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Needs Milk

Patty cake,
Patty cake,
Baker’s man.
Bake me a cake
As fast as you can.

Andy cooed back.
Janine swept her baby up in her arms lovingly, protectively. She held him against her once-slim figure, more reminiscent now in silhouette of a flatfish than of a sand-filled timepiece. The walk from the changing table to the lone white mailbox with its flag was always a terrifying five meters, because it obliged her to—heavens, no—place Andy in his crib, and then evade happy suburban families’ potential disapproval before returning hastily to his care.

“Janie! You’re positively coated in flour. Are you baking cakes again? Don’t ever hesitate to call me if you need a taste tester for something chocolate, you hear? You, Janine Baker indeed,” Mrs. Nesbit chuckled at her own pun. Janine smiled one of the indulgent smiles she preferred to reserve for Andy and smeared her in-fact-talcum-dusted hands on her mommy jeans. Eyeing the business-sized envelope revealed by the squeaky metal door, she attempted to distract Mrs. Nesbit from the truth by chatting about the neighbor woman’s new garden hose, fidgeting uneasily as seconds passed and pulling her hair the color of Rumpelstiltskin’s golden straw back into a bun, pokey and messy like a haystack. But Andy was waiting.
She swiped the alimony check with little more than a final nod to the nosy missus. Hurrying back up the walkway, she gratefully wondered how such an intrusive woman had never managed to notice both Andy when he was just her unseemly tummy bulge and that Janine had never produced a dessert as far as anyone knew. She did hope Mrs. Nesbit would realize that Janie was not a cute nickname, but her name missing a letter. Andy would not grow up to be a busybody. Or a society man, like Jon. She would see to it.
Bursting into the house, she abandoned the letter and clutched Andy to her. He promptly lost his lunch all over her sweater. His sweet, dribbling face made her heart glow. Between pregnancy and the raising of a child, seeing people’s insides no longer caused her to bat so much as an eyelash. Anyhow that proved someone was doing good, hard work. Living an easy, idle life never caused a person to toss their cookies.
Andy needed her, and she needed him and there they were. He was the best, and only, recipe she had ever cooked up… similar to one really, he needed milk, too, after all. And unlike the fool princess in Rumpelstiltskin, she would never allow anyone to lay a finger on him. Precious Andrew Baker Eades. Even without Jonathan Eades, the two of them would make it, if only because the love of a mother for her child is fiercer than a mountain lion and much deeper than the layers of a wedding cake.



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