The sweetness of beginnings can bind two hearts together forever. The beautiful Black Hills of South Dakota is about to see another such beginning. A wedding of a couple whose love is as unrestrained as a winter snowstorm. Suspicions can be conquered and truths can be proven. Memories can be made and dreams can be broken. Forever doesn’t always mean easy.
In an ordinary moment, a life can be altered forever. The Johnson family is set adrift in a sea of turmoil as the unthinkable happens and their father, Travis Johnson is injured. A pillar of their family is fighting for his life and suddenly, the everyday, petty things don’t seem to matter anymore. Lacey Johnson is now the guide that must pull everyone else back on track. It is her wisdom that guides two hearts to the point of no return.
Maybe it was over before it really had a chance to begin. She hoped that her parents would understand why they were separating in less than a year of marriage. This certainly wasn’t what she had in mind at all. The gold and brown flowered recliner was a welcome respite. She sat down gingerly and adjusted the little pillow for her lower back. Closing her eyes as she sat back and rested her head on the padding, Lacey tried to calm her pounding heart. Her stomach was tight and her lower back was aching profoundly.
She heard the floor creak before she heard his voice.
“I’m sorry, Lace. I can’t leave.”
She didn’t open her eyes. She didn’t want to see what a mess he was and hope that she could somehow clean him up. It wasn’t her job. Besides that, Travis had always been the level-headed one and she the emotional one. The tables had somehow been turned and she could say definitely that she disliked it vehemently.
“I am sure I can go stay with my parents or Janell.” Lacey didn’t want to get out of the chair.
“Well I admit it isn’t ideal, but that way I won’t be alone.” Lacey continued, ignoring the rise in his voice.
“You’re not alone.”
“I am, but this little one will make its debut soon. I’ll be sure to send you pictures.”
She was baiting him. Still she kept her head leaning against the chair and her eyes firmly closed.
“Like hell you will!” Travis was all attention now and she could hear his steps as he moved across the floor. “That child is mine.”
The thickness of the energy in the room could be cut with a knife. She could hear him panting and wondered how his head was feeling this morning.
“It is mine too. I’ve been too sick to move. I’ve been so dizzy that I faint. I’ve been on an emotional roller coaster and I’ve spent the last five days feeling like I’m doing this alone. I can’t go on this way. If you aren’t in this with me, I’m out.” Her voice rose in octaves that had to have his head splitting. When she opened her eyes to the silence, she found him only a couple feet away looking at her seriously.
“You can’t leave me.” The command she knew was coming, but hoping he could back it up. Alone the words sounded weak and pleading.
“I can.” Lacey shifted in the chair, feeling peculiar to say the least. “I know what Rip meant to you and I’m sorry for what happened. The drinking and anger has to stop or you’ll lose me too.” She stared into his blue eyes and saw the fear clouded by the hangover.
“I know. It will. Please don’t leave me.” He went to his knees in front of the chair. His hands clasped together and his face contorted in contrition.