From Work in Progress to Publication
The Beginning of Forever is on the virtual shelves:
“Ready.” Amber clenched her jaw and tightened the curl of her fingers around the bathroom’s towel bar.
“Don’t tense up.” Kevin spoke in a low, calming tone, easing his hand down the bunched muscles of her thigh. That voice held the power to melt away any thought except one.
“Tr-trying.” She released the tension in her leg a little.
“Count of three.”
Kevin’s strong fingers swept over the back of her knee and the once stubborn knots slipped loose so her leg no longer felt wooden and immobile.
“You count, Sweetpea.”
“One,” she breathed out. “Tw…” Pain twisted her vocal cords and flowed like molten steel through the veins of her legs. “Baby…” Her face crumpled in an elongated whimper and she clung to Kevin as he carried her from the bathroom into the bedroom where he carefully placed her on their bed.
Amber bent into a tight ball, rubbing her hand over the newly pin-pricked skin. The pain from the shot wouldn’t last more than a minute. It was what would come next that caused her to squeeze her eyes shut.
There was a gentle scrape next to the bed. The wastebasket was being pushed into place. A click sounded above her. The ceiling fan whirred to life in the middle of February. Bare feet padded across the floor and a moment later there was a clink against the oak nightstand next to her head. Water.
Then there was something else. Something she hadn’t heard in the previous two cycles. Breaking glass. She forced her eyes open to watch Kevin stalk past her. In his clenched fist he held a white wastebasket liner. A purple and yellow box containing her last cycle of hormone treatments jutted through the thin plastic.
“That’s the last time I’m doing that, Amber.”
“Till the next cycle.”
“No more cycles.”
Ugh, her eyes pinched closed. She couldn’t argue. Her tongue had begun to coat in a thin metallic sheet and the bed spun as if caught up in a whirlwind. Her stomach rolled once. Twice.
Thank God, he remembered the wastebasket.
* * * *
At some point during the night the ceiling fan had been turned off and Amber Grayson awoke to a warm room and the spicy red-pepper smell of sizzling chorizo. Kevin Miller was awake, cooking breakfast and blaring nineties hard rock music throughout the house.
Had she still lived in her condo in downtown Fort Worth, Texas, the glaring strum from an electric guitar would have been muted by the sounds of the city. But here in the sedate neighborhood of ranch style homes, Kevin’s music and the occasional bark of an aging dog were the only sounds which had resonated for the last two months.
Two months of devising a sound financial plan to consolidate both their households, at least partially. She had sold her condo so that Kevin could create a home office in one of the bedrooms of the older, larger house and not have to rent office space downtown. Their increased savings could be used for their wedding, honeymoon, and infertility treatments, and still maintain his obligation to the family ranch in Buffalo Pass.
The ranch. Even though she and Kevin had dated for over a year before becoming engaged and she’d practically lived in the heavily wooded area among hay rolls and cows and horses, she hadn’t known that a substantial portion of revenue from Kevin’s renovation company was used as operating capital for his family’s ranch.
Oh Lord. Her stomach knotted. She’d given up her job as office manager for her godfather’s law firm where she’d directed the day-to-day operations of the Fort Worth location as well as a satellite office in Houston to become the Executive Director for his non-profit organization. The move meant she wasn’t tied to her desk chair every day and had more time to spend with Kevin when he wasn’t working out of town on a jobsite. It also meant a smaller salary. “Stop thinking about this. It’s going to be fine.”
Amber tossed a pillow and a blanket that lay folded on her reading lounger into the closet and hurried into the bathroom. Kevin must have slept there last night, his wide body contorted to fit into the chenille chair. That had bad morning written all over it. A grumpy Kevin arguing about the treatments and then an afternoon spent not speaking to each other.
No. No. No. They had one day to themselves before her parents arrived and they weren’t going to spend it like that. They wouldn’t talk about the treatments if it killed her, and knowing her bullheaded fiancé it just might.
The battle she struggled through after being plagued with infection after infection following a botched appendectomy while in high school had left her scarred emotionally and physically. She’d been told that she would need medical intervention if she wanted to have a child in the future. Her mother had helped her to concentrate on her present and her goals. And the future had seemed so far away.
A few months before her fortieth birthday, time had suddenly caught up with her. The window of opportunity for having a child was closing.
In the beginning Kevin said he was willing to try anything she wanted. But with each bout of tremors following an injection, and the night sweats and the morning nausea, his willingness had more than waned. Now, at the end of the third cycle, he was adamant that she discontinue the injections.
The battle with Kevin raged on. She’d already conceded so much during their engagement — her home, her job. She wouldn’t concede this one point. A child of their own.
Amber showered quickly and toweled off. When she settled on the bed and began to apply lotion to her legs, she noticed the tiny pricks in her thighs. Some had scarred. A few had healed evenly but she could still see them and so would Kevin.
In the end, it is going to be worth it. He was going to feel differently about the process when he was holding their son or daughter in his arms, looking at his own wavy dark hair and her deep brown eyes. And so would she.
Amber absently rubbed at the new pin-prick which had started to itch and sat at her dressing table to curl her hair. Angled beneath a narrow row of windows for the most light, neither the delicate gold curlicues of the oval mirror nor the velvet tufted bench complemented the room’s dark wood paneling. Other projects had taken precedence over the bedroom remodel, and she wondered if she should start on the room herself. How hard would it be to paint?
Her head bobbed in time with Kevin’s music even though she still hadn’t deciphered the words, and for a few minutes she was lost in the melody and pondering paint colors. Then she winced as a lock of her hair, heated by the curling iron, swooped over her shoulder. Her skin had become so sensitive after the treatments that it seemed the lightest touch was electrifying.
Not that it was an entirely bad thing. Especially when it came to Kevin and the things he could do with hands and his… Oh, goodness.
She applied makeup and slipped into a clingy cowl neck sweater, jeans, and a pair of heeled boots. He would get nothing but sweetness today no matter what he hurled at her. Everything was going to be fine. All he needed was reassurance.
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