Sam jumped. “Here, let me.” He snatched the baby from Mac’s arms and turned to Sheri. “Where are the diapers?”
She opened her mouth to say something, but he didn’t wait. Spotting the changing table in the corner, he hustled the baby over and planted him on the cushioned surface.
With one hand holding the little guy in place, he grabbed a baby wipe from the warmer, testing first to make sure the temperature was okay.
He’d watched his sisters do this a million times, and he’d downloaded a diapering tutorial that he’d watched on his laptop on the flight over.
You can do this, he commanded himself. Think.
The baby screeched with displeasure. He studied the squirming bundle and tried to remember the steps in the
Point the barrel in a safe direction and move the selector level to “safe” before pressing the magazine release button and—
Shit, no. Those were the steps for disassembling an M16rifle.
Well, same idea, Sam thought as he stripped off the waterproof pants and the soggy cloth diaper, using one and
as a shield in case the little guy decided to demonstrate hisaim. The diapering video he’d watched only dealt with the disposable kind, not these cloth things. He was way out of his league here, but maybe some of the steps were the same.
Pull the charging handle toward the rear of the rifle and press the bottom of the bolt catch—
Dammit, no. Something about safety pins or lotion maybe?
He held the little guy in place with one hand as hegrabbed a clean diaper and some pins from the basket beside him. Frowning in concentration, he cleaned off the baby, trying not to gag as he reminded himself he’d seen worse things in military mess halls.
Unthread the sling from the metal loops on the buttstock and barrel to remove the sling from the rifle.
No, no! Goddammit, concentrate. Or maybe those really were the right instructions? He ankle-lifted the baby and slid the fresh diaper under him, then got to work folding and fastening.
He stabbed himself with a diaper pin but didn’t flinch, even when he saw blood welling on the tip of his thumb. He grabbed another diaper wipe and surreptitiously swiped the digit before fastening the last pin in place.
He surveyed his work, nodding once. Not bad. Not bad at all. He’d once set a platoon record for speed of rifle
assembly. This wasn’t so different, and he hadn’t gotten shot in the face.
“There you go, little guy,” Sam said gently patting the baby’s bare belly. “Nice job.”
The baby gave him a toothless grin and gurgled. He grinned back and scooped the baby in his arms, turning to
face his audience.
Everyone stared, no one uttering a sound. Sheri had put the other baby back in his crib at some point, so he stepped forward and placed the fresh-smelling infant in her arms. “Here you go,” he said, feeling stupidly dizzy as his forearm brushed her breast. “Good as new.”
She blinked at him, then looked down at the baby. When she looked back at Sam, he felt his heart flip over in his chest. “Thank you,” she said.
“No problem,” he said, wondering how he could possibly feel so electrified by her with his hands covered in baby lotion and his shirt reeking of reprocessed Gerber.
He picked up the soiled diaper from the changing table and handed it to Mac without tearing his eyes off Sheri. Mac grunted in protest, but took the diaper anyway.
Sheri smiled at Sam. “When can you start?”