Meant-to-Be Baby(4)

By: Lois Richer

Years of living in the Canadian Rockies and hours spent rock-wall climbing at a city gym meant Victoria had no difficulty scaling to the top. It took several moments to get a signal, but Jake was quick to answer and promised to help after he’d notified her family to prepare for guests.

“Bring the usual rescue gear,” Victoria suggested. “Add a toboggan and some extra ropes, too. I doubt he can walk very far. We’ll have to pull him up. I’ll leave my scarf on a tree as a marker.”

“He must be the guy your aunts expect,” Jake said.

“Now that you mention it, I do remember hearing about a visitor arriving. But I didn’t pay much attention.” Because morning sickness was hitting her hard these days.

Assured Jake was coming, Victoria ended the call, attached her scarf to the bough of a needleless tamarack tree and then half slid, half climbed back down to Mikey. “Still warm enough?”

“Yeah. But I’m thirsty.” He looked around. “Can I eat the snow?”

“No!” Realizing she’d scared him, Victoria made a funny face. But she had to ensure he wouldn’t try it because eating snow would lower his body temperature. “This snow isn’t clean, Mikey. My friend will bring you something warm to drink.”

“Hot choc’lat?” he asked hopefully.

“Maybe.” She crouched down to peer into his eyes. “Can you stay here a little longer while I check if Uncle Ben needs anything?”

Clearly thrilled by the promise of a drink, Mikey flicked on the flashlight and nodded. Victoria navigated down the cliff face again, grimacing at the protest in her calves.

“You’re not as fit as you think, girl,” she muttered in disgust.

“Yes, you are.” Ben held the car door open. His blue eyes surveyed her with—admiration? “If I’d climbed up and down that steep slope as many times as you, my knees would be rubber.”

“With your military training? I doubt it.” Victoria smiled at the surprise filling his face and thrust out a hand. “Pleased to meet you. Major Adams, I presume?”

“You know me?” Ben asked. She liked his firm grip. Many men shook her hand as if they were holding a wet fish.

“The aunts mentioned that one of their military correspondents, a major, was coming to visit, but I doubt they expected you or Mikey during this storm.” The roar of a snowmobile engine cut through the whine of wind. “That’ll be Jake.” She turned away. “I’ll be back.”


“Yes?” She glanced back at Ben.

“Is Mikey okay?” A tenderness lay behind the words. Ben got high marks from her for worrying about his nephew.

“He’s got the dogs locked in a death stare. He ate a granola bar and he’s thirsty. Other than that, he’s doing fine.” She took another step before adding, “You’re fortunate this storm didn’t arrive with some really frigid weather, Major.”

Through the crackle of bushes and the approaching snowmobile, she thought she heard him mutter, “Fortunate? Me? Yeah, sure I am.”

A sigh followed, making her wonder exactly what Ben meant.

* * *

“Dear Major, are you sure you’re all right? Shouldn’t you be in bed, resting?”

Though his arm throbbed something fierce, his midsection smarted and his ankle stung, Ben forced a smile at the elderly woman.

“I’m fine, Miss Spenser. Er, Tillie,” he quickly corrected, using the name she’d requested. “I’m sorry to be a bother.”

“We’re delighted to have you and Mikey visit The Haven.” Margaret Spenser was a doppelgänger for her twin sister in everything but demeanor. Where Tillie reminded Ben of a graceful Southern belle, Margaret bustled to fulfill some unspoken agenda. “God has certainly supplied your medical needs. Victoria’s bandages look most effective.”

“Yes, they are.” He glanced from the sling holding his arm to his chest to the petite beauty sitting across from him. A straight fall of almost-black hair lovingly cupped Victoria’s sculpted ivory face as she sat in a wingback chair with Mikey cuddled beside her. At the moment, she was studying him with her inscrutable gray eyes. Ben looked back at Margaret. “Thank you for your hospitality.”

“You are more than welcome, dear. It’s a good thing you knew how to get our computer to scoop so Victoria could contact the doctor,” Tillie said.

“Skype,” he corrected, quickly realizing this lady neither knew nor cared about computers.

“Yes, it’s called Skype, sister. Anyway, it’s too bad we can’t get you into Chokecherry Hollow, Ben. But at least Doc was able, with Victoria’s help, to ascertain that your injuries aren’t severe. Now, please excuse us while we go assist the other girls with dinner. Mikey, come and help us.” Margaret lifted a hand when Victoria shifted as if to rise. “You stay here and entertain our guest, dear.”

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