The Missing Wallet
By: Gabriella Balcom

"Steph, have you seen my wallet?" Brody asked from the kitchen. When he got no answer, he raised his voice so she'd hear him from where she sat in the living room, and asked again.

"No," his wife replied. "You usually leave it on the counter with your keys."

"That's where I thought I'd put it." He walked toward her. "But it's not there. Do you think one of the kids got it? Where are they, by the way?"

"Visiting your mother. Why don't you retrace your steps, dear? That usually works."

"I just can't remember where else I've been." Brody bit his lip, adopted a long-suffering look, then winked at her. Hinting his memory was faulty was an old joke between them, and he waited for her to suggest a location like she typically did.

She cocked her head. "You stopped by the TV cabinet."

"Did I?" Going there, Brody noticed a folded piece of green paper atop a DVD case. He opened it and read silently, 'Your smile lights up the room.' When he returned to his beaming wife, he took his time in kissing her. "Thank you, honey. You always make me feel great, but my smile can't compare with yours."

They kissed a second time, and Steph suggested, "Maybe you left the wallet in our bedroom when you changed earlier."

"I'll check." Brody went upstairs to their room but found no wallet. However, a plate of his favorite cookies—chocolate-chip—lay on the bed. He bit into one, discovering Steph had baked her special, homemade variety. "Baby, thank you," he called out. "No one makes better cookies than you."

"You're welcome. I have extras, too."

Brody went to use the bathroom and saw a four-inch jewelry box on the sink. A gift tag lay beside it, his name written in his wife's small print. Intricately-engraved silver cuff links glinted at him from inside the box—the very pair he'd admired weeks before when they'd gone shopping. At the time, their money had all been allocated for bills.

"I love them," he told Steph after returning downstairs. "But the cost—."

"Brody, you do things for me all the time." Steph pushed back the hair falling over his forehead. "You work so hard and I'm not the only one who deserves nice things."

His eyes dampened in spite of himself. "Honey, you're so good to me." Hugging her and not wanting her to see him cry like a baby, he wiped his eyes above her head.

"So—you find your wallet?" Pulling away, she looked up at him.

"No." He frowned.

"I remember seeing you in the fridge earlier."

"No way I would've put my wallet in there."

She shrugged, her eyes wide and innocent, but he saw them sparkle.

Pulling open the refrigerator door, Brody chuckled. His wallet lay on the uppermost rack with a bow on top. He picked it up and found an envelope underneath. Peeking inside as he walked toward his wife, he inhaled sharply, and bumped into the door frame. "How did you afford them?"

"I've been giving plasma after work. That's why I've been late getting home. And you knew about the small bonus my boss gave me."

He stared at the football tickets in his hand, then at her. "I've been really wanting these, but that bonus was supposed to go toward paying off the car and you getting something special for yourself."

Steph slid her arm around his waist. "I love you, Brody. Making you happy is doing something special for myself."

"You're an angel. I adore you." Holding her close, Brody kissed her forehead and felt her heart beating against his chest. "But why all these extra surprises?"

She jerked away, frowning at him. "You don't know? I've been hinting for weeks."

"About what?"

"Brody." Steph's mouth trembled. "How could you forget? Today's our eighth wedding anniversary." A tear rolled down her cheek.

"I know," he admitted quietly, and cupped her face in his hands. "Do you think I could forget one of the happiest days of my life?"

After taking a shuddering breath, she batted at his shoulder.

"And I knew I hadn't misplaced my wallet." Brody smirked.

"You guessed I was doing something for you?"

"No. I just figured you must've moved my wallet," he assured her, walking her backward toward the living room couch. "Sit down. You didn't notice anything, did you?"

"What? Where?"

Brody handed her his wallet.

Steph stared blankly at it, then flipped it over to peer at the other side. "What am I supposed to see?" He said nothing. She offered the wallet back to him.

"Open it," Brody said.

When she did, Steph saw the folded piece of material where he kept his cash, opened it, and gasped. "It's stunning," she said, studying the ring. "I love sapphires."

"I know." Brody slid the band onto her finger against her wedding ring.

"You spent way too much, didn't you? How'd you pay for it?"

"I sold my father's motorcycle."

Her eyes widened. "But that meant so much to you."

"Not as much as you, sweetheart." Brody gently rubbed her cheek. "I haven't ridden in awhile, and I sold to a collector. He'll take good care of her."

Steph tilted her hand back and forth in the light. "I love this. It's beautiful."

"You're beautiful, Steph. I waited a long time for a person as wonderful as you in my life. You're my world. I'm crazy about the children you've given me, too—when I don't want to strangle them."

She snickered, but cried at the same time. "You're the greatest person I've ever known, Brody. I never dreamed I'd be blessed with a guy like you. You're my everything."

Blinking hard, he tried to hold back the tears but couldn't. He got down on one knee. "I'm the luckiest man in the world. Stephanie, will you marry me—again?"

"Yes!" She flung her arms around his neck, and Brody twirled her around and around the room.

The End

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