Stephanie was seething. “If you think for even one minute that you’re going to put that thing in me, then you’ve got another thing coming, Randall Scott.”
I stopped dead in my tracks and made a vain attempt to hide the smirk tugging at the corners of my mouth. She was a sight, but even under extreme duress her emerald green eyes hadn’t lost their spark or challenge, intriguing me. I approached her gurney cautiously and held up the catheter in mock surrender. Her long, fiery hair lay tangled all around her with soft tendrils clinging to her sweaty forehead. Beads of perspiration formed along her temples and began a slow descent down the side of her freckled cheeks.
I stood next to the gurney looking down into her eyes and calmly stated, “You know you can’t undergo a Cesarean Section without a catheter.”
She started to protest, but again I held up my hand. “I could nick your bladder, Stephanie. Please don’t be unreasonable. As soon as the baby is born and you can get out of bed, I will have it removed . . . I promise.”
Tears formed in her eyes, enhancing the depth of their color even more. Seeing her like that tore me in two. I wanted to hold her and soothe her fears, but I knew I had to remain professional. The situation clearly outweighed any personal desires. The bottom line I had to force myself to remember was that I was still her doctor. Regardless, it didn’t stop me from wishing I could relinquish her care to another colleague.
So much had happened since we’d first met. I felt as though we had known each other forever. I couldn’t imagine not having her in my life. She had to be the one to act first. I’d laid all my cards out for her a month earlier. Now it was her turn to make the next move, and I vowed to accept whatever decision she would make.
Handing the catheter to the nurse, I took Stephanie’s hand. It was the most I could offer her at that moment. She squeezed it tightly as a contraction hit her. Once it subsided, the nurse placed the catheter and wheeled her into the operating room. A few minutes later I joined her once more.
Throughout the operation, I hummed softly in an effort to ease her anxiety. Slowly and calmly, I explained each step. Her only acknowledgment was an occasional nod. Never before had I been so acutely aware of the size and location of the incision, my patient’s anxiety, or my own abilities.
“All right, Stephanie, you’re going to feel a lot of pressure right now . . . here we go,” I recalled telling her.
A low grunt emerged from her throat, followed by the piercing wail of a newborn infant. I handed the newborn to Dr. Richardson, Stephanie’s pediatrician, announcing, “You’ve got a beautiful baby girl, Stephanie—shocking red hair and all!”
“Thank you, Randy . . . thank you so much.” She quietly sobbed in relief.
Her voice and words filled me with more satisfaction and happiness than I’d ever felt in my entire career. It wasn’t until Dr. Walsh, who was assisting, cleared his throat and brought me back to the present that I realized our level of intimacy was evident to everyone in the room.
I went to work removing the placenta and closing the wound. Occasionally I would glance up at Dr. Walsh, catching the disapproving scowl on his face. I was relieved when the procedure was finished and Stephanie was in recovery. My relief was to be short-lived, because my colleague wasted no time in interrogating me.
“I wasn’t aware that you and your patients are on a first-name basis.”
“Most of us are not,” I offered casually.
Dr. Walsh removed his surgical scrub cap and adjusted his glasses. I couldn’t help but think that the old man should leave the cap on. I’ve always detested the way some balding men grow the sides of their hair long, just so they can stretch it across the rest of their scalp. At least when he wore his cap, no one could tell the difference.
“So . . . Mrs. Adler is different?” he asked.
“Yes, we’re neighbors.” When Walsh continued to stare, I reluctantly continued. “She and her husband purchased the Victorian house, two houses over from mine, about a year ago. It’s customary on our block to welcome new neighbors to a barbecue. Introductions were made, and when she became pregnant, she and her husband chose me as her obstetrician.” I shrugged my shoulders with indifference, secretly hoping he would drop the subject.
Dr. Walsh seemed somewhat placated. “What does her husband do for a living?”
“He’s a police detective.”
“Ah. And where is Mr. Adler today? I’d like to meet him.”
That was exactly what I was afraid would happen. Averting my eyes, I continued to clean up. “He isn’t here today. In fact, he left her about seven months ago.”
“Perhaps I should speak with her.”
“No,” I nearly shouted. “I mean—that won’t be necessary, Ken. Things have been rather difficult for her, but they’re getting better. I think it’d be best if you didn’t mention her husband right now.”
“I see.” Clearly, he didn’t understand at all.
Dr. Walsh continued to change in silence, warily eyeing me. He must have come to the conclusion that it really wasn’t any of his business and dropped the issue altogether.
As soon as Stephanie was settled in her room, I went to join her. I stood in the doorway, watching her quietly for a moment before entering. The nurse was in the bathroom prepping her toiletries when Stephanie’s eyes caught mine.
I recalled when we first met at our neighborhood barbecue. She was standing next to the picnic table, spooning potato salad onto a plate when I arrived. As I picked up my own plate, Charlotte Taylor quickly made introductions.
When told I was a doctor, Stephanie chuckled. She said I looked more like a logger or a bouncer than a doctor because of my size and broad shoulders. She’d blushed after the admission. She was so beautiful, with her long hair flowing freely down her back, gently swaying in the breeze. She wore a soft rose print summer dress revealing long, shapely legs and soft, creamy skin.
I was instantly captivated. Then, like a bad dream, her husband approached, introduced himself and held out his hand. Quickly, I regained my composure. Within minutes I’d determined that I disliked the man immensely. He talked down to his wife, eyed all the other women openly, and was boring.
Stephanie’s eyes shifted back to the nurse as she returned to the room. The nurse brought me up to date on her vitals, and I nodded appropriately. Only after the nurse left did I pull up a chair next to the bed, took Steph’s hand in mine, and kiss it gently.
“You did fine in there,” I whispered, “and the baby will be moved into your room as soon as you recover from the anesthesia.”
She smiled. “How did you know I wanted the baby in my room?”
“I just knew.”
“Thank you.” Fresh tears pooled in her eyes once more. “She’s beautiful, isn’t she?”
“Just like her mom,” I agreed, brandishing a silly grin from ear to ear.
She raised her hand and stroked my cheek. “I love it when you smile. It lights up your whole face and adds humor to your blue eyes.” She proceeded to run her fingers through my hair. “Your hair is getting long, I need to give it a trim.” Before I could reply, she giggled, “And it’s getting more silver.”
“You think so?”
“I’m afraid so. I think I’ve done this to you over the last few months. I haven’t exactly been a calming entity in your life.”
“That’s all right. I wouldn’t have traded these last few months for anything in the world. By the way, have you chosen a name for her?”
I stood up and squeezed her hand gently. Only once in passing did I ever mention I liked the name. “Tabitha. I think that’s a wonderful name.”
I walked to the foot of her bed to make a notation on her chart. “They’re waiting for me in the OR again, but I’ll be back in a couple of hours. If you need anything, ring the buzzer, all right?”
Stephanie smiled bravely, feigning calmness. “Randy?”
“How am I ever going to thank you?”
Emotions running as high as they were, I was moved beyond words. With great difficulty, I swallowed past a huge lump in my throat and murmured, “Love me forever.” Then I left the room.
The next few days passed by quickly, and soon Stephanie was preparing for her discharge. Tabitha was dressed in a delicate pink dress and a white knit sweater and bonnet when I arrived to sign her discharge orders.
“I really do wish you’d reconsider,” I admitted.
“I can’t. It wouldn’t be right, Randy—and you know it wouldn’t. Everyone in the neighborhood would be talking.”
“Yes, they would, but I really don’t care. All I care about is making sure you and Tabitha are cared for. You shouldn’t be going home with no one to help you care for a newborn. If you stayed with me, I’d be able to cook and clean for you.”
She looked up into my eyes. “Thank you, Randy, for everything. Tabitha and I will be fine, I promise. And if we do need anything, you’ll be the first one I call.”
I sighed heavily. “All right. You have my beeper number?”
“Who’s coming to pick you up?”
“I called a taxi.” She grimaced when she tried to tug on her sweater.
I helped her into it. Only then did I notice her braid in disarray. “Cancel the cab, Stephanie. I’ll give you a ride.”
I thought she’d protest, but instead she smiled and thanked me. When she hung up the phone, I turned her by the shoulders to face me. She looked up in anticipation, perhaps thinking I was going to kiss her. When I didn’t, she appeared somewhat dejected.
“Why don’t you let me fix your braid for you?” I offered.
She was temporarily stunned, then slowly grinned. That was the beautiful smile I’d come to adore.
“I wondered if you’d notice. I can’t lift my arms over my head to braid it properly.”
I chuckled. “I can see that.”
“How did you learn how to braid hair?”
“I’m fifteen years older than my little sister. Sometimes she’d stay with me at my place, and I’d have to braid her hair for her. It took some practice, but eventually I became quite good at it. She’s in college now, and if I’m guessing correctly, she’s probably learned how to braid it herself.”
Stephanie giggled, then turned around to hug me. I wished she was mine to hug forever.
We drove home in silence, apparently worrying about the same thing. She was the one to bring it up first. “Do you think he’ll call?”
“Yes . . . or worse. He may show up. She’s his daughter, too.”
“I was worried he’d show up at the hospital.”
“I was too. That’s one reason I consented to having Tabitha stay in your room so soon after surgery. I knew it would bring you peace of mind to know she was where you could see her at all times.”
She reached over and patted my hand. “Thank you.”
I looked over to find fresh tears running down her cheeks. I was at a loss for words.
I pulled into her driveway, pleased to find a strange car parked in the middle of it. I opened her car door and helped her out. Seeing her confused glance at the unfamiliar green Honda parked in her driveway, I explained, “I hired a housekeeper to come in for a few hours each day to help you out. I told her she was to take all orders from you, and you could terminate her at any point you felt ready.”
“Oh, Randy. I don’t know how to thank you. You just keep amazing me at every turn.”
I left once she was settled in. Respecting her need for privacy, I left her alone for the next couple of weeks, only paying her the occasional visit or phone call. Each time I found her cheerful and happy.
But I was shocked when I received the housekeeping agency’s bill, which stated that Stephanie had let Mrs. Emery go after only three weeks. Only three days had passed since I’d last seen Stephanie, and she hadn’t said a word about letting the housekeeper go. I was about to call her from my office when my secretary announced she was there to see me for her routine postpartum checkup.
“She’s here?” I asked in confusion. “Isn’t she scheduled two weeks from now?
“Yes, but her husband called and asked that we move it up, so I changed her appointment. I knew you’d want to see her.”
I wasn’t prepared for that news. “Her husband?”
“Yes, her husband. He’s with her. I was surprised, too.”
I sank back heavily into my chair, stunned. After digesting the information for a few minutes, I went to see the Adlers.
Stephanie sat quietly on the exam table in a johnny. With her head hung, she stared at her feet when I entered the room. Her husband stood across the room like a bulldog, with his arms folded across his chest and his feet slightly apart in a menacing stance.
I shut the door behind me. It didn’t take long for Gary to take the lead.
“Good morning, Dr. Scott. We’re here to find out how Stephanie’s doing.”
“You’re a bit early,” I said, avoiding his eyes. “I wasn’t expecting you for another two weeks.”
“Yes, but we’re anxious to have another child.”
I turned to him. “Mr. Adler, your wife has just undergone major surgery. She cannot conceive for a minimum of six months. The pressure of another fetus against the incision could make the uterus burst open, endangering the life of the baby as well as her own.”
Gary waved my words away as if they were a bothersome insect buzzing around his head. “I don’t think you realize the situation here.”
“Apparently, I don’t. Why don’t you explain?”
“Well, we didn’t want a girl—we wanted a boy. I won’t play games with you, Dr. Scott. I know you’re aware that I left my wife, but I’m back now. And I intend to correct the things she’s done wrong. I only left because I didn’t believe the child was mine. I’m sure you can understand . . . being a man and all.”
Though I fought for self-control, I wanted to pummel his face with my fists. I continued to watch Stephanie for some reaction, but she was void of all emotion, obviously deeply troubled.
Slowly, I picked up her chart. In mock reference I told him, “According to my records, you left your wife because you didn’t want any children. I also don’t see where any paternity testing has been ordered. Why are you convinced the baby is yours now?”
Gary’s face flamed with embarrassment. “The paternity testing will be done next week. I’ve already spoken to Dr. Richardson about it. We’re only here today to see about my wife’s condition, and her ability to produce a son.”
“Mr. Adler, I think it would be best if I spoke to your wife alone.”
“Really? Well, my wife has nothing to say in my absence—and I’m not leaving.”
I was fearful for Stephanie and didn’t want to create a situation that could put her in any further jeopardy, so I merely approached her gently. “Could you lie back, please?”
I called my nurse in and performed an exam. Stephanie openly wept throughout, apologizing and blaming it on postpartum depression. Her husband ordered her to knock it off, but clearly it was beyond her control.
Once finished, I announced she was healing well but that she still needed several weeks to fully heal. I reiterated firmly that she couldn’t conceive again for a minimum of six months. I was relieved to find no evidence of her having been raped.
Gary ignored the latter of my statements, inquiring, “What do you mean she isn’t finished healing? How long does that take?”
“It’ll be another four to six weeks before she can engage in relations.”
Annoyed, he paced the room, ordering his wife to dress. Stephanie never raised her eyes or looked in my direction. I made a notation in her chart regarding spousal abuse, and the minute they left I phoned in the report, despite Gary’s position on the police force.
The next few days crawled by in a haze. Stephanie never left my mind. She’d appeared so frail and scared that I couldn’t help but worry about her. Throughout the months we’d spent getting to know each other, she’d confided to me how happy she was since Gary had left. Her marriage had been horrible for quite some time; he was always cheating on her and openly bragging about his conquests to his buddies, even in front of her. He insulted her and resorted to threats if everything wasn’t done precisely his way.
I knew I wasn’t the only neighbor who watched out for her. Most of the neighborhood didn’t care for Gary’s boisterous ways. His flaring temperament didn’t sit well with the majority of us in our quiet little suburb. I must admit I was overjoyed when the Andersons, who live in the house between ours, befriended Stephanie, as well as the Taylors across the street. Those good people never failed to include Stephanie and me to any get-together, regardless how small.
I hadn’t intended to become so attached to her, but soon we were taking evening walks or sitting on her front porch and sipping drinks in the evening. Within just a few short months I knew I was in over my head. My love for her consumed me in a powerful yet helpless way, and being her doctor only complicated matters. I suggested at one point that perhaps I should turn her care over to a fellow colleague, but she adamantly refused. She insisted that our feelings for one another shouldn’t get in the way.
Technically, we were only friends. After all, she was a married woman. We certainly hadn’t broken any rules of propriety. For that very same reason I reluctantly agreed to stay on as her doctor.
A week after the incident in my office, I knew I needed to take a short vacation. Stephanie and Tabitha were all I could think about. I hadn’t been able to sleep or eat in days. I made several attempts to call, but each time Gary either answered and refused to let me speak to her or the phone would ring on and on. I telephoned the police station and was transferred so many times that I lost count.
Finally, a lieutenant came on the phone and told me that the complaint was under investigation. Despite my further questioning, he insisted that he couldn’t disclose any information. All I could do was to pray for their safety.
I hoped that a few days at my cabin at the lake would clear my head. Without a second thought, I packed and left that evening. Still, I was haunted by memories of Stephanie. Would I ever be free from her? I was tormented with recollections of her—like the day she told me she was pregnant and her husband had left her.
It was a gloomy, overcast day, and I’d been up all night dealing with a difficult birth. I had just arrived at my office when Stephanie appeared for an appointment. I should have recognized the name instantly on my schedule, but it didn’t connect until I saw her. There she sat in my private office, bravely facing a pregnancy alone. She announced that her husband had threatened her with an abortion or separation.
Apparently, he had a daughter with his first wife and rarely saw his child. He had never discussed with Stephanie his desire not to have children. She was left reeling when he made his proclamation. As a devout Catholic, she couldn’t bring herself to terminate the pregnancy. Consequently her husband left, but not without first making it clear that he’d be staying at his partner’s house . . . his female partner.
Many times I asked her if she intended to file for divorce. But she’d explain that her husband was the type of man who needed to make the first move or there would be hell to pay.
“In the meantime, I’ll just sit back and wait to see what he does,” she’d said. “Although Gary allowed me to work as a hairdresser, I was never allowed to use that money to contribute to the household expenses, so I have quite a bit in savings to fall back on. As long as I’m thrifty, I think I can manage financially for about a year. After that, I guess I’ll have to return to work. Regardless, I won’t file for divorce. Gary is going to have to be the one to act on that.”
I was uneasy with her approach. “Do you want him back?”
“No, I don’t ever want him to come back. At first I thought I missed him, but I really just missed the routine. I’ve never felt happier or more at peace.” After a long pause, she added in a whisper, “Besides, I think I’m in love with you.”
Her admission startled me, but once spoken, I was ecstatic. “I love you, too, Stephanie.”
The embrace that followed would stay in my mind forever. The child she carried would be raised as mine if she consented, but I knew I couldn’t broach that subject yet. I finally did, however, in her eighth month. She wept with joy in my arms, but she said she couldn’t make that decision yet. I understood and agreed to give her all the time she needed.
After a week of fishing, swimming, and canoeing at the lake, I began to relax. When I packed up to return home I knew what I had to do: Despite Gary’s attempts to keep me from Stephanie, I was determined to see her. He’d already spent two weeks at home and I knew his own vacation time was running out. He had to leave the house at some point, and I intended to be there the minute he did. If Stephanie wanted me out of her life, then she would have to tell me herself. I intuitively knew he was holding her prisoner. Regardless of my calls to the police station, no intervention had been done on Stephanie or Tabitha’s behalf.
As I drove home, I gave careful consideration to my approach. I had to make her realize that I’d do whatever it took to keep her and the baby safe, even if she didn’t want to pursue a relationship with me.
I turned onto our quiet street and was virtually thrown into a chaotic scene too unbelievable for words.
Just as I approached Stephanie’s house, I saw her bolting out the front door, carrying the baby like a rag doll with her. She was screaming hysterically as she ran across the front yard and into the street, in the direction of the Taylors’.
Charlotte Taylor, who was outside watering her flowers, stared in disbelief as Gary gave chase with a baseball bat in his hand. I screeched my Jeep to a halt in the middle of the street, bound from the seat, and ran after him.
Just before Gary reached Stephanie, I tackled him to the ground. Never before had I committed such an act of violence as I found myself beating his face with my fists, just as I had wished to do two weeks earlier. I rendered him nearly unconscious by the time Sam Taylor pulled me off him. Police sirens sounded in the distance. Charlotte had pulled Stephanie and Tabitha into the security of her home, locking the doors behind them.
When the police arrived, they immediately arrested Gary. The shock and disappointment on the their faces was apparent when they recognized one of their own. Regardless, they couldn’t deny Stephanie’s own blackened eyes and dislocated shoulder.
Her statement to the police made me want to brutalize Gary even more. Apparently, the fight started when Tabitha began crying and no one could settle her down. Gary was trying to get ready for a baseball game and was feeling harried. He suddenly declared, “I know how to shut the little brat up.”
He tried to pull the baby from Stephanie’s arms, but she refused to give him the baby. Her resistance infuriated him, and he punched her in the face. Even then she continued to clutch the baby to her breast like a life preserver. Gary violently grabbed at her arm repeatedly until he dislocated her shoulder. By some miracle of God, Stephanie managed to hold onto the baby. That was when Gary reached for his baseball bat. That split-second was all Stephanie needed; she leaped to her feet and ran for the door.
Stephanie and Tabitha were taken to the hospital; Gary was taken to jail. I stood in the middle of the street, not knowing what to do next. Sam clapped me on the shoulder and said, “Looks like it’s all over—for now.”
At home, I went over the events in my mind. Charlotte and Sam brought Stephanie and Tabitha home from the hospital. Later, in the early evening dusk, Stephanie appeared on my doorstep.
“May I come in?” she asked meekly. “I didn’t know if you’d ever speak to me again after my visit to your office.”
I opened the door fully for her. Tabitha, who was sleeping, stirred in her mother’s good arm. “May I take her?”
Gently, she placed the baby in my arms. I took her into my room and put her in the middle of the bed, where she could sleep quietly. I returned to the kitchen and joined Stephanie at the table.
She tried to cover her face with her hands as she cried, but her sling prevented her. I wrapped my arms around her.
“I never wanted him back, I swear!” she wailed.
“He showed up one day, out of the blue, and he threw the housekeeper out. He told me to stop lounging around, and he demanded to know who was paying for the services. When I told him it was you, he said he’d show you not to mess around where you didn’t belong. He didn’t want me—he just wanted to keep us apart.”
No matter how I tried to comfort her, she needed to continue. “I told him to get out. I’d changed my mind. I told him I wanted a divorce, but he said that if I tried he’d take Tabitha and I’d never see her again. He said . . . he said . . . ” She sobbed.
“None of that matters now, Stephanie.” I needed to know why everything had ended in such a mess. Why my heart had been ripped from my chest, when I was so sure I was on the brink of building a future with her and Tabitha.
As if reading my mind, she continued. “It does matter. He said that in his line of work, he knew how to disappear and never be found again—and that’s what he’d do if I didn’t take him back. Then he dropped the biggest bombshell: He said that he wanted a son immediately. He said that was the only way I could make up to him what I’d done to him by deceiving him with the first baby. I couldn’t believe it; I’d never deceived him, never. It was just an accident.”
“Hush, Stephanie. I know you didn’t.”
“He forced me to go to your office. He warned me to not say a word. I was so afraid, Randy, I didn’t know what to do. I love you so much. He has literally held me prisoner for the last two weeks. I’m not even allowed to use the phone. When you told him I still wasn’t healed, he was furious. He ranted all the way home about how his grandmother had given birth every year for fourteen years, and she’d had all boys. He couldn’t understand why I was incapable of giving birth to even one boy.”
The report of his cruelty infuriated me. I held her in my arms but realized my fists were clenched. I cursed myself for not doing more to protect her from Gary that day in my office. I should have known that reporting him to his commanding officer would accomplish nothing.
As I held her, I felt shame as well. How could I have doubted her love for me after all this time? I took her face in my hands and kissed her bruised lips tenderly.
“I promise you, Stephanie, that no one will ever harm you or Tabitha again.” She continued to weep in my arms as a horrible thought came to me. “Did he hurt you? I mean . . . ”
“No, he never raped me. He was too angry at both of us for not going through natural childbirth. If I’d been able to, he probably would have forced himself on me. I’m not sure why he even came back at all. I think it was more out of pressure from his peers than anything. I never cheated on him, Randy. It was all a lie. He had to have some reason for leaving me.
“Before I came over tonight, I called his first wife. She told me he accused her of adultery, and he actually filed for divorce the day their daughter was born. He was so angry over the sex of their child. I never even knew Gary had a daughter until after we married. Only then did he tell me, because the state had started garnishing his wages for child support.
“He told me that the child wasn’t really his. He said that was why he divorced her, and I was stupid enough to believe him. How could I have married such a monster? I keep asking myself how I could have been so blind to the real Gary. I’m a fool, Randy.”
“Stephanie, you’re an intelligent woman. What could you have done? Besides, would you have believed Gary’s first wife if she’d warned you? You told me yourself how smooth Gary was when you first met him. You told me he literally changed overnight after you married.”
She nodded in agreement. At that, she stopped questioning herself and wept silently in my arms. I held her throughout the night.
Now, a year later, we are blissfully happy as newlyweds. Stephanie’s divorce was difficult, to say the least. A lengthy trial allowed her lawyer to present evidence of Gary’s temper toward her and the baby. His first wife took the stand to tell her own story of his violence and abandonment over the birth of their daughter. The judge was clearly moved and only allowed Gary supervised visitation. It was further ordered that the house was to be sold and any profit was to be split equally. Child support was set, and Gary let out a cry of outrage.
A month later, he showed up at my office unexpectedly. He offered me the opportunity to adopt his daughter, stating he would do anything to get out of paying Stephanie any of his hard-earned money. We all returned to court and adoption papers were filed.
Now life is so much more fulfilling. At our annual summer neighborhood gathering, I realized just how truly thankful I am for the day Stephanie entered my life. My heart overflows with joy at the sight of her and our daughter. I was holding Tabitha when Stephanie came bouncing across the lawn with a grin stretched from ear to ear.
“Charlotte and Sam are going to take care of Tabitha for us while we’re away next month for your reunion,” she announced.
“Wonderful! Tabitha will be fine with them.”
I put the baby down so she could become acquainted with the Andersons’ new puppy. A large diesel engine truck coming down the road made us all look up. We watched as our new neighbors pulled into Stephanie’s old Victorian home with a large sold sign posted out front. The Greys would be a delight to the neighborhood. They already had two little girls and twins on the way. The neighborhood was coming alive once more with young children.
As soon as they parked the U-Haul, we called them over for hot dogs and hamburgers. They accepted immediately and more introductions were made.
Later that night, after Tabitha was tucked into bed and the lights were out, Stephanie reminded me of a question she once asked me. “Do you remember when Tabitha was born and I asked you how I could ever repay you?”
I cradled her in my arms. “Yes, I do. I told you to love me forever.”
She grinned slyly up at me. “I will, you know.”
“I went to see a colleague of yours today,” she announced.
“You did? Who?”
“Because it’s against medical ethics for you to deliver your own child—and since you’ve already done that once, Dr. Walsh was only too willing to oblige me in delivering our second.”
I nearly jumped out of bed. “We’re going to have another baby?”
“Yes, we are.”
“Thank you . . . thank you so much,” I murmured in her ear.
“No need to thank me. You played a big part in it, too, you know.”
I kissed her deeply. “And you know, Steph . . . I don’t care if we have a house full of girls.”
“I already knew that.” She planted another passionate kiss on my lips. “I’ve always known . . . ”