Suddenly, she buried her face in her hands, sobbing. "I'm so sorry!" she cried.
"He lied to me, Henry. And even worse, I believed it!" she managed to say between deep shuddering breaths.
"Who?" Henry asked, although he had an idea where this was going. His absentee brother had broken her heart and she'd come to him for comfort. He grit his teeth against the pain.
Then, he felt her hand lightly on his sleeve and she looked up into his eyes. "I was never... not with Irving..." she tried to explain. "He lied to us. I've only ever loved you..."
And he wasn't going to waste any more time...
Nicole patted her hand, "Well, you'll always belong here, whether you make our beds or cook our meals! You are part of the family!"
Kitty left the dishes in the sink and whirled around. "Are you pregnant?" she asked excitedly.
Fatima frowned, "I don't know. I've been queasy at all times and I feel.. tender... and bloated..."
Libby smiled and eagerly nodded. "Uh huh! I was a good girl!" she promised, resting her head against his shoulder, not caring how smelly it was.
Kitty smacked at his arm. "Behave yourself!" she admonished him teasingly. "Your daughter will see!"
"Then maybe we should go upstairs where she can't see," he told as he steered her towards the stairs.
His jaw dropped and he gently stroked his hand on her growing belly. "A baby?" he echoed, still in shock that they'd been so blessed.
Seeing her, her mother immediately turned to the side, grabbing at the sheets to cover her nudity, while her father jostled, trying to grab the sheets from her mother to cover himself.
Libby watched them fighting over the sheet and wondered what in the world they were doing.
George finally gave up and stalked to the door and slammed it shut in her face.
Orb's Year 946
Nicole nodded thoughtfully, "A mother often knows. I think we should prepare for the birth!"
George stopped and took his wife into his arms. "What is it? What's the matter?" he asked.
Wren stroked her cheek. "I love you, too."
She'd hardly been inside for a few moments before she was rushing through a love letter to Wren. She was going to marry him one day!
Nicole had watched Jessica bloom throughout her young man's courtship. Jessica expected him to make an offer any day. Nicole shook her head sadly. Young love.
Jessica's heart fluttered at his serious expression. Wren had made his offer! She was going to be betrothed! She hurried over and sat down excitedly. "Yes" she asked breathlessly.
Jessica's jaw dropped and she stared. "The Bakers?" She knew they had extended family in Celestia through George's mother - the bakers, the farmers, a spattering of servants and peasants. Why would he be sending her to live with them?
George shook his head. "Not here in Celestia," he corrected her. "With your mother's family across the coast."
George watched his daughter struggle with her emotions and felt like a villain. "I'm sorry, Jessica. Our family is growing too fast. And it's customary to send the firstborn daughter to work..."
"I'm to be a servant?!" she asked with surprise. She'd always envisioned herself getting married and raising a family.
"Only until you're an adult," Kitty said through her tears, attempting to comfort her daughter. "Wren will wait for you! You'll see!"
Orb's Year 947
Rest in Peace Nicole Fischer, Orbs Years' 902-947
Fatima buried her face in her hands.
Kurt's chest puffed out with pride.
Henry grinned at his nephew. "We'll make a fisherman out of you yet!" he teased.
Fatima buried her face in her hands and began weeping again. She didn't know why she was being so emotional, but she felt as though her heart had broken when she'd lost her mother-in-law.
Kurt nudged his sister. "They're supposed to look like that," he informed her. "What do you think you looked like?!"
Libby gasped with outrage. "I did NOT! Take it back!"
George nudged his bickering children from the room and went back to see his newest son. He'd thought their family large enough and was content with his two beautiful girls and his strong heir. But, how the Orb had blessed him!
Fatima burrowed deeper into her husband's arms. "It's so hard to sleep when you're gone," she told him sleepily.
Henry grinned as he began rubbing her lower back. "Probably because I'm not here to pamper you and our unborn child."
Fatima hummed happily. "Probably," she agreed.
Joseph just crawled towards another bottle that had been discarded earlier.
Orb's Year 948
Henry scratched his head. "It's just the way it's always been. The women have stayed home to take care of the house and us men have always gone out to catch the fish."
"I bet I could catch more fish than Kurt!" she grumbled.
Kurt rolled his eyes, "I'd like to see you try!" he taunted her as he lifted up his cousin, Joshua and tossed him in the air.
Libby laughed uproariously when Joshua proceeded to spit up all over Kurt's tunic. Sweet justice, she thought wickedly.
Libby sent him a triumphant smirk. "Uncle Henry said I could!" she pointed out.
"Children, remember what we discussed. You are to behave while we're here. We want to make a good impression!"
"Yes, Uncle Henry!" they agreed quickly.
Gemma glanced down at the crates. "I'm afraid I can only pay you for what you've delivered," she told him. "This should be 2000 gold pieces."
Henry nodded. "I understand. Next year we'll have a better stock with my nephew joining us."
Gemma nodded, "Let me go get your payment," she told him.
Fatima smiled tiredly, "Her name is Kendra."