Author’s Note: So I thought this was a good way to wrap most of this up. It felt like a good place to stop.
Violet forced her eyes open again, smiling as she saw Robbie in the chair beside the bed. He looked terrible, and she should not be glad to see him there, so battered and hurt, but even with his face swollen and discolored, she was so glad to see him. She should have a photograph of this, of this moment with him and the child. He might be injured, but he was smiling as well, and she thought that the way he held the baby—he was happy, wasn’t he? Pleased? He did seem to be, and she hoped that he stayed that way.
“He is so small.”
“Shouldn’t have been worth the fuss or the scares he gave us,” Beatrice said, shaking her head. Robbie gave her a look, shaking his head as he turned back to the baby.
“He is worth it. Every child should feel they are regardless of how they came into the world. If my father had given my half-brother that, he would not have hurt so many people. I want this child to know that he is loved. He needs that. We all do.”
“You are loved, Robbie. Lacking your father’s love did not twist you as it did your brother,” Violet said, trying to reach for him. She was so tired that she thought she’d sleep for days if her eyes stayed shut for more than a second. “Not that I think our boy will lack any sort of love. He has so much already.”
“I don’t think anything can prepare you for the moment when you first see them. It’s… There’s something wonderful about it. As worried as I was about you—about him—coming in here was such a relief. I should let you sleep, but I don’t want to leave you.”
“I will rest soon. I fear I will have little choice in that respect.”
“I mean it, Violet. I’m not leaving you. Now or ever. Whatever legal issues we might have, I meant those vows, and I will make sure that I adopt this boy as well. I have nothing to offer—you know my father cut me off. He won’t take me back, and he won’t care about what happened here. I doubt he feels he’s at all to blame for what he did to my half-brother. Me marrying you… He won’t forgive it, and he won’t give me anything. I don’t want it, but I am going to have a hard time finding work in my condition, and I won’t be able to provide for either of you—”
“I have some money, and I know you will find employment. We do not have to worry about that just now.”
“She should be resting now.”
“Mother, please, let me have as much time with Robbie and the baby as I can before I fall asleep. I don’t want to miss a moment.”
“Here,” Robbie said. “You’d better take him back. My arm’s starting to go numb, and I don’t want to drop him. I’d never forgive myself.”
He set the baby next to her, kissing her forehead. She smiled at him, wanting him to stay close. Could it be so terrible if he shared the bed with her? Perhaps they were not quite married, even with the vows they took, but they would be.
“He needs a name.”
“That can wait. Violet should rest first, and there’s all those legal things that lawyer was going on about before the reverend silenced him and went ahead with the ceremony to consider. We can wait. The boy’s name will come.”
“I can tell you one thing it won’t be. Robert John Winston the fourth.” Robbie laughed, and they all joined him. Violet could not help thinking that was the worst thing they could do to the boy, even if Robbie was a good man and his son should be proud of him.
“Is it wrong, do you think, to call him after Father?” Violet asked, looking to her mother. “Not necessarily the whole name, but part of it?”
“I think he’d be very pleased,” her mother said, and her aunt put her hand on her shoulder.
“Come on, Rose. You need rest as well. We’ll let them settle those details. They can tell us in the morning.”
Robbie watched them go, letting out a breath. “I was afraid after all that, I’d lose you.”
“I was afraid it was the end, too,” Violet admitted. She tried to lift herself up. “Help me move. I want… I’d like to fall asleep beside you. It… I had missed having Winston beside me, and it’s not the same, I’m not replacing you with him, and I don’t—I’m not sure what will happen now. To be honest, after seeing him attack you, I fear he may do harm to others.”
She sighed. “What does he have left, Robbie? I can’t think of anything.”
“I don’t know. I hope the police watch him carefully. I don’t—he attacked me, and he hurt you, but I don’t want him dead. I don’t. What father did to him was wrong, and he deserved better, and that is not an excuse for what he did, but I think I can understand him even if I have trouble forgiving him.”
“I pity him. I’m not condoning his actions, no, but I feel somewhat sorry for him.”
“He’s a fool. Look at what he could have had.”
“I love you,” she said, and then she grimaced. “At least… I think I do. It’s still a bit confusing for me, and you should know that I did rush the decision because the baby was coming—”
“I love you, too. Or I think I do. I know I want to.”
“Perhaps that is the best way to think of what we have.”
“It can still grow. We’ll be certain of it someday. Someday when we’re cross with each other and yelling and all of a sudden we stop because we don’t want to be angry and can’t hurt each other with one more word, we’ll know.”
“That sounds fine to me.”
“It’s got a bit of forever to it. That makes it appealing.”
She felt him settling in beside the baby. A moment later, his hand was up to brush the hair back from her face. She welcomed his touch. “Is it wrong to be glad that he stole your name?”
“No. Strangely, I think I’m glad he took it. I shouldn’t be, but I am. It led me to you.”
She closed her eyes. She felt the same way. “Tell me about the horse trough.”
“He told you that one, too? Damn him.”