Toni woke up in her own bed. Disoriented and her head throbbing. She sat up and looked around. What day was it? She brought her hand up and massaged her temple. What time even? The alarm clock said 5. She glanced at the window, still light out so she assumed afternoon. Was she back in the present or on another of Maude’s travels? She put her head into both hands and closed her eyes. She’d never had such a horrible, splitting headache. Where was Maude?
She heard the door downstairs open and close. She jerked up straight and strained to listen, holding her breath.
“Toni? Are you here?”
She breathed out a sigh of relief at the sound of Lou’s voice filling the house.
“Up here!” she threw the covers back and scrambled out of bed. A wave of dizziness momentarily swept over her causing her to clutch the mattress. And then a wave of nausea hit her too. Maybe all the time travel had messed up her system. She sank back onto the bed just as Lou bounded into the bedroom.
“Hey babe!” Lou’s smile warmed her heart, but concern soon etched his face, “Are you okay? You should be still in bed. Why are you up?” He helped her back under the covers.
Toni looked at him, perplexed.
“Why should I be in bed?”
“A pregnant woman has to get her rest and you’ve been feeling so ill… don’t you remember?” Lou answered, reaching for the phone, “I better call the doctor.”
How much time had passed? Pregnant? Were they married? Her ring finger said no.
Toni grabbed Lou’s hand before he could dial.
“What do you mean pregnant? Are we married?” she asked.
Lou felt her head with the back of his hand and pursed his lips.
“No fever. Maybe we should go see the doctor.” He turned back to the phone.
She grabbed the phone this time and threw it across the bed.
“Forget it. I’m fine.”
She was not about to lose another minute on this life. If they weren’t married they soon would be. There was no way she was bringing Lila into this world without a solid family. She grabbed Lou in a fierce hug and heard him expel a chest full of air. Apparently, she was nearly choking him to death with her firm embrace, but he squeezed back just as fiercely.
He pulled her away by the shoulders and asked “Are you sure you’re okay?”
“Yes, just glad to be back in your arms. Will you marry me?”
Lou’s face registered shock at the abrupt question.
“I thought you didn’t like marriage?”
“I’ve changed my mind,” she said, “If you’ll be my husband.”
Lou looked deep into her eyes. She could see he was trying to make sure she was serious. She returned his gaze with firm determination.
“You know I’ve wanted to marry you since the day we met,” he said, “Wait here.”
Lou bolted off the bed and began rummaging in his dresser drawer. He turned around with a ring box held high.
“It’s my grandmother’s. I’ve been holding onto it for you. I hoped you would come around.”
She grabbed him again and kissed him firmly. The kiss deepened, but he pulled back once again.
“Whoa there… slow down. You were just in my arms this morning… remember?” his eyebrows wagging up and down, “But we can start again if you like.” He reached for her and starting kissing her neck. She giggled and put her hands around his neck and pulled him closer.
Just then the doorbell rang.
With a groan, he was off of her. She clutched at him, placing kisses down his arm and his fingertips, but he peeled her off and walked to the bedroom door.
“Don’t worry! I’ll get rid of whoever it is and we can continue!” he called back to her.
Everything was going to be fine now. She looked into the ring box and gently ran her finger over the solitaire diamond ring nestled in the cushion. She smiled and lay back on the soft comforter. She closed her eyes and snuggled into the pillow. There was a peace in her heart that she had never felt. She caressed her stomach, noticing the small paunch now, and thought of Lila. She would have to be sure and seek out Maude tomorrow and thank her.
“Hey! You can’t… wait!” Lou shouted.
Toni sat up and clutched the comforter to her chest as Maude burst into the room.
“Oh thank God! I was so worried when we didn’t transport together!” Maude came over to the bedside, black robes once again flowing around her.
Lou stepped into the doorway, a look of concern on his face.
“Sorry babe…” he began.
Toni shook her head and smiled at him, giving Maude a strong hug in greeting.
“It’s okay,” she said over Maude’s shoulder. She pulled Maude away and looked into her eyes, “Do you know?”
Maude adjusted her robes around her on the bed, carefully picking at a piece of cat hair near her knee.
“Oh dear, of course I know. I know everything,” she looked up at Toni through her dark lashes, “EVERYTHING.”
Toni turned to her questioningly “What do you mean ‘everything’?”
“Oh dear,” Maude smiled and patted Toni’s hand, “You’ll see.”