……Jesse did feel guilty for her situation, but he knew deep in his heart he had no desire to be a parent; bound to this town forever.
“I best be goin’ Lil’.”
“You’re leaving,” was her shocked response.
“There ain’t nothin’ more I can do for you Lil; you need to understand this is for the best.”
His words were like a knife. Lilly finally broke down as a sob escaped.
“Fine, go then!”
“Don’t be angry!” was Jesse’s hushed reply.
She forcefully grabbed his shirt front. “I’m not angry Jesse,” she faintly stated. “I’m broken.” With that the young woman walked in the dark back to her home with no idea what she would do next.
The sun was rising quickly this late September morning and Lilly knew she better get up before anyone else. The pregnancy had brought on such a sickness for her in the morning and she didn’t want anyone to hear her sick. She lately had been using the barn as a cover. She had to milk Sherry anyways, so it was the perfect alibi for her new morning ritual.
Lilly slowly got out of bed and dressed hurriedly. She was outside just as the sun had met the horizon. Once outside Lilly could smell the onset of winter, she could feel the whisper in the very breeze that caressed her face. Unfortunately she couldn’t enjoy it, she went to the barn, but only just made it. Lilly had rushed so quickly that she hadn’t noticed her early morning guest waiting on the front porch, or how the gentlemen had followed her all the way to the barn and silently stood by the door as she relieved her stomach.
“Here you go Lilly.”
The familiar voice startled Lilly, but she turned slowly, trying to compose her self in a matter of seconds.
“Hey Travis.” She took his offered handkerchief. “What brings you by here so early in the morning?” Lilly saw something in his eyes, but couldn’t read his plain expression.
“Jesse stopped by last night to see if he could bunk over. He told me what happened.”
Lilly looked down in shame. She hadn’t expected Jesse to tell anyone, not even Travis.
“He’s left town this morning.”
Lilly’s tears couldn’t be abated. “I figured as much. He probably thought I would tell father, and we would be at the church this morning.” Lilly tried a laugh, but it failed miserably.
“How far along are you?” was Travis’s simple question. He was always so quiet and kind since she met him nearly five years ago. She felt at ease to tell him.
“Over a month I believe.”
Travis remained silent for just a moment. “You better marry soon then Lilly,” was finally his reply.
Lilly looked at Travis dumbfounded and slightly angry, “Who is going to want to marry me now Travis? Not only am I used goods, but now I am carrying another man’s child. So tell me, who would marry me?”
Travis without his normal hesitation stepped a little closer. They had been friends for many years. He actually knew her before Jesse did, but was more like an older brother than anything else. “I’ll marry you Lilly, if you’ll have me.”
Lilly could read the vulnerability all over his face and then everything made sense. She couldn’t help but feel the ache in the region of her heart. Travis loved her. His kindness and constant friendship wasn’t what she had thought it was all those years.
“Oh Travis, I am sorry, I never realized.”
Travis cracked a smile. He knew she was quick. “Don’t be. It is my fault. If I would have pursued you years ago, we would be married and you would be having my baby right now.”
Lilly didn’t have the heart to consider what Travis just admitted. “I can’t ask this of you Travis. It isn’t fair to you, especially now that I know how you feel.”
Travis came a little closer. “Lilly, you need someone to truly love you and take care of you and this baby. I know I am not Jesse, but I do love you and with God’s help I will love you all the days of my life.”
Travis could tell Lilly was thinking. Her hazel eyes were staring in the distance beckoning forth an answer. Travis patiently waited, something he was used to. He knew Lilly would make a decision, honestly believing it would be the right one…..
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