"How wonderful! It's about time we had someone who cares in this town," said Melinda. "Thanks for the news, Aunt Martha."
Melinda hung the phone on its cradle and quickly picked her skirt up and strode toward the living room. The joy that was spilling over was difficult to keep to herself. She had exciting news and could not wait to tell Gilbert. She had just heard about a new doctor in town and she was elated. She had dreaded going to Doctor Jones for years and now she finally had a choice. This new doctor had to be better.
As she entered the room, she found her husband sleeping in the overstuffed chair with his book lying against his chest. He had been reading and apparently gave in to a bit of slumber. She grinned at his comfortable position and the sweet expression on his face. It made her laugh inwardly because he was known as a rugged and tough rancher in the community, a leader among men. If the men of this valley only knew the real Gilbert, they would be surprised. He was as gentle as a kitten.
Gilbert was an imposing figure, six foot two inches tall with broad shoulders and a muscular build. His strong jaw gave the look of authority. He was robust, a man with great physical strength but as tenderhearted as they come. No one would ever know that he was a softy, helping his wife fix meals and playing with his grandchildren on the floor. He was fifty-nine years old, his brown hair was speckled with gray at his temples, and he looked mighty distinguished.
Melinda and Gilbert had three children, two girls and one boy. The oldest and youngest were happily married, but the second was incorrigible. John was now twenty-seven years old and was still unmarried. Jenny, the oldest, accused him of being afraid of taking responsibility. He scoffed at such an idea. He was a hard worker and told her so. Makayla, the youngest, teased him constantly and called him a "happy-go-lucky bachelor." He would grin and accept her description. It was true.
John seemed quite happy with his lifestyle, and marriage was the last thing on his list. He was a worry to his parents, especially because he didn't take life seriously. Many a woman flirted with him, waiting to see if she would be the lucky one, but John enjoyed being a happy-go-lucky bachelor. Whenever a young woman would push their relationship just a little, he would get cold feet and take off. This frustrated Melinda to no end. The fact that he didn't take life more seriously concerned her, but what could she do?
At fifty-five, Melinda was a stunning woman for her age, unusually tall with eyes the color of shamrocks. She had her hair pulled into a soft chignon upon her head, and a few streaks of gray highlighted her auburn hair. She was a woman who took care of herself and made sure she and her husband were healthy, eating the right foods and staying in good physical condition. Not only that, a new doctor was in town and now she wanted her husband to have a checkup, but she feared he wouldn't go. He didn't much care for checkups and thought they were a waste of time.
Melinda had to think of a way to get him to go, but how? He was such a stubborn man at times. One thing she knew, she wasn't about to give up. His health was important to her. She wouldn't have worried so much if he hadn't had congestion that was lingering a little too long and it concerned her.
She silently walked over to Gilbert and smoothed his dark wavy hair away from his face. She placed her hand on his stubbly cheek and gently kissed him on the lips. His dark eyelashes fluttered open and his mouth parted in surprise. When he saw Melinda looking down at him, he gave a crooked smile.
"I thought you were reading," she said with a grin.
"I thought you were folding clothes!"
"I was. Now I'm done."
Gilbert's eyes brightened as he placed his book on the floor and pulled her down onto his lap. "You're done?" he asked with raised eyebrows. "Then I have another chore for you to fulfill."
"And what's that, may I ask?" she said as she smoothed his unruly hair away from his brow.
"Come here and I'll show you," he said as he pulled her closer to his chest and placed a tender warm kiss upon her lips, lingering a while and enjoying the softness of her in his arms. Holding his wife next to him was deliciously wonderful. How he adored this woman!
After releasing her, Melinda asked, "That's a chore?" She laughed and then said, "Aunt Martha called."
"Did you know a new doctor is in town?"
"Doctor? Why do we need two doctors?"
Melinda smiled. "Well, this one's special. As of today, I'm changing doctors."
"I don't blame you. You've never been happy with Doctor Jones since the day I married you, especially when he prescribed taking whiskey to take away cramping when you were with child."
"I couldn't do it. I was so worried it would hurt the baby."
Gilbert nodded. "Have you heard much about this new doctor?"
Melinda smiled. "Oh yes. I've heard a great deal about her."
Gilbert's eyes widened. "Her? A woman doctor?"
Melinda sat up and watched the surprise register in his chocolate brown eyes. "Yes, a woman doctor. I'm so excited that women are having more opportunities nowadays." She laid her head on his shoulder and listened to his breathing. "You know, I was thinking about getting you an appointment because you've been coughing a lot lately and your breathing is a little congested."
Gilbert shook his head. "No, thank you."
Melinda could feel the stiffness in his body when he answered. She sat up, looking at him with curiosity. "What's wrong?"
"Now, Melinda, you know that I believe in women's rights and all that, but I'm not having any woman poking at my body, let alone telling me to take off my clothes."
Melinda stifled a giggle and smiled, her green eyes dancing with delight. "Now Sweetheart, haven't women gone to doctors their whole life? Haven't we had to put up with a man poking at our bodies and telling us to take off our clothes so we could be examined?"
"But that's different," Gilbert said as he nervously pushed his fingers through his hair.
"Well..." he hesitated, trying to hedge around her question but unable to think of a clever answer. Melinda would be able to see right through his hedging, but he tried nevertheless.
"You see, Melinda, I'm used to Doctor Jones. I don't like changes."
"You don't like Doctor Jones anymore than I do, Mister. You're just hedging so you don't have to answer my question."
Gilbert swallowed. "Let's have some of those cookies you made, Melinda."
She smiled and shook her head, resigned that her husband would never see a woman doctor. It was 1925, and women had more opportunities now than ever before. Her husband had always supported women's liberation in the past, but perhaps this would take a bit of getting used to.
Melinda leaned into him, took his face between her hands, and kissed him senseless, making his heart pick up speed.
When she pulled back, she smiled. "I love you, anyway."
"What does that mean?"
"I love you no matter how stubborn you are."
Gilbert grinned and pulled her back into his arms and whispered, "Give me a few more of those kisses and I'll be a happy man for the rest of my life."
Then he tightened his arms around her and spread sweet tender kisses upon her face and along her jaw line.
Just as he got to her lips, Melinda pulled back and said, "Now, wait a minute."
His eyebrows shot up as he asked, "Now what?"
"Those kisses can't even measure up to what I gave you. Not at all!"
Gilbert laughed at the challenge in her voice. All right, if that was what she wanted, he was willing to reciprocate but it would be one that she would remember. He grinned and pulled her into his arms and this time gave her a kiss that told her of his undying love. Then he entangled his fingers in her thick auburn hair and caressed her back with the other as he made his way to her earlobe, which sent a shiver up her spine. As he kissed the softness of her neck, she started squirming and softly laughing. Gilbert grinned. Then he gave her one more delectable kiss on the lips. When he was done, he released her and looked into her face with pleasure.
"Well?" he asked curiously. "Was that what you wanted?"
Feeling breathless from his passionate kisses, Melinda smiled back, leaned her head against his shoulder, and sighed. "Now that was a kiss!"
How wonderful it was to be adored after twenty-nine years of marriage! What a delicious pleasure to be in love!