Continuing story: Part 1

"... And here's a special request from Sally on the station that plays your favorites. This is WREQ, voice of greater River Run..."

The first tell-tale notes of 'Sentimental Journey' wailed from the living room, reaching Ginger Metcalf in the kitchen. She swallowed hard as she heard Doris Day's voice, but it did little to get rid of the fist-size lump in her throat.

Oh, they would have to play this song right now, wouldn't they, she thought, taking a deep breath to compose herself. Upstairs her husband was making quite a racket in his sorry attempt to pack--Ginger dreaded the sight of their bedroom once Hurricane Jeff was done with it--and here she was, one more song away from crying.

It wasn't as if she was normally like this, either. All her life, Ginger had prided herself on always being cool, calm, and collected. Well--all right, maybe not always calm, and maybe not always collected either, but definitely always in control.

This just wasn't like her, to be so emotional over Jeff leaving for Spring Training. This was their third one since they had been together, and she had certainly been a baseball wife long enough now to know that this was simply a fact of life. Of course, her mother-in-law would be quick to assure her that it was probably her 'condition' that made her so sensitive lately, but she knew it was more than that.

This time it was different. This year she was pregnant with their first baby, and if there were ever a time that she needed Jeff most, it was now. This was an experience she wanted to share with him, and now he was going to be away for two months of it.

Two months.

Well, no use dwelling over this, she told herself. After all, didn't she always say that it was best to accentuate the positive? With care, she folded over the wax paper and wrapped the last of the pimento cheese sandwiches she had made for his bus trip. The sound of urgent footsteps barreling down the stairs startled her at first, until she felt Jeff's arms slide around her waist moments later.

"I've still got time for a quick dance," he whispered, his breath tickling her ear. He turned her around to face him and led her by the hand to the living room, where WREQ was now playing 'You Made Me Love You.'

"You know in a few weeks you won't be able to do that anymore," Ginger said.

"Dance with my wife?"

She giggled, in spite of herself. "No, put your arms around me. You won't be able to put your arms around me 'cause I'll be as big as a house..."

He spun her around and pulled her towards him again. "Don't be silly, you won't be that big, and besides," he leaned in an said in his husky baritone, "you'll still be as sexy as Hedy Lamarr."

She raised an eyebrow at him.

"Without missing a beat, he said, "Sexier even."

"Good answer," she teased.

The song was beginning to fade, and he playfully placed his fedora on her head and tipped it forward so it covered her eyes.

"I'm going to miss you something awful," he said.

She pushed the brim up so she could see him again, and it was all she could do not to cry at the sight of him as he was about to leave her.

"I know how you won't get to eat till late," she finally said, "so I packed you a sandwich for the bus..."

"Pimento cheese?"

She smiled and nodded. "Yes, pimento cheese. And I put in a slice of applesauce cake in there, too... I-I thought you might like that..." She almost cringed at how silly that all must have sounded. Here she was, saying goodbye to her husband, whom she wouldn't see for two whole months, and all she could talk about was applesauce cake?

He lifted her chin to look at him and flashed her an irresistible lop-sided grin that was meant to let her know in not so many words that he knew what she meant, even if she never could find the right way to say these things.

"I'll be thinking of you the whole time, too," he whispered, taking back the fedora from her and kissing her tenderly on her forehead. He bent down close to her belly. "And you too, little fella... You take care of your mama for me, all right?"

Ginger felt the baby move in response to Jeff's voice and she giggled at the still-strange sensation that she hadn't quite gotten used to yet.

"So we have a deal?" She pulled him upright again. "Everyday, you call me at 8:30, on the dot. Rain or shine, I will be by the phone, waiting for your call."

He gave her another smile that made her swoon. "Yes ma'am," he said, with a mock salute that made Ginger laugh out loud. "Wherever I am, I will hunt down a telephone and call you, and may lightning strike me if I am even a minute late."

"Very funny, buster."

"I love you. Gin."

He gave her one last quick kiss before he walked out the door and waved at her from the walkway, and as he got in the car, she murmured, "I love you too..."


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