"God bless Mommy, Daddy, and my other Daddy in heaven. God bless Allie, Abbey, Uncle Lee and Aunt Rosemary, Uncle Bill Avery and Aunt Julie and Uncle Tom. Newton, Sergeant and Magnolia. And all of the chickens and the cow, Bessie."
Jack's bedtime ritual got longer every night. Elizabeth had to smile every time she heard it.
This time, she had a special request of her own.
She pointed her hand toward the heavens as if speaking to a higher power.
"Need I remind you? It's been two years since there has been a little baby Grant in this house? Just a reminder."
She tucked Jack into bed, then sat on the edge of his bed until she was sure he was firmly asleep. She loved this boy more than life itself. He was her only tangible link to Jack Thornton and the love they shared.
She kissed Jack and then went to check on her daughter across the hall. Abbey was sleeping like an angel in her toddler bed surrounded by a menagerie of stuffed animals. Elizabeth gave her daughter a soft kiss before going back to her own room.
"Everyone is down for the count?" Nathan asked as she snuggled into bed next to him.
"Yep. Even Allie fell asleep reading. I want a another baby."
Nathan began moving closer and nuzzling her neck. "I would have no problem helping you with that."
"I'm serious. Allie is going off to University. Jack is starting school. Abbey isn't a baby anymore. I miss those tiny baby hands, and their soft skin. The way they look up at you with those sweet eyes as if they already understand they belong to you."
"Not to mention the sleepless nights, the crying, the changing. Are you sure you want to go through that again?"
"More than sure. I want to give you a son, Nathan. I know it's silly, but I know it's important for men to have sons to carry on their name. I know my own father was disappointed when he had three girls and no son to carry on his name..."
"Oh, Elizabeth. Really? I am not your father. Do you know me? Do you honestly think I care whether or not you bear a son? I love our family exactly as it is. "
Elizabeth snuggled deeper into her husband's arms. Seven years ago when she had the soul crushing loss, she thought she would never recover. But here she was. Lying in bed curled up to Nathan. Nathan, who had transformed her life.
"I know. I just thought maybe you wanted a boy of your own."
"Elizabeth, I never told you how terrified I was when Abbey was born. You were upstairs with Faith and I was downstairs and I was so afraid for both of you, Elizabeth. Women die in childbirth all the time and I was pacing the floor, Elizabeth."
It had been a long and difficult labor and Elizabeth didn't remember much except the combination of exhaustion and elation. When she handed Nathan his daughter he'd had a broad smile on his face and any worry or fear he had held seemed to be gone.
"And she was perfect and beautiful. So was Jack even though he was born in a remote cabin during a snowstorm."
"Elizabeth, I love you. I'll do anything to make you happy. Let's have a baby."
"I love you too, Nathan Grant."
Just then, there was a loud scream from across the hall. Abbey had a bad dream. Elizabeth got out their bed, walked across the hall and carried Abbey into her and Nathan's bed.
"I guess we're having a visitor in our bed tonight," she said as she deposited Abbey next to Nathan.
She knew it wouldn't be long before Jack woke up and crawled into bed with them. They would all be nestled together like birds in a nest. All four of them.
To Be Continued