James Henry, in a crib in their bedroom, woke up at 3:00 am, crying as if he hadn't been fed in days. Martin and Louisa were torn from sleep.
Martin mumbled, "Check to see if he has a fever," an endless occupation he had whenever their child was upset. Then he sank back down to sleep as Louisa got up, covered herself with her robe, and realized logically it was the mother's job, not the father's, to nurse a baby.
She was up one to three times a night feeding and cuddling James Henry, still, so this way already established nighttime activity for Louisa.
She took him out of the bedroom into the spare one, and sat down on the bed, nursing him. Given the body type of his father, James was a small baby, quite adorable, with lively eyes, and with thin strands of his father's blond hair. He was crying too hard to latch, but with some cuddling and cooing, he settled down and drank a fair bit. He cried again afterwards for a while, but a good shoulder burping and some dancing movements in the air Louisa had invented, which sometimes worked and sometimes didn't, settled James Henry down. She put him back in the crib and soon sank into sleep. That had only taken thirty minutes, which for Louisa was a short and sweet blessing.
Being up, she went to urinate, and then returning to bed, Louisa sat in her nightie, watching Martin sleep. He was the most immovable sleeper she had ever seen. He went to sleep on his back and seemed almost paralyzed. He didn't move, never tossed and turned, and generally woke exactly in the same supine position. Now and then, he'd turn onto his right side and then stay there. She could be quite restless in bed, side to side, legs moving, and at times, apparently, even snoring. Their bedtime habits were another complete difference between them.
She considered waking him up to make love to him again. She was youngish, she was attracted to him, they enjoyed each other in bed, and she could feel her hidden and suppressed libido coming back to life. She could slide up over his belly, and wake him up with kisses.
The problem was, well…Martin's reaction. She wasn't sure, really, of his libido—it seemed either lower than hers or something he had learned to perfectly control. During these last weeks, since the birth of James they had slept in the same bed and while she would lie there some night holding in yearnings of sexual need, he seemed completely unbothered by their lack of physicality. Yes, she had been sore, but only for the first couple of weeks. Even in the last month, with all their problems, she had still felt the heat inside when she was around him, even when discussing checks he was leaving for James' care.
She knew he loved her, but still he was Martin, and Martin was not the most predictable of men. If he rejected her advances now, with some clinical or hurtful phrase, it would devastate her. Walking on eggshells was hard enough without the cracked ones slicing one's feet open.
It was the middle of the night, and her fatigue released her mind to wander into enemy territory. She believed Martin had not been promiscuous in his life, and his, as far as Louisa knew, greatest love was to that anorexic, nasty, cold tart, Edith Montgomery. Although Louisa had not wanted to give birth on a sofa in a pub, it was much better than having the first hands that touched her baby been Dr. Despicable's. For that alone, the shock of Tommy's taxi crashing, and the blow against her tummy, resulting in her precipitous birth, had all been fortuitous.
Still in enemy territory, Louisa's thoughts slid down a dark alley. Martin was surprisingly and enjoyably apt in bed, as, she realized he was in so many areas of his life. He excelled as a surgeon, as a physician, as a clock fixer, as a cook, and he was very attentive and capable with physical intimacy. He could have had a natural talent, or studied methodologies in pleasing women, but the worst-case scenario haunting Louisa was that he had learned his techniques from his time with Edith Montgomery. She resented nearly everything about Edith—her capacity to relate to Martin equally in medicine; her cold, clinical mindset; her sense of innate superiority; and the sense to Louisa that Edith was in some way a competitor with her regarding Martin.
The only consolation Louisa found if Edith had helped Martin learn bedroom skills, as a couple of men had helped her early on, was that Louisa was the one benefitting from it and from Martin's declared love, and his marriage proposal. Edith Montgomery had plainly lost. Especially since her relationship with Martin had been so rocky for years, she felt a snide satisfaction in winning.
Perhaps now things would get better.
She loved Martin; she always had. Did they really have a chance together?
She wanted to be with him, if it was good, and she wanted them to be intimate in all ways.
Nonetheless, even engaged to him, she still didn't have the courage to wake Martin up.