Hiram, my stepfather, opened the door, the light behind him outlining his burly body. "Delia! Where the hell are you, girl?"
"Here, sir." I hurried forward, my hands in front of me, showing the eggs. He wouldn't hit me if he saw them, wouldn't take a chance on breaking his breakfast.
"Get in here," he growled. "Your ma's not feeling well. You'll be doing the cooking this morning."
Ma sick? The puffed up, inside spunk whooshed out of me. My chest constricted, and my throat tightened, but I managed to squeak, "What's wrong?" as I squeezed past him, put the eggs in a bowl on the table, and headed for my mother.
Hiram grabbed my arm, his fingers digging into my flesh.
I gritted my teeth to keep from crying out in pain, refusing to give him that satisfaction.
"You leave your ma be," he ordered. "She's staying in bed. You're doing all her chores from now on. I'm not taking any chances on losing another son."
Hiram's eyes glittered with obvious pride for getting Ma in the family way again
My heart shrank into a tiny, hard ball. How could I leave Ma now that there was another baby on the way? Mark, the only one of three boys to be born alive since Ambrose, had died when he was seven days old. His birth on Christmas Day had given us such hope, but that hope crashed on New Year's Day when Mark took his last breath. Ma's been sickly ever since.
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