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Cry No More

By´╝ÜLinda Howard

1

Mexico, 1993

Milla had fallen asleep while the baby was nursing. David Boone stood over his wife and child and watched them, aware of the silly grin on his face, of the fullness in his chest. His wife. His child.

God, his world.

The old fascination, the obsession, with medicine remained, but it was tempered now by something equally as fascinating. He’d never suspected that the process of pregnancy and childbirth, of the rapid development of the infant, could be so engrossing. He’d chosen the field of surgery because of the sheer challenge of it; obstetrics, in comparison, had seemed kind of like watching grass grow. Well, sometimes things went wrong and the obstetrician had to be on top of things, but for the most part babies grew and were born, and that was that.

He’d thought that until it came to his own child. Clinically, he’d known every detail of fetal growth, but he hadn’t been prepared for the sheer emotion of watching Milla round out, of feeling the small kicks and flutters of the baby grow into stronger, more demanding ones. And if the sheer emotionalism had blindsided him, how had Milla felt? Sometimes, even during the physical misery of the last month of pregnancy, he’d caught an expression on her face, a rapt, absorbed look as she unconsciously stroked her belly, that told him she was lost in a world inhabited only by herself and the baby.

And then Justin had arrived, squalling and healthy, and David had felt light-headed with relief and euphoria. In the six weeks since, each day seemed to bring some small change as the infant grew; the dark fuzz on his head had become blond, his eyes were more blue and alert. He was noticing things, recognizing voices, waving his arms and legs in a jerky, uncoordinated rhythm as his little muscles grew in strength. He loved his bath. He had an angry cry, a hungry cry, an uncomfortable cry, and a cranky cry. Milla had been able to tell the difference within days.

The changes in his wife were fascinating, too. Milla had always had a way of holding herself apart from the world, as if she were more an observer than a participant. She’d been a challenge from the moment he’d first seen her, but he had stubbornly courted her until she couldn’t help but notice him as a person rather than a moving part of the scenery. He could remember perfectly the exact moment when he’d won: they had been at a New Year’s Eve party and in the middle of all the laughter and drinking and general silliness, Milla had looked at him and blinked, a faintly startled expression crossing her face as if he had suddenly come into focus. That was it; no hot kiss, no heartfelt exchanges in the night, just a sudden clarity in her gaze as she finally, truly saw him. Then she smiled and took his hand, and with that simple touch they were linked.

Amazing.

Okay, it was also amazing that he’d surfaced from his studies and work long enough to notice her at one of the deadly dull staff parties his professor parents often hosted, but once he had, he couldn’t get her face out of his mind. She wasn’t beautiful; maybe she barely qualified as pretty. But there was something about her, in the strong, clean lines of her face and the way she walked, an almost gliding stride that made him think maybe her feet didn’t quite touch the ground, that had kept consciousness of her nagging at him like a persistent mosquito.

Learning about her had fascinated him. He liked knowing that her favorite color was green, that she didn’t want pepperoni on her pizza, that she enjoyed action movies and, thank God, yawned at the idea of chick flicks, which was surprising because she was so essentially feminine. As she explained it, she already knew about woman stuff, so why would she want to watch more of the same? Trivial stuff, mostly. He was beguiled by her serenity; if she had a temper, he’d never seen it. She was the most evenly balanced person he’d ever met, and even after two years of marriage he still couldn’t quite believe his luck.

She yawned and stretched, the move popping her nipple out of the baby’s slack mouth, who grunted and made a few sucking motions, then was still. Fascinated, David reached out and stroked one gentle finger over the plump mound of her bare breast. He admitted it; he was delighted with the new size of her breasts. Prepregnancy, Milla’s shape had been lean, like a long-distance runner’s. Now she was rounder, softer, and the postbirth moratorium on sex was driving him crazy. He couldn’t wait until tomorrow, when she had her six-week checkup from Susanna Kosper, the team’s ob-gyn. Actually, because of a couple of emergencies that played havoc with Susanna’s schedule, it was almost seven weeks now, and he was close to howling at the moon. Jerking off relieved the tension, but was a long way from being as satisfying as making love to his wife.

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