The baby reached out for Bridget, calling her “mama.”
“Aw, she knows who I am. I’ll get off this thing so I can hold her. I don’t trust myself walking around with her yet.”
“You’re amazing, having gotten as far as you have,” Luke said. “You look great.”
“I’m having trouble with the burn scars on my neck. They’re pulling my mouth down. Can you see it?”
He gently took her chin in his fingers and turned her head. “I can, a little.”
“It means more surgery! Can I tell you how over this I am? I’m ready to leave things alone but I don’t want to freak you out if my face is messed up more than it already is.”
It was the first time she’d brought up the subject of wounds other than her leg since she’d left Walter Reed. She’d sustained burns on her lower left face, and the scars contracted as the burns healed, getting progressively tighter.
“I’ve done a little research,” Luke said. “Everything says to wait a year after the injury when it’s not so vascular.”
“Ugh, I didn’t want to hear that.”
“Sorry. But it’s probably why they keep putting you off. You look great to me. I love your eyepatch; your hair looks hot; you’re beautiful. You’re my Bridget.”
She leaned forward on the treadmill and kissed him, obviously moved. Turning off the treadmill, she carefully stepped off. “Let’s head over to the visitor center. I want to hold her.”
“We’re staying for dinner,” he said. “I put our order in.”
“Oh, good. I’m tired of this place, Luke. I want to come home. I need to carve out my space in your house.”
“It’s ready for you. My tenants moved out and we’ll work on the design plan when you get home.”
“Do we need that big place?”
“Yes,” he said with finality. “This is our home. You need privacy and space to recover. You can swim every day. I’ll put a macadam track around the perimeter so you can run safely until you’re ready to do road work. I want a big play area for Emily.”
“I can’t believe I’m saying this, but do you want more kids?”
“Ha! Where did that come from?”
“It just popped into my head,” she answered. “Weird!”
“We can talk about it when you’re ready,” he replied, laughing. “That’s the last thing I thought you’d say.”
“Believe it or not, I’m in this for the long haul, too.”
Luke was in shock, deciding to play it cool instead of getting all emotional like he usually did.
“I’m open to anything,” Luke finally said. “More babies! I can’t think of anything to top that.”
“Ha! We’re not competing,” Bridget replied. “I’ll have to learn to take care of the one we have.”
They entered the room where other rehabbing men and women were visiting with their families. Luke and Emily followed Bridget to two chairs in the corner. She sat down, oblivious to the stares they were getting. Luke noticed, though, and it was moving to see the emotion coming from others in the room who had their own issues to deal with.
“Are we getting a lot of attention?” she whispered.
“You are. Like I said, eyepatch and all, you’re hot.”
“I think it’s you,” she said, looking at his jeans. “Would you consider wearing jeans that don’t bind in the crotch? I’m getting hot looking at you.”
Flushing, Luke grinned, handing Emily over to her mother. “You’re coming home soon. Do you want to try it first thing?”
“I’m not sure I’ll remember how,” she said, giggling.