Oh, what a good number for Walt.

36. New

A thin scream pierced the darkness.

Walt quickly had to pull his hand out of Mallory’s grip, shifting to cover her mouth and stifle her cries. Noise was dangerous, noise could get them all caught or killed.

Normally, Mallory knew this as well as Walt, but right now she was beyond caring.

“Shhh, shhh…” Walt comforted his little wife, carefully cupping his hand under her small chin to tilt her face towards him. “You’re doing great, sweetheart.”

Mallory’s shoulders shook, and tears ran down her face, but she met Walt’s piercing, blue-eyed gaze with her own. Her face was red, and her hair was streaked with sweat.

“Give her this,” Katrine said, bustling over to press a moist torn shred of a paper towel into Walt’s hands. “On the forehead, cool her down.” She grinned at Mallory. “He’s right, you’re doing great,” she cooed, long years showing in the lines on her face. “Brennan will be back with food for everyone.”

Walt dabbed the cloth against Mallory’s face, brushing the sweat away. He pushed away any of his fears for her, knowing how dangerous labor could be. If he’d known it was like this, he wouldn’t have wanted her pregnant, or to risk her frail constitution. But when Mallory had been Katrine’s midwife earlier that year for the quiet Krissy, they’d kept both the men busy and out of the house.

The next contraction hit, but this time Mallory held in her cry. Her body seized up, almost writhing.

“Walt, hold her down! Don’t let her get hurt!” Katrine commanded severely.

Walt took Mallory’s hand again, letting her slim fingers grab onto his and clench with all her might. Another contraction hit, and then…

A little cry came from where Katrine was, and she straightened with a tiny bundle in her arms, wrapped in the blue and pink cloth Mallory had made just for the occasion. With expert ease, Katrine swaddled the child up and gave Walt a brilliant smile.

“It’s a girl.”

Walt almost didn’t breathe as the tiny bundle was placed into his arms. Mallory slumped down into herself, almost shrinking into the nest of fabric they’d set up for her.

“Did you hear that?” Walt asked, his face glowing as he looked from the tiny child to his young wife. “It’s a girl. Briella, that’s Mallory, your mom.”

Mallory opened her eyes slowly, and managed a smile of her own. Walt knelt on the floor, and held the baby out to Mallory.

“You did it,” he whispered proudly.

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