Abigail placed yet another pan of cornbread in the oven. She had been working non-stop since the breakfast rush. She had thought of calling in reinforcements since she was still a bit weak from her illness, but everyone else was just as busy and she was determined to pull her own weight. A new group of settlers had arrived just as a round of terrible storms hit the area. The whole town was pulling together to clean up and to offer assistance. Blankets and food and supplies were being sent out daily it seemed. Abigail sent what she could and then got to work cooking for the volunteers. And they were definitely a hungry bunch.
She heaved a big sigh and decided to sit for a moment. She found that she could keep going if she took small rests. She closed her eyes for a moment and let herself drift. Fuzzy pictures streamed through her mind. With a sharp intake of breath, her eyes popped open and she felt her cheeks warm. 'Please, oh please let that be a dream!" she thought anxiously. She held no real memories during the time she was out of it, but fuzzy conversations kept repeating themselves in her head. She prayed that they were dreams and that she hadn't really said any of those things out loud. Frank had been so busy helping the settlers that she had barely seen him. Which was just fine with her. She shuddered to think what he must think of her . . . IF those conversations were real.
Abigail groaned and hurried to stir the soup. Had she actually demanded that he kiss her? No, it just wasn't possible and that was that. It was her delirium that caused her to dream. That was all. No need to be embarrassed when she next saw him and no need to apologize. She would act as if nothing at all was wrong and he would never have a clue. But what IF SHE HAD said those things out loud? Another groan escaped as the door to the cafe opened and the first wave of volunteers entered ready for food. She quickly pushed the embarrassing thoughts to the back of her mind and set about feeding the hungry crew.
Abigail hummed as she finished up the dishes. Rosemary, Clara and Elizabeth had come to help her with the lunch and dinner rushes. They had been out helping at the camp earlier in the day and were all exhausted by the time dinner was over. Abigail sent them away to find some rest and for once they were all too tired to argue. Clara had helped Cody to bed and now all was quiet. Truth be told, she enjoyed this time of night when all was silent and it was just her and her kitchen. It was peaceful.
Startled she jerked around to find Frank standing just inside the door. "Frank! You startled me."
"Sorry." His smile was weary and Abigail felt the pull at her heart. "I haven't seen you much since you recovered. Just wanted to check in on you."
She knew her cheeks had gone bright pink and so quickly turned away. "Oh, you needn't have bothered. I'm sure you are exhausted. Jack said that you were working non-stop half the night and all through the day." She began wiping the counter as though it held some invisible stain.
"Yes." Was his voice closer? "We were able to get some temporary shelters set up. They won't hold for long, but they will do for the time being." He WAS closer! Without looking directly at him, Abigail crossed to the stove.
"That's good. Do they have enough food?"
"For now." He was right behind her!
"Good. You must be starving. I have some soup and cornbread left. You need to eat." She turned and almost ran into him. Sidestepping his large frame, she hurried to the soup she had just put away. "Oh! There are a couple of biscuits left if you would rather. Or you can have both." She knew she was babbling, but couldn't seem to help herself.
"I'll give you both and you can eat what you want."
"Abigail," he said as placed his arm around her waist and pulled her up against him.
"Oh," she breathed and then realized that it was suddenly very difficult to catch her breath.
"I'm more interested in talking."
"Well, I would like to hear more about my chin."
"Um, your chin?"
"Yes. You were particularly fond of it, if I recall. My chin and my hands."
"When was this?"
"When you were sick."
Abigail groaned loudly and dropped her head before trying to wriggle out of his grasp.
"Oh, no you don't." Frank said pulling her back against him.
And then embarrassment left as gumption returned. "Frank Hogan, you let me go this instant!" He chuckled but kept her firmly held against him. "You have no right to listen to anything someone says when they are delirious. People say all kinds of things they don't mean."
"In my experience, it is usually the opposite. That's when you get the absolute truth."
"Frank," she began as she twisted in his embrace, which he allowed. "You -" and then she could say no more as he leaned down and kissed her. She felt her bones liquify as his mouth moved on hers and she melted against him. Finally, he raised his head and smiled down at her.
"I also seem to remember you demanding that I kiss you." There was that chuckle again.
"Well . . . you . . . I . . .I’d say that it is about time you cooperated then.” His laughter filled the room. “Shh! You’ll wake Cody and Clara.”
“Well, we wouldn’t want to do that, would we?” He asked as he lowered his head again.
Abigail sighed as his lips touched hers once again. “Frank?” She said as when he finally pulled back. “Thank you for taking care of me.” He said nothing but offered her a smile. “I don’t normally get sick, I mean, I am usually very healthy but . . . “
“And men aren’t usually the ones doing the nursing. I’m sure you had plenty of other things you could have been doing. It was very kind of you to sit with me and . . . well, I hope that I didn’t do or say anything to . . . when a person is out of their head, they sometimes . . . um . . .”
“I’m just going to come right out and say it –“
"I love you too."