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"How long have you been watching?" she asked, indignantly.

"Long enough," smiled Jake, stooping over to pluck the small scrap and placing it back on her desk.

"I thought you were going to bed," said Abby, grabbing the paper and entering its information into her computer.

"I did," said Jake. "I couldn't sleep." The lowering sound of his voice suggested to Abby that he didn't like to admit it out loud.

"Well," she replied, rather stoutly, "I suggest you go back and try again. I'm still busy."

"After everything you put me through an hour ago?" quipped Jake. "Do you really expect me to sleep?"

"I thought you didn't care," she pointed out.

"I never said that," argued Jake. As she typed, her husband intently fastened his eyes on her. His expression changed, and so did the tone of his voice. "Abby," he sighed dreamily, "you have no business looking so beautiful. You're about to give birth next week. Didn't anyone ever tell you that you're supposed to look miserable right now?"

Abby could feel something tugging inside her, but tried hard to ignore it. She knew full well that she didn't look beautiful, but his words and soft voice were hard to resist. Seeing her lips moisten, Jake continued. He spoke of her with language that only a husband had the right to use. By the time he had paused, Abby's mouth was only inches from his own.

A second before Jake was about to kiss her, he whispered one word into her ear:


With an indignant cry, Abby grabbed a glass of cold water and tossed it over a laughing Jake.

"Oh, Abby!" he howled with laughter. "You should have seen your face!"

"Jake Murphy, that wasn't very nice!" she scolded him.

"I beg your pardon," he smiled in surprise. "I forgot the only one allowed to manipulate people in this family, was you. I'll try to remember that next time."

"I didn't manipulate!"

"Baby," sighed Jake, "I've been staring at the bedroom ceiling for over an hour, unable to think of anything else. I just thought I'd give you a taste of your own sweet medicine." He crossed his arms and checked her computer monitor. "Now," exhaled Jake, "when are you coming to bed? After everything that's been said tonight, if you think I'm going back by myself, you're crazy. Abigail, I'm about this close to hauling you off, for a guy can only take so much."

When Abby's surprised expression met his with hope in her eyes, Jake could not take any more. Without warning, the young man scooped her up into his arms.

"Jake, put me down!" she cried in horror. "You shouldn't be doing this to your ribs!"

"I'm healed enough for this," Jake replied confidently. "Tonight, I won't be needing any Xantol, either." As he carried his pregnant wife down the hallway to her bedroom, Abby eagerly showered him with kisses. When Jake could finally breathe again, he placed her on the bed and turned to close the door. "If Dennis misses his deadline because of this," he declared, "then we'll give him back your last paycheck!"

The night, however, didn't go as Jake had hoped it would. The closeness of Abby's due date made too much intimacy uncomfortable for her, and she found herself pushing him away. When Jake realized this, he had to reign in his emotions and back off. Abby had stirred the desire within him to be near her, and now she was the one asking to be left alone!

For the most part, Jake thought his wife had been fairly untouched by the mood swings that he had read about in Izumi's pregnancy books. The expectant father had been expecting emotional upsets from the start, but he hadn't expected her to take him with her! Didn't that woman know the effect she had on his senses? As he listened to her softly crying on the other side of the bed, Jake knew she had a small idea.
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