Chapter Two

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Rebecca Sue Robins Carpenter had moved hardly an inch since hearing the news of her dear, sweet Jeremiah's death. She was eight months pregnant with her second child, and her body was preparing itself more and more each day to bring that baby into the world.

Her late husband's parents had been by her side the whole time, helping take care of little Josiah, and herself. Reba numbly sat in bed staring out the window facing north. The south eastern Wyoming sky was the brightest blue she'd ever seen, the sun was shining, and the birds were chirping. But Reba's world was dark, cold and painfully numb. She had no desire to eat, to shower, to leave the confines of her bedroom.

A soft feminine knock on the door was her only warning before Thelma- her mother-in-law entered the room. "Honey, you need to eat."

"I'm not hungry." Thelma came to sit on the foot of the bed.

"The baby probably is. Come on Dear- you need to eat something to keep your strength up."

"I'm plenty strong." Reba sighed.

"If you won't eat, then will you please go take a shower?" Thelma was quickly growing tired of her daughter-in-law moping around.

"I'm fine-" Thelma had had it.

"Rebecca Sue- You will take a shower even if I have to drag you in there! You stink to high heaven and you're absolutely filthy! And you will eat even if I have to shove it down your throat!" Thelma slapped her own thigh. "Stop being selfish Reba!"

"Selfish-?"

"Yes, selfish. We lost our Jerry too! But you know what? Part of him is still here! He is a part of you and a part of your children." Thelma stood with her hands on her hips. "And I'm sure he's just throwing a fit at the sight of you." She pointed at Reba. "My son didn't marry a weak woman. He married a strong, stubborn, and happy woman."

Reba's eyes filled with tears as she watched the spunky and plump little gal who had raised the love of her life. "I can't-"

"He certainly didn't marry a woman made of excuses! Pull yourself together girl! Get yourself out of that bed and get your life put together- you have children to think of." With that a red faced Thelma stormed out of the room; she figured maybe what the girl needed was some anger- a little fire put in her.

Reba pulled herself out of bed and looked down at herself. She straightened her shoulders and lifted her chin. She would be a woman that her husband would be proud of.

#

Waylon hobbled out of the VA Hospital one month after returning state side. The doctor had assured him that he'd be able to walk without the use of a crutch as long as he continued to do his therapy exercises. The gal behind the desk smiled at him as she handed him his release form. "Welcome back."

"Thank you ma'am." Waylon signed the paper that said that everything that he'd seen overseas didn't affect him in anyway. Even if the nightmares were almost more than he could handle.

Waylon crawled into the rusty 1974 maroon Chevy pickup he'd left on base and headed home. The long drive to Chappell Hill Texas would take a couple hours. And those few hours would give him the time he needed to figure out how he was going to survive being home. What would he say to his parents? How would he live under the same roof as them without going bat shit crazy? He already  struggled to reign in his temper when it flared- and that happened more often than he wanted to admit.

He didn't know how long he would be able to stay with them without hurting either of his parents or himself.

Waylon pulled into the driveway- what he saw shocked him. The place was in shambles. Tony-his father- would never let his property get this rundown. The paint on the buildings was peeling and chipped way. The once solid corral fence was broken down and in bad repair. The barbed wire fences along the road were sagging and the posts were rotted. How could the place get so bad in the two years that he wasn't here?

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