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“I do. I’m grateful, too.”

“I just know that some of these people are narrowminded. They can’t help it. It’s from being in the same isolated place all their lives. I’m guilty of it, too, until I face my own issues, like I am now. I’m learning not to judge.”

“You don’t seem like a judgmental guy.”

“I have my peccadillos,” he said, frowning. They arrived at home, pulling under the portico. “What do you want to do with all this stuff?”

“Do you have a room yet that you’d like to use as a nursery?”

He looked at her, absorbing what she was asking of him. In a few short months, they were going to have a baby. The time to plan for her was now.

“The room next to ours, I guess,” he said, the wordoursreverberating in the truck's cab. “Do you have to wash the clothes?”

“No. If I didn’t know these people I would, but Maggie and Katrina won’t give me dirty baby clothes. If you are okay with it, I think we should take everything upstairs and start unpacking.”

“I’m good with that. I have a couple of pieces of white painted furniture that will be useful for a baby’s room.”

“Great. Show me,” she said, following him into the house. “I’m getting into this.”

“I am, too.”

“I feel a little weird that I won’t be that involved,” she said.

He grabbed her to kiss before reaching into the back of the truck for a box and she submitted to him in the moment. They were partners. “You will be involved though. You’ll be here for maternity leave. How much time will you get?”

“Six weeks, like everyone else. The only difference is I have accrued a shit ton of leave time and my CO tells me I can use it when she’s born.”

“I’ll take this box upstairs and get a dolly to bring the rest. You go rest.”

“I want to help. I need the exercise.” They walked to the elevator, side by side. “I want to come home a month before the birth. Are you okay with that?”

“Bridget, of course. Dave said you shouldn’t fly after eight months. Did you know that?”

“Probably. My head is swirling with facts about pregnancy. I’ll come home, spend the next four weeks getting everything ready, deliver, and then spend six weeks of leave time before I take off again.”

“Six weeks. I hoped you had more time.”

“I do, but I’d rather use it when I return home again.”

He leaned over and kissed her again. They were barely a couple. But Luke was determined to take advantage of every moment they had together.

A feeling of melancholy swept over Bridget and she quickly turned to the box of clothes, unfolding the corners to get at the contents.

“Do you need to see all of this stuff?” she asked.

“No, you can unpack and organize it on the bed. I’ll drag the furniture I told you about in here and you tell me where you want everything. It will give me something to do at night after you leave.”

“Do you have a label maker?”

“Oh God, you too?” he asked, chuckling. “I love my label maker.”

“I saw your pantry,” she answered, laughing out loud, relieved the moment of angst had passed. “Yeah, I can label the inside of the drawers, showing where to put everything. If you think of a better way to organize, I trust you.”

“‘I don’t known nothin’ ’bout birthin’ babies,’” he said, ala Butterfly McQueen inGone with the Wind.

“You’re too funny,” Bridget said, laughing. “I don’t either. Poor baby.”

“Ha! No one knows what they’re doing with the first kid.”