Gnarled fingers of smoke seeped under the closed door of the old house. Fear threatened to steal Lovina’s ability to obey her husband’s departing words to stay put. She eyed a door in the bedroom that led outside. Could she get to it on her own?
Her husband and the midwife had left her about ten minutes ago. Isaac was trying to put out the kitchen fire, and Rachel was going to the phone shanty to call the fire department. Maybe Rachel never made it to the shanty. Perhaps she was down the hallway of the birthing center, delivering the other woman’s baby.
Lovina’s head swam from exhaustion and the muddled thoughts of a woman who’d taken something for pain—although she couldn’t recall what. This was her sixth baby, and each birth had been easier than the one before . . . until this time. She didn’t understand.
Another hard contraction engulfed her. She grabbed the rails of the birthday bed, panting and trembling as she squeezed the warm metal mercilessly. When the pain eased, she drew a breath. “Rachel?” Her usually strong voice came out as a mere whisper. Even the sharp ears of a midwife wouldn’t have heard that, especially not over the commotion of a kitchen fire.
The last time Rachel had checked Lovina’s progress, she’d barely dilated to five centimeters. But she had an overwhelming urge to start pushing. Could she walk to the hallway door in this state?
Like storm clouds gathering, dark thoughts of what might be ahead filled her mind. Were Isaac and Rachel so busy putting out the fire that she would give birth by herself? Had her husband and her friend been overcome with smoke? What had begun as a kitchen fire could easily spread throughout this old house, like setting a box of matches on fire, she imagined.
Squelching her sense of panic, she tried to scoot to the edge of the bed. Her round belly and aching body had no agility, and with the rails latched in place, she couldn’t shift to get around them. Breathing hard, she lay back on her pillow, drenched in sweat.
The oppressive heat made trying to move even harder. It did little good to have the windows open when there wasn’t even a slight breeze stirring the sticky air.
Smoked billowed under the door now, and a gray mass of it passed by the window like rolling fog. Her husband’s horse was tethered to a hitching post not more than twenty feet away. While Lovina had been at at the clinic last night, Isaac had stayed with their other children. Then he’d ridden here bareback. The horse stomped and reared, trying to break free, probably afraid of the swelling smoke.
As the seconds ticked by and the muscles throughout her torso worked together to force the child from her, nothing else seemed to exist. She pushed with all she had. “Rachel!” The groaning that often came with this phase of labor caused her voice to return, and she intended to use it. “Isaac! The baby’s coming!”
Excerpted from Ties That Bind by Cindy Woodsmall Copyright © 2015 by Cindy Woodsmall. Excerpted by permission of WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Cindy Woodsmall is a New York Times and CBA best-selling author who has written seventeen works of fiction. Her connection with the Amish community has been widely featured in national media outlets. In 2013, the Wall Street Journal listed Cindy as one of the top three most popular authors of Amish fiction. Cindy and her husband reside near the foothills of the North Georgia Mountains.
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