Gifts of the Magi Excerpt

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Steve groaned as he settled between the flannel sheets next to Rachel. It had been a long day, and he was tired from slogging through the snow. The radio on the far side of the bed from him played softly, letting them know there was still electricity to the house. Rachel had picked a classical music station, something soothing, relaxing.

“How are the cows doing?” she asked him. “Do you need to watch Ellen, yet?”

“If this one’s anything like the last five calvings, she’ll have two more days to go before she’s ready to drop. Butt-first,” he added, gesturing with his hand. “But she’ll drop. Probably the night before Christmas Eve.”

“And, unless a miracle happens, this storm will keep the vet away for longer than those three days,” Rachel sighed, twisting onto her side so she could snuggle close. “You’ll have to start sleeping out in the barn tomorrow night, just in case…and I’ll miss you.”

A smile quirked the corner of his mouth. He twisted his head, kissing her dark hair. “Actually, Pete is going to be sleeping out there. We’ll trade off during the day, but he’s volunteered to watch during the night. He’s had to turn breech-birth calves half a dozen times before, with his uncle’s guidance. And he says the cot we have out there is nicer than having to doss down in the hay like at his uncle’s place. I made sure he had extra blankets. He’ll be fine.”

“It’s a nice turnaround from him and his friends coming here to bully us, earlier,” Rachel sighed. “And it takes one of our worries off the mind. Depending on whether or not the credit companies can give us a fast turnaround on processing Joey’s card before noon, earlier today, we should have enough in the bank for the automatic withdrawal of the mortgage. If not…”

“If not, then there’s nothing we can do about it. Except pray for a miracle that Mr. Harrod gets that stick unwedged from his butt,” Steve muttered.

Rachel shoved at him lightly for the vulgarity, and he kissed her on the lips to soothe her protest. It had been a while since they had last kissed in bed. Stress had taken its toll on their urge for intimacy, submerging their desires under the weight of their worries. With some of that weight lifted, and with memories stirred of how they had first gotten together, Steve felt his body quickening with a half-forgotten thrill of desire. So what started out as a simple, loving kiss grew a bit warmer.

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