Sam Greensborough leaned forward and peered at the small open box Michael sat at the center of the table.
“It’s beautiful, Michael.” He said. “Triphanie will love it. When’s the big day again?”
“Tonight, actually,” Michael said. “Five years. Can you believe it?” Sam nodded.
“They fly by fast,” he said. “Hell, Carol and me been together going on twenty-one next November. Imagine that one.” He drained the last of his coke, looked around for the young, dark haired waitress he was fond of flirting with. Once he locked eyes with her, he lifted his glass. Michael admired how much the girl held back her expression of revulsion when she nodded in response. He didn’t envy waiting staff jobs at all. Especially when they had to deal with dirty middle aged men like his good ole buddy Sam, who, while harmless enough, still came off as creepy and sleazy. Oddly enough, Sam thought of himself as charming. Michael supposed if he was a true friend he would tell Sam about himself, but he just didn’t have it in himself to break Sam’s spirit like that. Michael picked up the red velvet-lined box, took one last look at the ring, snapped the box closed.
“You should ask Carol to remarry you,” he said. Sam reached into the breadbasket, pulled out the last breadstick, took a bite.
“Naw,” he said. “She’d never do it.”
“You don’t think so?”
“Look kid, any woman who doubles her husband’s life insurance twice over twenty years ain’t trying to get married again. At least not to him. She’s dreaming of sail boats and Chico Suave”
“Ouch! But yeah…you got a point there. Michael looked around the restaurant. “More fish in the sea?” Sam laughed so hard he nearly choked on a bite of breadstick.
“They do say that, don’t they kid?” Sam said. “And it’s true, for the most part. What they don’t tell you is all those fish are piranha. I’ll just stick with the shark I got, thank you very much.” The waitress appeared, refilled his glass, nodded when Michael asked for the check, rolled her eyes when Sam said, “Thanks, Sweetheart.”
A few minutes later, Michael paid the check, left a generous tip for the waitress, then walked Sam to his car.
“Taking the rest of the day off?” Sam asked, popping the trunk.
“Yep,” Michael said. “I have a couple errands to run, then I’m going to get my ass home.” He tapped his coat pocket. “This rock’s weighing me down.” Sam pulled out a dark green bottle decorated with a large red ribbon, let the trunk fall closed. Then he handed the bottle to Michael.
“From me and Carol,” he said. Michael read the label.
“Thanks, buddy,” he said. “I appreciate this.”
“Not a problem,” Sam said. “Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to get back to the Department. The section’s doing taco Tuesday. I never miss it.”
Michael, thinking about the triple decker bacon guacamole jalapeno burger, the double order of super stacked power chili fries, the majority of Michael’s breadsticks (and pasta), and the three (count them – three) large colas his friend had put away in the past hour alone said, “Good thing you didn’t order dessert. Save room for all those tacos. Smart.”
“Right?” Sam said.
Trip was standing by the kitchen sink when he walked in, the bottle of Champaign in one hand, a bouquet of pink and white roses in the other. There was something going in a pot on the stove and something in the oven. Michael couldn’t tell what it was by the smell, but it smelled delicious. She gave him a surprised smile when she saw him and ran into his arms. He lifted her off the ground, but only for a moment. Then he put the bottle on the counter and handed her the bouquet which she beamed at, ten rushed off to find a vase for. It was all going perfect. While she was looking for the vase, he fetched a couple wine glasses out of the cabinet, popped the cork on the Champaign, and poured them both a glass. Trip returned a minute later with a vase, filled it with water at the sink, and arranged the flowers in it. Then she put it at the center of the kitchen counter.
“We can put the flowers on the table when we eat dinner,” she said.” She kissed him. “Thank you, baby.” Then she saw the glasses of Champaign. “Ahhh. What’s this?”
“From the Greensboroughs,” Michael said.
“That was nice of them,” Trip said.
“I think Sam’s going to croak of a heart attack soon,” Michael said. Trip giggled.
“Wouldn’t surprise me,” she said. “Have you seen that man eat? I hope he has good insurance.” She reached for the Champaign glass, but Michael swiped her hand away.
“Not yet,” he said, looking around. “Jessica?”
“She’s at the Millers,” Trip said. “Play date and movies. We have all the way until eight o’clock, stud.” She winked at him and he immediately began to stir down below. Woah, Michael thought – Time and place buddy. Time and place. We’ll get to that.
“Good – good,” Michael said. He reached into his jacket pocket, pulled out the red velvet box, opened it. Trip’s eyes immediately filled with tears when she saw what was inside. It was the ring she’d wanted five years ago. The one she’d wished for. The one Michael told her they’d never be able to afford in a million years. With his recent promotion and a new line of credit, he’d be able to pay it off in under five years. Still too expensive for his taste, but she was worth it. She was worth everything to him. He got down on one knee.
“Triphanie,” he said. “These past five years have been the happiest years of my life. I know when we got married, you deserved so much more than I could give you. Please re-marry me, and I will give you the wedding of your dreams.” She tried to speak, couldn’t. Tried again, burst into tears. Then she grabbed the Champaign and downed the entire glass, poured another glass, downed that one in one gulp, turned back to her husband, cleared her throat.
“Get up,” she said. Michael got to his feet, brushed off his trousers. “I’d marry you a million times.” She said. He placed the ring on her finger, then they kissed for a long time.
During dinner, he watched her, how happy she was in that moment. She behaved in ways he hadn’t seen since their first year as a couple. She played with her hair a lot. She said flirty things. She even rubbed her foot up his leg under the table like she used to do when they were dating. Oh how that used to drive him crazy. He suspected she was more than a little tipsy. He added up the two glasses of Champaign from the bottle that was still on the kitchen counter and the three glasses of merlot she’d downed with dinner and – yep, she was hammered. But he knew it was more than that. She was really excited. That made him truly happy. He himself was not. He never got to touch his Champaign, and he detested red wine. He thought perhaps later he’d have a couple shots of rum. That was more his speed anyway. She did that thing with her foot again. He couldn’t take it anymore. He went to her, lifter her up in his arms, and carried her upstairs to their bedroom. She giggled all the way.
He laid her on the bed, then undressed as fast as possible, flinging his socks across the room at the end – one to the left, one to the right. Then he laid down on top of her, moved her hair away from her face, and kissed her like it was their first time. She wasn’t giggling anymore – or smiling either. She was snoring.
“Are you freaking kidding me?” he said. He gave her a slight pat on the cheek. “Trip. Trip, wake up.” When she didn’t respond, he patted her harder. “Come on. Trip, don’t do this to me!” When she moved, his heart raced. All wasn’t lost. She smacked her lips, then rolled over, started snoring again. “Shit,” he said. He lifted her head, slid an extra pillow under her, and pulled the covers from his side of the bed over her. Then he put his clothes back on and checked his phone. He had a little over a half hour to go before he had to pick up Jessica. May as well go clean up a little downstairs. He kissed his wife gently on the cheek, said, “sleep tight, princess,” then went back downstairs, closing the door behind him when he left.
To be continued…
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