The One Month Marriage. Judith Stacy
“It’s the way I decorate,” she said crisply. “I’m knocking out a few of the walls.”
“Knocking out the—what?” He gaze pinged around, then turned back at her. “Jana, you can’t knock out a—”
She drew herself up a little. “You told me this morning that I could do whatever I wanted with the house.”
He blinked. “I said that?”
“Oh, yes. My mind reeled with the possibilities. After all, you put me in charge of this project so I want to do my very best to please you. And, of course, to live up to my duty as your wife.”
Brandon’s gaze crawled over the workmen. “I never said you could do all of this.”
“But you did put me in charge of the house, correct?”
“Yes, of course, I did. But—”
“And you do expect me to take my responsibilities seriously?”
“And it is my duty as your wife to take over the house, is it not?”
“Well, yes, but—”
“Good. I’m glad I have your approval. Come along. I want you to see everything I’m doing.”
Jana led the way down the hallway, skirting workmen, stepping over tools, and stopped at the doorway to the parlor. She waved her arm.
“I’m taking out those two walls, widening this whole wing of the house and lowering the floor.”
“And wait until you see what I’m doing to your study.”
“My study?” Brandon bristled further. “My study is—”
“—part of the house, correct?”
“Well, yes, but—”
“I take the responsibilities you’ve given me very seriously, Brandon,” she informed him. “I’m reworking the entire house, which includes your study. Come, I’ll show you.”
Jana ducked under ladders and sidestepped scaffolding until she reached Brandon’s study. With the furniture pushed to the center of the wall and shrouded beneath a tarp, three carpenters stripped the walls, ceiling and floors.
Brandon pressed his palm against his forehead, his eyes wide. “What the…?”
“I’m renovating the entire room, floor to ceiling. For you,” Jana announced.
“Where the hell am I supposed to work?”
“I found you a new spot,” Jana told him. “A room off the kitchen.”
He frowned. “What room?”
“The one next to the pantry.”
“That’s a storage room.”
“It will be cozy. You’ll feel snug in there,” Jana assured him. “Your things are already in place…those that fit, anyway.”
“This is unacceptable,” Brandon declared. “I need a place to work.”
She gazed up at him. “Didn’t you say we both had to accept our responsibilities? Are you saying you’re not willing to do that?”
“Of course, but—”
“Then you understand that we both have to make a few minor adjustments to get our marriage back on track. Isn’t that what you want?”
“I need my study,” he insisted.
“And you’ll have it,” she assured him. “I’m instructing the carpenters to make this room their first priority. Now, here’s what I’m doing with your study. You’ll love it. It’s going to be pink.”
“It’s the rage in Europe. I don’t know why it hasn’t caught on here yet,” Jana declared. She gestured to the walls. “There’ll be a mural of lambs and ducks over there, and cherubs frolicking on clouds on the ceiling. It will be very soothing.”
Brandon closed his eyes, pressed his fingertips against his temples and rubbed little circles. He drew in a breath and looked at Jana.
“When you said you were going to decorate, I didn’t think you meant—”
“See? You’ve just proved my point. You’re tense and anxious after a hard day at the office, and the new, more restful motif in your study will be just the thing to relax you.”
He blew out a tired breath. “Jana, I don’t—”
“The workmen are leaving momentarily.”
“Good,” he mumbled, releasing a heavy sigh.
“Our guests are arriving shortly.”
He jerked upright again. “Guests? Tonight? You know I prefer quiet evenings at home.”
“A man in your position has social obligations, all of which have been overlooked for far too long,” Jana told him. “But don’t worry, I’m taking charge of that also. Just as you wanted.”
Jana strode off down the hallway toward the kitchen. “Do change your shirt,” she called, not looking back.
When she reached the kitchen door she paused and glanced back. Brandon stood among the disarray, the pounding hammers and grinding saws, rubbing his forehead.
A pang of guilt swept through her. She’d never seen him look so distressed. For an instant she wanted to shout at the workmen to leave, take Brandon to the sitting room, place a cool cloth on his head.
But Jana did none of those things. She pushed into the kitchen hoping with all her heart that Brandon would ask her to leave soon. This plan of hers was harder to execute than she imagined.
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