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“It’s just like my dorm room in college, or a barracks.”

“Well, I can’t even stand it anymore. You’re coming home in the nick of time.”

“I agree,” she said. “I’m losing a sense of well-being. I can’t explain it. Like there’s no end in sight.”

“Well, there is and you’re going to be home in no time. Once you get back home and get a routine, things won’t seem so bleak. You’ll figure out how much you need Margaret. I want to keep her on full-time, but it’s up to you what she’ll do.”

“I have a feeling I won’t be changing much,” she said. “Will you get me a treadmill?”

“Done. We have all the extra space now that the apartments are history and I’ll do a real gym in part of it. I’ll get into shape, too.”

“You’re in shape,” she said, walking through the door of her room and standing aside for him. She shut the door, reaching for him. They kissed like they hadn’t kissed in a long while.

“I want to go home tonight,” she murmured.

“I know. Let me get everything ready for you and we’ll talk to your doctor on Monday and see if they can up the discharge date. I can bring you back and forth daily for PT.”

“You’d do that?”

“Of course. I’ll get your parents involved if you’re okay with that.”

“Yes, make them work,” she said, laughing. “They both have too much time on their hands. They’ve been here every day.”

“Aw, that’s good though.”

They chatted some more and when she lay down and pulled her legs up on the bed, yawning, he got the hint. “Time to head for home. I’m going to stop by Gretchen and Thom’s so they can see the baby.”

“Tell them not to visit. I’m too tired.”

“No, you tell them yourself,” he said, laughing. “We want them to stay involved, remember?”

She got back up to kiss them goodbye, lingering at the door for another moment in Luke’s arms.

“I’m not walking you out.”

“No, that’s fine,” he said, kissing her. “We’ll see what the doctor says tomorrow. I can’t wait to get you home safe and sound.”

He left her, carrying the baby and the diaper bag down the hall, past other patients and their families. He’d gotten used to their predicament—visiting her, being alone at home with baby Emily. Adapting was not his forte, but he’d done it so many times in the past year and a half that he was sure he’d do it again. The parenting style Bridget had was yet to be revealed. Would she take over for him? And how would that feel? Would he be able to give up control? He’d make it an act of his will.

After buckling Emily into her infant car seat, he offered her a sippy cup of water and she took a long drink before closing her eyes. He sent Bridget’s parents a text message asking if he could stop by their place on his way home from rehab, but they were just getting into the car to come to visit. He chuckled, deciding not to tell Bridget. Less was definitely more with her.

The hour trip to Cypress Cove passed by quickly. Baby Emily slept until he drove over the railroad tracks coming into town, the jiggling waking her.


He looked in the rearview mirror and grinned at her.

“Hey, baby. We’re almost home.”

A spin through the local drive-thru and they were all set with food for the rest of the day.

The afternoon flew by as Luke got the apartment ready for Bridget’s homecoming. Clean sheets on their bed, scouring the bathroom, making room in the closets and dressers.

Then he took notes for things she might need: a shower chair, skidproof socks, duplicates of lotions he’d seen at her bedside. Rather than guess, he sent her a text.

Headed to Walmart to get provisions for your homecoming. What do you need that I might not be aware of?

The ringing of his phone scared him. “Thank you for giving me a reason to call.”