Authors: Janette Oke,Davis Bunn
Copyright Â© 1998
Janette Oke and Davis Bunn.
Cover design by Eric Walljasper
Cover photography by Mike Habermann
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any meansâelectronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwiseâwithout the prior written permission of the publisher. The only exception is brief quotations in printed reviews.
Published by Bethany House Publishers
11400 Hampshire Avenue South
Bloomington, Minnesota 55438
Bethany House Publishers is a division of
Baker Publishing Group, Grand Rapids, Michigan
E-book edition created 2011
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data is on file at the Library of Congress, Washington, DC.
Kyle could not help
pause and gaze at her reflection. The hall mirror was at the bottom of the stairs, and she told herself that she needed to stop a moment and catch her breath. Which of course was silly, particularly since she was descending the stairway. But it was something pregnant women didâthey stopped and caught their breath. She had heard it all her life, and it suited the moment perfectly. No matter that she had never felt better. Or happier. She was five months along, and she had every right to stop and catch her breath if she wanted. Even to smile in appreciation into the mirror.
The mirror was a present from Abigail, Kyle's adoptive mother, and it was one of the most elaborate items she and Kenneth had in their home. Abigail's tastes tended toward the extravagant, and the full-length mirror in its gilded frame overpowered their little Georgetown row house. Abigail checked her appearance in it every time she arrived or departed, usually making some comment about how different this dwelling was from the estate on which Kyle had been raised. Or how nice it would be to see this hanging in a larger entryway. Kenneth tended to sigh a lot whenever Abigail came for a visit. And Kyle went back and forth between exasperation and amusement.
Kyle loved their little home. Almost too small to be called a house, it was connected on either side to dwellings just like itâthree-story wooden structures dating back to a time when Georgetown was a middle-class community in the nation's capital, rather than the newest desirable neighborhood of Washington, D.C. So much was changing as the nation approached the middle of the decade, as though the sixties had determined to redefine everything and everybody. Even here.
Kyle thought their home was like a dollhouse, her girlhood dreams come true. It was tiny and perfect and set on a leafy street not far from the shops and the university. Everybody walked or biked in Georgetown. It was a place full of young people and interesting things. Plus, it was the nicest neighborhood within easy distance of her recently discovered brother, Joel. And it was only a quick bus ride or a long walk to Kenneth's office in the Rothmore Insurance Building. The time he would have spent commuting was free now to help Joel out with his mission to the homeless and hopeless of society.
The thought of her brother caused Kyle to look down at the envelope with the wedding announcement in her hand. Finally, he had asked Ruthie to marry him.
Thinking of the young couple brought another smile to Kyle's lips. Joel's heart condition had made him reluctant to burden Ruthie with the uncertain future that marriage to him would mean. But she loved him with a steadfastness that simply would not accept his assessment. She had left her secure world at the Miller farm and joined his inner-city ministry. There she faithfully worked beside him, supporting him, loving him, sharing his triumphs and his disappointments. Silently she made him realize that she asked for nothing more than to be a part of his life. Of his work. Her patience had finally brought him to accept what her heart had been saying. Joel and she were to be married.
In Kyle's happiness she could almost forget that Joel had a heart condition, that his life hung by the slenderest of threads. He had lived far longer than any doctor had predictedâso why not for another ten, twenty, forty years? But this was not the argument that had won him over and finally prompted him to propose marriage. Joel had already learned to live without giving much thought to the morrow, something which Kyle found quite astonishing, as her own dreams were so full of her joy over the future.
Joel had finally accepted Ruthie's words as truth, that whatever days were left to them she wanted to spend together, as husband and wife, that she was willing to give her own future over to the Lord their God. It had been hard for Joel, very hard. Watching him come to terms with his own feelings and the worst of his fears had taught Kyle a great deal about this brother she hardly knew. Joel had never been afraid for himself. Yet allowing himself to love Ruthie had forced him to ache for what was yet to come.
Kyle looked at her reflection once more. What really brought the sparkle to her eyes and the joy to her heart was yesterday's report from her doctor. Everything was going well with her pregnancy. In a very few months she and Kenneth were to become parents. Kyle had never felt so excited in all her life. It was almost too much joy to contain at one time. A baby. Their own child. Hers and Kenneth's. Something so beautiful to share. So completely theirs. A precious entrustment from God. It was going to be very difficult to wait through the remaining days. Difficult, yet full of exquisite pleasure.
She turned sideways so the bulge was more evident in the mirror and caressed her abdomen with the hand holding the invitation. Her baby had been moving a lot that morning, as though impatient to be out and about with the family. The thought was enough to send another shiver of joy through her frame. Kyle's expression, even when she was not smiling, shone with delight over the promise of all that was to come.
Her gaze fell on the Bible, still open on the table by the rocking chair. She spoke aloud the underlined words from Psalm 100, which she had read earlier: “For the Lord is good; his mercy is everlasting, and his truth endureth to all generations.”
Kyle felt her heart would surely explode with loveâfor God, for Kenneth, for the small person within her. She thought she could actually feel God's love embracing her, holding her close, warming her with His smile.
The clock on the living room mantel struck the hour, a reminder that sent her scurrying for her hat and coat and keys. She stepped through the front door, took a deep breath of the fall-laden air, and decided that she would walk after all. She would be a few minutes late, but the doctor had urged her to walk as much as she could manage. And it was a beautiful day, truly filled with all the promise that one future could hold.
Her watch said she was ten minutes late when Kyle entered the Mayflower Hotel's main restaurant. Yet not even the sight of Kenneth's slightly exasperated glance could dim her smile. She hurried over, pulling off her coat and hat to settle them on a free chair. “Sorry I'm late,” she said to the two already seated.
“No you're not,” said Abigail sharply. “You're clearly delighted to have caused us to sit here and fume in impatience.” But even her mother's crossness was no match for Kyle's exuberance. Abigail turned a smooth cheek to accept her adopted daughter's kiss, then studied her face. “You lookâwell, positively radiant.”
“Thank you, Mother.” Though she had lived through the discovery of her adoption and had met her birth parents, Kyle still called Abigail “mother.” “You are beautiful as always,” she said warmly.
“Nonsense. I'm getting older every day. Age and beauty do not mix. You'll find that out soon enough.” She turned her face away in disapproval as Kyle leaned over, caressed Kenneth's cheek, and kissed him gently. Abigail did not care for public displays of affection.
Kenneth ignored Abigail's displeasure from across the table, smiled up at his wife, and said, “Apology accepted.”
“Really,” noted Abigail, “I fail to see why you two find it necessary to show such sentiment in public. It's simply not done.”
Kyle slid into the chair between them, took her husband's hand, and cradled it in her lap. “It is by us.”
“Hmph. Well, anyway, we've got to get you some clothes. You're not a college girl anymore, Kyle.”
“I think she looks lovely,” Kenneth chided. Granted, her oversized cable-knit sweater had been borrowed from Kenneth's side of the closet, but her own things were getting a bit tight for her.
Kyle gentled her husband with a squeeze to his hand and quipped, “In case you haven't noticed, Mother, I
five months pregnant.”
“Of course I've noticed. Everyone's noticed. How could they not when you insist on wearingâ”
“Mother.” Kyle said the one word very quietly, but her tone was firm enough to silence even Abigail. Kenneth glanced her way and caught her eye with a quick nod of approval.
Kyle turned back to her mother and asked, “Have you decided about attending Joel's wedding?”
Abigail folded and unfolded her napkin before replying, “Oh, all right. I suppose it's the best thing, really.”
“Oh, that's wonderful.” Kyle released Kenneth's hand to give Abigail a hug. “Did you pray about it like I suggested?”
“Yes, a little, although I can't say I had much of an answer. I find it difficult to understand why God would want to involve himself in such mundane affairs.”
“Oh yes, Mother, He does! Remember the Scripture that tells us He knows when a sparrow falls from a tree? And isn't my brother's wedding more important than that? I do think God cares about it and wants you to come.” Kyle beamed at the precise woman seated across from her. “This is wonderful. I'm so glad you're becoming friends with my other family.”
“So am I,” Kenneth allowed quietly.
“I must confess that they are quite nice people, especially Harry.” Abigail seemed to compress her lips to hide a smile. “Although what we have in common I cannot possibly imagine.”
“You have me in common,” Kyle gaily declared. Then turning to the approaching waiter, she went on, “I am positively starving. I'll have your daily special.”
“Make that two,” Kenneth said.
“A green salad,” Abigail ordered, “with the dressing on the side.” She turned back to her daughter to say, “Really, Kyle, wouldn't it be wise to watch your weight a little more?”
“I can't. I'm hungry all the time.”
“She'll finish her meal and have half of mine, you watch,” Kenneth joked.
“The doctor says a healthy appetite is good for the baby, Mother.”
“It may be, but you just wait and see what it's like trying to get the pounds off after.” Abigail stared back at the two faces across the table and raised one hand. “All right, I'll stop. I can see my advice counts for nothing here.”
“You are always welcome to offer advice,” Kyle said briskly, determined not to allow Abigail to dampen her mood. She fished in her purse and brought out the wedding invitation. “Look what arrived today.”
Kenneth accepted the envelope and studied the pen-and-ink sketch of Joel's mission house. As he handed it to Abigail his features reflected the concern they all shared over Joel's heart condition. “I hope they're doing the right thing.”
“They are,” Kyle insisted, happy for Ruthie, wanting everyone to have all their dreams come true as hers were.
Abigail glanced briefly at the wedding invitation. “It will be another of those simple affairs, I imagine.”
“Yes, and you know how much you enjoyed our wedding,” Kyle reminded her, sharing a grin with her husband.
“I still say you deserved a big society wedding, and it would have been marvelous to plan.” Then Abigail's face softened at the memory of the event. “But, yes, it was quite delightful in its own way.”
Kyle gave her husband's hand another squeeze. They had insisted on having their wedding at Kenneth's church, which had now become their church home. It had been a quiet and modest affair, but full of shared joy with family and dear friends.
Abigail straightened herself back into her habitual demeanor. “Which reminds me, Kyle. We were just discussing something of vital importance before you arrived.”
One glance at Kenneth's face was enough to tell Kyle what it was. “Not the church, Mother. Not again.”
“Yes, again. I simply fail to see why we cannot attend church downtown together.”
“Our own church supports Joel's mission fellowship,” Kenneth reminded her. “Not to mention being the church I have attended since arriving in Washington.”
“All the family attends our church except you,” Kyle added. “And we would love toâ”
“I would not be happy there and you know it. Not a single member of our circle of friends goes there. Whereas you have known our church all your life.”