by LSF Publications
by Katie Bradford
Squinting her eyes to see the time on the television box, Melissa saw that it was only ten minutes past the last time she'd looked. It was well after the time Randy had promised to be home and her dander was rising steadily.
Normally she didn't cook real meals during the school week, as she was usually beat with exhaustion from working with first graders all day. However, that day she'd been in high spirits. School was out for the holidays and she was free for two solid, glorious weeks. She'd actually come home and prepared lasagna from scratch by way of celebrating for herself and her husband who taught in the local college.
However, as dinner time rolled around, Randy had still not come home. Melissa turned the news on figuring he'd be in soon, but finally grew weary after half an hour. She decided to call her husband's cell and enquire as to where in the heck he was. Randy informed her that a meeting had been set for that afternoon and he was sure he'd told her about it earlier that week.
Of course an argument ensued on Melissa's end, but Randy had quickly cut her off telling her he was sorry if he had forgotten to tell her but he needed to get back to the conference room. Then he'd finished the conversation with an, 'I love you and I'll see you at home in about an hour or so'.
Irritated, Melissa sat and ate her dinner alone, seething the entire time about how inconsiderate her husband had been. Why hadn't he told her that morning that he'd be late? It certainly would have changed her plans for the evening that's for sure. She would have eaten out with some of her teacher friends after school... with maybe a margarita or two!
Still grumbling to herself, Melissa graciously fixed Randy a plate and stuck it in the oven for him to eat when he got home. What she'd really wanted to do was throw everything in the trash and tell him to make a sandwich or something... but being the good wife that she was, she didn't.
Now she was sitting on the couch watching the ID channel, trying not to get any ideas in her head about doing away with her own husband. Two hours had passed since the phone call and there was still no sign of Randy.
He could tell she was mad on the phone. Randy knew he was in hot water but what else could he have done? He really wanted the bracelet to be a surprise and couldn't think of any other way to go out shopping by himself. He was surprised Melissa had believed him when he'd told her he had a meeting after school. After all, who calls a meeting the day before a holiday?
When Melissa called he had actually been on his way to the car ... not stuck in a meeting like he'd told her. He was in a hurry to get away because the jewelry store was closing in less then an hour and it was clear across town. He wasn't even sure what he'd said to Melissa as he slipped the cell phone back in his pocket. He just knew the lying would all be worth it in the end. She was going to be so happy.
He'd been saving for the bracelet all year and planned to give it to his wife of five years on New Year's Eve. That was the night he and Melissa had actually met. They'd both been invited to the same New Year's party. Neither had come with a date which was a good thing because once they met they were inseparable. Now seven years later they were happily married, with the holidays looming ahead. Or at least he hoped they were happily married. After that phone call he wasn't sure.
Jumping slightly at the key turning in the front door, Melissa rolled her eyes as she noted the hour on the TV box one last time. Mumbling a few choice words under her breath, she made her way to the door and yanked it open just as her husband pushed in, causing him to stumble.
"Well, well... look what the cat dragged home." Melissa frowned stepping aside to let Randy in, and then relocked the door.
"Hey babe," Randy said. He tried smiling but failed miserably. Seeing the look on Melissa's face hardly put him in jolly spirits. He leaned down trying to place a kiss on her lips only to get a mess of auburn hair instead.
"Your dinner's in the oven. It's probably not eatable now," Melissa groused as she started walking towards the kitchen.
"That's okay hon," Randy replied, opening the hall closet. "They brought sandwiches into the meeting," he lied. If truth be told, he had picked up a burger downtown after buying the bracelet but he had no intention of telling her that.
"Oh whatever," Melissa fumed continuing her journey to the kitchen. "Forget the fact that I slaved all afternoon making you lasagna," she exaggerated.
"You didn't tell me you made lasagna," Randy said. He kept a watchful eye on his wife as he removed the small box from his coat pocket and looked for a hiding place on the top shelf of the closet.
Randy's back was completely turned when Melissa poked her head around the kitchen corner and started to fuss even further about the hard labor she'd put in that day on the meal, but clamped her mouth tight when she saw Randy hiding something. Her eyes grew wide and a smile began spreading across her face as she quickly ducked back into the kitchen before her husband caught sight of her.
Once the package was well hidden, Randy took off his coat and scarf and hung them in the closet and shut the door. He figured there was not going to be much peace in the house that evening so was very surprised when Melissa smiled at him when he approached her in the kitchen to apologize.
"I'm sorry sweetie about being late tonight. I could have sworn I told you. And don't throw the lasagna away. I'll have it for lunch tomorrow. I love your lasagna... you know that."
Melissa tried hiding her excitement. She knew he wanted it to be a surprise but it was hard not grinning from ear to ear. She knew something really nice had to be in a box that small. Trying to hide her face from him as she started wrapping the leftovers in foil, Melissa shrugged and replied, "It's okay... miscommunication I guess. Why don't you go up and take a shower? I know you're tired."
"That sounds really good right now actually," Randy agreed. "I think I'll do just that. Can I have a kiss please before I go?"
Turning to her husband Melissa planted a bigger kiss then she'd planned on his lips. What a great husband she had! She took back every nasty thought she'd had about him that evening and was glad she hadn't really said anything bad to his face.
"Wow!" Randy grinned wrapping his arms around Melissa's waist and drawing her closer, "That sure is a far cry from the greeting I got at the door."
"Oh well," Melissa chortled, "I guess I just realized how silly I was being. I know you have to attend meetings sometimes. I just didn't count on it being today. I wanted to surprise you with a homemade meal and was disappointed when you weren't here to eat it with me is all."
"Well..." Randy smiled lewdly, "I'll do my best to make it up to you later tonight in bed."
Curiosity was overwhelming Melissa as she beamed up at her husband. "Well we'll never get there if you don't take your shower and let me get the kitchen tidied up, now will we?" she replied as she gently pushed herself out of his arms.
"Alas no." Randy sighed heavily as he looked longingly into his wife's face. "I'm taking a quick shower so don't take long," he warned with a chuckle.
"It won't take long," Melissa assured him with a twinkle in her eye.
With that, Randy scooted off towards the stairwell while Melissa stood and watched him go muttering under her breath, "No... it won't take long at all since I saw exactly where you put it."
And as soon as she heard the shower running and Randy's voice in high form, Melissa grabbed the step stool from the kitchen corner and hurried off to the hall closet. She'd have to be quick so he wouldn't catch her snooping.
It didn't take long to find the little box. Randy wasn't that good at hiding things ... not as good as she was anyway. He'd simply tossed the box towards the back of the closet where it sat precariously on its side. Melissa usually went to great pains to hide Randy's gifts although she wasn't sure why. Randy was a typical guy... he never really looked for his gifts. He always said it ruined the surprise; so why look?
After briefly looking up towards the upstairs landing making sure she was indeed alone, Melissa carefully opened the box. Nearly falling off the stool when she saw the diamond bracelet, she steadied herself before taking a closer look.
"Oh my goodness!" she exclaimed breathlessly. "Look at this gorgeous thing! How in the world could he ever afford something like this?" she asked herself, running her fingers across the dazzling beauty.
Sadly her thoughts were interrupted as she heard the overhead shower stop and knew it would only be a matter of time before her husband came looking for her. Quickly she closed the lid and put the box back where she'd found it.
Smiling from ear to ear, Melissa closed the closet door and returned the stool to its proper place in the kitchen. As she started up the stairs her mind was whirling. What in the world was she going to get him for Christmas that would equal that gorgeous bracelet? All she knew for the moment however was that her great big wonderful hubby was about to have the night of his life!
"What is wrong with you?!" Randy snapped, pushing the key into the lock. "You have been crabby all afternoon."
"There is nothing wrong," Melissa replied coolly. That was the biggest lie she had told anyone in like forever. Of course there was something wrong but she wasn't about to tell Randy what it was. He of all people should know what was bothering her.
"Something is sure wrong," Randy frowned. "You've hardly said a word to me since Christmas dinner. What have I done?"
"Nothing Randy," Melissa replied pushing the front door to their house wide open. "I've already told you everything is just peachy."
Sighing heavily Randy followed his wife into the house and dumped all their Christmas gifts onto the hallway table. He loved her dearly but sometimes she drove him crazy with her little tantrums.
They had driven to his parent's house on the other side of town early that morning like they did every year. And like every year they had a delightful Christmas dinner and exchanged a few gifts. They'd all been having a great time too ... that is until all the gifts had been open. That's when Melissa's attitude started changing. She'd actually done a complete 180 degrees on him! He couldn't for the life of him figure out what had brought on the sudden change. And contrary to her last comment... he knew things were not peachy.
"Why did you dump all the stuff there?" Melissa complained.
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