When he came back home from the studio, he was stunned to find his wife in the kitchen slipping off her apron. Setting his bag down on one of the island stools, he hesitantly reached out, as if he wasn’t quite sure if she was real or just a figment of his imagination.
“Milly had to go back home, so we have about a month before I have to go back.”
Leaning up, she lightly kissed him as he stood there in wonder. When he’d woken up that morning, little had he known that he’d be eating dinner with his wife. Perhaps if he’d known, he’d have come home earlier, but he obviously hadn’t and so never even considered starting dinner at this time. Particularly when the French habitually ate dinner significantly later than the English did.
“Where’s your mother?”
“I sent her out with Liesl on this late night group walk. She’ll be back late.”
“And you made dinner?”
“I don’t mind being the traditional wife every now and then.”
“Oh, sweet pea…” Wrapping his arms around her waist, he buried his nose in the crook of her neck and drew in her familiar perfume. Gently crushing her to himself, he squeezed his eyes shut. “I missed you so much.”
She laughed as she smoothed his hair. “I missed you too.”
“I almost went crazy without you.”
“Well, you can tell me all about it over dinner. I made lobster thermidor.”
He marveled at her. How fortunate a man he was to have a woman like her to call his wife. There were few, perhaps even a lack of, flaws of hers he could name at the moment, and even if there were, they were so insignificant, he didn’t particularly care. He was high off of her being here with him after three months of separation, and it was all he could do not to crush her again in his embrace and purr.
“What are you just standing there for? Go wash your hands.”
“Right.” Flushing, he smiled sheepishly. “I’ll, er… I’ll be right back. Don’t go anywhere!”
But he had already run to the bathroom so quickly, he nearly slipped on the wood flooring. Giggling to herself, his wife shook his head. Good God, just what was she going to do with that man?
Why, love him, of course, with all her heart.
. . .
“Oh, my God,” he groaned. “I can’t remember the last time I ate that much.”
Smiling drowsily, she brushed his jawline with her fingers.
“Maman tells me you haven’t been taking very good care of yourself in my absence. Is that true?”
“I will neither confirm nor deny what your mother’s told you. You know how the French and English never got along. She could be exaggerating for all I know.”
“That’s very funny coming from someone who so eagerly goes to the park and the movies and shopping with my mother.”
“Yes, well, your mum happens to be a very charming lady.”
She studied him as he lay his head on her lap. Despite all of the joking between them, she could see how her mother’s report had held little hyperbole. While the apartment was as clean and tidy as always, the fridge hadn’t been as well-stocked with fresh ingredients when she had come home earlier (not to say that he was taking poor care of his mother-in-law; just that he seemed to have lost some of his typical standards. Her mother might also have had a hand in such as she had never quite liked the practice of buying ingredients so often; she thought it as a wasteful and illogical practice, two things which she hated, and so had probably bent her son-in-law’s will to match her own). Not to mention how he’d stopped shaving.
“So you’re not shaving anymore?”
“I, uh… I forgot to, and by the time I realized, your mother requested that I not.”
“Of course she did. She said that it was a waste of water, didn’t she?”
“No one in my family shaves because of her.”
Rubbing his chin, he quietly thought for a moment or two before asking, “Do you think it looks bad?”
“It scratches when I kiss you.”
“I’ll shave it off tomorrow.”
“Don’t, if you like it.”
“But do you?”
“Well… I’ve always found men with handlebar mustaches to be the sexiest.”
Bewildered, he looked up at her. Handlebar? She’d never mentioned any such thing in the past years they’d been together. Perhaps it was a secret she’d kept from him, out of fear of pressuring him to change? But that was silly. Why should she be scared? If it was something she really wanted, then of course he would do it for her. Didn’t she know that?
But then he realized she was only teasing him and immediately flushed. Embarrassed, he sat up to hide his face. Laughing, she leaned over and draped her arms around his shoulders.
“You’re so cute.”
“I can’t believe I fell for that,” he muttered. “That wasn’t even- How can I be so stupid?”
“I thought it was kind of sweet. You would really grow a mustache just for me?”
“Well, I mean,” he sputtered, “I suppose if you really wanted it, I would, but it’s not like- Oh, bugger it all.”
“But really. Keep it if you want. It’s nice to have some change every once and a while.”
“I promise I’ll shave soon.”
“Keep it as long as it makes you happy. As long as you’re happy, I’m happy.”
Kissing him on the cheek, she rested her chin on his shoulder.
“I’m so glad to be back home.”
“I’m glad to have you home,” he said. “It was bloody damn time you came back.”
And sharing a short, sweet kiss, they enjoyed one another’s company completely and beautifully uninterrupted.