The Millionaire Claims His Wife

By: Sandra Marton

“Don’t tell us,” Deb said. “You guys have decided to pitch a tent on a beach, in Tahiti.”

Chase and Annie laughed along with everybody else, and then Chase held up his hand.

“And then, there was Annie’s flower business and my construction company. As I say, we had a problem.” He looked down at his wife and smiled. “Tell ’em how we solved it, babe.”

“Well,” Annie said, “when we thought about it, it was really a cinch.”

“I told you,” Deb said. “The tent, on the beach in Tahiti.”

“We bought an island,” Annie said, “off the Washington coast.”

Dawn scrambled to her feet. “An island, Mom? Or your island?”

Annie blushed. “Our island. Your father spoke to Mr. Tanaka and convinced him that there was another island for sale up the coast that would be much more to his liking.”

“I’m going to build us a house,” Chase said.

“Isn’t there a house there already?”

Chase and Annie smiled at each other. “Yes,” Annie said softly, “a very handsome one...but we’ve decided we want something of our own. Something—something cozier.” She looked at the people gathered around them. “Chase will build our house, and I’m going to put in a garden, and after that, we’re going to combine forces. Cooper and Cooper, Landscape and House Design.” She grinned. “Please notice that I get top billing.”

Everyone laughed, and then Dawn clapped her hands.

“Well,” she said, “as long as it’s announcement time, I have one of my own.” She smiled happily. “I’m going back to school. I signed up for the spring semester.”

Annie let out a shriek. “Oh, baby, that’s wonderful news!”

Nick smiled proudly and put his arm around his wife’s waist. “It is, isn’t it? Dawn will have her degree four years from now, and then—” A blush stole over his handsome features. “And then,” he said, ducking his head, “we’re going to start a family.”

“Way to go, Nick,” Damian called out. He winked at his wife, who stood smiling in the circle of his arms. “Of course, by then Laurel and I will probably be working on baby number two, or maybe three.”

Everyone whistled and cheered.

“All right,” Deb said briskly, “that’s enough of this nonsense. You guys don’t have a monopoly on good news, you know.” She took a deep breath, looked up at the smiling man at her side and looped her arm through his. “Arthur and I have decided to tie the knot. And before anybody says we’re tying it around each other’s throats, let me make it perfectly clear that what I mean is, he’s asked me to marry him.” Deb’s voice softened. “And I said I would so—it’s too late to back out, Arthur, because now I’ve got witnesses.”

In the laughter and good-natured banter that followed, it was simple for Annie and Chase to drift off into the kitchen, alone.

Chase took Annie in his arms.

“You know,” he said, “after all these happy announcements, I’ve been thinking...”

She smiled up at him. “Yes?”

“Well,” he said, “well...”

“Well, what?”

Chase smiled back at her. “Maybe we ought to reconsider those plans for the new house. I mean, heck, right down the hall from where our bedroom’s going to be—wouldn’t that be a great place to put a nursery?”

Annie looked deep into the eyes of her husband. Then she smiled, looped her arms around his neck, brought his head down to hers and kissed him.

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