The Night of Edward's Letter

Author: JannM
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Livy looked around the living room at all the things she had restored. The room was warmer in her opinion. She knew that Ray liked it too. In the beginning, Ray would complement any change to encourage her. Now he quietly noted it and she could see in his face whether he liked something or not. Of course Ray would never openly say he didn't like something, she had to read him. She smiled at that. It had taken her awhile, but as she got to know Ray, she slowly saw that Ray was often reading her. Ray's way of communicating with the people he cared for was through action more than words so he seemed to naturally look for the same thing in Livy. Livy's life in Denver had been different. People communicated with words, and sometimes their actions didn't match their words. Edward was a prime example of that.

She thought about the last month or so since Abby's visit. Once Ray told her about the things in the cellar, she started to restore herself through them. She had also started redecorating the house with them. In her redecorating, she moved a plaque that was on the wall in the dining room. Ray noticed immediately when he came in that night but said nothing. She could tell by how he avoided looking at the area it had hung, that he didn't like the change. She changed it back the next day. When Ray came in the next night, she could see his surprise. He smiled to himself and touched it. She watched him quietly from the kitchen and neither of them spoke of it. Uncharacteristically for Ray, he reached out and took her hand during dinner. She looked at him and smiled and they both understood. It had reminded her of the night he had surprised her with his knowledge of Troy. She had surprised him with knowing him better than he thought.

This didn't mean they didn't converse; that had picked up between them as they became familiar with each other. Many times, those conversations were the everyday: the war, the news from town, what Livy did, what Ray did, but she had learned to appreciate what wasn't said, but shown. She and Ray had started to converse on an emotional level with each other through action. This was Ray's way and she was learning the language of his world.

Their nights had become rich, as slowly they reached out to each other through action. Ray spent less of his evenings on his bookkeeping. Instead, he set aside Monday night to do it. He told her that he had begun making it a daily habit after a bookkeeping error when his father passed away. He said he kept the habit as it gave him something to do that occupied his mind until bed, especially after Danny died. Her heart saddened to think of Ray alone with only his bookkeeping for diversion. She had wanted to hold him, but she resisted. Things were slowly changing and so was Livy.

They had several radio shows that both enjoyed. On Wednesdays and Fridays, they would listen to them together. Livy had moved the radio into the parlor so that they could listen together. They slowly moved closer to each other and now sat together on the couch listening. Again, action led. Ray noticed Livy rubbing her feet. They were swelling from the added weight. As they sat on the couch, Ray reached down and gently took Livy's feet in his hands. He swung her feet into his lap and began to rub them. It was wonderful. She slowly stopped stiffening at his presence and he was touching her more. He would hold her hand at church sometimes or brush her hair out of her eyes. These became her favorite times and she often started to think about what it would be like to kiss Ray, to really be held by him. She often found herself wanting to fix his hair or wipe a missed drop of shaving cream off his face. But here was there stumbling block. She could never be first to reach out because of her past and Ray had not made another effort to kiss her after she bolted from him at the bottom of the stairs.

Knowing she wanted this was confusing, but she was enjoying the confusion. This contradiction between wanting Ray to touch her and planning to leave to continue her dreams of archaeology, made Livy really examine why she had the aspirations she had. Livy wondered what she thought she would have done in any relationship in regard to her future plans of foreign excavations. Even if things had worked out with Edward, the questions would have been the same. Did she think Edward would have followed her from one dig site to another? She used to dream of meeting a Sheik and being swept off her feet. Too many movies, she thought. She smiled at those girlish daydreams. Did she want a life with no relationship, or had she been using her dreams to mask the fact that she had no one in her life. No, it wasn't that simple, she truly loved archaeology, but after Abby married first, it did seem to Livy she used her dreams of far away places as more consolation to herself than she had done in the past. And then there was mother; it was such a point of pride for her mother that she had a daughter with such ambitious dreams. It made her happy to have her mother and her father proud. Livy's education was what singled her out from Abby. Abby was the one with social grace, the one which all the boys asked to dance. As Livy's twenty-fifth birthday arrived this past year, she consoled herself with these ideas.

The baby kicked and she looked down at her expanding middle. She rubbed the spot where she had just been kicked and felt a foot! She rubbed the foot and it pushed back for a moment and then disappeared. She wished she could tell Ray. But it just seemed too intimate. Maybe she could just take his hand and place it on her stomach the next time the baby kicked. No that seemed to forward. She looked at the clock. Where was he? It was already dark.

Her hand idly touched the cradle she restored and gently rubbed the wood. "It's beautiful, perfect for the baby." she thought. She thought of dinner. She was hoping Ray would like the casserole she had prepared for dinner, it was one of his mother's. She had been trying to impress him with better cooking and had practiced this recipe before tonight. Dinner was ready and she was proud of her success. She sighed thinking that if he was much longer, it would be dry. Today was one of the first snows and maybe that was delaying Ray. She looked at Franklin in the corner and he wagged this tail. "You'd better let me know if you need to go outside, mister," Livy said. This was the first time she had let Franklin in the house but it was so cold outside.

As she was walking to the kitchen, she heard the beet box coming up the drive and looked out the window the dining window. She smiled and thought, "finally." "Maybe she would tell him about the baby kicking after the radio program." She thought. Ray would no doubt give her a back-rub tonight and that would be a good time. Yes, she would tell him about the baby kicking and put his hand on her stomach where it happened. "Who knows..." she thought as she placed the casserole on the table.

She had candles on the table and smiled at her attempt at "romantic" lighting. She lit the candles as Ray came in. He came through the door and walked to the clothes rack. She turned to say "Hi" and smiled a shy smile at him. He turned and began to approach her. He didn't have the usual smile that was always on his face when he saw her. He looked different. Although this registered with Livy, she didn't get a chance to ask.

Ray glanced to the side and saw Franklin. Suddenly, Ray showed a side of himself that Livy had never seen before, his anger. He said, "We don't have animals in this house." Ray went to Franklin and dragged the dog by the collar to the door yelling "Get out"and threw him into the night. Livy heard Franklin whimper.

Livy was shocked by the quickness and the forcefulness of it. She had never seen Ray angry or heard him raise his voice. She froze. As he returned to the dining room, she followed Ray with her eyes. She said, "It's just for one night. It's terribly cold out there." Ray shot a glance at her and said that he grew up in this home, ate at this table and it all that time, his mother never allowed a dog in this home and neither would he. Later Livy would remember that this was the first and only time Ray referred to the house as "his" rather than "our." She knew later of course that the pronoun change came from the hurt and betrayal he felt at that moment. Ray look down at the book he was carrying, and then he looked sad. He pulled a letter out of it and handed it to Livy. Quietly he said, "This came for you today." Livy took the letter still bewildered by Ray's actions. As soon as she saw who it was from, she began to understand.

Ray began to stoke the fire. "Livy Dunne," Ray said sarcastically. He turned and looked at Livy for reaction. He said, "I'm guessing he didn't know you were married, huh." Livy is silent for a moment looking at the letter. So many things went through her mind but mostly how ironic it was that Edward could still cause pain in her life. Ray took Livy's silence as acknowledgement of a secret relationship with Edward, made a sound in disgust, or maybe hurt, and moved toward the door as if he is leaving again. He looked at Livy. She hadn't looked up, but her face had a knowing half-smile on her face. That stopped Ray in his tracks.

"No, he wouldn't know my married name," Livy said absently still looking at the letter. Then she looked directly at Ray to finish her thought, "because he doesn't have a right to know it." Livy's last statement was made with a hint of emotion that Ray couldn't define. It wasn't anger, it was something else.

She looked at the letter again and said, "Is this why you're angry?" Livy crossed the room to him. Now Ray is the one frozen in his steps. She stood close to Ray, and looked down at the letter again. She looked up at Ray and says softly, "Here, I don't want this." Livy handed the letter back to Ray. Ray looked stunned. Livy realized the scenarios that must have played in Ray's mind. Livy searched Ray's face and smiled softly at him. "Oh, Ray did you spend your day upset over this?" She reached up and touched his cheek. Ray jumped slightly because Livy had only done this in his dreams.

"I wrote him when Abby was here." Ray's eyes reacted but he said nothing. He waited quietly while she spoke. She could tell every word hurt him but he needed to know the truth.

"Come sit down."

"No," Ray said firmly, then he soften. "No just tell me," Ray said almost in a whisper.

"Abby came to talk to me about my future...well actually to get me to go home with her."

"Why didn't you?" Ray asked.

"Well, I don't know, at least I didn't know then. But she asked about Edward."

"I gathered". Ray said.

"I sat up that night and thought about my future, the baby's future, and yours" Ray continued to listen but didn't move. "I thought for several hours and then I remembered something you said they day we married. Livy looked deeply into Ray's eyes to try to get an idea of what he was feeling. For this first time since she knew him, she couldn't tell. She continued, "I thought how strange it was that no one found Edward's actions wrong. Everyone blamed me," Livy reached down and gently took Ray's hands into hers, "except you." That day at our wedding, you were the first person who even looked at my," Livy smiled, "situation," Ray smiled sadly remembering how he first used that phrase. Livy continued, "as if two people were involved."

"Ray, I wrote him when I first came here, because I saw this as a temporary arrangement...I kept thinking if he knew, he'd want us, me and the baby." Ray looked crushed but determined to hear the rest of this. Livy said in a whisper as she squeezed his hands tightly, "Ray, I didn't know you then."

"But over time...,no everyday, you showed me what I should have expected in someone I cared about and I stopped writing," Ray was still hurt to know she ever wrote Edward, but she wanted him to understand the change. She and Ray had always avoided any discussion of her past, but they needed to have it, if they were going to have a future.

"Of the letters I sent, I never got a reply. I had put it in the back of my mind. Then Abby came and asked about him. The more I thought about it, the stupidity of writing him, of thinking I understood "love" when I was with him...Livy stopped as Ray visibly whinced when she used the word love.

"I went to bed that night trying to figure out my future." Livy smiled, "I dreamed that night about the baby." "To be honest Ray, I didn't know what I wanted...what we were going to be."

Ray tried to talk but Livy put her fingers on this lips. "but I knew one thing, I never wanted this baby to have such a poor excuse for a father in his or her life. You taught me that."

Ray smiled through his pain.

"I don't know if it was pride or a fear that someday he might show up, but a wrote a letter telling him he had no claim on this baby and never would." Livy chuckled, "and look, it's the first letter he answered."

Ray's face was so close. She had been dreaming about this but this conversation had to run it's course.

Livy looked into Ray's hurt eyes and tried to lift the moment. With a flirty look and voice, she said, "besides I am a married woman."

Ray's face didn't change. "Are you?"

"I want to be...if you still want to be a husband to me?" Livy said this calmly even though Ray's answer could destroy her.

"I want a real marriage, with a real wife...someone who loves me back." That took all of Ray's courage to say because he loved Livy but he didn't want to be her husband in name only, or by default anymore.

"So do I." Livy answered. Ray took the letter and went to the fireplace. He looked at Livy and she nodded her head in agreement. Ray threw it into the fireplace. He stood at the fireplace with his back to Livy and she knew he was considering his words. She waited and prayed. Ray turned around with a mixture of sadness and anger in his eyes. "I've taken the night shift at the beet factory, it's something I do this time of year. I have to go."

Livy's heart fell. "You haven't eaten." Ray started for his coat again. "Ray, please don't leave like this," Livy cried. Ray's shoulders slumped when he heard the emotion in her voice.

"I can't talk about this now. I...I," Ray voice cracked and he turned away. " I need some time to think. I'll be late so don't wait up." With that he left. Livy was devastated. She felt all the closeness between them lost. All her hopes for a life with Ray, for her and the baby, just gone.

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