Sweetheart's Dance (Part 1)

Author: Kay
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Sunday, February 4, 1945

The Sunday potluck dinner was over, and the ladies had finished cleaning up. Livy was happy to see that Danny was sleeping peacefully next to her chair. She'd gone down to the nursery to feed him, and afterwards Ray carried one of the basinets back to the hall so Danny could nap while Livy visited with her friends. Today, all the talk was about the upcoming Sweetheart's Dance, to be held on Saturday, February 17. Every year, the church sponsored a Valentine's dance. It was a rare occasion for young parents and married couples to have a 'night out'. The teenage kids even provided babysitting for the little ones. It was one of the most anticipated events of the year, a festive night in the midst of the long, dreary winter.

But Livy was frowning. She would love to have a night of dancing with Ray, and of course Valentine's Day was the most romantic time of all. But she didn't fit into any of her nicer dresses. She was having a hard time accepting her "new" shape since she'd had Danny. Oh, she knew it was to be expected, but it was definitely an adjustment. She felt a blush creep over her cheeks and glanced around to see if anyone noticed. The doctor had just seen her for her six-week check up and assured her she could "resume all marital activities". She knew exactly what he meant, but wondered what he would think if he knew that she and Ray had never... She looked across the room at her husband. Though he was listening to his friend Jack, his eyes met hers, and he gave her a quick wink. She smiled back, then bit her lip...if he only knew what she was thinking! Ray was well aware that Doc had given her a clean bill of health, but they both seemed a bit unsure about taking their relationship to the next level. It was as if neither of them was willing to broach the subject, even though they'd been sharing the same bed since Danny's birth.

Over tea with Martha the next day, the talk turned to the dance and Livy's lack of a suitable dress. They decided to go to La Junta on Wednesday, leaving as soon as the kids were in school in order to enjoy a full day of shopping.

Well, the trip to Bea's dress shop was a success! Livy found a lovely smoky gray jumper with burgundy piping. It was simple, but the elegant cut hid her new 'curves', making her feel comfortable and stylish. Martha selected several blouses for Livy to try on and they both agreed that a pale pink one complimented both the jumper and Livy's coloring to a T. It tied in a loose bow at the neckline, and Livy knew that a pearl pin her mother had given her would be the perfect accessory.

Valentine's Day
Wednesday, February 14, 1945

Ray couldn't help grinning as he drove up the lane. He loved coming home now...the house was always so warm and inviting. Nearly everyday, Livy had dinner ready and a smile on her face when he came in the door. Well, today, she'd REALLY be glad to see him. After all, this was their first Valentine's Day and he wanted it to be extra special. Who knew? Maybe tonight...well, he said a small prayer that things would progress between them.

As he came in the house, he heard the radio playing low and Livy cooing to Daniel. Ray was a little later than usual, so the baby had been fed and was being tucked into his cradle in the front room. Livy came out by the stairs as Ray was hanging up his coat. He grinned at her, and leaned over to give her a quick kiss on the cheek.

"Happy Valentine's Day, Liv..." She smiled up at him.

"Ray, you've told me that at least four times today, but thank you. You're sweet!" He brought his hand from behind his back.

"Here you go! I got this for you..." He handed her an enormous heart-shaped box of candy, all red satin and white lace. He was so proud of himself...he'd bought the biggest box he could find, knowing how much Livy loved chocolate.

"Ray -- what? Oh no...!" Livy promptly burst into tears, and covered her face with her hands. Ray was clearly puzzled by her reaction. He took her in his arms, lifting her chin to talk to her.

"Hey now...I'm sorry, Sweetheart! I know, it's just a box of candy...I wanted to get you roses, but I couldn't get to La Junta today." Livy just cried harder.

"It's not that, it's...Oh Ray, how could you? I'm trying so hard to watch what I eat, to try to lose this weight! And now...now...the last thing I need is candy!" So that was it, thought Ray. He led her into the kitchen, sat down at the table and drew her onto his lap. He didn't say a word, just let her cry until she was finished. Finally, with her breathing still a little hitched, she spoke.

"Oh Ray, I am so sorry, I know you meant well. I just...just...it's so hard! I feel like I am in another person's body sometimes, all these changes I've gone through. And I feel so...lumpy! So fat!" Ray just smiled and shook his head.

"Ah, Livy, you've got to realize--you just had a baby! It's going to take a little time, that's all. This is all new to you, I know, but honestly...you have never looked more beautiful. Ever..." She looked up at Ray, thinking he was humoring her, but she saw nothing but love on his face. He tucked her hair back, and wiped a tear from her cheek.

"I swear, Livy." She put her head on his shoulder with a sigh.

"I don't know, Ray. My emotions just seem to take over sometimes, and..."

"Shh...it's okay, I understand. Hey, Martha told me your new dress is really pretty. I can't wait for the dance on Saturday." She gave him a shaky, embarassed smile.

"You mean you still want to take me?" Ray grinned,

"Hey, you're my best girl....of course I do!" She gave his neck a quick hug, and reluctantly went to dish up his supper. Both of them were sorry to see the moment end, not sure what to do next...but that would happen in due time.

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