A bitter wind whipped along the streets, driving those brave enough to face the frigid temperatures back inside. But inside the house was warm with many fires blazing in the many fireplaces. Wade sat with Ella in the playroom, trying to keep her occupied and her mind off of the situation down the hall. Ella however had no mind for the game that her brother was playing and she stared at the shut door.
The house had grown silent. Earlier they could here their mother's screams, which terrified them. To Wade it brought from the hidden recesses of his mind a memory of Beau's birth before the terrifying departure from Atlanta. And then he would pause in his game and stare at the blazing fire as it brought back the chilling memory.
"Do you think mother is all right?" Ella couldn't help asking. Her green eyes stared up at her older brother with fear evident in their depths.
"Mother is strong. She is much stronger than just about anyone I have ever met." Wade said in an attempt to soothe Ella. But the fear was clear in his eyes too. He understood much more than Ella did about what had gone on. But he didn't want to frighten Ella, it would do him no good for her to be afraid.
Ella reluctantly moved her checker only to have it captured by Wade's next move. However there was a knock at the door, so Ella's disappointment was interrupted.
"Are you ready to meet your little sister?" Rhett asked with a wide smile stretched across his face.
Ella jumped from her seat, knocking it over in her haste. "O, yes, oh yes, Uncle Rhett. I am so so excited!" Her curls bounced along with her head as she nodded.
Rhett scooped her up into his arms. "Come along Ella. I think I am just as excited as you are!" He added with a chuckle.
Wade made his way behind his step father and his little sister quietly. Rhett glanced at back at him questioningly. "Are you worried about something Wade?" He asked.
Wade nodded, "How is mother?" The simple words went straight to the heart of his worry.
"Your mother is feeling fine. She is sitting up in bed already eating a plate full of food. And you know that your mother's appetite is a very good indication of her health." Rhett chuckled at his own comment.
And Wade grinned in response. It relieved him to know that mother was well, and it was encouraging to know that she had just eaten for mother was always in a better mood when after a good meal.
The door slowly opened to reveal Scarlett holding a tiny bundle in her arms as she leaned against the backboard of the massive bed. Rhett gently set Ella down on the floor as they approached. Scarlett lifted her gaze to them, her smile continuing to shine. "Would you like to meet your sister?" she asked.
Ella nodded and Wade smiled at his mother. They edged closer to the bed, peering at the tiny pink bundle in Scarlett's arms. "What's her name mother?" Ella asked breathlessly, obviously enthralled with the child the size of one of her baby dolls.
Scarlett's green eyes flickered up to Rhett's dark ones. "Her name is Katie Eleanor Butler."
Rhett beamed as only a new father beams. Wade glanced at him as Scarlett motioned for the children to join her on the bed. Wade nervously shook his head, as Rhett cautioned Ella to be careful. Wade was uncomfortable and Rhett sensing that instead made an alternative offer. "Wade, why don't you join me downstairs, while the girls get acquainted with each other."
Wade quickly agreed and followed Rhett from the room.
Ella curled up on the bed next to her mother staring at her baby sister. "Momma, she's so pretty. Was I a pretty baby?"
For a moment Scarlett was at a loss for words. In her minds eye, she could see how ugly Ella had been as an infant. "Well, Ella, you weren't the prettiest baby, but that was because people can only be pretty for so long. And now you are so beautiful, it doesn't matter what you looked like when you were a baby."
Ella gasped, "I was an ugly baby, wasn't I?" Scarlett didn't reply, because she didn't know how to reply to this comment. But Ella simply laughed. "It's ok, I didn't have to look at me." She chirped.
Scarlett smiled as Ella leaned her head against her mother's shoulder. "Mother, I love you." Ella added wistfully.
"I love you too, baby. I love you too." Scarlett softly whispered as she kissed the top of Ella's ginger curls.
Katie squirmed in her mother's arms, her rosebud lips puckering. And Scarlett realized what she had missed out on with her older children. And an over powering wave of motherly love crashed against her heart as she held her two daughters next to her.
Wade sat across from Rhett holding the small glass of champagne in his hand. His eyes stared at the golden liquid with bubbled slowly rising to the surface. He remembered with clarity the day Bonnie was born and he had tasted his first sip of alcohol. He glanced up at Rhett as he lifted the glass to his lips, allowing the bubbles to tickle his lips.
"Wade you are becoming a man. I am proud of you." Rhett told him simply.
Wade's eyes flashed with pride at the recognition of the changes that he had made. "Thank you, Uncle Rhett." His eyes briefly went to the floor before he lifted them again. "Are you disappointed that it wasn't a son?"
Rhett chuckled. "Not at all. You are my son. Why do I need another?" Wade stared at him for a moment not quite certain that he believed him.
Rhett grinned, "As long as you don't try any of the stunts you pulled last year, then I think I will survive you. And Ella will break many hearts, just like her mother before her. And as for Katie, well I am sure that she will grow up being loved completely by her sister and brother and parents."
"Uncle Rhett…" Wade began.
But Rhett cut him off. "This is our new change to start over. I want to do thing right with you. I want you to know how proud I am of you, and I want you to understand how sorry I am for my mistakes. I don't deserve a son like you."
Wade smiled timidly at him and then walked into Rhett's waiting arms a place where he had known security and peace for all of his life.
Rhett carried the sleeping Ella from Scarlett's room back into her bed. She stirred slightly in sleep and snuggled against her chest. When he returned he found Scarlett standing beside the cradle, watching their daughter sleep.
"She looks just like you." He softly said as he walked up behind her.
Scarlett turned to face him, her eyes misty with unshed tears. "Rhett how do we deserve this. How do I deserve this? How do I deserve to have such a beautiful wonderful child?" A single tear escaped gently trailing down her alabaster skin.
"Scarlett, we been through so much. Don't you think we deserve a little happiness?" Rhett gently consoled.
"But Melly deserved a baby girl, and she died trying. What made me worthy of this child? Why did I survive?" Scarlett voice was calm and sad. No hysterical sobs interrupted her confession.
"Melanie was all heart. If it weren't for you, Melly wouldn't have survived as long as she did." Rhett spoke reverently in deference to the memory of his friend Melanie.
Scarlett 's face changed as if deep in a memory. "Rhett, when you left I asked asked 'where shall I go, what shall I do' and you told me that you didn't give a damn.
Was that true?"
Rhett pulled Scarlett away from the cradle over to the bed. "O, Scarlett. You still can't seem to see when I'm lying. I did care. I do care. I discovered that I can't live without you. Do you honestly think I could put up with you if I didn't love you?"
Scarlett smiled a small smile, still unsure of the depth of her feelings. "I'm sorry for all of it. I'm sorry for who I was."
But Rhett cut her off. "This isn't the time for apologies. I loved who you were. I love who you are. And I can't imagine my life with anyone but you. For the first time, we aren't at cross purposes. We finally have it right. Don't you see that Scarlett?"
Scarlett nodded tentatively. And Rhett continued. "Don't you understand, we are meant for each other. We fit together like two halves of a whole. It's never quite made sense to me, but slowly I am comprehending it. If someone would have told me this fifteen years ago, I don't think I would have believed them that I would fall in love with a woman who's mother was younger than me. Perhaps it will never make sense, but I love you Scarlett… God help me I do."
Scarlett's eyes glowed with contentedness and love. "I love you too, Rhett Butler."
And she tilted her chin up to him as his lips descended. They shared a gentle kiss and then Rhett pulled away. "Happy Valentines Day, Mrs. Butler."
Rhett pulled Scarlett down on the bed and pulled her into his arms. It was not an embrace of passion, it was love pure and simple. And no longer did she need to wait for tomorrow. Today was full of joy and happiness. And tomorrow would have enough happiness of it own.
Thank you to everyone who read and reviewed. I loved all of your reviews, whether they were positive or note. I'm glad I was able to share this with you. And my writing isn't over, even if this story is. But thanks so much again!