He sighed heavily, but I knew he was only pretending to be annoyed. I had been telling him all day I had a surprise prepared for him, and he was pleased that I was going to so much trouble to make it special and fun. He had that little smile on his face, the one he always wears when he thinks I'm being particularly endearing.
Leading him by the hand, I guided him carefully into the dining room, then took one last look around to make sure everything was perfect. "Now. . . open them!"
He opened those beautiful sea-blue eyes, and the smile slowly changed into a look of surprise and then delight. The dining table was covered with a pure white linen tablecloth, and I had put tall brass candlesticks holding red tapers near either end of it. The candles provided the only light in the room, making the air shimmer and the mood feel quite . . . intimate. The china had belonged to my grandmother, and the silver he and I had found in an antique shop not long ago. I had spent some time cleaning and polishing it, and now both china and silver shone softly in the candles' glow. The serving dishes were filled with the different foods I'd prepared, on display on the sideboard. The wine was open and breathing, just waiting to be poured. The music I'd selected was just beginning to play, soft and lush, in the background: Debussy, Fauré and a few other modern composers, including my favourite Barber adagio that was sensuality set to strings.
"Beautiful, love, just beautiful," he murmured, putting his arm around my waist and brushing my cheek with his lips. "You must have been working all day on this!"
"It's not so often that we're both at home for any length of time, and I really wanted everything to be perfect." I leaned against his chest. "An evening just for us, where I can take care of you and feed you and you don't have to worry about anything. Come, sit down."
He kissed me again and then took the chair at the closest end of the table. He frowned when he realized that my place setting was at the other end of the table. "You're not sitting down there," he said emphatically.
"That's just the way you set up a formal dinner. It's not like the table is twelve feet long or anything."
"The hell with that." He got up and stalked—there was no other word for it—to the other end and moved my things down right beside his, then brought a chair over and placed it right next to his own. "Much better." He looked at me, eyebrow raised. "Now it's perfect."
I shook my head at him, but I was laughing at the same time, so the disapproval was hardly convincing. He was right; now it was perfect. "You pour the wine, and I'll get the appetizer."
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