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At last she saw the couple for whom she waited, the woman carrying an infant. Her face brightened as she waved. "Andre, Jamie, over here."
Andre Demontagne waved back, calling, "Mother. We'll meet you in the terminal."
"No, Andre. I must see that baby right now." Andre leaned over to his wife and whispered, "How like Mother. When she's impatient there's no denying her."
Jamie Demontagne smiled back at her husband. "Even through a chain-link fence."
"How are you, my dear?" Clarisse Demontagne's fingers reached through the web of the fence. "Can I see him?" Jamie pulled back the blanket, proudly exposing the newborn's face.
"Clarisse, may we present Philippe Diamant Demontagne."
The baby was wide awake and looked directly at his grandmother.
"I think he has your blue eyes, Clarisse," Jamie said.
Clarisse tilted her head to get a better look. "Itseems possible, Jamie, although you never know with newborns. But I think he did not get your green eyes." She lifted her head and looked at Andre steadily. "I think he looks like his father. Including the dimple in his chin." She chuckled. "He's absolutely beautiful." An airplane roared overhead as she turned back to Jamie. "So you have named him Philippe, after the lost twin?"
"Yes," said Jamie.
"Let's hope you are not tempting ..."
"Mother!" Andre interjected.
"We thought it fitting," Jamie said, "another Philippe after all these years. A return, of sorts." There was a pause, then Clarisse spoke. "Well, it is lovely to have you with us at last, Philippe. We will not lose you."
Jamie's breath caught in her throat. "Of course not, Clarisse. This child will not be lost."
Jamie knew the history of Philippe Diamant, Clarisse's ancestor, a child lost in the terror of the French Revolution when it had crossed the Atlantic to the Caribbean, to St. Lucia, two centuries before. That Philippe had never been found. The family had learned of his survival only when Jamie was proven to be his descendant. The marriage of Jamie and Andre had brought the family together again.
Just then the dark clouds unleashed a torrent of rain.
Andre snapped open an umbrella, protecting his wife and child.
"Mother," he said as the rain intensified and Clarisse struggled to get her umbrella open, "go into the terminal. We'll meet you inside after we get through immigration and customs."
Inside the small terminal, Andre shook out the umbrella and they joined the end of the immigration line.
Jamie stood, slowly rocking Philippe. "I thought these tropical waves were farther apart. The storms seem to be moving faster."
"Nothing to worry about, Jamie. Just a sudden showery pocket." He changed the subject, an attempt to be reassuring. "I don't remember Yvie and Lissa ever having blue eyes. They were always green. Like yours," he said, touching his wife's cheek affectionately. Jamie smiled. "His blue eyes are like your mother's, and let's not overlook all the other people mixed in over the generations since my side of the family left the Indies."
"Whatever got mixed in made you a wonderful blend. You really are lovely, you know, Jamie." His fingers moved down her shoulder-length dark hair.
Jamie's eyes were lively in the flourescent light. "I know that look. You'll have to wait a couple of weeks. I'm still sore from pushing this one into the world." She reached over and touched the cleft in Andre's strong chin.
"I missed you," he said. "Having you away from me."
"I know, but we agreed Martinique had better hospitals and was a safer place for me to give birth. Tante Yve took very good care of me."
The baby stirred, fussing slightly, his mouth rooting. He quieted then, his eyelids closing as he fell asleep.
The immigration and customs officials seemed anxious to get home, and things moved quickly. It was not long before the porter was hefting their luggage onto his hand truck and bursting through the door into the terminal. Clarisse was waiting impatiently. "Enough is enough, Jamie. Now I must hold my beautiful grandson."
Jamie handed Philippe into Clarisse's outstretched arms. There was evident joy on her face as she drew Philippe to her. It took her back to the time with her own sons, Andre and Emile, when she could still mother them, before tragedy had caused her to withdraw from their lives.
Andre was growing impatient. "What vehicle did you bring, Mother?"
"The big jeep with the car seat," she murmured, her eyes transfixed on the baby's. "Obviously you are not taking the speedboat to Soufriere tonight. The seas are much too high. I think it will be a bad year for storms when we have this kind of weather in July." Clarisse continued to sway with the baby, making occasional grandmother faces at him, then questioned Jamie and her son.
"Are you sure you want to go on? You could stay with your father and me tonight. We don't get down to Jumeaux much any more. Your father's not up to that long drive and the road is so rough. Are you sure you won't stay?"
Andre looked to Jamie, who shook her head.
"No, Clarisse, I've been in Martinique for three weeks. I need to get home and see our daughters. I'm sure we'll be fine. It's just a couple of hours. The next tropical wave is some way off, and I have every confidence in Andre's driving. We'll be fine."
"Speaking of Martinique, how is my sister?"
"Tante Yve's doing well. She's as full of energy as ever. I felt very welcome. And how are things at Jumeaux Designs?"
Clarisse smiled. "If you mean, did we miss you - yes, we missed you, but we coped. The latest designs for the blouses and dresses you approved are working out well. But there are plenty of things waiting for you."
"Ladies, enough of the chit chat. We need to get on the way to Jumeaux. You know how fast it goes dark. Do you want us to drop you at home on our way out of town, Mother?"
"No, there are plenty of taxi drivers who can get me home. Go on, I don't want to hold you up a minute longer."
"Jamie, sit here with Philippe while I get Mother on her way." Clarisse passed Philippe back to Jamie, a gentle relinquishing as the women exchanged kisses. "You two, I mean you three, have a safe trip down to Jumeaux. Call me when you get there or I'll worry." She leaned down to kiss the baby's head and held Jamie for a moment. "I'm glad you are through the ordeal, child."
Jamie hugged her back, this imposing woman, once so cold and formidable, who had drawn her into her heart and her family.
Jamie watched her husband help his mother into a taxi and snuggled her son a little closer. It's so good to be home. I can't wait to have all of my family around me again, she thought, anticipating the reunion at Jumeaux. She had sorely missed her four-year-old twin daughters, Yvie and Lissa.
The wind gusted again, and the fronds of the coconut palms lining the nearby beach clacked in response. Jamie could hear the waves crashing against the beach. High surf, she thought. Must be some storm out there. She pulled Philippe closer as Andre pulled up with the big jeep.
Jamie strapped the baby into the car seat in the back of the jeep and slid in beside him.
"I'd rather you were up here with me," Andre said. "I know, me too."
"Do you need to nurse him before we start?" Andre asked.
"No, he's still asleep. I'd rather wait until he wakes on his own. We can always pull over in one of the villages."
The rain subsided as quickly as it had begun, but the dark sky indicated more on the way as they headed out of the airport and into Castries, the capital of the small Caribbean island they called home.
"The traffic lights are out," Andre commented as he waited to make the right turn onto Jeremie Street, just past the central market.
"That's nothing new. I can never figure out when they're supposed to be working."
Just then all the lights in the capital went out. "That's not a good sign," Andre said. "Storm must be intensifying."
"Maybe it's a planned power cut," Jamie said, trying to reassure herself.
From the center of town they turned up the winding road onto the Morne, then down into Cul de Sac valley, through its rows of banana plants, broad verdant leaves glistening with rain. It was near Anse La Raye that the wind came up and the heavens opened again.
Andre slowed the heavy vehicle and put the wipers on high.
"We may need to find a place to pull over." "It's about time for the baby to wake up. Find a place to pull off and I'll nurse him while we wait for the rain to slack off. It's a shame we can't see anything. I had hoped to come home to gorgeous sea and mountain views."
"There's a scenic turnout up ahead. It'll do for a place to stop." Andre pulled the car off the road. Wind buffeted the vehicle, and the pelting rain intensified the afternoon darkness. They could barely see out the windows.
Jamie unstrapped the baby and lifted him out of his car seat. He started to cry as she opened her nursing bra.
"Three days old and he knows exactly what to do." The baby latched on and began to suck. Jamie leaned back in her seat and relaxed.
"Nursing the twins was much trickier," she said, thinking back to the first days with Lissa and Yvie. If it hadn't been for Bertille Deroche and her mother-in-law, she wouldn't have known what to do. "It's easier this time now that I know what I'm doing."
Andre laughed, watching her from the front seat. "We had to learn fast as first-time parents, and two at once."
"Thank goodness we had lots of support. Everybody wanted to help." Jamie listened to the pounding rain. "We are so blessed, Andre. We have two beautiful daughters, a healthy new son."
Andre turned on the demisters as the windows started to fog up.
"Don't forget our big family - all wanting to help and sometimes sticking their noses into our business." "I know. But since I came from a very small family, I love having your family around ..."
"And they've adopted you. For a transplanted New Yorker, you're more St. Lucian than I am."
"And you're spending more and more time in New York. I really wondered if you'd get back to see your son born."
"I did, didn't I? And I'm here now." There was a slight edge to his voice.
"Sorry. Just saying I was worried you wouldn't get there in time. But you are gone a lot. The girls miss you."
Jamie continued nursing in the awkward pause. They sat listening to the rain drum on the roof.
Jamie burped the baby and put him on her other breast.
Andre reached into the back seat and stroked her breast. "I miss you, too, when I'm gone."
Without warning, the wind intensified and the car rocked as rain thundered against the roof.
"How close are we to the edge of the turnout?" Jamie asked anxiously.
"Lots of room. Don't worry."
"It's just that there's been so much rain, and I don't want the hill on the other side of the road to let go and push us over the edge."
"Honestly, Jamie! You can think up more ways to get us killed. The hillside is fine, the turnout is solid. As soon as the rain subsides a bit we'll be on our way."
"Just feeling anxious. Must be the hormone overload after giving birth."
Andre watched as she put the drowsy baby back in the car seat and strapped him in again. "Whenever it lets up," she said, pulling her clothes straight.
"It does seem to be lessening. Why don't we make a dash for home." Andre pulled the vehicle back on the road, but their progress was reduced to a crawl by the torrents of water cascading over the road. Pot holes were full axle deep, and here and there small mounds of dirt had slipped off the hillside onto the road.
Jamie drifted off to sleep, secure in the knowledge that Andre would get them home safely.
She was jolted awake.
"Andre, what's happened?"
"Landslip on the road, pushing the car."
He was on the front edge of the slip, needing to get out of the mud. He jammed the transmission into the lowest four-wheel-drive gear. Jamie could feel the car slowly moving toward the edge of the road, watching as her husband backed up and tried to move forward. She had an odd image of herself as a child as her father tried to rock their car out of a snowdrift.
"Jamie, get the baby out of the car seat."
"Just do it. You may have to get out of the car."
"Get the baby out of the seat. Scoot over to the door. Do it!" The intensity in Andre's voice terrified her.
Panic closed her throat. Fumbling, she tried to undo the harness buckles. Finally, just as she had the baby free, she felt the wheels grab the road and the jeep lurched ahead on revving engine, out of the mud and out of danger. Jamie clutched her sleeping baby to her and stifled a sob.
"Got to keep going," Andre said, wiping at the condensation on the windshield. "Don't know how the rest of the road will be. Can't go back now."
"Should I put the baby back in the car seat?" "Do you have the Snugli? Strap him in. That way he'll be right with you. The rain seems to be letting up but I need all my concentration right now."
Jamie listened to the keening of the wind. The tropical front had turned into a tropical storm ripping across the island. The sound reminded her of something, something she couldn't place but that filled her with dread. Then it came back. The night in the rain forest when she'd followed the cry of a woman and become lost. That same high-pitched tone of desperation and anguish.
"Andre, do you hear that?" she asked.
"The wind? It's really moaning."
"No, behind the sound of the wind. A woman crying? Don't you hear that?"
"Jamie, you've just been badly frightened. It's just the wind."
She allowed the soft warmth, the gentle rhythmic breathing of her child against her chest to calm her. She couldn't, wouldn't, let that other terrifying time intrude now. Now when her life was settled. Jamie forced herself to review the wonderful parts of her life as she tried to stem her feelings of panic. She was happy and content. Her four-year-old twin daughters were a handful, but absolutely darling. And now a new son. She loved her career at Jumeaux Designs. Andre's business travel took him away from the family for more time than she liked, but she knew it bothered him as well. She couldn't ask for a better husband.
Then she heard the woman's cry again. Her son stirred. "Be still, Philippe," she murmured, savoring the name. "We won't lose you."
Her thoughts turned to the anguish Philippe Diamant's mother, Anne-Cecile, must have felt when he had been lost. Stop it, she told herself.
"How are you doing, Andre? Do we need to stop somewhere?"
"We're committed now, Jamie. There's the danger of more landslips, and the villages are no safer."
"They're all built on the rivers. With this much rain there's the danger of flash flooding. We'll keep on going. We'll get through all right."
"Any way I can help?" She watched the steering wheel jolt in his hands, fear gripping her chest.
"Just hang onto Philippe and try to relax. It'll be fine."
Jamie didn't believe Andre any more than he believed himself. She concentrated on her son to divert herself from her fear. "Yes, I think Philippe suits you. We've all been waiting for you," she whispered to the baby who slept unaware.
* * *
The deluge had stopped by the time they reached Jumeaux, the Demontagne family compound high in the mountains above Soufriere. Jamie and Andre had built their house at Jumeaux Estate shortly after their marriage five years ago, locating the house just across the garden from the old wooden estate house built over two hundred years ago. As they pulled into the drive, lights on the verandah bid them welcome. Andre honked the horn.
"Andre, the baby," Jamie admonished as Philippe squirmed and began to cry. She unhooked the Snugli and lifted him out.
"He might as well wake up, Jamie. We seem to have a large welcoming committee. There are his sisters and Marcus and Bertille with Delia trailing behind. There'll be a row about who gets to hold him first." Andre opened the door and Jamie handed the baby to him. Suddenly two squirming four-year-olds were in her lap, hugging her, covering her cheeks with wet kisses. "Mama, we missed you."
Excerpted from A Circle of Dreams by Annie Rogers Excerpted by permission.
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