Disclaimer: None of the characters belong to me. I am just having some fun with them.

Author Note: Hi all – so this is one of the stories I began writing for NanoWrimo last month. It is basically a flash back fic and covers the year of Bo's birth. As such, this is going to be a Shawn/Caroline and Victor/Caroline fic with lots of Brady fluff (tiny Roman, Kimmie and Kayla are included– then eventually Baby Bo!) and a fair bit of angst (from the adults) along the way! Enjoy!

A Stumble

'I stumbled in my commitment – but I never stumbled in my love.' – Caroline Brady, 1986.

January, 1962

Chapter 1

Caroline Brady awoke to a dark room.

It was cold and she was not surprised. The middle of January was always cold in Salem.

Her ears pricked for a moment as she listened out for any sound of the kids waking up. Roman and Kimmie were down the hall and she wondered if one of the reasons she was awake in the darkness was because they were crying.

But there was no sound.

Her eyes adjusted to the darkness to where a crib stood next to her and Shawn's bed.

It was really beginning to be time for nine month old Kayla to be going in to the room with the other children but right then she was glad that she was with her.

Caroline rolled over in the bed and she was, again, not surprised to find it empty.

That was the reason she was so glad she had her daughter with her. If she did not then she would be all alone.

She had been asleep before Shawn came home the night before. The only indication that he had been in was pile of dirty clothes were the clean ones she had seat out for him had been.

She reached over to his side of the bed.

It was cold.

So it was well gone five.

Caroline ran a hand through her hair, got up, crept down stairs and put the kettle on. Part of her would have loved nothing more than to see the man she loved was still getting ready to go to work so that she might kiss him before he left the for the day.

But the life of a fisher men was hard and he was long gone.

Caroline switched the light on and boiled the kettle.

She too had a long day ahead of her, and it was nice to start it quietly. It would be one of the only periods of quiet she had that day. Even as she drank her coffee she was running through the washing which she had to do. She would have to make a start on making the kids room after Christmas and then she had a cleaning round at the end of the day when her sister in law Molly came about to watch the children.

She ran a hand down her neck. There were some days it was all she could do not to feel as if she was sixty instead of not even shy of thirty.

It was going to be her birthday the next month. She wondered if she was going to stop aching then or be aching more.

Perhaps then she was going to get to see her husband. That would be a joy to her. She and Shawn lived in the same house but the two of them never going to see one another. That was how it felt.

Asides Sunday, the one day a week which he took off. His day of rest. And even then it was not as it was when she and he were young.

They were parents now and old hats at it seeing as they had three children under the age of seven.

So Sundays were reserved for pray and for church and then Shawn used the one afternoon he was allowed off to play with Roman and to read to Kimberly and to cuddle their little Kayla.

And by the time that was done his brother Eric came over wanting to see his brother or young Molly would come for her advice.

And after all that Caroline was not so sure when they were meant to fit in a little time for their marriage. It certainly was not when they both fell into bed utterly exhausted by the week and what they had done with it on a Sunday.

She was beginning to think they were just not allowed to have one.

Which would not hurt but she had said yes to him because she loved him and she wanted to be married to him. More than anything.

But real life had set in fast for them.

And this was there life.

But then that was what he had promised her.

He was a hardworking man and he had never made any bones over it when they had been courting. She had known even then that he was the type of man to be up before the sun and in bed well after night had fallen.

He had promised her a life – not a fairy tale.

But sometimes she wished they could have both.

She pottered about in the kitchen taking a little time for herself until the first signs of life were audible from up above her.

Cooing.

That figured. She knew that Roman and Kimmie were tired from school at the moment. It was no wondered it got to them.

They were so little and they got up in the dark and it was not very light after they had got home from school…

The weather just then was not constructive for having a lot of energy and part of Caroline did not blame them for wanting to pull the covers over the heads every morning just then.

It did not seem to affect little Kayla in the same way though.

She woke up in a good mood come rain or shine, come slept or snow.

Honestly if Caroline could bottle what she had for the first of the family then she knew she would do it in a heartbeat.

She headed up stairs to see her girlie smiling as she rolled about in her crib and felt a little pang of sadness as she was once more faced with the truth and that truth was that her baby girl was not going to be a baby much longer.

As soon as she could she was going to be up on her feet and Caroline had a terrible feeling that once that happened there was going to be no stopping her.

Kimmie and Roman had wanted to explore when they had found there feet but she knew Kay was going to be worse.

A mother intuition told her that, she and Shawn were going to have to put everything they could up high and they were not going to be able to take her eyes off of her so that was more time which she was not going to get with Shawn.

"What a grump your old ma has woken up in today," she said as she reached into the crib and took her daughter in to her arms.

It was not like her to feel so deflated.

She guessed it was just – just a phase – and it was going to pass.

She looked down at her beautiful little blonde haired daughter.

Well, Kayla walking was going to happen and there was nothing she could about that. Even if she could do something about that then she knew she wouldn't.

But for just then she was a baby in arms.

Shew as her baby.

And she took her baby down stairs so that she was going to be able to give her breakfast before her big brothers and sister got up.

She found it was easier that way.

By the time the little one was up and dressed and down stairs she could hear that they were indeed feet on the floor above the two of them.

"Another day in the mad house is about begin, isn't it my sweet?" she said as she kissed her fore head.

And so it was.

Kimberly came down first having made a valiant effort to dress her self – she was an independent little lady, just like the all the Brady women were before her. But she had her skirt on back to front and her jump on inside out so there was going to need to be a little adjustment before she went to school.

And then Roman came down and he was more interested in his comic books and his baby sisters than he was about breakfast. He had got himself dressed with a great deal more success than Kimberly had but he was still not playing ball.

And so it came as no surprise that they left for school late, especially when Kayla got a little fussy after she was put in to the pram.

The nearer she got to her freedom the more she hated to be shut in.

"Be good, ok you two?" she said as she stood at the school gates. "Learn something!"

Her two children ran in, Roman to join the second graders and Kimberly to join the pre-schoolers.

As soon as she got there she was chatting away to her friends and Caroline could not help but smile.

When she had first taken her daughter to school Kimmie had wailed that she did not want to go and that if her Pop was there then he would not make her go.

Caroline doubted that somehow. Shawn would no doubt placate her better as their little one really was her Pop's girl but he was determined that the kids get an education. Caroline had had that opportunity but he had not. That just made him want it more for their babies.

But it did not make it any easier when Kimberly was crying or her daddy.

Caroline told herself it was not because she was not good enough but that was how it felt. Shawn was the one who was never their and yet he was also one the kids always wanted. Then once she had left her at school she felt awful or the rest of the day. May be she was a terrible mother…

She knew what she was doing was obeying the law. Having kept her off school, that would make her a terrible mother. But those days were over now and Kim was doing well in school and she was going to continue to do so, Caroline remaindered herself.

By the time she got back to the fish market and let a cranky Kayla out of the pram, the only child which she had to deal with was the one who was ready to go running off in a heartbeat if only her legs would allow it.

Still, once she had been on the floor for five minutes, Kayla's usual happy disposition returned to her.

And then her mother's days of chores begun. Caroline wondered what Shawn was doing just then. And if she had crossed his mind at all that day.

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