One year later…
The sun had burned through the clouds, but the scent of moisture promised rain in the near future. Ginger would not have minded if the pumpkin deseeding contest was postponed for an hour or two. Her stomach ached, she was tired, and all she wanted to do was cuddle with Owen on the couch.
As a compromise, he gave her his hoodie. “It’s the anniversary of our first date. First we go to the Harvest Days events, then cuddles.”
So there she stood, behind the table, in a row with thirty other people. They all had a pumpkin, a knife, and a scooper in front of them.
Fifty feet in front of her, Owen stood with his arms crossed. His eyes glowed with pride, determination, support. “You got this pumpkin…” Thankfully, he caught himself before he used his full nickname for her
“What kind of a nickname is that?” Russ St. James’s taunt was all bluster. If Ginger didn’t feel like she was a few seconds away from losing her lunch, she’d have reminded him that his girlfriend called him Hercules.
She took a breath to tamp down the queasy feeling in her stomach.
“Ladies and gentlemen and boys and girls.” Abe Wilson’s voice crackled through the megaphone. His subtle nod toward Ginger said, “Welcome Back.”
Ginger gulped. Everyone expected her to win. She’d won every deseeding contest for the past ten years. She got the feeling her winning streak may have come to an end. Her head swam in what she would best describe as fog. Maybe if she focused on the steps, everything would be clear.
The buzzer went off, and she dug the knife into the top, roughly three inches away from the stem. At first, the pumpkin resisted the pressure. She added some of her weight to the motion, and it gave.
In less than a minute, she had a circle around the stem. She tugged against the pumpkin goop. In four purpose-filled motions, she stretched the vines that had been knit around the seeds. They released an odor that was far too pungent than anything Ginger could handle.
Backing away from the table for privacy, she heaved against the tension in her stomach.
Take one breath, relax
Owen was by her side. “Hey, what’s going on?”
This was not how Ginger had planned to tell Owen their good news. She had everything set up for when they were at the maze. Five signs were pinned in order.
It was supposed to be a romantic repeat of what he had done for her in the maze last year.
“The smell. It makes me want to give back my lunch.” Just thinking about it sent waves through her body.
Owen’s grimace was a mixture of sympathy and fear. “Do you have food poisoning?”
“Don’t worry, you won’t catch what I have.”
“What do you have?”
“Our baby.” Tears burned as they rolled one by one down her cheeks. Ginger didn’t know why she was crying. Owen didn’t know about her surprise, so it wasn’t like he would be disappointed.
Owen stepped back and leaned forward. “We’re having a baby?”
“Why are you crying?”
“Because I wanted to surprise you.”
“Oh, my darling wife, I am surprised.” He wrapped his arms around her shoulders. “You are carrying our baby.”
Someone from the stands yelled, “That’s not how you clean out a pumpkin.”
Owen replied, “We’re having a baby!” He turned to face Ginger, “We’re having a baby.” Then he cupped her cheeks and kissed her. “I love you, my darling wife.”
His kiss had some sort of magic because Ginger didn’t feel as queasy or sad. A smile slid across her lips. “I love you, too.”
A horn blared, signaling the first winner.
Owen’s face brightened. “I have it on good authority that not winning is okay. We get to bake the seeds and eat them at movie night with our friends.”
Ginger eyed the pumpkin warily. “I don’t want to go anywhere near that.”
“I’ll make the seeds. You can make the hot cider.”
Owen picked up the pumpkin, holding it off to the side. They met Marcie and Jenny, who were waiting for their husbands. Their babies slept in matching strollers. Marcie spoke through her, “I told you so,” grin. “Did I hear your husband tell everyone that you’re having a baby?”
“Yes, you did. And it was on the anniversary of when you set us up on a date.” Ginger was happy to say that Marcie was right. She didn’t have to go to Scotland for love, because love found her in the Hope Springs Harvest Days Pumpkin Patch.