"Susan! Take your sister down to play by the flowers - she loves the daisies," Vivienne instructed to Susan, who took her younger sister, Georgina's, hand and gently led the toddler down to where the daisies swayed in the wind. Georgina squealed and clutched at the flowers with her pudgy hands, thrusting her button-nose down to smell the bright yellow centers.
"Mamaaa!" Georgina screeched, looking at Vivienne with pure delight.
"That's my girl," Vivienne said softly, a warm smile lighting her face "Go play - I'm right here, darling."
So absorbed was Vivienne in her daughter's joyful antics that she did not sense her husband coming up behind her.
"I'm beginning to think we should have called her Daisy," Tavington murmured, his arm sliding around Vivienne's shoulders.
She leaned into him with a soft sigh, dragging her fingers through his hair, which was long and loose today.
"Tomorrow something else will occupy her attentions and we would have to rename her," Vivienne chuckled, proud of her daughter's intense curiosity and amazement with the world.
They watched silently for a moment, drinking in the serenity of the blue-skied afternoon.
"She'll be a beauty some day - just like her mother," Tavington said with a proud smile. Vivienne kissed his cheek, unable to keep from smiling.
"Can you believe we've been in this wonderful place for two years? The time has flown by," she remarked.
"It certainly has - and there's been plenty to keep us all busy in those two years," He replied, his mind drifting back to the day they had first arrived on this cheap spot of land with the rundown old mansion.
Despite the drastic changes America as a country had gone through in the past two years, little had changed for Tavington and Vivienne, other than their steadily growing family and happiness. Their home was a haven for all of them, pleasantly distant from the painful events that would haunt them all to their dying days, excepting of course, little Georgina, who would hear the story in due time.
"And things will be getting far busier in just a few months," Vivienne said softly, placing a loving hand on her round belly. "It's a boy this time, you know."
"How can you tell?" He asked, mystified. He too placed a hand on her belly, as if just the feeling of her stomach would alert him to the gender of their child.
"I just know." She murmured, drifting into her thoughts. "Our first child, I wanted to call him Daniel." Vivienne didn't look at Tavington, her face dark.
"Well, if this one is a boy as you say, then he shall be called Daniel - a pleasant memory in place of an unpleasant one."
"I shall never forget. It still haunts me at times." Vivienne was careful not to let herself fall into the abyss of depression which tempted her incessantly.
Tavington and Vivienne were shaken out of their solemn moment as Georgina ran up to them sobbing and holding out her finger.
"A bee stung her - I'm sorry mother, I couldn't see - " Susan's breathless explanation was interrupted by Vivienne's gentle shushing.
"It's not your fault, Susan. You know how curious she is. Georgina - "
The toddler had stopped before her father, pointing her swollen finger up at him with a wide pout across her face. Tavington crouched down beside his daughter and gently held her tiny hand in his large one.
"Shall I fetch you a bandage - "
"William," Vivienne whispered. He looked up at her. "Kiss it."
Tavington's gaze returned to Georgina's wide eyes and trembling little mouth. He pressed his lips to her finger.
"There, all better now, darling. Go on and play."
But she only made a little moan and held up her arms, wanting to be held. He swept her up and rocked her gently as she laid her curly head on his shoulder, her eyes closing.
Tavington's cold heart had slowly filled with warmth as his family loved him, and the military persona he had known all his life became nothing more than a distant memory.
His heart swelled once more as he cradled Georgina, in whom he could see so much of himself as a child.
Vivienne glanced to her husband's loving, four-fingered hand on the toddler's back. The sight sent an old tremor through her, reminding her of the day she almost lost William . . .
Vivienne smiled wistfully. They had been through so much together. Even now she could remember the lustful look on his face when he had first set eyes upon her in her silly nightgown. It seemed like ages ago . . .
Vivienne reached for her husband's hand, kissing the spot where his pinky would have been. When their eyes met, love and joy reflected in the simple gaze they shared. As Vivienne hooked one arm through Tavington's and put the other around Susan, the family stood amongst the vibrant grass and the daisies - all five hearts beating strongly together.
*Sniff* There it is. The last chapter of this story. I had so much fun writing this, and even when I went through rough patches of writer's block, all you lovely reviewers helped motivate me to keep going. I would not have finished this had it not been for all you wonderful, wonderful reviewers. Thanks for so faithfully reading and reviewing! :-)
Any thoughts on this story as a whole? Please let me know - I'm trying to improve as a writer and any bits of advice, encouragement, or criticism would be very much appreciated.