David came home from his Toledo run last night, his face bleached white with jealousy. “What’s this?” he demanded.
He waved a yellow envelope. “‘I’m looking forward to seeing you Friday’?”
I looked up from the dishwater. “Who’s that from?”
“Eric.” The word was a thunderclap.
I snatched it out of his hand, soapy water and all. “You read my mail?”
Mistake #1: looking guilty.
Pasty white turned dull red. “It’s on the outside of the damn envelope, Bec! Not very subtle!”
That idiot. “Oh, come on, David!” I turned my back, tucking the card into my sweater pocket. “I married you, not Eric.”
Mistake #2: drawing attention to my husband’s favorite singer, a country star twice named Sexiest Man Alive…and the guy I almost married when I was chasing country stardom myself.
It got ugly in a hurry. “At least now I know why you were so all-fire determined for me to work tomorrow!” David yelled, adding a few choice words for emphasis as he stormed out of the house, leaving me in tears.
Mistake #3: keeping my secret instead of throwing the blasted card at him.
The alarm goes off early this morning, and I rest a hand on David’s back, which is a little too rigid. “David,” I whisper, but he breathes deep and even.
I try to conjure that night ten years ago, at the end of the worst week ever, when my tour bus broke down in the middle of nowhere. David pulled off on the shoulder behind us, a knight on an 18-wheel charger, managing to quote Dickens without sounding pretentious. It was love at first sight, but to this day I’m not sure he believes it.
At the moment, it strains my credulity, too.
By the time I get out of the shower, I can hear the truck skipping through gears on its way out for the day’s run.
For a moment I debate calling the whole thing off. But the path of least resistance lies ahead. Sighing, I go downstairs to set the future in motion.
Eric and I meet at noon, as we planned. Nothing’s changed; his smile still takes my breath away. He kisses my cheek. “Ready?”
It takes all afternoon. When my energy flags, Eric rubs my back gently, but I shake him off. “Why’d you have to send that card, anyway? Why didn’t you just bring it with you?”
He smiles and strokes my hair. “You know my memory. So he’s suspicious?” Eric shakes his head. “Marriage. I’m glad I never got caught.”
“Smooth,” I say drily. “Real smooth, Eric.”
“Hey, I made you smile.”
At 5:30, everyone is in position. My phone trills a warning.
The door opens, and a beam of light falls across the darkened room, connecting David to me. The band starts playing, and Eric and I break into “It Had To Be You.” David takes in the balloons, the wishing well of cards, and understanding dawns. His sheepish smile banishes my lingering anxiety.
“Happy birthday, babe,” I say.
Concrits welcome, as always. I tried to use more action and dialogue this time. Any suggestions for what is or isn’t clear, what seems contrived or awkward?