Angie watched in amazement as Rollie cradled Benarin in his arms. They had been in the middle of a conversation, talking for the first time about what they were going to do regarding Benarin’s hospital care, when the Aussie had abruptly stopped and looked intently at the incubator.
“He needs me,” he had stated. Then he got up, carefully removed Benarin from the incubator, and sat with him on the chair. Rollie’s statement had made Angie look at the monitors anxiously, and she had noted that the readings on several of them were lower than they were before. But, now, they had returned to their former position. She had watched as they slowly rose over the space of just a couple of minutes.
Angie had no explanation to what she was witnessing. Somehow, Rollie was giving strength to Benarin, giving him what the baby needed to survive and heal. It was the most incredible thing she’d ever seen.
“How do you do it?”
The Aussie lifted his eyes from their son. “I don’t really know. Before he left, Mangela told me that my will and my life force, my spirit, were very strong, that it was important for me to remember that. I don’t think he knew this was going to happen, but I’m certain he knew that something was, something in which I would need these abilities.” Rollie looked back down at Benarin. “I can feel him, I mean really feel him, what’s inside him. When he’s weakening, I can sense it. And I can sense when what I’m doing is helping.”
“Can he sense it too, that you’re helping him?”
“Yeah, I think he can. In that last dream I had, he was begging me to help him, telling me that he knew I could. I think that . . . that, in some way, it was real. He was calling out to me, Ange. I could feel that he was, even before this morning’s dream. I just didn’t understand. It’s going to take a long time, but he will be whole. I heard some talk around the NICU about the strong chance of mental and physical impairments with premature babies, and I know that the odds would probably be against Benarin growing up to be a normal, healthy kid, but I know that he’s going to be just fine, no matter what anyone may tell us.”
“I believe you, Rol. If you can do this, how can I not believe you?”
Rollie was still holding Benarin when Nurse Stewart returned. She looked at the monitors, shaking her head slightly in disbelief.
“How is everyone doing in here?” she asked.
“We’re good,” Angie replied with a smile.
The nurse gave her a smile then looked at Rollie. “The story of this is already spreading throughout the hospital. We’ve had our own share of incredible things happen here, but this . . . this is beyond belief. The sisters are saying it’s a miracle from God. I can’t disagree with them.” She chuckled. “Don’t be surprised if you get a few people poking their heads in here from time to time. Everyone wants to see the miracle baby and his miracle maker father.”
Rollie blushed, then frowned. “I don’t want them disturbing Ben.”
“Oh, don’t worry about that. We’ll make sure nobody causes a scene.” The nurse turned back to Angie. “Normally, this isn’t something we worry about with twenty-two week preemies because of their extremely high mortality rate, but it would be much better for your son if he could be fed breast milk. It’s been proven that premature babies do better and have less health problems later on when they’re on breast milk, especially since the milk produced by mothers of premature babies has more protein, sodium, calcium and other nutrients than that of milk produced by mothers of full-term infants.”
“Yes. Yes, I want to do that,” Angie said eagerly. “When can we start?”
“Well, Ben’s not going to be able to feed at your breast for a while yet. When babies are born prematurely, their sucking is not coordinated well enough with their breathing. Right now, Ben is getting all his nutrition through an IV line because he’s so small and was so sick. However, if he continues to improve over the next day or two and he gets to the point where we can take him off the ventilator, then we can start tube feeding. When that time comes, we can feed him your milk right through the tube. What we do is give you a breast pump. The milk is expressed, sucked, from your breasts and put into a container. Any milk that he doesn’t consume right away is stored for later, though it’s best when it’s fresh.”
“When should I start using the pump?”
“As soon as possible. I’ll go get one now and instruct you how to use it.”
Around ten minutes later, Nurse Stewart returned. She had Angie thoroughly wash her hands then began showing her how to use the breast pump and milk collection kit as Rollie looking on with interest, having put Benarin back in the incubator for a while. The collection kit for the breast pump was designed to pull milk from both breasts at the same time and looked pretty strange on her.
“That’s the weirdest bikini top I’ve ever seen, Ange,” Rollie said teasingly.
“Oh, I don’t know, Rol. I think it’s quite the fashion statement.”
“Well, it would certainly draw attention, that’s for sure.”
The nurse smiled at them, then returned to her tutelage. “I must warn you that it may feel a little strange as it’s expressing the milk,” she said. “This isn’t quite the same as a baby suckling at your breast. It could also cause some irritation. You will likely get sore after a few days, but then, that will also happen when you suckle a baby.” She watched Angie for a moment longer. “So, you think you got the hang of it?”
“Yeah, I think so.”
“Good. Let’s get it started then.”
Nurse Stewart made sure the collection cups were property positioned then turned the pump on. Angie’s eyes immediately widened.
“What does it feel like?” her husband asked.
“Weird.” Glancing at the nurse, she motioned for Rollie to come closer. The Aussie leaned over next to her.
“I like how you do it much better,” she whispered in his ear.
Rollie’s face turned red, hoping fervently that the nurse hadn’t overheard. Leaning back, he looked at his wife and saw a huge, mischievous grin on her face. Deciding to have a little fun too, he leaned back over and said in her ear, “Well, it better not be having as good a time doing it as I do, or I’ll punch its lights out. I consider those breasts to be my personal territory, and I’m sure not going to let a machine stake a claim on them.”
Rollie pulled back and almost laughed upon seeing the blush that had colored Angie’s cheeks. He glanced at where Nurse Stewart had been and saw that she had left the room. A few minutes later, she came back in.
“Okay, I think it’s probably got all it’s going to this first time,” she told them. She helped Angie remove the breast pump. As she covered herself up, Angie looked in dismay at the tiny amount of fluid in the collection container.
“How come there’s so little?” she asked.
“This is perfectly normal. The amount will increase as you continue to use the pump. In case you don’t already know, this fluid is called colostrum. It’s what comes out of the breast to begin with. It contains antibodies and other substances that will help protect Ben from infection.”
“How often do I use the pump?”
“It would be best to express your milk eight to twelve times a day, completely emptying your breasts each time. Expressing your milk will send a signal to your body to produce more, and that’s what we want. We want you to be maintaining a nice, heavy flow for Ben.”
“How long before I can feed him at my breast?”
“Usually, it would be about 34 weeks gestational age, that’s around 32 weeks after conception. Sometimes it’s less, sometimes more. So, I’d say that Ben might be ready for that in two and a half to three months, if all goes well. However, even though Ben isn’t ready yet to feed at your breast, he can still suckle on them. In fact, once we start the tube feeding, you might want to let him do that as he’s being fed. This is of benefit in three ways. It’s good practice for him, and it is calming and soothing for premature babies to suckle, which helps digestion and improves weight gain. It will also give more stimulation to your breasts to produce milk. If you do this, it would be right after you express your milk with the pump so that there’s no milk left in your breasts. This is called nonnutritive sucking.”
“I’d love to do that,” Angie said fervently, wanting to do everything possible for her baby and needing the connection that having Benarin at her breast would give her. She felt Rollie take her hand and give it a squeeze.
The Aussie looked over at his son, sensing that Benarin needed to be in physical contact with him again. Getting up, he went to the incubator and carefully lifted the baby out under the watchful eye of the nurse. He sat down in the nearby chair.
“How is he?” Angie asked.
Rollie gazed down at their baby, gently stroking his head. “He’s doing good.” He kissed Benarin’s forehead. “He likes to be held like this.”
Nurse Stewart stared at father and son. “How do you do that? How do you know he likes to be held, and, the biggest question of all, how can it be that you holding him improves his condition?”
“I don’t know,” Rollie answered honestly. “I only know that it does. That’s all that matters.”
“Yes, it is.” The nurse returned her attention to Angie. She showed Angie how to handle the collection bottles. The milk was poured into a sterile container, which the nurse then labeled with Ben’s name and the date the milk was expressed, along with a notation that it was fresh milk.
“We will put this in the refrigerator,” she told Angie. “We’ll keep it there for a day. If, by then, Ben doesn’t look as if he’ll be ready for tube feeding, we’ll freeze it, though the nutritional and infection-fighting qualities of the milk are reduced by freezing it. You need to clean the breast-pump equipment very thoroughly after each use. I’ll show you how to do that now.”
A while later, the nurse left, telling the new parents that, if they had any trouble or questions, to give a call to the NICU.
Alone again with their son, the newlyweds grew quiet. Angie pulled the other chair over beside Rollie’s so that she could touch Benarin.
“Rol, what’s all this going to mean for us? I think you know as well as I that, sooner or later, the press is going to catch wind of this, and they’ll be here to get the story. What if Doctor Stein or Nurse Stewart tells them about what you did with the pen?”
Rollie laid his head against the backrest. “I’ve been thinking about that too. If my abilities became known to the public, it could make our lives hell. Can you imagine all the kooks that would come out of the woodwork? And then there’s the people who would try to cash in on what I can do. I don’t think there’s a way for us to keep this thing with Benarin a secret, but I need to talk to both Nurse Stewart and Doctor Stein about the pen thing. Hopefully, they haven’t already told others about it.”
“Do you want me to call the nurse back in?”
“Maybe we could arrange to talk to both of them at the same time.”
Angie left a message for Nurse Stewart, asking for her and Doctor Stein to come together to see them when they could.
Shortly after Angie left the message, the phone rang, startling them. Angie answered it.
“Angie? It’s Cecilia. Oh, honey, Doc Bradford told us what happened yesterday. Fred and I are so sorry. We called the hospital last night, and they told us that Benarin was in critical condition. We didn’t want to bother you, so we didn’t ask to speak to you. How is he doing?”
“He’s good, Cecilia. He going to be all right,” she looked at her husband, “thanks to Rollie.”
There was a pause on the other end of the line. “Did, um, Rollie do something? Did he ask you-know-who to help?”
“Yes, he did, but she couldn’t do anything. It was Rollie who helped. He saved Ben’s life, brought him back from the brink.”
An expression of embarrassment on his face, Rollie fidgeted with a magazine on the table.
“Really? That’s amazing and so very wonderful. You’ll have to tell me all about it. We’d like to come visit you tomorrow, if you’re up to it.”
“That would be great, Cecilia.” Angie had a thought. “Could you possibly pack some clothes for us and maybe some other necessities, like hair stuff, Rollie’s shaving kit, things like that?”
Angie smiled. “Yeah, that would be good too. I look horrid.”
“I’d be happy to. You gave Fred a spare key, didn’t you?”
“Yeah, so that he could look in on the place when we’re in New York.”
“Consider it done, then.”
“Oh, one more thing. Could you bring my laptop too? It’s in the bedroom, sitting on the dresser.”
“Certainly. We’ll see you tomorrow morning.”
“I should call Dad,” Rollie said a little while later. He sighed. “It’s not going to be easy telling him. I guess we should tell Frank and Mira too.”
The Aussie dialed the number of the cell phone he’d given to his father. It rang and rang, and Rollie was about ready to hang up when the call connected.
“Dingo Tyler here. Anything you want, I can get,” said a slightly out of breath voice.
Rollie choked back his laughter. “That’s quite the sales pitch, Dad.”
“Rollie! Good to hear your voice, Son. So, you and Angie having a good time in . . . what’s the name of that town? Heartwood?”
“Heartwell. We’re not there. We’re in Tulsa.” Rollie paused. “Something happened, Dad.”
“What is it?” Dingo asked, the tone of his voice now serious. “Angie’s all right, isn’t she?”
“Yeah, she’s fine.” Rollie took a deep breath, preparing himself. “Dad, it’s Benarin. He was born prematurely. He came yesterday.”
“Oh no. Oh, Son, I’m so sorry.” There were tears in Dingo’s trembling voice. “How is he?”
“We almost lost him, but he’s doing good now. I know he’s going to be all right.”
“I’ll head right out. I can probably be there in two days, three at the most.”
“No, Dad. It’s all right. I don’t want you to go through that. Ben is going to be okay, I promise you. It isn’t going to be like it was with . . . with Amanda.”
Rollie heard a slight choking sound on the other end. He closed his eyes, knowing how hard this was hitting his father.
“I can still see her, Rollie, even after all these years,” Dingo whispered.
“I know, Dad.” Rollie swallowed his tears. “I said that Benarin was going to be okay, and I meant it. I can’t explain it over the phone, but I’m . . . I’m keeping him alive. I don’t know how I’m doing it, but I am.”
There was a long silence. “Does this have something to do with that thing you can do?”
“Not really, at least I don’t think so. This is something else. I’ll explain it more when you come in May.”
“I’m not waiting that long, Rollie. I want to see my grandson. I’ll be there next month, the eighth or ninth, at the latest. By then, he’ll be bigger, right?”
“You call me every day, Rollie, tell me how he’s doing.”
“I will, Dad, I promise.”
“I love you, Son.”
“I love you too, Dad.”
Rollie hung up and looked at Angie.
“Who’s Amanda, Rol?” she asked.
“She . . . was my sister,” the Aussie replied in a low voice.
Angie’s eyes widened. “I didn’t know you had a sister.”
Rollie sighed. “I never knew her. She died before I was born.” He paused. “She was born prematurely.”
“Oh, Rollie, I’m sorry.”
“It never seemed that real to me. She was dead almost a year before Mum got pregnant with me. Mum was quite young when Amanda was born, only nineteen. She was conceived just a few months after Mum and Dad got married. I don’t even know if I would have found out about it if I hadn’t stumbled upon the birth certificate. I know, now, how hard it must have been for them, and I know that seeing Benarin is going to bring all those memories back to Dad. That’s why I want him to wait a while before coming, wait until Ben is bigger and stronger.”
Angie nodded, agreeing. “Do you want me to call Frank and Mira?”
“I’ll let you call Mira. I want to talk to Frank myself. He’ll have to tell Sarah, and I want to explain this whole thing so that he can tell her.”
Angie called the policewoman, who was at home. “Mira, something’s happened,” she told her. “I went into premature labor. Benarin was born yesterday.”
“Oh my God. Angie, I’m so sorry. How is he? Is he. . . .” The detective’s voice trailed off, not asking the question that Angie knew was in her mind.
“He’s alive, Mira, and he’s doing well.”
“He is? That’s great. I mean, you couldn’t have been more than twenty weeks along. I didn’t think that babies could--” Mira broke off abruptly. “Angie, I am so sorry for saying that. Please forgive me.”
“It’s all right, Mira. You’re right, you know. The doctor’s gave Benarin no more than a ten percent chance of survival.” She smiled. “But they didn’t count on Rollie.”
“Rollie? Okay, I think you need to explain that.”
Angie did, telling the cop about what happened.
“That is the most incredible thing I’ve ever heard,” the cop said. “He actually willed Benarin to live?”
“Yeah, pretty much.”
“I thought that what Rollie could do when he touched things was amazing, but this is . . . is. . . .”
“That’s what everyone around here is saying too.”
“So, how are you and he holding up?” Mira asked.
“We’re all right. It’s been a very long couple of days.”
“Yes, I should imagine it has. So, how long will Benarin be in the hospital?”
“I don’t know. They haven’t discussed that with us yet. I think they want to wait until they’re sure Ben is going to be all right.”
“You give me a call any time, Angie. I want regular updates. Have you called Francis yet?”
“No, that’s the next call we’ll be making. We’ll call you in a few days, let you know how things are going.”
“All right. Tell Rollie that I’ll be thinking about both of you, and Ben too.”
“I will. Goodbye.”
Angie handed the phone to Rollie. “Your turn.”
The Aussie called the Gatti’s home phone number. Frank answered on the third ring.
“Hey, Frank, it’s Rollie.”
“Hi. Are you and Angie back home?”
“No, we’re still in Oklahoma. Um, is Sarah there?”
“Yeah, she’s putting the last of the kids to bed.”
“Could you get her?”
“Sure. Rollie, what’s wrong?”
“I’ve . . . got some news to tell you. You should both hear it.”
“Is Angie okay?” Frank asked, concern and fear in his voice.
“Yeah, she is. Go get Sarah.”
“Okay, hold on a sec.”
There was silence on the line for a minute, then some rustling and a click.
“All right, you’re on the speakerphone, Rollie,” Francis told him.
“Benarin was born yesterday.”
A couple of seconds of silence followed the announcement. “Oh, Rollie, no,” Sarah then said. The Aussie could tell she was already crying. “Is he . . . oh, Rollie, is he alive?”
“Yes, he’s alive, Sarah, and he’s going to be all right.”
“But he’s so early. A baby that premature. . . .”
“I know. We almost lost him, but . . . well, something . . . happened.”
Rollie went on to explain the events that had saved Benarin’s life, trying to describe what was happening with him and his son.
“Rollie, what you’re describing here is nothing short of a miracle,” Frank said.
The Aussie laughed. “We’ve been hearing that word a lot today.”
“Well, it’s true,” Sarah said. “I have never heard anything like it. Forgive me for saying this, but it’s like something out of a movie.”
Rollie laughed again. “Sarah, most of my life is like something out of a movie.”
“So, he’s really going to be all right?” Frank asked.
“Yeah, he is.” Rollie’s eyes abruptly went to the incubator, that strange sense he had developed telling him that he needed to get Benarin. “I’m going to have to give you to Angie now. I need to go to Ben.” He handed the phone to his wife and went to his son, sitting on the chair with him.
“Hi,” Angie greeted.
“Is Ben all right?” Sarah asked. “Rollie said he needed to go to him.”
“Yes, he’s all right, as long as Rollie can be in contact with him when he starts to weaken.”
“It’s almost unbelievable that Rollie can do that.”
“I couldn’t agree more. Rollie’s done a lot of unbelievable things in his life, but this tops them all.”
“It a wonderful gift.”
“Yes, it is.”
“So, how are you and Rollie doing?” Frank asked.
“Tired. These past . . .” Angie looked at her watch, “thirty hours have been the longest and hardest of my life. Rollie’s too.”
“I should imagine they have.”
“So, Sarah, you’re about ready to have that one you’re carrying, aren’t you?”
“Yes. He’s due on the twenty-fifth, but, if he’s like his sisters, he’ll be a couple of days early.”
“Give us a call when he arrives, okay?”
“Sure will. You take care, Angie. All three of you will be in our prayers,” Sarah said.
Angie said goodbye and hung up. “How’s he doing?” she asked Rollie.
Rollie looked down at Benarin, who was tucked in close to his heart. “Good.”
Angie got up and sat beside them on the floor, stroking their son’s arm. “How are you doing?”
“Okay. Kind of tired.”
“Yeah, me too, but not as tired as you, I should imagine. I don’t think you got much sleep last night.”
“No, but, like I said before, I didn’t just give birth. You really should lie down and get some sleep.”
“I will later. Right now, I’m just going to spend some quality time with my two favorite men.”
A while later, Benarin was back in his incubator, and Rollie and Angie were sitting side by side on the bed, reading some booklets one of the nurses had given them about premature babies. They looked up at the sound of the door opening to see Doctor Stein and Nurse Stewart coming in. The first thing the doctor did was go to the incubator and perform a brief examination of Benarin. He shook his head.
“This still amazes me,” he said. “He’s even stronger than when I checked him last.” The man looked at Rollie. “Whatever you’re doing, it’s more than anything we can do with our modern technology. I don’t think I’ll ever understand it . . . or what you did with my pen.”
“Um, that’s what we wanted to talk to you about,” the Aussie said. “Angie and I don’t want everything that’s happened here to disrupt our lives or Benarin’s because of people finding out about it. We know that this thing with Ben is going to be impossible to keep secret, but we’d appreciate it if you’d keep it under your hat what I did with the pen. Such an . . . ability has a lot of drawbacks, and one of them is people wanting to exploit it.”
Nurse Stewart adopted a guilty look. “I’m sorry, but I’ve already told several people on the staff about it, as well as my husband. I didn’t even think about keeping it quiet.” Seeing the look that passed between the newlyweds, she hastily added, “But I can ask them all not to say anything about it to others, if they haven’t already. We’ll keep it as quiet as we can.”
“I told a couple of people too, I’m afraid,” the doctor admitted. “I apologize for that. Like Jeanie said, we’ll put a cap on it and do all we can to make sure more people don’t find out.”
“Thank you. We’d appreciate it,” Rollie said.
Doctor Stein turned to the nurse. “Jeanie, why don’t you go on back. I need to talk to the Tylers in private for a moment.”
The nurse left, and Doctor Stein took an empty chair. “I wanted to explain a couple of things, most importantly why I asked you to wait to see your son. Normally, we encourage parents to touch and spend time with their premature infant as soon as possible. What I said about wanting you to rest first was true, but there was another reason as well. We had a crisis with a set of triplets that were born two days ago. All three of them went sour within an hour of each other. We lost two of them. The remaining girl is hanging on by a thread. I had to call the parents and tell them what happened. It wasn’t easy.”
Rollie and Angie looked at each other, understanding completely what it must be like for the parents. They also felt sympathy for the doctor. It had to be one of the hardest things in the world telling someone that their child was dead.
“I didn’t want you to be in the room and witness that,” the doctor continued, “especially since I was certain that we wouldn’t be able to save your son either.”
“We understand,” Angie said.
“I also want to explain why I asked you to leave after you’d been with your son, when his condition changed. We’ve found it to be upsetting to some parents to watch procedures being done on their infants, especially on preemies. It is distressing and sometimes painful to the baby, and it’s better if the parents don’t have to see it.”
“I don’t think I would have wanted to see it,” Angie admitted.
The doctor nodded. He looked over at Benarin. “This . . . whatever it is that you’re able to do with your son. Have you ever done something like that before?”
“No,” Rollie replied. “I didn’t even realize I could until just that moment.”
“It’s a remarkable gift. If more people had that ability, we might be able to save them all.” The doctor stood up. “Well, I’ve got to get back. My shift will be over at eleven o’clock. If you want to ask me any questions before then, just have me paged.”
Rollie took note of the doctor’s departure with only a portion of his mind. What the man had said about his “gift” was running through his mind. He didn’t have time to dwell on it, however, because the nun they had met in the NICU, whom they now knew was Sister Margaret, came in.
“Hello, my dears,” she said. “How is everyone doing today?”
“We’re good,” Angie replied.
The elderly woman walked over to the incubator, smiling down at Benarin. “This is a true miracle from God. I have seen many miracles in my seventy-three years, but this is one of the greatest.” She turned to Rollie, her hand cupping his cheek. “And you are the one blessed by God’s spirit and enabled to do this. You must be a fine and wonderful person for Him to bless you so.”
Rollie’s cheeks turned pink, and he ducked his head. “I’m not all that wonderful a person,” he mumbled.
The nun smiled knowingly. “I think that maybe you are. You just don’t believe so yourself.” She looked at Angie. “Isn’t that true.” It wasn’t spoken as a question.
“Yeah, it is true,” Angie murmured.
Rollie’s blush spread, his eyes staying glued to the floor.
Sister Margaret chuckled softly. “How long has it been since the two of you had anything to eat?”
“We had a bran muffin for breakfast,” Angie replied.
The nun frowned. “That’s not a proper breakfast, and it’s certainly not enough to keep you going for the day. You both need to eat. The cafeteria itself is closed now, but there are vending machines. Use them.”
“I guess I am kind of hungry,” Rollie admitted, only just realizing that his stomach felt distinctly hollow.
“Me too,” Angie agreed.
“Well, then go do something about it,” Sister Margaret ordered.
“I can’t,” Rollie said. “I can’t leave Ben.”
“I could get the food, Rol,” Angie suggested.
Angie left for the cafeteria. The nun watched as Rollie went to the incubator and looked at Benarin.
“What you are doing for your son is a wonderful thing, Rollie,” she said softly, “but don’t ignore your own physical needs.”
“I’m not the important one. Benarin and Angie are.”
Sister Margaret walked up beside him. “All God’s children are important, Rollie, and I think that both Angie and Benarin would say that you are very, very important, especially to them. Please take care of yourself while you are taking care of them.”
The Aussie nodded.
“Any time you’d like to talk, you need only ask. My fellow sisters and I are here for everyone.”
The nun left quietly. Alone with his son for the first time, Rollie gazed down at him. He opened the incubator and touched the baby’s hand. ‘I don’t know if you can really hear me, Ben, but if you can, I’m going to do everything I can to make you well. I won’t stop doing this until I know that you’re going to be healthy and whole, no matter how long that takes.’
The Aussie sat in the recliner and closed his eyes, resting his head on the backrest. He hadn’t gotten much rest that night, and all he really wanted to do was eat something and go to bed. Maybe he could take a little nap later, after he was sure Ben would be okay.
Angie returned with sandwiches, fruit, and hot tea. They both dug into the food, the first bite awakening their hunger with a vengeance.
“I didn’t realize how hungry I was,” Angie admitted after the last bite was gone.
“Me neither.” Rollie gave a huge yawn, feeling even sleepier with a full stomach.
“You should get some sleep, Rol. You look beat.”
Rollie shook his head. “Not yet. I need to hold Ben for a while.” He got the baby and sat with him in the chair beside the incubator.
“Why don’t you use the recliner?”
“I’m afraid I’ll fall asleep.”
By the time Rollie finished with Benarin, he was fighting to stay awake. Returning the baby to the incubator, he headed for the recliner.
“Where do you think you’re going?” Angie asked.
“I was just going to catch a few winks in the recliner.”
“Uh uh. There’s a bed right there, Rol. It’s going to be more comfortable than the recliner.”
“The bed’s supposed to be for you, Angie.”
“Do you see me using it? Get in the bed, Rollie.”
The Aussie’s lips twitched upward in a smile at his wife’s demanding tone. “Do you know how much of a turn-on it is for a beautiful woman to order a man to get into bed?” He patted the mattress. “Care to share it with me?” His eyebrows waggled as his smile grew.
“You need sleep, Rollie. Besides, it’s going to be a while before I can do anything like that. There is a waiting period after a woman gives birth, you know.”
Rollie’s face fell dramatically. “Yeah, I know.” He gave a deep sigh. “I don’t know how I’m going to survive.”
“Well, look at it this way. Waiting makes the getting all the sweeter.”
Rollie bent over her and gave her a long, deep kiss. “And you are most definitely worth waiting for.”
“Damn right I am.”
The Aussie chuckled. Sitting on the bed, he kicked his shoes off and got under the covers. He was asleep about thirty seconds after his eyes closed.
Angie moved her chair beside him and watched him sleep for several minutes. Then she went to the incubator. “You have a very special daddy, Benarin,” she whispered. “But I think that, somehow, you already know that. He’s going to make you well, and we’re going to be a family.”