The first thing she noticed about her apartment was that the door Mike had put his foot through had been replaced, but she’d known he was going to have it done so it didn’t surprise her. After opening the door, she halted, thinking she was in the wrong room and turned away, but then she turned back. Of course this was her apartment, she told herself, but it was now very different.
The walls of the living room were still dark green but now the curtains were of cream-colored chintz printed with big dark pink roses gathered on a ribbon of green the exact shade of the walls. A fat club chair, upholstered in the same chintz, was next to a large couch covered in a rose pink the same shade as the roses in the chintz. An Aubusson rug picked up the pink and green of the furniture. Behind the couch was a long, narrow table of light-colored wood, marquetry baskets on the leaves and the top. Two black papier-mâché sewing tables, their surfaces wrinkled with age, were at either ends of the couch.
Walking slowly, as though if she moved too fast, the dream might evaporate, she went toward the bedroom, and upon entering, she drew in her breath.
The bedroom was done in shades of blue, what looked to be hundreds of shades of blue, ranging from very dark to so light as to be hardly discernible as blue. The walls were papered in a stripe of two shades of ice blue and the windows were curtained with a dark blue silk that was almost purple. In the middle of the room was a huge four-poster draped in an airy cotton of the palest blue imaginable. When she walked near the bed and looked up, she saw that the underside of the canopy was done in what she knew was called a sunburst design, with the fabric radiating from a central medallion in tiny gathers out to the edge of the frame. The spread of the bed was a fine, soft blue cotton trapunto-stitched in a design of flowering tendrils.
“Do you like it?” Mike asked from behind her.
She turned to him, so overcome with emotion that she was unable to speak. That he’d done this for her, done this beautiful thing, was beyond her understanding. As she looked at him she remembered the night she’d spent in his arms and she knew that now she was free to touch him, touch him any time she wanted.
Her arms slid around his neck, hugging him to her. “Thank you,” she whispered. “Thank you very much.”
“Want to try out the bed?” he asked, kissing her neck.
She laughed. “I wouldn’t want to mess it up.”
“We’ll be careful,” he said enticingly as he took her hand and started leading her toward the bed.
It was as she was climbing onto the bed that she looked at the pretty blue clock on the bedside table. “Mike! It’s nine-fifteen. The furniture is to be delivered to the nursing home at ten o’clock.”
“They’ll figure out where to put what,” he said, drawing her onto the bed.
But Samantha pulled back. “We have to be there.”
With a groan, Mike lay back against the pillows, each of them edged with Battenburg lace. “I’ll go only if you promise to spend the afternoon in bed with me.”
“If I must,” she said with a big, weary sigh.
When Mike made a lunge for her, she squealed and ran for the bathroom, where she pulled up short. The bathroom still had dark green fixtures and the countertop was still covered in dark green marble, but now all the accessories, even the light fixtures, were in the palest pink. Pink glass jars ranged along the back of the countertop and along the wall of the tub; beautiful pink towels monogrammed with SE hung from the racks; and the walls above the green tile were papered with a design of pink roses.
She turned to Mike standing behind her. “Who did this?”
When he nodded, Samantha started asking questions about how she’d been able to do it all in so short a time, when had Mike arranged it, and how had he known this was exactly what she liked? On and on the questions went as she ran from one room to the other looking at everything, Mike behind her, basking in her obvious pleasure.
During the night she had told him that Blair had told her about his money, and he had been very glad to see that it hadn’t seemed to affect her. Now, he thought that he was freed from keeping secrets from her. He no longer had to be careful not to mention the family jet; now he could share with her the good news when a stock split and earned him a quarter of a million dollars; now he could buy her that little gold watch she’d nearly swooned over in Tiffany’s windows.
“If you don’t get dressed,” he said, “you’re going to miss the delivery of the furniture.”
After one more very grateful kiss to Mike, a kiss that almost made them even later, Samantha ran to get dressed. It was while she was in Mike’s bathroom, where her makeup was, that she said to him, “You know what really bothers me about that nursing home?”
Reaching around her, trying to get to his shaving lather, he said, “Besides the smell of the place, besides the personnel, besides the ugliness?”
“Yes, besides all of that. There is nothing to do in that place. I don’t remember seeing so much as a magazine anywhere. If Jubilee had been put in a place like that and his piano was taken away from him, I doubt if he would have lived past eighty.”
Mike looked at the three square inches of mirror that Samantha had left him and said, “If you hurry and get dressed we’ll have time to stop on Fifth Avenue and pick up some books to take to your grandmother.”
Samantha laughed. “Michael Taggert, is that a bribe to get me out of your bathroom?”
“Will it work if it is?”
“Yes,” she said, and after planting a kiss on his shoulder, she scurried into the bedroom.
Minutes later they entered the revolving door of a big Fifth Avenue bookstore. Mike was surprised to see that Sam was not only no longer afraid of revolving doors, but seemed to have mastered them.