Secrets She Left Behind

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Authors: Diane Chamberlain
little overwhelmed right now, but I guess that’s to be expected.”
    “Let me know if I can help somehow,” I said. “I have plenty of free time.”
    Steve nudged me, so I walked forward, making way for the people behind us to talk to Jamie. My offer to help was genuine. I longed to get out of the house, but Steve didn’t want me to work. “None of the guys’ wives work,” he’d said. Anyway, jobs were few, especially for a military wife who might have to move at a moment’s notice.
     
    Jamie caught up to us in the small, sandy parking lot in front of the chapel.
    “Were you serious, Sara?” He shaded his eyes from the sun. “About wanting to help?”
    “Oh, yes,” I said.
    “We can really use it,” he said. “I’ll pay you, of course.”
    “No! Please. Let me just help out. Like I said, I have loads of free time.”
    I gave him our number, and he wrote it on a small notepad he pulled from the pocket of his jeans.
    I felt so happy as I got into the car. I could do something useful for a change. I could help Jamie, touching his life in a positive way, the way he’d touched mine by building his chapel.
    Steve and I were nearly to the high-rise bridge before either of us spoke.
    “You think that’s a wise thing for you to do?” he asked.
    “What do you mean?” I asked, although I knew.
    “You know. Taking care of a baby.”
    “I want to,” I said.
    It was the closest we’d ever come to discussing Sam. I bit my lip, feeling anxious. Finally, Steve was giving me an invitation to talk about him.
    “Do you ever think about him?” I asked.
    “Who?” he replied.
    “Sam.”
    He was quiet for so long I thought he was going to ignore the question.
    “Doesn’t do any good to think about him,” he said. Then he pointed to a speed-limit sign. Thirty-five miles per hour. “Is that new?” he asked. “I thought it was forty-five along this stretch.”
     
    Jamie suggested I come to the real-estate office where he worked. I supposed he wanted to interview me before accepting my offer of help, but when I walked into his small office, I found him holding the baby. I sat down and he walked around his desk to hand the infant to me.
    Every baby looked beautiful to me, even those with cone-shaped heads and scrunched-up faces and homely features. All of them, staggeringly beautiful. Yet Maggie Lockwood was extraordinary even at a month old. She had Jamie’s enormous brown eyes, and they were wide open, already taking in her world. She had a thick crop of dark curls and tiny features carved in pale, flawless porcelain.
    “She’s a little colicky,” Jamie said. “But she’s a good baby.”
    It was like holding feathers, she was so light. Like holding a miracle. Experiencing God. The thought slipped into my mind, and tears filled my eyes. Could I bear it? Helping to care for this child?
    “Are you all right?” Jamie asked.
    “She’s just so beautiful.” I felt one tear slip down my cheek, butmanaged to stop the rest. He’d think I was deranged. Maybe the sort of woman who would steal a baby. I looked up at him, clearing my throat as I grounded myself again in my surroundings. “Is this her first visit to your office?” I asked. “Your coworkers must have flipped over her.”
    He tapped his fingers on his desk, not answering right away. “Actually,” he said, “I’ve brought her here all this week.” Leaning forward, he studied his new daughter where she rested quietly in my arms. “Laurel’s having a hard time.”
    Was he confiding in me? “I’m so sorry to hear that,” I said.
    “She had a very rough start,” he said. “She hemorrhaged during the delivery and is anemic and I think she feels isolated and…unsure of herself.”
    “Oh. Poor thing.” I felt sympathy for the woman I’d met only a couple of times. How hard to have a new baby and not feel up to taking care of her. “I hope she feels better soon.”
    “Thanks. Me, too.”
    I looked at the stack of real-estate brochures

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