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Dave turned his back to pour the coffee, in shock. He had known Bridget and Luke were seeing each other when she was on leave, but a pregnancy? And then he bit his tongue before he could say anything critical; he’d gotten Katrina pregnant the first time they were intimate. It seemed like that was the way to start a family lately in the cove.

“Is she coming back to Cypress Cove?” he asked, placing a mug of coffee in front of Luke.

“That’s the thing. She’ll return to Camp Pendleton until maternity leave starts. Then she’s leaving the baby with me and returning to Afghanistan.”

Surprised, Dave didn’t know what to say to Luke about being a single parent.

“I can’t believe they’d make her return to a war zone.”

A woman wearing a colorful scrub outfit came from the back of the house carrying a toddler.

“Dada,” little Davie said, holding his arms out. Dave took him from the nanny and the child immediately did acrobatics in the safety of his father’s arms.

“Sheriff, please don’t put him down,” the woman said, holding out her hand to Luke. “I’m Luanne, the nanny.”

“Nice to meet you,” Luke said. “I’m Luke, the carpenter.”

“I’ve seen you going to the garage,” Luanne said.

“Don’t worry about me putting him down,” Dave said, and then explained to Luke, “If I put him down, he’ll lay waste to this house.”

“You need a big backyard play cage. It’s the latest thing to keep your kid alligator-safe.”

Dave and Luanne looked at each other.

“I pity the alligator that tries to eat this kid,” Luanne said.

Dave howled out a laugh.

“I agree. How soon can you build one?” Dave asked.

“Now, if you want me to stop working on the attic office over the garage.”

“How long will it take?”

“About a week so the cement footings for the posts can cure. It’s basically a huge, chain-link space with a top on it. I can do a corrugated fiberglass paneling roof, just so you can use it when it’s raining. There are no spaces for a kid to get their head caught and strangle themselves if they are climbers.”

Grimacing, Dave hadn’t thought about that. “How tall can you make it?”

“Six feet. That’s the height of the fencing unless we special order it from, say a prison contractor,” Luke said.

“Ha! I’m almost desperate enough to say go for it. But six feet should be enough.”

“You’d have to duck. But if we don’t put a roof on it, you can have your play structure inside of the cage. You can also put extension bars on it for a higher roof, but then if your son is a climber, he might get over it and escape.”

“Davie would get over it,” Luanne said. “But we’d never leave him unattended. He already has to come in the bathroom with us unless we lock him in his room.”

“My kid is a Houdini,” Dave said, nodding his head.

“We’ll leave now,” Luanne said. “It’s stroller time. We’re going to the park to meet up with Calista and her little ones.”

“Have fun,” Dave said, scratching his head. “Are you sure you’ll be okay?”

“I can run almost as fast as he can,” she said, cackling. “Since I’ve been watching this babe, I’m in the best shape of my life.”

Dave helped her get the stroller out and buckled Davie in before he could run off.

Back inside, he picked up his coffee cup again. “I’ll talk to Katrina about the cage. It’s a great idea and one we are going to have to seriously consider.”