Who: Stephen Cornfoot, Mandy Brocklehurst
Where: Their house
When: 27 June 2002, evening
Stephen got home from the office later that he had planned after being unavoidably detained by a matter which had required his immediate attention. “No rest for the wicked,” he’d told his new accountant when she had left at half past five.
As soon as he got in, he didn’t waste any time by taking his shoes off, instead making a beeline straight for Mandy. A smile grew across his face as soon as he saw her. “You passed, right? Of course you passed. You must have. You’re brilliant.”
“I did!” Mandy said very happily, bouncing on her toes and throwing her arms about Stephen’s neck. “With flying colors! I’m a lawyer now!”
She wanted to celebrate and shout it to the rooftops, but that would obviously be highly inappropriate given Daisy being missing and the general panic and misery filling the town. Just as well that her favorite person to celebrate with was right here.
“I knew it!” Stephen announced, lifting Mandy clear off the ground as he hugged her tight. Putting her down, he kissed her forehead, her nose, her lips. “I am so proud of you right now,” he told Mandy quietly, arms still wrapped around her.
This was what Mandy had wanted for so long and now that she had achieved it Stephen could hardly put into words how pleased he was for her. “We need to celebrate. Can I take you out for dinner? Or should we stay in?”
Mandy was quite proud of herself right now as well. She felt rather guilty about feeling that way, but she couldn’t help it. She’d worked so hard!
“Let’s stay in,” she said, not willing to go that far in her celebratory mood. “It feels wrong to go out on the town right now. We could get dressed up and order in?”
“Mm. The best of both worlds. You really are smart.” He gave her a crooked smile, pleased by her suggestion but still wishing that they could go out and laud Mandy’s achievement in the way it should be really be celebrated. But some things were just not meant to be.
They could lay the table properly, make an occasion of it. Maybe they could even light a candle, though he knew Mandy was aware that he didn’t particularly like to sit near open flames of any kind. “Not Indian. I think I’d actually like to get the correct order this time.”
“Italian,” Mandy said with a grin. “Why don’t you go order the fanciest pizza in town while I get pretty, hmm?”
Stephen returned her smile. “Fancy? You mean with shaved truffles and flakes of real gold?” He laughed and kissed her again. “I’m sure I’ll order something acceptable while you go and primp,” he teased. “Brains and beauty. I’m a lucky man.”
“I’m glad you think so,” said Mandy with a blush. She still couldn’t quite believe that Stephen said things like that about her. Even though they had been together for what was approaching a year now and had been very good friends for long before that, it still sort of amazed her that he found her so special.
She kissed him once more quickly before heading to the bedroom to locate her favorite little black dress and heels.
Stephen watched her go, still smiling. He stretched his arms above his head, lengthening his body after a day hunched over a desk. Releasing with a sigh, he set about removing his shoes and collecting their stash of takeaway menus from the kitchen. As he decided between Angelo’s and Wyn’s, he tried to remember where they had put the nice tablecloth that his parents had given them as a housewarming present.
“Shall I order dessert too?” he called, flipping over the Wyn’s menu.
“Please! Something that will go well with some ice cream,” Mandy called before murmuring a quick charm to do up her zip. Now, what to do with her hair…
Wyn’s it was, Stephen decided, eyeing up the selection of Italian cakes on offer. They had some vanilla ice cream that would go perfectly with them. If that didn’t appeal to Mandy, whose appetite hadn’t quite been the same recently from the stress of all her exams and waiting for the results, he could always brew up some espresso for an easy affogato style dessert.
Using the Floo to order made him sweat a little from anxiety, so once the deed was done he headed to their bedroom for a clean shirt. “I need to find reasons for you to wear that dress more often,” he remarked from the doorway.
Mandy turned to look at him with a smile. Her hair was now pulled back in a sleek ponytail and little bits of sparkle dangled from her ears. “Yeah? Do you approve, then?”
She certainly approved of him in all of his outfits. How was such a perfect man in love with her?
“Wholeheartedly,” Stephen assured her, beginning to unbutton his shirt. He contemplated changing into a white shirt, but chose against it, not wanting to risk pizza toppings sliding off. Instead, he selected one in royal blue which made his hair somehow seem closer to bronze. “The food has been ordered. It should be fifteen or twenty minutes.”
Mandy slipped across the room to button-up his shirt for him. She loved this. These little moments of domestic bliss were enough to make all the horrible, terrible madness happening outside their door seem like a distant memory.
Once she was finished, she adjusted his collar and kissed him sweetly. “What shall we do to pass the time?”
Stephen rested his hands on her hips, thumbs stroking softly over the soft fabric. “I suppose we could always do some more of that,” he said casually, stealing another kiss. “Or I could set the table while you put your feet up, relax, and tell me what you’re going to do with that brilliant mind of yours now that you’re qualified.”
“The second option does sound nice,” Mandy admitted. “I’m feeling so tired these days that a few minutes to recharge so we can celebrate properly might not be a bad idea.”
She cast a glance at herself in the mirror as they headed back toward the sitting room and frowned. She hadn’t been eating her best while studying and she’d definitely put on a bit of weight. Best to get back to healthy eating.
After pizza and dessert of course.
“Go on, then. Go get comfortable.” He smiled, glad that they could have an intimate evening together without his beautiful girlfriend rushing off to bury her nose in a book. Stephen kissed Mandy again, taking his time to savour their closeness, a hint of what might be yet to come. “Leave everything to me.”