For His Brother's Wife(54)

By: Kathie Denosky

When Cole found them seats close to the stage that had been built for the memorial service to remember the lives lost in the tornado and the dedication ceremony of the new Town Hall, he helped her lower her bulk into the chair before sitting down beside her. “Are you comfortable, Paige?”

“You’re fussing again, Mr. Richardson,” she said, kissing his cheek.

“You’re looking well, Paige,” Julie Wakefield said as she and her husband Luc sat down in the seats next to her and Cole.

“I’m glad we got to see you,” Luc told Cole. “Your company did a great job on rebuilding the hospital wing the tornado flattened and I’d like to see you and Aaron put in a bid from R&N Builders for the new wing Julie and I are planning to propose to the hospital board in a few weeks.”

“It sounds to me like we’ll be attending another dedication ceremony next year,” Paige said, laughing.

Smiling, Julie nodded. “We hope so.”

“Stella has been so good for Royal,” Paige commented as the town’s mayor stepped up to the podium. “After Richard Vance stepped down and Stella became the official mayor, she’s done a wonderful job of bringing everyone together to rebuild the town. I don’t think she’ll have any trouble being re-elected.”

Cole nodded. “She’s also been the best thing that ever happened to Aaron. He’s more settled now than I’ve ever seen him.”

When Stella read aloud the names of those killed during the storm and asked for a moment of silence, Cole reached down and took Paige’s hand in his. Looking at each other, they silently acknowledged the loss of Craig, and she knew that, although he had done some terrible things to her and Cole, they both wished for him to rest in peace.

As Stella gave her speech and cut the ribbon for the official opening of the new town hall, the crowd was subdued, reflecting on their losses. But the applause that followed the ribbon cutting seemed to express hope for the future. When Stella was done, she paused for a moment as one of the city board members handed her a piece of paper.

“Is Dr. Marin in attendance today?” she asked, stepping back to the podium.

“I’m here,” the doctor said, standing up a few chairs down from where Paige and Cole sat.

“You’re going to be needed at the hospital very shortly,” Stella said, smiling. “I’ve just been informed that Lark Holt is experiencing contractions and will be in need of your services.”

As the ceremony wound down and the crowd began to disperse, Aaron approached his wife and handed their baby daughter to her before walking toward his car to get the diaper bag.

Paige and Cole laughed as they thought of how panicked Aaron had been when Stella had gone into labor. The look on his face had been priceless.

“You know you shouldn’t laugh,” Paige told Cole as he helped her up from the chair. “You’ll be wearing the same expression and taking me on a wild car ride in about three months.”

Cole wrapped his arms around her and gave her a kiss that made her legs feel weak and shaky. Then tucking her to his side as they walked toward their car, he said, “Sweetheart, I’ll be glad to give you as many wild rides as you want.”

Paige looked at the man she loved with all of her heart and soul. Cole was a loving husband and he was going to be a wonderful father. Sometimes she had to pinch herself in order to believe it was all real.

“Are you happy, Cole?” she asked when he helped her into the passenger seat of the car.

“I can honestly say the past six months have been the happiest of my life, Paige,” he said, leaning down to give her a tender kiss. After closing her door, he walked around the car to slide into the driver’s seat and start the engine. “Now let’s go home so I can fuss over you some more.”

“Have I told you lately how much I love you?” she asked.

Laughing, he nodded. “Yeah, but I never get tired of hearing it.”

“I love you, Cole.”

“And I love you, Paige. Now and until the end of time.”

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