“You’re not scared of a tiny little baby now, are you?” she asked as they stepped inside.
“Of course I’m not,” Will said, unwrapping a blue scarf from around his neck. “But between eight and forty percent of babies get colic, Hanna. Eight and forty percent. That’s almost half on the high end, and if you factor that into the number of babies born every year, then the chances that Annabel has—”
“She isn’t colicky, you twat,” Max said, pulling him in far enough that he could close the door. “Hanna, I hope he’s at least brilliant with your taxes or at the very least one hell of a shag.”
“Both, actually,” she said, and handed Max her jacket. “And don’t worry, I babysat a ton growing up. Probably watched every kid in the neighborhood at some point. I’m really great with babies.”
Will stepped up to her side, leaned in to wrap his arms around her and press a small kiss to her nose. “How is that even possible when you were so busy pining for me?” he asked, grinning.
Hanna shook her head and patted Will’s face gently. “It’s so cute how you think everything’s about you,” she said, and Max barked out a laugh. Will was our notorious womanizer, and to see that he had finally met the woman who knocked him on his ass was amazing.
“Thank you, again, you guys,” I said, pushing Will away so I could hug Hanna. “I’m not even sure optimism is the way to go, so I guess I’ll just wish you luck.”
“Don’t be silly,” Will said. “We—and by ‘we’ of course I mean Hanna—will take care of everything. I’m just here to open jars, kill spiders, and change lightbulbs if needed.”
Still, I made sure they knew where everything was, went over a list of emergency numbers, and then thanked them for what had to be the tenth time. “She’s just eaten and been changed. I’m sure she’ll be good for . . . in fact, this is about the time she’d go down for the night, so she shouldn’t wake up to feed until long after we’re home. But just in case, we’ll be around the corner.”
Hanna nodded, and picked up one of Anna’s little onesies from a stack on the couch. “Don’t worry,” she said, straightening the pile again. “Even if she does wake up, I’m sure the biggest problem will be getting this one”—she pointed to Will—“to stop making googly faces at her.”
Max put on his coat and helped me with mine. “No boys in the house, kids,” he said. “No rated-R movies and we’ve left pizza money on the counter.”
Will rolled his eyes and pushed us out the door. “I told you, it’ll be fine,” he said, waving to us from the doorway. “I outweigh her thirteen-to-one. Thirteen-to-one! What could possibly go wrong?”
There would be no fancy restaurant or sentimental bottles of wine. Instead, we stopped at a little diner a few doors down and sat at the first open table we found.
There was a sense of urgency in the air, a sense that a clock was ticking somewhere and there was zero way we’d make it through this night, maybe not even this dinner, without Will or Hanna calling with some sort of real or imagined emergency.
“You think they’re going to be okay?” I asked Max, folding and refolding the paper napkin in front of me.
His eyes met mine from behind a laminated menu and he shrugged. “Of course they will. Annabel’s disposition is matched only by her mother’s. I can’t imagine her giving anyone a problem.”
I laughed. “It’s possible you might be wrong on both counts, Mr. Stella.”
The waiter stopped at our table and we each ordered, although I wasn’t really sure why. We were at a restaurant as a formality, as a normal date-type thing before I ripped off his pants.
Which I wanted to do right now.
Our food arrived, and it took only fifteen minutes more before Max’s phone buzzed on the table and he picked it up, smiling before turning the screen toward me.
“Look at him,” he said. It was a photo of Will holding Anna, his expression so proud you’d think he’d just split the atom, not changed a diaper. He was giving the camera a thumbs-up.
A very white thumbs-up, to be more accurate.
He did it! Hanna had typed.
“Is that . . .” I started to ask, squinting as I leaned in, trying to get a better look. “Is that baby powder?”
“I believe it is,” Max said, looking for himself. Will looked like a powdered donut had exploded all over him. It was in his hair and eyebrows, smeared across his cheeks and covering both hands, the one supporting the baby and the one he held in front of the camera.
“He’s going to have a good time cleaning that up,” I said, shaking my head before finishing off my burger.
“It’s good for him,” Max said, replying to Hanna before setting his phone down.
“You think Will and Hanna are ready for babies?”
“I think Will would be ready for just about anything Hanna wanted. Christ, she could suggest he join a knitting group and he’d ask her what color yarn was best suited for his skin tone. Bloody brilliant watching that one so whipped. Something tells me tonight is just what they needed.”
“So it’s possible we might actually get a few more hours?”
Max wiped his mouth and tossed his napkin to his plate. “Don’t want to jinx us, but yeah.”
It had been ten minutes since Will’s last text—far longer than with George—and I got an idea. Everything was fine at home and I was not about to waste a golden opportunity like this one.
“What exactly is it you’re doing over there, Petal?” Max said, motioning to my phone.
“Oh, just looking for something.”
“Care to elaborate?”
Instead I flipped my phone so he could see the screen, and knew the exact moment he understood. “Things are going so well at home, and we’d be idiots to waste it so . . . I’m booking us a room where you can be as loud as you want and not have to keep one ear focused on a baby monitor. If you’re interested, that is,” I added, giving him a cheeky grin.
“Interested? I will pay everyone’s bill in this bloody diner if it gets us out of here more quickly,” he said, and made a hand signal at the waiter for our check. “Have I mentioned that I love you?”
“Once or twice,” I said, smiling widely as the waiter set the bill on our table. I continued scrolling through the listings, and stopped when I found what I was looking for.