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Chapter Twenty-eight
Labor of Love

"Unto the woman He [God] said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception [childbirth]; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee."
~ Genesis 3:16 ~

Inhaling a deep breath of air, Jake grasped the book in his hands and prepared himself for what he was about to do. He propped his feet on the coffee table and used his knees to shield the book cover from Abby, who was engrossed with her computer and not paying attention to anything going on around her. It was perfect. Jake had contemplated going to his bedroom to read, but quickly decided against it. If he passed out, he didn't want Abby to find him unconscious on the bedroom floor. Besides, what if he hit his head and bled to death? It might take Abby hours before she found him. Jake quietly laughed at his own absurdity. He guessed that he was more nervous than Abby about this whole thing, and he thought it showed. Jake only hoped that it didn't show too much.

With another deep breath, Jake opened the cover and forced himself to look at the pictures. Blood promptly began to drain from his head, and the young man had to quickly slam it shut. Hearing the sound, Abby looked up from her keyboard to see her Jake placing his head between his legs, apparently to keep himself from passing out.

"Are you all right?" she asked, puzzled by his behavior.

"I'm fine," Jake called out, not bothering to look up, but discreetly shoving the book under his leg so she couldn't see what he had been reading.

"Another flashback?" wondered Abby, threatening to get up from her chair.

"No, no," he quickly insisted, raising his head to look at his wife. "I was just relaxing a little, that's all."

"Are you sure?" she hesitated, her hand on the armrest of the computer chair, as if poised to cross the room to check on him.

Attempting to prove that he really was fine, Jake grabbed a nearby newspaper and kicked his feet out on the coffee table. With an innocent smile, he tried to engross himself in yesterday's news until Abby was satisfied, and returned to her work. After a few minutes of waiting, Jake peeked over the edge of his paper and pulled out the dreaded book once more.

He had to do this. There was no other choice. He had gotten Abby into this predicament in the first place, and he wasn't about to abandon her when she needed him most. It wasn't the screaming that he was afraid of, or even the sight of bleeding-- it was the idea that Abby was the one doing it. The book assured him that childbirth was a beautiful thing, but Jake was having a difficult time believing it. In fact, the baby itself, seemed to be the only positive thing about this entire experience. He turned another page and was greeted by a crying woman trying to pass a baby between her legs.

With a shudder, Jake closed his book and checked the clock. This time, he had made it all the way to page twelve. Pleased that he was making progress, the expectant father returned the volume to Abby's nightstand without her noticing.

"Are you about to turn in anytime soon?" asked Jake, as Abby continued to type away at her computer.

"What time is it?" mumbled Abby, her attention on the problem in front of her.

"It's nearly eleven."

"Already?" she sighed wearily. "Dennis is waiting on me, and I really need to be ready by tomorrow afternoon or else he's going to be late for a deadline."

"All right then," yawned Jake, "I'll kiss you good night and go to bed."

He promptly bent down and smothered her with a long kiss. When Abby's senses returned to her, she tried to scold her husband.

"That didn't help," Abby smiled reproachfully. "I really have to get this done tonight, Jake."

continued on next page...
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