Cherished:The Mountain Man's Babies(10)By: Frankie Love
A year ago, Honor left, and then her sister-wives True and Kind followed. If they are brave enough to go, I can be brave too.
And I know where I'm headed. A place James's family took me to once when we were kids. High up in the Idaho Mountains, James's uncle had an old cabin that was abandoned. A bunch of families from the church would go up there for picnics, and all of us kids played hide and go seek for hours. I remember shrieking with laughter, running through a field filled long grass, then going deep in the forest where there were trees with trunks wider than I could reach around.
The cabin was abandoned then, and I'm hoping it still is. It's not like I have any money—aside from enough for a single tank of gas. It must work. Word has gotten out that Honor and Harper live up there in the same mountains, but that their husbands built them fancy homes. I hope the run-down cabin hasn't been torn down... and I'm holding onto the little bit of faith I have left in this world that it’s still standing.
I'm standing in the kitchen when George comes in. His eyes brighten when he sees Andrew in my arms.
"How’s my son today?" he asks. I swallow at his words, knowing Andrew is no more his son than I am his wife. He may have taken me in his bed, but I had already given my heart, body, and soul to another. I may live here with George—but he is nothing to me. He is worse than nothing. He watched James's murder, and in all this time has never mentioned it. James’s death and the disappearance of Jonah are unspoken history.
But it isn't dead to me. The memory of James is alive and well. And every time I look at our children, Harmony, Jacob, and Andrew, I know James lives on through them.
That is why I must take this opportunity now that I have it. I was too scared to leave while pregnant—the pregnancy required me to be on bedrest for months—but now they are here, healthy and growing, and I can take them from this place that destroyed their father.
"He's well, husband," I say, addressing George in the only way I am allowed. "And, how are you?"
George looks at me greedily. "I will be better once I take you to bed."
My stomach churns. I've avoided sleeping with George for a long time, but I know if I stay here, he will require me to lie with him again.
Which is just one more reason I must go.
"As you wish, just as soon as the midwife clears me I will join you in our marriage bed."
I look up at him, forcing a small smile on my face, knowing I have to play the part for the rest of the day.
Because I’m leaving tonight.
And never coming back.
"Good, good, Cherish." He leans in close, his coffee breath pungent and his pot-belly forcing me to pull away. But he won't let me. He holds my chin, drawing himself closer to me. "Because you are my favorite wife. The youngest and most fertile. There is nothing that will ever stop me from taking your body again."
"What is mine is yours," I tell him in a whisper.
"When we start our new life, you must know I am going to give you everything you desire."
I bite my lip. "And where will our new life be? Where is this promised paradise?"
George smirks. "You want answers?"
I smile coyly. "Everyone is talking about Wyoming. Is that where we are moving this week?"
George shakes his head. "I'll tell you, but only after you've given me a kiss."
Andrew starts crying in my arms, and I am grateful for the disturbance. It breaks the spell George is under and allows me to leave the kitchen quickly. "Sorry, he needs a diaper change."
George nods, pursed lips, that hungry look still in his eye. He reaches for my bottom, squeezing it tight. "It's Montana, and tonight, I need you in my room. Midwife's orders or not. I demand it."
I flash him a smile as I leave the room with Andrew, who’s now sobbing. He must have been as uncomfortable in the presence of George as I was.
I need to go.
I originally planned to leave when the sky was inky black and the house quiet, but after seeing George in the kitchen, I can't risk him looking for me in the middle of the night. And if I take the babies when everyone is asleep, what happens if one of them cries and wakes people up?
The sister-wives hate me, mostly because I birthed triplets nine months after my wedding day. And the fact that two of them were boys, and all of them were healthy, made me the envy of the older wives. But they can have all of George's attention—I never wanted any of it.