Love in a Thousand Pictures – Extended Epilogue

Kimberly bustled through the door, with two-year-old Anthony trailing behind her. “Here are the things you asked for.” Kimberly set a stack of folders down in front of her. 

Martha smiled at her sister. Her sister had been working with her for the past six months, and so far, it was working out wonderfully. Martha looked around at the nice office space that had been in the works for a while now. After a lot of indecision, she and Reed had opened a small advertisement company. Reed ran the business side of it, and Martha took the pictures. She made advertisement brochures to make companies look good. 

Reed coached small farms on their productivity and other areas of their business.

“So, how is the baby?” Kimberly asked. 

Martha pressed her hand to her stomach. She finally understood what Kimberly had been going through when she first came to live in Etinbay, Wisconsin, almost two and a half years ago. She was six months pregnant, and she was both terrified and in love with pregnancy. 

“I think she is doing well. Is it weird that I’m calling her a she? I really think it will be a girl. I can just feel it.” 

“You know, I think it might be a girl too. People say that when your belly is rounder like that, it means it will be a girl.” 

Martha giggled. “You don’t really believe in that sort of stuff, do you?”

“Maybe. I guess we’ll see when the baby is born.” 

“Have you heard from Mom and Dad?” Martha had been paying close attention to her parents. They were selling their home in Chicago to move up to Etinbay, Wisconsin, so they could be close to their daughters and grandchildren.

“Yes, they have a buyer coming to look at the house. There’s also some interesting news about Natalia.” Kimberly wiggled her eyebrows. 

“Seriously? He proposed?”

“He did! I can’t believe it. She’s only been seeing Gregory for eight months, and he’s already proposing.” 

Martha nodded her head. “I can believe it. Remember, Reed and I were only seeing each other for less than three months, and he proposed to me.” 

“I guess you’re right.” Kimberly shook her head. “That seems like so long ago. Now that you live here, I can’t imagine what it was like before you did. It just seems so normal to drive over to your house and spend the afternoon together.” 

“I know what you mean. I was looking forward to Natalia living here too. I guess she will probably stay in Chicago.” 

“I sort of suspected she would.” Kimberly shrugged. “She’s always been a bit of a city girl.” 

“I don’t know. I used to consider myself a city girl, as you put it, but now I wouldn’t trade the country for anything.”

“I know what you mean.” 

Anthony was pulling at Kimberly’s skirt. 

“Up! Up!” he reached his chubby little arms up, begging to be held. Kimberly scooped him up and settled him on her hip. “He’s going to have a hard time sharing me when the new little one gets here.” Kimberly touched her belly. She was pregnant with her second baby. 

They were two weeks apart, but both Martha and Kimberly were hopeful that the two children would be born close together. It was their dream that the children would both be girls and best friends. 

“He had better learn to share. I remember how he was when he was little. If this new baby is anything like him, you are going to be pretty busy, and this time, I will be busy too.” 

“I feel bad for him, having to give up mine and Zack’s attention all at once. We should get going. I promised Zack we would meet them at the diner. He and Reed wanted to have lunch with us.” 

“Okay, I am just going to finish filing these.” Martha took the rest of the folders and put them in their respective places in the filing cabinet. She kept very careful records of everything that she did so that if she ever needed anything, she would know exactly where to find it. It was one of the most important things of running a business. 

Martha hurried out the door behind Kimberly, pulling out a ring of keys and locking the door. Her office was right in the center of Main Street. It was close to everything pretty much. Most days, Reed worked with her in the office for a couple of hours as he could. However, there were times where she didn’t see him for half the day because he was back at the farm, keeping things running smoothly.   

The day was a sunny one, and the bright light nearly blinded Martha. She liked the shelter of her office some days, where she could hide out and forget about the rest of the world. The diner that Kimberly was talking about wasn’t far. It was just a couple of blocks down the street. It was a diner they all loved, and they ate there pretty frequently. 

Reed and Zack were out front waiting for them when they arrived. 

“We were about to go and find you. It took you both forever,” Reed joked. 

“We did not take forever. I just heard that the plan was to eat here.” Martha loved the fact that she and Kimberly were best friends, and so were their husbands. A certain part of her had always worried about marrying a man who wouldn’t be friends with her sisters or their husbands. She didn’t have to worry about that with Reed and Zack. 

“Come on; we already reserved a table. Not that there are many people in here today.” Zack held the door open. 

“Papa!” Anthony reached for Zack. 

“Do you want to take him? He misses you.” Kimberly held Anthony out. “Besides, it’s hard for me to carry both of the children.” 

Zack chuckled. “I’m not sure if that is how it works.” 

“It most certainly is how it works.” Kimberly waited for Martha, and the two of them walked in together. Martha was pretty sure they looked like they were twins. With their same-colored hair, their swollen bellies, and the way they walked, they certainly were similar. The men had reserved their normal table by the window. 

“This looks good.” Reed pulled out a chair for Martha. “There you go. Be careful.” He reached out and cradled her elbow as she sat. 

Martha swatted him away. “I can do it, Reed.” Martha laughed. It seemed that Reed had been increasingly protective of her the more anyone could tell that she was pregnant. She wasn’t useless. In fact, she could do most anything she had been able to do before she had gotten pregnant.  

“Okay, okay. I just don’t want you to slip and fall or anything.” 

Martha smiled at him to show she wasn’t upset.

Once everyone was sitting down, Zack passed menus around the table. 

“I hear that their ice cream and any milk products they serve here are really good all of a sudden, as of two days ago.” 

“What?” Martha asked, her mouth dropping. “You got the contract?”

“I did! What do you think we are celebrating?” Reed grinned from ear to ear. Martha hadn’t seen him so happy since he found out they were expecting. He had been hounding this diner trying to get a deal with them to purchase their milk from his farm for a long time now. Martha was so proud of him for finally doing it. 

The bell above the doorway jingled, and Reed turned toward it. “I might have invited one more person to have lunch with us.” 

Martha turned to see who it was. Andrew was walking through the restaurant. He looked hesitant. His hair was pushed back in a tousled manner, which made her think he had been running his hands through it. He scanned the diner, his eyes finally landing on Reed and their table. 

“As all of you know, Andrew and I have been working on the farm together a lot. I figured this was as much his accomplishment as it was mine.” Reed motioned to the empty seat he had left. 

“Thank you for having me, everyone.” Andrew sat down. He didn’t look relaxed, but like he expected to be kicked out at any minute. 

“It’s not an issue, Andrew. You deserve to be here.” Reed called the waiter over, and everyone started to order. Martha caught Reed’s eyes through the chaos. She was so proud of him. First, he had made huge strides to fix things with his dad, and now Andrew. They were coming closer and closer to becoming a family after all. 

—*—

“You wouldn’t have believed it! I have never seen Reed so shocked in my entire life.” Andrew doubled over in laughter, and Reed, as well as everyone else, joined in. 

“So, the cow just kicked him? I can’t believe it did that. I bet he deserved it, though.” Martha looked like she was enjoying herself. 

“I guess I did deserve it.” Reed chuckled. “Maybe I hadn’t quite learned to respect cows at that age. I was only nine.” Reed remembered those times of his childhood as some of the best moments of his life. 

“You know, I have never seen the two of you get along this well,” Kimberly spoke up. Reed was pretty certain that she was just voicing what everyone was thinking. 

“We have been getting along a little better with all the practice we’ve had lately.” Everyone knew how much Andrew had been helping him with the barn. Whenever Reed had a little extra money, they would invest it in materials and build more on the barn. It was coming along quite nicely, and soon, they would have a full barn for their animals again. Reed was pretty sure that Andrew was as excited about their progress as he was. It was nice to share something in common after so long. 

He had missed working with his brother like that. 

“Has anyone heard about the supermarket?” Zack said suddenly. His words made everyone stop. 

“What happened with it? I was trying to find out, but no one had heard anything a few months back.” When they had bought the land out from under the supermarket trying to come to town, Reed had expected some sort of backlash. He had seen the supermarket developer briefly in town. Hate was a mild word to describe how the man had looked at him. 

“They opened up in Bright Ridge, Wisconsin.” 

“You mean the Bright Ridge Wisconsin that is two hours away from here?” Reed asked. 

“Yes, that one. I know that it is closer than any of us would like, but at least they didn’t open here in our town. You know, we all have you to thank for that.” Zack motioned to Reed. Andrew blushed and looked down. Reed knew he was thinking about the fire that almost cost Martha her life. 

“No, it was a team effort. Because of all of us, that supermarket isn’t in this town right now. I’m not sure we can keep them away forever, but at least it buys us some time.” Reed laughed and moved the conversation on. It was good to know what had happened with the big store after all, but he didn’t care too much about it anymore. He had kept it from getting its hold on their town, and that was what they had wanted. For now, their farms and their businesses were safe. 

Reed knew some people wished their town would grow with more advancements and establishments, but he, for one, was happy with the way things were. He liked living in a small town where he felt safe. He loved knowing and trusting his neighbors, and he loved having his family close. Etinbay, Wisconsin was perfect the way it was, and Reed hoped it would stay that way for a long time.

—*—

Reed raced around the truck and opened the door for Martha. “Let me help you down.” Reed offered her his hand. 

“Thank you. I could do it on my own, you know.” 

“I know, but you don’t have to. That is the important part.” Reed made sure to steady Martha until she was safely on the ground. He knew that he came off as overprotective, but he wanted to make sure that both Martha and his unborn baby were safe. 

The bigger her stomach grew, the more of a reminder they were expecting a new member of their family. He couldn’t wait until there were three of them instead of two. He wanted to have a little one to follow him around and ask to help with the chores. He had seen the way Anthony adored Zack. 

“That was nice, to have lunch with everyone. What made you invite Andrew?” Martha asked. Reed knew she wanted him to reconcile with his family even more than what he had already done. But, he also knew she would never pressure him into something that he wasn’t ready to do. 

“While we’ve been working, we’ve actually resolved a lot of issues. I’m not saying that everything is behind us, but it is certainly close. I love Andrew despite our past. He’s my brother, and I think that I want him to be a part of our family if he can be.” 

“I like that. It was nice to see the two of you reminiscing today. Are we going to visit your dad again this weekend?” Martha asked. Ever since their first visit to his dad’s house in the retirement community, Reed and Martha had started a bit of a tradition to go every weekend. At first, their visits were short and awkward. No one wanted to be the first to ask for forgiveness or say something that might put themselves in a vulnerable position. 

Slowly, they had grown in confidence, and the bond between them grew. Reed was pretty certain that his dad liked Martha better than he ever liked his last girlfriend. Reed wasn’t sure if his dad would admit it, but he would bet money that it was true. 

“Yeah, I was planning to go. Do you want to go? I know you’ve been tired lately.” 

“Reed!” Martha scolded. She hated it when he over-protected her because of the baby. “Just because I am tired doesn’t mean that I can’t come with you to visit your dad. I can sleep in the car if I get tired, you know.” 

Reed smiled. “Yes, you could sleep in the car.” Reed narrowly missed a playful blow to his shoulder. Even though he joked with Martha about her condition, he actually really did worry about her. He had seen Kimberly go through this two years ago, and he knew that it was Martha who was going to suffer the most bringing their child into the world. 

“Do you think your parents will move here in time for the baby’s birth?” 

“I don’t know. Maybe. If not, they will come visit, I think. I can’t believe they are already going to have three grandchildren. Can you believe it?”

“I can. Our baby is going to be my dad’s first grandbaby. I have a feeling he is going to like being a grandparent. My mom would have liked to meet our baby.” Sadness washed over Reed. He remembered how his mother used to joke about grandchildren when he and Andrew were much too young to get married. His mother had always wanted grandchildren. He wished she had lived long enough to see the day when they were born. She would have loved Martha. He was certain of that. He could already imagine the two of them sitting on the couch, making jokes and telling funny stories. 

Martha and his mother were similar types of people. They were the type of people who found joy in every situation and had a story for every single moment. He loved those sorts of people. He loved how his mother had made all of them feel. 

“Maybe your mother will be watching from heaven. I think she is very proud of you.” 

“That means a lot to me to hear. I certainly hope so. Even though she isn’t here anymore, I try always to keep her close to my heart. I want to tell our kids all about her, and hopefully, one day, they will tell their kids about her. Maybe that way, she will be remembered for a long time.” 

“I think that is a wonderful idea.” Martha gave him a hug, her stomach bumping against him. He touched it with the palm of his hand. 

“I can’t wait to meet him or her. She is going to look just like you.” 

“I think she will look like you. It seems like you have the stronger genes.” Reed laughed as he wrapped his hand around her waist and led her up to the porch. When they walked in through the door, Reed smiled. The house no longer looked like it had before he married Martha. She had changed everything in his life, including the house. It looked like a home now. It was nothing but a shell before, and Reed could see that now. 

“I wanted to ask you if you can help me in the nursery? I wanted to put a picture up.” Martha pulled him down the hall to the little room they had designated as the nursery. It was across the hall from the bedroom he shared with Martha. Reed was pretty certain that the baby would be sleeping with them for the first few months, but he didn’t mind helping Martha make a nursery. He didn’t mind helping her with anything. 

He loved seeing her happy. Reed followed her with a smile. Even though they were still waiting on the third member, they already felt like a family. 

THE END


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25 thoughts on “Love in a Thousand Pictures – Extended Epilogue”

    1. I loved the book and the extended epilogue. I especially liked how you keep their faith so alive in your stories!

    2. I share the same sentiments as previous respondents. Your writing makes the scenes come alive. This extended epilogue gives closure to Reed and Martha ,that they did marry, also the families’ connections are awesome. I felt the cool breeze when Reed and Martha first sat on the overhang of a rock, I smelt the fire and the heat and discomfort with Martha. Thank you for sharing your talents.

  1. This was a thoroughly enjoyable book. I love the feeling of family and the strong love these couples have for each other. You have done a magnificent job of developing your characters and showing how important forgiveness is, even in very difficult circumstances. Thank you for a wonderful story.

  2. A charming story Leslie, about finding a place to thrive in and the right people to help you. The theme of forgiveness is an important part.
    Very enjoyable.

  3. This is a very good story about love and family and friends and forgiveness Also holding on to family legacy A very good extended epilogue also

  4. This was a good book and I appreciated it being a clean read. Wondered if the towns in Wisconsin (Etinbay and Bright Ridge) are made up? Out of curiosity, having been born and raised in Wisconsin, I Googled them but could not find either one.

  5. Thank you for the beautiful story. I loved and enjoyed reading this amazing journey of adventure and romance. Wonderful characters and story line with lots of twists and turns throughout. Very interesting and entertaining with all the characters so inspiring and heartfelt faith in family and friends. An absolutely excellent extended epilogue for the growing family. Love and faith conquering all to a happy ending. Wow, what a story!!

  6. I love the way you showed how it affects the whole family when you lose a loved one, and how important forgiveness is. Your characters are strong and rich in personality.

  7. Great story! The characters were so realistic. I felt like they were friends by the end. Great extended epilogue, too. Can’t wait to read more of your work.

    Teresa Bye

  8. This was a really great story. It just exemplified the accomplishments that can happen when people want it badly enough. Family ties were so important too. It was great to see them love and support each other.

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