“What time do you expect to be home today, Peter?” asked Linda, watching him dress.
“The usual,” he answered. She blew a puff of air out from between pursed lips. Not a terribly helpful answer. Then he added, “Or maybe a little later, to make up for all the time I’ve taken off. Say, seven-ish?”
“I was hoping that you could come home earlier than that. It would be fun to do some shopping.”
“Shopping, Dart? When you called in sick Monday and Tuesday and yesterday, I was afraid that your bosses were going to have a conniption, but if you don’t get in there today, you may not have bosses anymore to worry about. We can shop on Sunday.”
“Work. Right.” Linda sat up and pulled the sheets over her bosom, ran her fingers through her hair and glanced in the large, black rectangular panel that was called a teevee, on which you could watch what Peter called programs and movies. It was an electrical device that one had to turn on by aiming a small unit at it and pushing a button. It was not turned on now, but it served as a semi-decent looking glass for her to check herself in. She was going to have to at least pretend to go to work today. “Hard to go back after such a wonderful honeymoon with you, Honeyman.”
“We’ll have an actual honeymoon someday.”
“When do you want to do that? When do you want to get married, Peter?”
“Hmmm. There’s no rush, is there?”
“Oh. Of course not,” she replied, recalling the marriage license that she had found in Darcy’s purse. “Just wondering. I mean, we were all set to get married.”
“That, er, had been the plan, yes,” he said. “But when I got called out of town, and it was our Number One important client and I would have been throwing years of work in the can if I hadn’t gone to New York…there was nothing I could do…and I didn’t want to give you a crummy, last-minute, no-plan wedding. So it was best to postpone it, don’t you think?”
“Rather than not do it right?”
“I suppose,” she said. “But let’s not entirely forget about it. I really do want to be Mrs. Peter Caldwell.”
He threw his right arm around her shoulders and brought her in tight for a kiss on the cheek. “You are sweet. I am late. I am going to be counting the minutes until seven o’clock tonight.”
“Me, too,” she said, aware that she had better watch the clock all day, in order to be at the right place at the right time. She hopped out of bed and went to the closet that they’d moved all of Darcy’s clothes into the day they’d returned from New York City. Ah, New York City! Linda would have been completely content to have stayed there, but it turned out that the couple had been living in a smaller, upstate city called Glens Falls. They had each had separate homes: Peter had been living in this wonderful, sprawling, beautiful house on a quiet block off of Ridge Street, and Darcy had an apartment that took up the second floor of a two-story, very average house on a very average block half a mile away.
Her lease had been up at the end of December. So as soon as they got back to town, they had finished the process of moving in together—even though they had not gotten married! She just loved living in Peter’s house. Their house. She’d spent part of each day—when not in bed with Peter—ambling around the large house. Truth be told, it was not as large as the Burgess manor. It was larger than the Bennett house, though, and of course, much, much larger and better than any hovel that Collin would have been setting them up in, for however long that would have been.
After dressing and giving her one final kiss and squeeze, Peter left for his office. Linda took a long, hot shower and snuggled into the plush bathrobe hanging on the back of the bathroom door. She decided it was time to do a little ‘Darcy investigation.’ Peter had mentioned her job several times, so she ought to figure out what Darcy did and where she did it. Darcy’s bag had been on her lap on the train to New York, but Linda had only given its contents cursory attention. She brought the bag to the bed and emptied everything out of it. She’d already used some of the money inside, of course, and she’d tested out the handy little cartridge of lipstick and her vial of a marvelous, black, gooey product, which had a little brush in a tube that coated her eyelashes with a black paint that made her eyes look like those of a burlesque doxy. This time, though, she set the beauty products aside and went through Darcy’s wallet, examining the various calling cards for clues as to where she worked or what she did.
Several of the calling cards were of a hard, shiny material, and had raised letters and numbers on them, and were of questionable use. However, it was easy to figure out where she worked, because there were multiple stiff paper cards with her name, ‘Wickham & Denny,’ and an address and some other numbers on them. Apparently, Darcy worked at a firm on Main Street. She tucked the cards back in place for future reference and put everything back into the purse. Then she prepared to go out, putting on Darcy’s coat and hat and big, clunky mittens, and she went off on a mission of exploration.
She walked and walked, marveling at the number of shops and the variety of businesses that Glens Falls had to offer. Stores, large and small, cafes, drinking establishments, a library and a museum: so much to see! And although the incessant noise of the speeding vehicles had driven her a little batty at first, she thought it a small price to pay for the magnificence of this future age. The best place she discovered was the shopping city, called ‘Aviation Mall’—walls and a roof over city streets for pedestrians only, with shops and restaurants and entertainment. One could go inside and shop and stay warm and dry in any weather! Everything and anything anyone could ever want was right here at a moment’s notice, in this fantastic, future place! She still hadn’t figured out what the place had to do with aviation—birds sometimes flew in?—but what did that matter?
Want a new dress? What color? How scandalously short? Want a new scarf? Fifty to pick from, in every color or fabric or pattern. Find a book on any subject or of truly, truly sexy secrets? No problem. Sparkling, diamond jewelry by the trunkload. Shoes and boots right there on shelf after shelf, pre-made, so you didn’t even have to wait. You could walk right out of the shoe store wearing brand new shoes or boots.
One of the best shopping discoveries had been at the apothecary shop. She had been in the shopping city, and had finally figured out that “CVS” stood for “apothecary,” and she had steeled herself to discretely ask the apothecary for some advice when she’d seen the “family planning” sign hanging over the aisle. Glory be! Right there on the shelves where she’d not had to ask anyone anything or show herself as a woman who wasn’t right in mind to have children: a plethora of products to prevent her from getting in the family way. Fascinated, she’d read all of the packages, and settled on buying a couple of boxes of the exotically colored condoms. She hoped that it was not too late, as they’d been enjoying sexual congress with no ‘family planning’ products since the night in New York; she’d know in a couple of days.
Linda saw through the glass ceiling that it was beginning to get dark outside, so she left the shopping city and walked back to her wonderful home.