The Adventures of Ratha James: Part Nine
The room fell silent for a moment as each woman struggled with her own heartbreak. Seeing Joona’s swollen stomach unleashed a torrent of fresh hatred in Amalee’s heart for the monster she had wed. If not for Derek’s brutal lusts, she too would be carrying her first child by now. He had stolen much from her in the months since their wedding, but sitting in this quiet from with her friends so near, Amalee felt the depth of the injustice anew. But as powerful as her hate was, it was tinged with a strange sort of relief as well. With no child, there was nothing linking her to Derek but a name, unpleasant perhaps but remedied easily enough with a lie. Perhaps it was best the only thing she took from her marriage was herself. Thinking back to the wrenching fear and perils of just the last few days of flight, she blanched whiter than snow. Escaping with a child, even one unborn would have been nearly impossible, she may not have made it — though she would have perished trying, to save the child if not herself.
With a war of emotions blazing across her face, she looked up to find Joona’s sharp green gaze upon her, taking in her tattered, dirt-streaked appearance with a calm that only St. Clare possessed among them. Amalee flushed a heated scarlet to be seen in such a disgraceful manner in her friend’s elegant home, but there was no judgment in Joona’s gaze, only love, and a readiness to do what must be done. It was when her eyes moved to Maddie that Amalee saw them widen with suppressed tears.
Oh Maddie…my poor Maddie.
Cursing herself as a fool for thinking only of her own woes, she turned and felt her heart splinter at the sight of such longing and grief as was etched into Maddie’s lovely face. If ever a woman deserved a child to love and raise in happiness, it was Madeline…fate had been cruel indeed to take this possibility from her.
As one, Amalee and Joona silently rose and went and knelt by their friend, wrapping her into a tight embrace that spoke of more love than words could ever hope to. For several long minutes the three women held one another safe, Joona with the fierceness of a fledgling mother, Madeline with the tender hope of an innocent soul, and Amalee with the raw determination of a survivor.
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