Pure joy.

Just before she fell asleep, she realized that those were the words she had been searching for. She was filled with joy . . . pure, undiluted, uninhibited, unspoiled joy. There was simply no better word to describe the culmination of the past few days. Now, lying here in the dark, in the loving arms of her husband, she felt her unborn child kick inside her as the man she loved breathed softly on her neck while he slept quietly, the three of them entwined. And she knew that she would always remember this as the sweetest, most joyful day of her life.

The past five days were just a bad nightmare now.

“She wants to see you,” his father told him two days ago.

“How did you get my telephone number?” He looked over at Keith, who could not meet his gaze.

“That’s not important. What matters is that she wants to see you one last time, son.” His father spoke softly and deliberately.

He considered how long it had been since he last heard one of his parents call him “son.”

As she approached the small chapel, she heard voices speaking in a hushed tone. Checking the name in the placard on the wall in the hallway just outside the doorway, she confirmed that she was, in fact, in the right room. Quietly, she noted that a small group of five people, none of whom she recognized, were standing near the front of the chapel, talking quietly, so she turned and went back to the reception area to wait.


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