“You know how I hate getting dressed up. Is this really necessary?” Ben asked as he struggled with his tie.
“Let me help you, honey.” Lucy stood behind him, and reaching her hands to his neck, helped him with his tie. Once it was done, she brushed her hands along his shoulders before studying both their reflections in the floor length mirror. “My, you’re a handsome man! I love how you look in a suit and tie.”
Ben grinned as he turned around to kiss her. “Flattery, my dear, will get you everywhere,” he said, patting her derriere. “I still think it’s silly for us to dress up like this. We could just go casual, right? What’s the big deal?”
“The big deal is that our hostesses request that we dress up, said it’s a formal event. Emily said it’s not just dinner, it’s a banquet. Didn’t you read the invitation?”
“The invitation? Uh, not really. I leave that kind of thing up to you.” Ben stared at Lucy, his grin spreading from ear to ear.
“You, my lovely wife you’re more beautiful now than when we first met. We could skip the banquet, you know? Call for pizza delivery.”
“Ben, we’ll do nothing of the sort. We promised Emily and Laurie we’d be there. Maybe later we can go out for pizza.”
“Does that mean I might not like what’s being served?” Ben grimaced as he fiddled with his tie. “I really hate dressing up,” he mumbled.
“You will smile and make lavish compliments about whatever we’re served because you’re a sweet, kind man. If you don’t, I’ll punish you worse than I punish the kids.” Lucy softened her words with a wink.
“Yes, dear, whatever you say,” he said in mock subservience. “Is it time yet? Not sure how much longer I can stand this tie.”
Lucy picked up the invitation, the one written in crayon that had stick figures sitting around a table. “Saturday afternoon at four o’clock. I think it’s time, handsome fellow.”
Ben held out his arm, waiting for Lucy to link her arm with his. They opened their bedroom door and made their way down the hallway. Ben rapped his knuckles against Emily’s and Laurie’s bedroom door. They could hear little girl giggles from behind the closed door. Emily hollered, “Please come in.”
Ben opened the door, and with a grand flourish, they both entered, putting on exaggerated high-society airs. Emily and Laurie, wearing their princess dresses complete with tiaras, stifled their giggles with their hands.
“Welcome King Ben and Queen Lucy to our banquet in your honor,” said six-year-old Emily, hoping she sounded like a princess.
“Please be seated,” four-year-old Laurie said, unable to control her giggles. She motioned to the plastic chairs and table set with their Disney Princess Tea Set. In the center sat a bowl of grapes, a plate of cookies, and a teapot with lemonade.
Ben pulled out a chair for Lucy. It took him a little longer to fold his six-foot frame onto the child-sized chair. He grinned at his daughters. “It looks wonderful, Princess Emily and Princess Laurie. It is with great honor that we dine with you this fine day.”
Laurie giggled again. “Thank you, Daddy. I mean, thank you, King Ben.”
For the next fifteen minutes Emily and Laurie served grapes and cookies, and poured lemonade while their mom and dad “oo-ed” and “ah-ed.” When it was done, Ben stood and bowed as he kissed the back of first Emily’s hand and then Laurie’s. “I must say, Princess Emily and Princess Laurie, that you are by far the prettiest princesses in my entire kingdom. The lovely Queen Lucy and I have never been to a finer banquet in our honor. I will see to it that you are rewarded.”
The girls clapped and giggled. “With what, Daddy?” Laurie asked. Emily nudged her, and she put her hand over her mouth. “Uh, with what King Ben?”
“Perhaps I’ll take my lovely Queen and Princesses out for pizza, and while the queen and I look on, we shall allow you to play as many games as you’d like. Up to five dollars worth of tokens, that is.”
Lucy winked at her daughters. “The meal was divine. Now if you’ll permit us to change into clothes more suited for a trip to the pizza parlor, we’ll meet you downstairs in a few minutes.”
Grinning, the girls curtsied and blew kisses.
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