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It had been a long morning. They’d traveled for several hours talking and just getting to know each other before stopping at a roadside café for lunch. Rod and Kate both took the time to change into more comfortable clothes. They lingered over their meal, more engrossed in each other than the food.
Her eyes boldly raked over him as a telltale flush crept up her cheeks. His fingers intertwined with hers across the table…His green eyes locked with hers. “Well find a motel in Wyoming,” he told her. “I want to be across the state line,” he explained.
She nodded in understanding. It was doubtful the police in Lame Deer did more than just shrug if her father would have gone to them.
One missing Indian girl would hardly be worth the reports they’d have to file, especially if they knew she’d run off with a white man but then again…Her father could be quite forceful when he was angry and Katie was very sure that he was very angry. He might well have stirred the police to at least make an effort to find her.
Rod kissed her fingers. “I love you Katie…I’ll make you happy, I promise.”
She smiled back. “I love you too and I already am happy,” she replied.
They continued on their journey, crossing into Wyoming before heading southwest. Roderick finally found a small motel near Yellowstone and pulled in. It was still early in the afternoon. “Are you hungry Kate?” He asked.
She shook her head. “Not for food,” she teased with a delicious grin.
Rod’s eyes warmed immediately. “I promise not to disappoint the lady,” he said huskily as he leaned over to kiss his wife.
She blushed as he went inside to rent a room. He returned a moment later and drove around the building to their room.
Roderick opened the door for her and Katie grinned. In her culture, women were not pampered by their men so she found Rod’s gentlemanly behavior amusing and unique and she loved it.
She giggled as she found herself swept up into his eyes. “What are you doing?” She questioned.
“It’s our custom to carry our bride across the threshold,” he teased.
She smiled as she looped her arms around his neck. Rod carried her into the room and set her on her feet. She glanced around briefly, flushing slightly at the sight of the double bed.
Roy saw the nervous look and hesitated, afraid to rush her but desperate to hold her in his arms. Her shy dark eyes met his blazing green and she grinned, understanding the look that lit his eyes.
She slowly began to unbutton her dress…It was the only invitation Rod needed. He brushed her hands aside and took over, sliding the garment from her shoulders and letting it slide down her slender body to pool at her feet.
Roderick grinned at the sight of her…She was perfect and stunning. He scooped her up in his arms and carried her to the bed where he quickly shed his own clothes and joined her. His hands traveled over her as his eyes locked with hers.
She smiled dreamily at him, her body responding to his touch. “Are you ready for this Katie?” He questioned softly.
She nodded eagerly. “I have been ready for this since the moment we met,” she whispered huskily.
His mouth lowered to capture hers and he spent the next hours making sure there was no doubt that she was his wife in every way and no one could take her from him.
They were back on the road the next morning. Neither of them had wanted to leave the bed but Rod knew they couldn’t stay there forever making love to his new bride…He’d have to face the music eventually.
He knew his parents would be unhappy and Deb would be livid at the humiliation of losing him to a penniless Indian woman but that was too bad. He’d married the only woman he’d ever love and they’d have to accept that but if they didn’t…Then he’d take Katie and they’d start a new life together somewhere else.
Roderick glanced at the girl as she sat lost in her own thoughts. She felt his eyes on her and turned toward him. A smile parted her lips at his warm look. “I love you Kate,” he said softly. She smiled softly. “Um Katie…There’s something I have to tell you.”
Rod grinned. “What does that mean?”
She laughed… “You would say sweet heart.”
“Mé’oo’o huh? I like that.” She smiled. He cleared his throat. “Well…I guess there’s no easy way to say this. Katie…I’m ah…I’m not sure how my parents are going to react when I tell them about you.”
She looked at him understandingly. She’d already lived the flip side. “You mean because I’m Indian?”
“Yes…Well not just that…You’re not rich,” he clarified.
She grimaced. “What will you do if they do not Roderick?” She questioned.
He shrugged. “Then I’ll take you with me…I’ll be stuck on the oil rigs for weeks at a time but I’ll be sure you get my paychecks so you aren’t going without money and I have a little of my own that my grandparents left me. We’ll get by. Once I’ve been with the company for a few years I’ll be a senior engineer and then I can choose a place and stay with it. We just have to get by until then.”
“I will miss you but then…I would do that whether I was with your parents or not.”
“Well let’s hope for the best but Kate…There’s something else.”
“I’m ah…uh…was…supposed to get married in a couple of weeks.”
She looked at him in shock. “You…Loved this woman?” She asked, looking hurt.
“No Kate…No I didn’t.”
She smiled, looking relieved. “Then why marry her?”
“Because my parents wanted me to...”
She nodded in understanding. “I would also have married Charles Blue Eagle because my parents wanted it so...So I guess I can forgive that,” she said with a smile.
He chuckled in relief and her musical laughter joined his. They drove most of that day…Each one falling more and more in love as they learned everything they could about the other.
She loved his strength and his intelligence…His humor and his funny habit of stumbling over his words when he was frustrated.
He loved her gentle heart and her ability to see the good in almost every situation. She was kind and forgiving. He’d yet to hear an unkind word out of her mouth about anyone…Not even when her unpleasant encounter with George Walking Wolf had come up. She’d blamed herself for hurting his pride.
They stopped for the night just over the California line. Rod could have made it home but he wanted one more night of peaceful bliss with his new bride before facing what he knew would be an ugly confrontation.
He knew his parents were too narrow minded to accept that he’d married an Indian woman with no high class name and nothing but the clothes on her back. That he loved her would mean very little.
Rod didn’t care. In a few years he’d have a position that would mean he could get them a home of their own to start a family. He’d be making some pretty decent money by then as well…They’d be fine. They just had to hold on till then.
His job paid well enough and if he handled the money right…Kate would want for very little…Well…except him.
The next morning they were back on the road. They’d be in Santa Barbara by noon and as they drove, Rod explained his plans to Kate. He glanced at her to see her reaction. It’ll be a little lonely for you at first Kate…But we’ll make it.”
She smiled as she listened to him speak. “Roderick…I would live with you in a tent if it meant we could be together,” she assured him.
“Well hopefully it won’t come to that,” he teased…”I’m hoping I’ll be wrong and parents will just be happy that I’m happy but if not…I’ll take you wherever I go and find a motel for you to stay in while I’m away.” She nodded her agreement. It wasn’t ideal but she was strong and she’d live with it. “I know it might be a lonely life I’m sticking you with…”
“As long as you come home to me,” she replied quietly.
“I’ll always come home Katie…You can count on it.” She grinned back until Rod slowed down and pulled into the driveway of his home.
Kate gasped at the large home sprawled before her. “You live here?” He nodded. “Oh Roderick,” she whispered in terror.
He laughed at the tone. “You’re not impressed are you?”
“No...I’m sorry…It’s very beautiful but…”
“You weren’t expecting this?”
Rod grinned. “Good…Because if I have to buy a home for us…It won’t be anything this big at least not at first. She smiled in relief that he wasn’t angry at her. He sat staring at his home for a long moment with a sense of foreboding…Almost as if saying goodbye. He finally sighed. “Let’s get this done,” he said softly as he climbed from the car and came around to open the door for his wife.
He slid his arm around her as they walked toward the house. Once on the doorstep, he gave his wife a quick glance and a nervous smile.
He pushed the door open… “Mother…Father…I’m home,” he called as he led Kate inside.
He heard his mother answer from the sitting room off the hall to his left. “Roderick…? Is that you?”
“Yes mother,” he replied, rolling his eyes at Kate as the woman appeared in the doorway. She was beautiful and elegant…Her upswept blonde hair, lightly touched by gray. Pearl earrings clipped to her lobes accenting the black and white summer dress that adorned a slender, mid forties body.
“I thought you’d be gone…” Her voice trailed off at the sight of the beautiful Indian girl at her son’s side. Her green eyes…A carbon copy of her son’s, without the carefree joy raked the young woman over from head to toe. “Roderick…May I ask who this is?” She inquired politely, her eyes never leaving the younger woman.
“Certainly mother. I’d like you to meet Kate or Red Moon if you prefer. She’s the daughter of Daniel Sun Walker from Montana. Kate…This is my mother Lenora Gage.”
His mother’s eyes shifted from the girl to her son, afraid she already knew what was coming from the proprietary way Roderick held the girl against him. “Oh…?” She questioned uncertainly. Did her son expect her to know who Daniel Sun Walker was?
“She’s my wife.”
His mother drew herself up stiffly. “Your what?”
“You heard me mother. She’s my wife. We were married in Montana.”
Her mouth set in a rigid line. “I see…Why don’t we go and get your father. He really should be here for this. Why don’t you leave ahhh…Kate…In the rose room while we talk in your father’s study? Excuse us Miss…,” she said coolly, addressing Kate for the first time.
“That’s Mrs.…Mother. Mrs. Roderick Gage.”
“Yes well…We’ll discuss that of course.”
“I’m not sure what you think there is to discuss…It’s done,” he said with a shrug but he led Kate to a large room decorated in shades of deep pink and white. He sat her on the delicate love seat. She looked up at him worriedly but he tilted her chin up until her eyes met his.
“She doesn’t like me,” she whispered.
You didn’t marry her…You married me and I love you. Nothing will change that,” he assured her, dropping a kiss on her lips.
Roderick followed his mother from the room. They entered a much more masculine looking area. An older man sat at his desk working on papers from one of the oil company’s he held shares in. He glanced up and a look of pleased surprise crossed his face.
“Roderick…You’re back early. I didn’t expect you for another week at least,” he said extending his hand to his son.
“Yes well…Something came up and I needed to come back sooner than expected father.”
“Oh?” The older man saw the stiff look on his wife’s features. “What’s wrong?” He questioned.
“Jonathan,” she began anxiously but Rod cut in.
“I’ll tell him mother. Father…While I was in Montana I met a woman. Her name is Kate and she’s wonderful. She’s beautiful, intelligent, graceful…” Jonathan’s mouth curled up in a pleased smile. He wasn’t all that fond of Deb himself.
“Who’s her family?” He asked. Rod swallowed a bit nervously.
“She’s Indian,” his mother interrupted in irritation.
Jonathan stared at her in shock. “Indian…? As in American Indian…?”
“Yes,” Rod answered.
His father shook his head and came to his feet. He came around the desk to hook his arm around his son’s shoulders. “I’m afraid that’s out of the question,” he said firmly.
“I beg your pardon?” Rod questioned in annoyance.
“Look son…I imagine she’s quite beautiful but people of our um…breeding…Simply do not marry Indians. Now I know…,” he said holding up his hand to stop his son’s protests. “That you don’t love Deb and I truly understand that but…,” he glanced at his wife and lowered his voice delicately as he turned them away from her. “You can always have both. Marry Deb…Give us our heirs with good breeding,” he shrugged. “And keep the other…”
Rod jerked away angrily. “Is that what you did?” He asked angrily.
“Certainly not…I loved your mother.”
“Good…Then you can understand how I feel…I love Kate.”
“I’m sorry son…The answer is no.”
Lenora stood, wringing her hands anxiously, knowing the explosion that was coming. “It’s a little late for that father. I didn’t come home to ask your permission. I brought my wife to meet my family.”
“We can get it annulled.”
“But we won’t and just so you understand…She could well be carrying your grandchild right now.”
“A DAMN INDIAN…,” his father bellowed. “I WON’T HAVE IT.”
It was the first time in his life that Roderick had ever wanted to strike his own father. His green eyes narrowed angrily. “I’m sorry you feel that way. I’ll be taking my wife and leaving now.”
“You walk out that door with that woman and you’re through.”
Rod stopped and turned to face his father. The older man smirked triumphantly. “Then I guess I’m through father.”
“Roderick…Jonathan…Please,” Lenora wailed, finally regaining her composure. “We can work this out.”
“There’s nothing to work out mother. She’s my wife and that won’t change.” He turned and stormed from the room.
“RODERICK…GET BACK HERE,” his father bellowed. “You’ll regret this,” he called after his retreating son.
“No father I won’t. Not as long as I have Kate…But you might,” he yelled back as he flung the door open to the rose room.
He was surprised to find his sister and his fiancée standing there looking shocked and angry. Well it had to happen…He would have gone to Deb’s to talk to her anyway…He’d owed her that.
He pulled Kate to her feet to hold her protectively at his side. He could hear his mother still arguing with his father. “PLEASE Jonathan…He’s our son…The only one we have left.”
“I won’t have it…He’ll do what I say or I’ll cut him off…,” he bellowed back stubbornly.
Rod shook his head in disgust and turned back to the two women standing in front of him with mouths agape. “Rosemary…Deb.”
Katie sat in the pink room and glanced around unable to believe what she now found herself in. This house…The grounds… It was fit for a princess but that’s not what she was. She had never envisioned herself living like this and she was uncomfortable.
She could only hope that Roderick intended to have a place of their own...A small place that she could call her own.
She heard laughing female voices as the door opened and two lovely young women entered the room. Both appeared to be a few years older than her.
One was tall and slender and she had sable hair pulled back in a pony tail and green eyes…She was obviously related to Roderick.
The other was petite with an almost boyishly slim figure. Her blonde hair was wrapped in an elegant twist at the back of her head…Her pale blue eyes locked on the beautiful girl seated on the sofa. They took in the flawless, toffee tinted skin…The wide spread chocolate brown eyes…The perfect white teeth behind the gentle, coral colored lips.
Deb frowned as she made the comparison with her own looks and thin, bony frame. She couldn’t compete with the soft rounded curves that graced the slender body of this girl and her heart sank.
They had seen Roderick’s convertible when she and Rod’s sister had returned from the tennis courts. She’d been excited, thinking he’d come home early to be with her but now…
Rosemary stepped forward, interrupting her reverie. “Hello…I’m Rosemary Hughes.”
Kate nodded in greeting as she stood up. “You are Roderick’s sister?”
“Yes…And you are?”
“I am called Kate…Kate Gage,” she corrected.
“Gage?” Rosemary’s eyes traveled over the woman. She was stunning. “Are you a cousin or…?” She trailed off as sudden realization sank in. “Oh my God,” she mumbled as her eyes flew to Deb.
She could tell that the petite blonde had also come up with the answer. The beautiful woman in front of her confirmed it. “I am Roderick’s wife.”
“His WIFE…?” Deb shrilled angrily.
“Wife,” Rosemary gasped.
Kate sat down, suddenly nervous at being alone with these two women. The door swung open again and Roderick stalked inside. He stopped at the sight of his sister and his soon to be ex fiancée. He reached out his hand to draw Kate to her feet and hold her protectively to his side. “Rosemary…Deb. I see you’ve met Katie.”
“Yes we have,” Rose said in cool tone.
Deb looked at him in a rage. “IS THAT ALL YOU HAVE TO SAY?” She shrieked.
“No Deb…I was coming to talk to you as well…To explain.”
“Explain what? That you made a fool of me?”
“That wasn’t my intent but I did plan to tell you I was sorry.”
“Sorry! Sorry?” She questioned in outrage.
“Yes sorry…Look…It’s not like I pretended to love you Deb…You knew the score.”
She looked at him in shock. “I...I knew that…I…Expected you to have others but…But how could you marry that…that…SQUAW?”
Kate’s eyes filled with tears at the slur and Roderick’s temper shot through the roof…He’d never been so close to striking a woman as he was now. “SHUT UP!” He snarled angrily. “Don’t you ever talk about her like that again.” The tone of Roderick’s voice was deathly cold. Rose and Deb had never heard this even tempered man sound like that before. “You have a right to be angry but you take it on me not her,” he growled. “Katie, let’s go…I’m taking you away…Right now. We’re through here.” He turned and led his wife from the room.
Rosemary’s eyes filled with tears. She loved her brother very much and he was the only one she had left since William had been killed.
Rod led his wife past his parents without so much as a second look and walked from his childhood home without regret.
They were halfway to the car when the door opened behind them. His sister ran from the house. “Rod…Please don’t leave. We can work this out.”
“There’s nothing to work out Rosie…Until they can accept this beautiful woman as my wife…We’re through.”
“Don’t leave me Ricky,” she pleaded, using her own pet name for her brother. Tears welled in the green eyes. “You’re the only brother I have.”
“I’ll always be there for you Rosie, you know that,” he said softly. She nodded through the tears. “I’ll keep in touch. I’ll let you know where we are. Give my love to Joshua and Tiffany and tell Geoffrey I said hello.”
She nodded…She’d be heading back to San Gabriel and her husband and children the next day…
“I love you too but I love Kate as well. I’ve made my choice and apparently so have they…My feelings for Katie are stronger than theirs for me.”
He opened the door for his wife, closing it behind her. He stopped to kiss his sisters forehead before climbing into the car himself. “Roderick…I’m so sorry,” Kate whispered in distress.
“Don’t be…I love you and no one and nothing will change that,” he assured her as his mouth caught hers in a gentle kiss.
He smiled into her eyes for a moment before pulling out of the driveway of his parent’s home… He never went back.
The next several months became a lonely time for Kate. Roderick was away for weeks at a time and while the oil rig workers were usually three weeks on and three weeks off…Roderick was one of their few engineer’s and that meant a month on and two weeks off, jumping from rig to rig as a trouble shooter.
He moved Kate from hotel to hotel along with him whenever possible depending on how long he’d be in a particular place. The months dragged on but the two weeks when he was home were the most wonderful time of her life. She wrote to her family…Her father was angry with her but he softened enough to tell her she could always come home.
Rod took her to plays, restaurants and movies. He taught her to dance and their favorite song became Secret Love. He’d sway gently with Katie in his arms. He never regretted his decision to make her his wife regardless of the cost.
March was a particularly rough month for Roderick. The sea’s had been wild and he’d spent the best part of the month wet and longing for the warmth of his wife’s arms.
He finally got his wish near the end of April. He came into the motel room early in the morning to find Kate laying on the couch…Her face was pale and drawn. “Kate,” he gasped in panic as he ran to her side. “Kate, what’s wrong?”
She tried to sit up but her face paled even more… “Sick,” she whispered forlornly.
“A couple of days…”
“Have you seen a doctor?”
She shook her head. Rod didn’t waste a moment… he scooped her up on his arms and headed for the door. They were in Sacramento and he knew the doctor who had been his family physician and friend to his parents for years was here practicing now…He knew he’d see her without an appointment as well.
He loaded her into the backseat of the DeSoto and climbed in. Finally regaining control of her stomach after the run to the car Katie was finally able to ask. “Where are we going?”
“To see Dr. Hahn…”
“My doctor sweetheart…He's a friend of my family's. We need to have him check you over and find out what wrong and make you well,” he said reassuringly.
Her giggle of amusement from the back seat surprised him. “Rod…Mé’oo’o…I’m afraid your doctor can’t cure this.”
Fear climbed into Rod’s throat. “Why Katie…What’s wrong? Do you know?”
She nodded her head in his rearview. “Only time can fix this,” she assured him.
“What is it?”
She grinned. “Roderick…I think I’m carrying your child.” His foot hit the brake and he pulled to the side of the road and turned to look at his wife in shock. His dumbfounded look brought a gurgle of laughter from the woman. “My love…With as much time as we spend in that bed when you're home, are you really that surprised?”
He grinned back. “No…I guess I shouldn’t be…I guess it’s more surprising that it took this long,” he chuckled. “But you still need to see a doctor. “
“Alright,’ she agreed. “Are you happy?” She questioned a little hesitantly, after all they hadn’t planned on a baby this soon.
Rod smirked happily in satisfaction.”Of course I’m happy…I love you Kate and I’ll love our child.”
“I love you too,” she replied in relief.
A father... he was gonna be a father…No…A dad. His child would never call him father. Dad or daddy…They’d be great friends.
Dr. Hahn grinned at Roderick as he confirmed Kate’s suspicions. “Congratulations Rod,” he said shaking the younger man’s hand. He nodded toward the door. “She’s getting dressed,” he informed him.
“Thanks Steve…Um…Can you handle this? I mean I’d like you to be her doctor if that’s alright.”
“I’d be honored Rod. When are you going to tell Jonathan and Lenora?” He asked with a grin.
Rod’s smile faded. “Haven’t you heard?” The doctor looked at him in concern. “I’ve been disowned…They uh…Objected to my marrying Kate.”
“No I hadn’t heard. I’m sorry…But why? I don’t understand…She’s a beautiful, intelligent, charming young woman.”
“She’s also Indian.”
The older man looked away in disgust. “I can’t believe that…I thought I knew them. It never occurred to me.”
“To you…? How do you think I feel?”
“I’m sorry my love,” Kate said remorsefully from behind them. Both men turned to face her and Rod hurried to her side.
“Don’t be…I wouldn’t give you up for anything, not even them,” he reassured her. He kissed her hard and pulled her against him. “Pretty soon we’ll have our own child and we’ll raise him right…With all the love we can give him. He’ll never have a reason to doubt it.”
“He…?” She questioned with a grin.
Rod patted her belly gently… “That’s my son you’re carrying Kate. I just know it.”
“What if it’s a girl?”
He grinned. “If she looks like you, I’ll love her just as much and we’ll have plenty of time to try again.” She giggled happily. “So Steve…What’s your guess for a due date?” He questioned.
“She’s late in her third month so I’d say October 20th or there abouts.”
She hugged him to her. “Let’s go home,” she said, gazing up at him softly.
“Make an appointment with my nurse for your next checkup,” Steve called after them.
Time passed slowly for Kate…Rod had to return to work on schedule though he’d promised to request time off for the baby’s birth in October. He was away for several weeks and she made few friends as she was living in a motel. The neighbors kept changing.
She made most of her trips to the doctor alone but thankfully they were close to the bus route so it wasn’t that difficult.
She was cooking dinner one night two months later when she felt a sharp kick. She jumped, startled but then a slow grin spread over her features. She rubbed her belly gently. “You will be strong like your daddy and your grandfather my son,” she murmured softly.
She grinned, knowing in her heart that Roderick was right…She was carrying a son. She was as certain of it as he had been. She couldn’t wait for Rod to come home…He’d be as excited as she was to find out that his child was fine and kicking heartily…She could hardly wait for him to come home so she could tell him.
Several days passed and she found herself talking or singing Indian lullaby’s to her child frequently. It seemed to soothe the restless kicks. She was in the middle of one lullaby when a knock at the door interrupted her song.
She opened it to find Roderick’s sister, Rosemary standing there. “May I come in?” She questioned quietly.
“Roderick is not here,” she informed her a bit uncomfortably.
“That’s alright…I really came to see you.”
She smiled hesitantly. “Kate…I love my brother and I hate not being able to see him. I was hoping that you and I could get to know one another…I thought… maybe we could be friends.”
Kate chewed her lip for a moment in indecision before she finally stepped back to let the beautiful woman enter. “Come in.”
Rose stepped inside, her green eyes finally sweeping over the pretty Indian girl. They settled on the gently rounded belly of slender younger woman. “Kate…Are you um,” she hesitated, but the girl nodded proudly.
“With child…? Yes,” she replied.
“Does Rod know?” She asked.
“Of course…He’s already insisting that I’m carrying his son.”
Rose grinned. “That sounds like him. I’m so happy for you…Both of you,” she said closing the door. She was a bit surprised that Rod hadn’t told her about it any of his letters. Probably afraid she’d be like her parents and disapprove. “Why don’t you sit and I’ll make us some tea and we’ll talk.”
“I can do that,” Kate protested.
“I invited myself…I’ll make tea. You just relax.”
Kate smiled tolerantly. “Thank you but in my culture…We don’t pamper ourselves…So…”
“Well in this one we do,” Rose interrupted. “So please let me.”
“Alright,” Kate finally agreed as she eased herself into a chair.
The two women sat for several hours getting to know one another. Kate admired the elegance and poise of the lady before her while she spoke of her husband Geoffrey and her two children…Four year old Joshua and two and a half year old Tiffany.
Rosemary had been married at eighteen and now at twenty four was two years younger than her brother.
Rose admired the openness and honesty of the younger woman. She was gentle and kind and spoke without the usual guile and the sly barbs that Rosemary was used to from her circle of friends and she found herself relaxed and comfortable with the girl. She could easily see why Rod had fallen in love with her.
“Would you mind if I come again?” Rosemary asked hesitantly, ashamed of the way her family had treated this charming young woman.
Kate smiled. “I would be pleased and so would Rod but isn’t this a long trip for you?”
Rose smiled. “My husband is working here for a year before we go back to San Gabriel…I thought it was the perfect time for you and I to get to know one another. You move around so much…I…I really can’t keep up.”
“I know,” Kate said with a tired frown.
“That’s really not good for you and the baby,” she advised.
Kate nodded. “That’s why he’s left me here instead of moving me to Texas with him this time but I’m very lonely with just our son for company,” she teased as she rubbed her belly ruefully.
Rose smiled. “Then I’ll come more often…We’re going to be friends Kate. I’ll see you again soon,” she promised as she rose and headed for the door. Kate followed.
“I’ll tell Roderick that you were here. Maybe next time you can come when he’s at home.”
Rosemary nodded and pulled a piece of paper and a pen from her purse. She jotted down her phone number and handed it to Kate. “You call me if you need anything while Ricks away.”
“I will and…Thank you.”
“Kate…I can’t promise anything but I’ll talk to my parents…Maybe someday they’ll wake up to what they’re throwing away. Kate nodded as the older woman left.
Rosemary came many times over the next few weeks. Usually Roderick wasn’t home but she managed to catch him a few times. The couple was thrilled at her acceptance of their marriage though they were saddened by his parent’s refusal to give in and take their son back. Roderick’s mother wanted to but her husband’s stubborn pride wouldn’t yield, though Rosemary kept trying.
By mid July Rosemary found herself packing yet again. Rod would be home in a couple of weeks and he wanted to find them a small apartment for at least a few months until the baby came and she’d be able to travel with him once more.
She lifted a box but dropped it again as a stabbing pain lanced through her abdomen, doubling her over. Her cry of pain was followed by a whisper of fear. “No it’s too soon Na'haketa (my little one),” she whispered. “I can’t lose you.” She was only six and a half months along and she knew the infant would never survive.
She needed help and Roderick was too far away. She called her sister in law. “Rose…This is Kate.”
Rose could tell from the tone of her voice that something was very wrong. “Katie? Are you okay?”
“No…I’m cramping and I think I’m bleeding.”
“Okay…Stay right there…I’m calling Dr. Hahn..He’ll come to you and then I’ll be right there.”
“Thank you,” the younger woman whispered.
An hour later Kate lay in her bed… Dr. Hahn had managed to stop the bleeding and the cramping had eased considerably. Rosemary had managed to get a message on its way to Roderick. She hoped he’d call or be on his way home soon.
Rose held Kate’s hand as the doctor gave her instructions. “No lifting Kate and stay in bed. You need to rest.”
“But I have to pack.”
“You have a child to take care of…That’s your first priority. Rod can do the rest when he comes home.”
“Yes,” she agreed.
“I’m going to warn you right now…You may not be able to carry this child to term but the longer we can keep him where he is the better.” She bit her lip worriedly and nodded.
“Where was he taking you?”
“Just across town… He wants me out of this motel and into an apartment until the baby comes…It’s closer to Rosemary.”
The older woman smiled and squeezed her hand. She and Kate had become very close.
“Is Roderick on his way home?” Hahn asked.
“Yes,” Rose replied. “And I’ll stay with her until he gets here. It’s going to be at least a few hours. He was on one of the rigs and they had to get him back to shore before they can fly him home.”
“I see…Well once we’re sure she’s stable then it shouldn’t be a problem as long as you get plenty of rest but Rod needs to be with you as much as possible.”
“If he can’t be then I will.”
“Oh Rose…You can’t be away from your own family and I know your children are…Well,” she hesitated not wanting to offend the older woman. “Uncomfortable around me,” she finished tactfully.
The doctor shot Rosemary a questioning look. “Yes well… my husband runs in the same narrow circles as my parents and unfortunately their prejudices have rubbed off on my children but they’ll just have to deal with it. Having to come over here a little more often might open their narrow little eyes to how nice you really are,” she said quietly.
Kate smiled her gratitude at her sister in law.
As Rose had predicted, Rod arrived home several hours later. He ran into the room and stopped short at the sight of his wife and sister.
Kate was pale but she was tucked warmly into her bed, while Rosemary sat next to her sipping tea. Both women looked relaxed and comfortable.
“Rosie,” Rod greeted warmly as he came to his wife’s side and leaned down to kiss her. “Are you okay?” He asked worriedly as he backed up a space. His fingers trailed gently through the raven hair, smoothing it from her face.
“I’m fine,” she assured him.
“No she isn’t,” Rose cut in. “She lost a bit of blood and she was cramping when I got here. The doctor put her on bed rest.” Rod’s face reflected his fear for his young wife and child.
“What about the baby?” He questioned resting his hand on his wife’s belly.
“He’s still with us,” she reassured him as the baby gave Rod’s hand a disagreeable kick as if to prove his mothers words.
“Tough little thing isn’t he?” He teased.
“Just like his father,” she shot back.
Rod grinned and turned to Rose. “Thanks for coming.”
She nodded and smiled. “Katie called me when she started to cramp. I came right over.”
“Anything for you two…You’re the only brother I have left and that’s my niece or nephew she’s carrying.”
“NEPHEW,” Kate and Rod said together.
They all laughed. I guess I can go home now. I’m glad you’re home.”
Rod walked her to the door. “Thanks again for watching out for her.
“Katie…I’m sorry I wasn’t here and you had to go through this alone.”
“It’s alright Me’oo’o…I’m fine and our son will be too.”
“I’m going to take a leave of absence until he comes.”
“You don’t have to do that. I’ll just be more careful.”
“You’re going to be sitting and watching me pack boxes.”
Kate sighed. “I’m sorry I’m causing you all these problems for you.”
Rod looked at her in shock. “Problems…?” He questioned. “You’re carrying my child and I’m pretty sure I had a hand in it,” he teased.
She grinned. “I just wish I were stronger.”
“That’s my job,” he said planting a tender kiss on his wife’s lips. Rod spent the next few days packing before moving her across town to their first apartment.
Katie was cooking dinner a month later. It was the only chore Roderick allowed her to do but only because he didn’t want his wife to starve to death on his culinary skills,” he assured her.
The baby had been very active earlier that morning but now he appeared to have run out of steam.
Katie lifted the pan of water to carry it to the sink but dropped it with a crash as pain gripped her once again.”Roderick,” she gasped as she pressed her hand against her belly in agony.
Rod had heard the crash and come running. “Katie…Katie what is it?” He questioned. The look of agony on her face was enough.
He scooped her into his arms and carried her quickly to the bedroom. He snatched up the phone “Steve…This is Roderick Gage. Kate’s cramping again…Like the last time,” he said, his voice cracking with fear.
“Sounds like that son of yours is a little bit impatient to make it into the world,” Hahn replied calmly. “Get her in here on the double Rod.”
“It’s too soon…She’s only seven and a half months.”
“I know that son…We’ll do our best. I’ll meet you there,” he assured him.
Rod slammed the phone down before scooping his wife up in his arms and carrying her to his car. They arrived at the hospital a short time later though the ride had seemed to take forever. Rod was pale with fear.
“Roderick,” Kate moaned. “Please hurry,” she whimpered.
“We’re here sweetheart. It’ll be okay…He’s gonna be strong,” he assured her.
He carried her inside and set her in a wheelchair. He tried to follow as a nurse whisked her away but another held out her hand to stop him. “You just wait out here and we’ll let you know,” she ordered, giving him a push toward the waiting room.
He ran his hands through his thick dark hair…Fear made his heart race and his face was pale and sweating as he paced outside the door. He couldn’t lose her and what about the baby? His thoughts raced. It would break her heart to lose this baby…Hell…It would destroy his as well. They both wanted him…her, he conceded. Right now it didn’t matter which. They both just wanted this child…The ultimate result of their love for each other.
Inside the room the doctor smiled reassuringly at the panting young woman. “Okay Kate…I know it’s a little early and I know you’re scared but we’re gonna do our best to get you both through this.”
“Can’t you stop it as you did before?” She whispered plaintively.
He shook his head. “You’re already crowning…This little one is on his way,” he told her with a smile, praying silently that he could save this baby.
He’d become very fond of Kate and he knew the couple would be devastated if they lost this child. “Okay Kate, it’s time…I need you to push.”
Outside in the waiting room, beads of sweat broke out on Rod’s forehead. He desperately wanted to be in with his wife but the nurse had already run him off twice now. A loud scream suddenly penetrated the closed door and Rod’s face blanched. “Katie,” he whispered fearfully.
The weak cry of an infant soon followed and the tall man breathed a sigh of relief.
Several minutes later Dr. Hahn stepped from the room, wiping his hands on a towel. He smiled at Rod reassuringly. “Katie’s fine Rod,” he said before the tall man could even ask.
“And the baby…?”
Hahn frowned a bit. “He’s tiny and his lungs are a bit underdeveloped…It’ll be touch and go for a few days but he’s already proven that he’s a tough little guy and he wants to live. We’ll keep him in an incubator for a few days and on an IV to feed him and keep him hydrated but with a lot of love and prayer…I think we’ll get him through.”
Rod closed his eyes briefly in relief. “Thank God…And the love and prayers won’t be a problem,” he said with a smile but the relief was short lived.
“Uh…Kate had a real hard time of it. She hemorrhaged and she lost a lot of blood.”
“What are you saying?” He asked looking terrified that his wife was going to die.
“I’m saying that I don’t recommend a second child,” he said gently.
Rod’s face fell, knowing that Kate would be distraught at that news. She’d wanted a houseful of children but if this little one was all they’d have then he’d be the recipient of all the love they could give him.
“Can I see them?” He finally asked, regaining his composure.
“Sure,” he said pushing the door open and letting Rod step inside.
Katie was lying on the table looking exhausted. A bottle of blood hung from the rack beside her, replenishing what she’d lost.
A tiny, dark haired infant lay in the glass incubator while a nurse fussed with several tubes and IV’s. “Kate?” He questioned hesitantly.
She turned teary eyes toward him. “Oh Roderick…He is so small.”
“But the doctor said he’s tough Kate…He’ll be okay.”
“They won’t let me hold him,” she sniffed miserably.
Rod turned his gaze toward the doctor. “Just for a few days okay? We’d like him to be a little stronger before we expose him to a world full of germs and then you can hold him until he’s old enough to tell you to quit.”
Rod grinned. “That’ll never happen,” he said positively. “You hear that honey…It’s just for a few days...We don’t want him to get sick right?”
She shook her head unhappily. “No…,” she looked to the doctor. “Please…Please don’t let him die.”
“We’ll do our best,” he assured her.
She turned to her husband once more. “Did he tell you?” She asked looking ashamed.
“Tell me what?”
“That I can’t have anymore,” she whispered forlornly, looking ready to weep once more.
“That’s alright my love. We have this one and he’ll be special and we’ll spoil him rotten okay?” She nodded as her eyes returned to the infant. “Thank you Katie.”
“For what?” She asked in confusion.
“My son,” he whispered as he leaned down to kiss her.
Hahn grinned and harrumphed to regain their attention. “So what are we naming this little guy?”
“John…John Roderick Gage.
The next morning both Rod and Katie were terrified by the look on Hahn’s face as he entered her room. “Rod…Kate. I’m very sorry to tell you this but…John’s developed a respiratory infection. He’s running a high fever.”
“What are you doing about it?” Rod asked as his face paled in fear.
“We have him on IV to keep him hydrated and we’re using cooling compresses to bring the fever down but please understand. We’re not hopeful…His lungs are underdeveloped and he’s very underweight.”
Hahn shook his head despairingly. “We’re not giving him up yet but I do want you to be prepared just in case.”
Rod squeezed Kate’s hand. “He’ll be okay…He’s gonna be a fighter, he’s already shown us that. He’ll survive…He has too,” Rod murmured.
Rod and Kate traveled down to the nursery together each day and stood watching their infant son struggle to breathe, desperately wanting to hold him, terrified that every hitched and shuddering breath would be his last but John Roderick Gage proved to be the tough little survivor they called him and he fought valiantly to live.
At the beginning of the second week Rosemary arrived and came to the hospital with her brother to see her nephew for the first time. They stepped to the nursery window and Rod’s heart dropped into his stomach as they looked into the small isolation ward where his son was being cared for.
The incubator was empty. “What’s wrong Ricky?” Rose asked seeing her brothers wan face.
“He’s gone Rosie,” he whispered forlornly as tears welled in his green eyes. His voice hitched and he rubbed a hand over his face in despair.
Dr. Hahn stepped from a room further up the hall and spotted the pair. “Rod…?” He called worriedly, seeing the tears. “Rose,” he greeted. “I haven’t seen you in ages. She nodded as he turned back to her brother. “Rod…?” He questioned again.
“He’s gone,” the younger man whispered. “Where is he?” He questioned, wanting to at least have had the privilege of holding his child just once before he’d have to let him go.
Hahn suddenly realized that Rod had assumed the worst. “Let me show you,” he said gently, taking his arm and leading him down the hall to Kate’s room. He pushed the door open and let the two precede him into the room.
Rod’s green eyes fell on his wife as she sat in a rocking chair feeding their son. She glanced up and even though a mask covered her mouth, the smile that lit her eyes was enough. “Oh Roderick…He’s perfect,” she breathed.
The doctor handed him a mask that he quickly donned and moved to kneel next to his wife and son. John’s tiny face was still a bit flushed but he was obviously on the mend. He reached out to gently stroke the head full of dark, sable colored hair.
The brown eyes blinked open, casting a wary glance at the man staring back at him and bringing a chuckle of amusement from his father. “Can I hold him?”
“Sure,” the doctor nodded as Kate handed the baby over. The infant gazed back for a moment before the tiny face screwed up, his eyes filled with tears and he began to wail in indignation at having his breakfast so rudely interrupted.
Dr. Hahn took the bottle from Kate and handed it to Roderick. “I hope you have a good job Rod,” he teased.
“Why’s that?” He asked tucking the nipple into the baby’s mouth and reducing the loud wail to a watery snuffle.
“I’m told by my nurses that your son eats like a starving pig,” he told him with a grin.
“Like father like son,” Rose giggled as she tied another mask over her nose and mouth and came over to view her nephew as he drank voraciously. “Oh Rod…He’s beautiful,” she complimented. They both nodded.
A week later they brought him home.
It had been six months since John had been born and Rod had returned to work. Kate had moved with him to yet another motel near his current assignment.
John was growing steadily but Kate was still concerned. He remained thin and small for his age and he seemed abnormally quiet for a six month old infant.
“He hardly ever cries,” she told Rosemary worriedly on their way to visit the doctor.
“And you’re complaining?” Rose teased.
Kate smiled at the jest. “But doesn’t that seem abnormal to you?”
Rose shrugged. “Not really…Most moms would be thrilled with a baby that doesn’t cry but I guess we’ll find out.
The doctor smiled as he handed the infant back to his mother. “He seems fine Mrs. Gage,” he reassured her.
“But he’s so quiet and why is he so thin?”
“Mrs. Gage…You told me he was premature and sick…His metabolism may just be hyper active and it’s bound to take him awhile to catch up but the way you tell me he eats….I expect he will. I’ve drawn some blood and we’ll check it out.
“Why doesn’t he like me to hold him? Why doesn’t he cry?”
“When you took the blood…He didn’t cry.”
Dr. Ross sighed. “Mrs. Gage…I deal with infants all the time…I’m very good at what I do.”
“What about holding him? He doesn’t like it.”
The doctor looked at the baby…He did seem to be detached a bit from his mother. He tolerated her alright but not with the usual coo’s and smiles that most babies exhibited at this age when she kissed and cuddled him.
“Mrs. Gage…Sometimes when a baby is unable to bond with its mother at birth like your son was…They become a bit withdrawn. I wouldn’t worry so much. He’ll most likely come around. He seems to be developing pretty normally in every other area and he’s alert to what’s happening around him.”
The doctor clapped his hands and the dark eyes immediately swiveled toward the sound. “See what I mean? He doesn’t miss anything.” He wagged his hand and the little one easily followed the motion.
“My husband and I are moving again,” she said with a sigh. “I hate having to take him to a new doctor every time.”
“Where are you going?”
“How many times have you moved since John was born?”
“This will be the fourth.”
The doctor pursed his lips. “Mrs. Gage…That could be part of your baby’s problem... No stability...No sense of security. He’s being bounced from place to place and even an infant can recognize the change of routine…It could be what’s keeping him from feeling secure…Even with you.”
She bit her lip worriedly. What was she going to do? They couldn’t afford a house and even Rose would be moving back to San Gabriel soon. She’d have no one to help her. She and Rod were going to have to discuss this when he came home. Moving from place to place was hard enough on her how much more so on their son?
Rod returned a month later and once again had to go through the process of becoming reacquainted with his son.
It always took him a couple of days before John would let him hold him without crying or straining away. It was one of the rare times they heard him squall at all.
“There’s something wrong Roderick,” she said worriedly.
“Relax sweetheart…He’s a normal seven month old,” he assured her as they watched him play on the blanket on the floor. Rod Chuckled as John raised himself up on his forearms…The tiny face screwed up in concentration as he tried to figure out how to pull his knees up and scootch forward. The action seemed to bring frustration as he only managed a half inch forward progress before falling on his face once more.
Rod grinned as his son persisted, trying it again with the same results. “Go for it little one,” he murmured proudly as he tried yet again. “Look at him Katie…He never quits.”
She nodded but she was still worried. She guessed if everyone else thought he was okay then perhaps she should stop worrying so much too.
“The doctor said that moving him from place to place could be the reason he’s uncomfortable with me holding him. He thinks it’s confusing and frustrating for him.”
Rod frowned. “It’s part of my job Kate and he’s getting better about it right?”
“A little…,” she conceded.
“Then let’s give it a little more time…See how he does.”
She nodded in resignation…Maybe she was being just a bit over protective.
By the time John was a year old Kate realized that time wasn’t going to fix this. This moving from place to place was wearing on her and John both. It sometimes took the child a week or more to acclimate to a new place and just about the time he did…Rod would come home and they’d be off again.
“This can’t go on Roderick,” she finally told him three months later.
“What’s wrong Kate? John seems to be okay.”
“He’s not okay. He’s quiet…Withdrawn…He talks to himself more than he talks to me. He doesn’t like me to hold him. That’s not normal.”
“You hold him Kate…I’ve seen you.”
“Only sometimes but you’re not here…You don’t see it. Every time I have to uproot him again I go through this…Please Rod…Can’t we buy or rent a house…Something permanent?”
Rod shook his head. “Not yet Kate…John’s hospital bills about wiped out my savings…We have to start over…Apartments are expensive. It could be another couple of years to save enough to buy our house.
She bit her lip. She knew John’s premature arrival and three week stay in the hospital had seriously cut into their finances. The hospital bills had been staggering and they were still paying some of them off, not to mention his second hospital stay with pneumonia four months ago along with special formula’s and groceries.
She sighed… “The doctor said it’s the upheaval that’s probably causing these problems,” she said in frustration.
Rod rubbed his face. “What do you want me to do?”
“My father sent me a letter.”
“What does he want?” Rod asked warily.
“He wants me to come home.”
“I’ll just bet he does but without me and John right?”
She shook her head. “He has accepted the fact that we are married and will stay that way. He’s not happy about that but he knows if I come home that you and our son will be there. He thinks this is bad for John and I both to be living this way.”
Her father cared very little about his half breed grandson but Kate didn’t know that.
“Is that what you want Kate? It could mean even longer spells when I can’t come home.”
“It would allow you to save more money faster and find us a home of our own yes?”
He nodded. “In four or five years I’ll be a senior engineer.”
She nodded. “And then you can choose a permanent assignment.”
“Then it’s worth the sacrifice now while John is still little. He’ll have the stability he needs and then when we’re ready...”She let the statement hang.
Rod nodded. “Alright Katie…If that’s what you want.”
“It’s not what I want. I want to be with you but it is what our son needs.” He nodded.
Two weeks later Rod, Kate and John were headed for Lame Deer.
To be continued... Part three Return to Lame Deer.
Published to site 07/08/11
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