It took almost a month for whatever illness was goin' around to subside and in that month I didn't get to see Rick or really anyone else except our kids, excluding Carl, and the other kids and elderly from Woodbury. There's still quite a few people who are sick but they're all confined to cell block A.
Today was the first time we've been able to spend time together since then.
Rick and Carl helped me put Judy, Shawn and Annie down for their naps and then the three of us sat there talkin'.
I didn't say anythin' to Rick but I felt like there was somethin' wrong with Carl. He wasn't smilin' like he had before and his attitude seemed to have change.
After a while, Carl left and me and Rick laid down on the bed.
I had my head on his chest while he had his arms wrapped around me.
"I love you, Bethie," he whispered.
I raised up and smiled at him. "I love you, too."
He removed his arms from around me and sat up and rubbed his face.
I sat up too and started to rub his shoulders. "What's wrong, Rick?"
He reached up and took one of my hands in his, "Nothin's wrong, baby."
I put my arms around his neck from behind and kissed his cheek.
"Well, somethin's botherin' you. You know you can tell me, right?"
He nodded his head and pulled me around to sit in his lap.
He ran his thumb over my cheek and rested his forehead on mine.
"I don't know what to do anymore," he said, "I can't protect you and the kids like I'm supposed to."
"Rick, maybe you need to let everyone else worry about things for awhile. You did it before and I'm sure they'd understand if you stepped down for a little while."
He put his head on my shoulder and held me tighter as I ran my fingers through his hair.
"I can't do that, Beth."
"Yes, you can. You can take time away from being the leader to be with us, to be a husband and a father."
He kissed my neck, "We're not married yet, baby."
"I just wanna be with you, regardless of whether or not we're married. Besides, everyone already considers me your wife."
He raised his head up and smiled at me, "I'll talk to everyone at the council meeting and let them know I'm gonna be spendin' more time with my wife and kids."
After the council meeting, I went out to the fences. It was dark and cloudy but the little bit of moonlight there was shown through enough to illuminate the walkers and shadow the prison.
It's been months since I've seen Lori but I guess that's what I'm doin' out here. I'm still lookin' for her.
I love Beth, probably more than I ever loved Lori but I don't want her to get hurt in any way but sometimes I think I'm hurtin' her more than anythin' by knowin' I can't protect her, I can't protect the babies, I can't even protect Carl.
I couldn't protect Beth from Shane and look what happened to her. I need to find a way to protect her from myself.
I was tryin' to figure out how to do that when she came up behind me and put her arms around my waist.
"Hey," she said.
I didn't respond. I just put my hands on her arms and closed my eyes.
"Rick, are you okay?" she asked after few minutes had passed.
"Yeah. I'm fine."
She pulled her arms away and moved to stand in front of me.
"If you're fine then what's botherin' you?"
I stared at her for a long time before I finally found the words.
"I can't marry you, Beth."
She smiled and put her arms around my neck, "Rick, I've already told you, I don't care about a ceremony. As long as we're together, that's all that matters."
I placed my hands on her arms and pulled them away from my neck.
"Bethie, I can't marry you. We can't be together anymore."
She jerked her arms out of my hands and took a step back.
"You...you're seriously doin' this?"
I saw the tears in hers and it hurt me to know I caused them but she would be better off without me.
"I thought you...I believed you loved me. God! I'm such an idiot," she cried and started walkin' away.
I grabbed her arm, "Bethie, I do love you."
"No, you don't! You never did! Just get away from me!"
I let go of her arm and watched her run into the prison.
I stopped runnin' when I reached the door to the prison but when I entered, I hurried past everyone and went to my cell.
I looked at Judith, Shawn and Annie and cursed myself for believing Rick.
I sat down on the bed and started cryin'.
Everythin' he said was a lie.
"Bethie?" Maggie was standin' in the doorway, "What's wrong?"
I shook my head, "Nothin'."
She moved into the cell and sat down next to me.
"Tell me what's wrong, Beth."
"He doesn't love me," I cried. I know I sounded like some stupid teenage girl who just broke up with her first boyfriend but I really thought he loved me.
"Rick. He doesn't love me. He never did."
"Beth, wh...what's goin' on?"
"Rick...he doesn't want to be with me. He...we're over."
"Oh God, Bethie. I'm so sorry," she pulled me into a hug.
"I can't believe I actually believed him. I'm so stupid," I cried on her shoulder.
"No you're not, Bethie. He's the stupid one."
I pulled away from Maggie when Rick stepped into the cell.
"Beth...," he started but stopped when Maggie stood up.
"Rick, leave her alone. Just go. We'll have a talk about this," she said it so calmly that I started thinkin' she knew he was gonna do this.
"Beth, that man really does love you. He's just havin' a hard time with everythin'."
I shook my head, "he's not havin' a he'd time with everythin'. He's havin' a hard time with me. He doesn't love me, Maggie. He never did. The only reason he was with me was because of Shane. The bad thing is, I actually love him."
Maggie hugged me again before she left.
Maggie found me when she was done talkin' to Beth.
"So what's the plan now?" she asked.
I shrugged, "We just wait and see."
"Are you sure this is gonna work?"
"It has to work. We're out of options."
"Well, when this over, you have some serious makin' up to do with my sister. She loves you so I know she'll forgive you but once this is all over, you'll need to show her that you really do love her."
I nodded. "Maggie, I wasn't lyin' when I told you I felt like I couldn't protect her or the kids. I don't think I can."
She crossed her arms, "You are protecting them, Rick. When we find the Governor and we know he's dead. She'll understand and so will you."
When Maggie left, I went to Beth's cell and found she was asleep.
I went in anyway and checked on the babies before I went to find Carl.
I couldn't tell Maggie that as much as I want to be with Beth, I don't think we should be together. I'm in love with her but she deserves so much more than I can give her.
Each time I woke up with the kids last night, I ended up cryin' myself back to sleep.
I've been sittin' here playin' with Judith while everyone gathered in the common room for breakfast.
I didn't want to see Rick after last night so I decided to stay in my cell until everyone had cleared out of the common room. I did the same thing at lunch and by the time dinner was ready, the whole prison had heard about me and Rick.
It seemed to be the only thing everyone was talkin' about so I went back to my cell.
Our family knew they had to treat what I did as somethin' horrible so I had to endure the slaps from Maggie, the fold shoulder from Carl, the lectures from Hershel and to top it off, the threats from Daryl.
It was all for show, even if Beth didn't know it, our family knew.
-One Week Later-
"Hey mom," Carl smiled, "I brought you breakfast."
"Thanks, sweetie," I smiled and took the bowl from him.
Everyday for the past week, Carl has brought me somethin' to eat and he's ate in the cell with me and the babies.
"Mom, I can watch them if you wanna get outta the cell for a little bit," he said, motioning to where the babies were.
I smiled and gave him a hug, "Thank you."
I didn't really know where I was gonna go when I left the cell but I found myself goin' to the library.
I guess I needed to be alone more than I thought and what better place than the library to be alone.
At least that's what I thought until I started to open the door.
I could hear someone inside and when I eased the door open a little and slipped inside, I could hear every word they were sayin'.
"There's no fuckin' way I'm wrong 'bout this," Daryl said.
"He can't be wrong," Michonne agreed.
"I don't think he's wrong. I mean, I hope he is but I know he's not," Maggie added.
"I agree with y'all but we need to be careful. We don't know who's givin' the Governors men the information but we need to figure it out soon. We need a plan."
"Whoever it is is someone we trust," Carol spoke up, "they know our every move and when we go on runs, they know enough to ambush us."
"We're lucky they haven't killed anyone yet," Hershel said, "but my biggest concern is Bethie. The last time his men ambushed our group, they threatened her life."
"I know," I told him and the others, "that's why I've done what I've done. It's the only way I can protect her. He knows what he's doin'. He's tryin' to get us to let our guard down and weaken."
Everyone agreed that our current situation was necessary.
I listened to their whole conversation but it ended up leavin' me confused and pissed off.
Was I wrong about Rick? But why would he intentionally hurt me? What was actually goin' on?
I had left the door slightly open so I could leave before they noticed me but just as I turned around towards the door, I saw someone pass by.
They had obviously been listenin' and they must've seen me. Who was it and why were they listenin' to the council meeting. I knew why I was listenin' but that was different.
I tried to hurry out of the library to go after whoever that was but by the time I made it down the corridor, they were gone.
I didn't try to find them, I just went back to my cell. I had too much on my mind and I had too many questions.
We had an idea of who was sneaking information to the Governor but we had no idea why or how they were doin' it.
For now though, I had to go on watch and not worry about anythin' but that.
I made my way out to the guard tower after checkin' on the babies.
I scanned the tree line, waitin'. It seemed like that was all we were doin' now, just waitin'. Waitin' for another thing to go wrong, waitin' for someone to try to take the home we've built, waitin' for our home to be destroyed and waitin' until we were either bit by a walker or opted out and there was absolutely nothin' I could about any of it. Nothin' except wait.
It all made me feel useless.
We've all lost friends, family even, I've lost my wife, almost lost my daughter and son; and then Beth, I almost lost her so many times and our babies.
After everythin' we've built here, after everythin' and everyone we've lost, to lose the prison would be the last straw.
This prison is the only chance I have at protecting my family. Not just Beth and our kids but everyone, our family.
I was pulled away from my thoughts when I heard someone comin' up the stairs.
Beth opener the door and stood there starin' at me. She looked nervous and scared as she walked closer to me.
"Rick," she sighed, "can we please talk?"
"Do you love me?" she asked.
I held out my hand and she took it, "I love you, Beth and nothin's gonna change that."
"Then why did you say you couldn't be with me? Why don't you want me?"
"Bethie, I do want you but there's some things goin' on that needs to be fixed first."
"Like what? What is so damn important?"
"It's nothin' you need to worry about, baby."
I groaned and felt like slappin' him but I didn't.
Why was he lyin' to me? What was goin' on that they didn't want me to know?
"Rick, I heard y'all in the library. Why won't you tell me what's goin' on?"
He looked shocked for a minute before he pulled me to him and pressed his lips to mine.
"Beth," he whispered, "you can't tell anyone what you heard or what I'm about to tell you. Okay?"
"Okay," I nodded.
It took about an hour for Rick to explain everythin' to me and when he finished, I finally understood.
"Can you play along, Bethie?"
I smiled, "Of course I can."
He smiled too and started kissin' me.
-Two Days Later-
Surprisingly, Beth has been able to play along.
We had a council meeting earlier today to make plans for a run and now we're waiting.
We have members of our group on watch all around the prison.
We've all been waitin' for hours to see if anyone was gonna take the bait and sure enough, someone did.
We gathered in the tombs where Daryl and Merle had brought the suspect and had them tied to a chair.
They had caught someone sneakin' out of the prison fences and through the woods. This someone was givin' away our every move. They were tryin' to weaken us and hurt Beth.
When we saw who it was, Carl ran back to the cell block to get Beth while we tried to get some answers.
"Sarah, why?" Carol asked her but she stayed silent.
Carl and Beth stood just outside the doorway but they were both visible from inside the room.
Sarah glared at Beth and started laughin'.
"You wanna know 'why'?" Sarah asked everyone, "I did what I had to to protect my family."
She looked at Michonne, "You killed my niece and took my brothers eye out. You all should be livin' as walker bait instead of livin' here, safe. Havin' kids," she turned her gaze back to Beth, "you should be dead."
Maggie grabbed Sarah by her shirt and hit her several times. "Where is he? Where's the Governor?"
Sarah spit out blood and laughed again, "I don't know. Even if I did, I wouldn't tell you."
I couldn't believe that Sarah was the one who caused all of this.
I trusted her. I thought we were friends. But hearing her now, everythin' started to make sense.
She got close to Rick, to me, to everyone really and she got close to my kids.
Oh my God! I can't believe I trusted her with my kids!
I couldn't watch what was unfolding in the tombs so I ran out.
It wasn't until much later that everyone returned to the cell block. I didn't have to ask to know that that had taken care of the problem.
Carl immediately ran to me and hugged me. He was tryin' not to cry but I could hear his voice crack as he spoke.
"Mom, I'm glad she didn't get to you. I don't wanna lose you."
"You can't lose me. I'm here to stay."
Before Carl could pull away from me, Rick walked up beside us and put his arms around us.
The next mornin', as I helped Carol fix breakfast, I noticed that everyone seemed to be in a better mood.
The threat of the Governor was still very much on all our minds but for now, we could be happy. We're all safe.
Daddy said grace before we all sat down to eat but halfway through our meal, Maggie stood up.
"Hey, everyone. Listen up. The next two days are gonna be hectic and for two weeks we're all gonna have to be pullin' doubles."
There was a collective groan but Maggie continued.
"Rick and Beth are gettin' married in two days and then after that, the council has decided to give them a two week honeymoon."
After hearing that, it was my turn to groan.
It was just like Maggie to make this kind of announcement to everyone before I knew.
Rick leaned close to my ear, "Are you alright?"
I shook my head no but didn't elaborate.
This was somethin' I needed to discuss with him and him alone. Not the whole damn prison.