To Hold Forever

By Carrie Carr

Disclaimers – See Part One.

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Part 14

Chapter Twenty-Seven

The bridal store felt unreasonably warm to Amanda. She wished Jeannie would decide on a wedding dress so they could leave. She could feel the beginnings of a headache and wanted more than anything to be able to sit somewhere and prop up her swollen feet. Amanda was grumpy, hot, and miserable and she wanted to go home. “Jeannie, that’s the fourth dress you’ve picked out. We still have to drive back to Somerville, you know.” The sudden trip to Austin had not been on Amanda’s agenda for the day, and she would have much rather stayed at home with Lex and Lorrie.

Jeannie gave her a dirty look, but kept browsing through a rack of expensive lace gowns. She would stop ever so often, take one from the rack, hold it up to herself, and replace it. This went on for another ten minutes, until she heard her sister sigh heavily. “Now what?”

“How can you have so much energy? It’s only been about five weeks since you had Teddy.” Amanda found a bench and slowly lowered herself onto it. Her back thanked her. She couldn’t wait to get home so she could talk Lex into another massage. Her lover was very adept at making all her aches go away. If she closed her eyes, she could almost feel Lex’s hands working their magic on her. “Aren’t you tired?”

“Truthfully, I’ve never felt better.” Jeannie carried another dress to where Amanda sat. “I’m sore, of course. But, it’s just so great to be able to enjoy the whole experience, this time.” She held the white lace and pearl-beaded creation up to her. “What do you think?”

Amanda gave the choice careful consideration before answering. It was a beautiful dress, but far too formal for a small, intimate wedding. “It’s really nice. But, isn’t it a bit much?”

“I don’t think so.” Jeannie held the gown against on leg, which she lifted slightly. “It would look great on me, and the way it’s cut, would hide my ‘baby belly’.”

“Jeannie, it’s white. It’s also extremely formal. You’re not planning on having the ceremony at a cathedral. I don’t think it’s suitable for our grandparent’s backyard.”

Her sister glared at her. “I look good in white.”

“Maybe, but I think it would be more appropriate for you to look for something in a cream or neutral color.”

“You’re just jealous.” Jeannie placed the dress on the nearest rack.

The unladylike snort slipped from Amanda by accident. “What gave you that crazy idea?”

Jeannie did her best to ignore Amanda’s attitude. Her sister could be such a snot, sometimes. She had been snippy all day. “Well, I am marrying a doctor. Not that there’s anything wrong with Slim, but Rodney is a professional.”

“He’d have to be, to put up with you.” Amanda fought the temptation to kick off her shoes. From Jeannie’s tone, they weren’t leaving anytime soon.


“You started it.”

Jeannie stuck her tongue out, which caused them both to laugh. She took another dress from the rack and brought it over for Amanda’s inspection. “This one’s nice.”

Amanda fingered the tag that hung from one sleeve. “It’d better be, Jeannie. You could put a down payment on a house for this.”

“So? I want this to be special.”

“It will be. But Dad said he was going to pay for your dress. You can’t honestly expect him to spend that much money.”

With a roll of her eyes, Jeannie draped the dress over the rack. “He helped pay for yours, didn’t he? I don’t see what the big deal is.”

“No, Lex and I paid for everything. He offered, but we knew he was trying to use all his money on his new business.”

“You think you’re so superior to me, don’t you?” Jeannie put her hands on her hips and glared at her sister. “If our father thinks it’ll cost too much, he can always ask our grandparents for help. Or, tell me no.”

The throbbing of her temples signaled to Amanda an impending headache. It was the third one this week. “Fine. You’re going to do whatever you want to, anyway. Just leave me out of it.” She stood. “Pick out a dress so we can go. I’m too tired to argue with you anymore.”

Jeannie’s entire demeanor changed. “Are you all right?”

“I will be, once we’re done. Can we please stop arguing and get this over with?”

“Of course.” Jeannie remembered too well how uncomfortable shopping could be when pregnant. She made sure all the dresses she had dragged out were put away. “You know, I think you had the right idea at your ceremony. Something tasteful and less formal would be the way to go.”

Amanda was grateful for her sister’s return to sanity. “Thank you. I think you’ll be a lot more comfortable, since it’s going to be an outdoor ceremony.”

“That little tidbit had slipped my mind.” Jeannie picked up her bags. “Let’s go. I owe you lunch.” They left the trendy boutique, in search of a good meal and more sensible clothing choices.


The house was quiet, except for the movie that flickered on the large television screen. The animated musical about a mermaid was Lorrie’s favorite, at least for the moment. Lex and Amanda sat next to each other, and their daughter was stretched across both their laps.

Amanda brushed her fingers through Lorrie’s hair. The dark strands were fine, and she carefully detangled the unruly locks. The motion relaxed Lorrie and soothed Amanda. Her shopping trip with Jeannie the previous day wore her out more than she cared to admit. She leaned into Lex’s shoulder and closed her eyes. It wouldn’t take much for her to doze off.

With the hand that rested on Amanda’s far shoulder, Lex scratched the back of her lover’s neck. “Are you feeling okay?” She remembered how wiped out Amanda was the evening before.

“A little tired, I guess.”

“Is there anything I can do? Maybe another massage tonight?” Lex enjoyed the almost nightly ritual. She never tired of touching Amanda’s body, whether making love or just making her feel better.

“I’d like that.”

The end credits for the movie rolled across the screen. Lorrie twisted until she was on her back and patted Amanda’s stomach. “Mommy?”


Lorrie raised Amanda’s shirt. “You growing.”

“That’s right.” The comment didn’t upset Amanda. She knew how curious their daughter was. She shifted when cold little hands ran across her sensitive skin.


When Amanda first started to show, Lex and Amanda sat Lorrie down and explained to her what was happening. She seemed to understand, but now Lex wasn’t too sure. She was curious what was on Lorrie’s mind. “Remember what we talked about? Your mommy has a baby growing in her tummy.” She tickled Lorrie’s belly and caused the child to giggle.

“No, Momma.” Lorrie squirmed and slapped at Lex’s hand. She settled down soon after. “Why a baby?”

Amanda gestured to Lex, wanting to see how she handled the question. “Yes, Momma. Tell us.”

“Um, okay.” Lex scooped Lorrie up. “We loved you so much, that we wanted to give you a little brother or sister to play with.”

“Like Christopher’s? His mommy gots baby.”

Lex kissed her head. “Yep. Just like Christopher’s mommy.”

Lorrie considered the answer. “Did Christopher’s daddy give you the baby?” She couldn’t understand why her Momma and Mommy started laughing. It sounded perfectly logical to her.

Amanda got her laughter under control first. “No, honey. Christopher’s daddy loves his mommy, and that’s why he gave her a baby.”

“Otay.” Lorrie was quiet for over a minute before she thumped Lex on the chest. “Momma, you loves Mommy?”


The facts, as she knew them, all fell into place for Lorrie. “Momma, you gave Mommy the baby?”

“Um, well.” Lex looked to Amanda for help. Just how much knowledge should you give a three-year-old, anyway? “Mommy?”

“Gee, thanks.” Amanda subconsciously rubbed her stomach. “It’s hard to explain, sweetie. We went to the doctor and he helped us get a baby.”

“Otay.” Lorrie slipped off her momma’s lap. Freckles, who had been sleeping in her nearby dog bed, jumped up and raced over to her. “Can we gets a puppy, not a baby?”

Amanda tucked her face into Lex’s shoulder to keep from laughing out loud. Sometimes their daughter’s one track mind even surprised her.

“No, lil’ bit. I’m afraid that’s not how it works.” Lex struggled to keep a straight face.

“But Fleckles wants a puppy.” Lorrie wrapped her arms around the happy dog’s neck. Freckles proceeded to lick her cheek.

“I’m sorry, kiddo. But mommies can’t have puppies.”

The petulant look which crossed Lorrie’s face was a carbon copy of Lex’s when she didn’t get her way. She frowned and started to stomp from the room, grumbling to herself. It would have been a lot more fun to have another puppy.


It was hard to tell who enjoyed going to bed that evening more. After the promised massage, Amanda was stretched out on the bed, dozing. Lex had her head propped on Amanda’s lap, reading aloud.

“Compared with last week, feeder steers and heifers weak. Slaughter cows and slaughter bulls steady. Stock cows and pairs weak. Trading and demand moderate.” Lex thumbed through the computer generated pages. “Supply included fifteen percent feeders, fifteen percent stock cows and pairs. Of the feeders, sixty percent were steers and forty percent heifers with fifteen percent weighing over six hundred pounds.”

Amanda sighed. “What on earth is that?”

“The producers livestock auction report.”

“Uh-huh. And why are you reading this out loud?”

Lex raised her head. “I saw in one of the baby books that it was good to read to the baby.” She placed her ear against Amanda’s belly. “You want to be well educated, right, Junior?” Amanda’s stomach gurgled in answer. “I think she agrees with me.”

Amanda lightly slapped her on the head. “Couldn’t you find something a bit more, I don’t know, relevant?”

“What’s more relevant than the stock report? I haven’t been to the auctions in a few months, so it’s important to know what’s going on.” Lex suddenly got very quiet and still.

“What is it?”

“I’m not sure.” Lex splayed her hand next to her head, lightly rubbing. “Junior? Are you listening?” She started humming a tune while she continued to stroke Amanda’s distended stomach.


There it was again. Now Lex was sure. “She kicked me.” She sat up and put both hands where her head had been. “Come on, Junior.” Another small motion caused a huge smile to cover Lex’s face. “Yes!” She leaned closer. “You like when I talk to you, don’t you?” It wasn’t much, but she could feel a slight movement beneath her hands. “I guess that means you want me to tell you a story.”

It was a toss up as to who was happier. Amanda caressed her partner’s hair while Lex chattered.

“I can’t wait to show you everything. Of course, the first one you’ll see is your beautiful mommy. Then, we’ll introduce you to your sister. I bet when you’re older, the two of you will cause all sorts of trouble.” Lex was almost giddy at feeling their daughter move. She kissed Amanda’s belly. “I think she likes it when I talk to her.”

“Maybe she’s kicking to see if you’ll be quiet.”

Lex stuck her tongue out at her wife. “Don’t listen to her, Junior. Mommy is just grumpy. We know you like the sound of my voice.” The baby kicked again, and she raised triumphant eyes toward Amanda. “See?”

Amanda groaned. “I’m doomed.” But she played with Lex’s hair and had a fond smile on her face. “You’re really cute.”

“I don’t know about that, but I’m extremely happy.” Lex kissed her stomach and scooted up to lay next to Amanda. She propped her head on her hand so she could look down into Amanda’s eyes. “Every time I think it’s impossible to fall in love with you any more, another day comes and proves me wrong.” She bent and touched her lips to Amanda’s.

Chapter Twenty-Eight

Amanda typed a few more words on the computer and stretched. She knew it would take a while for the report to print, so she stood and decided it was time for another cup of decaffeinated tea. She stopped drinking coffee when she found out she was pregnant, and one of the women in the office had suggested tea. It had taken some getting used to. She had always been a coffee drinker, and the only way she liked tea was if it was poured over ice. But it was better than going completely without. Amanda made her way to the office kitchen where she was greeted by Wanda.

“Hi there, boss. I figured you’d be gone by now. It’s been pretty slow.” Wanda made herself a cup of coffee and dumped several packets of sugar and creamer into it.

Amanda’s mouth watered at the strong fragrance. “I’m finishing up some paperwork before I pick up Lorrie at daycare.” She dunked a tea bag into her mug of water. She wanted to dump the cup over Wanda’s head when the other woman took a sip of coffee and groaned in pleasure. “Do you have to tease me like that?”


“I’d kill for a cup of coffee about now.” Amanda swirled a teaspoon of sugar into her tea. “I hate hot tea.”

Wanda could sympathize with her. When she had been pregnant with her daughter, Allison, she cheated on her dietary restrictions more than once. “What about decaf?”

“I’ve tried. But it seems like all it does is give me indigestion.” Amanda took a sip of the brew and frowned. “Yuck.” She poured the contents down the sink and rinsed out the mug. “Maybe I’ll stick with milk and juice. This stuff is just too nasty.”

“How about a caffeine free coke? Those aren’t bad.”

Amanda grabbed a bottle of water out of the refrigerator and opened it. She took a healthy swig before she leaned against the counter. “That’s true. But I know I need to drink something healthier. I just never realized how much I’d miss my daily infusion.”

“You’re a better woman than I am. I constantly cheated on my diet. Of course, Dirk would tell the doctor on me. If we had a doghouse, he would have spent most of my pregnancy in it.” She sat at the small table and waited until Amanda joined her. “Has Lex driven you crazy, yet? I think it’s in the handbook somewhere that spouses are supposed to be a pain in the rear when you’re expecting.”

“Actually, she’s been great. Last night, she finally got to feel the baby move. The look on her face was priceless.”

Wanda envisioned the scene. She knew how excited Lex was about Amanda’s pregnancy. It showed every time she saw them together. And she also found new excuses to come into the office, usually bearing flowers or some other small gift. It was too cute. “I’m surprised she hasn’t been by for lunch.”

“She was going to. But she had to pick up a load of hay, because the guys are busy with other things.” It had been a very unhappy Lex who left the house that morning. She had planned on taking Lorrie to school, Amanda to work, and run a few errands around town before lunch. But the man she bought the hay from called her, and she had to pick up her order today. She’d already sent the men out on other errands, and was stuck picking up the hay herself.

“That’s a shame. I always enjoy seeing her.”

Amanda finished her bottle of water and stood. “She has a good time coming here, too. Guess I’ll finish up what I was doing, so I can grab Lorrie. We’re meeting Charlie for lunch.”

“That’s great.” Wanda got up and rinsed out her coffee cup. “Why don’t you bring her over Saturday to play with Allison? We’re planning on baking cookies.”

“If you think she won’t be too much trouble. You’re a brave woman for cooking with two little girls.”

Wanda followed Amanda out of the kitchen. “Brave has nothing to do with it. I’m going to enlist Dirk into helping. It’s always fun watching him with the kids.”

“All right.” Amanda headed toward her office. She took the papers from her printer tray and sat behind the desk to look them over.

Ever since her mother had embezzled money from them a few years ago, Amanda had started running annual credit reports at the beginning of each year. She read over Lex’s first. It had surprised her at first, seeing how clean her partner’s credit was. Then she realized that Lex had rarely used her credit cards. When she did, she always paid them off within a few months. Something caught her eye. “That can’t be right.” Everything was clear, except—“Why has Kirk Trumbull put a lien on the ranch?” She picked up her phone receiver then paused. It wasn’t something she should tell Lex on the phone. Instead, she dialed another number. She quickly asked Charlie to pick up Lorrie at her daycare, before she grabbed her purse and hurried home.


With a heavy thud, another bail of hay flew off the flatbed trailer. Lex placed her hands on her hips and stretched until several of her vertebrae popped. She groaned and took her hat off, wiping her forehead on the sleeve of her shirt. The trailer was still almost halfway full. She usually had Roy and a couple of the other men take care of it, but they were busy doing repairs to the bunkhouse after a particularly nasty ice storm had blown through. It was the second bout of bad weather they’d had since Christmas.

Lex placed her hat back on her head. The work wasn’t going to get done while she stood around. She wanted to finish so she could get cleaned up before Amanda and Lorrie got home. She picked up another bail and tossed it, singing along with the truck stereo she had blasting through the open windows.

Amanda parked her Xterra beside the house and followed the loud music. She turned the corner of the barn and watched Lex work. Although she was wearing a long-sleeved denim shirt, Amanda could still see the muscles working along her back. The snug cut of Lex’s jeans also caught her eye, and she stood quietly and enjoyed the scene.

Lex could feel someone watching her. She stopped what she was doing and turned around. Amanda was standing next to the barn, watching her every move. “Hey, there.” Lex jumped down and met Amanda halfway. “What’s up?”

“Hi.” Amanda wiped a bit of straw from Lex’s cheek. “How can you look so good, even when you’re hot and sweaty?”

“Must be your eyesight. Because I know I’m a mess.” Lex removed her gloves and leaned carefully so she wouldn’t get Amanda dirty and kissed her. “I’m not complaining, but why are you here? Not to see me unload hay, I’d imagine.”

“Unfortunately, no. Although it is a perk.” Amanda took Lex by the hand, led her over to a bale, and sat. “There’s something I need to tell you.”

Lex felt her heartbeat quicken. “What’s wrong? Is Lorrie all right?” She glanced at Amanda’s stomach. “Is it the baby?”

“No, no.” Amanda held Lex’s hand close to her chest. “Everyone is fine. I’m sorry, I seem to be making a mess of this.”

“Please, just tell me.”

Amanda exhaled heavily to settle herself. “I was doing our yearly credit checks, and found something out of place.”

“Don’t tell me your mother has been at it again. We haven’t heard from her in a couple of years.” Lex removed her hat and wiped her sweaty brow with her shirt sleeve.

“No, nothing from her. But, for some reason, Kirk Trumbull has had a lien placed on the ranch.”

Lex jumped to her feet. “What? Why would Hubert’s lawyer do something like that? And how is that possible?” She began to pace back and forth.

“I don’t know. Have you heard anything from him?”

“No, of course not.” Lex stopped and tossed her gloves to the ground. “I’m going to go kill that son of a bitch.”

Amanda stood and grabbed her by the belt. “No, you’re not. We will drive into town and find out what’s going on.” She waited until Lex had calmed before releasing her. “Let’s go on up to the house so you can get cleaned up.”


“Please don’t argue with me. I’m tired, and I’ve got a headache that would fell a moose.”

The look on Amanda’s face made Lex realize how rash she had been. She took Amanda’s hand from her belt. “I’m sorry. Maybe you should stay home and get some rest.”

“No, I’d rather be with you.” Amanda tugged her toward the house. “But I won’t mind putting my feet up until you’re ready to go.” She knew Lex’s temper could get her into trouble. Amanda hoped that if she were there, she’d be able to keep her calmer.


The dingy office smelled like cheap cigars and old perspiration and the lighting was dismal, at best. The greenish pall on Amanda’s face wasn’t a surprise. Lex considered asking her to wait in the truck, but she knew it wouldn’t do any good. “Are you going to be all right?”

“I think so.” Amanda snuck a glance at her lover. “If he gets too obnoxious, I’ll just throw up on him.”

Lex squeezed her hand before releasing it. “If you need to, we’re out of here. He’s not worth it.”

Heavy footsteps broke into their conversation. A heavyset man, panting and sweaty, stood less than ten feet from them. “What do you want?”

“I think I should be asking you that, Trumbull.” Lex closed the distance between them and he stepped back several steps. “Why did you put a lien on my ranch? I don’t owe you anything.”

“No, but your brother does. He hasn’t paid me a cent of his court costs.” Kirk turned and went back to his office, not caring whether she followed or not. Stacks of old magazines and newspapers littered his desk, along with file folders.

Lex tipped the only visitor’s chair and dumped the trash that covered it. She took off her coat and placed it over the seat for Amanda. “Here, sweetheart. I don’t want you to catch anything.” She gave Kirk a nasty look as she stood close to the desk with her arms crossed over her chest. “Drop the lien.”

He sat in an old, cloth covered desk chair. Threadbare in most places, stuffing peeked out from multiple holes and was stained a dark color. The furniture creaked in complaint to his heavy body, but amazingly didn’t collapse. “Hell, no. It’s the only way I can get my money out of the bastard.” Trumbull seemed to have just noticed Amanda’s appearance. “Well, well. Ain’t you something.” He smirked at Lex. “How’d you manage that one?”

“None of your damned business.” Lex placed her hands on his desk. “Hubert has nothing to do with the ranch. If you want money from him, that’s your problem.”

“I’d say it’s your problem, too.” He opened the top right desk drawer, brought out a file, and tossed it on the desk by her hands. “I’ve got signed affidavits from him that shows he’s part owner. I was well within my rights.”

Lex took the file and checked the papers. “Who’s this judge? I’ve never heard of him.”

“He’s a younger guy who took over when Judge Packer retired. Hubert signed those affidavits years ago, and the judge thought they were more than enough proof to issue the lien.”

“You know this is total bullshit.” Lex threw the folder onto the desk, narrowly missing him. “Hell, you were there when Judge Packer threw out Hubert’s claim to the ranch. It’s got to be a matter of record.”

Kirk settled back in his chair. “Maybe. But I have nothing better to do. It could take months to get this taken care of, in court.” He nodded in Amanda’s direction. “It’s not good for a broad in her condition to be under stress, you know. And something like this can be pretty stressful.”

“Bastard!” Lex lunged across the desk at him.

He scooted out of her reach and laughed. “Watch it. You don’t want to add assault charges, do you?”

Amanda wasn’t in the mood to bail her partner out of jail. She stood and took Lex by the arm. “Lex, this isn’t getting us anywhere. Let’s go.” Her head was pounding and she was feeling sick to her stomach. “Please?”

“You’d better listen to her, Walters.” He stood, but kept the desk between them. “Take me to court if you want. But I’ll file enough motions to keep you busy for years, if I have to. I have nothing better to do.”

Lex started around the desk, but Amanda’s hold on her arm tightened. She thought about jerking free, but one look at her lover’s face changed her mind. “What’s wrong?”

“It’s nothing. I’ve just got a little headache.”

The argument with the sleazy lawyer was quickly forgotten. Lex grabbed her coat and put her arm around Amanda’s shoulders. “Come on. Let’s get you out of here.” She solicitously led her lover away. “The bastard isn’t worth it.” She looked back at him before she opened the front door. “This isn’t over, Trumbull. I’ll take care of you, later.”

“Looking forward to it.” His words chased them from the office.

Amanda was pale and perspiring. Her head was pounding, her hands shook, and for a moment, she felt as if she would faint right there on the sidewalk. She was glad for Lex’s supporting arm around her shoulders. Black spots dotted her vision. “I, I don’t—” Her knees buckled, and only Lex’s strong hold kept her up.

“Amanda?” Lex half-carried her lover to a nearby bench. She knelt at her feet. “I’m calling an ambulance.” She dug in her coat pocket for her cell, but was stopped by Amanda. “What?”

“I’ll be okay in a minute. Just let me catch my breath.” She dropped her head onto Lex’s shoulder and closed her eyes. The headache didn’t fade, but at least her nausea was better.

Lex had her arms around Amanda and stroked her hair. She didn’t know if the action was for Amanda’s sake, or her own. Her own hands were trembling, and the fear of something happening to Amanda or the baby weighed heavily on her mind. As much as she hated to bow to anyone, her wife and child were more important than anything. She’d check with her lawyer to see what her options were.

Amanda raised her head and looked into her lover’s worried eyes. “I’m okay.”

“Are you sure? Because I can take you to the hospital.” Lex put one arm underneath Amanda’s legs and the other around her shoulders. She started to rise, but was stopped by a hand on her arm.

“Don’t you dare pick me up. You’ll hurt yourself.”


“No.” Amanda brushed her fingertips across Lex’s cheek. “But I wouldn’t mind if you brought the truck around. I’m still a little shaky.”

Lex kissed her lightly on the lips. “You got it.” She quickly stood. “Don’t go anywhere. I’ll be right back.” She took off around the corner at a jog.

Amanda opened her mouth to tell her not to hurry, but Lex was out of sight before she could say anything. She was going to have to have a little talk with her wife. If Lex was this panicky now, she didn’t think she’d be able to handle her by her due date.


“I told you, this wasn’t necessary.” Amanda sat on the exam room table, glad she was finally able to change from the dreaded paper gown. She gave Lex, who was wisely on the other side of the room, a disgusted look. Earlier, when Amanda had gotten into the truck, she was informed by Lex that she had an emergency appointment with her obstetrician. Two hours later, here she was. If looks could kill, there would only be a charred spot where Lex stood. “I’m feeling better.”

Lex turned away from the window. She’d take Amanda’s anger at her anytime, as long as she knew she was all right. But it was probably going to be a very chilly ride home, no matter what. “You’re still pale, sweetheart. How’s your headache?”

Amanda lied. “Not as bad.”

The door opened, and Dr. Vaughn stepped into the room. She noticed the distance between the couple and pursed her lips to keep from laughing. Over-protective spouses were not new to her. “Lex, why don’t you join us over here?” She considered offering her protection, but didn’t think Amanda was in the mood for levity.

Lex bravely took her place next to her wife, and was pleasantly surprised when her hand was grasped and held tightly. “Is Amanda okay?”

“That’s what we’re going to try and find out.” The doctor sat on a rolling stool and moved closer to them. “Amanda, how long have you been getting these headaches?”

“A couple of weeks, I guess.” Amanda did her best to ignore the look she knew she was getting from Lex. “But today was the first time it’s been that bad.”

Dr. Vaughn wrote something on the chart. “Your blood pressure is elevated, which I believe is the leading cause for the headaches. The blood sample we took is to check for your total serum protein, and I’d also like to schedule you for a glucose tolerance test next week, just to be safe.” She stood and gave Amanda a no-nonsense look. “I’ll know more after the tests, but it’s imperative you lower your stress.” She turned to Lex. “That means you, too.”

“Whatever it takes.” Lex willed her heart rate to slow. The last thing she needed was to pass out in the doctor’s office. “Is there anything else I can do?”

The doctor patted her on the arm. “Calm down. As far as I can tell, everything is going to be fine. Amanda, get more rest, and drink plenty of fluids. You’re a bit dehydrated.”

More fluids? I pee constantly, as it is.”

“Sorry, doctor’s orders.” Dr. Vaughn scribbled something on a note pad and handed it to Lex. “Give this to Charlotte up front, and she can schedule the test.” She started to leave the room. “Amanda? Don’t be too hard on her. Lex was right in having you come in.”

Amanda waited until the doctor left, before she allowed Lex to help her down from the table. “Don’t let it go to your head.”


“What she said. Just because you were right this time, doesn’t mean you can hover more than you all ready are.” She put her arm around Lex and leaned into her. “But if you want to take me home and give me another long massage, I’m all yours.”

Lex did her best not to gloat. It would only make things harder on her, later. “I like the sound of that.” She escorted Amanda from the office, relieved that she wasn’t in as much trouble as she had feared.


After returning from the doctor’s office for the second time in as many weeks, Amanda was beside herself. The news hadn’t been good. She was inconsolable, although Lex tried her best to bring her out of her funk.

The drive home had been tense, and now that they were in the house, Lex tried again. “But, it’s not as bad as it could have been.” She followed behind Amanda, until they were in the kitchen.

“Not as bad?” Amanda opened a cabinet and brought out a glass, slamming the door shut. “How can you say that?” She opened the refrigerator, took out the carton of low-acid orange juice, and poured it into the glass. Replacing the carton, she slammed the appliance door. She turned her angry eyes to Lex. “It practically amounts to house arrest.”

Lex considered taking Amanda into her arms in an attempt to calm her. When she took a step forward, the glare she received caused her to rethink the notion. “I know it feels like that now, but the doctor is concerned for you. And so am I.”

Amanda’s glucose tolerance test came back as borderline. Dr. Vaughn explained to them how the baby was large for its gestational age, and it was too soon for the intensity of the Braxton-Hicks contractions she was already beginning to feel. Amanda would have to stop working until after the baby is born. Because of her family history, or, at least, her sister’s first delivery nightmare, the doctor ordered Amanda on limited bed rest. It hadn’t been a complete surprise to Amanda, but she still felt like she was being imprisoned. “It’s too soon for this. I don’t want to be stuck out here with nothing to do. I’ll go nuts.”

The comment stung. Lex thought Amanda liked having the ranch as their home. “Do you want us to get a house in town? Or maybe stay with your grandparents?” She waited until Amanda sat at the table. “What do you want?”

“No, that’s what I meant.” Amanda looked into the glass of juice as if hoping to find the answer there. “I want to be able to enjoy this.”

Lex knelt next to her chair and cautiously put her hand on Amanda’s stomach. “You can. We will. Don’t think of this as a bad thing, sweetheart. We can spend this time together, learning how the baby grows.”

Amanda raised her head and gazed into her lover’s eyes. “Together, huh?”

“Yep. You don’t think I’m going to let you have all the fun, do you?” Lex took Amanda’s hand and held it to her chest. “This is a magical time, and I plan on sharing every single minute with you.”

“Just keep reminding me that, will you? And please don’t let my bitchiness run you off.” Amanda used her free hand to cup Lex’s face. The stories she had heard from other women about their spouse’s lack of support had worried her. But she should have known better than to think Lex would fall into that category. She was truly blessed to have such an understanding partner.

The gentle touch soothed her soul, and Lex knew that everything would be all right. She’d make sure of it. “Never. You’re stuck with me. Besides, best rest can be a good thing, you know. I’ll be there to keep you company.” Her lascivious grin had the desired effect. Amanda’s laughter was music to her ears.

“I think the operative word there is rest, Slim. And if you’re in bed with me, the last thing on my mind will be rest.” She felt the burden lift from her shoulders, and now the thought of spending the next three months at home didn’t seem so bad.

To be continued in part 15

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