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Suddenly, a thought came to Bridget. “You must have a family around here somewhere,” she said in disbelief that it hadn’t come up before.

“I’ve got family,” he said, frowning. “We’ll save that story for another time.”

“Where are they?”

“Back in the swamp,” he said. “All the clichés about swamp people apply to my family.”

“I don’t know any.”

“You will if you stick around with me long enough.”

Luke was normally quiet, but now he was just being vague, giving Bridget a glimpse of something she couldn’t pinpoint until later that night when she was lying in bed, wide awake, the baby fluttering within her.

Luke could be stubborn.

Chapter 5

It’s Baby Time

Searing pain that didn’t let up signaled she was in transition. The couple had spent the last four weeks together, studying a book on childbirth, and she was sure she was at the end. There was no way in hell she could endure this for much longer.

“I’ve got to push,” she said, trying not to grunt.

“Can I check you?” the midwife, Cassandra, asked.

“Yes, please for God’s sake, check me,” she cried.

“You’re complete,” she announced after examining Bridget, and she winked at Luke. “Push away.”

“I can’t lie on this bed. Luke, I’m sorry, your poor floors.”

“It’s okay, Bridget. There’s a tarp and a bucket. I’ll stick the bucket under your butt.”

“This is a nightmare,” she said, grunting as she got into position. “I don’t think it will take long though.”

“You’re almost there,” he said, helping her squat.

“This is it,” she said, pushing with all her might. The midwife had the top of the baby’s head securely in her hands and would hold on to her.

In four good pushes, tiny Emily Claudette Benoit-Esprit was born. Six pounds, two ounces, eighteen inches long.

Cassandra wiped the worst of the goo off the baby and handed her off to Luke who was unabashedly in tears, checking out the little bundle.

“Jesus, I need to get into the shower,” Bridget said.

“Babe, you still got the cord hanging out of you. Let the placenta deliver, and then I’ll help you into the shower.”

The birth had its comedic moments. After a few well-posed photographs that Bridget approved of, the family got the email announcing that the deed had been done and all were well.

Luke paid Cassandra more than she asked for to clean up the scene that looked more like the result of a brutal murder than a birth.

“I’m so sorry,” Bridget repeated to Luke, flaring her nostrils. “I would have gone to the hospital to deliver if I knew it would be that gross.”

“Bridget, it was fine.”

He sat next to her on the bed as she nursed the baby, his heart melting. Her plan was to nurse Emily and pump and freeze milk for six weeks. Hopefully, she’d have enough milk that Luke could feed her breast milk for another month.

Lovingly, the friends all offered to freeze breast milk for baby Emily. They’d use a sterile technique to mix the milk and freeze it. They tested Emily’s tolerance to it and she did fine with it.