A Day of Thanks
Marie was fussing all morning for him to get off his ass from in front of the TV and do something. He was doing something…watching sports. As far as Bud was concerned that’s what Thanksgiving was for. Anyway it was before he met Marie.
Now it consisted of eating too damned much, spending time with the family and watching sports. He much preferred the current way he spent the holiday. They lived in Australia now and Thanksgiving was a very American holiday. But with four out of six of the participants from America the Yanks won out. Curry seemed to enjoy the hell out of it like he did everything and Varner didn’t quite seem to know what to make out of it.
The little one was excited since it was Katie Marie’s first Thanksgiving. Between her and Curry it was hard to tell which one was looking forward to the day more? He figured his goddaughter would be in the same mood as her parents. It seemed to run in that family. He chuckled to himself.
"Ok, Hon. I’m standing by the door. Food’s in the car. Get a move on." He grinned and figured a little ribbing was due. Silence. He clapped his hands. That oughta really get her dander up. Bud liked when her dander was up. More silence. What the hell?
He strode down the hallway to their bedroom. She wasn’t there, but the bathroom light was on. That’s when he heard a noise…a retching sound. Shit.
"Ah, Hon. You ain’t going nowhere today. That’s the second time." He filled her cup with water and got her a wet wash cloth while he handed her the water. Next he ran his fingers through her hair to hold it away from her face. Bud loved touching her hair. He wasn’t nearly so crazy about seeing her sick.
Marie rinsed her mouth out and spit the water in the toilet before flushing. Her hand was shaking slightly as she reached for the wash cloth. Immediately a smile came to her face after she wiped her mouth. Bud knew her too well. He knew a bullshit smile on her face when he saw one. Also he knew exactly what was coming out of her mouth before she said a word. He held up his hand to brook no argument. That’d work…sure.
"I’m just fine, Bud. A little morning sickness is all. The food smells and all the activity just made me feel a little punk. I’m fine. Just a quick tooth brushing, a little lipstick and I’ll be ready to go."
Christ, she must have practiced that speech from little Mary Sunshine better known as Ashley. The water wasn’t even done swirling in the can since she flushed. He said what he was thinking.
The look he fixed on her would make a perp quake in his shoes. Marie was having none of it. So, he picked her up, carried her to their bed and set her down. She could out talk him and wasn’t intimidated by his fiercest looks…but she wasn’t nearly as strong as he was. Bud sat down beside her.
"There." He folded his massive arms across his chest. She couldn’t argue. "And don’t move."
Instead of the argument he expected a small smile tugged on each corner of her mouth as she laid her head back and closed her eyes. Bud arranged her pillows for her without jolting her around. She didn’t need to be puking any more today.
Marie surprised him when she laced her fingers in his. She fell asleep in a minute with her fingers still wrapped in his. Her hand felt cold. He was glad his internal furnace was raging like usual and he could warm her small hand. When she turned on her side her fingers slipped out of his. Bud covered her with a blanket and went to call the Curry’s.
Bud at that moment realized how much his life had changed because of Marie and her family. He regretted they would miss the gathering, but was firm with Ashley that Marie wasn’t coming out today. He disliked hearing the disappointment in the little one’s voice. It would be echoed by Jessica and when Marie awoke...damn.
"I’m sorry, Ash. You know how she’s going to feel about missing Thanksgiving with all of you."
"Bud, I have an idea. Call me as soon as she wakes up. The turkey has at least another hour until it is finished. Promise you’ll call."
"Okay, kid. I will." He hung up, ran out to the car to bring in the food she’d prepared and then came back to sit at their bedside. Bud worked on some files for work that needed to be completed. He pecked away at the laptop as the glow from the screen illuminated his face.
He set his glasses and laptop aside when he heard her stir about an hour later.
"Hi, Hon. How are you feeling?"
She stretched and gave him a sleepy smile as she sat up.
"I feel well. Except the taste in my mouth. Ugh."
Bud gently picked her up, carried her into the bathroom and placed her on the toilet seat. He put toothpaste on her brush and handed it to her. He shrewdly watched her for any signs of gagging or retching. There were none. She must be feeling better.
He saw her eyes stray to her wrist watch. When she looked up at him her eyes were welling with tears.
"I’ve made us miss Thanksgiving dinner. Oh, Bud. I’m so sorry. I’ve really been looking forward to today." He watched a tear slip down her cheek and reached out to brush it away.
"It’s okay, Hon." Through Bud’s head went the thought that there’d be many more Thanksgivings, but he was superstitious enough not to say it out loud especially while she was pregnant. And he almost said it wasn’t a big deal, but he knew it was for her. He clammed up and helped her to her feet when she was ready to rinse her mouth. She still had her walking cast on.
What he said must have sounded as pathetic to her as it did to him. She was sobbing by the time he carried her back to bed. Shit.
Bud held her against his chest until she got it out. Marie wasn’t much of a crier. This was really hitting her hard. He leaned back a little and put his finger under her chin to tip her face up to meet his eyes.
"It’s not that late, Hon. Ashley said the turkey was running late." Bud smiled at her as he had a sudden image of Curry and Varner chasing a turkey around the yard trying to catch it. That he’d pay to see. "Maybe they could come over for dessert if you’re feeling okay?" Marie had been the one to bake the pies.
Finally he’d said something right. She brightened up at that suggestion.
"I feel great now, Bud. I’m even hungry. Let me put on a pot of water for tea." She saw his face. "And of course a pot of coffee." He grinned back at her.
"I can do that while I call the little one. You just lay there and rest a while longer," he ordered.
"If you insist." She fluffed her pillow, smiled sweetly and leaned back with a small grin on her face.
Who the hell was the woman laying in his bed and what did she do with his wife? His eyes narrowed and his mouth opened and then shut again. What could he say? She was doing exactly what he wanted.
"Good." He nodded and left the room.
When Bud returned he handed her a cup of tea and scrutinized her appearance. Her red hair was gleaming from brushing and her makeup was refreshed. She looked and smelled real good. His fingers touched her silky hair and stroked it appreciatively.
"You got up." It wasn’t a question.
"I had to use the bathroom and while I was there I figured I’d better get ready for guests. Are they coming?" She was unable to keep the hope and longing from her voice.
Bud was going to surprise her, but he couldn’t mislead her when he heard her voice.
"Yeah, they’re coming, Hon. They’ll be here soon." She leaned into his hand stroking her hair. Bud’s lips found the soft lips of the girl he loved. They tasted minty fresh from her toothpaste.
Marie guided his hand to her belly and whispered in his ear.
"Our baby is kicking me," she grinned. Bud felt the thump of a tiny foot against his hand.
"That’s my kid," he said in a low voice.
"Sure is," she giggled. He kissed her longer and more passionately. Bud captured her lower lip between his and lingered for a moment as the kiss ended.
"Now drink your tea." He kissed the tip of her nose.
"Yes, sir, Officer White." She saluted him as she took the mug from him and sipped the tea. "Mmm, honey."
"About time you obey the police, Miss. And I figured it should be sweet. Like you." Bud grinned at her.
She waggled her finger at him. "Now which is it, Officer White? Am I sweet or a criminal element?" Her eyebrows arched emphatically.
Bud laughed at her comical expression. "Both. You’re my Hon. Sweeter than any woman I ever met. But what you do to me is criminal and should be against the law."
She pushed lightly against his strong chest and laughed. He loved the sound of her laughter. Bud wrapped her in his arms as she hugged in against him. "Charmer," she mumbled against him.
An hour later they were all seated at their dining room table including Katie Marie in her high chair. When Bud had called Ashley the turkey had just finished in the oven. They’d packed up all the food and moved it over in Egan and Lachlan’s truck to have dinner at the White’s.
"You didn’t think we’d have Thanksgiving without you two did you?" Ashley asked as her heels clicked across the floor and she instructed Egan and Lachlan where to place the large broiler pan filled with turkey and stuffing.
Bud led the toast before their meal. "To family."
"Cheers!" Six glasses and voices were raised in unison.