Georgiana Daniels is the wife of a super-generous husband, and the mother of a teen and two tots. After graduating with a degree in public relations, she spent several years in the business world, but now has the privilege of staying home and working on the stories she loves. Table for One is her first book. When not writing, she spends her time burning up miles on the treadmill, blogging, and participating in ACFW and RWA.
“I can’t believe you’re not done yet. You’ve been working on that sermon all week.” Linda capped the bottle of polish and held her fingers out to dry. If they dawdled much longer, they’d be late to their own party.
“Still need a joke for point number three.” Larry looked up from his yellow legal pad and Bible. “What do you think of this: Knock, knock—”
“Please, no knock-knocks. No one likes them.”
His wrinkled his forehead. “But they laugh every time.”
“Only out of courtesy.”
“That’s not true. Besides, you don’t know what I was going to say. Humor me this time. Knock, knock.”
“Oliver more with each passing year.”
A grin slid across Linda’s face. “You’re not preaching about us, are you?”
“You’ve worked your way into a sermon or two over the years.”
“That’s what I’m afraid of.”
“How about this one: A pastor, a deacon, and an elder—”
“Darling, they aren’t coming to church for your jokes. Now, we really should be going.”
“You’re thinking about the cake again?” Larry closed his Bible and set it on the end table.
“What’s wrong with that?”
“I didn’t say anything was wrong with it; I was only asking.”
“Fair enough. Now that you mention it, I was thinking about the cake and how it’s going to be gone if we don’t hurry and get to the reception hall.”
“It’s our anniversary. I hardly think they’re going to start the party without us. Unless”—he narrowed his eyes—“Mrs. Heffle is there.”
They both stood.
“I’ll get our jackets.” Linda blew on her fingernails as she hurried toward the entryway.
“Honey.” The deep timbre of Larry’s voice brought her to a halt. She glanced over her shoulder to meet his gaze. Pulling her hands to his waist, he nodded with appreciation. Even in the muted evening light his eyes sparkled. “Did I mention how beautiful you are?”
Even after more years of marriage than Linda cared to count, she blushed when her husband used that tone. “Not in the last ten minutes.”
Larry reeled her to his chest.
“My hair.” She tilted her head back to keep from smashing the pouf she’d worked so hard to tease. My, but he smelled good.
“I’m not worried about your hair.”
“Well, I am. People will take pictures tonight . . .” Her words faltered as his fingers trailed her spine. “Oh, Larry. Not now. I just did my nails.”
“It’s not your nails that interest me.” He nibbled her ear.
Linda gave in. When they finally resurfaced for air, she scrambled to their bedroom and reapplied her coral lipstick. As the clock inched past seven—there was no way Mrs. Heffle hadn’t touched the cake by now—she frantically tried to fluff the dent in her hair.
“Your chariot awaits.” Larry leaned against the doorframe, a bouquet of roses in hand. For that, she’d forgive his silly cliché.
Arms linked, he led her to the Lincoln and waited for Linda to situate herself before tucking the purple silky dress inside and shutting her door.
Excitement stirred in her stomach when they arrived at the church. Hopefully the parking lot would be this full for tomorrow morning’s worship service.
“Remember, it’s supposed to be a surprise,” Larry said before they entered the foyer.
“Only if someone had brought us here blindfolded and in our pajamas.” She clutched his arm. “But as the dutiful pastor’s wife, I’ll play along.”
“I knew you were a keeper.” He patted her backside, then gave her a mischievous smile.
“Yeah, well, all bets are off if my cake’s been touched.”
“I wouldn’t expect any less.”
They clasped hands and glided across the foyer toward the reception hall. No sound broke the stillness of the aged church. The party might be smaller than she thought. Linda smoothed her dress and straightened her necklace. The nail polish she’d worked so hard to apply had been ruined . . . but for a worthy cause.
“You ready?” he asked.
“Well, Linda”—Larry’s booming voice echoed off the burnished wood-paneled walls—“I told Vern I locked up when we left earlier, but let me double-check in here.” He yanked open the door.
“Surprise!” A loud chorus rang out as the lights flicked on in the cavernous hall.
Linda covered her mouth, then swiped away the tears that had sprung to her eyes. Everywhere she looked, loved ones surrounded them. Parishioners and colleagues filled the room, and at the long table in front sat their children, grandchildren, and even a few great-grandchildren. Streamers spun overhead, and vases of fresh flowers sat on every table. A sign on the far wall read HAPPY 50TH, LARRY ’N’ LINDA!
People rushed to greet them, crushing the couple with hugs and handshakes. Multiple generations of family proved to be some of the best fruit a half century of marriage could produce. She rejoiced in their full quiver, thankful to God, who had made it so.
Linda reached for her husband and pulled him close. She cupped his face with her hands and gently rubbed her nose against her love’s. “Happy anniversary, darling.”
““Happy anniversary to you, too.” Larry folded her into a tight embrace, and for a brief moment the crowd seemed to fade. He nuzzled her with a gentle kiss, one that held the promise of forever.
And it was good.