I'll Love You Forever
I do not own Little House on the Prairie or any of the original characters.
A cool night breeze blew through the open window of Hyrum and Catalina's home. Nothing but the moon and stars were up outside; inside was a different story. Catalina sat and rocked the son she'd born to Hyrum just three months before while singing a soft lullaby. The young boy had just finished feeding. Hyrum, who had been called out in the middle of the night to deliver another baby, walked into the room and smiled at the sight that met his eyes. It made coming home worthwhile. "Have I ever told you how much I love you?" He asked as he sat down next to his wife and gazed upon her and then the babe in her arms.
"A few times," Catalina answered and then her eyes took on a faraway look, one that told Hyrum she was thinking about the past. He couldn't help but sigh. How he wished he could re-call the images and remember their earlier time together.
"I'm sorry, Hyrum." Catalina realized what she'd done and felt bad. For the most part, she did her best not to think about the time she'd shared with Hyrum while in California, as she knew how it upset him not to remember.
"Tell me about our first meeting, our first date, tell me something, anything. I need to unwind and it would be a nice way to do it." Hyrum smiled at the quizzical look that came upon his wife's face, probably because she'd only told him the story a dozen times or more since the truth came out. "Humor me, okay?" Hyrum leaned over and gave her a kiss on the cheek. Truth be known, it didn't upset him, but racked him with guilt that he couldn't relive them. He continued to hope that her re-telling the tales would jog those images and loosen them from the cobwebs of his mind. If not, perhaps, he would immerse himself in her narrative and convince his mind that he had actually remembered them. His heart however needed no such jolt. His love had always been there.
Since their son was still fussing a little, Catalina gave in and began to talk. "My brother, Juan was seriously thinking to become a doctor and decided to attend a conference being held…" Catalina's eyes again took on a far way look.
"What are you looking at?" Marianna asked as she followed Catalina's gaze. Her friend rambled on once she realized who Catalina was looking at. Catalina heard enough to answer back, but quickly found her way to the stranger by her brother, ignoring her friend all together.
"Hello, Juan. Who is your friend?" Catalina knew she was being forward; she did not care. How was she to meet the stranger in their midst if she did not inquire about him? Juan reacted pretty much as she thought he would.
"This is Dr. Baker from Walnut Grove; he's a country doctor." Juan replied. While he was able to keep any insultive tone out of his voice, her brother could not hide the look in his eyes from his sister. After all, she knew him too well.
Catalina disregarded the look her brother shot her and held out her hand to the good doctor. "I'm Catalina Iglesia; actually, the name is longer, but it's a mouthful to say." Hyrum and she had engaged in a delightful conversation, one that led to them heading to a nearby bench that sat underneath a willow tree. She wasn't surprised when Juan stood close by listening the whole time.
"We are having a church picnic tomorrow, Senor Baker," Catalina said. She smiled for two reasons, she was sincere in what she was saying and her brother looked as if he was going to have a coronary, "Why do you not join us? You're friends you just spoke of are welcome to come also."
Hyrum smiled at the young woman he had felt an instant attraction to, even if she was so much younger than he was. "I'll be there if at all possible. I promise." He then stood up and excused himself.
Catalina shook her head and chuckled softly as she rested her eyes on Hyrum's face, "Juan gave me an earful all the way home. I heard every one of them, but listened to none. You were the best looking man at the picnic and nothing but a gentleman, even if I did step on your feet more than once when an impromptu dance started."
Hyrum chuckled as he remembered this part of the story well and went red every time he thought about it. "Did I really start that dance?" It's not that he was really questioning his wife's honesty about the situation; he just had a hard time imagining, he being so outgoing; he must have been truly smitten. He looked at his wife's face full of joy and a mischievous glint and then understood why.
Catalina laughed and nodded her head. "I was sitting by myself and one of my cousins started playing his guitar and singing. Before I knew it, you held out hand and asked me to dance with you. I think my whole family about choked when I accepted."
Hyrum leaned back in the chair he was using, still gazing upon his son. It was still all so unreal that he, at his age, had become a father for the first time. Hyrum shocked Catalina when he asked, "Did we ever lie together near a creek bed?" In all their talks, Catalina had never mentioned such a scene, but the night before he had dreamed about it, only the dream had been fuzzy in parts and he wasn't sure if he was remembering the past or making it up.
Catalina was glad the child in her arms was fast asleep; it gave her an excuse to stand up out of the rocking chair and put him back in the cradle that sat on the side of their bed. Those few minutes gave her time to compose herself. She turned around and faced Hyrum, "We did." Catalina walked over to the open window and shut it. She knew no one in their right mind would be out at two in the morning, unless it was Hyrum on an emergency run. Still, she had no desire to take a chance someone might come on one of those emergencies and overhear the conversation either. "Father didn't want me seeing you; as you know, he thought more on his wealth and position in the community than anything else." She turned around to find Hyrum standing next to her, waiting patiently for her to confirm the things he'd dreamt and to clarify what he had not been able to see in his dream.
"I…I never told you, but my family did not know of our meetings. Yes, looking back on it, such an action was childish and immature, but I wanted to be with you, to talk to you, to get to know you. That evening, by the creek," her eyes lit up, "you held me in your arms and kissed me for the very first time." She wrapped her arms around Hyrum and rested her head against his chest; he pulled her close. "We pushed our luck, I will freely admit," she paused as she remembered, "we found ourselves lying by the creek and very happy." A short giggle escaped her lips as she told Hyrum how he'd ran his hands up and down her back before the two of them exchanged passionate kisses, "I can't remember now what broke us apart, but I do know this. We decided right then and there; we either had to find a priest to marry us or commit sin."
"I'm surprised; with the way your family has disowned you for staying with me, that we were able to find anyone to marry us back then. I mean, your family contributes a lot to the community they live in. I must say I'm also relieved, I wouldn't have liked my chances of surviving your families' wrath had they found out." Hyrum held her closer still as he spoke.
"It wasn't easy, but Father Ricardo finally gave in and agreed when we confessed how close we'd come to giving ourselves to each other outside of marriage. He did not want me to shame myself that way. Father Ricardo could also see that you were not only in love with me, but that you were an honorable man; declaring that no one would ever look on Catalina Iglesia with shame." Catalina tilted her head and looked up at Hyrum. "I promised you then and I promise you now, I'll love you forever."
Hyrum went to say something and found himself yawning instead. Catalina laughed and led him to the bed. Once he sat down, she removed his shoes and socks for him. Afterwards she took his jacket and shirt and put them away. By the time she came back, Hyrum was lying on top of the covers, fast asleep. She chuckled and lay down beside him, her head in the crook of his arm and her arm across his chest. She sighed contently. She might not have the gold and silver her father could have given her, but she was far wealthier than he would ever be.