A Flash Fiction Story To Go With The Marriage Agreement
Ruth Ann Nordin
Wedded Bliss Romances, LLC
Ingrid – Shakespir Edition
Published by Ruth Ann Nordin at Shakespir
Copyright © 2016 by Ruth Ann Nordin
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to any actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
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Cover Photo images Dreamstime. www.dreamstime.com. All rights reserved – used with permission.
This is a flash fiction story. Flash fiction is a story that is 1000 words or less. In this case, I wrote about 1200 words to tell Ingrid’s story. Think of this as the unofficial epilogue to my historical western romance, The Marriage Agreement, which is Book 2 in the Pioneer Series. ()
For those of you who wanted Laura’s mother to get her happy ending after years in a miserable marriage, this one’s for you!
Ingrid Rufus put the flowers on her husband’s grave. She didn’t mourn his passing. Perhaps she should have, but it was hard to feel loss when she’d given up so much of her existence to do his bidding for twenty-five years.
A wife shouldn’t think such a thing. She ought to miss her husband. But the only thing he’d given her that she cared about was her daughter. She turned to Laura, who was holding her one-month-old son, Benjamin. Elliot, who was almost two, walked over to Ingrid.
Ingrid smiled and picked him up.
“Nanny,” he said and wrapped his arms around her.
She chuckled at his nickname for her. “Children are such a blessing,” she told Laura. “And you’re twice blessed because you have these darling angels and a man who loves you.”
“I am,” Laura replied as they headed for the buggy. “But I also have you. That makes for three times the blessing, and Jesse’s much happier having you as a mother-in-law than he ever was with Fanny.”
Wrapping her arm around her daughter’s shoulders, she glanced back at the grave. Though she wouldn’t dare say such a thing to Laura since he was her father, Ingrid couldn’t help but feel free from the burden of being his wife. For the first time in her life, she felt like she could truly breathe.
Three months later
“Mother, there’s a man who said he’d like to talk to you,” Laura said as she came into the kitchen, Elliot on her heels with a wooden horse in hand.
Ingrid looked up from where she was holding Benjamin while she waited for the bread to finish baking in the oven. “You don’t think it’s one of the men your father did business with, do you?”
There had been one who’d written to her, asking about one of the investments that had matured that year. After she had paid him his share, he hadn’t sent her anything else, but who knew if there were other deals she didn’t know about?
Laura shrugged. “I don’t know. Would you like me to get Jesse in case he’s hard to deal with?”
“Well, let me see who it is first. I’d rather not disturb him if I don’t have to.”
She handed the baby to Laura. Taking a deep breath, she went to the front door and stepped onto the porch. The man had his back turned to her, so she couldn’t tell who it was.
“May I help you?” she asked.
He turned to face her, and her heart leapt into her throat. It couldn’t be. Not after all this time. Not when she hadn’t talked to him in twenty-five years. She hadn’t glanced back to see if he was watching as she left the ship. She hadn’t had to. She’d felt the weight of his gaze as she said good-bye to her old life. Even then, she’d worried she had made the biggest mistake of her life in not doing what that coin told her to do.
“Hans?” she asked.
It felt strange to say his name. She hadn’t spoken it since the day she set foot on American soil. Surely, this was an apparition. Just a ghost from her past.
“You haven’t forgotten me?” he asked, that same easy-going smile lighting up his face.
She blinked back her tears. “No. I’ve thought of you every day since we parted ways.”
“I’ve thought of you, too. I hope you don’t mind that I searched for you after we left Ellis Island. I found out you married, so I stayed away.” He put his hands in his pockets and shrugged. “I told myself I should forget you. I even married someone else in an attempt to get on with my life.”
Her smile faltered. Why should she be disappointed? She couldn’t have expected him to wait for her for twenty-five years.
“She was a good wife,” he continued. “We were married for almost nineteen years. She passed away three years ago. We had two children together. A girl and a boy. After the last one married, I thought I’d see how you’ve fared over the years. Your husband had a lot of influence in prominent circles. It wasn’t hard to find you.” He paused. “I hope it doesn’t upset you that I looked for you. I,” he swallowed, “I never forgot you. In all these years, I haven’t been able to get over you, and when I heard your husband died…” He shrugged. “I just wanted to see how you were doing. I hope you don’t mind.”
Now the tears she’d been holding back slid down her cheeks. “You won’t believe this, but I still have something that belongs to you.” She pulled the old coin out of her pocket and showed it to him. “I’ve kept it all these years. I lied to you that day on the ship. When I flipped it, it told me to marry you, but I was too afraid to follow my heart.”
“Ingrid.” He stepped over to her. “Really and truly? You did love me?”
“I always loved you. I think I love you more today than I did back then.”
He cupped her face in his hands and brushed away her tears. “Is it too late to do what that coin told you to?”
“No,” she replied, laughing. “In fact, I want nothing more than a second chance.”
“I was hoping you’d say that.”
She held her breath, wondering if he’d kiss her. They had only shared one kiss while on the ship, but even now her lips tingled at the memory of it. In a bold move she never could have mustered all those years ago, she closed the gap between them and closed her eyes, a silent invitation. And he took it. His lips brushed hers, and she was whisked back to the time in her life when love was new and she had a world of possibilities before her. She’d forgotten how good those feelings were.
When their kiss ended, he took her in his arms and held her. She clung to him for a long time. The years that had passed between them melted away, and it was as if it’d just been yesterday when they last saw each other.
“Mother?” Laura asked from the doorway. “Are you alright?”
Ingrid turned from him and laughed. “Yes, I’m fine. Wonderful, even. Hans, this is my only child, Laura. She’s given me two grandsons, if you can believe it. Laura, this is the man on the ship. The one I told you about.”
Laura’s eyes grew wide. “He is?”
Ingrid glanced at Hans and took his hand in hers. “Let’s go inside. We have a lot of lost time to make up for.”
He squeezed her hand. “We do, but I have a feeling the best is yet to come.”
Returning his smile, she led him into the house.