“I’m home, my love!” Gio called as he shut his front door. Their house was one of the oldest in Haven, and thanks to Mary, the most elegant. It was their own personal style, more made for comfort than entertaining. They had lots of space, with a large two stories for just the two of them.
“Ah, finally!” Mary came out to give him a kiss. Her black hair shone against her light blue house dress, made with the lightest linen for summer. “You certainly took your time.”
“I’m dreadfully sorry. You won’t believe the day I’ve had, though.” He followed her into the sitting room. Her camera was set up. “Did you have a Bride come for portraits?”
“No it’s for a new portrait. So,” she said, fiddling with the shutter button and delicately looking into the viewfinder, “did you get my message?”
Gio’s stomach suddenly knotted up on itself.
“Yes, is everythin alright, my love? If I did somethin to make you angry, just tell me what it was and I will do my damndest -”
Mary laughed. “No you ridiculous man, I’m not angry.”
“Oh. Is it your health then? I asked Walt today, but he said you hadn’t been to see-”
“No no, if it were serious you would know, honey.” Mary sat on the arm of the chair across from him. “But yes it has to do with my health.” She went quiet for a moment, studying his face. “I know you love this town, and being the sheriff. And you love me and Elek and Gigi and Walt. You give your whole heart to all of us.”
Oh God Above, Gio thought in panic, She wants to leave Haven. He opened his mouth, but Mary held up a hand to stop him.
“There is so much that you love here, honey. But I have encountered a great change, and I have something to ask you.”
Her face lit up in that angelic smile Gio did indeed love so much. “What I need to ask is; do you think you have love enough for one more?”
Gio stared at her for a moment. His brain was still processing this change from his hasty conclusion.
“One more?” He croaked. “I don’t-”
Then he saw Mary put a hand to her stomach, still smiling. And in that moment, the sheriff’s whole world shifted.
“Mary, my love.” He whispered. He hardly noticed as his hat dropped from his hands. He brought one hand to his mouth, his eyes filling with tears. He reach the other hand out to her. He barely registered the clicking of the shutter. All that mattered was Mary, dropping the shutter button as he swept her up into his arms and kissed her. She kissed him heartily back.
“You are the most wonderful creature in the whole world,” he whispered to her several minutes later. He sat them both back down on the armchair. “And I love you more than anything, but will certainly find room to love a child of ours.”
Mary laughed and leaned her forehead on his. “I love you too, you ridiculous man.”
“…in any case, I’m bringing her to the Goose as soon as Elek opens.” Gio wiped his mouth. “I certainly have work for her in the office. Jones is retiring, and until I find a new deputy I’ll need some help. At least with letters and petitions and all that.”
“Jones is finally retiring. I never thought he would.” Mary drained her water glass. “I can’t wait to meet this woman.”
“I think I made the right call. Not jailin her, I mean. What do ye reckon?”
“Dearest, I would’ve been angry if you had jailed her.” Mary reached across the table and patted his hand, and helped herself to more bread pudding. Trenton, Haven’s baker, had made fresh loaves that morning, just as Mary was walking by the storefront. She told her husband she simply had to buy one loaf for bread pudding. She and their cook worked out a recipe and baked it ahead of the hottest part of the day, to keep the house cooler. Mary and Gio didn’t have many servants, though some of the wealthier townspeople did. They had a cook, who often helped Mary, in an odd reversal of roles, and a girl who came a few days a week to help clean. Otherwise, they did everything themselves, including the washing.
“I’m glad you agree,” Gio said sincerely. “I have an oddly trustful feeling about the lass. Hard to explain. She’s pretty though, I hope Sass takes a shine to her.”
Mary made a dismissive pff noise. “Sass hasn’t had a fancy in all the time I’ve known you two, and that’s since we were all younguns.”
“Yeah but when we were 13 maybe, you didn’t go to school with us, that was the year your father took you out teach you himself. Sass was mad as hops about this girl.”
“Well, nothing. She turned him down when he asked to take her to the races, and then her father inherited and move the family back east.”
“Ah, he moved on. He really got the morbs for a while, but in the end his true love became the bar. I hope he likes Kelly though.”
“A regular matchmaker, you are.”
“Well I certainly made the perfect match for myself.” Gio raised his glass to his wife.
“Indeed,” she laughed. “So, tell me, what is she like, this outlaw woman?”
“I just did?”
“No, you told me what happened, but barely even described what she looks like.”
“Oh,” Gio said. “Well, I suppose she was pretty. She has blonde curly hair. I didn’t do much noticin of the lady, I was more concerned about the bullet in her side. She’s right stubborn, but very intelligent. She liked the horse screen particularly.”
“You’ll have to invite her to dinner, then, so I will get more than curly blonde hair.”
“Mary, my love,” the sheriff said nervously, “I can’t invite an outlaw on trial to have dinner. She may have murdered her husband, for god’s sake!”
“And you just said yourself that you hope your best friend falls in love with her! Now unless you and Sass have had a fallin out that I was not made aware of, that suggests to me that you believe her to be innocent. You also said you found her to be trustworthy enough to not be placed in jail, but rather given a room of her own. In any other man I’d say you were thinkin with your peashooter and not your brain, but I know you. If you say you trust her, then I trust you. If the trial ends against her, then we will simply have been wrong.”
Gio smiled and shook his head. His wife never ceased to surprise him with her logic. “Alright, my love, if you say it is so.”
They passed a very pleasant evening, ending in Mary reading a novel by Jane Austen. New editions had just come from England, and she was finally reading them aloud to Gio as they laid in bed that night. Just as they finished the part where Mr. Bingley raced off to London and left poor Jane Bennet in his dust, Gio fell asleep in the arms of his wife.
And when he awoke, and remembered her news, he thought that Bingley was the biggest fool of whom he’d ever heard in his life.