Fiona walks into the kitchen, prepared to tangle with the mess of bottles and debris from last night’s party. Luc wasn’t in bed when she woke up so she assumed he’d gone to buy the paper. But there he is, sitting at the kitchen table, with his usual cappuccino. The kitchen is spotless, the dishwasher hums gently.
— You cleaned up! she exclaims. And it was such a wreck when we went to bed.
— Sleepy head, he chides with a grin. I’m not a total slug, you know. Besides you did the lion’s share of party prep.
— It went well, didn’t it? she says, settling into the chair across from him.
— It was great! he says. Loads of people. I don’t think I talked to anyone for more than three minutes. Did you get a chance to talk to Georges or Anne?
— Anne. I can’t quite face Georges on his own yet, after what he did. But then I keep thinking, if Anne can forgive him, who am I to hold a grudge? I think it’s the way it all went down. Anyway, Anne was gushing about how things were going so well with them, but then later in the evening she was steaming because Georges was flirting with Trish.
— No way! says Luc.
— Oh, yes. Trish does look fabulous. The short hair suits her and her breastfeeding cleavage is fabulous! She was flirting with him too.
— What was she doing? asks Luc.
— Oh the usual Trish stuff, touching his arm and shoulder, touching her face, flipping her hair. As I was passing, I heard her telling him how good he looks and guessing he’s like fifteen years younger than he actually is. She knows his age! Usual BS. Trish hasn’t lost her touch. Craig didn’t seem to notice at all. Or maybe he doesn’t mind.
— Just as well if he’s going to stay with her, says Luc.
— Yeah, well Anne should take a page out of his book. Georges is incorrigible. I think he’s grown up a bit this past year, but some things will never change. He’s a flirt to the core.
— Still, he should be more considerate of Anne, says Luc. If he has to flirt, he should at least make sure she’s not around.
— For sure. Anyway, they seemed okay by the end of the evening. Holding hands, laughing.
Luc takes a sip of his coffee.
— Trish and Craig seem really happy together too, he says.
— And Sunshine is adorable, adds Fiona.
— But what a flakey 70s name, says Luc. What were they thinking?
— Maybe it will suit her, Luc. Hey, could you please make me a capp too? she asks.
— Oh, yeah, sure. Sorry.
Luc gets up and begins fussing with the machine. You’d think it was rocket science, thinks Fiona with amusement.
— Jacen looked well, says Luc.
— Yeah, you’d never know he has HIV. I didn’t get a chance to talk to him. How’s he liking the geriatric gig?
— So far so good. The patients — clients, I guess — they love Jay.
— No surprise! says Fiona. He can be so entertaining. And he’s a good listener.
— I’m sure the old guys love that, says Luc. We all need to someone to listen to our old stories. That’s what makes us who we are.
— Did you know Neil phoned last night? says Fiona.
— Oh did he?
— Yeah. He was sorry he couldn’t come to the party.
— And he’s doing well?
— Finger’s crossed. So far, so good. He likes his new job, designing apps. And he’s out of his apartment, working in an office. All guys, but still, he at least has a social life. Plus he loves living in Burnaby. I have to hand it to Dad….
— Speaking of which, did you talk to Don? I know he’s your gardening buddy, but this as the first time I’ve met his girlfriend. She reminds me so much of Lorelei.
— Except she’s really nice!
— Meow! Your Dad’s wife isn’t that bad.
— Best thing about Lorelei is that she lives far away! I have to admit she’s being good to Neil though. And she did back down on the will.
— After you stuck your big oar in!
— Rightly so!
— Oh believe me, I’m not being critical, says Luc, handing her a cappuccino. I couldn’t be happier about him paying for Gavin’s university.
— I know, says Fiona. What a great break for us! And Gavin. Hey did you see him cadging a beer last night?
— I figured he might, says Luc. He is fourteen after all.
— Oh, I forgot to mention. Don and his girlfriend got engaged.
— That was quick, says Luc.
— Some people just like being married.
— Would you? asks Luc.
— What do you mean?
— Would you like being married?
— I haven’t thought of it in years, says Fiona.
That’s not entirely true, she thinks, remembering a year ago when they moved in. House and all, I thought it might be time to make it all official.
— I remember you made a big fuss about it when Gavin was born, continues Luc.
— Yeah, well, it’s different when you have a baby. I wanted more security, for him as much as for me.
— And I was such a jerk about it. It would have been easy enough.
— Luc! I never thought I’d hear you say that.
— Yeah, well, I’ve grown up a bit. I’ve been thinking about us, about getting married. I’d like to celebrate, to formalize….
— Why now? she asks. After all these years.
I can’t believe it, she thinks. Then again, everything’s always on his terms. Luc shrugs.
— Georges and Anne were a real wake-up call for me. I wasn’t sure they were going to make it. And when I was talking to Georges about what it would be like to be single, well, it made me realize how sweet I have it. With you. And then Georges talked about how he doesn’t treat Anne very well, and I wondered whether I treat you well.
— You do, says Fiona.
— Well, I thought maybe I could show it by buying you some bling or something, but then I thought about what you’d really like, and I wondered if you’d like to get married.
She smiles at him affectionately. He really is trying, she thinks.
— You’re so sweet, she says. Let me think about it. I don’t want to mess with something that’s working. Marriage might change the dynamics.
— What do you mean?
— I don’t know exactly, says Fiona. It’s just a gut feeling. Maybe we’d stop trying as hard. Like sorting out the control thing we both have going.
— It’s sorting, says Luc. Well, except you want to be the boss.
— Ha ha, she says, grinning. You know what I mean, Luc. If we were married, we might not work at the relationship in the same way. We might just settle in. Stagnate.
— So you don’t want to? he asks.
— Just give me some time to get my head around it, she says.
— Another fifteen years?
— It’s been working so far! Fiona says.
They smile at one another across the kitchen table.
Thank you to my thoughtful readers, Kathlyn Bradshaw, Stuart Kinmond and Jeremiah Bartram, for their excellent suggestions. Thank you to the friends and family members who shared their wonderful recipes with me over the years. They’ve become my favourites. Merci to Joelle and Danielle Dumont, the talented sisters who graciously and quickly corrected all my French language errors. And finally, I thank my beloved husband and cooking partner, Stuart Kinmond, for the illustration, encouragement and endless Chronicle-related conversation. Cheers!