Where is She?
By Marie S
“Marie!” Bud bellowed her name as he strode into the house.
“Marie, where are you?” He yelled even louder.
“Bud White, will you hold it down a bit? I’m in Katie Marie’s room.”
It wasn’t Marie, but the little one who called to him. His heavy shoes clunked against the hard wood floor as he quickly moved toward Ashley.
“Do you…oh, fuck!” Bud turned around after he walked in on Ashley breast feeding Katie Marie.
Ashley rolled her eyes and lightly covered her suckling child with a baby blanket. The hint of laughter was very evident in her voice as she spoke to Bud.
“You can turn around, Bud. I’m covered up. It’s a natural thing to do you know.” This time she giggled.
“Maybe to you.” He turned around and looked at the blanket. “Can she breathe under there?”
“Yes, Bud. Don’t worry. I’m not going to smother my baby with a blanket even for your delicate sensibilities. She’s sucking away just fine. The blanket is very thin.”
Bud shook his head. It may be natural, but not to him and out in the open like this. He forgot that he was standing in the baby’s nursery. Ashley was seated in a rocking chair that Marie and Bud had gotten for them. Which reminded him.
“Do you know where Marie is? I’ve been trying to call her for over an hour.”
“Oh, yes. She went into town to go shopping. She seemed quiet and distracted this morning.”
Ashley stared suspiciously at Bud. If Marie was upset about something it probably was regarding Bud. Otherwise she’d have talked to her about it.
Bud looked down at his feet. Touché, Ashley thought. She’d hit a nerve. She just hoped it was nothing serious.
“She didn’t go. The truck’s out front. It was locked. The engine’s cold. I found her cell phone in her purse on the floor of the front seat. That’s why she hasn’t been answering.”
Ashley smiled. Bud was forever a detective.
“The last time I saw her, a couple of hours ago, she was leaving to go shopping in town. I don’t know why she didn’t go. She didn’t come back inside to let anyone know. Maybe she took a walk to clear her head, Bud.”
Ashley looked directly into Bud’s eyes and he glanced away for a moment. As much of a detective as Bud was; he wasn’t controlling his reactions very well. Something was most definitely going on.
“Shit, she could’ve let someone know if she was going for a walk,” Bud grumped.
Ashley mock covered Katie Marie’s ears. “Bud, you really are going to have to watch the swearing as Katie Marie gets older. I don’t want the first word she says to be ‘fu’…” She grinned at him. He didn’t smile back. Ashley could always get a smile out of Bud.
“Oh, Lachlan’s in the back doing some man things to the house. Maybe he saw Marie or talked to her. Or she could have gone down to the stables to see Jessica, Egan and Destiny. She is trying to get to know her Ginger.”
“She better not be fucking riding.” Bud turned and walked away toward the back of the house without another word.
“Nice talking to you too, Bud,” she muttered. Why in the world was Bud so worried? Surely Marie had just decided to go for a walk instead of going into town. She just forgot to take her cell with her because it was in her purse when she changed her mind. Ashley hoped Lach had seen her leave.
She knew that Liana Wade had been kidnapped and that Bud and Zack were working on a dangerous case, but everything seems so quiet and peaceful here. Well as peaceful as newborn baby in an overcrowded house could be.
With that cue Katie Marie made a loud smacking sound and released her grip on Ashley’s nipple.
“Are you all finished, Sweetheart?” Ashley grinned at her daughter, laid her against her shoulder and began to gently burp her. A big belch for such a little baby girl escaped and Ashley giggled.
“You’re learning some things too quickly from your father, young lady.” She planted a kiss on her cheek. “Yes, you are.” She kissed her precious bundle of joy again and suddenly stopped while holding Katie Marie in mid-air before her.
“Why did Uncle Bud say that Marie better not be riding, Katie girl? She’s a good rider. I’m looking forward to riding with her after I get cleared by my doctor.”
Her mouth formed into an ‘O.’ Could Marie be pregnant? Was that why Bud was so concerned that he couldn’t reach her? Pregnancy would be much more complicated for Marie and Bud because of what had happened before. Marie certainly had confided in her that Bud really was very against her becoming pregnant again in the recent past. Ashley thought things were better especially since she had Katie Marie.
That was without Marie being pregnant. Could she be? Ashley was so excited about the idea for a second and then she thought about poor Bud.
She stood from the rocking chair and held Katie Marie against her shoulder again.
“We’re going to see your Daddy and Uncle Bud, baby girl.” Ashley hurried to the back door just as Bud was disappearing down the path. Lachlan was watching him.
“Lach, did you see Marie?” Ashley called to him as he climbed down off a ladder.
“No, love. I haven’t seen her. What’s got Bud so upset?”
Ashley motioned for him to come over so she wouldn’t have to yell to him. Katie Marie’s head was lolling to the side as she fell asleep on her shoulder.
The grin and look of wonder on Lachlan’s face as he watched his daughter made Ashley fall deeper in love with her husband if that was possible. She gently rubbed the baby’s back.
“Something is wrong with Bud and Marie, Lach. And now Bud can’t reach Marie because she doesn’t have her cell. Would you follow him in case there’s a problem and they need help?”
“Sure, Ash.” He grinned as he saw her watching him as he put his t-shirt on. Six bloody weeks. They couldn’t have sex for six long weeks after the birth of their daughter. One was almost gone. Five to go. Ashley looked so sexy to him as she’d sway slightly to music she hummed to calm their child.
He was about to follow after Bud when he stopped in his tracks.
“I can’t go, Ash. Even Bud would yell at me if I left you alone here with Katie Marie. If Zack or Egan were here…even Marie. I won’t leave you two.”
Ashley sighed. She knew Lachlan was right. Bud and Zack were both concerned that there might be a strike out against their families because of a case they were working on. And Ashley had never even picked up a gun much less be able to defend she and Katie Marie. She’d probably shoot her foot off. And she didn’t want a gun anywhere near her daughter though she knew that Bud, Zack, Egan, Lachlan and Marie all had one or more.
“What if we put Katie Marie in her car seat and we can drive down the lane toward the stables? She can have her first ride since we came home from the hospital. If Marie is just fine with the others then we can turn around and come right back home.” Ashley smiled at him.
Lachlan knew that Ashley would worry about her cousin until she saw that she was okay with her own eyes.
“I’ll bring the car around and you put Katie Marie in her car seat. Don’t lift it. I’ll carry it to the car.” Lachlan made sure Ashley heard him. She was told to do no heavy lifting and he would make sure she followed her doctor’s instructions with nothing heavier than their tiny newborn daughter.
As neither of them were too adept at attaching the car seat into the car 20 minutes later they were finally ready to go.
Meanwhile Bud had been busy in his own thoughts as he stalked down the lane toward the stables. He was thinking about the birth of Liana and Ben Wade’s baby and his role in the delivery. It had been an amazing thing.
And he’d been treating Marie like she was a fucking felon because she was pregnant with their own child. Because he was so scared to lose her. Where the hell was she?
“Marie!” He bellowed into the trees. Bud saw movement out of the corner of his eyes and went into a crouch and almost pulled his piece.
At the last moment he realized it was Marie sitting propped against a log off the lane. He’d almost walked right past her.
“Bud?” Her voice sounded tired and small as he hurried over to her.
Something was wrong. She was sitting in a guarded position and he could see there were dried tear tracks down her cheeks as he drew closer. He reached down to help her up as he arrived at her side.
“Don’t touch me.”
Bud rocked back on his heels as he peered at her. He couldn’t help the look of disappointment that shown on his face.
Marie reached her hand out to gently cup his cheek in her hand.
“Oh, Bud. I don’t mean don’t touch me. I meant don’t try and lift or move me. I’ve broken my right ankle. I was distracted and not paying attention to where I was going. I fell in a hole on the lane. I heard it snap. I was so stupid when it’s my job to be careful now of all times.” New tears dripped down her cheeks.
And Bud knew why she was distracted. It was because of him and how he’d been treating her since she told him she was pregnant. If this was anyone’s fault it was his.
He was so fucking worried about this pregnancy causing her harm, and that he might lose her, that he didn’t even think about the fact she could fall in a hole, hit her head…get hit by a car crossing the street. Shit could happen anytime and anywhere. As much as he wanted to he couldn’t protect her and save her from life. It happened no matter what we did. He of all people knew that.
“I’m sorry, Hon.” He turned his cheek against her palm. Bud felt her hand trembling and took it in his.
“I am too, Bud. Please don’t shut me out.” She was crying harder now.
Bud wanted to gather her into his arms and bury his face in her hair. Marie knew how to hug. He stopped himself. His hugging her would hurt her right now if he moved her.
He looked into her eyes and saw the pain there. Bud knew it was more than physical pain. He wouldn’t lie to her.
“I’ll try, Hon. I’ll try hard.” Bud knew he was a fuck up who pulled away whenever anything was bothering him. He didn’t know why she stayed with him until she reminded him.
“I know you will, Bud. I love you so much.” She stroked his hand. “Sit down.” Marie patted the ground beside her.
Bud settled aside of her. He knew she needed to wait before he moved her. It was going to cause her tremendous pain. He’d glanced at her ankle. It was swollen and the skin was an angry purple. It wasn’t brand new.
“How long you’ve been here?” She laid her head against his chest and Bud wrapped his arm around her to pull her gently against him.
“A few hours. For some reason I can’t remember what time I left to walk to the stables. I fell asleep for a while. I’d have missed you walking by if you hadn’t yelled my name. Thank you for coming to find me, Bud. I was afraid it might get dark with me sitting here.” She hugged him tightly even though he felt her flinch and knew the movement must be hurting her
Bud wished he could pull her onto his lap. He wrapped her up the best he could. Could she be in shock? He took off his jacket and wrapped it around her even though it wasn’t cold. He held her body close to his. Bud had enough body heat for both of them.
She held him for several minutes. This had been a physically and emotionally draining day for her. Marie knew it wasn’t over. Getting her to the hospital would be painful. Setting her ankle would be painful.
“Bud, I’m going to refuse an x-ray or any pain medication. I need you to back me up. Nothing that can harm our baby.”
Bud started to argue with her, but then he stopped. He knew she’d been thinking about the injury and their baby since her ankle was hurt. She was asking him to back her up. On this one he had to.
“Okay, Hon. I got your back.” His fingers stroked through her hair. He heard her sigh and relax against him as much as she could.
They looked up as a car drove up. It was Lachlan and Ashley. It was a relief to Marie. She knew with their help she could make it to the car. It wouldn’t be too far.
“Family is wonderful, Bud.”
He kissed the top of her hair. “Yeah, they are, Hon.”