I have a guilty pleasure that I don’t often confess to: I love reading romance novels. My favorites are by Danielle Steel.
They’re extra heavy on the fluff, but some days I need an escape. Nothing does it like losing myself in one of Ms. Steel’s books.
They’re an effortless read, and I can polish one off in about an hour if I get that much time to myself as a busy mom to three. If not, they can take me about a day to read between juggling kids, house, and work.
My husband is well aware of my deep affection for these books. In fact no holiday is complete, from our anniversary to Super Bowl Sunday, without a gift of one.
Joe was feeling pretty proud of himself when he was at the library a few weeks ago and came across a sale of old books just before my birthday. He bought four Danielle Steel novels for a dollar apiece. He thought he scored a real bargain.That was until he was getting ready for work the other day.
It was still pitch black outside as I started to open my very sleepy eyes. The clock said 5:00 am. I was a little surprised to see Joe dressed and putting on his tie at that early hour.
“Do you have another trade show today?”
“Yes. Well it’s the same one from yesterday. It’s going on for two days.”
“How was it yesterday?”
“It was a bunch of bankers and lawyers. It was really exciting.”
We laughed and I started to drift off to sleep when I remembered something.
‘You know that’s how it starts.”
“How what starts?” Joe was in a hurry to catch his train.
“Well first it’s the early morning meetings. Of course I don’t think anything of it because you’ve always worked hard. I’m already accustomed to you going in early and coming home late, so I would never suspect anything. Why would I? I’ve trusted you all these years. Then one day, after the dinner party that I’ve worked all week on in order to help your career, you tell me you’re no longer in love with me, and that you’re leaving me for a younger woman after 25 years of marriage.”
“Which Danielle Steel book did you just finish?”
“Dating Game. Paris’s husband leaves her for a much younger woman. Now her kids are all grown, and she has nothing. She is 46 and alone. All alone.”
“I hate when that happens.”
“Hey, you bought me the book. Were you trying to tell me something?”
“No. Have you read all of four of them?”
“How long did it take you?”
“ I shouldn’t have let you overdose on that much drama.”
‘I noticed you changed the subject,” I say, laughing. “That’s very clever.”
Joe comes over to the bed, kisses my head, and tells me that he loves me and promises to never leave me for a another woman. Especially after I give a dinner party.
I start to fall asleep again, glad I married a guy who can still make me laugh after 20 something years of marriage.
Then I wake up again and remember he also gave me Gone Girl.
This piece was first published on the Dishwasher, November, 2014, under the title, Too Much of a Good Thing. It has been slightly edited.