Liam shook his head, his gaze trailing after their son. “If I had half his energy, I’d be over the moon.” The sound of Liam’s laughter washed over her like a warm blanket. It tugged at something deep inside her. She knew his laugh. The deep, throaty sound of it was familiar. It was as if she’d always known it.
She couldn’t escape the fact that being back here in Love was stirring up her memories. It hadn’t even been a full twenty-four hours and she’d remembered several meaningful things. Perhaps being here was the healing balm she needed.
“I remembered something...or someone,” she blurted. “It happened this morning when I woke up.”
“You did?” Liam asked, his handsome face lit with surprise.
“Yes,” she said with a nod. “This might sound like an odd question, but did someone close to us make the bed in the guest room?”
Liam chuckled. “Someone very near and dear to your heart. Your brother. In addition to being a volunteer fireman, he’s also a very skilled woodworker. He made that for us when we moved into this house. It was his creative way of presenting us with a housewarming gift.”
Ruby clapped her hands together. “I knew it! His face came to mind, and it was such a vivid recollection. He had this huge smile and it gave me such a good feeling about him.”
“Being here seems to have triggered your memories.”
“It’s pretty staggering, but I would have to agree with you,” Ruby said. “As we were flying over Kachemak Bay, this feeling of familiarity began to gnaw at me. The moment the seaplane landed in Love, I got goose bumps.” She shivered at the recollection then wrapped her arms around her middle. “There was this feeling of déjà vu. I knew I’d been here before even though I didn’t have specific memories to ground me. It was palpable.”
Liam stared at her, his eyes assessing. “I know you hadn’t planned on staying in Love, but now that you know about Aidan...would you consider staying in town for a while so the two of you can work on rebuilding your relationship?”
Even though it was the last thing she’d expected to hear, a feeling of calm settled over her. Love, Alaska, was so lovely and quaint and unlike anything she’d known in Denver. Was it possible that she might find roots in this quaint fishing village? In coming here, her sole goal had been to discover her identity. Naively, she had imagined that once she dug up her past she would return to Denver. Finding out about her family had changed everything. God had other plans for her. She knew He had planted her exactly where she needed to be.
Aidan belonged to her. And for the last two years, there hadn’t been a single person or place she’d felt this way about. It was love—primal, gut-wrenching love that emanated from her very core. What she felt for her son surpassed anything else she might feel about the situation. It was still nerve-racking, and she was still afraid, but she wanted to see things through in Love. Ruby wanted to build relationships rather than fumble through life without any meaningful connections.
There were still a few questions rattling around inside her head. “How would that work, Liam? What about my job?” Even though her waitressing gig was no great shakes, she depended on it for income.
“If you’re worried about money, I’ll write you a check for the money that was in your savings account. After you were officially declared deceased, the monies were transferred over to my account.” He scratched his jaw. For the first time she noticed a slight five-o’clock shadow. It only served to make him more ruggedly attractive. “And I’ve been holding on to the majority of your personal belongings—clothes, jewelry, toiletries.” He made a face. “The thought of getting rid of everything seemed too final.”
“That’s understandable. It would have made it too final, I imagine.” Sadness swept over her at the thought of Liam having to perform that solemn duty. He seemed like such a strong man, but it spoke volumes about his grief that two years in and he hadn’t been able to dispose of her belongings.
“We’re going to have to contact the authorities so they can reverse their declaration about your status. That way you can get an Alaskan driver’s license and credit cards with your name on them.”
“I have a Colorado driver’s license. When I lived with Trudy and Ezra they let me tool around with their car. I figured out pretty quickly that I knew how to drive.”
“You learned to drive at fifteen,” Liam explained. “An accomplishment that you were quite proud of. Your father showed you the ropes.”
Her father. Other than a feeling of happiness when she thought of her childhood, there still wasn’t much of a memory of him. Or her mother. It saddened her, particularly since they were no longer living. She would never have the opportunity to see them again or share her life with them.
“So, if I decide to stay in Love for a period of time, how would it play out between us?” She fumbled with how to express herself. “I know we’re still married, so I’m just wondering.”
She wasn’t sure if he would expect her to work on their relationship, as well. After all, they were husband and wife. Did he still love her? Would her feelings for Liam come back to her in one fell swoop?
“I don’t have any more answers about our marriage than you do, if that’s what you’re asking. There’ll be plenty of time in the future to figure that out. For now, Aidan comes first. That’s where our focus should be.”
She let out a relieved breath. Working on a marriage when she didn’t remember her husband would have been extremely difficult. Not to mention awkward. Now if she could just stop staring at the little cleft in his chin and his wide shoulders.
“I know it might not be easy to leave your job and friends behind for an extended period, but I think we can both agree that our son’s needs should come before anything else.”
Ruby shrugged. “My life in Denver is...small. I don’t have a large circle of friends. And my job...well, let’s just say that I’m not saving lives the way you do. It’s not the stuff of which dreams are made.” She bowed her head, feeling embarrassed at what she’d just revealed.
Before she knew it, Liam’s fingers were at her chin, lifting it so that their eyes were level. Compassion flared in his eyes. “Hey. Don’t down yourself. You’ve been on a torturous journey these last few years. I can’t even imagine how difficult your life has been. And it strikes me that you’re just as brave as you’ve always been. You may not have been saving lives on rescue missions for the past two years, but you’ve been putting one foot in front of the other and surviving. That’s huge.”
They looked into each other’s eyes as an electric pulse crackled in the air around them. Her eyes shifted to his lips. They were full and perfectly shaped. What would it be like to be kissed by this tender, giving man? It was sad that she couldn’t remember what it felt like to be kissed. Or to be held by someone who loved her. She let out a sigh. Sometimes it felt as if those days were behind her.
“I want Aidan to have a mother,” Liam said in a strangled voice.
She fiddled with her fingers. “I do, too, but I don’t know how to
be that. I’m going to have to learn how all over again.” Even though the thought of it was terrifying, it was also invigorating. Heartwarming. Being someone’s mother gave her a purpose in life outside of herself. For the last two years there hadn’t been anything that inspired or motivated her. She had basically been putting one foot in front of the other and trudging through life. That wasn’t living! It was merely existing.