Faithful Bonus Epilogue

Austin and Millie from Whiskey Run 1

Epilogue 2

Austin

Three Years Later

“Honey, I’m home,” I holler as I walk into the house. There’s chaos as I hear four little legs running full speed at me.

“Daddy, Daddy,” the twins holler.

The dog, a one hundred thirty-pound black Labrador retriever, pounds after them and eventually passes them up.  The dog gets to me first, but he’s been trained not to jump, thankfully.  He bounces all around me as the twins each grab on to a leg.

I lean down and pick them both up and settle them on my hips.  “Hey, sweet girls.”

They are identical and look exactly like their mother.  I was nervous when I found out we were having girls.  But Millie assured me it would be okay.  So far, so good. However, I already have a plan to keep them grounded when they reach middle and high school.  That’s the only way I’m going to keep myself out of jail I think because I’m not going to be okay with any boy that’s interested in dating my daughters.

They both bob up and down in my arms, excitedly trying to talk over each other.  It’s all a jumble as they go on and on about their day.  They fed the chickens and gathered eggs.  “We went and petted Patches,” Mylie says.

And not to be outdone, Abby chimes in, “Yeah, and we played with the cats in the barn.”

“Did Mommy ride Patches this morning?”

They both shake their heads. “No, she said she wasn’t going to be riding her for awhile.”

I try not to jolt at what Abby just said. That’s not like Millie.  She rides Patches every morning. That is one of her favorite things to do.

When I’ve nodded and hugged and kissed them until they want down, I ask, “Where is your mom?”

“She’s up in the bedroom. We were making cookies with Carrie in the kitchen.  Carrie said Pop Pop is coming for dinner.”

I still can’t believe it. Rusty, Millie’s dad, came over for dinner one night after we got engaged and he and Carrie hit it off.  What we thought would be a friendship turned into a wedding not even a year later. Carrie may have moved to the Ogles’ ranch, but she’s still here every day to help out.  I was worried at first what Millie would think about it all, but after seeing how happy her dad is, there’s no mistaking how much she loves having someone to be there for him.  Plus, Millie and Carrie have gotten really close, giving the girls a grandma that spoils them.

“Okay, go save me a cookie and I’m going to go talk to Mommy.”

They both run back to the kitchen, and I take the stairs two at a time, in a hurry to see my wife.  It’s been four years since I met Millie.  Three and a half years since she said I do, and I swear I fall more in love with her every day.

I get to the closed bedroom door and push it open.  My wife picks her head up off the pillow and sits up quickly.  She pats the bed in front of her.  I’m trying not to freak out, but I know it’s coming. I know exactly what she’s going to say, and I’m going to be sick.

I come to the side of the bed and sit down next to her.

“You okay, baby?”

She nods her head, her eyes not quite meeting mine.

“I missed you today.”

She laughs then. “You came in for lunch.”

I rub my hand up and down her leg.  “The girls said you didn’t ride Patches today.  You feeling all right?”

It’s like everything stops. She takes a deep breath, and we’re in a gridlock staring at each other.  She’s nervous, and I hate that. I don’t ever want her to be nervous to tell me something, but I also know if she says what I think she’s about to say, I’m going to lose it.

“Yeah, I’m feeling fine,” she mutters before looking away.

She leans back against the headboard, and I move my hand to rub her belly.  She’s staring at my hand, and with my other one, I brush the hair from her face. “Is there something you want to tell me?”

I hold my breath because I know it’s coming. I thought her breasts felt heavier last week and again last night. I knew she’d been tired more. I saw all the signs, but I chose to ignore them instead of asking her about them.

“Austin, I don’t want you upset.”

Finally, her eyes meet mine.

“You’re pregnant,” I accuse her. “We said we were going to wait.”

She stubbornly lifts her chin. “Yeah, well, it takes two…”

“I know, Millie. I’m not blaming you, but I also can’t watch you go through that again.”

Where she was mad a second ago, she softens instantly.  “I’m going to be fine.”

“You could barely walk, you were in pain constantly… I just can’t watch you go through that again.”

She shakes her head. “Austin, it was pelvic girdle pain. It’s not a death sentence. It’s a little pain… and look at what we got for it.  Two beautiful girls.”

“I wouldn’t trade the girls for anything, but you know it was more than just a little pain.”

“Yeah, and the doctor said we can catch it early this time if I do have it again. I’ve been doing the exercises to strengthen my pelvic muscles.  We’re going to be ready this time.”

“How did this even happen? I thought we were being careful.”

“I think it was that night two months ago when the girls went and stayed at Dad’s.”

I think back to that night, and I remember it like it was yesterday.  I let my foreman take care of the ranch for a straight twenty-four hours. We sent the girls to their grandparents’ house, and I kept Millie in bed almost the whole time. I meant to be careful, but I know there were a couple of times that I forgot to take precautions.

Lost in thought, I don’t notice that Millie is about to cry until a tear rolls down her cheek. “Honey, don’t cry.”

“I want you to be happy about this, Austin. We made this,” she says, rubbing her belly.  “This little guy is a part of us. He needs us.”

I put my hands on each side of her cheek. “I am happy about this. I’m scared, and I hate for you to be in pain. I’m going to take care of everything. You’re going to lie around the house and stay off your feet, and Carrie will take care of the girls…”

“Austin…” she says, shaking her head.

“No, this is how it’s going down, Millie. I need you. More than anything in this world, I need you. I won’t be able to go on living without you, and I need to take care of you.”

I wait for her to argue and disagree with me.  She stares back at me for the longest time before she finally nods her head. “Okay.”

“Okay? You mean you’ll stay off your feet?”

“I mean I’ll do whatever the doctor tells me I need to do.” She pats my chest. “You know I love you just as much, Austin. That’s why I’m so excited about this.  I know it’s a boy… I just know it.  We’re going to have a son.”

Millie

Eight Months Later

“I told you so.”

We’re at the hospital, and I’m watching my husband as he stares in awe at the little bundle in his arms.  “You told me what?”

“I told you that I was going to give you a boy.”

Austin just smirks at me. “You can rub it in all you want, I’m not complaining.”

Jacob Austin Yates was born less than three hours ago, and already Dad and Carrie brought in the girls to meet their little brother. They have been so excited to meet him, and I have no doubt they’re going to be very helpful.  Jacob just stared at them wide-eyed as they talked and cooed over him.  He’s so little now, but there’s no doubt in my mind that one day he’s going to tower over the both of them and protect his big sisters.  Especially if he’s anything like his daddy.

Violet also came to see the new addition to our family, and it’s only now that I’ve been alone with Jacob for any amount of time.  This pregnancy was so much easier than the twins’ birth. And even though I had some pain, it was nothing like when I was carrying the girls.

Austin walks over to the side of the bed.  He secures Jacob in one arm and touches my shoulder with his free hand. “You okay, Momma?”

“Come here.” I have so many emotions inside me. I’m nervous about raising a boy. I don’t know a lot about little boys, but Austin has promised he’ll help me.

He leans over and cups my cheek. “What is it?  You need something?”

My voice wobbles a little. “You. I need you, Austin Yates.”

He looks into my eyes, and I swear the man gets me. He’s always doing things for me.  All I have to do is say the word, and he gives me what I want or need.  Sometimes he even knows what I need before I know what it is.

He pulls the bassinet-type bed closer to us and lays Jacob in it.  He’s swaddled so tightly he doesn’t even notice that he’s no longer in someone’s arms.  We watch him sleep and relish in the fact that we did this… he’s our miracle.

When Austin turns to me, his eyes have a fresh sheen of tears. He gathers me into his arms. “You have me, Millie. You will always have me. Thank you for giving me this life. You and the girls and now our son, you’re my everything. I love you, baby.”

I sigh against his chest. “I love you, too.”