The cabin looked like a baby bomb had exploded in it. Burp rags covered the back of every chair or couch. A hamper full of laundry was next to a spot on the couch with an end table littered with large, empty glasses and plates that held what appeared to have once been pizza. A few empty salad containers littered the area. Breast pads were stacked neatly next to the table.
And then there was the giant pile of laundry on the floor.
“Jesus Christ!” Josie shouted, jumping back. A leg stuck out from under a pile of towels. The leg was attached to an underwear-covered ass and a naked chest.
Dylan was sound asleep in a pile of clothes in the middle of the room, snoring lightly. His arm curled under his head like a pillow.
Josie pointed. “What’s that?”
“Not who. What?”
“He’s tired,” Laura whined. “We all are. Mike’s probably out there asleep in his Jeep.”
Josie shot Laura a what the fuck look. “His Jeep? Are you guys fighting?”
“No!” Laura wailed, pacing back and forth with the baby in her arms. Cherubic and serene, she was so sweet looking. The rosy-pink skin and a smattering of baby acne on her nose reminded Josie of how tiny and new the baby really was. A breathy snort came from the baby, whose mouth puckered and suckled in the air.
“Then why is he in his Jeep?”
“He pretends he’s going for a run but every time he does that I look out there and he’s asleep in the front seat.”
Laura pointed at Dylan, who was now spooning with a nursing pillow and a beach towel.
“Same reason as that. We’re completely wiped.”
Josie reached for the baby and Laura transferred her as if handing over a live grenade. “Don’t wake her. I just got her to sleep.” The handoff successful, Josie marveled at how lightweight the baby was. Wrapped in a pink fleece blanket and wearing a jumper with characters from an Eric Carle book, she was a piece of perfection in a sub-ten-pound body.
“Thank you! Hang on,” Laura said as she dashed out of the room. The distant sounds of a toilet flushing and running water were followed by Laura’s reappearance. Josie wandered into the kitchen and searched for the coffeemaker. The countertop was covered with what looked like every dish in the house, two nursing bras, more burp cloths, and about nineteen coffee mugs, all containing anywhere from one to two inches of coffee.
But no coffeemaker.
Deciding to grab a cup of milk instead, she opened the refrigerator to find—
What the hell? The baby wiggled in her arms, making Josie freeze in place. How could someone so placid and sweet cause her three friends to fall apart like this? Something more must be going on. No one falls apart this fast from just having a little baby, right?
“Oh! You found it. Dylan said he couldn’t remember where he put it this morning.” Acting like it was no big deal that someone had shoved an entire ten-cup coffeemaker next to a bag of fennel in the fridge, Laura hauled it out, shoved a clean spot into the detritus on the counter, and plugged the machine in. Josie gingerly picked up trash from the counter and began throwing it away, trying to help.
“Don’t you guys have a cleaning service?” Josie asked.
“Louisa’s sick,” Laura said. “Of all the weeks.” With ruthless efficiency, Laura had coffee brewing in under ninety seconds, and turned to Josie, stretching her arms up in the air, giving Josie a front-and-center view of her right breast.
“Uh, Laura….” she said, pointing. The nursing shirt Laura wore had some sort of vertical slit, like crotchless undies, and as she lifted her arms to the ceiling it became evident Laura wasn’t wearing a bra.
“Oh.” Laura reached under the neckline of her shirt and did something that made a clicking sound. “My nursing bra was unclasped. Sorry for the peep show.”
“I’ve seen worse.”
“I know you have. You were at the birth.”
They smiled at each other and Josie leaned down to huff the baby’s head. How could she cause such chaos?
“And speaking of the birth,” Laura added, “how’s Dr. Perfect?”
Carrying the smile a bit longer, Josie shrugged. “We had coffee. And a few hot kisses in the alley. I’m thinking about surprising him tonight with Thai and episode five of Downton Abbey.”
Laura pretended to golf clap, miming it to avoid waking Jillian. “Well played. I know you’re scared shitless, but you’re doing the right thing.”
“Speaking of the right thing, I need to bounce something off you.”
Laura made herself a cup of coffee and gestured for Josie to go on.
“I already spoke with my boss about this, but I think Alex’s grandpa isn’t getting the meds in our research trial. I can’t be sure, and I would never go into the records and look. It’s a hunch.”
“Did you say anything yet to Alex?”
“No. But I feel like I should.”
“Of course you should! Wouldn’t you want to know if you were Alex?”
“So what’s the problem?”
Josie sighed. The baby gurgled and smiled, a crooked grin that made Josie and Laura say “awwwwwww” in unison.
And then the unmistakeable sound of more gurgling, except this came from the diaper.
“Last time she made that sound she shat all the way up to her hair,” Laura said, staying in her position across the kitchen, drinking her coffee.
A spreading warmth coated Josie’s palm, the one that supported Jillian’s ass. “C’mon. You can’t say things like that and then just leave me holding her.”
“Here,” said a deep voice. They both turned to find Dylan standing there, rubbing his eyes. He wore blue boxer briefs, and Josie noted that they were just like Alex’s while trying not to check out Dylan’s bulge. Like she needed that image in her head.
She already knew too much about his body. Too, too much.
“Thank you for wearing underpants,” she said as she handed the poopy baby over to one of her dads.
“You’re in my house. You’re lucky I’m wearing them,” he grunted, turning away. “And save me some coffee!” he called back, cooing at the baby, who was now staring at him in absolute fascination as Laura and Josie watched his butt until he turned a corner and entered one of the back rooms.
“You’re only allowed to stare because I say it’s okay,” Laura said, finishing her coffee. She looked at the counter and said, “Damn. This is really awful.”
“I’ll help. And his ass reminded me of Alex’s, so I was just reminiscing.”
“Why get nostalgic when you can go home and make new memories?” Laura opened the dishwasher and began loading coffee mugs.
“Because if I tell Alex about his grandpa, he might get…squirrelly. Families often don’t want to hear the truth about decline, and Ed might be in a permanent downward spiral. It’s…complicated.”
Laura’s sympathetic smile helped take the edge off her fear. “If you don’t say anything you’ll regret it. Maybe there’s something people are missing. Alex is a doctor. He’s not your average patient’s family member.”
Laura waved her hand at the mess. “Why am I cleaning? I have ten precious moments without Velcro Baby attached to me and I’m doing dishes? Ugh.”
“I know. Let’s go to a strip club and get a lap dance. Better use of our time.”
Mike walked in the front door, stretching his calves as if he just finished a run. “Man, it’s gorgeous outside.”
“Yeah, the Jeep has the best weather ever!” Josie shot back.
A sheepish look on his face showed he knew he’d been busted. “I, uh…”
Laura walked over and gave him a kiss on the cheek. “It’s okay, hon. We know you were sleeping in the Jeep. You’ve been doing it for the past week.”
“You’ve been what?” Dylan bellowed, entering the room with the baby on his shoulder.
“Subject change—are you going to work for Menage Match?” Mike asked Josie.
Three sets of eyes zeroed in on her.
“No pressure,” she mumbled.
“No. Pressure,” Laura insisted. “Pressure most definitely there. Do it,” she hissed. Dylan rocked in place, mercifully having thrown on some sweatpants. Mike stood over them all, those blue eyes calm but exhausted.
“You’re serious?” Josie asked, incredulous. “I thought Laura was just out of her mind with being 158 weeks pregnant!”
“We’re serious,” the three said together.