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He reached beneath me to unhook my bra and shoved it out of his way, taking a breast into his mouth with a hunger that shocked me into another level of urgency. I did not want to wait. I could not bear another minute without him inside me. I let go of him and pressed against his back, driving my hips into him.

Gavin grasped the edge of my panties and eased them down. I reached for him, wanting to thrust us together, but he shifted away, driving first one, then two fingers inside me. I arched up, crying out, and he braced my back with one hand, helping me hold position without strain. His mouth left my nipple and it puckered in the cold until he folded me close against him.

I didn’t think I could take any more, his fingers fluttering against me, the pleasure spreading out but intensifying my need. He kissed me again, and my tongue lashed into him, frenzied, aching. His mouth trailed along my jaw, my collarbone, along the curve of a breast again, and heading down. I clutched his shoulders, unable to wait, wanting him now, stopping his descent. He understood and shifted over me.

I wanted to weep with relief as he slid inside, spreading everything open like a flower blooming. Emotion crashed over me. I did not want to let him go. I could not bear any space between us, any distance at all.

He braced himself on his elbows and cradled my head in his hands. His strokes slowed down, deep and drawn out. His lips caressed my forehead. The light from a streetlamp outside cast a feeble glow across his shoulders as the muscles shifted. I felt a round of weeping coming on and tried to stop it, not wanting to trigger any coughing or difficulty breathing. But something was changing between us, and I was so afraid of tomorrow, the test, what would happen if the boy was his. How I would manage, knowing Gavin’s son was alive and well but there might be no others, the only child of ours turning to dust in a powder-blue coffin in the ground.

“Shhh, shhhh,” he said, rubbing his thumbs along my cheeks where I had failed to stanch the tears.

The harder I tried to hold in the sobs, the more determined they were to come out.

“Hey,” Gavin said. “It’s going to be okay. We’re going to be okay.”

I wanted to believe him. I tried to imagine every scenario and work through it. The disappointed Rosa, turning away after the test was negative. The exuberant version, if she was right. Gavin’s expression, relief or shock. My own reaction, stalwart or embarrassingly overwrought.

“You’re thinking,” Gavin said, his body moving more steadily now, with more purpose. “No thinking. Let it go.”

He released my head and propped higher on his arms, biceps bulging as he worked faster. I gasped with the change of pressure and intensity, and seeing I was engaged again, he reached for my knee, lifting it up and giving himself the leverage to work even harder and faster.

I clutched his ribs, the pleasure radiating out from where we were joined. He took it another step, resting my ankle on his shoulder, and his freed hand returned to the folds between us, pressing into the already hot nub.

He knew exactly where to take it, and I spiraled straight into oblivion, the tightness blasting through me like a wave. My voice and my fear and my grief and my release all mixed together as he worked straight through the orgasm. When I began to come down, he let my leg fall back to the bed, but didn’t pause even a moment, moving his hands beneath me and flipping me over.

He gathered me against him from behind, still refusing to let me get cold. I propped up on my elbows and he slammed inside, each thrust sending a flash through my body. I wanted to scream with it, get lost, obliterate every other sensation that tried to crowd its way into my thoughts.

He reached around and pressed his fingers against me yet again. I thought I would be exhausted, spent, but instead I was exhilarated, frantic, pressing backwards into him, moving against his strokes to take it in harder and faster, until nothing existed but the crash of his skin into mine.

I felt it building again, tighter this time, more focused and intense. But I refused to let it unfurl, keeping it wound up. I was in control, and as Gavin moved, I met him with more force, until his body tensed. Only then did I release the pent-up tension, my cries mixing with his, the hot flow pulsing into me.

I collapsed down against the bed, Gavin crashing over my back. He withdrew and pulled me in close. Shivers ran along my body, and he jerked the blanket around us, tucking it in tight. “I got you cold,” he said. “I shouldn’t have started this.”

I rolled over into him. “I needed it. We needed it.”

He stroked my hair. “It’s not worth it if you get sick again.”

“It is. And I won’t. I feel fine.” I pressed my lips against the hard muscle of his chest, reveling in the heat of his skin. “I don’t want tomorrow to come.”

His arms tightened around me. “We’re going to be fine either way.” But his voice caught at the end, and I knew he was seeing the scene too, the one that proved the boy was his, and his fear at what I would do.

I couldn’t comfort him in this. I didn’t know myself.

32: Gavin

Waking next to Corabelle felt like the last good thing that could happen that day. I slid away from her, making sure the blanket was tight against her. Her breathing still wasn’t as deep as before, and I worried about this, hoping I had something hot I could make her to take with the antibiotics.

The floor creaked as I pulled on some sweatpants and headed to the kitchen. We’d dropped her bag by the door, so I fetched it, digging around for the bottle of pills her father had picked up at the hospital pharmacy. I read the label, the words blurring. We had hours to go until the meeting for the test results. I wasn’t sure how to spend a day like this any more than I had the day of the funeral, just waiting, unable to think about anything else.

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