Fast Forward 6 Months
Betty perused the card rack in the stationery department at Grace Brothers. Stephen and her anniversary was coming up. She could hardly believe they had been married a year. She thumbed through the cards, "Too syrupy! Too corny. Too dismal." She couldn't find a card.
Finally she found one. It was blank inside. She took it to the counter.
"Did you find everything satisfactory?" the salesgirl asked, ringing up the purchase.
"Oh, yes!" Betty answered, "My anniversary's coming up!" she announced proudly.
"Oh, congratulations! Will there be anything else?"
"No. That will do. Thank You."
She headed back up in the lift to the Ladies' Department. The lift bell dinged and the doors opened. She signed back in from lunch and headed to her counter to write in the card.
"To the best husband in the whole wide world: I Love You, Stephen! Happy Anniversary! Love, Betty," she scrolled in the card. The slid the card into its envelope, licked the flap and sealed it shut. She set the card into her handbag and then strode to the cloakroom to put it away.
Miss Brahms returned with Mr. Humphries and Mr. Lucas from lunch. She signed in and returned to the counter next to Betty.
"Mrs. Peacock, what're you and Captain Peacock gonna do for your anniversary? I can't believe it's been a year already! How time flies!"
"He hasn't said anything yet. Maybe it'll be a surprise," she mused.
The phone rang in the Ladies' Department. Miss Brahms answered it, "Ladies' Intimate Apparel, Miss Brahms speaking. Oh, hello, Captain Peacock! We was just talking 'bout you!"
"Hello, Miss Brahms, may I please speak to Mrs. Peacock?" He couldn't get used to calling Betty 'Mrs. Peacock' and he smiled every time he said it.
Miss Brahms handed the receiver to Betty.
"Hi, Honey!" she chirped, "I can't talk long…"
"Hello, Betty Dear! Our anniversary falls on August Bank Holiday. My department is going to be shut. I wanted to see if you'd like to go to Brighton for a dirty weekend!"
Her face went flush and she raised her eyebrows, "C-Couldn't we just stay home for that?" she sputtered.
"Well, I suppose. However, I would like to go back to our little Bed and Breakfast. I liked it there," he explained, "I liked that big four-poster with the featherbed, the gas-log fire, walking distance to the beach..." he trailed off.
"The beach is what you're interested in! Especially at night!" she reprimanded him playfully.
"True," he blushed, looking sheepish, even though she couldn't see him, "So, what do you think? Would you like to go?"
She bubbled, "Yes, I want to go!"
"Good, because I've already made the reservation!" he gloated.
"Cheeky monkey! Why'd you bother to call and ask me if you made a decision?"
He chortled, "I wanted to hear your reaction, that's all."
"I have to go, Rumbold's coming over. I'll see you tonight. Bye, Love." She cradled the receiver and moved over to the other side of the counter nearer Miss Brahms.
"What was that all about? Your face is red!" Miss Brahms questioned.
"He wants to go to Brighton for our anniversary…and he was talking naughty!"
Miss Brahms shook her head and tittered, "It's all go at your place, innit?"
"That'll do, Miss Brahms!" Betty snorted.
Stephen slept soundly as Betty trod to the loo in the middle of the night. They made it through the first year. She stood in the doorway of the bathroom watching him sleep. Soft moonlight lit the room. He lay curled on his side; a soft smile played on his lips.
She took out a bright red lipstick and wrote on the bathroom mirror: "Happy Anniversary. I Love You!"
He would be sure to see it when he went in to shave. She lightly padded over to his side of the bed, bent over and gently kissed his cheek. His breath hitched and he stirred slightly. She tiptoed back to her side of the bed and slipped in. His arm snaked around her and he drew her to him.
"Happy Anniversary, Betty!" he slurred groggily.
"Happy Anniversary, Darling," she whispered.
"Thank you for marrying me," he crooned.
"Thank you for asking me to!" she countered.
"Thank you for taking me back."
"Thank you for coming back!" she answered.
They gazed into each other's eyes, and at the same time, they had the same thought and in unison they said, "Thank you for loving me!" They both started giggling and hugging.
"Stephen, do you think we'll be this silly when we're married twenty years?" she mused.
"I sincerely hope so!" They erupted into a cacophony of giggles and titters. He kissed her tenderly, "I love you, Betty!"
"I love you, too, Stephen."
They fell asleep in each others' arms, their laughter trailing off.
Betty sat down to coffee. Stephen had purchased a beautiful bouquet of sunflowers and arranged them in a vase on the breakfast table. Their bright yellow matched Betty's hair. Betty handed him the card she bought. He tore open the envelope and read the card aloud:
"To the best husband in the whole wide world: I Love You, Stephen! Happy Anniversary! Love, Betty." He stared at her silently.
"Are you alright, Sweetie?" she asked him. He almost looked sad. He felt overwhelmed by her unconditional love for him.
"I just hope I can live up to that standard," he contemplated. He studied her face; she was beautiful and she was his wife. He felt his heart leap, " I never want this feeling to end."
She stood up, crossed over to where he was sitting and perched in his lap, "I love you so much. You are the best husband in the whole wide world. Happy Anniversary!" she brushed her lips lightly across his. He embraced her warmly, closed his eyes, and smiled contentedly.
"Let's get ready to go. It's an hour and a half to Brighton. I want to walk on the beach during daylight," he hinted.
They arrived at the Bed & Breakfast. Stephen got out of the car, walked to Betty's side, and opened the door for her. She looked lovely in a cream skirt and jacket. He took their luggage from the boot of the car and they headed inside.
"How did you get a reservation for August Bank Holiday weekend?" she asked suspiciously.
"I made the reservation last year when we were here!" he stated self-confidently, smiling impishly. He winked at her.
Their room was at the ready: champagne was icing in a bucket; candles were already lit; the gas-log fire was gently flickering. Stephen entered the room first, set their things inside, and returned for Betty. She put her arm around his neck and he lifted her and carried her inside. He set her down on the bed and sat down next to her. He reached into his jacket pocket, retrieved a black velvet jewelry box, and handed it to Betty.
"Happy anniversary, Darling!" he offered the box to her.
She opened the box and her eyes widened, "Oh, Stephen! Thank you! Happy anniversary!"
It was a small heart encrusted with diamonds, hanging on a dainty gold chain.
"Allow me," he said, taking the necklace from the box and fastening it around her neck. He kissed the back of her neck, "I love you, Betty!"
She walked into the loo and closed the door. He laid back on the bed, slipping off his trousers and removing his jacket and shirt; he was attired in his silk boxers and a vest, still wearing his socks.
The door opened and Betty stood in the doorway in a sexy white lace baby doll with matching lace panties. Stephen's eyes popped wide open and his eyebrows shot up. He gasped and his mouth formed an 'O' as he ogled.
He jumped up and rushed over to her. He craned his neck around back to have a look at her. He eyed her up and down, drinking in every bit of her femininity and sexiness. He slid one strap off with his fingertip and kissed her shoulder.
"You look delicious, Darling," he breathily whispered, "Is this my anniversary present?" he flirted.
"Mm-Hmm," she cooed, enveloping him in her arms.