An excerpt from

An Anniversary Feast

Deborah had become very fond of languor. She had just this moment realized that, and it caused her to chuckle about it to herself. This was so completely unlike her; one might use many terms to describe her, but “languid” was decidedly not one of them. For as long as she could remember, she was the type of person who jumped out of bed as soon as she opened her eyes, her brain already reeling off the various tasks she would need to perform in the coming hours. Lying awake was a complete waste of time, something you did if you had nothing going on in your life.

All of that had changed in the past three months, though. There was no mystery to it, no need to wonder what had inspired her to slow her pace, no cause to wonder if she was getting lazy. The reason was breathing softly next to her. Sage had given her a purpose for staying in bed, a welcome, luscious purpose. He’d shown her the pleasure (and not just that pleasure) of lingering after she awoke, of letting the day come to her rather than chasing after it. Of taking the time to feel a new dawn rather than barging into it. Deborah often awoke before Sage, but even asleep he generated a welcome influence on her. Yes, she would still tick off the day’s agenda in her mind. If anything, her to-do list had grown in the time since she’d stopped running the restaurant in her parents’ inn and started her own business packaging her sauces. Still, her awareness of what she needed to accomplish had a counterpart in her mind now, a voice suggesting that fifteen more minutes of relaxation wouldn’t be so bad. Neither would a half-hour’s worth. She’d even had a couple of instances where she’d fallen back asleep, something she couldn’t recall doing once before Sage entered her life.

And today there was nothing on her to-do list for work – at least nothing she would actually be doing. Calls to her cell phone would go unanswered. E-mail would go unaddressed and, for that matter, unseen. It was the three-month anniversary of her first date with Sage. His gourmet shop was closed, and they were going to spend the entire day together with the outside world intruding only as much as absolutely necessary. They had reservations at a major new restaurant in Providence that one of Deborah’s friends had opened, and they were planning to drive up in the late morning so they could spend some time walking the neighborhoods and browsing the shops. Their agenda today was limited to only those things that pleased them – an acclaimed new coffee roaster near Brown University, a music store around the corner, a boutique dedicated to clothing made from reclaimed fabrics. And if they didn’t get to some of these places, that was perfectly fine. It seemed the ideal way to celebrate not just the extent of their relationship, which was one of the longest Deborah had ever had, but also the acknowledgment that pacing oneself had some genuine value.

“You’re not watching me sleep again, are you?” Sage said drowsily. She turned toward him and saw that his eyes were still closed.

 

“I wasn’t, actually. And how did you know I was even awake?”

“You have a different specific gravity when you’re awake.”

 

She laughed. That was a new one. “A different specific gravity? Are you saying that I can defy the laws of physics?”

Sage turned toward her, propping himself up on one arm. “I’ve always said you were remarkable.”

 

She moved into his arms. “I thought you were talking about my spirit, or my soul, or,” she kissed his neck, “my passion.”

Sage responded to her actions the way she knew he would. “I was definitely talking about all of those things.”

“And my specific gravity.”

“That too.”

 

She grinned and nuzzled closer, though she had been just about as close as she could be already. Sage was fully awake now, in all ways, and he was feathering her shoulders with his fingernails. Deborah felt it down to her toes.

 

“Happy anniversary,” he said huskily.

“It’s getting happier by the second.”

 

Neither of them said anything else for some time after that.

Deborah awoke again around nine thirty. She and Sage were still entwined. They always fell asleep in each other’s arms, but at some point in the night – she’d been waking up in the middle of the night at least once for as long as she could remember – Deborah would find herself facing the other direction. Among the many nice things about making love at first light was that she usually woke up in the same position in which she’d fallen asleep, enveloped in the man who had brightened her in ways she didn’t know she could be brightened.

As she stirred, Sage opened his eyes. “I suppose it’s time to get up,” he said.

Deborah tightened her hold on him. “Our reservation is not until seven thirty tonight. I think we still have plenty of time.”

 

He smiled and kissed her. “That we do.”

Sage gently extracted himself, kissing her twice as he did so. He got out of bed, putting on his robe. As he did every morning, Sage went to the window. This seemed important to him, as essential to his start of the day as brushing his teeth. Was he checking to make sure the world hadn’t changed completely while they were sleeping? She’d joked with him about this the second time she slept over, and he’d just turned toward her and smiled, choosing not to address the topic in any other way. She decided to let him keep the purpose of the ritual to himself.

“It appears we have a lot more time than we thought,” he said, gesturing toward the window.

This caught Deborah’s attention, and she put on her own robe and joined him to gaze outside. Even before she got there, she could see that the sill had been snowed upon fairly heavily. That was nothing compared to the street, though. The snow was still coming down in thick, wet flakes, but she could see enough to gauge that at least a foot had fallen overnight. The road was completely white, which meant that the neighbors hadn’t even attempted a morning commute. She looked over toward the driveway and could barely make out Sage’s car. Digging out was going to take some time, and she had a feeling that the time was going to be tomorrow.

Sage moved closer to the window to get a broader look outside. “It seems as though Providence is no longer an option today.”

 

Deborah nodded in agreement. “I’m not sure that going outside at all is even an option.”

For several long moments they stared out the window wordlessly. Deborah found the waves of snowflakes hypnotic and she became lost in their movement.

At last, Sage took a step toward her. “You know what is an option?” he said, kissing her neck and moving her robe off of her shoulder.

“Sage,” she said, laughing, “we’re standing in front of the window.”

“There’s no one outside.”

“And if some kids decide to build a snowman?”

“Then we’ll make some new friends.”

Deborah stepped back and pulled him toward the bed. “Let’s make new friends some other time.”

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