come election time.”
“It’ll be a landslide,” Penny said with assurance. “And for the record, we don’t pester Ted about marrying and procreating, as you so bluntly put it, do we, darling?”
“I suppose one would have to define the word pester , Mother,” Ted responded, but with a smile. His father laughed.
“So, where did you and Sara Beth meet?” Penny asked.
“She’s the head nurse at the Armstrong Fertility Institute.”
“You work together?”
“Not together, exactly. I’m research. She’s medicine,” Ted said.
Sara Beth was fine with the fact he was fudging the truth a little. They weren’t a couple, after all, and they wouldn’t officially be working together until tomorrow morning.
“Do you help deliver babies?” Tricia asked.
“We don’t do deliveries at the institute. We use the hospital next door. A lot of specialized staff and equipment is necessary, since we often have multiple births. I do, however, attend some of the births. Some of our patients find it comforting to have a familiar face present,” Sara Beth explained.
“You enjoy your work?” Penny asked.
“I—Yes, I do. I’ve known since I was a child that it was what I wanted. I’m sure the decision was influenced by my mother, who was head nurse at the institute since Dr. Armstrong started it. She retired recently.”
“And your father?” Penny asked.
Sara Beth wondered if Ted knew her background. In the car she’d only mentioned her mother, and he hadn’t questioned her about her father. “My father has never been part of my life.” But maybe he will be. Maybe I’ll find him, after all. The vault could hold the answers ….
She realized how quiet the room had gotten. No one knew what to say. “My mother and I are very close, though. How did you two meet?” she asked, diverting the conversation to his parents.
Brant laid his hand over Penny’s. Love and affection radiated from her face, and it made Sara Beth hunger for someone to look at her that way. She’d been in a position to observe a lot of couples through the years, couples who were usually under a lot of stress, eithertrying to get pregnant or waiting out a complicated pregnancy, so they didn’t always glow. Still, it was wonderful to see a husband and wife so obviously in love after so many years.
“Our mothers were in Junior League together,” Penny said. “Brant and I hated each other on sight.”
“We were four years old,” Brant said. “She was annoying.”
“And he annoyed.”
“When did it change?” Sara Beth asked.
“On my sixteenth birthday,” Penny said. “His parents made him come to my party.”
“I did my duty and asked her to dance, a fast dance where we wouldn’t touch, but the song ended right away and a slow one started. I felt stuck.”
“That was all it took,” Penny said, her smile warm as their gazes met. “The moment we touched—”
“Pow.” He stroked her hair. “I stole a kiss later, and that was it for me.”
Sara Beth glanced at Ted. He was looking into the distance, probably devising some chemical formula in his head—or maybe planning when he would see Tricia again. Or maybe he’d just heard the story too many times for it to have impact. To Sara Beth it was incredibly romantic.
By the time the party moved into the dining room, another place setting had been added. They were served an incredible meal by a small, wiry, white-haired man named Louis, who looked to be in hiseighties and who winked at Sara Beth when she’d momentarily been overwhelmed by the situation. She relaxed then and enjoyed the seared salmon with ginger-lime sauce, roasted asparagus and brown rice with scallions. Dessert was carrot cake, an anniversary tradition because it had been Brant and Penny’s groom’s cake.
Conversation happened around her. Questions asked and answered, memories shared. “Remember when?” became Tricia’s catchphrase, grating in Sara Beth’s ears after the