The weeks went by and before Sammy knew it, there were only a few days of school left. They had settled into a routine that worked for them after they moved. Jake would get up, getting Gracie ready for school and allowed Sammy to sleep in. He would come back and work out and then much to Sammy’s surprise, Jake was studying and reading up on taking the bar exam.
Sammy would go to work at the ranch enjoying the peace and quiet of the animals. Jake would pick up Gracie and either take her to the ranch to be around her horse, Professor Lupin, or to tennis lessons. She really loved tennis and the coach said she had huge potential and was rising in the ranks in any tournament she entered.
Jake and Sammy decided that Gracie would go to camp again several days a week and then they would spend a day together as a family. Jake was worried about when he had to go back to Texas. The baby was due the first week in August, right in the middle of training camp and while the room was almost ready and had agreed on names, he wasn’t going to be there for the first four or five months of his or her life.
Sammy couldn’t travel with an infant all the time and he didn’t want her to. But he was going to miss them desperately and wouldn’t be able to see the baby except on video chats. He thought about asking for a trade to Denver and Sammy overheard him talking to Kevin about it and chewed his ass. He had a thriving career and she assured him that they would be fine and the baby would not grow up without him. She reminded him that they had a game in Denver at the end of September and would be there to cheer him on.
Before they knew it, Jake was packing up to go down for Texas to start training camp. Jake was feeling horrible about leaving, Sammy was due in 10 days and he was leaving his wife. The pit in his stomach was growing by the hour.
“Jake, everything will be fine. I will call when I am admitted. It will be several hours if this baby is anything like Gracie. You will have time to get home before the baby is born,” Sammy assured him.
Jake sat on the bed and pulled her to him and hugged her, “Baby, I’m just so worried that I’m going to miss the birth and you will be…” and his voice caught.
Sammy felt her heart clench, hearing his voice and concern, “Jake look at me,” and forced his face to look in her eyes, where she saw the tears swimming, “Jake if you miss it, it’s ok! I’m not going to hold it against you. I get that this is your job. I love you, please, just trust me ok?”
Jake nodded and buried his face in her ample stomach and kissed the baby, “I don’t deserve you Samantha Doogan.”
“I know and I love you anyway Jacob Doogan,” She replied, hoping to lighten the mood.
He sighed and looked at the clock. He had two hours before he had to pick up Gracie and five hours before he had to be at the airport and knew what he wanted to do. No needed, he needed this last connection with his wife.
“Baby, I need you,” Jake whispered, running his hands up and down her legs.
Sammy could hear the pain and need in his voice and she didn’t know how to help him know that it was ok. She took his face in her hands and kissed him deeply, trying to get him to feel her love for him and calm him.
He stood and gently placed her on the bed, continuing to kiss her. They touched each other as though their fingertips would create a living memory to keep with them for the next several months. They used every second of their time kissing, touching and loving each other. They made slow and tender love to each other. The intimacy was profound and as they lay together after, each was trying not to let the tears that were forming fall.
“I love you Samantha…I want you to know that, no matter what happens, I will always love you and our children more than life itself.”
“I do know that Jake. And I love you more than I can tell you.”
He kissed her again long and passionately leaving them both breathless before he got up to redress and pick up his first born. She lay in bed until she was sure he was gone, not being able to hear the garage door in their massive new house. She was fighting off the tears and didn’t want their last hours to be with her eyes puffy and her nose stuffed. She slipped on the sundress hoping that it would be cool in the heat wave they were having this summer.
Jake returned with their daughter and they went to dinner with Mike and Abby at Gracie’s favorite pizza place for a family dinner. Abby was taking lots of pictures and promised she would send them to everyone. Sammy had no appetite but forced down a small salad and a slice of pizza. Mike noticed and wondered if she was going to have the baby soon. She was like this before she had Gracie. He kept his thoughts to himself and enjoyed the meal.
Not wanting to upset Sammy and Gracie and make the departure harder, Mike and Abby were taking him to the airport. Even though he would be back for the birth, somehow they all knew this was a big event in their lives.
As they were eating the giant dessert cookie with ice cream, Gracie climbed into Jake’s lap and settled in for the long haul. She was taking in his presence and was clinging to his body heat. Jake looked at the clock on the wall and knew he couldn’t delay it any further.
“Dad, we should get going. I don’t want to miss the flight. I have meetings tomorrow…”
Sammy felt the tear in her heart at his words. Gracie turned and wrapped her arms around his neck as he stood up. They all walked out as a family and to their cars. Mike moved Jake’s bag to his trunk as he hugged Gracie tightly and whispered in her ear for a couple of minutes. He kissed and hugged her, then set her down. She was wiping her tears as she climbed into the SUV to wait for her mother. He moved to Sammy and pulled her to him. He put one hand on her swollen belly and the other around her waist.
“So the next time I see you, we are going to be having a baby!”
“I know I’ll call you when it’s time.”
“Remember I love you Samantha.”
“And I love you too Jacob.”
They smiled and kissed softly. Jake released her and helped her to the car. He closed the door and waited for her to adjust the seat belt. She blew him a kiss and drove off, just like she promised she would when they discussed this night. He felt a lump form in his throat as he watched them drive away.
“You will be back soon for our baby…” Abby said rubbing his back.
“I know, but this feels so different than last year, Abby.”
“In what way?”
“It’s hard to explain…I think it’s because I won’t see them like last year; and that there will be a baby that I can’t hold. Seeing them on video chats aren’t the same.”
“I know it’s not. But you can’t let that get to you; too much is at stake this time. Are you going to talk to your therapist out there?”
“Yes, I’m not taking steps backward with my family. They mean too much to me.”
“I’m proud of you Jake. Now let’s go before you miss that flight.”
Mike watched and smiled sadly. The next few months would be hard and he wasn’t looking forward to it. Mike drove to the airport with the silence surrounding them. He pulled up to the drop off area and popped the trunk to get his son’s bag. Jake got out and hugged Abby, kissing her cheek. Mike and Jake hugged before Jake walked inside and waved as he went. Mike and Abby got back in the car and drove back home.
“Everything is going to be ok, you know that right?” Abby said rubbing his leg.
“Then why do I have this bad feeling, Abs?”
Abby squeezed his knee and nodded, understanding what he was talking about.
Sammy held it together until they got home and got Gracie in bed. Her little girl cried most of the way home. Sammy asked her to talk about it and she refused. Sammy respected that and drove home. Sammy changed into one of Jake’s shirts to sleep in and climbed into bed. She pulled his pillow to her, smelling him on it and let the tears fall. She held them in as long as she could and now let them go. She felt the bed next to her dip as Gracie got into bed with her.
“I miss him Mommy,” She said snuggled into her chest.
“I know Sweetheart, I do too. But he will be back when the baby comes.”
“And then he will go away again!”
“But remember, he is coming to Denver to play against Uncle Kevin’s team in September.”
Gracie didn’t say anything and Sammy knew she was thinking that it would be a long time until he was back home after that. Life was giving them a gut punch after being so happy for a year. Sammy just had to help her daughter as much as she could cope, while keeping herself and the baby healthy.