He covered her hands with his own, trying to calm her. Her hands were no longer lotion soft but callused by work. Hard work. “Where is your husband, Leah? He will want to be here.”
“Oh, Devon.” Her voice sounded sad. She released her hold, turned her head away from him. “I have no husband.”
She said the words so softly that he almost hadn’t heard them. No husband. He nodded, concern mixing with a strange, elated relief.
“I’ll get help.” He started to leave.
Her hand gripped his. “No! Stay.”
“Please—” Her protest was cut short by the next contraction. It doubled her up. Her knees bent, and she cried out in pain.
He couldn’t panic, he warned himself. Women had been having babies for centuries. It was natural, a force of nature. It was also damn scary.
And in spite of his fear, he couldn’t help but wonder who the father was.
A middle-aged woman with an ample bosom, dressed in black from head to toe, wandered in the front door. “Good heavens, why did she leave the door wide open?” Her apple cheeks flushed with indignation. “Where’s Leah? Has she no sense?”
She was talking to a young man who shared her same fair coloring. “Mother, I wish you’d leave her alone—”
His words were interrupted by his mother’s sharp cry of surprise upon seeing Devon. She raised her prayer book protectively in front of her.
Her son stiffened at the sight of Devon, but then his gaze slid to Leah on the bed. He cried out her name and started to move for her.
His mother stopped him by grabbing his arm. “What are you doing in my bed, missy? And who are you?” she demanded of Devon.
Leah started to rise, but Devon placed his hand on her shoulder, holding her in place.
“You don’t understand—” Leah protested to him, but he shushed her.
Facing the woman and her son, he