Blue suit jacket open and tie undone, he smiled at her.
“Are they gone?” she murmured and caught herself before she peeked over his shoulder into the next room. She already felt as if she had come to the kitchen to hide from the last late-night party guests. She had to bite back a smile at the ridiculousness of her urge to check around the corner for them, as if she were checking under the bed.
“I just packed Aunt Edie into the car myself,” he said. He squeezed her arms gently. “She wanted to stay to help you fold napkins or write place cards or something, but I saved you.”
“Thank you,” she whispered, happy that he was close enough to whisper to. She had been leaning on him for days, and pleased as a cat to be doing so. She might still have been in her heels, and he might have been losing pieces of his suit for the last two hours, but she was the tired one. He simply only bothered to be perfectly composed between the hours of eight and six, and enthusiastically relaxed at every other hour. It was utterly satisfying to be caught in his hands.
“Did you get a final count on how many people were here tonight?” he asked. He sounded a little awed.
“No,” she laughed. She wondered for a moment if he had seen people sneaking in off the street. But then, she knew that her cousin Artie and her boyfriend had. And her grandmother’s grandnephew. And someone who looked very much like a young Audrey Hepburn.
“How many invitations did we send out?” he asked.
“For tonight?” She shook her head, trying to remember an exact number. “Thirty-five? Forty?”
“There were definitely more than that.” He nodded to himself, almost seriously, and she laughed at his expression. He smiled at her sideways.
“So many,” she agreed.
“I checked all the rooms,” he said. “Don’t worry. There are no strangers left in the house.”
“So many,” she repeated.
“It’s still only about the two of us,” he promised her.
She smiled and nodded.
Squeezing her arm, he left her for half a moment, disappearing back into the living room. When he came back he had a wine glass in each hand, filled halfway with a wine so thinly yellowed it might just have been a reflection of the lamplight. He passed her one before lightly looping his arms through hers.
“To the two of us,” he said.
“To two,” she repeated.
Linked together, they put their glasses to their lips and tipped them all the way back. They drained them in one tilt. They always did, for the funny way people insisted it staved off fate’s sharper fingers, but tonight, they believed in it a little more heavily and didn’t dare do otherwise.