I felt a moment’s hesitation. It was obvious that Callan and Sheila didn’t want Trudy near the baby, but I don’t know how I feel about coming between a mother and her child.
Even more pressing for me. What am I supposed to do when Sheila’s not here with her trusty gun and Callan is off on an oil rig somewhere?
“Oh look, she’s being so good for you.” Sheila walked over and patted the baby’s back lovingly while beaming at me. There was something more in her eyes than the friendly warmth you’d expect, but I brushed it off.
The baby picked up her head and looked around, her face breaking into a wide toothless grin when her eyes landed on her daddy. She lifted her arms out to him and I walked over and passed her off.
Something clutched in my tummy. Something warm and sweet and I thought I heard a child’s laughter somewhere in my head. I ignored the sensation as I stood there not knowing what to do with myself.
“Why don’t I show you where her bottles and formula are kept and the rest of the stuff you’ll need to take care of her.” Callan walked off in the direction of the kitchen and I followed, leaving the two women alone.
The kitchen was huge and though it had some modern amenities like a microwave, there was a potbellied stove and an actual working hearth along one wall.
There was more than enough counter space, a shelf filled with yellowed cookbooks, a rocking chair of all things near the fire and copper pots hung on the walls and over the large worktable in the middle of the room.
“Wow, this is nice.” I looked around in wonder, wondering who was responsible for keeping the place so neat. Somehow I didn’t see Trudy doing it, and I knew that Sheila had her own home on the other side of the property.
“You cook?” He asked as he fetched a bottle from the fridge to put on top of the stove in the pot of water he’d put on to boil.
“Not a lot! I’ve never really had reason to, but I do like to when I get the chance.” Our cook has been with the family since before I was born so there was never any reason for me to even be in our kitchen at home.
But for some reason I could see me here, slicing and dicing, kneading bread even. It was weird all these things that were bombarding me all at once. Things I never gave thought to.
“Well, feel free!” He pointed at the shelf of books. “Some of those are over two hundred years old. Family recipes that have been passed down from generation to generation.” He stopped with a wistful look on his face.
“I’ve always dreamed of Isabelle growing up here and spending time in this kitchen learning to cook, like all the women in our family before her.” He made it sound like that was no longer a possibility.
“Why can’t she?” I regretted the question as soon as it left my lips, because of the look that came over his face.
“There’s no one to teach her. Mom’s getting up there in age and her… Trudy, well let’s just say she’s not the cooking or mothering type.”
“I’ll teach her.” I don’t know where those words came from or why I even said them. But they seemed to please him if the light that came into his eyes was any measure.
“Thank you!” That’s all he said to my faux pas. We both knew I was only here for the summer and his ten month old daughter was way too young for cooking lessons.
I appreciated him not calling me on my slipup and it only took about five minutes for the blush to leave my cheeks. As soon as the bottle was ready we headed back to the other room.
The hushed voices ceased as soon as we cleared the door. Awkward. I was about to suggest heading outside to grab my stuff since it seemed he hadn’t had time as yet, but he passed the baby to me.
“Why don’t you try feeding her? She’s very fussy at feeding time, only likes me, or her grandma to feed her. But it’s hard when I have to be out in the field all day and this is mom’s canning season.”
I took the baby and the bottle and looked around for a place to sit. There was another rocking chair by the window and I moved towards it.
The view outside was amazing. It showed not only the front of the house, but also part of the side where there was a mound covered with roses. I imagined spending many a lazy afternoon sitting there.
I’m not sure why he thought the baby would be fussy since she took the bottle without any fuss, her beautiful dark blue eyes smiling up at me as she fed.