“That was lovely, darling; thank you.” Susan sat back and regarded her husband from behind her coffee cup.
“I only ordered the food, darling; I didn’t cook it.” Claude put his debit card in the bill. A waiter flitted past the table, scooping up the wallet in a swift, elegant move.
Claude raised his brandy snifter to toast his wife. “To us, darling! To ten years!”
“Hurrah for us!” Susan raised her cup and clinked it against his glass. They laughed. Claude excused himself and went to the Men’s room.
Susan’s face fell. She put a hand to her chest. It wasn’t the food’s fault but she was suffering from terrible indigestion. How he could sit there, nice as pie, and reminisce about their lives together!
Theirs had been a marriage crowded with incident from the start. The vicar getting sick at the church. The water pipe bursting during the reception. The plane to their honeymoon destination hijacked – Years of such disasters, fuel for stories to tell, had followed, and they had come through it all, Claude and Susan, Susan and Claude. No couple on Earth could be closer or more in love.
But he’s having an affair, Susan’s eyes welled up! He’s been having an affair all along. All these years. He must think I’m stupid. All the phone calls, abruptly concluded when I enter the room. The mysterious markings in his diary. “Oh, they’re just meetings, darling. Business meetings.”
Meetings, my arse!
In the Men’s room, Claude dabbed at the scratches on his back with cotton wool soaked in antiseptic. He winced as he put his shirt back on and retied his cravat.
She suspects! He looked his reflection in the eye. Perhaps she always has; she’s not stupid. Perhaps I should tell her the truth.
That vicar had taken the poisoned carnation, the one intended for Claude’s buttonhole. The bomb at reception had been mostly contained – there had only been water damage. He had seen off the hijackers personally, ejecting them from the cockpit sans parachutes… In ten years, he had done all he could to ensure the safety of his beloved.
But now the time had come to tell her the truth. He buttoned his blazer, feeling the scratches sting again. That lion wouldn’t be inconveniencing anyone again.
Claude returned to the table in time to see the waiter approach with Susan’s coat. Beneath the folds, the muzzle of a gun. With exquisite aim, Claude raised his fist to his mouth and coughed. A tiny dart struck the waiter’s neck. The waiter crumpled to the floor. Claude caught his wife’s coat and helped her put it on.
Susan eyed the unconscious man at her feet with a puzzled look.
“Probably overworked,” shrugged Claude. “We have kept them behind long after closing time. Don’t worry, darling; I’ll be sure to leave a generous tip.”