The smell of lemon-herb chicken wafted through the apartment. Taking a big whiff, I took the perfectly golden-brown chicken from the oven to check it. With any luck, it would taste just as good as it smelled. Deeming it done, I put it back in and turned the oven to warm. Alison would be home soon, so there wasn’t much risk of it drying out.
With dinner all taken care of, I went to the table and set out the candles. Once their buttery glow was flickering across the table, I put things over the top by turning on the romantic CD I’d put in the radio.
I’m not at all buttering her up. Nope.
I snorted softly at myself. I was doing all of this in part to get her in a very good mood, I couldn’t deny. I’d finally decided that it was time to have the conversation about becoming foster parents. Both of us were in very good places now. I’d gotten my doctorate and a permanent position at the medical research lab where I’d interned; Alison had recently scored a promotion a few months ago, putting her in charge of several of her company’s important investments. Financially, we were actually comfortable despite our bills and mutual loan payments. If ever there were a time to do it, this was it.
“What is all of this?” Alison’s voice, tinged with a note of wonderment, came from the living room. I hadn’t even heard the door open.
I met her halfway to the dining room and leaned in to press a kiss to her cheek. “Happy six-month anniversary.”
“We’re not going to become one of those couples now, are we?” She teased. “Celebrating every little milestone?”
I shook my head. “Nope. Promise.”
“Well, then, I suppose I can celebrate today in good conscience.” She leaned up on her toes and pressed a tender kiss to my lips. “Happy six-month anniversary, Luc.”
Six months ago, we’d decided that, even though we were perfectly happy without the formality of it, we should get married. Rather than have a big to-do, we’d just gone down to the courthouse one day. The only people invited had been our parents. To be perfectly honest, aside from the simple gold band on my finger, not much felt different to me.
“So, what did you make that’s made the apartment smell so good?”
I smiled and guided her to the dining table. “Lemon-herb chicken and saffron rice.” I gestured for her to sit down so I could serve her. “Don’t get too excited; the rice is from a packet.” Loralee was the one who would shell out for actual saffron for rice.
“Well, now the whole night is ruined.”
I snorted and made our plates then dimmed the lights and sat down across from her. “Anymore sass from you and there’ll be no dessert.”
While we ate, we shared our days with each other. When we’d finished dessert and moved into the living room, I knew it was time to take the plunge. Nerves threatened to set up shop in my stomach, but I did my best to push them away. I was a big boy; I could have this conversation.
“Alison, there’s something I need to talk to you about.”
“You know, no good conversation ever starts like this,” she said quietly, a wary look in her gray eyes.
“It’s nothing bad, I swear.” Well, she may think it is. I took a deep breath and let it out. “Okay, so, for a while now, I’ve been thinking that I’d like for us to be foster parents.”
Alison blinked at me. Paused. Blinked again. Evidently, that was the last thing she’d expected me to say. “You – what?”
“I’ve thought really seriously about this, and I’d really like for us to foster kids at some point in the future.” Stop saying “really.”
I expected her to come back at me with something along the lines of, “You know I’ve never wanted kids!” but she surprised me. Instead of getting upset, she looked at me, considering. “How long have you been thinking this?”
“Ah, well.” I shifted in my seat, reluctant to admit the truth. “I first had the idea two or three years ago.”
“Why did you wait so long to tell me? I mean, I know kids are a sensitive subject, but I thought we could talk to each other.” Hurt welled in her eyes.
I shook my head. “We can. I didn’t wait because of you – I wasn’t ready. I didn’t want to bring it up until I knew it was more than a passing idea. I had to know it was something I really wanted.” I met her gaze, begging silently for her to understand.
“Alright,” she said slowly. “That makes sense. I still wish you would’ve said something, but I guess I understand.”
After a momentary pause, she let out a deep breath. “How old?”
“The kids we’d foster,” she clarified. “How old would they be?”
I looked at her, trying to read her expression. “I was thinking older, nine and up or so. Everyone wants the cute young kids, but I’d like to help the older ones.”
Alison was quiet for a heartbeat, then she smiled gently. “Well, I can agree with that. If we do this, that’s how I’d want to do it, too.”
A smile broke over my face. “You’re really going to consider it?”
My wife nodded. “I am. I’ll admit; the idea of parenthood has crossed my mind once or twice recently.”
My eyes widened in surprise. “Really?”
She shrugged, a small smile toying at her lips. “Maybe Loralee and Josh and Nora are infecting me. Just a little.”
“Me too,” I said with a laugh. “Logan is such a great kid. And Caleb’s actually at an interesting age.”
“So maybe we’ll skip all the lame poopy diapers and go straight to kids who already are sort of people.” Alison grinned and leaned into me. “Just let me think about it, okay?”
I nodded, wrapping my arms around her tightly. “No rush at all.” I couldn’t have wiped the grin off of my face if I’d tried.