Lucy read the text message for the third time. “New VIP client wants us to meet him for dinner. I’m flying in from Denver, back at office by 7. Will meet you at Gallagher’s at 8. So sorry for changed plans. We’ll leave in am.”
Her husband was sorry? They had been planning this weekend for months! He asked what she wanted for her birthday and this is what she asked for. A weekend at their favorite mountain resort, just the two of them. How could he do this? She dialed his cell number, only to get, “The cell phone customer you are trying to reach is not available.” Grrrrr! He was probably still in the air.
And why hadn’t she heard from any of her three children today? Her son Jacob she might cut a little slack, since he was just a college freshman, but Emily and Nancy were grown. They should have at least called her. She wasn’t a “high maintenance” mom. She just expected a little basic courtesy. Well, she wasn’t going to call them. Let them suffer the guilt, as well they should, when they realized they had forgotten her birthday!
On the drive home from work, her accusing thoughts turned to Edward. Just once in a while, she’d like to be put first, instead of getting the leftovers of his time and energy. In her irritable state, she tallied every time she had rearranged her schedule to accommodate his.
By the time she stomped into the house, anger had her mobilized and preparing for battle. Holding her head high (stiff, but high), she systematically chose the most becoming, the most stylish, the most eye-catching dress she owned, and with the wisdom of every-woman she fluffed and coifed her thick tresses, splashed on a seductive fragrance, and painted her face with an artist’s flair. She would make sure Edward was desperately desiring her, just before she cut him to ribbons with the tongue-lashing he deserved.
She considered calling Emily and Nancy before she left the house, but was feeling entirely too miffed, so she spent ten minutes speed-dialing Edward’s cell over and over, only to get that same stupid recorded message. Why wasn’t he answering?
Finally, she called Jacob.
“Hi, Mom!” She could hear people laughing and talking in the background.
“Hey, sweetheart! Are you out with your friends?”
“Yeah, Mom. Look, can I call you back tomorrow?”
What a letdown. He didn’t remember either.
Some of that huge burst of anger had fizzled away, but all the hurt was still there. And she was still mad, she reminded herself. Seven-thirty. Time to go.
She fumed and smoldered as she drove. She carried on conversations with Edward in her head, coming up with scathing accusations, and words to make him feel the enormity of the pain he had inflicted on her. She even spared some of her imaginings for her children, shaming them for not even sending a cheap little card her way.
She parked the car, feeling like a martyr. A saint for putting up with this undeserved treatment! She got out and walked toward the entrance. Hadn’t she been an exemplary wife and mother? Always there for all of them? Supporting them, constantly pouring out her love and energy for them?
Edward was waiting right inside the door, his eyes alight with appreciation on seeing her. “Lucy, you look amazing!” He held her arms out to the side and whistled softly. “More beautiful than the first time I saw you.” He kissed her on the cheek. “The client’s waiting.”
She mustered her resolve, and began. “Edward,” she said seriously, “I am very disappointed about our trip.”
“So am I, Luce…” He was guiding her across the foyer and toward the double doors leading into the dining area when she started pulling back.
“Edward, I’m furious!” she said in a tightly controlled voice. “Stop, ‘cause I’m gonna give it to you, right now!” He kept moving forward. “Edward! STOP!” she yelled, just as the doors opened and a hundred voices rang out – “SURPRISE!! Happy Birthday!!”
Her mouth drew into a pucker, and a whispered, contrite little “Oops” puffed out. Then, pandemonium set in as she was surrounded and hugged. First Nancy, then Emily. Then….Jacob, too!
A little later, she mouthed to her husband, “I’m sorry”. He nodded his forgiveness. She poked him in the ribs. “But I’m still gonna give it to you later, if you get my drift.” He just grinned.
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