| Mick, we need to talk.
Those were definitely not the words he wanted to hear first
thing through the door. Hed put in a full day on the farm,
which included working on the new extension on the house and
the fire-damaged barn. He was hungry, tired, and smelled worse
than well-aged slurry on a hot day. The last thing he needed
was to hear Kate needed to talk to him. By the tone of her voice,
it wasnt going to be a good talk.
Cant it wait, love? Im only just in the
This is important.
He made the mistake of meeting her emerald gaze. The look
on her face pleaded with him to relent. He was already struggling
to stay on his feet and her persistence pecked away at any energy
he had left. Sheer will alone kept him uprightand the
beckoning of a hot shower. It was like one of the Seven Deadly
Sins he couldnt deny. His knees almost gave out at the
anticipation of the hot water sluicing over his body.
At least let me shower first. Itll wake me up
and youll have my undivided attention. All right?
Her shoulders slumped. She looked tired too. He wanted to
gather her in his arms and stroke her hair while soothing away
what had upset her. But his exhausted body cried out for soothing
of its own. He wanted a shower so desperately he could almost
I wont be long, then Im all yours.
He started up the stairs.
Mick, she called after him, but he took the stairs
by twos to make a quick escape. It was an effort that nearly
floored him when he gained the top step. Supporting himself
with a hand on either wall, he made his way into the bathroom
and shut the door behind him.
* * * *
How could he do this to her again? This was the second time
this week he'd dodged her.
Kate watched him disappear up the stairs. Within seconds she
heard the shower switch on. Two thuds signaled his boots were
off and a groan meant he was nude and in the shower.
She would have liked nothing better than to race up the stairs
after him to soap him down, but the crying coming from the kitchen
reminded her the days of sharing a shower with her husband were
over. The sound of his boots hitting the floor must have awakened
The familiar pain of sadness twisted inside her. She couldn't
cry now. Her babies needed her. She tried to push her feelings
aside and went back to the kitchen.
Her kitchen. Her domain.
The entire house was her life now. She rarely stepped out
of it unless the pounding of hammers and whining of electric
saws drove her away. Even then, she only went as far as Conneelly
Farm to see her mother.
Her lips twisted in a derisive grin. Visits to her mother
had originally been to get away from construction noise. Her
mother seemed to suspect something else was wrong, but Kate
didn't want to air her dirty laundry, and not to her mother-she
didn't care how close they were-yet she certainly wasn't going
to refuse a few hours of child-minding so she could get a bit
of sleep in her old room. If it weren't for this little bit
of rest at home she was sure she would have gone insane by now.
Fairhill Farm was her home now, she reminded herself, not
Conneelly Farm. But since the twins were born she felt anything
but at home. She cooked, cleaned, looked after the babies. It
was no different from caring for Mary and Donal during their
illnesses while Mick was living in Dublin. Only this time, the
infants were hers and this was her home now, not her late in-laws.