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Katrina pulled her car next to his truck and called to him through the open windows.

“Hey! I hoped I’d see you. I just got off the phone with Dave. He said you’re going to be a dad!”

Luke nodded, yet another feeling heretofore foreign to him: pride. “I just found out. She’ll be home tomorrow so I’m spinning like a top.”

“Aw, you came to work, too.”

She got out of the car, all smiles and kindness. “Work is salvation right now,” he said. “I’m glad we’re almost done because I might have to take a couple of days off. She’s only here for a week, and then she leaves for Camp Pendleton until maternity leave.”

“Ugh. It sounds like she’s not getting out then.”

“No. She loves it. Just my luck I’d get involved with a woman who’s gung ho.”

They laughed together, Katrina nodding her head. “She is passionate about everything. That’s the thing so attractive about Bridget. Did you want to come in and have coffee with me?”

“I’d love to. I was just thinking I need a woman friend I can get relationship advice from because this will not be easy. Did Dave tell you she’s leaving the baby with me and returning to theMiddle East?”

“Oh, no. He didn’t tell me that. Come in.”

Luke followed her back inside. She pulled a dolly type thing on wheels that had a leather satchel filled with important-looking papers in it peeking out of the zippered top. With little effort, she pulled it up the few steps of the landing into the house and wheeled it into the living room. She placed her briefcase on a bench.

“This thing will go into the garage when it’s ready. I hate it that all my junk is all over the house.”

“I’ll make it a priority,” he said.

“I didn’t mean that. You’re fine. Have a seat. I’ll be right out.”

He could hear her greeting the nanny and her son in the child’s room. Five minutes later she came out, still in her shirt and skirt, but the jacket part was missing. She’d pinned up her hair and it appeared she’d washed her face; the lipstick was gone and she looked fresh.

“I should leave you so can do what you need to do.”

“No, it’s fine. Luanne will put Davie to bed so I have a few minutes. We can have coffee. You’re in luck, Luke. We have a circle of mothers, nannies, and teenagers who will help you.”

“I didn’t know that.”

“Oh, yes. Calista is babysitting for a few of the babies and has twins, too. Your baby will fit right in.”

“Wow, that was easy.”

“It will be easy. We’ve already trailblazed this path, Luke. You’ll see.” She looked at him sidelong. “The only thing that seems like it might be super difficult is doing it alone. But she won’t be gone forever, will she?”

“I think she only has to complete her commitment which was originally a year. So yeah, eight months.”

“The baby will be nearly a year when she returns then.”

“Nearly a year,” he echoed. “I’m whirling.”

She laughed out loud. “I bet. I was whirling, too, when I found out I was pregnant. I’m sure Dave will tell you he was in a fog.”

Luke finished the coffee and stood up, ready to leave.

“Thank you, Katrina. Thanks for telling me about Calista. It will be information I can share with Bridget that might lessen her concerns. She’ll see I have some plans in place and that might be a relief.”

They said goodbye and he hurried out to his truck, eager to leave before Dave got home and he had to make more small talk. He was talked out.

Back home, the countdown for Bridget’s return continued.


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