Recap of Chapter 28: First the wedding, then a runaway honeymoon. Thanksgiving came soon after, then Haze’s birthday, quickly followed by Christmas. It was a whirlwind of activity for this first holiday season as husband and wife. None of the events disappointed, leaving Haze steeped in the joy of it all. And she found herself smiling at the oddest times.
It was just a cold, but Jake fussed as if she was on her death bed. He’d been busy in the kitchen for days making healthy foods sure to restore her health. Crowley was holding vigil at the end of the bed—the perfect foot warmer. Haze lay propped up on pillows to aid in keeping her head clear. On the bedside table was everything she needed handy: a box of tissues—the kind infused with lotion, herbal cough drops, water and menthol rub.
“Do you want vegetable soup or just broth?” Jake called from the kitchen.
“Um… vegetables,” she said, “and crackers, please.” She coughed again.
He came in carrying a tray with homemade soup, crackers, sliced peppers and hummus. The aroma from the soup made her stomach respond with a growl. He placed the tray across her lap.
“Thank you,” she said, grateful for the luxury of resting in bed with someone to look after her every need. “You are very good at taking care of me,” she said in the muffled voice of those with stuffy heads.
“My pleasure,” he said. “I just feel bad because I gave you the stupid cold in the first place. And you took care of me, so it’s only right that I do the same. “He scooped up the wadded tissues from the nightstand. I have to go out for a bit—I promised that bid for the custom cabinets today. You think you’ll be okay for a couple hours?” He reached out, brushing a strand of hair from her forehead.
“Of course,” she said, clearing her throat. “I have everything I need, including this yummy soup.”
“I’ll take Crowley along. It’s such a gorgeous day, we’ll go over to Three Sisters and take a hike before heading home. It’ll give you a chance to sleep.”
“That sounds just right,” she said, smiling up at him. “Poor Crowley’s probably getting tired of hanging out with me, aren’t you boy?” At the sound of his name, Crowley lifted his head in expectation.
“I hope I get the bid. This job would be a great thing to have for the winter. It’ll give me an excuse to finish outfitting the garage as a workshop, too.” Jake had spent a month installing his woodworking equipment in the small garage to the side of the cabin. Then a nasty cold stole his energy and delayed the final preparations. He was nearly ready to tackle a big job and there was a good one on the horizon. Toiling away in his workshop would be a terrific winter project. Haze loved that he’d be so close. The idea of two artists, each with their own discipline, working from their studios at home felt very good.
He cleared the tray away before he left with a kiss on her forehead. Haze had a warm and full stomach and every comfort at her fingertips. She fidgeted with the TV remote, idly shuffling through the current offerings. She wasn’t really interested in watching television, but her eyes burned and her head ached, so sketching or reading was out. She couldn’t believe how many Christmas movies were still in queue on the streaming channels. After a few minutes, she was largely uninspired. She tried the regular TV stations, searching for something to listen to while snoozing. She landed on “The Waltons.” It reminded her of her mom, who loved the show. She settled into her pillows with a content smile.
She must have dropped off to sleep because she awoke to the familiar sound of the large family saying goodnight to each other from their beds. Three generations of Waltons in one big house. A new episode was starting and Haze was thinking about the logistics of housing such a large family. She pulled the covers up around her chin, breathing in the freshness of the bedding. She dearly loved her cabin by the lake—a two-bedroom cozy dwelling with a sunny studio. She never wanted to leave. They had talked about a family someday, but one or two kids was the plan, not a Walton-sized houseful. Her mind drifted to the lives of women in the past and how difficult family planning must have been before reliable birth control was available. How lucky she was to be living in modern times.
She rolled onto her side and closed her eyes for a pleasant nap. Someday, she thought. Someday, when the time was right, she and Jake would start a family. Someday… she drifted off to sleep. Suddenly, her eyes flew open and she bolted upright. “Oh my God!” she exclaimed. She just realized that she hadn’t had a period this month… or last month. Wait—did she? Haze grabbed for her phone and checked the calendar. She was 10 days late this month and wracked her brain for what had happened last month. Caught up in the festivities of Christmas so soon after her wedding, honeymoon, Thanksgiving and birthday, she hadn’t welcomed nor missed that monthly event. Suddenly alive with solving the mystery, Haze pulled back the covers and slid out of bed. The wood floor was cold on her feet, but she moved ahead without slippers or robe. Once in the bathroom, she opened the cupboard where she kept supplies. Not sure what was to be learned by taking inventory, she nonetheless shook boxes. It was useless, as she always bought well in advance of the need and in bulk.
She stood up, a prickly feeling running up her spine and down to her fingers and toes. Could it be true? Could she and Jake have started a family? Could she be pregnant right now? Would she feel different somehow? She placed a hand on her flat stomach, which yielded no clues. Then, up to her breasts. Oh, there was some tenderness there, but it could be body aches from being sick. In truth, she was sore in many places from the damn cold. Stunned, she lowered herself to perch on the edge of the bathtub, her head spinning.
Just then, she heard the front door open and the familiar coming-in sounds: Crowley’s nails on the floor, prancing around Jake as he slouched out of his coat and boots. Jake’s voice: “There’s a good boy,” he said, reaching into the tin for a biscuit. “Here you go, buddy!” The sound of the tin lid being replaced, and Crowley’s crunching. Haze froze, seized by an inexplicable wave of guilt, a flush rose on her face. She darted from the bathroom to the bedroom and quickly got back under the covers, as if she’d never left. Moments later, when Jake came into the bedroom, the color of her face alarmed him. “Do you have a fever?” he asked. He placed a hand on her forehead, his brow furrowed. The lovely coolness of his hand made Haze sigh.
“You’re flushed. I’m concerned about you,” he said. “I want to take your temperature.” He left the room to fetch the thermometer. Haze blinked, her pulse slowly returning to normal. She whispered into the room, “I’m concerned about me too.”