Frank checked the stalls. All the animals had plenty of water and food. Next, Frank checked the stall doors, making sure they were secure. He soon discovered how the little lamb had escaped. The area around the inside latch was chewed away so the latch didn't catch properly. A good push popped the door open. Frank remedied the situation by piling bales of hay against the door. That should keep the little fellow in his stall with his mother.

Finally, Frank dimmed the lights and returned to Callie and their hay bale bed. Callie had changed into flannel pajamas and was sitting on the edge of the 'bed' brushing her silky blonde hair. Frank sat down beside her, bent forward, and unlaced his boots. It felt incredibly good to take them off.

Callie pointed at her long, terry cloth robe lying at the foot of the bed. "Our blanket."

"Good idea," Frank said and then yawned. Fatigue had settled in his bones. He was ready to lie down beside his wife and hold her in his arms. He watched her, watched as she dropped her hairbrush in her purse and came back to the bed. She was a vision of loveliness. Of magic and light. Her waist was slightly thick. She hadn't lost all of the baby weight. It made her all the more beautiful in his eyes. It reminded him of all the changes her body had gone through while carrying their baby and delivering her into the world. It was an astounding feat and Callie had done it all with grace and beauty. Frank was simply in awe of her.

Frank changed into a sweat suit, climbed into bed, and pulled the robe over them. He made sure it covered Callie more than himself. Her warmth was more important than his. He piled their jackets on top of them, too.

Callie turned on her side and he turned with her, draping an arm around her waist and burying his nose in her hair. She smelled of shampoo and hay and baby.

"Callie, did you drink all the water in the water bottle I brought in?" Frank had found a bottle of water in the car. He tried to keep one in the car as part of his emergency kit and was happy to have found this one. Neither he nor Callie had had any water in hours. Callie was nursing a baby. There was a real possibly she could become dehydrated.

"Yes," she answered softly. "I drank every drop."

"Good." He kissed her hair and snuggled closer, giving her his warmth and love.

He had drank a handful of water from the old sink. The water tasted fine. Frank figured that if the animals could drink it then so he could. He didn't think it would kill him.

The night passed in a series of ups and downs. Callie and Frank took turns checking on Eva every hour or so. The rise and fall of her tiny chest and her rosy cheeks, was a Godsent joy to behold each time. Frank longed to sit by the trough and watch Eva sleep until morning, but fatigue forced him back to bed and Callie's warm body.

Eva woke them at five and Frank brought her to their bed and nestled her between them.

Callie nursed the baby and dozed. Eva suckled and dozed. Frank lay on his back thinking of all the things he needed to do once the sun rose. Finding food was at the top of the list. His and Callie's last meal was at breakfast yesterday morning.

At six-thirty he slipped out of bed – stomach grumbling – and put on his boots, jacket, and cap. He took clothes from his suitcase and piled them along the edge of the bed, creating a cushy wall so Eva wouldn't roll off of the bed. Then he pulled on his gloves and walked down the aisle between the stalls. He checked on the animals as he went. Charlie the horse and Elsie the cow were at their hay troughs.

Frank felt a nudge on his pant leg, looked down, and smiled. The little lamb stood by his side, seeming quite pleased with himself. Look at me, I got out of my stall.

"How in the world …" Frank's gaze darted to the hay bales he had stacked up last night. There was a gap between them and the door of the lamb's stall. "You're quite the escape artist, aren't you? You're like Harry Houdini." Frank noted the lamb did not yet have a name printed on the door. His mother's name was there, Suzy, but nothing for the lamb. "When I meet whoever lives here I'm going to suggest they name you Harry. What do you think about that?"

The lamb stared at Frank for a second. His mother bleated inside the stall, begging her son to return. The lamb paid her no heed and turned to walk away.

"Oh, no you don't." Frank used his booted feet and gloved hands to shoo the lamb back into his stall. The mother was relieved, the lamb disgruntled and he whined his displeasure. Frank pushed the hay bales up against the door and adjusted the latch. "Well, that ought to hold you until I return."

# # # #

Anson was up before first light. That tree branch had to be dealt with. Daisy got up with him and dressed in heavy clothes. She was anxious to get to the barn, but she did not tell Anson this. First, he had to cut a path through the branch and that could be dangerous work.

Anson hurried to the garage to get the chainsaw and gas can while Daisy made a large pot of coffee. Something warm to drink would be welcome on this brisk morn.

Daisy opened the curtains over the kitchen sink and peered through the frosted window. Sunlight was just beginning to brighten the landscape. The branch loomed to the right. It was a huge mass of shattered, snow covered limbs. The snow glistened and sparkled in the dawn's glow.

Anson and Daisy were soon outside, bundled in their thickest jackets and caps. Anson cut branches into manageable sizes and Daisy stacked them on the porch. The wood would be used in their living room fireplace.

Daisy and Anson worked steadily and efficiently for over an hour. Little by little the branch was reduced to sawdust and firewood. Daisy's thoughts, however, were not on the branch as they worked. Her thoughts were on the barn. She gathered several pieces of wood from the ground, carried them to the porch, and placed them on the growing stacks of wood. As Daisy started down the porch steps, she glanced in the direction of the barn, and gasped. The branch no longer impeded her view and in the distance she saw a man. A young man she guessed by his walk.

"Anson," she said, "we have company." She pointed in the direction of the barn and the approaching man.

Anson lifted his head and eyed the young man. Anson saw a car parked outside of the barn and wondered how long it had been there. Had to have been a long time as it was covered in snow.

# # # #

Callie placed Eva gently in the hay trough and dressed quickly. Frank had been gone a while. Had he found the owners of this barn?

Callie sat on a hay bale by the trough and talked softly to her baby. Eva was awake and looking around. Her movements were uncoordinated and jerky. Callie smiled when one small fist found Eva's mouth and she tried to suckle it.

Callie heard the barn door creak open and turned her head, expecting to see Frank. Instead, Callie saw an older woman who stared at her in wonder.

# # # #

Callie sat in the toasty warm kitchen, sipping a cup of herbal tea. Eva was in her arms. Frank and Anson were outside, cutting the last of the tree branch. The roar of the chainsaw invaded the calm of the kitchen.

"Thank you again," Callie said to her hostess. Callie couldn't quite figure Daisy out. The woman was kind and welcoming, but reserved as though she was keeping her emotions under tight control.

Daisy was at the stove, making eggs and bacon. The aroma made Callie's mouth water.

Daisy turned her head slightly and gave Callie a small, sad smile. "I'm glad you found the barn and took refuge in it."

Callie felt the woman truly meant what she said, yet, something about Daisy troubled Callie.

# # # #

As she stirred the eggs, Daisy thought about her vision. It had been correct. Perfect in every detail. Daisy had found a woman and a babe in the barn as the vision foretold. The scene had been wondrous; a radiant, blonde woman leaning over the manager, a sweet smile on her face for the babe wiggling contently on the hay.

If only … Oh, if only …

# # # #

The men came in red-faced and blowing on their cold hands. They had stripped off their outerwear and boots in the mudroom.

The branch was gone, Anson announced and patted Frank's shoulder. "Thanks for your help, young man."

"It's the least I could do," Frank said, his focus shifting to Callie sitting at the wooden table, Eva in her lap. "Callie and I are grateful we found your barn. It was the barn light that led us to it. The light was so bright, it was like a star in the night."

Anson froze and his gaze darted to Daisy's stiff back. He drew in a breath, realizing the room had gone deadly silent. Something had to be said. His reaction had made everyone uncomfortable. He smiled pleasantly at Frank. "The light was Daisy's idea. She insisted I put it up high this year." His wary gaze flickered to Daisy and he saw her give a slight nod. "She, um, she had a feeling we were in for a hard winter this year. Looks like she was right. That storm last night dumped six inches of snow on us."

# # # #

Daisy served the breakfast. Generous portions of eggs and bacon with homemade bread and homemade jams. Callie, eager to eat, had trouble filling her plate and juggling a squirming Eva.

"May I hold her while you eat?" Daisy's question started Callie.

Callie hesitated, somewhat apprehensive. What about this woman made her feel that way?

Frank gave Callie a nod as if to say, Let her hold the baby. We're all right here. It's fine.

Callie lifted Eva off her shoulder and handed her to Daisy. "Yes, here. If she's too wiggly, I'll take her back. She hasn't been around a lot of people yet."

Daisy took the baby carefully, cradled her in her arms, and smiled down upon her. "There, there little one."

To Callie's astonishment, Eva relaxed instantly. Her little fist found her mouth again and she sucked on it.

"What's her name?" Daisy did not take her eyes off of the precious baby in her arms.

Callie scooped up a forkful of eggs. "Eva."

"From the Hebrew," Daisy said, "meaning 'life.'"

"Yes." Callie looked at Daisy intently and realized she had misjudged the woman. There was nothing to fear from Daisy. On the contrary, Daisy's expression held great sadness. Callie averted his gaze and ate her breakfast, thankful to have both hands free to do so. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Daisy brush a tear from her cheek.

# # # #

Anson used the snowplow on the front of his truck to clear the lane so Frank and Callie could leave. Now, the two couples stood next to Frank and Callie's car. The air was bitterly cold so Eva was wrapped in a heavy blanket and snuggled in Callie's arms.

Frank was telling Anson about the lamb. "He's a great escape artist. You should name him Harry for Harry Houdini."

Anson laughed. "I should. There's been more than one morning that I've found him outside the barn, wandering about."

The couples hugged and said good-bye. The young couple would forever be grateful for the kindness and generosity they had received. The old couple would forever be grateful for the youth and true love they had seen.

# # # #

Frank's younger brother, Joe, sat on the sofa in the family room of his parents' home. A fire crackled in the fireplace, Eva was asleep on a blanket on his lap, and he was lost in the wonder of the small human.

Frank poked his head in the room, saw he brother, and entered. "Ahh, so here's where you've been hiding with my daughter."

Joe lifted his head and gave his brother a smile. "I can't take my eyes off of her. She's so tiny and cute."

"Yeah, she is pretty cute." Frank sat next to his brother and eyed his daughter affectionately.

"How'd you and Callie make such a beautiful baby?"

Frank shot his brother a look and a laugh. "You really want to know how we made a baby?"

Joe winced. He'd walked right into that one. "No, no, no. I know how to make a baby." He chuckled softly. "I just meant you and Callie did a great job on Eva. She's perfect in every way."

It was Frank's turn to chuckle softly. "Maybe not so perfect when she wakes us up at three in the morning."

"Yeah, maybe not then," Joe agreed.

Fenton Hardy poked his head in the room, turned to someone in the hall and said, "They're in here."

Frank and Joe looked up as their father, Fenton, and Callie's father, Charles, entered the room.

"Okay," Fenton said to Joe, "hand her over. Its' time for the grandpas to hold the baby."

"She's my only granddaughter, so I should hold her first," Charles said.

Fenton looked at him like he was not too bright. "She's my only granddaughter, too."

A broad smile split Charles' face. "Yeah, but I said it first."

Joe rose off the sofa, Eva and her blanket in his arms. "Okay, no fighting you two. We still have Christmas dinner to get through." He handed the baby to Charles and watched as the two grandfathers bowed their heads over the baby. Just like him, they couldn't get enough of her.

# # # #

Callie and Frank arrived home late on December 27th. Christmas had been wonderful and hectic. She and Frank had spent one night at his parents' house and one night at her parents' house. Had to keep everything equal and fair. Plenty of time had been spent with family and friends, talking and catching up on babies and marriages. There had been tons of food, lots of pictures taken, and enormous good cheer.

But through all the chaos – good chaos – Callie's thoughts had often wandered to Daisy. Callie had sensed the sadness surrounding the woman and wanted to know more about it.

Callie decided she would investigate. She started her search after Frank went to work the next day. Callie's freelance job at the local newspaper gave her access to files and records and old newspapers. It took several weeks, but Callie found her answer.

One evening at the end of January, Frank and Callie sat at the dining room table enjoying a quiet meal.

"I uncovered some information on Daisy and Anson," Callie said. "I've been looking through old newspapers and such."

"Oh?" One dark brow rose in question.

"It's a sad story," Callie cautioned. Frank nodded that he was prepared to hear it and Callie continued, "Daisy and Anson had a daughter named Emily. She was married and had a daughter named Emma. Emily, her husband, and Emma were killed in a car accident on Christmas Eve thirty years ago."

"That's horrible." Frank was truly aghast at this news.

"I've kept in touch with Daisy and sent her pictures of Eva," Callie said, her voice low. "Daisy seems to enjoy them. Her letters to me are very touching and she always thanks me profusely for the pictures."

Frank considered for a moment then said, "Perhaps, Eva brought joy back to Daisy's life."

"Perhaps, she did." Callie sincerely hoped so.

# # # #

Daisy opened the envelope and looked at the latest picture of Eva. What a precious child.

Eva. Life. Thank you, Callie for sending this picture. Thank you for saving my life.

Daisy had lived too long in the shadow of grief. For thirty years she had mourned the death of her daughter, granddaughter, and son-in-law. She had worn her grief like a shield and it had worked. She had kept the outside world out. Even Anson. Her dear, sweet Anson. He had weathered the brunt of her pain, enduring in silence for many years.

Daisy had resented him in the early years. He'd been able to get over his grief – or seemed to. How could he? Daisy wanted him to wallow in grief as she did. But he didn't. He carried on living and tried desperately to bring her with him.

"Emily wouldn't want you to lock yourself up in the house like this," Anson would say when Daisy got in one of her moods.

How could Daisy explain to Anson that it wasn't just her grief? It was her guilt. She had not had a vision about the accident. Her gift had failed her when she needed it most. Anger over this failure had threatened, at times, to consume her.

Now, she realized she had been selfish. She had wanted her gift to help her and her family. If it couldn't do that, what good was it?

Daisy shook her head. She had been so selfish and narrow minded, thinking the gift was meant only for her and her family. The gift worked when God deemed it should. That was the lesson. And God had called Emily, Emma, and their son-in-law to Heaven for reasons only he knew.

Perhaps, as Anson said all those years ago, they were too good for this earth.

# # # #

One year later on Christmas Eve, Frank and Callie stopped by Daisy and Anson's home on their way to Bayport. It was a brief visit with new friends. Daisy was overjoyed to see Eva pulling up on furniture and babbling dada. Anson took the family to the barn to see the lamb who wasn't a lamb anymore. The name Harry was printed on his stall.

"He still tries to break out at night," Anson said with a laugh.

Frank, Callie, and Eva patted Harry's head. Frank and Callie looked around the barn, remembering the night a year ago. It was a good memory. One that would be with them all the days of their lives.

Daisy sent the family on their way with homemade breads and jams. There was enough to share with Frank's family and Callie's.

After dinner that evening, Anson started a fire in the fireplace and Daisy settled in her favorite chair with a basket of knitting. She gazed at the fire and at the photo on the mantel. The latest picture of Frank, Callie, and Eva. Daisy smiled to herself. Life was for the living. That had been a hard lesson to learn, but she had finally learned it.

Anson placed a glass of wine on the end table beside Daisy.

Surprised, she looked up at him. "Wine?"

Anson shrugged. "Why not? It's Christmas Eve and we've got a lot to be thankful for."

Daisy put down her knitting, took the wine in one hand and stood. She clinked her glass softly with Anson's. "You're right." Her eyes were misty. "I love you, Anson."

"I love you, too, Daisy girl."

Neither couple, the old nor the young, saw the star shining brightly in the night sky. It twinkled and glittered and spread its loving light upon the land.

A/N: Thank you kindly for the reviews. Your reviews have meant so much to me and I hope this story has touched your heart in some small way. Merry Christmas to all and to all, a very Happy New Year!