Chapter Five

~*~Winter~*~

The snow continued to fall outside, cold and bitter as if it were mocking Wendy. The days passed and she barely moved. She lay on the couch, hardly eating. She mourned for Warren, she mourned for their son, and all they'd never have together. Gradually her desire to get revenge on Suzi lessened. She just didn't care anymore; about anything.

"Sis, I am really worried about you," Brian said when he and Kristin came to check on her. "You don't look well."

"Warren's dead," Wendy said flatly.

"Yes, I know, honey... but you're still alive," Kristin said as she gently held Wendy's hand. "And you have to figure out a way to live without him."

Wendy glared at Kristin. "Why don't you go away? Leave me alone. Everyone in Henderson hated Warren. They all got what they wanted. The man I love is dead."

"Not everyone hated Warren," Kristin reminded. "He was my brother... and I loved him."

"Wendy, he was going to kidnap Jonah. What kind of life would you have had... living on the run? Would you have been happy?" Brian asked.

"Of course I would have been happy! I LOVED Warren!" she exclaimed. "Now GET OUT!"

Brian groaned in frustration. "I gotta go. You stay and talk to her," he said softly to Kristin. "She can't keep living like this."

Kristin nodded. Brian gave his wife a tender kiss, then he was gone. Wendy didn't blink. It was as if she didn't even notice that her brother had walked out the door.

"Wendy, you've lost a lot of weight. I know you haven't been eating," Kristin said gently. "Warren wouldn't want you to waste away like this... wallowing in your sorrows."

"What do you know?!" Wendy exploded, sitting up suddenly on the couch. In that moment a great wave of dizziness hit her and she ran promptly into the bathroom to throw up. Kristin followed, watching as Wendy retched.

"Ohhh God, I feel so sick," Wendy moaned. "I can't keep anything down... not even water..."

"Wait... Wendy, how long have you been feeling this way?"

"I don't know," Wendy said as she rinsed her mouth in the sink. She damped a washcloth and pressed it against her dry, cracked lips. "I have been feeling horrible - absolutely awful ever since - since Warren died."

"Could you be pregnant?" Kristin asked. "Have you had your period?"

Wendy shook her head. "I don't remember. Each day just blends into another. I don't want to go on without Warren."

Kristin placed her hands on Wendy's slender shoulders as she stared into Wendy's eyes. "Wendy, listen to me. You might be pregnant with Warren's baby. You might be carrying a part of him RIGHT NOW."

"That... that can't be possible. I lost my baby. I can't be pregnant again," Wendy said as her eyes filled up with tears.

"Honey, you need to go lie down. You look like your going to pass out," Kristin said as she lead Wendy out of the bathroom and helped her into bed. "You just rest here awhile. I am going to the pharmacy."

"Why... why are you going to the pharmacy?" Wendy asked, sounding greatly confused.

"To get a pregnancy test."

"I can't be pregnant," Wendy repeated again.

Kristin left and Wendy closed her eyes. She dozed off and when she awakened again, she saw Kristin at her bedside, holding a small rectangular box. "I have the test," Kristin said triumphantly.

Wendy groaned. "I don't feel well. Just let me sleep," she begged.

"Not until you go into the bathroom and you pee on this little stick," Kristin insisted as she withdrew the pregnancy test from its container.

"Ohhh alright!" Wendy said in a growl as she grabbed the thin white plastic stick in reluctance and headed off toward the bathroom.

A minute later, Wendy came out, looking pale and disoriented. "Did you do the test?" Kristin asked.

Wendy trembled. "I can't look," she said softly.

"Alright. I will look. Wait here," Kristin said as she helped Wendy sit down on the edge of the bed.

Wendy stopped breathing as she waited for Kristin's return, fearing the answer. Pregnant? Again? With Warren's baby?

She thought of her other baby - Warren Carter Junior. He had been so tiny - so still. She only got to see him for a few seconds, then they took him away. He had only drawn a single breath, then he was gone. Her baby was gone!

She and Warren had shed many tears that fateful day. Warren's tears wet her cheek as they held each other. Wendy had never seen him cry before. Their baby had died, but it made their love stronger. Warren decided he couldn't be with Suzie anymore - he decided to divorce his wife and marry Wendy. She should have been the happiest woman in the world knowing she was going to marry Warren Carter, the only man she had ever truly loved, but she couldn't stop weeping because her baby was gone.

"Wendy," said Kristin when she came out of the bathroom, holding the little white stick.

"What does it say?"

"You're pregnant. You're having a baby. Warren's baby."

Warren was gone, but there was hope again. Another baby. A new beginning. Wendy didn't know whether to laugh or to cry. "Ohhh Kristin," she said as she reached out for Warren's sister.

Kristin wrapped her arms around Wendy. "Warren wanted a baby so much," Wendy said. "That's all he really wanted. Me and our baby..."

"I know. That's why he did crazy things, like take off with Jonah."

Wendy nodded. "He wanted to be happy. That's all we wanted... a family."

"We are a family. Me, you, Brian and this baby. The baby is a part of Warren. You may have lost him, but you have his child. Wendy, you have to take care of yourself. You're having a baby."

"A baby," Wendy said as it finally sunk in. "I'm having a baby."

She placed her hand over her super-flat stomach, imagining Warren's child growing inside her. "Ohhh no, I can't lose my baby again," she said sorrowfully.

"That's why you need to take care of yourself... start eating right... and go to the doctor."

"Will you go with me?"

"Of course."

"Thank you, Kristin," Wendy said as she gave her sister-in-law another hug.

~*~o~*~

Weeks passed and the seasons changed. Stephanie had no other choice but to deal with the fact that her daughter was carrying Warren Carter's offspring. Suzi did her time in prison and Jonah stayed with Suzi's Aunt Jo. Kristin and Brian looked after Wendy. They were both caring and supportive and somehow Wendy made it through those long months. She felt empty without Warren, but she was bursting inside with new life. This time she didn't lose the baby.

Wendy went into labor exactly two years from the day of the loss of her son, Warren Carter Junior. Kristin acted as her labor coach as Brian paced the hallway, worried about his little sister.

"Damn! Why is this taking so long?" Wendy moaned. "I feel like I am going to split open... like a peach."

"You can do this, Wendy. I have faith in you. You have two angels watching over you, my brother Warren Carter and your son, baby Warren," Kristin reminded.

Wendy felt hot tears prick at her eyes. "I think we conceived this baby right before he died. It was a cold winter night. The fire was blazing and he and I..."

Wendy let out a little whimper as a particularly rough contraction tore through her middle. The doctor walked in to check on her, interrupting her conversation with Kristin. "How are you doing?" the doctor asked cheerfully as he came to check on his patient.

"I am ready to get this kid out of me," Wendy announced. "NOW!"

"Okay then. It's time to bring this little one into the world," the doctor agreed as he examined Wendy and discovered that she was ready to start pushing. "The baby is ready... whenever you are."

Boy, was she ever ready! She pushed with all her strength, bearing down as she rode through the pain. "That's it, Wendy," Kristin encouraged. "You can do this."

Wendy yelled as she gave it her all. Within a matter of a few pushes, the baby was born. Wendy waited, listening for the sound she did not hear two years ago - the sound of an infant's cry.

The moments seemed like hours as she waited, but then there it was - the blessed sound of newborn. It was like beautiful music to her ears. "Please let me hold my baby," Wendy pleaded.

To her greatest joy, a nurse swaddled the infant and lay the little one in Wendy's arms. "You have a daughter," the nurse announced.

"A daughter," Wendy said as tears slid down her face. They were happy tears with a few bittersweet ones blended in. She had her baby girl, but she didn't have Warren. He'd never see their little miracle.

"Hello there," Wendy said to her daughter.

"Ohhh Wendy, she's beautiful. Absolutely gorgeous..." Kristin gushed. "I think she has my eyes."

Wendy gazed down at her baby girl, then she looked at Kristin. A huge smile lit up Wendy's face. "I think you're right," she said.

"Welcome to the world," Wendy said as she cuddled her sweet baby.

Brian heard the baby's cry and he rushed into the room. "It's a girl," Kristin announced as she looked up at her husband.

"A girl," Brian repeated with happiness. "What are you going to name her?"

"Her name is Winter," Wendy announced. "Winter Kristin Carter."

Now Kristin was crying, too. "You named the baby after me."

"Warren would like that," Wendy said as she planted loving kisses on her baby's cheek. And as Kristin had said before, Wendy could feel her angels there, watching over her and her daughter. She felt a blessed warmth overcome her as it radiated from her every pore and encircled her with love and light.

*Thank you for sending me a miracle,* she whispered to Warren in her mind. She had their daughter earthside while he had their son with him in Heaven.

THE END

"In the depth of winter, I found within me there lay an invincible summer." ~ Albert Camus