Sunday Story Sample: Eye of the Beholder

In the third (and final week) of the hero swap, Gavin and Christopher will get a chance to live a scene in Dave’s shoes.

eye of the beholder

Today, I’m posting the scene as it appears in Eye of the Beholder.  During this week, we will get to see how Gavin and Christopher respond in this scene…

Three days later after supper, Susannah was ready to foal.  Dave had set the other animals in the pasture so he could concentrate on the mare.  He inspected her in the stall with a strange feeling of apprehension.  Her water broke as she laid down on the clean straw, but the birth slowed once a hoof poked through.  Twenty agonizing minutes passed without further progress.  He shook his head and examined the irritated mare that grunted and snorted while she struggled to push her foal from her belly.  He took off his shirt so he could wash his arms up to his elbows with the soap and clean water in a bucket waiting for him by the stall.

Mary ran into the barn, her expression controlled in the midst of the stressful situation.  “I brought the clean towels for you.”

“Hold onto them until I ask for them.”

She nodded and stayed back while he rushed to the mare and knelt before her.  His attempt to walk Susannah around so the foal would slide back into the womb and reposition itself failed, so he needed to intervene.  Thankfully, he went through this with his father’s mares, so he knew what to do.

“Easy, Susannah,” he softly said as he stroked her belly.  “I’m going to help you.”

The horse snorted her reply.

His hand followed the foal’s hoof up into the birth canal, making his arm slippery as he kept his other hand on the mare’s belly and braced his knees on the ground so he stayed in place.  At least the hoof out of the womb was a front hoof.  He sought out the other front hoof which was bent to its chest.  He grabbed it, the muscles in his arm and back straining as he pulled the hoof towards the mare’s hind hooves so he could rotate the foal’s head to the birth canal.

Susannah neighed and jerked her head to look at him.

“Your babe will be out soon,” he assured her.

Turning to Mary, who silently watched them, he asked for one of the towels which she handed to him.  The two slippery hooves were safely out of the birth canal, so he took the towel and grabbed them.  He pulled them towards Susannah’s hind hooves, straining against the weight of the animal that struggled to get out of the womb.  When the shoulders and head appeared, he decided to see if the foal would progress without further help.  He backed up and stood next to Mary so he could give the two animals space.

To his relief, the foal’s upper body emerged on its own.  It stopped when its hips were at the threshold of entering the world.

“Do you need to pull it out again?” Mary whispered.

He glanced at her.  “I don’t know yet.  The foal could be resting for a moment.  Birthing can be a lengthy process.”

She nodded and waited expectantly beside him, her hands clenching the second clean towel as she stared at the mare and foal.

Before long, the foal’s hind hooves left the womb and the animal rested against its mother’s belly.  Satisfied, he returned to the bucket of water and dipped the soap into it.

“They’ll lay like that for about fifteen minutes,” he said as he rubbed the soap in his hands.

“I must admit that it was thrilling to watch the birth.” She smiled at the two horses.

“Would you like to name the foal?”

“Really?” Her eyes turned in his direction.

He nodded.

“I’d have to think of a good name.  How did you decide on Susannah?”

“Jenny named her.  I’m no good with picking out names.” After working up a good lather, he spread it on his arms and chest.

“I’ll have to think of one.” Shooting another look at the stall, she smiled.  “It’s not all that different from a human giving birth.  Every birth I’ve been to has been like this.”

“You have to stick your arm up the woman’s birth canal?”

She shook her head, seeming amused at his joke.  “You know, I have seen the midwife stick her hand up there to help rotate the baby so it comes out easier.”

He cringed, not wishing to imagine an entire hand in that area of a woman’s body.  He quickly rinsed his upper body.  “I’m sorry I jested.”

She laughed and rubbed a towel over his arms and chest to dry him off.  “What I meant was that Susannah is already bonding with her foal.  It’s the same way with human mothers.  Despite all the pain and length of the labor, they can’t wait to hold their babies.”

Smiling, he enjoyed the way she fussed over him, making sure she wiped all of the water off of him before she put his shirt on.  “You’ll have your turn,” he promised.

She paused, her fingers on his buttons.

By the pretty shade of pink that rose in her cheeks, he realized he caught her off guard.  His hand cupped the side of her face, his thumb caressing her cheek.  “You’ll make a wonderful mother, Mary.”

Her eyes met his and he detected the unshed tears there.

“Did I say something wrong?”

She blinked and shook her head.  “It’s just that I never thought I’d be a mother.  I mean, I hoped but…” She shrugged.  “It’s hard to explain.” When she looked at him, the tears were gone.  “I’m happy here, Dave.”

Glad to hear that, he wrapped his arms around her and pressed his lips firmly against hers.  He could feel her heart beating with his.  He now fully understood the meaning of two lives becoming one when a couple married.

The mare neighed, and they turned their attention back to the animals.  Susannah stood up.  The foal stumbled but followed suit.  The umbilical cord broke easily under the mare’s hoof.

“They got it from here,” he announced, touched that Mary buttoned his shirt for him.

“I’m glad I was here to watch it.”

His arms felt empty when she went to pick up the bucket and dumped the dirty water in the grass outside the barn.

He retrieved the used towels from the ground and gave them to her.  She plopped both into the bucket and picked up the bar of soap

“I would like to wash these in the river.”

“Alright,” he said.  “I’ll finish cleaning up in here.”

She paused in the entryway of the barn.  “I left you a cup of fresh water and some cut up apples and oranges on the kitchen table.  I thought you might want a snack after all the work you did.”

An unexpected emotion that he didn’t understand tugged at his heart.  “Thank you, Mary.”

She nodded before turning back to the river.

About Ruth Ann Nordin

Ruth Ann Nordin mainly writes historical western romances and Regencies. From time to time, she branches out to other genres, but her first love is historical romance. She lives in Omaha, Nebraska with her husband and a couple of children. To find out more about her books, go to
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4 Responses to Sunday Story Sample: Eye of the Beholder

  1. dorothypaula says:

    Dear Ruth, now I remember why I loved this book so much. It was the first book I read by you, if I remember correctly, and its innocence and gentle sweetness, both in Mary and Dave’s actions and reactions, touched me as no book ever had. Dave and Mary were meant for each other. I seriously doubt Gavin or Christopher will ever fit into Dave’s shoes, with regard to Mary at least. I can’t deny my preference for your Western Historical Romances. It’s the one place that heroes and heroines can be both innocent, sweet and sexy at the same time. 🙂

    I have started reading “His Abducted Bride,” and I believe I’m catching hints of what the mystery is truly about. I’m beginning to see how this story relates to “Across the Stars Series.” I’m forcing myself Not to look at the last page. Let’s see if the hints I’m seeing will lead to the conclusion I’m guessing. This book (in my opinion) has not only fantasy elements, but mystery along with light science fiction. Kudos! Thank you again for the dedication. Have you had time to read my recent Word Press blog in which I mention my dedication to you in my upcoming book. 🙂

    • I prefer historical westerns. I enjoy contemporaries and Regencies, but there is a tenderness I can’t successfully accomplish in those that I can with historical westerns. I guess I tend to view the historical west time period as being one in which men valued and honored women (lifting them higher up on the pedestal) than in other time periods. Part of that stems from the values of the nation during that time. I’d go back in a heartbeat if given a chance. 😀

      I think you’re going to be disappointed with His Abducted Bride because I didn’t put a mystery in it, at least none that I can see. LOL I originally intended to go off on a fantasy tangent and have Sandy go through some obstacles out in the forest and go to the forbidden lake and all, but then I started slowing down and getting bored. My inclination to write fantasy isn’t what it used to be. Now if a story steers away from the romance part of the plot, I lose interest. So I did intend to veer off in one direction but just couldn’t when I got there. That might be what you’re seeing–which is where I had planned to go but never did.

      No, I didn’t read your post yet. I’ve been dealing with some eye trouble (I have dry eyes which get worse from time to time) so I’ve been keeping all my online activity to a minimum to give my eyes time away from the computer. I’m doing better today so I was able to get two more posts done and scheduled for this blog. I plan to catch up as I can with emails and other people’s blogs.

  2. bookwormsimi says:

    I knew you are going to pick a scene like this to make Christopher and Gavin suffer. They can’t compete with Dave in things like this. Are you sure you are not being partial to Dave? 🙂

    P.S. Hope your eyes recover. Reading about your dry eyes problem, I’m now feeling afraid of myself. Maybe I’ll become a blind person after all for these online activities of myself. So worried. I love my computer and internet but at the cost of my eyes! 😦

    • Hehe. I had to pick a scene that would challenge them, and I knew this one would be hilarious with Christopher in it. 😀 Yeah, I guess I’m a little wicked.

      If there’s no other issue going on, dry eyes are common (esp in older women) and don’t cause any damage. They’re just annoying. (This is what I found while researching it.) I find frequent breaks from the computer and closing my eyes with a wet cloth helps a lot. Sometimes I use Visine tear drops and those help too.

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