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“Aw, a girl!” Luke cried.

They were going to have a girl. How would he take care of a girl baby? Grinning, he shook his head in disbelief.

“You’ll be fine,” Bridget said, quickly figuring out what he must be feeling.

“What’s going on?” the doctor asked.

“I’m going to be deployed as soon as she’s born,” Bridget said. “Luke will be alone with her. I’m leaving for Camp Pendleton tomorrow and will get my prenatal care there but will be back here to deliver.”

“That’s fine. We have a protocol for this, believe it or not.”

The doctor understood the special circumstances and agreed to be backup to the midwife who would deliver the baby, without being the primary prenatal doctor. The doctor at the base hospital would send records of Bridget’s prenatal visits to the Saint John’s Parish office.

On their way out to the truck, Luke asked if she wanted to go to lunch.

“Lunch out will be nice. We can celebrate. We’re going to have a girl!”

A popular diner on the way home was in between breakfast and lunch so the crowds had thinned out.

“Let’s stop here. They have everything,” Luke said.

Inside, they sat across from each other, opening the menus. It was easy, like old friends hooking up for lunch.

“I can’t believe I’m leaving tomorrow,” she said again. “This has been the fastest week.”

“Yeah, and now we know we’re going to have a girl. It’ll take me a while to get used to that.”

Bridget grabbed his hand. “You’ll be fine, Luke. I really believe that. You’ll be a great dad.”

“You talk like you’re never coming back,” he said, finally giving voice to a troubling issue.

“We don’t have to address that right now,” she said, looking at the menu. “I’m getting a grilled cheese and tomato soup.”

Luke studied her face, the unspoken fear finally at the surface and no time to resolve it, if they could ever resolve it.

“Can we discuss this? I don’t think I’ll survive in limbo, Bridget. And I’m not usually so whiny but it’s not fair to me. I need to know what your goals are.”

She put the menu down and looked into his eyes. “I want to make a career out of the Navy.”

“Wow. So that death do us part was just for show.”

“No. We will always be together because of the baby,” she said, pushing the menu to the edge of the table.

“So, I’ll be a single parent,” he said.

He thought of single parents he was familiar with, and it was always women until he heard about Alphé Beaumont the fisherman, father of four. But he didn’t have a baby to take care of.

“It’s a relief talking about it,” she said. “If you’ll agree, I’ll spend my leaves with you and the baby.”

“What happens if you fall in love with someone?” he asked.

“You can fall in love, too,” Bridget replied, not denying it was a possibility. “We’ll share custody, if you agree.”

The server approached and Luke could not sit in a public restaurant and make small talk with Bridget after she’d dropped that bomb.

“We have to leave,” he said. “I’m sorry.”

“No problem,” the waitress replied, gathering their menus and walking away.

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