Anne smiled to herself as she ascended the stairway; everything was going so well
. They'd planned the party for months, the perfect meals, the perfect games, and the perfect outings.
Nothing was left unchecked and the result was a house full of happy guests. Tomorrow was the last day of the weekend and their guests would be leaving, heading to their far off homes. Photos of the gladiator style battle they held in the $10 baby pool in the back yard would be keepers; maybe they'd be the postcard invitations to next year's event.
An annual party. At their
Her smile deepened at the thought, subconsciously she touched her thumb to the ring on her left hand
. At the landing she passed Rebecca, an accountant friend of his from Texas. They'd gone to school together
, nearly dated but had decided to remain friends instead. Anne liked Rebecca
, she was smart, gorgeous
and very good with a cardboard tube made into a gladiator's weapon.
"Seen John around?"
and shook her head, ringlets bouncing around sparkling blue eyes in an auburn curtain. "Great weekend, Anne. I'm going to be sorry to leave tomorrow."
"Thanks! I'll make sure you make that 8am flight, don't you worry about it."
Rebecca flashed a bright smile
and scooted past her on the landing, holding her Jack and Coke up high as she descended the stairs.
A thump from the third floor gave her a sudden clue as to where her fiancé was. His workroom. Always doing something. His hands had to be busy all the time
; he was often fidgeting with a screwdriver or jingling his keys. It was that quirk which had brought her attention to him in the first place.
She'd been working in a Rare Book Store
, and he'd been a frequent customer. It was while sitting upon a ladder among the dusty rows of ancient leather bibles that she'd heard the jingle. Though she couldn't see him, at first, through the stacks, she could follow the sound as he moved all over the crowded shop. Annoyed at the constant jingling she'd climbed down from her task and sought out the disrupter. When she rounded the Ancient Arts section and found him lightly touching the cover of an old leather-bound sketchbook while clutching and unclutching the keys in his pocket...she couldn't help but smile
She smiled then and she smiled now at the memory. It'd taken her a month to work up the courage to ask out the mysterious noisemaker
, and it'd been worth it.
Running a hand along the wall as she ascended the final few steps she paused outside the door. It was shut. It was never shut.
Perhaps it was just to keep the guests from getting cut on a saw or stepping on a stray nail.
Opening the door she suddenly felt a tightness ripple across her chest. Salt-laden tears stung her eyes
as she stood there, watching him. He was bent over the worktable, his back to the door and to her. Wrapped around his waist were a pair of legs sporting red sandals.
Backing out of the doorway
, she clung to the wall as she silently moved down
the stairs. Below she could hear her guests lamenting
the sudden change in weather