Cradle of Love

Author: Skeetrfan
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Livy had been busy since the day Ray told her about the cellar. The days are no longer as lonely as before. In fact, the days go by quicker these days as she feverishly tries to restore the treasure of things she discovered down there.

The first week was just sheer excitement for her, she had to warn herself to pace herself out, and that she has all the time to do these things before the baby arrives. She loved the cradle that was in the cellar. Ray had offered to buy her a new one seeing the condition of it when he brought it up for her. She thanked him but decided that she wanted the baby to use this cradle knowing that it was in his family for generations. Of all the items she found in the cellar, Livy immediately took to restoring the cradle before the other objects she had amassed from the cellar.

From the time since Livy discovered she was pregnant, this was the moment that she began to enjoy her pregnancy. Seeing the cradle and old baby clothes finally made her excited about the arrival of the baby. Things had changed since the day she visited Dr. McCutcheon at his clinic. Livy is now looking forward to the coming of the baby and the changes her body is undergoing is as beautiful and frightening to her as well.

Ray and Livy's relationship also changed with the season.

One day, Livy was driving back from Camp Amache. She still comes to visit the girls at least once a week and she enjoys learning new things at the camp as well as finding company from the many residents there.

She spots Ray from a distance. He was around a road bend that eventually ends at their house. He had parked the tractor by the side of the road and was fixing the barbed wires between the fence posts that ran along their property. He had his back to her and did not notice Livy coming. She slowed down and took notice that Ray is quite absorbed with the task in hand. He's got his shirt sleeve rolled up high on his arms and was wearing gloves as he pulled taut a wire onto a post, then took a tack that he was clenching between his teeth and started to hammer the wire to the post. It did not take him long; he was going back to the tractor when Livy drives by. She waves at him and he smiles back at her. She slows down to ask him if he's already heading home for supper.

'I will have supper ready in half an hour if you are calling it a day', Livy hollered over the sound of the engine

'No hurry, I still have one more stop before I call it a day -- how was your day at the camp?' Ray came to the passenger's window and Livy notices how tanned he was from the sun.

'I am starting to learn how to use the sewing machine at Rose's' Livy felt bad for Ray, 'It's been very warm today, do you still have a lot to repair? I can bring some cold co'colas if you'd like'

'Uh, no need, I am fine, the fence is done, I just happened to notice this one on my way here and decided to fix it while I'm in the area' Ray looks over his shoulder and squinted towards the fence he'd just repaired.

'Are you driving the tractor back to the barn then?' Livy wondered where else he'd be going in this part of the farm.

Ray smiles and finally sighs, he points at the distance on her left and Livy's eyes follows the direction of his hand, 'I was going to stop by over there before heading home.'

'To the dugout?' Livy had to confirm and was clearly surprised.

'Uhmmm--' Ray replies, he was reluctant to give her any more details. Livy has her way of getting her answers. Ray clears his throat 'Well, I was going to surprise you but I thought I'd look in the dugout for some wood that I can use to replace the planks on the old cradle. I was also hoping to find some more lumber there to build you another cradle for downstairs.

Livy was indeed surprised. She is awed by this man who had done everything to please and make her comfortable at his home from the day she arrived from Denver. She feels she cannot ever repay his kindness to her. The past weeks since Abby's visit left her with more questions than answers about herself . Abby brought back memories and a promise of the life she is missing, the life she wants to lead and the reminder of the man whom she longs would one day still acknowledge her and the baby she is carrying. Ray is making this harder for her everyday. Livy is torn between her past and the future that Ray is giving her wholeheartedly.

Since that dinner at Martha's, where he talked about Troy, her feelings for Ray had changed. Livy is slowly falling for Ray. Livy is starting to feel a tug in her heart, a tug that she still refuses to accept because she still holds Edward close to her heart.

Today, Livy feels she's being pulled closer towards Ray and she's throwing all her cares and confusion to the wind.

'May I come?' Livy is excited about the prospect of going to the dugout again.

'Are you sure?' Ray looks at her bulging belly.

'I'll be careful and you will be there anyway.' Livy hopes he's not going to turn her down.

'Um', Ray sighs again, 'only if you promise to take it slowly'. Livy gives him the sweetest smile.

The dugout which was almost hidden by a dense growth of underbrush; would have given her trouble finding the site again quickly. Ray somehow just knew where it was. She silently thought that this was his land, he should know this like the back of his hand, but then something inside her knew that he probably visited this site often when Daniel was still alive.

At her condition, going down to the dugout proved a challenged all right. Ray had to find a better way to get to it. Livy was glad that Ray was there to help her get down. It seemed so easy then when she managed to haul all those things from out of the dugout earlier.

They enter the dugout and Ray surveyed his grandparents' old home. Livy glanced over to see Ray's reaction. Ray definitely hadn't been back for a while. He was surprised at the condition of it, recalling the times he and Daniel would come and hang out when they were younger. He avoided ever coming back to this place especially since Daniel passed away knowing that those memories will just cause sadness to overwhelm him again. Somehow, with Livy being by his side that moment, the emotions he dreadfully thought would assault him didn't come. He felt very calm and the memories that came were good ones. Memories that had long been placed in the back of his mind. It was also another reason why Ray didn't think to tell Livy of his plan to go to this place because he felt he would need to do this on his own. Now he felt comfort in Livy's presence, he realized that he's starting to find some acceptance with the loss he's gone through these years.

Ray went ahead to search for some wood that came off the walls and checked them out for size and condition. He decides to take some of the lumber that he can use from areas that will not compromise the structure of the dugout. Ray reaches for the hammer hanging at the back of his overalls and starts to pull some nails out. Livy goes around finding more things that she can salvage and restore. All the time that they were going about their tasks, Ray begins to talk about the times he and Daniel spent hanging out here. Livy pauses to listen to his stories.

'I didn't know you both loved coming to this place. Surely, it's a great place for young boys to play but I always pictured you always working the farm more than hanging out to play.' Livy couldn't picture Ray as a young man.

Ray stopped unhooking a nail from a plank when he heard her say this and he smiles, 'It was easier to play when there were more people who can take care of the farm then but I've always known that farming will be my life. It didn't stop me from having a good and memorable childhood.'

After a pause, Livy says 'I've always felt that archeology will be my life, I enjoy and love it to this day. Graduate school seems to have guaranteed it for me too but it didn't turn out that way...' Livy's voice trails off and her face was masked by a shadow from the corner of the dugout where there was limited light coming through. Ray can see her playfully running her fingers along the tines of a fork that she just found.

Ray looked at her through the darkness and was silent. He tried to give her everything he can knowing this is not the life she intended to have.

'Are you not happy here, Livy?' Ray couldn't help asking but he felt he might also regret Livy's answer.

Livy had stopped playing with the fork. She stood up and went a little closer to Ray, her face more visible to him. 'In the beginning, it had been very difficult for me, not wanting to be here then..' Livy pauses and Ray is worried, he should have avoided asking this question. 'You have been very kind and I truly expected a horrible man in the beginning.' Livy laughs and continued in a more serious tone, 'Now I am glad and grateful it turned out to be someone like you - I'm happy here, Ray.' Livy had wanted to say this to Ray.

Relief overcomes Ray. Ray and Livy stood in the middle of the dugout face to face. He looks into her eyes and he smiles at her. He was happy too. This had been the first time they've really talked about this or even any topic for that matter.

Ray felt so much love for Livy, he felt unburdened having shared something that he had carried personally on his own like a dark cloud over his head. Ray realizes that Livy had brought back peace and contentment into his life. They look at each other; each touched by this moment, Ray advances and gives her a strong and loving embrace. Livy was totally caught by surprise. It's been awkward between them since and regretted her actions on the day she ran up the stairs after dinner at Martha's.

She had never been held like this by anyone, it felt so different, new and good. It was something she needed for a while now and she basked in the strength of Ray's arms around her. Livy returned Ray's embrace and they stood there, both finding comfort in each other's arms.

After what seems like a long moment, they let go and Ray was contemplating on kissing Livy as well but he remembered the last time and didn't want to ruin the moment. He sighs. It will have to wait for another time. His hand travels to her hand instead and he directs her attention instead to the lumber he's collected near his feet.

'Will these be good enough for the cradle you are working on? I'll make it look like it belonged to that piece all along.' Ray brings up one for Livy to examine.

Livy thought she saw from Ray's look that he was aiming for a kiss but had changed his mind. She was blushing from the thought. 'Uh, I think this will work perfectly fine Ray, thank you for thinking to do this'

'Glad you approved.' His eyes never left hers. 'It's getting dark, it's best that we head on back to the house. I'll come back for these after I bring you back to the truck'. Livy notices that Ray has not let her hand go either, it was warm and strong. His eyes on her was also making her self conscious. She cannot believe he is causing these reactions on her.

They left the dugout and Livy settled behind the wheel while Ray went back to haul the lumber into the back of the truck. She wanted him to kiss her back there but she knew why he hesitated. She wonders how it would be like when he does. Livy knows the day will one day come and she looks forward to that time. Right now, the warmth of Ray's embrace lingers and she felt her heart ever beating so fast.

For the first time in her life, she felt loved, secured and protected living her life with Ray.

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