“You have to put it back, Van.”
Conrad ignored the pain in his left eye as he tapped into his reserve. Too much more of this kind of thing before Recharge and he’d have a nosebleed. Ignoring the feeling of annoyance this realization stirred within him, he executed the program.
TELEGRAPH: “Calm, cool, collected.”
It was a trite expression, but a handy one, as it perfectly encapsulated the angle he was currently working. Like “The Three R’s” he told himself. That one doesn’t even make any sense, yet it says it all when you need it to.
Recipes became heirlooms for a reason.
“You owe this to me,” she said, tightening her grip with one hand, swiping the other across her cheek. The embers of her rage were immediately reignited by the fuel of regret; he was right, and they both knew it.
She ran a slow palm over the bulge in her middle, then reached to return it to its place on The Handyman’s tombstone. “He used to sing to me.”
Another silence, and then, “The Yellow Rose of Texas.” She bit back a laugh as she remembered the corny accent, the goofy shuffle. “You stole him from me.” This was not the screaming confrontation she had envisioned.
WHAT DID YOU EXPECT?: The programming asked her, only this time, there would be no crashing against the firewalls; she knew the answer – she knew what the code was expecting her to say.
The King Is Good.
I Remember, I remember! What wonderful, glorious news! Yet by remembering I am admitting I have once again forgotten. How could I have forgotten?
She did believe. Thus, she did rejoice, but only for a moment. If there was one thing her relationship with The Handyman had taught her, it was that business was business.
She straightened her back and closed the distance between them. “I suppose you think this means there should be something between the two of us, now.”
“Of course that’s what this means.”
Vanessa erupted, her finger jabbing the air.
“If you think, for even just one moment, after all you did, after Cleveland, after the dog got put down, after the unholy hell of your family reunion, that I am going to give you the satisfaction of jumping back into your bed, you’ve got another think-“
“Van,” he said, capturing her hand in both of his, and bringing the tip of her pointing finger to his lips.
Of course, the volcano was immediately silenced. Of course, the scenario perceived by each was instantly serene. Of course, they shared that fraction of a moment, when one catches the eye of one’s beloved,
and your heart stops because you know they feel what you are feeling.
And of course that moment did not last forever.
Vanessa doubled over, and made a sound like, “ah.”
“Van, what is it,” Conrad suddenly felt thrumming every pulse point he’d ever heard of. He knew, but still, he asked.
“Is it the baby? Is it time?”