Keeping Faith by Cindy Bradford (serial 56)
Chapter 21 Part I
Back from the honeymoon, life took on an easy cadence. The most difficult task for Patrick was training Rocky, mainly because he was not very good with the word “no.” When Patrick tried scolding the puppy, Rocky would cock his head, and with big brown eyes look pleadingly at his master, who immediately melted under the animal’s charm.
“Okay Patrick, if you can’t do this, we have to take him to obedience school,” Carol said finally, after Rocky rolled and tumbled over a bed of impatiens.”
“I’ll do it, I’ll be more forceful with him,” Patrick promised, but Carol was doubtful.
“I’m not yet convinced,” she told him, smiling faintly.
“I’ll try a leash. He understands about going out, so I’ll take him out on a leash and see if that helps.”
“Well, if that doesn’t work, you both may be on one leash,” she said teasingly, but firmly.
After three weeks and many more flowers, Rocky began to get the message about where he was allowed. But, if he couldn’t conquer the yard he wasn’t giving up so easily on Peri, who was neither impressed nor amused with Rocky’s exuberance. Stubbornly, the puppy nudged and playfully raked Peri’s fur with his front paws as if to say “Come on, be a sport.” Peri tried ignoring him, acting indifferent to his spirited antics, but Rocky persisted until the cat either gave up on ever returning to his former life or decided a furry friend wasn’t so bad. Late one afternoon Patrick found them curled up together, a single act that quickly became a pattern.
Patrick’s church was growing as were his responsibilities. There was always someone to see at the hospital, or to visit at home, a counseling session for a confused teenager, a couple planning to get married, a funeral or a wedding. In between, there were sermons to plan, business to take care of and general daily duties. But he loved his work. He felt that he had finally found his niche.
Carol slid back easily into her routine of painting and photography.
She sent some of her work to the gallery in New York and held three private showings in the area. She was looking forward to winter’s release so she could get outside more with her camera. February was always the most difficult month for her and this year it had been particularly brutal. Thankfully it was almost over.
“Patrick, I’ve been thinking,” she said, putting the remaining dinner dishes in the cabinet. “I’d like to put together a book of landscape photographs, a coffee table book, if you will.”
“Really? Maine landscapes?”
“I don’t really know yet. Maybe more places. Perhaps, landscapes of New England. What do you think?”
“Well, wouldn’t that mean some travel?”
“Yes, but I’d generally only be away one night, two at the most. I talked to Fredrico and he said with his connections and some of mine from years ago, we don’t think publishing would be a problem. He said he has several deep pocket donors from the gallery whom he believes would help.”
“So, you’ve already talked to Fredrico? Wouldn’t it have been nice if we could have had this conversation first?”
“Oh, Patrick, don’t be so cavalier! You know I talk to Freddy often and one topic just led to another, that’s all. It wasn’t like I was keeping something from you for God’s sake,” her voice rising.
“I wasn’t suggesting that,” he said defensively. “I am simply surprised I guess. Besides, I thought WE wanted a baby now. You wouldn’t want to travel that much if you were pregnant would you?”
“That’s another reason I wanted us to talk. Maybe we could postpone the pregnancy for a year. I think I can have the book ready in that length of time.”
Patrick looked stunned, like someone had hit him hard from behind. The silence for the next few minutes was penetrating. “Let me be sure I understand.” His face was red, his voice quivering slightly. “You want to publish a book of pictures instead of having our child?”
“You oversimplify, Patrick. What is the big damn deal of waiting a year? You have your work. I certainly don’t interfere with it. And God knows you tend to everybody’s needs and wishes any time of the day or night!”
“Carol, be reasonable. It’s a little different, don’t you think, when someone is dying in the middle of the night and their relative calls the minister to come? You want me to say ‘sorry, I can’t be there until morning, it’s not convenient?” His face flushed a brilliant red.
“Forget it! It’s always like this. We can’t talk without getting into a shouting match.”
Patrick lowered his voice. “Look, I’m sorry. I just don’t understand. I thought we agreed we wanted a baby…now. If you don’t, then I guess I’ll adjust. End of conversation.”
Tension filled the bedroom as Patrick clicked off the reading light and turned over without kissing Carol goodnight.
During the next three weeks, the deep freeze appeared to be thawing outside, but not within the walls of the O’Brien home. The couple talked civilly enough and went about their daily responsibilities without arguing, but the air was cool and strained. They had never stayed angry with each other this long and it was beginning to wear on them both. Patrick was tired all of the time from his inability to sleep. He also felt like a fraud when he was asked to counsel a young couple with marital problems and he couldn’t solve his own. Carol felt generally run down. Her head hurt and her stomach was queasy.
Finally, Patrick broke the chill, bringing home a bottle of wine and a dozen roses. Meekly, he handed them to her, “I’m really sorry. I have been a major pain in the ass. I didn’t realize your work was that important to you and I should have. Let’s forget about our quarrel. You deserve the same consideration for your work as I do mine.”
Hugging him, she said, “I’m sorry too, Patrick. I have acted badly, like the spoiled brat I can sometimes be. Just give me six months for my photographs. I think, now, I can have them done by then and with the other part, it won’t matter if I’m pregnant.”
“You’re the boss. Now let’s have some wine and catch up on the last few weeks.” He poured them both a glass and leaned to kiss her.