A pain stabbed through her belly so sharply that Mariam gasped and dropped the kindling she was trying to bring over to the fireplace. The small logs clattered loudly on the tile floor, and the noise brought Godfrey from the forge with an angry admonishment: “Mariam! I’ve told you before! Let the apprentices do the heavy lifting!” The sharpness of his voice sprang from his concern, and his face was furrowed with worry.
Although the pain was ebbing, Mariam was too alarmed by it to even retort. She just stood trying to catch her breath, and Godfrey crossed the distance between them to collect the dropped kindling, set it beside the fireplace, and lead his woman to a bench against the wall. “Mariam, you need to see a doctor—or a midwife.”
She reached up with the back of her hand to wipe away a tear of pain—and fear. She knew she was with child, and she knew she was too old, too fat, and too full of sin for this to end well. Godfrey closed his powerful hand around her plump one. His hand was black with soot, hers white with flour. The callused feel of his hand on hers only made her cry harder. She loved him so much, she could not even pretend she regretted the sin they had committed. She had found in his arms such ecstasy and such comfort. Yet if she did not learn to repent what she had done, she would burn forever in hell—and as a pastry mistress she knew something about the torments of intense heat. That frightened her almost as much as the pain of childbirth itself.
“Let me get you some water,” Godfrey offered helplessly. He understood Mariam’s fears, and he shared them. He lost sleep trying to think what he could do to help. Was there some sacrifice he could make that would please God enough to forgive them? What could a poor, near-penniless armorer do that would please God that much? Since the siege of Tyre had lifted, the demand for his services had plummeted, and they were almost completely dependent on Mariam’s bakery to keep them in food, firewood, and clothing. (Sven was growing like never before, now that he ate at Mariam’s table and worked in her shop rather than his dad’s.) Godfrey had literally nothing he could give away to the Church to appease God’s anger.
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