“My knees hurt.” “Well, you should sit down more.” “I told you, I can't whisk when I'm standing.” “Okay, but you're not whisking right now, right?” “Right.” “So, get back into bed and I'll rub your knees.” “Oh, c'mon, not that old ploy. I know what that's gonna turn into.” “And you object? C'mere,” he patted her side of the bed. “Okay. But, really. We gotta be up soon.” “There's, um,” he leaned over to check, “almost a half an hour until the alarm goes off,” he kissed her. “'Ommy!” came a high-pitched call from the other room. “That would be me,” she said. “Hurry back,” he said. It was a few minutes before she returned. “Is Jeremiah okay?” he asked. “Yes, just a diaper change. And, my God! Jeremiah. How the hell did you convince me it was all right to name him that! It's not only Biblical, it's severely Biblical. Call him Joss, it's easier on everyone.” “It was my father's name,” he said. “Yes, I know. Jeremiah Logan Beckett. Named for Jeremiah and Lena Hayes, your parents,” she leaned over and kissed him, “At least this one will be named for mine. Peter Matthew, for Peter and Marie Helêne O'Day.” Kick Kick Kick. “Ow!” she complained. “Petey's very active,” he said, and then kissed her huge belly, “Come back, we'll continue where we left off.” “Who knew pregnancy would be such a turn-on for you?” she said, getting back in and trying to get comfortable, but her massive bulk made that difficult. “It is ... you need to understand, Lili,” he said, kissing her neck, which made her moan a little, “I know how it all happened. How that baby got there. How you and me put him there. Very, very sexy.” “You! So we'll, uh, do math again?” “That's all right,” he conceded, “But I miss the intimacy of regular activities.” “You know Dr. Miva said we can't do that.” “I know. I also know what you and I did last time.” “Yeah, and it was really frustrating, Doug.” “Well, I will be careful. Really, really careful. Everything will be all right,” he went back to kissing her neck and put his hand on her abdomen. “I don't want to hurt Petey,” she said, patting her belly. As if in response, she got another sharp kick. “I felt that one, too,” Doug said, “Now listen here,” he said, pointing his finger into her midsection, “You are not being very kind to your hostess, Young Man. You need to lay off the kicking every once in a while, Pete.” Kick Kick. “Fat lot o' good that did,” she said, then kissed him. “'Ommy!” came their son's voice from the other room. She sighed. “Why doesn't he ever call for me?” Doug asked. “Because you're not the Mommy. It's all very Oedipal,” Lili got up again, “I'm coming, Joss,” she called out. A minute later, she returned, “Not hungry, not wet. Just wanted company, I guess.” “He can hear us talking,” Doug said, “So, let's stop talking so much,” he kissed her. This time it was harder for Lili to get comfortable, “Gawd, I'm the size of a planet. Pretty soon forks and spatulas will start revolving around me,” she said, “And this is only the fourth month! What am I gonna do? This is all your fault, you know.” “My fault?” “Yes. That beach on Lafa VI – you were totally outta control.” “Me? It was a nude beach for gosh sakes.” “I didn't know that when I booked it. You were an animal. The Calafans were staring.” “That's 'cause they could hear you. You're not exactly a little mouse when you, uh, when you know. It must kill ya to keep quiet with Joss in the other room.” “I bite the pillow most of the time in order to keep quiet,” she admitted, “Poor Pete's gonna come out, thinking pillowcases make for good eating.” He smiled at her, a little more crinkly around the eyes but otherwise looking the same as he did when they'd first met almost two years before, “Well, I like to make it so that you have to bite the pillow.” She smiled at him a little, “I just get afraid. Don't want to even take a chance of hurting this baby. Neither of us knew we could have one, let alone a second. He's a tremendous gift.” “I know,” he said, “I will be as careful as when we put in the windows in this house. I swear.” “I'm gonna bite that pillow in half if you keep doing exactly what you're doing right now.” Kick. “Oh? Tell me more, Mrs. Beckett,” he said, kissing her ear. “Oh, yeah. Right ... there.” “'Ommy!” “Oh, man,” she said, “Doug, Doug, Doug, listen, I, Gawd, can I get a rain check? I so want to. You don't know how much I want to.” He propped himself up on one elbow and checked the clock by peeking around her massive form, “Alarm's going off soon anyway,” he sighed, “Rain check. I will come to collect, you know.” “Yes, I know,” she said, bending around and kissing him, “And collect the interest, too, while you're at it.” “'Ommy! Duck Duck!” Doug sighed again, “He just wants to be entertained.” “Yeah, I guess so. When Pete arrives, he'll have more entertainment.” “Once Petey gets big enough, I guess,” Doug allowed, “Man, there are gonna be a lot more frustrating days like this, aren't there?” “Yeah. I wish that wasn't the case,” she said. “Lili, I'll, uh, I'll go put on the coffee. Then I'd really better, erm, take a shower.” She smiled at him. “I, you don't have to.” “Don't act like it's this huge chore for me to put on the coffee. It's okay. And, uh, this is okay, too. I just miss you. I miss our, our immediacy.” “I miss that, too,” Lili said, “Like crazy.” “Duck Duck!” came Joss's voice. “So, are you gonna quack like a duck?” Doug asked. “Yes, of course. Are you gonna honk like a goose?” “Man, I'm terrible at that. You don't wanna hear me sing.” “Of course I do! You have such a sweet tenor voice.” “Will you do that little hootchie coo dance step when you sing about the swan?” he asked. “Yes, although I don't feel like a swan. I feel like a whale.” “You are still a swan.” “'Ommy!” “My public awaits,” she said, and went into the other room. He could hear her singing to Joss, who was clapping but doing a lousy job of keeping time, just a toddler's irregular clapping: “The duck was quackin'” (finger snap, finger snap) “The duck was laughin'” (two more finger snaps) “The duck was dancin' by the water quack quack quack The rhythm made him think he oughta quack quack quack He was dancing to the samba the samba the samba Oh goose oh The goose was gaining passing by” She stopped for a second and called out, “Doug, you're supposed to be honking.” “I feel stupid.” “He's a baby. He has no idea the lyrics are silly. Now, you are the goose. The goose has to honk!” “I'm a gander.” “Yes, I know. Can you honk a little, please?” “Okay. Honk, honk, honk,” he sang. She continued singing, “He stopped and gave the dance a try” “Honk, honk” he answered. She sang, “The bossa nova had him dancing The new thing. The new swing. Then a lovely swan swam by, in all her majesty, and she loosened up. Hootchie-cootchie-coo did that swan. She joined the duck and goose and did the samba too. You should have seen the kind of samba she could do. They did the samba so long, they all fell right in the water. While they were singing away, quack quack quack, quack quack quack o pato, ” Then she continued in Portuguese. And Doug Beckett knew – despite his mounting frustrations – that if Lili was singing, if Joss was clapping, if Petey was kicking, and if he was honking like a goose and feeling more than a little bit silly about that, that all was right, in this or any other universe.