Liz raised her chin, her earrings swaying.
"I know I'm right. Now as of tonight you are officially on vacation. I want you to put all that stuff in the vault and lock it away for three weeks. Think about having some fun. You guys haven't been together for how long?"
Anna took a long sip of her wine, thinking back.
"The last time we saw each other for more than three days at once was over a year ago. August, before school started. I don't think I'll even know what to do when I see him."
Liz smiled. She had the face of a pixie, with a small, pointed chin, high cheekbones, and huge deep eyes.
"Allow me to jog your memory."
She brought a box out from under the table and presented it to Anna.
"Oh you didn't. Not again."
Liz waved her objections away.
"Allow me my sick fun. I only have one best friend. And one sister-inlaw."
Anna leaned across the table.
"I'm not opening it here."
Liz raised her hands.
"That's fine. Open it when you see Johnny. It's as much for him as it is for you."
"What would I do without you?"
"As Dr. Chang would say, ''Worse things have happened.'' "
They giggled a while, and Anna drank more wine, trying to relax. There was nothing she could do now. She needed to be with John, to feel his arms enfolding her, the warmth of his body, the rumble of his voice, the vitality of his presence.
No matter how long they spent away from each other, her love for him never faded. She felt she truly had found the love they talked about in poems and in ancient alien inscriptions. A universal love. A love without end, a love without borders. She couldn't wait to see him.
* * *
John Sheridan wondered if his wife, Anna, was thinking of