Five years later
Weston Springs, Arizona Territory
Ivy smiled at Markus as she reached up to fix his tie. Honestly, anyone would think he’d never worn one before. It seemed to always slip to the side no matter how much she straightened it and today, of all days, it was important to look their best. Today was a most important day.
“It’s not going to stay,” Markus said. “And I don’t see why we have to get all dressed up.”
“We’re the family,” Ivy said for what felt like the hundredth time.
Their three-year-old son, Joshua, bolted into their bedroom screaming at the top of his lungs. He was instantly followed by the family dog, a large, shaggy, shepherd called Lucky came running in after him.
“You can’t catch me!” Joshua called to the dog.
A dull, throbbing ache gripped Ivy’s abdomen, and she rubbed at the affected area, grimacing. The last thing she needed today were labor pains. Pregnant and ready to burst, Ivy knew she’d never be able to catch her son and left it to Markus to shoo the child out of the room. He would have to wrestle the toddler into his Sunday clothes soon;she simply couldn’t manage it. She couldn’t bend over hardly at all anymore, and she definitely didn’t have the strength to put clothes on a wiggling little boy.
“I’ll get him ready,” Markus said. In the four years that they had been married, he picked up the looks Ivy gave him and knew she needed him to help with Joshua without saying a word.
Of course, Joshua’s actual best friend was his cousin, Thomas, Chester and Agnes’ little boy. And of course his Uncle Johnny who loved playing with the two boys any chance he could.
Ivy could hear Markus and Joshua hooting happily like little captive owls from the room down the hall. She could only guess Markus was making a game out of getting Joshua dressed…she hoped it worked.. Ivy sat at her vanity, primping and fussing with her hair. She wasn’t sleeping well, and frequently had to visit the outhouse in the night, and with the perpetual ace in her back, sleep was a challenge. She had dark circles under her eyes, but that couldn’t be helped. She rubbed some rouge on her cheeks to brighten up her face and . pulled a few wispy strands loose to frame her face.
There, that was better. She hoped a photographer would be there today. She’d like to have the opportunity to have a photograph taken of her family. It was a rarity but, perhaps one would be there to capture the image of the new mayor of Weston Springs.
Markus had performed a miracle and Joshua was clean, dressed and ready to leave by the time she came down the stairs. They had a buggy, and climbed in. It was a chilly November day, and Ivy was glad she was dressed warmly. Joshua pulled at his collar and grumbled, he was clearly bothered by the fancy clothes he was wearing. Hopefully he wouldn’t fuss too much today, but he was a toddler, and toddlers were unpredictable.
When they arrived at the town hall of Weston Springs it was decorated with a patriotic theme, all red, white, and blue. It looked amazing.Since their run-in with Abercromby, the little town had grown, all thanks to a few citizens who took it upon themselves to make sure that the money, when it was returned, was used properly.
Her father and Markus were active members of the town council and spent countless hours ensuring Weston Springs had more wells and windmills than ever. Those on the committee for preserving water had also come up with ideas to save and use rainwater collected throughout the year. The townsfolk were asked to set barrels around their stores and homes to collect rainwater, which they did, and the town was not in need of water again.
Ivy and Markus had opened a greengrocer, selling vegetables they grew out back behind the store alongside those from the neighboring farms. With the new abundance of water, it only made sense to do it.
Along with the increase in water had come prosperity, and the town had grown. There were more businesses, more people, and more opportunities. Her father was running for mayor now too as Gleeson had proven himself less than honorable, especially with the scandle he got the town wrapped up in The people of Weston Springs were ready for a new mayor
He was going up against Titus Moore. He was new to town, only moved in about three years ago, but he had almost instantly become a town favorite. As the owner of the new quarry he had established not far from town, he had provided a lot of jobs for people who had been in dire need. That only increased his popularity.. It helped that he was also a fair-minded, decent person who treated his workers well. Even Pastor Boucher and Sheriff Parker liked him, but did they like him for mayor more than her father? It was hard to say. Only the polls would tell.
Voting would take place in the post office. As they came to a halt in front of the general store her father still ran, Ivy saw a line of voters were already all the way down the block.
“We should have come earlier,” she said with a frown.
Chester and Markus joined the long line while Agnes and Ivy found a place to sit and talk. They had to keep an eye on the boys too and found a spot that was suitable for all. Ivy noticed their son, Thomas was also in his Sunday best and fiddling with his collar. . He and Joshua greeted each other with smiles and soon began to run up and down with the other children who had been dragged along.
“How are you feeling?” Agnes asked. She had her second child, another boy named Able, on her hip. He was a year old now and looked just like Chester.
“A bit crampy,” Ivy said.
“Not long now,” Agnes said, knowingly.
Chester and Markus laughed and talked as they waited in line. Ivy was glad to see that their friendship had remained strong. She had been worried that after the adventure it might slip away. . But it seemed, Markus saving her brother’s life had cemented them in each other’s lives. Well, that and her marrying him. She supposed that had something to do with it.
Thomas and Joshua made a speedy pass by their mothers, whooping in delight. Ivy hoped they would stay clean. She noticed Lester Fine had set up his camera for the special occassion and was planning on having a photograph taken of her family. And, hopefully of her father accepting the position of mayor too!fAnother cramp in her side had Ivy bent in pain. Ivy rubbed at it, and the baby gave her a good kick for her efforts. She sighed. The sooner this child was born the better. She was tired of being pregnant and largely immobile. Even her boots were starting to squeeze her feet now. She barely managed to get them on this morning. Yes, she was ready to get back to her old self and leave the pregnancy woes behind her now. “Ivy!”
Turning she saw her mother striding up to her, beaming. Since she’d married and settled down in her own house, her relationship with her mother was much better. They seemed to appreciate spending time together, and she doted on all her grandchildren.
“Mother!” Ivy said smiling. The baby decided to stick a foot or a hand up under her lungs; Ivy gasped.
“Oh dear, is the little one being feisty today?” her mother asked instantly, stepping behind her to rub her back. .
Ivy nodded. “Seems to want to punch its way out,” she gasped.
Ivy’s mother looked her over, concern written across her face. “Ivy, I think we should get you home. This baby is likely on the way…now.” Her mother said.
Ivy nodded in agreement. “As soon as Markus is done voting, we will go.” When he was done, she called him over to her and told him they needed to go home right now. They loaded up in their buggy with the spotty wintery sunshine above them. Ivy looked up at the sky and marked the large, gray clouds rushing across it. It might rain later.
“Leave Joshua with me,” Agnes said. “He’s keeping Thomas occupied, which is a blessing.”
“Are you certain?” Ivy asked.
Agnes nodded. “Please, I’ll bring him home for dinner.”
Ivy couldn’t express her gratitude. Not having to worry about Joshua would be a relief. She was in a lot of pain. It felt like labor pains, but that was silly. She still had a week to go, didn’t she?
“Let’s stop by the midwife,” Markus said.
Beatrice Pine was the local midwife and a friend of Ivy’s mother. They were in the same quilting bee together.
“Yes, I think that would be a good idea, let’s go get her,” Ivy said.
But that proved harder than they thought; Beatrice was not at home. It seemed she had been at the town hall to support voting in a new mayor. And so, Ivy found herself driven away from town only to be driven back while Markus looked around frantically for Beatrice Pine.
The pains in her belly were more intense now and suddenly her undergarments were wet. Ah, so she was in labor. Great timing little one, she thought. If there was one thing she’d discovered from having Joshua, it was babies came when they were good and ready! He’d been late, but this one was determined to be early.
Markus came back with Beatrice, who had been rushed to the front of the line too, so that she could vote before coming to help Ivy.
“My goodness, we need to get you home,” Beatrice said, taking one look at Ivy who was gritting her teeth in the grips of a spasm.
What followed were a few hours of pain, sweat, and blood. It was a far shorter labor than she’d gone through with Joshua. Ivy was surprised when Beatrice told her to push, and the next moment, she heard a baby crying.
“You did it,” Beatrice said with a smile. In her arms she held a little bundle. “Ivy, meet your daughter.”
“ A girl!” Ivy exclaimed. She’d been hoping it would be a girl! Another boy would drive her insane, but a daughter was a great comfort. She reached for her baby with open arms and held her to her chest. She was perfect with a little tuft of blonde hair and brilliant blue eyes. Of course, most babies had blue eyes at birth, but Ivy hoped they would stay blue just like Markus’ eyes.
He was allowed into the room and came to sit beside her, cooing over the new arrival. Markus cried a little as he held her.
“What should we call her?” he asked.
“How about Sophie?” Ivy asked.
“Like my mother?” Markus asked, his voice cracking as he spoke.
She nodded. “Like your mother.” She had wanted their son, Daniel, after Markus’ brother, but that had been too painful for Markus. Instead, Daniel would be his middle name. She was surprised he agreed to calling their baby girl Sohpie since he’d had such a hard time calling their son Daniel. But, Sophie Martha Miller would be their daughter’s name.
Once she and little Sophie were all cleaned up , Markus went to the town hall to tell the family the good news. Ivy had expected to see her mother, and possibly Agnes, but when the whole family entered their house, she was a little taken aback.
“Don’t you have to be at the town hall now?” she asked her father as he came in to congratulate her and meet his granddaughter.
“Oh, right,” he said as though he’d forgotten. “Turns out the results are already in.”
“And?” she asked. “Who won?”
Her father beamed. “Well, that would be me, now, wouldn’t it?”
Ivy let out a little squeal and hugged him. “We have to celebrate! I should fix some dinner.”
“Don’t be silly,” her mother said, shaking her head. “Agnes and I will see to it; you rest.”
Ivy was so grateful.
Joshua came in to meet his sister and pronounced her accepted as his sibling. Which was a good thing because heaven alone knew what would happen if he didn’t like her. Ivy had the suspicion that he was planning to never speak to the child if it didn’t meet his standards. He was such a bright, odd child. She couldn’t help but love her dear little family.
When dinner was ready, she was helped downstairs and given the most comfortable chair to sit in. Although she was tired, she was also ravenously hungry and helped herself to the chicken pie, which she suspected had come from Agnes’ house which was just down the street..
The talk around the table was light, fun and just what Ivy needed. When they were all done, her mother and Agnes washed the dishes. Then Joshua was invited to sleepover with Thomas, and he accepted without a thought. He did kiss Sophie’s little head before leaving though and soon it was just Ivy and Markus and their new baby in the house.
Ivy and Markus went up to bed.
“Let’s see how long she lets us sleep for,” he said with a grin. “Hopefully, she’ll be a better sleeper than Josh was. My goodness, I’ve never been so tired in my life as when he was born.”
“True, and you wanted to do it all again,” she said, a little ironically.
“Yes, but look at her, Ivy, she’s beautiful, just like her mother,” Markus said, kissing her forehead. “You did a good job. She’s perfect.”
Sophie blinked and yawned and nestled in closer to Ivy. At that moment, Ivy thought at least now all the kicks Sophie treated her to while she slept would be outside her body and not inside. She smiled at that. What a relief. She’d been a busy passenger, Ivy wondered if Sophie would continue to be busy now too.
But, for the moment she was tuckered out, well fed, and sleepy. Ivy was tired too and as they settled down, she hoped this happiness and prosperity would remain with them. Sure, the future would hold trials, but she knew without a doubt that her family could withstand just about anything. After all, hadn’t they made it through more than most people would ever have to deal with?
The future would come, and they would deal with it and always remain a family, together and strong. And that was all that mattered.