'How in the world do I 'grate' an onion?' Felicity grimaced and puffed the hair off her face. She reluctantly dialed her mother-in-law's number. "Mom, it's me again. Sorry to be such a bother, but I want this to be perfect, you know?"
"Sweetheart, I never think you're a bother. How can I help?"
"Well, your squash recipe says to add a grated onion. How do you do that? I've never grated an onion."
"I use my food processor. Cut the onion into quarters, then just process it until it's juicy."
"Oh, I can do that. Thanks, Mom. I'll try not to bother you again."
"Felicity, dear, you can call me as often as you want to. I'm happy to be here for you today."
Felicity grabbed a bottle of water and plopped into her favorite chair with a contented sigh. Her chocolate Labrador retriever laid her head in Felicity's lap. Felicity snuggled her and stroked the Hershey-brown coat that inspired the dog's name. "I'm sorry I haven't had time to play with you today, Coco. You're such a good dog. Yes you are."
The house was filled with the mouth-watering aroma of roast pork, the squash casserole was in the oven, and the salad was tossed and waiting in the refrigerator next to the shrimp cocktail appetizers. She had even made the disgusting bread sauce her husband loved.
Their one-year anniversary dinner was going to be such a surprise for Will, especially since she was serving it the day before their anniversary. She suspected that he might have a romantic night out planned for tomorrow. Well .. she hoped, anyway. Her mother-in-law had supplied recipes and instructions for all of Will's favorite dishes, including the piece de resistance chocolate milkshake cake for desert. His mom had told her it was the one he had always requested for his birthday.
A glance at the clock had Felicity up and moving again. She had just enough time to shower off the cooking grunge and make herself beautiful before Will got home from work. It wouldn't do to have the atmosphere for this great dinner spoiled by looking (and smelling) like she had been slaving in the kitchen all day. She gave her dog a hug and a pat. "Be, good, Coco. I'll be right back."
Will pushed his chair back from the candle-lit table and rubbed his bulging stomach. "Mmmm, Felicity, wow, everything was so good, especially the squash casserole. And I can't believe you made me bread sauce. Thank you."
"Was it as good as your mom's?"
"Better. I didn't think that was possible, but it really was." He let out a loud belch. "Excuse me!"
Felicity giggled. "I guess that means you really did like it. So, do you have room for desert now?"
"Wait .. just a minute." Another belch rumbled from his mouth. "Ok, I think I'm ready now. So tell, me, master chef, what masterpiece did you prepare to top off this perfect dinner?"
"What's your favorite desert?" Felicity held her breath. Please let his mom be right.
"Milkshake cake?" Will's raised eyebrows and expectant expression made him look like a little boy.
"Hmm. Well, let's just see, shall we?" Felicity rose and sauntered out of the dining room.
"Oh, no! Coco!"
"Felicity? What's wrong?" When she didn't answer, Will followed her to the kitchen and found her crouched on the floor weeping. "What? What is it, hon?"
She merely pointed. On the counter she indicated, Will saw an empty cake tin surrounded by crumbs and frosting. His eyes narrowed as they followed the trail of crumbs, where they spied Coco cowering in the corner, licking chocolate frosting from her furry jaws.
"Stupid dog! BAD dog!" Felicity wailed. "She ruined everything!"
Will lifted Felicity off the floor and into his arms. "Honey, shhh, it's ok. Everything's not ruined. Believe me, that dinner was awesome. I'll tell you what. I'll take Coco for a long walk. She probably needs it after eating an entire cake. And while I'm gone, you can just whip me up another one. How's that sound?" Will grinned, and winked at her.
She pummeled his chest in mock anger, and laughed. "Yes, please take her for a walk. Get her out of my sight. Maybe, if you're good, I'll make you another milkshake cake for your birthday. And that dog will be at your Mom's house."
Catrina Bradley grew up in Iowa, but now calls Georgia home. She is happily married to her much better half, has a wonderful 23 year-old daughter, and a precious, long-haired dachshund named Lady.