Her thick lashes pushed against the folded band of Jake's ivory silk cravat. Inhaling deeply, she breathed in the familiar scents of the wooded meadow, she once called home. The scents of wild rosemary, wormwood, and hawthorn sprung up painting memories in her mind. With the jostling and quake of the wagon, Teresa held tighter to Jake's solid arm, as he pulled the leather reins taught. The tight leather creaked under the strain as the tension brought the horse to a jumbled stop. Their bodies swayed forward as Jake placed his arm protectively in front of her belly. She smiled lightly tapping her fingers along the sides of her distended curve.
Feeling the palm of his hand resting gently against the slight swell of her stomach, she felt his lips brush close to her ear. Jake's warm breath curled around her tingling skin, giving her goose bumps, as his low voice vibrated through her.
Jumping down from the high bench Jake reached up grasping Teresa's waist, as she leant forward with her hands on his shoulders. Though her bundle distended no farther than a crescent moon, getting in and out of the wagon was proving more difficult by the month. Even with the blindfold, she could feel Jake stifling his chuckles as she tugged uncomfortably on her loose maternity skirts. She slapped good-naturedly at him striking only air.
"It is not funny," she pouted rubbing the small of her back.
"Aww," he kissed her lips while he rubbed the tension out along her spine.
"How's ma boy doin?" Jake asked pressing his ear to her bellybutton.
Teresa mentally rolled her eyes. She'd been humoring him for months now, when she knew within the fabric of her being that this baby was a girl. However, in these seven months she had yet to see him frown. She reasoned, if it made him happy to think it was a boy, who was she to tug the corners of his mouth down.
"He is angry," she joked. "He doesn't like it when you tease his mama."
"He's tawkin already, huh?" his tone rose brightly as he chided her.
Taking her arm, he guided her from the uneven ground to a hard stable rock walkway. Normally his hands were strong and smooth; however, now they were shaky and clammy. She raised the arch of her eyebrow as she listened to him clearing his throat.
"It ain't exactly the way I drew it," he began feeling a little uncertain. "But we had to make some changes so it would be ready before he got here."
Teresa blinked against the sudden sunlight as Jake lifted the cravat from her eyes. She rubbed her temples stretching the skin of her lids. As the blur faded and the house came into a more solid view Teresa sucked in her breath. It was beautiful. It appeared as a miniature Victorian home, with a terrace porch that wrapped around the front and left side of the house. The golden trim crowned the windows and roof making the stark whiteness of the property stand out among the wild greenery of the woods around it.
"Sorta sticks out like a sore thumb don't it?" Jake began to scrutinize what he deemed to be flaws.
"Jake!" Teresa placed her hand to her lips. "It is magnificent! I have never seen a house more beautiful."
Pushing his suede Stetson back on his head, Jake placed his hands on his narrow hips with a feeling of complacent accomplishment. The corner of his mouth curled up into a cocky grin as he envisioned his children running about the property. As he watched Teresa struggle up the white steps, warmth spread across his heart. This would be a home not a house. He would fill it with the most colorful and vibrant flowers, Teresa had ever seen. There would be night blooming jasmine and gardenias under all the windows, so she would fall asleep with the sweetest scents surrounding her. All her little things would be the finest he could afford. Jake took in the wild dried thickets which ran rampant in front of the house. He would clear it all out so she could have her own garden.
As Jake wandered about the front of the property, the toe of his boot struck something solid. Coated in black sooty soil and tangled among dry fallen branches and brown cracking leaves was a post of wood. Giving it a few solid yanks, he pulled out the charred remnants of an old fence post with a gouged out hole in its center where the horizontal planks would have been. His brows rose in shock as he realized he recognized this post by the numerous bent and splintered nail holes. Running his fingers along the round hatch marked grooves where her hammer had stuck missing its target, he smiled.
"What is it, Jake?" she was out of breath and panting as she peered around his shoulder.
"What's left of that ol' fence I built for you, when I first came out here," he wrapped his arms around her bringing her body up to his. His hand cupped the back of her head bringing her up gently for a kiss. Teresa's heart vibrated like a flutter of wings next to his ribcage as her hands gripped the cobalt blue fabric of his jacket. A sudden jolt to his hip made Jake step back with surprise. He laughed as he placed his hand on her belly feeling another kick poke daintily at his fingers.
"Alright, no more teasing mama," he sighed guiding Teresa back up the porch and into their home.