âTell them business was bad, make out like we canât afford for you to take a little quilting class. We hardly know them!â
âBut,â I puffed, âyou said it first. âThings could be better.â You said so yourself. Youâre right, they could. Whatâs so terrible about saying so? I donât know what youâre so upset about.â
âBecause I donât want you going around telling everybody our private business! Start saying things like that and next thing you know itâll be all over town.â
âThey wouldnât do that. After all, theyâre in the same boat. Every business in town is struggling.â
âMaybe, but I still donât like everybody knowing about our troubles, okay?â
âOkay.â I shrugged. âSorry.â
Lee cut into his stack of cold pancakes. âItâs not like weâre destitute, you know. Itâs not like I canât take care of my family.â
âLee Woodruff, what are you talking about? I never said anything of the kind! I never even implied it. All I meant wasââ
Eyes on his plate, he lifted his hand. âLetâs just not talk about it, okay?â
Where had this come from? Lee and I have always shared everything from housework and child rearing to bill paying and bread-winning. Now he was acting like the responsibility for bringing home the family bacon rested on his shoulders alone. I didnât get it. Then again, Lee was the one with the accounting degree. If he was so concerned about our financial situation, maybe I should be too.
As if reading my thoughts, Lee looked up from his plate of pancakes and gave me an apologetic smile. âDonât worry so much. Weâll figure it out.â
âSure.â He raised his mug and clinked it against mine. âHappy anniversary, babe.â
He smiled and gave me a lookâ the look. As always, my heart gave a lurch and my pulse raced. How does he do that?
âSo,â he said casually, âthink you might consider closing a little early today?â
âWhy should I? Got something special in mind?â
He grinned. âYes, maâam. Meet me in our bedroom at six and Iâll explain it to you in detail. Better yet, Iâll show you. Shouldnât take more than a couple of hours.â
âA couple of hours? Oh my. Sounds like we might need some provisions. Want me to pick up a bottle of champagne on my way home?â
He shook his head. âAlready have one chilling in the refrigerator. Steaks too. Iâm making dinner. That is, if youâve got the energy to get out of bed and come to the table.â
âAnd if I donât?â
âThen I guess Iâll just have to serve you in bed.â
âThink thatâs a good idea?â I asked. âMight lead to all kinds of things.â
âItâs a risk Iâm willing to take,â he said, his eyes twinkling as he reached for my hand, turned it palm up, and brushed his lips over the soft flesh of my wrist.
I blushed. Thirty-four years of marriage and he can still make me blush. Itâs embarrassing. And wonderful.
I leaned my head down and whispered in Leeâs ear, âI wish it were six already.â
The cafÃ© was nearly empty. I sipped the last of my coffee and watched Lee finish his breakfast, wondering, not for the first time, how Iâd managed to land such a handsome husband and how he managed to get even better looking as the years passed.
Behind the bakery counter, a waitress turned the radio to an AM news station.
âAnd in national news, Eugene Janders, attorney for Sterling Baron, requested his clientâs sentencing be postponed. Baron, who was convicted of masterminding a decades-long Ponzi scheme that bilked investors out of billions, could be sentenced to as many as one hundred years in