Continuing story: Part 2

"Two days," Ginger murmured, speaking to no one in particular. She rested her hand on her chin and stared blankly outside the back window in the Metcalf-Kahn kitchen, where she could see the outline of Hank and Al as they were fixing Mikey's old baby buggy for her and Jeff. From the corner of her eye, she saw Anne looking her way, with a small--but unmistakable--smile of amusement. Ginger straightened and smiled sheepishly at her mother-in-law, suddenly realizing how silly she must have looked all this time with her mind a thousand miles away from River Run, Ohio.

In Arizona, to be exact.

"I don't suppose I have to ask you how you're doing," Anne said.

"It's only been two days," Ginger said, trying desperately not to whine. "Only two days, and I'm already wishing I could hop on a bus and visit him!"

Anne reached across the table to squeeze Ginger's hand. "You know he's probably just as miserable as you are."

"You think so?" Somehow Ginger found it hard to believe that anyone could miss a person as much as she missed Jeff right now, although she had noted the crack in his voice every time she talked to him on the phone.

But at least, she thought, he had his teammates and baseball to distract him. All she had was an empty house. She lived for Tuesday nights when she would tape her variety show at WREQ--at least for an hour, she could forget how miserable she was without her husband. The rest of the time, however, it was awfully hard to get through the hours.

She became aware of Anne's eyes on her again, and she felt her cheeks get hot. "Sorry," she muttered in apology. "I get distracted so easily these days..."

Anne gave her a knowing smile. "Ginger, you don't have to explain. It's only natural that you would feel this way, after all. You're having your first baby, and you'd like Jeff to be here. That's perfectly understandable."

"It's just so... quiet at the house," she said. "I try to keep myself busy. I started putting together ideas for the nursery... I even started knitting some baby clothes, can you believe it?" She laughed in spite of herself.

Anne didn't say anything for a while, and her silence made Ginger a little suspicious.

"Ginger," she said, "I just came up with a crazy idea."

Ginger snickered. "I've never been one to turn down a crazy idea," she said. "Just ask your son!"

She saw Anne try to hold in her laughter, which made Ginger want to laugh all the more.

"Well, Mrs. Senniff is getting on in years now," Anne began, "and it's getting hard for her to keep up with Michael. She's been such a dear watching him while Al and I are at work, but I'd hate to burden her with an active toddler..."

Ginger felt a smile forming on her face. "I'd be happy to take care of him-"

"I was hoping you'd say that," she said. "What would you say to staying here in the meantime then, just until Jeff gets back? Hank's found a place near school, and the attic is free again--what do you say?"

"Oh Anne, a-are you sure?" Ginger wanted so badly to say yes, but part of her wondered if her mother-in-law was making the gesture only out of pity for her. The last thing she wanted to be was an intrusion.

"How can you ask a question like that?" Anne laughed. "Of course I'm sure! I hate to think of you all alone in your house, missing Jeff. At least here you'll have us to keep you occupied."

Ginger suddenly felt the urge to throw her arms around Anne. Without warning, she rose from her chair and came around to embrace a surprised Anne, who giggled in her arms.

"Goodness," she managed, in between fits of laughter. "Is that a yes?"

"You bet! I-I'll go home right now and pack--I'll be back later this afternoon, and don't you worry about having to lift a finger. I'm making dinner tonight for everyone!" She rushed to the door then turned around once more to look at Anne. "Thank you," she said.

Anne smiled and nodded. "Thank you, Ginger."

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