“Surprise,” I hear someone yelling in the distance, but the words don’t register. I fall into my husband’s arms, sobbing with relief, clinging to him as if my life depends on it. I think it might.
“Honey, honey, why are you crying?” he’s asking me inanely, a concerned smile on his handsome face. “You look beautiful.” “Wh—what?” I’m still so confused I can hardly form words. I reach to touch his face, still not sure what is happening. I think I seriously might be in shock. “Jerry, I need some water,” I whisper. My mouth is so dry I can hardly speak.
“Oh, sure, babe, hang on a minute, we’ll go inside,” he says. How can he be so calm? I’ve just been kidnapped and he’s acting like we’re going to a party. I look around and notice a small group of people smiling and clapping. What the hell? Jerry is gently pulling me along into the building and I’m pulling back against him. He turns and grasps my elbow with one hand, his other arm snaking around my waist. “Beth, what is it?” He’s sounding a little impatient with me and I look into his face, searching for answers.
“I’m not going with you until you tell me what’s going on.” I’m adamant now. Something feels wrong about this. I dig in and refuse to budge from my spot on the sidewalk. “Sweetheart, what’s the matter? Come on, you don’t want to spoil things, right?” He’s tugging me into the building now and I stumble along behind him, unable to stay put. I realize why I have that eerie sense of déjà vu. We’re at Bruschetta, my favorite Italian restaurant, and the faces of the crowd come into focus now. There’s my mom and dad, my sister and her husband, four of our friends and Jerry’s two brothers and their girlfriends. Again, what the hell?
“Surprise, surprise,” is echoing around us and I realize that this is a party and it’s for me. “Happy birthday,” yells my sister as she comes toward me with an enormous cake. My sister. The one I just spent a week with in Virginia Beach before flying home. For cripes sake, how long had I been passed out? I turn to Jerry in confusion. My birthday isn’t for three weeks yet. “My birthday isn’t for three weeks yet,” I point out weakly. “Well, you always say nothing surprises you and I wanted to prove you wrong,” he grins, pulling me into an enormous bear hug.
“So you drugged me and shoved me into a limo!?” I slap his arms away. “You ass! I was scared witless, I thought I’d been kidnapped!” My voice has risen and I know I’m causing a scene but at the moment, I could care less. “Are you insane, Jerry? Get away from me, I mean it.”
(To be continued)