Chapter One

“Can’t blame the turkey for that.”

“Sure I can.” Sarah set aside the sketchbook and took her coffee. Gus settled on the bench beside her, and she leaned into him, grateful for his warmth and liking the feel of his hard muscles against her back.

On days like today, she lamented the disappearance of her own toned musculature. Although she knew it lurked beneath the weight she had gained, she missed being lithe and graceful and slim. Her hand passed over her rounded belly; three-and-a-half months and the baby would be here, and she could enjoy that unburdened, unfettered feeling until the next baby came along. There would be more. She didn’t dread it; they had talked often about having a large family. Sarah wanted her home filled with all the noise and laughter and love that had permeated Gus’s childhood home, perhaps as a talisman against her own emotionally sterile, silent upbringing.

“Feeling all right, Sarah-Jane?” As though intuiting her thoughts, his arm snaked around her, his hand sliding over her stomach. He pressed lightly and the baby kicked at the intrusion.

“Yeah. Fat and happy.” And she was – happy, at least. Fat, temporarily, God willing.

“That’s good. I had no small measure of guilt when you were hugging the john and hurling every morning.”

“You can’t deny you did this to me.” She elbowed him in the ribs. “Where’s Benj?”

“He went with Josef to collect eggs from my parents’ coop.” He somehow managed to keep a straight face.

Sarah grimaced. “Let’s hope he fares better with the chickens than he did with the turkeys.”

“Let’s hope he manages not to break all the eggs so we get breakfast. Joe promised apple pancakes.”

Pannekoeken,” she ventured, and he grinned at her halting pronunciation.

Pfannkuchen,” he corrected. “Pannekoeken is Dutch. But accurate – he’s making Dutch Babies. If Benj doesn’t break all the eggs, that is.”

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