EARLY MORNING, ALLISON worked up a sweat preparing Daniel’s best-loved breakfast: sausages, bacon strips, and a cheese omelet derived from her mother-in-law’s secret family recipe. She was dishing up the deliciousness when he yelled for her from upstairs.
She abandoned her task, hustled up into their bedroom, and was immediately thrown off by his sitting on the floor, half-dressed in his button-down and boxers, next to a pile of clothes.
“I’m looking for a tie. Do you know where the brownish… red one is?” he inquired of her, agitated by the overlong search.
“You mean the maroon one?”
“Yup. Would you please tell me where it is?”
“I hung it up with your suit last night so you wouldn’t miss it,” she told him and went to retrieve a brown garment bag from the closet.
He took it from her and hurried to change.
“It’s only six-thirty. Why the rush?”
“I‘ve told you. TPA will be our biggest client if they are to grant us this multibillion-dollar deal. I want to look my best for the presentation.”
“I thought the presentation is in the afternoon?”
“You are correct, but their representatives will arrive in two hours to do an official meet-and-greet. Every engineer who wishes to become part of the team overseeing the project is attending.”
“That means Keith —”
“That means Keith McCoy will be there no doubt, and he is presenting right before me. I’m not going to let this one slip through my fingers like what happened in Virginia, uh-uh. I’m going to impress the crap out of these guys,” declared he, sounding unequivocally confident.
Allison caught him redoing his tie over and over, even though the previous attempt was no better than the last. When he finally found it acceptable, she stepped in to straighten it for him.
“There. Much better. I’m sure you’ll do great. You always do,” she praised him softly, hands over his chest as her eyes shifted upward to meet his gaze. The tender moment lingered on until he backed away.
“I gotta get going… still need to prepare a few things at the office before they arrive,” he told her, and then down the stairs he went.
She tagged behind him all the way to the foyer.
“You should at least eat something before you go.”
“No time. I want to get there before everyone else,” he insisted, putting on his leather shoes at the bench. It was not till he was halfway out the door did he spare a glance at her look of dismay.
“The dinner reservation’s at seven, correct?”
“I’ll be home by six-thirty to pick you up.”
“Will you really?”
“I don’t know.” She looked away.
He came back to her and promised, “Of course I will.”
Allison had in fact a different plan for tonight. In order to save their marriage, she reckoned surprising Daniel with a candlelit dinner was hardly enough, but it could be a good way to reignite their lost spark. On the kitchen counter was a shopping list she sorted out of all the things needed to make this a memorable night. Shortly after he left she double-checked it, and added on a few ingredients for a special cocktail — one of Daniel’s favorite drinks she only made on rare occasions.
First thing, she texted Sara requesting back the blender she lent her weeks ago for an impromptu party, to which the latter responded, “Okay I will,” a few seconds later. Surprised that she was up so early, Allison rang her.
Sara’s hoarse voice quickly suggested a lousy hangover. “No worries. I’ll bring it over some time around one o’clock. Just need to wash it. I used it last night for a little intimate get-together.”
“Who’s the lucky guy this time?”
In a whispering tone, she replied gleefully, “Oh gosh, Allie, I’ve met the hottest guy in town I swear. He is the quarterback of his high school’s football team. His body is soooo gorgeous I wanna cry!”
“Did you say —”
“Shh… shh… Okay. He just flipped over to his stomach. He’s sleeping next to me by the way.”
“I realized that… But, did you say high school?”
“Yeah, and I also said quarterback.”
“Shouldn’t he be up getting ready for school soon?”
“Do not tease me like Ed does!”
Allison tittered. “I’m sorry. I got carried away. How did you guys get hooked up?”
“Do you want the long story or a short one?”
“Just tell me the brief version.”
“Well, there’s this football field not far from my new place. I’ve already brought Ethan and Reese there a couple times. Don’t ask me why, but they love to roll their little balls in the short grass. Anywho, when we got there yesterday afternoon, his team was halfway through a practice match. Somehow we got to talking after that, and one thing led to another, I ended up inviting him and his team over for a party.”
“A party with your sons there?”
“No. I thought ahead and had my mom come pick them up. An hour later, he was the only one who showed up. That sort of worked out for the best. We drank and talked all night. Turns out he lives with his grandparents in the neighborhood next to mine.”
“Sounds convenient. Are you falling for this one?”
“He’s really good in bed for his age but heck no! He’s not serious about this and neither am I. He’s got a girlfriend.”
“What? You knew and you still did it with him?”
“Chill, Allie. I’m more responsible than you and Ed give me credit for. I only found out after the business.”
“How? Don’t tell me he waited until then to tell you.”
“No. He was in the shower when I took his clothes off the bed and put it on the chair next to it. His wallet somehow fell out of his jacket during the transition and landed open on the floor. I picked it up, took a peek at it and saw a photo of him with this cute girl.”
“Maybe it’s his sister.”
“They were kissing in it.”
“Besides, I asked him about it after and he came clean. He said he’s planned to break up with her for a while now, but that’s his problem, not mine.”
“Well, I’m glad you had a good time then.”
“Heck yeah I did. Speaking of which — have you made up your mind yet?”
“Are you coming to my housewarming? It’s this Sunday.”
“I can’t give you an answer yet.”
“You said that the last time we talked. If you prefer Daniel to be there, you can bring him. I didn’t mention it before because I know he’s not much of a party person.”
“Neither am I,” Allison reminded her.
“Well, it’s just… he is quite dull in social settings if you know what I mean.”
“You know… people.”
“You mean one of your roisterer friends? If Dan’s dull then so am I.”
“Yeah but you are my best friend! That makes all the difference. But hey, like I said, if that’s the only way to get you to come, bring him.”
“It’s not that. I’m just waiting for him. He’s still indecisive about going to the Bahamas for the weekend. I will be sure to bring that up again tonight.”
“Isn’t today Thursday?”
“Didn’t you tell me your parents are leaving for the trip this Friday?”
“I know the time is tight, but I won’t lose hope yet.”
“Ha. Good luck. I hate to burst your bubble, but I don’t think he’ll say yes. At least either way you will have fun, because let me tell you girl, it’s going to be one kickass party like no other.”
“Right. Anyway, don’t forget about the blender. I really need it. Are you sure you don’t want me to just come get it?”
“Yes. I said one o’clock. I won’t forget. But I’ve got to go now. This migraine is killing me. I want to try to sleep for a few more hours before my mom will call and nag me to go pick up my kids.”
“Alright. I’ll see you in a bit.”
“Yup. See ya.”