|Wherever You Will Go
Author: lorilee66 PM
The Barkley family has to deal with a devastating loss. follows 'Champion Of My Heart'Rated: Fiction T - English - Tragedy/Romance - Chapters: 6 - Words: 13,079 - Reviews: 15 - Follows: 2 - Updated: 06-25-11 - Published: 06-07-11 - Status: Complete - id: 7059889
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
A/N: I have debated long and hard whether to post this story here. It elicited some strong reactions the first time I posted it, not all of them positive, so if you read, please keep an open mind. It is a story of tragic loss and how those we love will always be with us. The story starts ten years after "Champion of My Heart'.
Jarrod helped Remi down from the buggy. They had just returned from a wonderful weekend in San Francisco after being invited to the Governor's Ball. He gazed admiringly at his wife, marveling at how beautiful she was. All the elegant women at the party and his wife was still the one who drew the most eyes wherever she went.
Remington caught his gaze. "What are you thinking about?" she asked curiously.
Jarrod laughed and kissed her hand. "Just admiring the most beautiful woman in California," he told her, blue eyes twinkling.
She snatched her hand away playfully. "I thought you were trying to stop telling me that," she teased, even though she had long since gotten over her embarrassment at his frequent compliments.
"When you stop being so beautiful," he responded as he gathered her into his arms and kissed her deeply.
A loud cry of "Mama! Papa!" from the direction of the house made them break off their embrace. Two red haired girls ran up and grabbed Jarrod around the legs. He swung one of them into his arms and looked at her closely.
"Now who do we have here?" he asked, pretending to think hard. "Beth, isn't it?"
She gave him a pout. "No, Papa, I'm Emily," she insisted, pointing down at her sister. "That's Beth."
Remi just laughed. Jarrod always did that to their twin girls, even though he could easily tell them apart. She turned just in time to catch the small blond boy rushing toward her and gave him a big hug. "I do believe you've grown in the last few days, James," she said, scrutinizing him carefully. James, the quiet one of the family, just gave his mother a kiss on the cheek as they made their way into the house.
"And where are the rest of your brothers and sisters?" Jarrod asked Emily as he put her down inside the door. She thought hard.
"Thomas and Josh went to help Uncle Nick," she replied, "Ella and Katey were helping Rosa in the kitchen, Vicky's having her nap and Adam's upstairs playing."
Her twin impatiently tugged on Jarrod's arm. "Where are my presents?" Beth demanded.
Remi and Jarrod looked at each other in mock confusion.
"Presents?" Remi said, keeping a straight face. "I don't remember anything about presents, do you, dear?"
"No," Jarrod replied slowly, "I don't, either." Seeing the crestfallen faces of the three children, he had to laugh. "They're in the buggy," he reassured them. "But they'll have to keep until everyone's together."
Just then, they heard a loud shriek from the kitchen. Exchanging a worried glance, Remi and Jarrod rushed in, followed by the three children. Rosa, their housekeeper, was brandishing a large wooden spoon at three muddy figures standing by the door. Two older girls, one blonde and one dark, were by the stove, giggling.
"How dare you invade my kitchen looking like that that!" Rosa was yelling. She noticed Remi and Jarrod standing at the entrance. "Oh, Señor Jarrod, Señora Remi, look what I have to put up with!"
Remi giggled along with her two oldest daughters and Jarrod couldn't hold back his laughter.
Nick Barkley gave her a sheepish smile, and the two boys with him looked chagrined. The trio was covered head to toe in mud and dirt. Nick even had dirt smeared across his face.
"Sorry, Rosa," the older of the boys apologized. "We could smell the cookies and just wanted a couple before we went back to work."
Remi tried to glare at Nick, but couldn't. He looked too silly.
"What have you been doing with my boys, Nick?" she demanded, trying not to laugh. "Rolling them in mud?" Then she shook her head. "On second thought, I don't want to know." She grabbed three cookies that were cooling nearby and gave them to the muddy cowboys. "Here. Eat them outside. And don't come back until you're clean."
"Thanks, Mama," the younger boy said as they dashed outside with their prizes. Nick just tipped his hat and followed.
Rosa threw up her hands. "Nine children are enough, but Señor Nick!" She shook her head. "He is enough trouble for five on his own!"
Jarrod gave the exasperated housekeeper a kiss on the cheek. "And what would we do without you to help keep them in line?"
Rosa flushed. "Oh, Señor Jarrod," she scolded him. "And in front of your wife!"
Jarrod just laughed and gave his wife a solid kiss on the lips. "This should take care of that," he declared. Remi pulled him closer for a longer embrace.
"You two are worse than newlyweds," Rosa admonished them. The other children, who were stealing their own cookies, just giggled. They were used to their parents' regular displays of affection.
Remi smiled. "Jarrod, why don't you unpack the buggy while I round up the rest of the children?" she suggested.
"A good idea, my love," Jarrod agreed. As they were leaving the room, Rosa remembered something.
"Oh, the two of you are expected at Señora Victoria's for dinner tonight. Señor Heath has a special guest he wants you to meet."
Remi raised her eyebrows. "Really?" She gave Jarrod a speculative look. "You don't think Heath could have finally met someone."
"It's Miss Wilson," the blonde girl piped up. They all turned to her.
"Miss Wilson?" Jarrod asked. "Your teacher? Are you sure, Katey?"
Katey nodded. "Oh, yes. I've seen Uncle Heath meet her after school sometimes. He looks at her the same way you look at Mama."
Jarrod put his arm around his lovely wife. "Well, then, we'd better make sure we don't show up late."
They almost were late. Very late. As Jarrod was checking his tie in the mirror in their room, Remi came up behind him and slipped her arms around his waist.
"I need to ask you a question," she breathed in his ear. He turned and took her in his arms, kissing her.
"Ask away, my darling."
Jarrod placed soft kisses along the line of her jaw as Remi asked, "What do you think of the number ten?"
He stopped and looked at her. There was no mistaking the sparkle in her eyes.
"I like it even more than I like the number nine, almost as much as eleven," he responded slowly, regarding her with loving eyes. "Are you sure?"
Remi pulled out of his arms. "Jarrod Barkley," she told him indignantly. "We have nine children already. Of course I'm sure."
His arms reclaimed her and their kiss became more passionate. His hand caressed the small of her back and her hands slid even lower.
"We're going to be late for dinner," she whispered.
"Let them wait," Jarrod murmured as his lips traveled down her neck to the top of her bodice.
Laughing, she gently pushed him away. "And what impression would that give Miss Wilson of our family?" she teased, and then added, her voice breathy and low, "We'll celebrate tonight, Mr. Barkley."
Jarrod seized her hand and placed a lingering kiss in her palm. "Until tonight, Mrs. Barkley."
Nick was impatient. "Well, where are they?" he asked for at least the third time.
"Patience, Nick," Victoria chided him. "They just returned home this morning. I'm sure there were quite a few things that needed attention before they could get away." She turned to Heath's guest. "Jarrod and Remington have been in San Francisco the last few days."
Rebecca Wilson smiled, eyes merry. "Yes, I remember Katey telling me they were invited to the Governor's Ball. It must have been lovely."
At that moment, the door opened and Jarrod and Remi entered the house.
"I hope we haven't kept you waiting," Jarrod announced.
"Only a few minutes," Victoria assured them, giving Nick a warning glance, which Nick ignored.
"What kept you?" the dark cowboy demanded.
Remi gave Nick an amused glance. "Oh, you know how it is. The children are always asking for one more kiss or one more hug before we can get out of the house." She and Jarrod exchanged a long look.
Nick didn't miss their exchange and snorted. "Right. The children needed another kiss."
Victoria rose from her seat gracefully. "Well, I believe dinner is served," she declared, forestalling any more teasing. "Shall we go in?"
"Before we do, Mother," Heath said, taking Rebecca's hand. "There's something you all should know." He and Rebecca smiled at each other. "Rebecca and I are getting married."
"That's wonderful news, Heath!" Victoria congratulated, giving him a kiss.
Jarrod shook Heath's hand. "Congratulations," he said. Turning to Rebecca, he gave her a brotherly kiss on the cheek. "Welcome to the family."
Nick slapped Heath on the back. "Way to go, Heath. It seems as though my brothers have cornered the market on pretty schoolteachers." He looked from Rebecca to Remi. "Now let's go eat. I'm starving."
Silas had outdone himself with the meal as usual. Victoria asked after Audra and her family, who were living in San Francisco. Remi questioned Heath and Rebecca on their wedding plans and Jarrod related the incident in the kitchen that had greeted he and Remi on their return home, much to Nick's embarrassment.
Rebecca spoke up. "I must say it's a pleasure to have Katey in my class," she told Remi and Jarrod. "She's so bright and well-mannered."
Heath chuckled. "You might not say that if you saw her torment her brothers and sisters. I think she got her Uncle Nick's talent for practical jokes."
"Well, she's a very caring, conscientious girl at school," Rebecca reassured Remi. "I look forward to meeting your other children. I understand you have a large family?"
Nick and Heath tried to contain their grins. The number and frequency of their oldest brother's children was a constant source of amusement to the two cowboys.
"Nine at last count," was Jarrod's reply. He took Remi's hand and kissed it and they shared a knowing glance. Tonight's dinner wasn't the appropriate time to tell their family the news and they had decided to wait.
Nick, however, didn't miss the look and quickly deduced its cause.
"Oh, no, not again," he groaned.
"What is it, Nick?" Victoria wanted to know.
"Them," Nick complained, gesturing to Jarrod and Remi with his fork. He fixed them with an accusing stare. "They've figured out what causes that, you know."
Jarrod almost choked on his steak. A small giggle escaped from Remi and she started to blush. Heath quickly realized what was going on and couldn't hide a broad smile.
"Nick, whatever are you talking about?" Victoria demanded.
Nick continued to look at his brother and sister-in-law. "They're having another baby," he announced. "And don't you two try to deny it."
Jarrod, having recovered, couldn't help but smile. "We wouldn't dream of denying it, brother Nick."
Victoria beamed. Even though they'd heard this announcement more than a few times before, it never ceased to thrill her. She loved all her grandchildren and knew how much Jarrod and Remi loved them too. "That's wonderful news," she declared.
Rebecca picked up her glass. "I do believe this call for a toast." She raised the glass in Jarrod and Remi's direction. "To your family and the new baby," she said.
"Here, here," agreed Heath as they drank.
Remi had gotten over her embarrassment and decided to get Nick back. "So, Nick," she said, looking at him curiously, "you were going to tell us what causes this."
Nick's jaw dropped open. "Well, uh…"
Jarrod joined in. He had endured his fair share of teasing over the years about he and Remi's growing family and was ready for a little payback.
"Yes, Nick, since we obviously haven't figured it out yet."
Victoria cut in, rescuing her middle son. "I don't think this is appropriate dinner conversation," she scolded before turning to her future daughter-in-law. "Rebecca, I must apologize for my family's lack of manners."
Rebecca just laughed. "I grew up with brothers, too," she reassured Victoria. "This just feels like home."
Heath reached over and squeezed her hand. "I'm glad," he said simply. "I was afraid my crazy family might scare you off."
"Never," she replied.
Victoria was glad to see her children so happy. Now, she thought to herself, we just need to find someone for Nick.