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The young woman shook her head wearily and turned on the television. Dennis had insisted that she take some time off, and she had grudgingly accepted. It wasn't that Abby didn't appreciate her boss's thoughtfulness, but now that she was no longer working, she was stuck doing nothing, for Jake wouldn't let her do much around the house. Abby had tried to fly fish, but found it uncomfortable and awkward while nine months pregnant; she busied herself at her fly tying table, but several flies later, lost interest. Too fidgety to read, and too restless to try the puzzles her mother had loaned her, Abby had resorted to the television. She felt like an unemployed derelict, watching television in the middle of a workday.

When Jake went to her parents' house to work, he took Abby with him. After planting her on the living room sofa, Jake started a load of laundry from the nursery, and began to vacuum the floors. Abby didn't feel like watching television at all. She longed to be up and doing something useful, instead of vegetating on her parents' couch.

She didn't have long to wait for a calling, for when John saw his daughter restlessly flipping through television channels, he readily handed her a little sister to occupy herself with. The experienced father knew it would give Abby a pleasing diversion while she was awaiting her own baby's arrival.

"Which one is this, Dad?" asked the child's big sister, as John and Terry headed outside with a basketball.

"It's probably Ruthie," he answered before closing the front door, "but I'm not positive."

Abby let her baby sister play with her long black hair and laughed as Ruthie grasped the shiny gold wedding band on her ring finger.

"Peekaboo!" said Abby, hiding her face from the baby and then suddenly reappearing from behind a throw pillow. Squealing in delight, Ruthie was loving every minute of it. The happy child cooed and burbled at Abby's babytalk, and finally fell asleep in her sister's comforting arms.

Still about his chores, Jake walked into the living room and was about to plug in the vacuum cleaner, when he saw the two sisters on the sofa. One was asleep, and the other was lovingly smiling back at him. Nodding that he would wait to clean the floor later, Jake left the vacuum and went to go put another load of laundry into the washing machine.

When he returned, Abby was clutching her belly while Ruthie tugged at her big sister's blouse. The look of discomfort on Abby's face immediately put Jake on his guard.

"I think I just had a contraction," she whimpered, trying not to let Ruthie slide from her lap while pain shot through her belly.

Jake whisked his sister-in-law back to the nursery, while Abby did her best to remain calm. When he returned, Abby was trying to breathe without hyperventilating.

"Is it Braxton-Hicks, or the real thing?" asked Jake, his brown eyes wide with expectation.

"I don't know," mumbled Abby, as another contraction wrapped around her back and took hold of her belly. "Jake!" she cried, as the young man quickly sat down on the couch and let her hold on to him as she rode out the pain.

With that last cry, Izumi came rushing into the living room. One look at Abby was enough to explain everything. Sitting down in a nearby chair, Izumi started writing down the contractions on a notepad. "I'm afraid I'm not helping very much," she sighed, as Abby gripped Jake's forearm in pain. "John and Terry are out shooting hoops, and I don't know when they'll return! They would choose now to play basketball!"

The blood began to flow back into Jake's arm as Abby loosened her hold on him. She panted, trying to regain her breath while Jake checked the times that Izumi had been diligently recording.

"I think I'd better call her doctor," said Jake. "These contractions are getting too close together." Jake was about to get up from the couch, when Abby pulled at his sleeve.
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