1297 BC

Naomi lifted the hem of her robe as her feet fairly flew down Bethlehem’s streets toward the outskirts of town. Neta, second wife of her brother-in-law Melek, trailed two steps behind. The sun beat high overhead, its rays licking the sweat along her brow. Some of the townswomen who were not inside their homes resting at this hour hurried to catch up with her.

“What is it?” one of them shouted, breathless.

“Please, Naomi, slow down.” The voices included Neta’s, and Naomi realized the woman could not run nearly as fast as she, especially when something urgent beckoned. Memories of childhood races with her brothers surfaced, but she stopped the smile such thoughts always evoked. This was not a time to smile.

She slowed her steps and glanced behind her. “Boaz’s wife Adi is in trouble.” She turned and kept running, shouting as she went. “I’m going to see if I can help.”

The heat made breathing difficult but she pressed on. Surely Gilah and Liora and the midwife should have delivered Adi of the child by now. Surely Neta was wrong.

But the fear in her gut would not abate.

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