Tires grinding on the driveway meant Ted was home. Sarah put the bread in the oven, set the timer, then washed the cutting board. She had it back in place before he could drop the fish on the counter. It was cod, of course. She’d expected to grow sick of it, but after ten years, it only tasted better, probably because he’d caught it, and if he was bringing some home, he’d had a good day on the boat.
“I’d kiss ya, but…”
“…you don’t want me to stink like you,” she finished for him. “I’ll collect your clothes while you shower. I’ll wait to start the washer.”
“You’re so good to me.” The sarcasm was almost genuine. She was good to him, and both of them knew it.
She peeked around the shower curtain, taking girlish delight in seeing him naked and wet. He flicked water at her, and she withdrew. By the time he came down, she had the fish cooking. He kissed her forehead and went to start the laundry.
She smiled at his back. Not many men like Ted in the world. She was glad she’d ignored those who’d said being a fisherman’s wife would be hell. There were moments of it, especially when the sea got rough and everyone went down to the pub to wait for the telephone call they hoped wouldn’t come. It was easier to be with people as scared as you and anyway, it was faster to get the news in one place than make a dozen or more calls.
Some years were worse than others, for both weather and catch. When it looked like things were getting too tight, she did temp work to keep them afloat. He always laughed when she put it that way. She could have worked all the time, but there was enough to do around the house, and she liked having things nice for him when he came home. Besides, spending time with lawyers should be limited to absolute necessity.
“Gee, what’s for dinner?” Ted bent down and wrapped his arms around her. She liked the way his breath tickled her ear.
“Something the cat dragged in.” She tilted her head to regard him. “He’s a mighty fine cat.”
He kissed her. She slapped at his wandering hands. “Set the table.”
“You set the table. I’ll open the wine.”
“What’s the occasion?”
“Tell you in a minute.” He gave her the crooked smile that had drawn her to him in the first place.
“I think there’s a white on the second shelf,” she called after him.
“That go with fish?” He laughed and emerged with the bottle. He handed her a glass and leaned against the counter, his tall frame seeming too big for the little kitchen. Then again, Ted was too big for most places. His body was still lean, but his personality filled the corners of a place.
“So, what’s the news?” She sipped her wine and waited. He always paused to build up tension before answering important questions.
“I got the loan.”
She squealed. “When?”
“Martin was at the dock, waiting for his boy to get done unloading. He figured there was no sense in making me wait until morning.”
Sarah wrapped her arms around her husband. For years, they’d set aside money. At first, it had nothing to do with the boat, but after seven years, they figured that they weren’t likely to have kids. Ignoring all the advice about doctors and treatments, they’d made plans for a different future. He’d worked hard for that boat, deserved it. Ted rocked her in his arms, radiating happiness.
“Jake Tulley was there when Martin told me.”
Sarah pulled away. “How’d that go?”
“Don’t think I’ve seen someone actually turn green with jealousy before.” Ted chuckled.
“Well, you did ruin his business when you left.”
“He ruined it himself by treating his crew like shit.”
“True.” The timer went off. Sarah let the bread cool while she finished cooking the fish and asparagus. She tried to feed them from her little garden as often as possible and had managed to do some bartering with the Greene sisters for fresh eggs. Small town life suited her in ways she’d never have believed.
They had just finished eating when the phone rang. They both tensed, then relaxed. No one was out, so the chances of it being bad news were slim. Sarah got up to answer while Ted cleared the table.
“Mrs. Richardson?” Sarah didn’t recognize the woman’s voice.
“I’m Maureen Stanton, from
Sarah paled. She’d been worried about a lump by her hip. When the doctor didn’t call, she figured it was nothing. Besides, it had gone away. “I haven’t heard from him.”
“Oh.” The pause was longer than any Ted could manage. “Perhaps he should speak with you first.”
“You called for a reason.” Sarah steeled herself for the news.
“Yes, well… we try to find out what sort of plans you have, so we can make arrangements.”
“Just in case you want a midwife or a water birth or something.”
The world spun. “I… I… oh, god.” She burst into tears and dropped the phone.
Ted hung it up. “What is it?”
“Dr. Banks. Oh, hell.” Words wouldn’t come.
“Shit.” He took a deep breath. “Is it cancer?”
“No.” She swallowed hard. “I’m pregnant.”
He swore. She backed away from him, eyes narrowed.
“You’re pissed about this!”
“God, no! Just surprised. I was prepared for you to tell me you were dying!” He laughed.
“This isn’t funny.”
“Yes, babe, it is. We finally get what we wanted, all in one day.”
“But your boat…”
“Screw the boat.”
“No. You get the boat anyway. We’ll manage the rest. It’s what people do.”
“I love you.” He picked her up and carried her up the stairs. “Both of you.”