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Thursday, September 4, 2008

Marriage on the Menu by Lynda Lukow 

Liz James’ life had all the flavor of unseasoned white sauce. Twenty-five years before, she had set her culinary science degree on the backburner to work bland jobs. Then as her husband lumbered up the architectural ladder, she raised their three children.

Now that the kids lived on their own---and Liz’s libido boiled over---she craved the days when she and Scott couldn’t pass each other without a hug, kiss, and caress. And the lovemaking! Sometimes fast and demanding, sometimes slow and easy. Anytime, anywhere, satisfaction guaranteed.

So far, her efforts to move romance from an often-skipped dessert to the main course had failed, but tonight she planned to stir things up. She scooped pepper steak over a bed of rice for Scott, chicken and broccoli for her. Then she placed the plates on the coffee table and lit tapers. A remix of 1983’s love songs floated from the stereo. Their first date replicated, she dressed for seduction.

When his car pulled into the driveway, she dashed to the couch and arranged her red satin wrap to reveal the black lace, cleavage-baring teddy.

Scott entered, gawked, and exited.

What the hell! He didn’t give her time to wink, much less invite him to join her.

He eased open the door, then slipped in. “What’s up?”

“Apparently nothing.” She blew out the candles, turned off the music, and carried their plates into the kitchen. “Supper’s on the table.”

As she stormed toward the stairs, he caught her elbow. “Evan’s waiting on the porch.”

Her stomach twisted. “Why is your lawyer here?”

“We’ll talk about it later. Can you get dressed, then scrounge up something for him to eat?”

“Give him mine.” She lost her appetite anyway. In the bedroom, she threw on a blouse and jeans. They had written their wills years ago. They didn’t intend to buy any property. Why would Scott consult his lawyer?

A chill coursed through her. She took the magazine from her nightstand and found the article about infidelity. Several times Scott had abruptly ended phone conversations when she entered the room. He recently added casual clothes to his wardrobe. Had she lost him to another woman?

Determined to find out what he and the lawyer discussed, she crept down to the den. She couldn’t understand a word through the door, so she pasted on a smile and entered without knocking. “Hello, Evan.”

He averted her gaze as he shoved papers under his briefcase. “Mrs. James.”

“Can I get you anything?”

“Privacy.” Scott’s curtness seared her heart.

“Don’t worry. I’m going out.” She leaned over to kiss him, but he pulled away to shield more papers.

Unwilling to give up without a fight, she drove to a travel agency. Their silver anniversary deserved better than their weekend honeymoon at the Jersey shore. Maybe a Caribbean cruise. She could throw his cell phone and laptop overboard and, if she needed, tie him to the bed, drink champagne from his navel, and lick chocolate sauce from every inch of his body. If that didn’t remind him that she was more than the mother of his children, nothing would.

When she arrived home, she slid travel brochures into an envelope. On the front, she wrote Crème Brûlée, the nickname he had given her and she once signed to love notes she packed in his lunches. She left the packet on the table and crawled into bed.

The next morning, the aroma of fresh-brewed coffee, not Scott’s goodbye kiss, woke her. While she sipped her first cup, she checked her email. He asked how she knew he needed to plan a meeting with his most important colleague and informed her that he made reservations for the following week at a golf resort and spa in Miami.

If she could reach through cyberspace, she’d choke him.

* * *

“Hi, Mom!”

Liz shut off the vacuum and then hugged her oldest daughter. “Shouldn’t you be at work?”

“Dad forgot his golf clubs. Why don’t you come along and see him off?”

When Liz begged to accompany him, Scott claimed he had meetings all week. Afraid she’d shove his lying ass off the boarding ramp, Liz declined.

“C’mon. I’ll buy you lunch.”

After a ten-minute debate, Ashley dragged her mom out to the car. Liz stewed all the way to the airport. She found her husband near the check-in counter and thrust his golf bag into his hands. “Have a nice trip.”

“Thanks.” He kissed her cheek, then pulled an envelope from his breast pocket. “This is for you.”

Fearing a divorce petition, she couldn’t reach out. “What’s that?”

“Your ticket.”

“To freedom?”

“You could call it that.”

Her shoulders sagged. “I know I got lost in the kids’ lives and you got wound up in work, but don’t you think this is a little extreme?”

“Hell no. We more than deserve it.”

If that’s the way he wanted to play, she’d get the best divorce lawyer around. She tore open the envelope and found a first class ticket, destination Miami International Airport.

“Surprise!” Their three children mobbed her.

Tears sprang to her eyes. After Liz hugged them all, Scott patted her butt. “Get going or we’ll miss our flight.”

“What about your meetings with your most important colleague?”

He pulled her into his arms. “No one matters more than you.”

“Then why did you meet with your attorney?”

“I’m investigating semi-retirement.” He kissed her long and hard. “What did you think we discussed?”

She shrugged. “You haven’t been too attentive lately.”

“You know I share all my secrets. I was afraid I’d spoil the surprise.”

The new clothes, the secretive calls suddenly made sense. “But you didn’t tell me to pack.”

“You’re overdue for a new wardrobe, too.” He nibbled her ear. “Each night, I plan to tear off your new lingerie. I hope you’re up to it.”

“Oh, I’m ready to sizzle,” she pressed her hips to his, “and I’ll make sure you are, too.”

About the Author: Lynda is a married mother of six who maintains her sanity by escaping into written words. Visit Lynda’s blog:

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