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And John was not alone in these happy observations. It was not unusual to find a curious smile plastered on Ricky's face, as if he had some great secret that no one else knew about but him. But Jake understood his son. Ricky had only needed reassurance, and the bond between parent and child only deepened as that love was proved each day.

With a great sigh of relief, the Murphy household began to relax and enjoy their new bundle of joy, even though that bundle kept requesting to be nursed at all hours of the night.

The great concern of Ricky behind them, Jake was becoming aware of another test that was gradually building.

Ever since they had come home from the hospital, Jake maintained a little distance from Abby, for she had just given birth and was in no condition to be intimate with him. And since her prevailing mood was one of fatigue, and not romance, Jake quickly discovered that his own needs had to take a back seat to that of his wife's.

While he had prepared himself for this change, beforehand, he hadn't been ready for the longing that overtook him at night in bed. Jake had been in the habit of clinging to Abby in his sleep, but her current condition was making this difficult for the poor man to do. As soon as his arms would wrap around her, Jake's hands would ache for more, and he often had to retreat to the bathroom for a cold shower. To Jake's dismay, he was steadily becoming worse.

It was after such an incident one night, that Jake inexplicably retreated to the bathroom, only to return several minutes later, damp and cool beside her in bed. He had offered no explanation, but Abby hadn't needed any.

"Maybe," she suggested, "you should sleep in your room, for awhile."

"Do you want me to?" he asked in surprise.

"This isn't about what I want," she argued, "but what's good for you. Do it for yourself."

"No," resisted Jake, trying once more to hold on to her so he could go to sleep, "I'm not leaving our bed."

"Why not?" she whimpered.

"If I leave now," explained Jake, "I might have a difficult time coming back, later. It's better to stay, than to risk repeating getting used to you all over again."

"Couldn't you just sleep next to me, without having to touch me?" she wondered. "It would be a lot easier on you, if you could."

"No, it wouldn't," replied Jake, struggling to keep his patience, for he was sorely being tested by these circumstances. "When I don't hold on to you, I startle too easily when I'm asleep. I have to do this my way."

"You're making me feel guilty," sighed Abby.

"I'm sorry," he regretted.

"Why are you apologizing to me?" Abby laughed softly. "I'm the one who's causing you trouble."

"Habit, I guess," he mused, carefully adjusting his arms around her while trying not to reawaken his desire.

"What if..." Abby was about to make another suggestion, when Jake interrupted her thought.

"Please," he begged her, "just go to sleep, Abby. Let me work this out for myself."

"You're not in this alone," she reminded him.

"Actually," he smiled, "in this instance, I'd prefer to think that I was."
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