As Rebecca pulled Ben’s nightshirt overhead and dropped it on the floor, she prayed all the germs, if any, stuck to the outer clothing she’d put on as makeshift hazmat suit. For thirty seconds, she immersed her hands in a large bowl filled with whiskey. Then she scrubbed them with soap and water. To finish off her routine, she tied a bandana around her head to cover her mouth and nose. Change four of the day complete.
Ben was in the kitchen, a black sailor’s rag secured over his mouth and nose. Rebecca would have laughed if Felicity didn’t have smallpox. The two parents looked like a pair of bandits headed either to a Halloween party or to town to hold up the local bank.
“Have I mentioned of late how fetching you are, Becca?”
The teasing in Ben’s voice drew out Rebecca’s sense of humor. She batted her eyelashes at him. “It must be my nursing skills.”
“Ah, lass. I believe it is your bedside manner.”
“Do not scold me for missing my wife. Our bed is cold and lonely without thee.”
“I miss you too, Ben. I need your arms around me. Four nights is too—” Rebecca shook her head. “I cannot, will not, risk the slightest chance of contamination. Three weeks, not a moment less, though we know it could be longer.”
“Nay, my love. Three weeks, and not a moment more. Felicity shall be well, and we shall be together on Christmas Eve.” Ben pointed to the six-inch steel star hanging in the kitchen window. Last year, her second Christmas in the eighteenth century, Rebecca had asked if they could make a few ornaments to hang around the house. Ben hired the local blacksmith to weld a dozen stars, which Rebecca hung in their windows.
“I love you, Benjamin Reed.” She would be forever grateful for the amazing man standing before her. She’d seen his faith, character, and heart the first day they met, and she’d given her heart to him somewhere between a game of cards and a visit from General George Washington. The memories stirred a welcome warmth through Rebecca’s veins.
“Your mask cannot hide the sweet blush coloring your beautiful face. Dare I ask of what you think?”
Rebecca giggled. “Never you mind. In three weeks’ time, I will divulge my secret.”
Ben narrowed his gaze. “I shall not forget to ask thee.”
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