerpiece of the room. On nights Oliver and Emily came by, she would play as they sang. Wyatt was shy about playing his guitar around others but some nights he could be coaxed. It was just about the only thing Wyatt was shy about and Nora found that endearing.
“In a year or so they might be in their own room. It will be nice to have our privacy back,” Wyatt said.
“You know that we’ll just have another baby when that happens.” Nora laughed.
“I’ll celebrate because I know it will be a girl and she’ll look just like you. Every boy in Redwood Creek will line up to court our little girl. They’ll all be disappointed when they figure out, they need my approval, and I won’t give it easily.”
“I received a letter from my mother today and waited until now to talk to you about it. You don’t think much of my parents because of what I told you.”
Nora scooted her chair closer to his so they could hold hands. It was what they did when they had to discuss a serious subject.
“Do you blame me?” Wyatt asked. “Milton Benson was not a good man and I hope that someday he gets what’s coming to him. When you came here, you were scared of your own shadow. You’re beautiful, kind, and brave. Your mother and father especially, didn’t see what was right before their eyes. In fact, they tried to suppress those special qualities. If they had their way, you would still be living in that dark apartment with nothing but your piano.”
“I had a feeling that’s how you would react. My father was abusive without laying a hand on me if that makes any sense. He was like that with everyone except for my mother and as a result, he died a lonely man.”
“Your father died? You should have told me before I said horrible things about him. I try not to speak poorly of the deceased and you didn’t need to hear that at this time. I’m sorry.”
“I appreciate that, and I don’t love you any less for thinking that. I’ll grieve my father in my own way because it’s complicated. I do still have my mother, though, and she’s very lonely. She mentioned coming this way for a visit so she can see me and meet her grandchildren. I was hoping we could invite her to stay because she has nothing left in Chicago after my father died.”
Wyatt squeezed Nora’s hand and looked into her hopeful blue eyes. She knew what he was thinking as he did, it was the pact that they made on their wedding day. They promised to talk everything through instead of arguing and so far, it had worked. It was Nora’s idea not to blurt out an answer immediately but rather think about how the answer would affect the other.
“It will mean big changes in the Bayden house, and you know what my immediate answer would be. Then I think of how much it would mean to you to help your mother in her time of need. How about she comes for a visit, and we see how things work? She can stay in the guesthouse where you first stayed. It’s a compromise and I hope it’s enough,”
“You remind me every day how much I love you and how lucky I am to be Mrs. Wyatt Bayden. Your compromise is more than enough.” She leaned over and kissed her husband. “Don’t forget that Oliver and Emily are visiting tomorrow evening. They’re stopping by for dessert and coffee.”
“Let me guess; they plan to sing while you play,” he said with a smile.
“Have you ever known them not to when they come over? It’s such a delightful way to end the day and the boys love it too. I still haven’t forgiven Emily for waiting so long before she told me she loves to sing and has such a lovely voice.”
“We tried everything to get Oliver and Emily together, but they were both so shy. When he heard her sing, he mustered up the courage to ask her out,” Wyatt said.
“Now we wait for the marriage proposal. I spoke to Emily about it and she’s afraid to get married because she doesn’t have a father to walk her down the aisle. Victor is in a Texas prison still and he certainly won’t be getting out any time soon. Not that she’d want him to be at her wedding,” Nora said.
“Ronan is like a father to her after he took her in when her father was arrested. I’ll talk to him.”
“That would be great. I’m exhausted. Are you ready for bed?”
“I am. With you as my wife I don’t have to think twice about the answer,” Wyatt said. He took Nora’s hand.
Nora had sent a telegram to inform her mother that she was welcome to visit. It was a month later and her train was scheduled to arrive in Redwood Creek. Wyatt still had reservations when it came to Nora’s mother, but he respected her. He would never act in a way that made Nora uncomfortable.
Norah held Noah on her hip and Wyatt was in the nearby meadow with Joseph. He was the most active of the twins and at eleven months had taken his first steps independently. Noah was thinking about it and would stand, but he preferred the comfort of Nora’s arms.
The train whistle blew, and the locomotive chugged into town. Norah hadn’t seen her mother in almost three years, and she didn’t know what to expect. Wyatt must have seen the train since he scooped up Joseph and started walking towards them quickly. The baby was screaming as he probably wasn’t done showing off his new skills.
Harriet Benson stepped onto the platform with her eyes scanning the small gathering of people. She looked exactly as she had the day Nora had left with her hair pinned back neatly and not looking like she had been travelling for a week. A wide smile grew on her face when she spotted Nora and Noah. She descended the stairs and Nora met her halfway, she threw her free arm over her mother’s shoulder.
“I never thought I would make it. You look happier than I’ve ever seen you. I’m guessing the clean mountain air agrees with you,” Nora’s mother said.
Nora nodded. “Yes, that among many other things. This is one of your grandbabies, meet Noah Ronan Bayden. Wyatt will be right here with Joseph. You can hear them coming, the baby is throwing a bit of a fit.”
Nora handed Noah to her mother, and he surprisingly took to Harriet right away. Up until that point, he wouldn’t allow another person to hold him, not even Wyatt. Nora was immediately relieved that her mother had traveled to Redwood Creek. She forgot how comforting it was having her mother by her side and Nora knew she would want her to stay. Having her mother in town completed her family and she hoped Wyatt felt the same way.
Wyatt was the perfect son-in-law when he met Nora’s mother. They spoke about her journey, and he told her what an exceptional wife her daughter was. They kept to safe subjects and Nora thought that was for the best.
They showed her to the guesthouse and gave her time to wash up and rest. While she was in her room, Wyatt asked Nora if she would mind if he worked in the barn for a few hours. She knew he wanted to give them time alone and she appreciated his consideration.
“I feel better having splashed cool water on my face. Your house is charming Nora and reflects your personality perfectly, which can’t be easy living with three boys. I noticed I have a four-legged roommate,” Harriet said.
“That’s Echo and feel free to order him out of the room and close the door.”
They spoke about this and that before Nora decided they had to stop being so polite and clear the air. The boys were sleeping, and they sat on the front porch.
“How are you really since Father’s death?” Nora asked. “From your letters, it was clear he was sick for some time.”
“It was a relief when he slipped away because he was in such pain, but I miss the companionship. He was always there and now I have no one. I regret that I waited until he was gone to apologize, and I hope it wasn’t too late. I stood by and watched him treat you so poorly. My heart filled with joy when I saw you smiling and looking as if a burden had been lifted from your shoulders. Things were terrible for you in Chicago and I’m sorry I didn’t do more to stop it. As a young girl, you weren’t allowed friends or any interests that would take you away from the home. That must have been torturous.”
Nora wiped away tears. “You couldn’t have changed him, and I escaped. I found happiness here in Redwood Creek with Wyatt, the boys, and many wonderful friends. I accept your apology and hold no ill will. Now that we have that out of the way, let’s enjoy our visit. I look forward to you getting to know Wyatt, who gives me everything I need. I love you, mother.”
“I love you, my sweet Nora.”
“Mother Benson, can I get you anything else to eat?” Wyatt asked. “It seems as if Nora has taken off after Joseph. He’s fast and you never know when he’ll take off.”
“No, I’m fine but thank you. What a wonderful idea this picnic is and after church services is the ideal time. Knowing how happy you make Nora; I’ll be able to return to Chicago with no worries.”
“About that, Nora and I have been talking and we see no reason why you shouldn’t stay here in Redwood Creek. We’re your family and we think being together is important. You can send for your things and stay in the guest house if that’s enough for you.”
She grew weepy and nodded because she couldn’t get the words out at first. “This means so much to me and I will try not to be a burden. I know you’ve heard stories of Nora’s life in Chicago, and I’m delighted to close the book on that part of our lives.”
Nora returned with not only the boys but Emily and Oliver too. She seemed delighted that Wyatt had extended the invitation to her mother. Wyatt decided that nothing could be bad about having more family in Redwood Creek and there was nothing he wouldn’t do to keep a smile on Nora’s face.
Nora was surrounded by people that she loved and who loved her back. She never would have imagined that things would have worked out so perfectly. She was proof that dreams come true.