"So, what's the riding schedule today?" Kelly Morris asked, holding back a laugh as she heard her husband's sigh on the other end of the phone line.
"We head out in just a minute – should get into the City by noon," Zack replied, the irritation in his voice just faintly audible.
Kelly smiled. She knew he'd told her this several times before, but she was playing dumb for a reason.
"That's right," she said. "Sorry, honey, I forgot."
"Blocked it out, more like," he replied with a touch of sarcasm. Then his voice softened as he added, "Look Kel – I know you hate the motorcycle thing –"
"I don't hate it," she protested, interrupting him. "It just – makes me worry."
"I know," Zack said. "So that's why I really appreciate you letting me do it."
Kelly snorted. "Let you?" she scoffed. "When have I ever let you do anything?"
Zack grinned, unable to stop himself from sliding into 'charm mode.' "Well," he said slowly, "I can probably think of a lot of things you've 'let' me do over the years…" He let his voice trail off suggestively and Kelly giggled in spite of herself.
"Zack!" She said his name in a girlish sort of squeal that made her sound a lot more like the fourteen-year-old cheerleader she'd once been rather than the thirty-six year old wife and mother she was now.
"What?" he asked innocently and Kelly shook her head, forgetting for a moment that he couldn't see her through the phone. She glanced across the table to see Lisa Turtle rolling her eyes and miming gagging herself and she stifled another giggle. 'Sorry,' she mouthed at her and Lisa just rolled her eyes again.
"Nothing," Kelly said into the phone. "Just – be careful, okay?" she added as their twelve-year-old daughter Olivia wandered into the dining room, followed by her ten-year-old brother Tyler.
"Promise," he replied as Olivia dropped into a chair and Tyler came over to tug on Kelly's arm.
"I'm starving, mom," he whined.
"Yeah," Olivia chimed in. "What's for breakfast?"
Kelly shook her head. "Okay, your children are demanding to be fed, so I gotta go. See you soon."
"Give 'em hugs from me," Zack replied. "Love you, Kel."
Kelly smiled. "Love you too, honey."
Disconnecting the call and slipping her phone into her pocket, she looked at her children with a frown. "Is that anyway to behave when you're a guest in someone's home?"
Olivia gave her the withering look, that, at less than a year away from teenage-dom, she was close to perfecting. "Duh, mom, we know how to behave. But I figured you were talking to dad and it would have kinda given something away if he knew we were here in New York at Aunt Lisa's place, right?"
Kelly considered this for a moment. Damnit, the kid was right. She shook her head and shrugged. "Okay, point taken."
Lisa gestured towards the kitchen. "I've got about twelve different kinds of cereal in there, plus some Pop-Tarts and French toast sticks, so help yourself to whatever. Milk and juice in the fridge."
"Thanks, Aunt Lisa," Olivia said politely. "C'mon, Ty," she said to her brother, dragging him into the kitchen with her.
Lisa looked at Kelly and laughed. "They're good kids. They must not have gotten too many of the mischievous Morris genes."
Kelly laughed with her. "God, I hope not!"
"So, Zack suspects nothing?"
Kelly shook her head. "Nope. He thinks we're back home in California, waiting for him to arrive home late, late tonight. Instead I'll be waiting downtown to surprise him when he gets here."
Lisa smiled. "Ah, I love a good surprise."
"I know," Kelly replied. "That's why I knew you'd keep my kids for me!"
Lisa shrugged. "Ah, well, I like them pretty okay too."
A few hours later, Kelly kissed her kids goodbye and headed out of Lisa's Central Park West apartment to catch the subway. She was at the downtown rendezvous point with plenty of time to spare before the scheduled noon arrival. The motorcycle charity ride was something that a client of Zack's had talked him into doing and while she knew it was good for business for him to participate, she didn't care much for her husband riding off on a motorcycle. She knew he was a good, safe driver, but it still made her nervous. They'd had a few minor arguments about it and while they'd reached a truce, it hadn't taken her too long to formulate her plan to surprise him at the finish line. They had a standing invitation to stay at Lisa's place in New York and she'd called her friend last month to make the arrangements. They'd flown in yesterday, spent the evening catching up and now Lisa was graciously keeping the children occupied.
She worked her way into the crowd outside the store and checked the time on her phone. Just a few more minutes… From a distance, she could just barely hear the roar of approaching motorcycles, getting louder every minute, until they finally arrived.
It took her a few minutes to spot him in the crowd, but when her eyes found him, she was surprised to find her heart skipping a little. She couldn't help but laugh at herself – nearly seventeen years married and sometimes she still felt a little like a schoolgirl when she looked at him.
She started to make her way through the crowd, moving towards him. He was talking and laughing with the guy who'd gotten off the bike next to him and she smiled at his typical animated facial expressions and hand gestures. The way he got so excited about – life - it was one of so many things she loved about him.
Kelly was just close enough to hear the other man say, "Dude, there is a hot brunette totally in stalk mode heading right towards you." Zack automatically turned his head and she quickly arranged her features into a pout.
"You check out other hot brunettes?" she queried, unable to keep the pout from turning into a laugh as the recognition and disbelief crossed his face before his eyes lit up and he reached out, grabbed her hand and pulled her against him a tight hug.
"What are you doing here?" he asked incredulously as he released her enough that she could step back and look at him.
Kelly laughed. "Surprising you. Did it work?"
He didn't answer, just rolled his eyes as she laughed again, leaning against his side as he put his arm around her shoulders, and squeezed her to him.
Zack shook his head as he looked down at her. "How long have you been planning this?"
"About a month," Kelly replied. "I just – I mean, yeah the bikes make me nervous, but it's a good cause and it's not like you're out being a Hell's Angel or anything – so I thought this might be a nice way to make it up to you for being such a pain in the ass about the whole thing."
"You're not a pain. I know you're just concerned. Hey, where are the kids?" he asked, looking around. "Are they here?"
Kelly shook her head. "No, they're with Lisa. We stayed there last night." Kelly smiled. "We'll fly home tonight. Lisa will bring the kids tomorrow afternoon."
A grin spread across Zack's face. "You are definitely not a pain in the ass. You are brilliant." His voice softened. "And I love you so much."
Kelly smiled broadly. "Who am I to argue with that?" she replied as he leaned down to kiss her. "I love you too."