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Julie’s water broke at 3:00 a.m., and Luke’s day went more or less downhill from there. Despite April’s journey down the same canal a year and a half earlier and rigorous attendance at Lamaze classes, Julie’s cervix remained stuck at three centimeters for most of the day. At 4:00 p.m., when the baby’s heart began showing signs of stress, the exhausted mother-to-be was rushed to the OR for an emergency Caesarian, and Luke was left alone to prepare himself as best he could for the birth of his second child. At loose ends and in need of the assurance of something familiar, he fished in his pocket for a quarter and lifted the receiver off the pay phone on the wall just inside the waiting room. He dialed his home number and listened impatiently to the clicks as the connection was made.
She answered on the third ring. “Hello, Bosco residence,” his mother-in-law purred like a contented panther preening on a limb. Her dark hair and gracefully fluid movements had inspired him to make similar comparisons in the past. Once, she enjoyed a brief flirtation with fame as a West Coast torch singer par excellence with an alluring routine that featured red evening gowns and an ebony grand piano, but that was before Earl and Julie came along. She devoted a couple of years to motherhood, and, when she attempted a comeback, she found that her star had faded and her fans had drifted elsewhere. She still looked great in those evening gowns, and, if anything, the years had mellowed her voice like a great wine in the cask, but she knew that the brass ring had passed her by. She kept few relics to remind her of those sparkling days, but on her mantle there was a fading photograph of a piano and a buxom girl in a long red dress sandwiched between Frankie and Deano, and if anyone asked her about it, she would just chuckle real deep and say in that warm throaty voice of hers, “If I ever get to do it my way, I’ll let ya know.”
“Jackie, it’s Luke. They just took Julie to the OR.”
“Calm down, Luke; you’re huffing and puffing like you’re the one with your feet in the stirrups.”
“It’s surgery, Jackie,” he barked, stating the obvious.
“Oh, is it really?” she answered a little less warmly. “And here I’ve spent the last twenty years thinking it was a stork that brought Julie.”
“Oh hell, I forgot; you had it too, didn’t you?”
“Yes, I did, Luke, and there’s nothing to it. She’ll wake up with her tummy a little sore, but the baby will be beautiful; none of those awful red marks on her head like she was pulled out with barbecue tongs.”
“But, I wanted to be there in the room with her.”
“That’s really sweet, Luke, but, believe me, after twelve hours in labor she won’t care if you’re there or not.”
“I still don’t think much of caesarians.”
“Oh, come on,” Jackie laughed. “You’re just pouting cause they won’t be doing an episiotomy.”
“Never mind; I’ll explain it when you get home.”
“You’ll still be there? It’s gonna be late; probably ten or after. You know I’ve got to stay till she gets out of recovery and back to her room.”
“Stay as long as you need. I’ll be here. April does better in her own bed, so I decided to stay over here with her.”
“You’re a jewel, Jackie; I don’t know what we would do without you.”
“That’s what mothers-in-law do, baby; help you get over the rough places.” She was purring again, huskily, and for an instant Luke fantasized that she sounded, well, seductive. It was not an unfamiliar fantasy for she had come often to his dreams during his obstetrically imposed celibacy, and he found her enticing but far beyond his reach.
“You’ve been great,” he croaked, and he worried that the catch in his throat might have unmasked his thoughts.
“Go take care of my baby,” she chuckled, “and give her a big kiss for me.”
“Right. See ya later.”
Valentine Constance Bosco entered this world, out of her father’s sight and presence, at precisely 5:39 p.m. on Valentine’s Day. Both mother and daughter came through the procedure without complication, but some quirky blood pressure readings kept Julie in recovery longer than expected. It was a little past nine when they rolled her back to her room where Luke was waiting.
“You the father?” one of the starchy, white-clad authority figures snapped at him as she and an identical twin maneuvered Julie’s bed through the doorway.
“Yes, ma’am,” he yelped, leaping to his feet.
“Go home. Get some sleep. Come back tomorrow.”
“But, my wife,” he protested.
“Her?” the nurse laughed, pointing a finger at the lumpy form lying motionless under a pink hospital blanket. “We gave her a sedative that’ll keep her under till morning. There’s nothing you can do here tonight.”
“Where’s the baby?” he asked, peering over the bed-rails as though he expected to find the newborn on the pillow beside her mother.
“In the nursery, where she’s supposed to be. We don’t bring the Caesarians out till the day after surgery. If you want to see her, you’ll have to canlı bahis şirketleri come around to the nursery window.”
“The drapes are closed; it’s past visiting hours.”
“I’ll open ’em for you, so you can take a peek at her. She’s a pretty one, that Miss Valentine, with her little head all round and pink like it’s supposed to be. You’ll be proud of her.”
That prophesy proved to be right on the money, and, after getting his peek and a quick one at that, Luke drove home through empty streets, bedazzled by his new daughter and awed by the challenges he knew would come.
Luke let himself into his darkened house and found Jackie in the living room with April on her shoulder.
“You look tired,” Jackie said, greeting him with a slightly concerned frown. April blinked and bubbled, “Da,” as Jackie shifted the baby to her other shoulder.
“It’s been quite a day.”
“Mother and daughter still doing okay, I hope.”
“Doing just fine; Julie’s knocked out, but Valentine was wide awake and just gorgeous. She’s almost as pretty as her grandmother.”
“Better watch that, buster,” Jackie laughed, playfully poking his chest with a finger. “Flattery will get you everywhere.”
Luke grinned self-consciously, and asking, “Where’s Earl?” He glanced around the room for signs of his father-in-law.
“Home. Most likely passed out in his recliner in front of the TV as usual.”
“He didn’t come with you?”
“Oh, he came, but you ran out of beer, so he went back home.”
April began to squirm, attempting to crawl her way over Jackie’s shoulder, and her churning little knees jostled her grandmother’s full breasts.
“Oh, oh,” Jackie snickered, catching the baby under the arms. “This little one’s getting tired, and she’s working me over pretty good.”
“I’ll take her, if you want,” Luke offered, reaching to take his daughter.
“Not a chance, daddy-o, I’m having fun. You can come help me change her diaper though and get her ready for bed.”
“Sure,” he said, and he followed her up the stairs to the baby’s room.
Not many guys are lucky enough to have a mother-in-law like Jackie, he thought, congratulating himself as her denim clad buttocks rolled sensuously in front of him on the way up the stairs. Her hips undulated provocatively as she climbed, and he found himself wondering how many grandmothers there were in the world who still looked thirty and who could make your mouth water by wearing a pair of skintight jeans.
Luke gulped, and his eyes shifted to Jackie’s finger, then back to her eyes. His gut tightened as her meaning settled upon him. He struggled to fashion a clever response, but then, like the drawing of a drape, a forlorn look swept across his face, and he muttered, “I guess that gene skipped a generation.”
Jackie shot him a look that was at once a curious mixture of surprise and uncanny knowledge, and her gaze lingered on him while he shuffled his feet uncomfortably. She lowered April onto the clean diaper, drew it up between the baby’s legs and fastened it at the hips, and then she turned to him and, brushing a stray curl from her forehead, said, “That’s too bad for Julie.”
“Too bad for me, you mean,” he mumbled, turning away, unable to return her look.
“Poor baby,” she purred soothingly. “You look like you could use a bath and a drink. You go shower, while I give April here a bottle and put her down for the night, and then I’ll fix you a drink in the den. How does that sound, big boy?”
“Like an offer I can’t refuse, ma’am.”
“Good boy,” she breathed softly laying her hand on his arm and taking a step closer to him with April cradled in her arms. “Never turn down an offer from your mother-in-law.”
“No ma’am, I won’t.” The touch of her fingers held his mind and seared his skin like a branding iron.
“I know you won’t. Now scoot. I have things to do before you get that drink.”
Luke turned and raced down the hall to his bedroom, propelled by a sense of urgency he could neither explain nor resist. He showered in five minutes and dried himself in less, pausing only to lay his fingers on his arm where Jackie had touched him in an effort to recall that moment and the wild sensations he had felt. He was about to leave the bath when he ran his palm across his cheek and felt a two-day growth of beard. He shaved with quick, hurried strokes, and then brushed his teeth. He raked his fingers through his hair, then reached for his aftershave. Two sprays for his face, two for his chest, and then, on a prescient whim, he pumped the atomizer twice and misted his groin. He threw on his robe and tying the belt as he went, dashed downstairs toward the den.
Jackie had arrived ahead of him, and she was waiting on a stool at the bar. The den was dark except for the soft light of a few candles that flickered here and there, casting weird, dancing shadows on the windowless, basement walls. In the corner opposite the bar, his stereo lights glowed, and he could hear the low beat of his favorite Marc Anthony CD. He blinked, canlı kaçak iddaa acclimating his eyes to the darkness, and, when he opened them and focused, Jackie began materializing in the gloom.
Holy cow, he shrieked to himself as his vision adjusted and his heart bounced into his throat. She had slipped off her stool and was standing, facing him, arm outstretched, a drink in her hand. She smiled, dazzling him even without the light, and then he saw that she had changed her clothes. The jeans and loose top were gone, replaced by a nightgown so sheer that she might as well have been wearing nothing at all. Spaghetti-thin straps struggled against the weight of her breasts to keep her covered, and, when he squinted, he could just make out a dusting of little red hearts scattered across the gossamer material. Her bosoms, heavy, rounded, much larger than Julie’s, pressed the fabric, and the darkened raspberries of her nipples were prominent against the milky whiteness of her globes. His eyes dropped, following the folds of the transparency to its ultimate conclusion at the tops of her thighs. Oh, God, it was short, too short by half, he groaned as his eyes flirted with the hem and the dense tangle of black hair exposed beneath it. She was moving toward him, speaking to him, but the noise of blood rushing in his ears drowned her words. She came closer, reaching for him; he was lost in a welter of confused thoughts.
“Here’s your drink, Luke,” she said softly, reaching for his hand with hers and placing the cold glass in his limp fingers. “Scotch and water, heavy on the scotch, right?”
Luke nodded, speechless, dumbstruck and motionless, and gaped as she turned her back to him and returned to her stool. Thoughts and observations, jumbled and incoherent, rattled in his brain: short dark hair, graceful arching nape of the neck, shoulders wide, yet delicately feminine, merging into the broad expanse of her back, waist tapering, narrowing, and then the dramatic flare of her hips and the hollow at the base of her spine and the backward, steeply jutting slope of her butt, enticing cheeks shimmering white, firm and muscular, flexing with the motion of her legs, half-covered by the faint film of her gown, then thighs and calves, muscles taut and solid, like a statue of a goddess hewn from living stone come to life in his den.
She reached her stool, and turned again to face him. Steadying herself with a hand on the bar, she lifted a leg and raised herself on tiptoe to put one cheek on the stool cushion. Her thighs separated, exposing her dark bush as she regained her perch.
“Oops,” she twittered, tugging the hem of the transparency ineffectively in a gesture of feigned modesty. “I left my stuff at home in the rush to get here, and this is all I could find in Julie’s drawer. You don’t think she would mind it I borrowed it just for tonight, do you?”
“I, uh, ah, uh, guess not” he stammered, feeling like a total incompetent, but he also felt a warming throb of excitement between his legs. His hand was shaking so hard the ice in his drink was tinkling against the glass.
“You’re shaking your scotch like it’s a martini, Luke,” she said with a wicked smile and a nod toward his trembling hand. “You want me to make you one of those instead, baby?”
“No, no, this is fine, great,” he sputtered, and lifting the glass to his lips he quickly gulped half the contents.
“Oh my, thirsty boy,” she laughed, and then she patted the stool beside her and said, “Come over here and sit beside me, Luke. I won’t bite you; not hard anyway.”
He drained his glass to fortify his nerve, and then stumbled clumsily toward the empty barstool. Jackie watched him closely as he clambered up, trying his best to maintain some dignity by managing the loose front of his robe with one hand and clinging to his glass with the other. As happens occasionally at times of intense distraction the inanimate betrays the animate, and so, suddenly and unexpectedly, his stool tottered awkwardly for a moment causing him to forsake modesty for the stability of the bar. He lunged for the bar rail, feet churning the air below like he was peddling a bicycle, and, of course, in the commotion, his robe fell open at the waist. Jackie observed his struggles with cool amusement, but when his robe parted, exposing him, her eyes dropped to his lap and lingered there until he regained his equilibrium. The motion of his hand drawing the tail of his robe across his groin broke her trance, and she felt the heat of the blush that had crept up her throat while she was watching him.
“Luke, be careful,” she gasped in a warning that came well after all danger had passed, and then, when he looked at her sheepishly, she added with a coquettish smirk, “It would be a real shame to lose you, honey.” “I’m okay,” he muttered in a manly effort to conceal his embarrassment, because she had left him no doubt about the object of her concern.
“You need another scotch,” she observed.
“Do I ever,” he agreed, rattling the ice cubes in his empty glass.
Jackie canlı kaçak bahis made him another drink, stronger than the first, and they sat facing each other, knees nearly touching, and, while they sipped, he described for her with breathless detail the day’s events. She listened carefully, as mothers are wont to do where their children are concerned, but, when the story passed beyond the dangers of delivery, her mind wandered. She reached her foot across the space between them and curled her toes around a rung of his stool as she listened, and from time to time, when he became excited describing something, his foot would brush hers and a tingling spasm would course up her leg to her belly. She heard him out, summoning all the patience she could muster because she knew that she could never hold his attention if she interrupted the telling of his story, and finally, near the bottom of his glass, his voice trailed off.
He sat silently staring into space, lost in his thoughts for a few moments, and then, her toes brushed his foot. It was not a casual, accidental touching, but a deliberate caress that was calculated to attract his attention. His head jerked just slightly, like he had been startled, and she caressed his foot again. He blinked and turned his head toward her.
“It’s Valentine’s Day, Luke,” she said looking into his eyes, and something in the way she said it reminded him of the passion of Valentines past.
“Oh, damn,” he groaned apologetically, “I guess you and Earl had plans to go out tonight, didn’t you?”
“I don’t think so, honey,” she responded sarcastically. “Earl hasn’t remembered Valentine’s Day once in fifteen years.”
“Julie’s a chip off the old block, then,” he grumbled in reply. “She said she was so fat she didn’t even want to think about Valentine’s Day.”
“Poor baby,” she purred solicitously, “no present this year?”
“You got that right,” he sighed with a grimace of disappointment, and turned toward his glass to drown his sorrows with another gulp of scotch.
“I guess that explains why this little number was buried in the back of Julie’s lingerie drawer.” She plucked the gown between her breasts as she spoke, and the swollen discs of her nipples seemed to wink at him though the gauze. She moved her foot to cover his, and he could feel her toes on his instep. The sensuous pressure of her fingers on his arm earlier was nothing in comparison, and he felt a tightening in his gut.
He stared at her nipples, barely noticing the gown at first, then his eyebrows arched in recognition, and he muttered, “I gave that to her last Valentine’s Day, but she’s only worn it once.”
“Babies have a way of pushing daddy out of the picture, Luke,” she replied with genuine sympathy, because she knew that Julie’s devotion to April had come at a price, and that more often than not Luke was finding himself on the periphery of the family circle.
“You noticed?” he sighed, sounding slightly despondent.
“Of course, I noticed; I don’t miss much where you and Julie are concerned.”
“It’s okay. April requires a lot of attention.”
“Mmmmm,” she nodded understandingly. “So do daddies if memory serves.”
Luke didn’t respond, instead staring glumly into his glass as though the mysteries of the universe would be disclosed there in the arrangement of the ice cubes.
“I have a present for you, Luke,” she said throatily, changing the subject to break the spell of melancholy that was beginning to threaten her plans, and she studied him as her tone intertwined itself with the scotch’s smoky fumes in his brain.
“Wha?” he protested with a start. “What’d you do that for?”
“Because I wanted to. I knew Julie wouldn’t, and I thought my good looking young son-in-law deserved a present on Valentine’s Day,” she said, straightening her back and rolling her shoulders back. Her breasts thrust toward him, flattening slightly against the restraint of the thin fabric. Her berries poked the cloth, raising it like a pair of tent poles.
“But, but, Jackie,” he sputtered, embarrassed by his lack of foresight, “I don’t have anything to give you.”
“Are you sure?” she breathed heavily with her eyes fixed on his. Her voice was thick with the syrup of suggestion.
“Huh?” he croaked.
“Never mind,” she smiled disarmingly as she pushed a small, gift-wrapped package down the bar toward him. “Open your present.”
Bewildered, Luke, looked at her and then at the package. He felt a measure of relief because it was so small and so insignificant, only about the size and shape of a toothpaste box, and he consoled his discomfort with the hope that it was merely a token gift. He lifted the package, being careful not to damage the bow, and shook it beside his ear. It rattled with a dull, flat sound, and he looked at her quizzically.
“Oh, for Pete’s sake, go on and open it.” Impatience injected an edge to her voice. She had put both her feet on his and was bouncing her heels expectantly.
He rotated the package carefully, looking it over and planning his approach. He inspected it closely, holding it up to the faint light of the single candle on the bar, and then, just beside the bow, he discovered Jackie’s note. He squinted and read aloud, “For Luke, To make all your dreams come true; Love, Jackie.”
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