The Final Goodbye By: J.L. Jacobs © 2015 (Full Length Book)

Out of sheer desperation, Sophia Lancaster flees her small town of Wellington, Ohio in order to become a mail-order-bride. Naive and full of hope, her world is shattered once again as she is quickly wed to Travis Ewing who seems to despise her from the moment they meet.

Over time, they fall madly in love with each other but Fate has other plans in store for them. This is a suspenseful and very emotional love story that is set in the 1890's where history comes alive. You will laugh and cry over Sophia's journey through hell and back as she fights for the only thing she truly believes in: Love.

*I love to hear your comments and feedback but please DO NOT POST ANY SPOILER ALERTS OR GIVE AWAY STORY INFO. This ruins the reading experience for others.* This is a rough draft version. This book is for mature readers over the age of 17 only. It does contain some profanity and a few graphic love scenes. The synopsis will be re-written, and I will be updating the book with edits.

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24. Chapter Twenty-Four: Drama

Chapter Twenty-Four: Drama

 

 

     Travis stood there looking at Sophia's former fiancé, Dr. Jeremy Thompson, with murderous eyes. He was being physically restrained by Joseph after he had lunged himself at Jeremy in order to punch him square in the face. He could barely hear the screams that came from the women as his sole focus was on Jeremy. How dare that man show his face here claiming to want to take Sophia back? Now? After all this time? That man had cheated on her, gotten another woman pregnant, broken her heart on their wedding day, and was the reason why she fled from her beloved town of Wellington leaving behind all her family and friends in the first place! Travis was damned if he would lose Sophia to that loser after everything he had put her through. No, she was his wife now and that would never change in a million years! Not if he had anything to do with it. Jeremy stared back at him with a look of smug satisfaction which only made Travis feel more irate. As if that was even possible given how angry he already was. Travis once again tried to break Joseph's strong hold on him, but in the process they were fell to the ground. This was his chance! In the blink of an eye, Travis was back on his feet and finally had his chance to get to Jeremy. Just as he started to lunge towards his nemesis, two hands wrapped themselves around his leg. "Don't do it Pa!" Mikey screamed out. Travis turned around to look down into the eyes of his little boy who was looking up at him with a look of such sadness that his heart lurched inside his chest. Then Hope came running up to them, trudging herself through the snow which was making her progress much slower. Her cheeks were rosy from the cold temperature and she was crying. "Papa!" she said latching herself on to his other leg, "Please don't fight." Immediately Travis's feeling of rage dissipated and he stood there feeling numb. What had he almost done? What if his children hadn't gotten to him in enough time to have stopped him? Then they would have witnessed this ugly side of him that had come out. Everyone stood there utterly still for many moments as each person digested what had just taken place. Travis looked over at Jeremy who had this look in his eyes as if he were silently goading him. "Mikey. Hope. Let's go inside and get you's two some hot chocolate to warm you up." Lucinda said. Nellie took the children by the hand and led them towards Lucinda. The four of them walked inside the house, leaving everyone else behind. "Jeremy," Sophia said quietly, "You need to leave. Now." Jeremy took a few steps towards her and attempted to take hold of her hands but she yanked them away. She could smell the distinct aroma of liquor on his breath. He had come here inebriated? Well, at least that sort of summed up his unusual behavior. "Sophia!" he cried out, "We belong together! Everyone knows that! Hell, even Angelique knows that!" Sophia was so upset with him for having shown up unannounced like that, especially after their long talk the night before. "Jeremy, there will never be a future for us. I love my husband. I am pregnant with his child. You're nothing but a rotten memory of my past now so just leave already!" "I already told you yesterday that I made a big mistake by marrying Angelique instead of you!" he cried out. "You're the only woman I want to spend the rest of my life with. I know I hurt you but we can start over fresh and spend the rest of our lives together. I can provide for you. I don't care if you are carrying that man's child, we can raise the baby as our own and then make some of our own with my seed! Come away with me. Right now!" The look of desperation in Jeremy's eyes made Sophia's own begin to water. He looked so pathetic right now that she couldn't help but feel sorry for him. Travis, on the other hand, watched this exchange as his blood began to boil once again. After hearing what Jeremy had just said, he instantly knew where Sophia had been last night when she was missing from supper. The one that had caused so much angst with the rest of the family. "Sophia, do not even begin to tell me that you were with him last night!" Travis said incredulously as he glared hard at her. He walked over to where she was standing so that he stood next to Jeremy on the small porch. Louis, Joseph, and Rachel all remained out there, oblivious to the cold as they carefully observed what was happening in order to prevent any attempts at fisticuffs between Travis and Jeremy. Sophia looked Travis directly in the eyes, "Yes, as a matter of fact, I was." she said to Travis quietly. "I'm sorry. But it's not what you might be thinking. I was goin---" Jeremy interrupted what she was trying to explain to Travis by saying, "I already told you Sophia, I met with a lawyer first thing this morning to begin the divorce process. I don't care about the clinic no more. I know that I let it come between us before when I was scared to lose my share in it. But it doesn't matter anymore. You matter. We being together matters. I can start a new practice somewhere else. We can move away from here and begin a new life together. We can make babies of our own and have the wonderful life that we had always planned." This declaration only incensed Travis even more. His anger was now at a very dangerous level. He looked at his wife, who in his opinion seemed confused, and said in a very menacing voice, "I cannot believe you right now Sophia! How dare you have gone out last night to meet with... with.. that man! You left your whole life behind to get away from him! You started a life with me and here you are contemplating going back with him? While carrying our child? I don't even know who you are right now but it's obvious to me that you're conflicted over this whole matter. Let me make it easier on you. You can have him. You and I, we're through!"

 

     Sophia was left utterly speechless as she watched Travis storm through the front door, slamming it closed so hard that the wreath hanging on it fell off. Her heart began to race and the lump that formed in her throat made it impossible for her to speak. "Jeremy, I think you have caused enough drama with your little speech as it is." Rachel cried out. "You need to get the hell out of here. Now!" Then she walked up to him and slapped him hard across the face. Jeremy paid her very little mind though. His eyes were focused intensely on Sophia. "Come with me Sophia." he implored, "I love you and only you. I have always loved you. I swear it! You occupy my whole heart. Let me prove to you that I will never, ever, ever hurt you again." Louis and Joseph exchanged irritated looks with each other. They knew they needed to get Jeremy away from here as quickly as possible before the situation was somehow made worse. Or if perhaps Sophia decided to run away with him on some stupid impulse. Both men were very angry and were trying hard to remain calm but it was getting harder and harder by the second. Their loyalty was with Travis. "Let's go." Joseph said bitterly as he grabbed a hold of Jeremy's arm. He tried to pull Jeremy away from Sophia but Jeremy refused to budge. "I am not leaving here without Sophia!" he yelled. Sophia looked helplessly over to her sister. Rachel could see that Sophia was starting to become panicked. "Let's go inside." Rachel she said quickly to Sophia as she held out her hand for her sister. Sophia started to take a hold of it when Jeremy grabbed her hand instead. "I am not leaving without you!" he cried out as he attempted to drag her away. Something inside of Sophia finally made her snap, "I do not want to be with you Jeremy Thompson! I am married and I am in love with my husband. Nothing will ever change that. Not now, not ever! To think I felt sorry for you? Now? I can only say you make me sick! Leave me the HELL alone already! You've caused enough problems for me in the last seven months! I don't ever want to see your face again!" With that, Joseph grabbed Jeremy and physically yanked him away so that Sophia could wrench her hand free of his grasp and go back inside with Rachel. As she walked inside, Jeremy yelled out, "No! We belong together! Sophia!" But she ignored his pleas. Rachel closed the door leaving the three men standing out in the cold alone. Jeremy became hysterical. "Sophia! Sophia! Come back here! I love you!" "That is ENOUGH already!" Louis said with a menacing tone, "You need to leave and I will not ask you again. Do not come back here. If you so much as step one foot onto my property I will shoot you for dead! Now get the hell out of here like my daughter asked you to!" Louis's face was a deep reddish color and his silver colored eyes were narrowed in anger. "I think that's your cue to leave." Joseph said harshly as he pushed Jeremy off the front porch and watched with a bit of humor as Jeremy fell down onto the snow covered ground below into a heap. Louis and Joseph then went into the house themselves, leaving Jeremy lying on the ground as he was crying hysterically. "Pansy." Joseph muttered as he shut the door, rolling his eyes over the spectacle that Jeremy was making of himself.

 

#

     Sophia was upstairs banging on the door to her bedroom where Travis had locked himself inside. "Please Travis!" she cried out, "Let me in. Let me explain! I was going to talk to you about what happened last night. Please believe me!" But no sounds came from the other side of the door. Just silence. The baby inside of her was kicking furiously from within but she paid it no mind. Her only focus was on her husband right now. Rachel stood by her side with an arm placed gently on her shoulder. "Give him some time to cool down. He's just upset right now." Rachel said soothingly. "Let's go in my room and talk." Sophia looked over at her sister and nodded her head in agreement even though she really wanted nothing more than for Travis to open the door so they could talk. But perhaps Rachel was right; he probably just needed some time to cool off. Then they could talk. Rachel took a hold of Sophia's cold hand in her own and led her down the hallway to the bedroom that her, Joseph, and the baby were staying in. After they walked inside, Rachel quietly closed the door behind her. They sat on the bed in silence for a few minutes as Sophia tried to calm her emotions down. But before they could actually begin talking, Joseph walked in with baby Jocelyn in his arms. She was wailing quite loudly and flaying her chubby little arms around. "I don't mean to intrude but she's hungry. Nellie said she started getting fussy when we were outside and held her until one of us got back in." he explained as he handed her over to Rachel's waiting arms. "Thank you. I will feed her but can you go downstairs so I can talk to Sophia alone please?" Rachel asked him sweetly. He kissed the top of her head and smiled lovingly at her, "Sure thing my love." Joseph turned around and left the room, closing the door behind him. Rachel handed the Jocelyn to Sophia so that she could quickly unbutton the top portion of her dress. "As much as I love my daughter," Rachel laughed, "I absolutely dread these feedings now." She pulled down her chemise and exposed one breast. "Why?" Sophia asked curiously. "Take a look." Rachel replied. Sophia glanced over at her sister's engorged breast and was horrified when she saw how red and cracked her sister's nipple was. "Oh my Lord!" Sophia exclaimed, "What is wrong with it?" "From what Mother told me, this is apparently normal. When Jocelyn was first born it didn't hurt but after the first week my poor nipples started to become cracked like this. Mother says it only lasts a couple of weeks before they get used to the suckling, but in all honesty, the pain is almost unbearable." Rachel held out her arms so that Sophia could pass the crying baby over to her, then she positioned Jocelyn and held out the abused nipple to her mouth so that the baby could latch on. Jocelyn greedily began to suckle. Tears appeared in Rachel's eyes and Sophia couldn't help but to feel a little bit sorry for her sister. "I had no idea that happened." Sophia said with a moderate degree of alarm in her voice. Her own breasts tightened up as she watched the baby feed. "Now I am scared." she told her sister honestly, "Isn't there some sort of a salve you can put on them to help it?" Rachel shrugged her shoulders as if to indicate she wasn't sure. "If there were, I am sure Mother would have suggested it to me by now. She's seen this for herself already and knows how unbearable it is for me." Rachel answered through gritted teeth that were clenched in pain. "Did you ask Nellie about it?" Sophia inquired thoughtfully. Rachel shook her head no, "Why would Nellie know of such a thing? She's never bore any children before." Sophia pondered what Rachel had just said but perhaps she would ask Nellie about that herself anyway. Just because Nellie never had children of her own didn't necessarily mean she wouldn't know of a solution to Rachel's problem. Poor Rachel looked positively miserable, and it wouldn't hurt to have something on hand for when she gave birth herself. Sophia couldn't help but to stare at Jocelyn as the baby drank in her nourishment from Rachel's exposed breast. As painful as it looked for Rachel to breastfeed her her, Sophia still couldn't wait for the day when she was able to hold her own baby in her arms that way. She sat there transfixed with wonderment and absentmindedly put her hand over the spot on her own stomach where the baby was kicking quite vigorously. There was no feeling in the world that she had ever experienced that came remotely close to the one she was feeling anytime she felt her child move within her womb. She felt so blessed to have this baby within her womb right now. It was literally a downright miracle! It wouldn't be much longer now before he or she made its way out. Only a few more months and she would be experiencing first hand what breastfeeding a baby would feel like. Sophia couldn't wait. 

 

     "So what was that all about?" Rachel asked suddenly, breaking Sophia's train of thought, "You know, with Jeremy. Why did you go see him last night?" Sophia sighed. She knew there would be some explanations in order but she thought there would have been some more time so that she could have talked to Travis about the whole situation first. "I just had to." Sophia said simply as tears formed in her eyes. Rachel gave her sister a knowing look, "Please tell me you aren't going to go back with him?"  "Absolutely not!" Sophia proclaimed without so much as an ounce of hesitation. Rachel became confused, "Then why did you go see him? Surely you were aware that Travis would find out about it and get angry like that. I cannot blame him Sophia. That was not a very wise decision at all." Sophia pushed herself up from the bed and paced the room. "I had to see him after what you told me." Rachel interrupted, "No you didn't! That chapter in the book was closed. Why on Earth did you do that? Even I don't get it." Sophia sighed once again. Her sister was right. She knew she was right. There wasn't even a reasonable enough explanation in her head to explain why she had felt so compelled to see Jeremy yesterday but she opened her mouth to try and explain anyhow, "I couldn't go through life knowing he was feeling so tortured like that. I know that there is no future between Jeremy and me. I know it was wrong of me to go see him the way that I did. I needed to find peace for the both of us. I needed to allow him to talk so he could explain what had happened in the past. Perhaps so that I had some closure of my own. I was hoping he would finally stop pining over me and move on with his life. I needed to make sure he knew I no longer loved him. I couldn't go back to Texas without at least trying to make some peace with the whole situation. I would have always wondered what if and it would have then tortured me." Rachel looked at her sister with a hint of exasperation in her eyes, "Soph, what's been done is done. He cheated on you. He got Angelique pregnant. Well, at least that's what she led him to believe. He called off your wedding and made the conscious choice to leave you for her. He was the whole reason why you fled this town and all of us who love you so that you didn't have to deal with him! None of this makes any sense to me as to why you would feel so compelled to see him after all of that! You're married now and expecting a baby of your own with Travis. You saw how hurt Travis was. Why would you do that to him when he has been so good to you? That man is so besotted over you!" Sophia couldn't help but to cry in earnest now. She didn't say anything for a few more minutes. Sitting back down on the bed, she stared down at the floor while Rachel put Jocelyn to her other breast. "The last thing I intended on doing was to hurt Travis. You have to understand that. I love him. Even more so than I loved Jeremy. With Travis, I discovered what real love felt like. Nothing will ever change that. But there was something inside of me that made me have to see Jeremy. I just had to do it. I know that doesn't make much sense. I don't exactly understand it either. Like I said, I needed to put the past to rest and that seemed like the way I needed to do so." Several minutes of silence went by until Rachel asked,"Well, what happened when you went to see him?" She carefully moved Jocelyn over to the other breast. She winced out loud as the baby finally latched on to her other raw nipple. "Nothing happened per say." Sophia said brusquely, "I first had Stevens drive me around town for quite a long time before I made my mind up to see Jeremy. He then drove me to the clinic. I got out, went inside and rang the bell. Thankfully it was Jeremy who came out from the behind the door. I then asked him to come inside the carriage with me so we could talk." Rachel shook her head from side to side, "Did anyone see you? That right there could have ruined your reputation Sophia." "I honestly don't think so. The clinic was empty when I was there. To my knowledge, only Stevens was aware of what was going on." "So are you going to tell me what you two talked about?" Rachel said with a hint of irritation towards her older sister in her voice. "Yes, I suppose so. I really wanted to have this discussion with Travis first though." Sophia said sullenly.

 

    She brought back the image of last night into her head and remembered how excited Jeremy had been once he was seated in the carriage with her. Sophia made sure that the windows were both closed and latched tightly, strictly for privacy out of fear of being seen and not for any improper notions whatsoever. "Sophia." Jeremy had said to her breathlessly, "You came for me! When I saw you at the restaurant yesterday I about died. I never expected that to happen but I am extremely grateful." His dark brown eyes were rimmed in red from his excessive drinking, but they positively sparkled for the first time since they had last spoken on that first day of June. What was supposed to have their wedding day, but instead, had turned into his and Angelique's wedding night. Jeremy sat in the cold carriage, oblivious of how chilly it was inside there. He had left with her so quickly that he never bothered to get his overcoat but he didn't care. He was here with the love of his life. Nothing else mattered. Sophia had looked at him with tears of her own, "I came only to talk to you Jeremy." she said in a choked up voice. "But you came. I never thought this day would come!" Jeremy had tried to grab a hold of her hand but she refused him by setting both of them inside her coat pockets. "Rachel told me what happened to you. Well, sort of. I guess I need to hear from you what happened since I left Wellington." Sophia said sedately even though tears continued to stream down her face. The light inside of Jeremy's eyes dissipated just as quickly as it had appeared upon seeing her inside his clinic only moments before. His demeanor changed from being thrilled to dull in the blink of an eye."I don't even know where to begin." he replied honestly. "Start with the beginning. From the morning of our wedding. I want to hear it all. I need to hear it all." Sophia whispered. He looked at her and she could see just how much emotional pain he was really in. His eyes had dark circles under them and his breath, even from two feet away, smelled heavily of liquor. His dark hair that was usually kept neat was greasy and unkempt. His face had dark stubble all over it as if he hadn't bothered with shaving it in days. From the state of his hair and body odor, it seemed like he hadn't bothered to bathe in at least that long either. 

     Jeremy drew in a quivering breath. This was not easy for him to talk about. "Let me start with the night when Angelique and I had supposedly had relations." he said miserably. Sophia watched him carefully and nodded her head to indicate she was listening. "As I already told you, I was having a real rough go of it that day after losing Mrs. Miller. She died Sophia. Mr. Miller was so angry with me. He threatened to sue me and the clinic. That was the first delivery I ever had where the mother died like that so it was so already hard for me to deal with. But with Mr. Miller.... well, that only made it worse. Martha assured me that there was nothing I could have done to save Mrs. Miller but I disagreed. I could have tried to deliver the babies by doing a cesarean operation once she showed signs of weakness or distress. I didn't do it because I had never done one before. I was too scared to even try. If I had, perhaps she would still be alive today." He broke down into tears and Sophia went over to sit next to him. She wrapped her arms around Jeremy only as a show of comfort as he brokenly cried. "Sshhh. It's obvious that there was nothing you could have done. Everyone knows that Martha is an expert at delivering babies. If she said there was no hope, then you need to believe that." Sophia said soothingly. Jeremy looked over at her with his red rimmed eyes, "I should have at least tried! I cannot even imagine how Mr. Miller must have felt. He lost his wife! I destroyed his life! I left him with all those children to raise on his own plus those twin babies!" Upon hearing those words from Jeremy, Sophia couldn't help but to think of Travis. He, too, had lost his wife plus their baby. The circumstances were a tad bit different as her doctor was inebriated when attempting the delivery but the results had been nearly the same. Mother and child were both lost. Sophia felt so much heartache in that moment for both Jeremy and Travis. She sat there and waited patiently for Jeremy to once again speak. It took several minutes for his sobs to cease enough for him to resume talking. "After I got back to the clinic, I began drinking some whisky I had in my desk. I guess I supposed that the more I drank, the less I would remember. Hell, I don't really know what I was thinking. I rarely drank before that night! I do remember that Angelique came into my office and asked me what had happened and I explained the story to her. She started drinking with me. After a while, she had come over to me and sat down on my lap. I didn't push her away Sophia. I should have. She leaned in to kiss me and I let her. Then we drank some more. I don't actually recall having relations with her but I did wake up wearing only my drawers. I wasn't sure what had happened, if anything. With as much booze as I consumed, I hardly doubt I had any capacity to, well, have become intimate with her. When men drink heavily like that, especially whisky, it's hard for them to have intimacy because their, um, member cannot obtain an erect state. There's a term for it called whiskey dick. Who knows though, I was so drunk that I cannot recall anything after a certain point so I very well may have done the deed with her." Sophia sat there feeling numb. "In the morning I woke up. She was already gone. I was only wearing my drawers so at the time, I assumed her and I may have been intimate and it devastated me. I knew I had to tell you but when I saw you later that night, well, I just couldn't. I am a coward. I was selfish. I didn't want to lose you so I elected to say nothing about it. I know now that I should have. For that, I am truly sorry. I am also sorry that I may or may not have done that with Angelique. More sorry than you'll ever know." Jeremy placed his head in his hands as he was consumed with raw emotion. Sophia sat there as tears continued to pour down her own face. He eventually looked back up at her in anguish, "The morning of our wedding I walked out of the house feeling like I was the happiest man alive. I saw Dr. Milton and Angelique approaching me. That's when I was told she was pregnant with my child. Dr. Milton gave me an ultimatum; I was to marry Angelique that very night or he would fire me and dissolve my half of the clinic. I felt so torn. You were the love of my life but I didn't want to sacrifice all the years and money I had put into the clinic either. I also did not want to see Angelique's reputation get torn asunder." "What about my reputation?" Sophia cried out angrily, "You left me at the alter! Surely you knew that could have ruined me as well? Jeremy, I was with you for over three years! We planned a life together and you chose some other woman over me because the clinic was obviously more important? If I were you, I would have told them both to go to hell! She's the one who allegedly had relations with you even though she wasn't married! I suppose none of that mattered to you as you chose what was more important that day! Hells fire Jeremy, you cannot even be positive you were even intimate with her to begin with!" 

     Jeremy sat there with his mouth wide open in shock for many moments, then groaned out loud as his brain processed everything Sophia had just said to him. "To be honest Soph, I didn't consider any of that. Not even once. I wasn't even given any time to think about any of it as they showed up just as I was about to leave for the church. It had never occurred to me what could have happened to you. I selfishly told Dr. Milton that I would marry Angelique. He told me he would procure a special license. That's when I went to the church. When I walked through the door to that room you were waiting in that day and saw you in your wedding dress, my heart just about stopped. God you looked so damned beautiful! So happy! Then after I told you about all of that and seen how it had crushed you, I do think I lost a part of myself that day. My life hasn't been the same since. Angelique and I were married that very evening. I literally stood there during that damned ceremony with my eyes closed and pretended it was you standing there just to be able to force myself to go through with it! I hated myself for what I had done to ruin both our lives. After we were married, that night, she assumed I would want to have relations with her. I never did. As a matter of fact, I have never once been intimate with her after we got married. Ever since our wedding night, when I refused to be intimate with her, that woman has made my life a living hell. We fought and argued every damned day so I started drinking. After a couple months went by and her waist line still wasn't expanding, I confronted her about the pregnancy. Hell, she should have been five months pregnant by then and her stomach was still as flat as a washboard. I knew in my gut she wasn't pregnant. She then confessed to me that she lied about it. Not only to me but her father as well. Who does that? She then taunted me by saying how she faked her symptoms so that her father would think she was pregnant and here the whole time she never was. She purposefully waited until the morning you and me were to be married before she confessed to her father that I was the one who got her pregnant. She not only lied and trapped me into a marriage under false pretenses, but that psychopath planned it all out! That woman is nothing but a liar and a shrew!" Sophia sat there feeling astounded and overwhelmed as his confession seeped into her brain. "I saw you leave that day." Jeremy cried out. When he realized that Sophia had no idea what he was talking about he elaborated, "When you were on the train leaving Wellington on July first. I was there. When the train left, I became a mess knowing I was the one who drove you away!" 

     Sophia quickly moved away from him to sit back on the empty seat that she had previously vacated. She stared down at the floor in shock, unable to speak as her mind was cluttered with everything he had just told her. So the rumors had been true after all but hearing it from Jeremy, it was actually so much worse than she thought. "I never stopped loving you Sophia. You, and only you, have my heart. Nothing or no one will ever change that." She said nothing for a long while as she stared blankly down at her boots as Jeremy carefully watched her. Finally she had picked her head up to look him in the eyes, "I don't know what you expect me to say. You were the reason why I had to leave this place. All my family and my closest friends. But I am married now. Not just married but happily married. I found out what true love is thanks to you. What started out as being a way for me to escape ended up being the best thing that has ever happened to me and I have you to thank for it." Jeremy's face visibly drooped at her words, "I had heard that but I suppose part of me didn't want to believe it." After a few more minutes he said, "Do you honestly love him or are you just saying that to make me feel bad about what I did to you?" Without hesitation Sophia replied, "I do. I really love him. More so than I loved you if I am being honest.Travis and I have made a great life together over the last few months." "Do you still love me?" Jeremy countered bluntly. Sophia drew in a deep breath. In a shaky voice she replied, "No. I do not. I am sorry." "I have a hard time believing that Sophia! You barely know the man. We could run away together! I love you Sophia! Let me make the past right. You had no choice but to leave after what I did to you. I understand that. I don't care if you are carrying his child. I will gladly raise it as my own. We can start over anew. I can make you love me again, I just know it! Give me the chance to show you that. I will never cheat on you again. If I even did to begin with. I swear it with my life!" Sophia started to become annoyed by that point. Looking at her former fiancé, she knew without a shadow of a doubt that there was no future for them. Ever. She opened up the door to the carriage and called out to Stevens, "Please head back to the clinic at once." She closed the window and sat back down just as Jeremy grabbed a hold of her gloved hand. He pulled her onto his lap and kissed her full on the mouth. Sophia felt nothing. Less than a year ago his kiss could stir something up inside of her so much that she felt butterflies in her stomach. Now, there was nothing. She looked at him furiously and scrambled off of his lap. "You should not have taken the liberty to kiss me like that!" she said vehemently, "I already told you that I am a married woman and I love my husband! You're lucky I won't be mentioning this part of my conversation to my husband or else he's be demanding pistols at dawn on the morrow!" Jeremy at least had the courtesy to look shamed over his actions. "I'm sorry." he said simply. She stared him down with eyes that held no warmth whatsoever. "If you ever try that again so help me God I will punch you in the face and kick you in the bollocks! It was a mistake for me to have seen you like this. I only wanted to put the past behind me. That was a senseless thought. Now I realize the past has been behind me for quite some time now. I am truly sorry for how things have turned out for you in your life Jeremy, but you need to move on. There will never be a future between you and me. If you aren't happy then seek a divorce. I don't care what you need to do but from here on out, but leave me out of it. I have the family I have always dreamed of having. I have you to thank for that because if you hadn't done what you did, then I wouldn't have them in my life right now." "Sophia!" Jeremy implored, "Perhaps you just need some time to think about all of this first. I will not give up hope." The carriage stopped moving and Sophia looked out of the latched window to see they were now at the clinic. "Goodbye Jeremy." she said briskly. He took one last look at her with pleading eyes. When Sophia remained silent, he opened the door and got out, closing the door shut behind him. Only after he walked inside the door to the clinic did Sophia move. Once again she opened up the window and called out to Stevens, "You can take me back to the house now." During the short ride she sat there shaking. Not from emotions but because she had finally realized just how cold and hungry she actually was. And tired. She was emotionally drained. Sophia couldn't wait to get back to Travis and have him wrap her in his muscular arms where she felt safe and loved. With a small smile on her face she was finally able to put the past to bed so that she could enjoy her future with Travis and his children. Her children. Even though Hope and Mikey were not her biological children, she knew that she loved them as if they were her own, just as she knew that it was Travis whom she wanted to spend the rest of her life with.

 

     Sophia finished telling Rachel the story which had brought her out of her reverie into the present moment. Rachel had tears streaming down her face. When Sophia looked over at her, she saw that baby Jocelyn was over Rachel's shoulder being burped. "Wow." Rachel said quietly, "Thank you for sharing that with me. I guess I can understand your need to have seen Jeremy like that now after hearing all that. I am glad you realize that you belong with Travis." Rachel stood up and took the hand that wasn't holding the baby and pulled Sophia up in an embrace. The two sisters hugged each other warmly. When Sophia pulled away she looked at Rachel right in the eyes saying, "That is why I wanted to talk to Travis about it first. As my husband, I felt like he deserved to hear that from me before I talked to you all about it. Which I fully planned on doing. I don't want there to be any more secrets between any of us. 

 

     There is one thing else I want to talk to you about while we are alone though." Rachel looked at Sophia quizzically. "What is it?" she asked, "Please don't tell me any bad news. I just don't think I could bear it." Sophia knew instinctively that Rachel was referring to her cancer diagnosis. "No, it's not what you think. When I first arrived in Texas, well, things between Travis and I got off to a really rocky start. He acted like he hated me. The very next morning after we were wed he found out that I came out there under false pretenses." "What do you mean under false pretenses?" Rachel asked. The concern in her voice was more than evident. Jocelyn let out a couple of burps. While Sophia started talking again, Rachel began changing the baby's nappy. "When I answered his advertisement, I told him I met all of his requirements. I had lied to him. You and I both know that I have never had to cook or clean anything a day in my life, let alone take care of an entire household. Hells fire, even though I absolutely adore children, I have no experience with taking care of them either. I was forced to confess everything to Travis, the very next morning,  that I was unqualified and he was really upset with me. He told me he was going to dissolve our marriage based on me being a fraud. Which I was. My heart and intentions were pure but that didn't matter. I had lied to him. He kicked me out and I stayed in a hotel on and off the first few weeks of our marriage. It was not an easy beginning for us by any means. Around that time is when I had my surgery and found out about the cancer, so it had been a blessing in disguise because I really didn't want Travis finding out about that. But Fate brought us together and eventually we fell madly in love." Sophia chuckled. Rachel looked at her sister with astonished eyes, "Oh my word! I had no idea! From your letters there was never really any indication of trouble except for the first letter I got. But considering you two had never met before, I honestly expected that." Sophia smiled, "Well, as you are aware of, I kept a few secrets from everyone. But I do feel better now that everything is out in the open. Now I just need to talk to Travis about what happened yesterday with Jeremy." Rachel laid Jocelyn down in her cradle and covered her up with a very thin blanket then walked over to Sophia and gave her another hug. "After seeing you two together, I have no doubt in my mind that fate did put you's two together. He is more than I could have ever hoped for you. I am so thrilled that you are finally happy." "Thank you sister. After we got over our rocky beginning, I began to fall head over heels in love with him. He is more than I even hoped for myself." Sophia smiled at Rachel with tears of happiness shining in her aqua eyes. Because of her dark green dress, they actually appeared greener today. Rachel had always been envious of Sophia's beautifully colored eyes. Her own light blue eyes seemed to pale in comparison. Another thought occurred to Rachel and her face once again looked serious, "I want an honest answer to this next question Soph. Just how bad is this cancer of yours?" Immediately Sophia's face blanched white. This was not something she wanted to discuss but felt she needed to keep up the honestly between them. She had been trying so hard for so long to stay strong and keep a brave face. Even with Travis. Perhaps because of Travis. "I honestly do not know Rachel. When I first overheard that I had it, I thought for sure I was going to die. I later learned that my friend who lives in Dallas, Elsie Prescott, had paid for a specialist named Dr. Halsted to come down from Baltimore and exclusively treat me. His own wife had died from it and after that, it became his purpose in life to find a cure. He said that some of his patients went into remission. He is hopeful in my case especially since I have not been plagued with those pains since my surgery. Because Travis and I were not off to a good start in our marriage, I never told him that I was going to see my other doctor. The one who did my exploratory surgery. I didn't even tell him that I was having the surgery. At that time, I was staying at the hotel so it made it easy to cover that up. Somehow he had found out about the surgery and came to visit with me while I was recuperating in the hospital. By that point I had learned about the cancer and didn't tell him anything about it. I found out I was pregnant a weeks later during one of my weekly treatment sessions with both of the doctors. I told Travis about the baby of course, but still hadn't told him about the cancer. On Thanksgiving night, Travis and I were relaxing in the bathing tub when I started to bleed. He rushed me over to the hospital and that's when my doctor's had decided to tell him about the cancer. Even though I expressed time and time again that I didn't want Travis to know about it, they went against my wishes and told him anyway claiming it was in my best interest that he should know. The children don't know and I don't want them to ever find out regardless of the, well, outcome. I won't know anything further until after my second surgery." "Oh my God Sophia! How scared you must have been! I cannot even believe it. Cancer. That's such an ugly word. So no one knows if it can or will go away?" Rachel asked. Sophia shrugged her shoulders and sat down. Her feet and back were hurting. "Like I said a few minutes ago, after the baby is born they will do another surgery once I am healed enough. Then they will able to go in and take a look so we'll know more at that point. Right now it's just a waiting game. I do know that regardless of the outcome, I want my life to be as happy as possible. I have everything I've dreamed of since I was a little girl. It doesn't get much better than that." A knock sounded at the bedroom door. Sophia, thinking perhaps it was Travis, walked over to open it up. It was her Mother. "Guess what? Maybelle is here to visit with you. She's waiting down in the drawing room." Lucinda said breezily. Sophia smiled, "Tell her I will be down directly." Lucinda looked her over carefully, "Is everything okay in here? It looks like both you and your sister have been crying." Sophia nodded her head yes, "Absolutely. Rachel and I were just having some sister time by talking and catching up over everything since I have been gone." Lucinda smiled at her fondly, "I shall tell May that you will be downstairs momentarily then."

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