I Write the Songs: Contest Entry

Title: All I Want to Do is Make Love to You

Characters: Adele Stackhouse, Mitchell Stackhouse, Fintan Brigant, Corbett Stackhouse, Linda Stackhouse (mentions Bartlett Hale)

Disclaimer: I have no claim whatsoever to the characters belonging to Charlaine Harris or the song by Heart

Pen Name: Ali989969

Beta Name: RealJena

Virgin Writer?: Yeah… not so much

Teaser: Adele Hale Stackhouse loves her husband, but wants a child more than anything. Can she realize her dream when she meets a mysterious man on the side of the road? AU/vague canon. Rated M for adult situations.

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I met Mitchell Stackhouse when I was just a young girl of fourteen. He was so strong and handsome, especially to my small-town, unworldly eyes. His body was lean, muscled, and deeply tanned from working his family's farm. I was smart enough to know that true love at first sight was rare, but I was enamored enough with his hazel green eyes and mahogany brown hair to see if it was a possibility.

He was a bit older than me. He had just turned eighteen when he walked into Daddy's feed and farm supply store where I was working the register for the summer. Mitch stormed into the store yanking my brother Bartlett by the arm. Once the door closed, he punched my brother in the shoulder - hard.

"If I see you trying to look up Maxine Price's skirt again, I'm gonna deck you for real. You know she's George Fortenberry's girl. If he finds out, he's gonna feed you to his hogs."

I couldn't hide my grin. My older brother was a deviant letch, especially with girls my age or younger. Daddy said he was just being a boy, but I just knew that if he didn't grow out of it, and soon, he would be dangerous. It was satisfying seeing him taken to task for his reckless predilections.

Mitchell's frown transformed into a shy smile when he approached the counter, laying out several bags of feed corn. "I know he's your brother and all, but his peeping is gonna get him on the list of every guy in town. But I shouldn't be telling you about all that…" He trailed off with a blush brightening the crests of his cheeks.

I found it endearing that he considered my feminine sensibilities. With only Daddy and Bart at home since Momma died, I was often treated like a boy outside of chores. It felt nice being reminded that I was actually a girl. Especially by such a handsome man.

Mitchell and I chatted for a while since business in the afternoon was slow. A couple of hours passed before we realized it and he had to get back to work. Before he left, he made it a point to ask Daddy if he could escort me to the church picnic the next Saturday. Daddy pretended to hem and haw over the decision, but his eyes twinkled at my pleading expression and I knew he was teasing both of us with his mock indecision.

Over the next three and a half years, I became known as "Mitchell's girl". No other boys asked me out, not that I would have accepted if they had. He was my first boyfriend, the first person I held hands with, my first kiss, and my first ever experience parking and doing a few things more than kissing. The day after my eighteenth birthday, Mitchell asked Daddy for my hand and just four months later, we were married.

Like most girls of my generation, I went to my husband on our wedding night as a virgin. I was terrified. Girls talk and I'd heard horror stories from friends that had married before me. Mitchell was very gentle and loving. He took his time introducing my body to acts I'd never come close to before. I can't lie and say that I wasn't uncomfortable or that the first time wasn't painful. But Mitchell was patient with me, and it wasn't long before I was enjoying our intimate moments just as much as he did.

After a year or two, I was anxious to become a mother. I knew that Mitchell wanted children just as much as I did. We joked with each other about how fun the trying was, but I couldn't help but feel like a failure as a woman every time my monthly visitor came. After three years, I couldn't understand why we were still childless.

One afternoon, I joined my mother-in-law for lunch in the park. Unlike my friends and their in-laws, Annabeth Stackhouse never nagged me about giving her grandchildren to spoil. I was grateful as the subject was becoming heartbreaking the longer I went without becoming pregnant. My frustration reached its breaking point when I saw two of my former schoolmates picnicking with their infants. I was unable to hide my tears from husband's perceptive mother. She wrapped her arms around me, rubbing my back in consolation. "Dear, what's the matter?"

I sobbed against her shoulder. "I want a baby so much. We keep trying and trying and it never happens." I was past being embarrassed discussing such personal matters with her. "I can't understand why!"

Annabeth pulled back from me, alarmed. "Adele, didn't Mitch ever tell you?" Her own eyes filled with sorrow. "Honey, he had the mumps go down on him when he was little. The doctor told us years ago that he'd most likely never be able to father a child."

I was speechless. How could my husband keep that kind of secret from me? Especially when he knew how badly I wanted a baby! My heart shattered in my chest as I gasped for breath. I'd never felt betrayal of this magnitude before.

My mother-in-law continued to console me as my mind reeled. I would never have children with my husband. Our family would always be just the two of us, alone. I knew that adoption was an option and that we could love that child just as much as one that was biologically ours. But, selfishly, I wanted to carry our child. To feel my body grow and protect a life inside of me. Learning that I wouldn't be able to have a baby with the man I loved and had committed my life to… I felt beyond angry; I felt cheated.

After lunch, I returned home to finish some menial housework in an attempt to keep reign over my temper. Otherwise, I would explode at Mitchell the moment his boot first crossed the threshold. I planned what I would say as I prepared a hearty dinner of steak and gravy, green beans, corn on the cob, and boiled new potatoes. As mad as he made me, he still worked hard and I was still a Southern woman. It was in my blood to take care of my man, no matter how my mood might tempt me to make him fend for himself.

From the kitchen I heard my husband's heavy footsteps cross the living room into the bedroom to change and wash up for dinner. I was anxious for the conversation. I needed to know why he would keep something so important from me when he knew what I wanted.

A few moments later, he joined me by the stove. A muscular arm hugged my shoulders and full lips pressed against my forehead. "Dinner smells amazing, Sugar. As always." He separated from my side to sit at the table. Good Southern woman that I was, I knew from the start that I would be expected to serve him, just as I had for my daddy and brother after Momma died.

I plated our food and sat with my meal after putting Mitchell's food in front of him. "So how was lunch with Momma?" he asked after swallowing his first bite.

I hated having conversations while eating, but I hurriedly chewed and swallowed so I could answer. "Lunch was nice. We had a long, much needed talk. I was hoping we could talk about our discussion over dessert." I'd begged Caroline Bellefleur for her chocolate cake recipe many times, but she was stingy as ever and refused. I made do with my special pecan pie and some homemade vanilla ice cream. Mitchell grinned, nodded, and returned to his dinner.

We ate in comfortable silence while my mind churned. I knew my husband loved me; I was more certain of that single fact than anything else in my life. But he knew how badly I wanted children. It was entirely possible that he kept the information from me to keep me from being disappointed or hurt. I felt most of my anger dissolve at that thought and was left with the bitterness of disappointment that killed the remainder of my appetite.

After he cleaned his plate, I served him dessert. I loved the way his eyes always rolled back in pleasure at the first bite of the sweet pie. I took small bites of ice cream while waiting for him to finish. The closer his plate came to being empty, the more I had to gather my courage. I knew that this would be hard for both of us.

Once our dishes were empty and soaking in hot water in the sink, I joined him back at the table. I chose to sit beside him rather than across from him. He gave me a satisfied smile and took my hand. "What has my beautiful bride so troubled?"

Since my anger was gone, I didn't rant and rave about the information kept from me. I was sad though, so I couldn't hold my tears at bay. "I told your mom about our trouble having a baby…"

He knew immediately where I was going and clasped my hand tighter. "Sugar, I would have told you sooner. I should have, anyway. But I didn't know how important children were to you until after we married." His beautiful eyes met mine, pleading for me to understand.

"You're right, you should have told me, Mitch! Why didn't you? You knew how hard this was for me, feeling like a failure month after month. How could you hide this from me?"

He looked down, ashamed. "I hoped. The doctors never said it would be impossible, just difficult. I thought… hoped… that we'd get a miracle. By the time I realized that we weren't going to get lucky, I couldn't bear to tell you. You were taking it so hard, and it hurt me to see the pain you were in. It breaks my heart now to see the disappointment in your eyes. Sugar, it kills me to not be able to give you something you want so much."

I knew he was sincere. I could feel his guilt in every cell of my body. I wrapped my arms around his slumped shoulders and led him to the bedroom. He needed the comfort only I could bring him, just as I needed him in the same way. Our lovemaking was slow and tender. For the first time in a very long time, it felt like it was just for us and I didn't feel the pressure to have a baby in nine months. It was freeing.

I could feel Mitch's love for me in his every deed, and his gratefulness that I hadn't left him for deceiving me. As though I would ever act like one of those disgraceful women in Hollywood, leaving their husbands for the tiniest infraction. Mitch and I were married before God and I intended to stand beside him through all our good times and bad, until He parted us.

I couldn't lie to myself though, no matter how much I wanted to. I still felt cheated that I wouldn't be able to carry a child. Now that I knew that the failure to create a baby wasn't my fault, all I had was lingering bitterness as life went on day by day.

I decided one day to make the drive into Monroe to pick up some fabric that wasn't available in the small general store of Bon Temps. I let Mitchell know my plans as we ate breakfast and he gave me a kiss before he left for the fields. We made due with his income from the farm, but I did my best to stretch it as far as possible by making my own clothes and decorative items like tablecloths and curtains. I wanted to make lace valances for the windows in the kitchen and had set aside enough money to get the pale yellow lace I'd had my heart set on since I'd seen it months ago.

I stopped by a few other stores in Monroe, making the most of the trip as it was too far to travel on a regular basis. I packed my purchases in the trunk and frowned as the sky opened up above me as I pulled onto the highway. Driving in the rain always made me nervous.

It turned out I had good reason to be anxious: what started out as a late spring shower turned into a torrential early summer downpour so hard, I could barely see the road in front of me. I drove at a crawl, thankful that I wasn't holding up any kind of traffic behind me. Despite the dark sky and blurry windshield, I saw a figure standing on the side of the road silhouetted in my headlights. As I drew closer, I was appalled that he stood in the storm just in a t-shirt and jeans, no coat or umbrella to protect him from the downpour. I slowed to a stop and gestured for him to get in.

In those days, hitchhiking wasn't uncommon or especially dangerous. I figured it was my duty as a good Christian to see this stranger to his destination safely. He gave me a thankful smile as he got in, murmuring a soft apology for getting the seat wet. I shook my head and told him not to worry as it was not the first or the last time that the seats had gotten soaked.

I drove along, still slowly, and snuck glances out of the corner of my eye. He was quite handsome in a way that I wasn't familiar with. His wet hair was white-blonde and his eyes were a brilliant blue that almost seemed otherworldly. His sharp cheekbones and well-defined features made me think of the pictures I'd seen in school of statues made of Gods in the ancient world. I knew from the way he shifted his legs to get comfortable that he was tall. I loved Mitchell dearly, but this man… just the sight of him aroused me in a way that my husband never had.

I was still an hour away from home when the storm took a turn for the worse. With the sky black as pitch and the rain coming down harder than before, I didn't know if I could make it home safely. I saw the Cozy Cove Motel and pulled into their full parking lot, asking my passenger to wait for me while I went into the front office to use their phone.

I called Mitch to let him know why I wasn't home yet and he chuckled. "Sugar, I'm surprised you even tried in this storm. Why don't you stay the night at the hotel there and come home in the morning. I'll make some sandwiches for dinner and go over to Momma's for breakfast tomorrow. You just get some rest and stay safe sweetheart. I can look after myself for one night."

Reassured by my husband, I used the leftover cash from my shopping trip to reserve a room… the only one they had left available. I slipped the key into my pocket and returned to the car. Glancing at my passenger, I said, "They only have one room left." Closing my eyes and barely believing what I was about to say, I looked down at my lap. "I don't want to just turn you out. You're welcome to share the room with me."

He gave me a shy smile and nodded. I peered through the blurry glass trying to find the room so I could park in front. Once the car was right at the door, we both ran to stand under the landing. I pulled out the key and opened the door to the modest room.

The handsome man immediately excused himself to the bathroom, saying he wanted to take a shower to get warm and I nodded my agreement. I could only imagine how cold he'd gotten standing on the side of the road getting soaked by the freak storm. I turned on the lamps and stretched out on the lone bed, wondering if I had the courage to do what I thought I wanted to do as I listened to the water rain down from the shower.

I heard the water shut off and the man reappeared with one towel swathed around his narrow hips and another in his hands as he dried his hair. "I'm sorry for my immodesty, but my clothing is soaked through and it would be pointless for me to put them back on. I can cover up with more towels if I'm offending you."

Silently, I shook my head. He was physically magnificent. His skin was perfectly golden all over and his muscles were well defined over his arms and torso. Fine lines highlighted his biceps, chest, and abdomen. Quickly, he ran the towel over his damp skin and hair once more before returning to hang it in the bathroom. When he returned, he sat on the bed near my feet. "If we're sharing the room, don't you think you should tell me your name?" he asked quietly, sensing my nerves.

Again, I shook my head. If I took leave of my morals for a single night, I didn't want him to know how to find me. Giving him a fake name didn't even occur to me. "Do you want to know my name?" he asked, already sensing my negative answer before I moved. When I shook my head again, he gave me another small smile. "I'll just call you Angel, because only an angel would pick up a stranger off the side of the road in this weather. So how can I thank you for saving me from the elements, Angel?"

The way he purred my new pet name made me shiver. With Mitch it was always "Honey" or "Sugar". "Angel" felt like something entirely different. He scooted himself closer to me from his spot on the bed, watching me carefully to gauge my reaction. When I didn't object or make a move to increase the distance between us, he became bolder, stretching his lithe frame next to mine on the bed.

He twisted onto his side and propped himself up on his elbow, facing me. "I want to do something for you, Angel. Name it and it's yours."

I closed my eyes and drew my courage, knowing my request was selfish, but I felt I was due. I was a good Southern woman who had followed the rules her entire life. I would just pray a little more for forgiveness, for going against the vows I made to the man I love before God. "I want you to kiss me," I whispered, startled that I was able to speak the words.

His lips turned up in a smirk as he bowed his head. His full lips brushed over mine and made me whimper. Just the delicate touch of his lips brought to mind so many things that I hadn't experienced. When he leaned down again to press his mouth to mine with even more pressure, I couldn't help but moan. This man seemed to instinctively know how to kiss in a way that made my body burn.

His graceful hands cupped my face and tilted it to accommodate him better. I couldn't help but tentatively slide my hand down his cool arm. His skin was so much smoother than Mitchell's, almost like the skin of a perfectly ripe plum. Even fresh from the shower, something about his smell… I couldn't describe it exactly. It was like the most tempting yet perfectly comfortable scent I'd ever encountered. Like cotton warmed by the summer sun mixed with rich, dark chocolate. I wanted to do nothing more than swim and bathe myself in that scent.

His tongue skimmed over my lips and instinctively, I opened my mouth for him. I felt his grin against my lips as one of his hands slid from my cheek to nest itself in my auburn locks. Slowly, patiently, he pressed soft kisses across my jaw until he reached my neck. Mitch and I had dated for over two years before he'd kissed me there and every time it gave me goosebumps. My fair-haired stranger got the same reaction and he chuckled softly, grazing my arms with his silky fingertips. He lifted his head and met my gray eyes with his sapphire ones. "What else do you want, Angel? Do you want me to stop?"

My mind and body were at odds. My brain rebelled against the idea of being even more unfaithful to the man I married. But my physical attraction to this handsome stranger couldn't be denied. Further, I continued to feel incomplete; needing to feel a life growing inside me. I swallowed hard and made a decision. Just one night. If it happened, so be it. But never again would I betray my vows. I shook my head and arched my neck for him to continue his ministrations on the sensitive skin.

We made love several times that night. He took my inexperienced body in ways that I hadn't even known were possible. Mitchell was a good man and more than satisfactory lover, but this stranger… When he used his mouth on me in a way that my husband would never even dream of… When he held my body against his on our sides, holding up my leg to slide into me from behind… The sight of him underneath me as he guided my hips to ride him… Eagerly, he took me to heights I'd never experienced before I succumbed, sated and exhausted, to sleep on the rented bed, wrapped in the arms of the mysterious, nameless drifter.

When my eyes opened naturally at the first rays of light from the window, I started at the unfamiliar surroundings and the feel of someone next to me. It took me a moment to remember where I was and who I was with… and what I had done the night before. Carefully, I lifted the arm wrapped around me and slid off the bed. Quietly, I dressed myself in my wrinkled clothes that were in haphazard piles on the floor and prepared to leave.

When I looked at the beautiful man lying in the bed, I knew I couldn't just leave. I took out a piece of paper from the stationary provided by the motel and wrote a short note. It seemed crude to thank him, but I told him that I would never forget him and all that we had done. I also asked him to not look for me, as we could never have more than the one night. After folding the paper and placing it and the room key on the vacant pillow by his head, I silently opened the door and walked out, not breathing comfortably until I was back on the highway, driving home to my husband.

As I drove, something told me that everything was different now. It wasn't a thought or a realization, but a feeling deep inside me that assured me that my night of infidelity would bear the fruit I had hoped for.

Two months passed and other than greeting me with a relieved hug and a loving smile, Mitch never mentioned my night in the motel. When I noticed that my curse wasn't making its usual visit, I forced myself not to get my hopes up. But when I started getting queasy in the mornings while making my husband breakfast, Mitchell urged me to see the doctor. I nodded and made an appointment for later in the day, received and returned his kiss before he left for the fields, and busied myself with housework until it was time to leave for the clinic.

I gave Mitch the positive news at dinner that night and for the first time, I thought I saw the hint of tears in his beautiful hazel eyes. "A miracle," he choked out, grazing my still-flat stomach with his calloused fingertips. "Our little miracle is in here." I felt the tears running down my cheeks, knowing that my betrayal was the only reason we had this "miracle".

Late one early April night, after moving to the couch so as not to wake my hard working husband with my restlessness and insomnia, I felt an unfamiliar sensation in my stomach and a warm wetness down my legs. I panted through a contraction and made my way to the bedroom. Mitch saw my frantic expression as I shook him awake and needed no explanation. He pulled on jeans and a shirt and helped me to the car.

At the hospital, they showed Mitch to the waiting room while I was sedated for the birth. Unfortunately I didn't remember anything between the needle sliding into my arm and waking up in a stark white room. I felt the warmth of his hand holding mine and it instantly comforted me. When he noticed my alertness, his eyes focused on mine. He lifted my hand, pressed a kiss to my knuckles, and quietly said, "I understand, and it's forgiven."

I was about to ask for an explanation for his odd declaration when a nurse came in with a wheelchair. "Would Momma like to go to the nursery to see her babies?"

I looked up at Mitch, bewildered. "Babies?"

He nodded with a grim smile. "Twins. A boy and a girl." He and the nurse helped me get my abused body into the wheelchair and my husband pushed me up to the window. "See if you can find them," he said quietly.

I gazed over the newborns until I saw a larger-than-usual bassinet holding two babies. A quick glance at the card over the babies' heads confirmed my guess, stating in bold block letters "Stackhouse". Moments later a nurse appeared at the window and removed the bassinet from the viewing window to my displeasure, only to have all of us wheeled back to the room so I could hold my children for the first time.

Once I was settled back in my bed, Mitchell lifted the bigger of the two, wearing a blue cap and swaddled in a blue blanket. "He was born first," he mentioned, gently transferring the baby to my arms. "I'd like to name him Corbett after my grandfather."

"Corbett Mitchell Stackhouse," I murmured, liking how it sounded. "A good, strong name for such a sturdy boy," I praised, unable to stop staring at the perfectly formed features of my new son.

Mitch carried the other baby to the opposite side of the bed and helped settle the pink-swathed newborn into my other arm. "She was born thirteen minutes after Corbett. Linda Savannah," he said with an easier grin than he'd given me before.

"I like that too," I told him honestly, loving that he would honor my late mother like that. Her features were incredibly similar to her brother's. They were so perfect that Renaissance cherubs could have been modeled after them. I laid Corbett against my chest after handing Linda back to my husband. Wanting to see more of him, I unwrapped the tightly swaddled blanket from his surprisingly long body. His newborn limbs were slender and weak-looking, but I knew he would be strong. The cool air woke him with a small grunt of displeasure and I cradled him to look at his face again. Tiny eyes blinked open to reveal, not the dark blue that most infants have before they change to brown, gray, or hazel, but the brilliant blue of jewels or tropical seas. Swallowing with difficulty, I gently removed the hat from Corbett's head. Not Mitchell's mahogany brown or my own dark auburn, but blond. Bright, platinum, incredible blond. With fear, I look up at my husband.

He nuzzled his cheek against Linda's head gently. "Her eyes and hair are the same. I told you I understand and I forgive, but I don't want to know anything else. I love these little miracles regardless."

I sat up slowly and breathed through my discomfort to swaddle Corbett again. Mitchell traded off with me so I could hold our daughter. True to his word, her hair and eyes were the same bright, otherworldly shades. I kissed her sweet head, smelling sun-dried laundry and chocolate cake wafting from her soft hair. I replaced her cap and caressed her silky cheek. "They are miracles, aren't they?" I asked quietly.

"Strong Stackhouse miracles," my husband agreed with me as we settled the babies back into the bassinet. With our arms free, he wrapped me in a tight embrace. "I love you more than anything, Sugar."

Years passed and Linda and Corbett both grew from tiny infants to active toddlers to strong and independent children. Their unique features drew more than one curious look from both strangers and friends, but Mitchell and I both held our heads high, admitting nothing. Money was tight, raising two children on Mitch's small farm income. After several long discussions, we decided to sell off some of the acreage around the house as it wasn't suitable to be used for farming and we weren't using it for anything else. We got an estimate for the value and he spread the word around town that the land was available.

Corbett and Linda were napping when I heard a knock at the door. I opened the door and gasped when I saw the visitor. My stranger. The same white-blond hair and azure eyes I saw mirrored every day in the twins. My head started to swim and my eyesight grew blurry. I tried to grab the doorframe for balance and missed, landing on the floor.

I felt cold water dripping down my face and blinked. It hadn't been a dream. The same face looked down at me with concern. "Are you okay, Angel? I didn't mean to startle you."

For some reason, his term of endearment infuriated me. "What are you doing here? How did you find me?" I hissed.

His brow furrowed in displeasure. "I wasn't looking for you, as you requested. I was responding to word that some land was for sale and I was hoping to see if the property was… suitable for my needs before placing an offer."

I swiped a hand over my eyes and removed the cold rag on my forehead. "Yes, of course. I can show you the land. My husband won't be home until much later."

"Husband. I see," he muttered and followed me out the door and into the woods behind the house.

I kept my back straight as we walked, never looking back to ensure he was following me. At the edge of the woods, I waved my hand. "We're selling the three acres of wooded area. It can be cleared for residential or farming use. The trees can be sold for lumber. The only thing it can't be used for is any kind of industrial or commercial uses. It's not zoned for that," I rattled off dryly.

He seemed to ignore my speech and wandered into the trees, looking around. He ventured so far in that I lost sight of him. Debating as to whether I should stay and wait or go back to the house, I decided to sit in the grass for a few minutes before going back to the house to check on the children. I watched shapes in the clouds blow by when I heard multiple muted footsteps running toward me.

"Mommy! Whatcha doin' out here?" Corbett demanded, looking at me with a four-year-old's stern gaze. "You ain't supposta leave us when we're nappin'."

I kissed his head affectionately and corrected his grammar before saying, "A man is looking at the land Daddy wants to sell. I'm just waiting for him to get back from exploring the woods."

"Daddy can't sell the woods!" Linda exclaimed, her tiny face looking outraged. "Our friends live there! If Daddy sells it, we won't see Claudine and Preston and Caitlin no more!"

I loved her imagination. "Your friends can play in our yard as easily as they can play in the woods," I told her with a smile.

She and Corbett shared a glance before she stomped her foot. "Nuh-uh. They live in the woods and we can only play with 'em there. Daddy can't sell it!"

It was almost impossible to argue logic with a four-year-old, so I just patted her head indulgently. I saw the bright blond head getting closer through the trees and stood. Strangely, that intoxicating scent of cotton, sun, and chocolate followed him out of the woods. "I believe that the land may be exactly what I'm looking for. I'll take the whole parcel… and who is this?" he said, wonder creeping into his voice when he looked down.

Corbett, imitating his father, stepped forward and held out his small hand. "Corbett Stackhouse and this is my sister Linda. Nice to meetcha."

The stranger knelt down to meet his eyes. "I'm Fintan Brigant. You and Linda look like strong, fine children. It's very nice to meet you both as well," he said, shaking my son's waiting hand.

Linda piped up. "You don' wanna buy the woods. Our friends live there."

I tried to hush her, but the stranger… Fintan… stopped me. "Dear child, I only intend to purchase the land for future value. I don't intend to clear the trees or build anything. As far as I'm concerned, you and your brother can continue to play in the woods with your friends for as long as you want."

Satisfied, the kids each took one of my hands and all four of us walked up to the house. I sent the kids into the kitchen for an afternoon snack then outside to play. I sat at the table and looked at the tall blond. "You didn't have to placate her. She'll be more disappointed later when you don't keep your word."

He cocked his head and stared at me. "What makes you think I wouldn't keep my word? I told her the whole truth. I fully intend to keep the land exactly as it is, excepting the name of who owns it."

"But why would you do that? Why would you come out to a little town like Bon Temps to buy a large parcel of land that you don't intend to use?"

He got a faraway look on his face and looked out the window to where the kids were wrestling in the yard. "Oh, I intend to use it. I just don't plan on changing it. Do you know what your husband," he said the word with a bit of a growl, "is asking for the whole lot?"

I told him the figure and he nodded distractedly, going back to watching the children. Turning suddenly, he stared hard at me. "Does he know?"

"Know what?" I said, even though I understood what he was asking.

His blue eyes hardened. "That the children aren't his."

My features stiffened to match his. "He's a brunette with hazel eyes. What do you think?"

"And he... treats them well?" he asked uncertainly.

I couldn't help but smile. "He loves them very much. Calls them his miracles. He couldn't be a better father."

He nodded, seeming satisfied. "I'll tell my lawyer to go ahead and purchase the land, paying whatever the asking price is. It's the least I can do to support my… your family," he said with a tone of finality. Without waiting for me, he headed unescorted to the door and let himself out. I heard him call a playful, yet sad farewell to the kids before he left.

I started on dinner so it would be ready when Mitchell got home from the fields, bound to be hungry. When he came into the kitchen, he sat at the table looking bewildered rather than tired but happy as usual. "What's wrong, sweetheart," I asked, putting his plate of meatloaf, lima beans, mashed potatoes and tomato slices in front of him.

"Sid Matt came out to the field today," he started, absently scratching his head. "He said some fella bought all the land we were putting up for sale and paid cash this afternoon."

"Well, that's good! A man came out this afternoon to see the land and was interested, but I didn't know he was going to buy it as soon as he left!" I said happily.

He still looked puzzled. "Yeah, I get that, but what's weird to Sid Matt is that the guy didn't want his name on anything. In fact, after he bought the land, he wanted Cord and Lin's names on the deed. He's giving three acres of land to our kids! Doesn't that seem strange to you?"

I nodded, just as shocked as my husband. "Did Sid Matt say why he wanted to do that?"

He shook his head and started eating. After a few swallows, he shrugged. "All he really said is the fella wanted to keep family land in the family, or something like that. Can't deny that the money's going to help, so I guess we shouldn't look a gift horse in the mouth. At least the kids will have some land they can live on when they grow up and move out… although I'm glad that those days are years away."

I nodded in agreement. Silently, I willed myself not to cry at the generosity. Fintan made sure that his… my… our children were able to keep the woods that they loved for as long as they wanted. It was an extreme and heartwarming gesture that I was grateful for.

And every time I passed by the woods, I would be overcome with the smell of sun warmed cotton and decadent, rich chocolate.