I Came Home to a Romantic Dinner, But It Was Not Meant for Me

When Serena is all set for a night out in celebration of her best friend’s birthday, she feels disappointed when the birthday girl cancels due to a cold. But the night is still young, so Serena assumes that she will spend it with her husband. Except, when she gets home, she finds a fancy dinner planned and her husband preoccupied.

When I married Ethan, we were young and had hopes and dreams for the future. My parents were torn about our decision—my mother loved Ethan and wanted me to marry him, but my father was a different story altogether.

A young couple holding hands | Source: Unsplash

A young couple holding hands | Source: Unsplash

“You’re too young, Serena,” he said. “Why do you want to get tied down so quickly? Meet people. Go live your life!”

It took a lot of convincing, but he eventually gave me his blessing.

A father and daughter duo hugging | Source: Pexels

A father and daughter duo hugging | Source: Pexels

Ethan was a supportive husband who ensured that our home ran smoothly.

“It’s a tag-team effort,” he would always say.

So, when my best friend Maria’s birthday rolled around, Ethan told me that I had to be there for her.

“You’re all entering your 30s now! It’s time for you to celebrate life together,” he said while making dinner one evening.

A smiling man | Source: Unsplash

A smiling man | Source: Unsplash

So, when Friday evening rolled around, my husband helped me choose an outfit and get ready to celebrate Maria.

It was supposed to be a ladies’ night out with lots of drinks and gambling away money at a casino.

But fate, as always, had its twists.

Machines at a casino | Source: Unsplash

Machines at a casino | Source: Unsplash

I had arrived early at the bar and was waiting for the other ladies to join me when Maria called.

“I’m sorry, Serena,” Maria said. “But I’m just not feeling great. I have a fever, and my head is so stuffy that I cannot even feel it.”

With the night out canceled due to her sudden, unfortunate illness, I found myself steering back toward home.

People sitting at a bar | Source: Pexels

People sitting at a bar | Source: Pexels

I was a little disappointed because I just wanted to get out of my head and let my hair down for a while.

But a quiet night at home with Ethan would also be just as fun.

I parked my car and hobbled on my heels to the front door.

A woman holding her shoe | Source: Pexels

A woman holding her shoe | Source: Pexels

The key turned in the lock with a familiar click, but the scene that unfolded as the door swung open left me in a silent gasp.

My living room, the one usually clad in the casual disarray of everyday life—including unfolded laundry and discarded books—was now transformed into something out of a dream.

Did I just walk into a rom-com? I thought to myself.

A messy living room | Source: Unsplash

A messy living room | Source: Unsplash

Candlelight danced across the walls, casting a warm, inviting glow over a romantic table set for two.

The air was rich with the delicious smells of gourmet cuisine, and soft jazz played in the background.

What on earth was going on?

Why was this here? And who was it for?

Did Ethan plan a date for someone else?

A romantic table setting | Source: Unsplash

A romantic table setting | Source: Unsplash

Ethan, my husband, the man who had pledged his love to me under the stars, who was supposed to be at home studying.

He knew of my plans to be out—in fact, he had encouraged me to go out.

So, who was the guest of honor in this unexpected romance?

My heart pounded with fear that I was about to catch my husband cheating on me. In our home, too.

I kicked off my shoes and moved closer to the table, seeing an enormous bouquet of flowers and a beautifully wrapped gift and a greeting card—unmistakably in Ethan’s handwriting.

A bouquet of flowers | Source: Pexels

A bouquet of flowers | Source: Pexels

And you’ll never believe who it was addressed to.

My mother!

I felt as though the world tilted on its head.

Before I could drown in the whirlpool of my spiraling thoughts, Ethan appeared—his face a picture of surprise and innocence.

His apron, dusted with what looked like flour, seemed so out of place in the scenario running through my mind.

A person mixing dough | Source: Unsplash

A person mixing dough | Source: Unsplash

“Serena, you’re home early!” he exclaimed, wiping his hands on the apron.

Words tumbled out of me, a barrage of hurt and disbelief.

“Ethan, what is all this? An affair? With my mother?”

The words sounded as absurd as the situation, yet they hung heavy between us.

Ethan’s reaction was immediate.

People holding hands | Source: Unsplash

People holding hands | Source: Unsplash

“Oh, Serena,” he said, dragging my name out. “It’s not what you think it is.”

“Then what is it?” I demanded.

Ethan glanced at the clock on the wall, his eyes growing wide.

“Please, let me explain. But first, can you come with me? Just watch.”

Led by a mixture of curiosity and dread, I followed him to our bedroom, where he pushed the door until it was open a little bit.

Bedroom with bedside lamp on | Source: Pexels

Bedroom with bedside lamp on | Source: Pexels

“What are we doing here, Ethan?” I asked.

Then, I heard the front door open, revealing my parents, hand in hand, a sight so normal yet so utterly confusing.

As they stepped into the candlelit romance, the pieces began to fall into place. Ethan’s voice, soft and filled with sincerity, broke the silence.

“Serena,” he said, taking my hand and making me sit on our bed. “I’ve been planning this with your dad for weeks. You know their anniversary is next week? Well, your dad wanted to do something special. So, I offered to help.”

A couple talking on the bed | Source: Pexels

A couple talking on the bed | Source: Pexels

“You planned this?” I asked. “Why didn’t you tell me?”

“Because you tell your mom everything, so I knew that you would let it slip,” he chuckled.

“You cooked?” I asked.

“Yes,” he said. “And I did chocolate cake for dessert.”

Chocolate cake on a board | Source: Pexels

Chocolate cake on a board | Source: Pexels

I peeped through the door and watched as my parents were slow dancing to the music.

“Thank you,” I whispered to Ethan. “This is so special.”

When I turned around, Ethan was changing into different clothes.

“What are you doing?” I asked.

“Well, you’re all dressed up,” he said. “I was just going to close the door and study, but now that you’re ready for a night out, let’s get out of here!”

An old couple dancing | Source: Pexels

An old couple dancing | Source: Pexels

In the end, Ethan and I ended up going on our own date night. We ran out, startling my parents as my father was pouring them each a glass of champagne.

“Where are you going?” my mom asked, laughing.

“We’re leaving you alone,” Ethan said. “You guys have fun!”

Champagne being poured | Source: Pexels

Champagne being poured | Source: Pexels

My father tried to get us to stay and have dinner with them, but we refused. My parents needed this. Especially because my father had been going in and out of the hospital recently due to a series of feeling light-headed and shortness of breath.

Since then, his doctors had been running multiple blood tests and trying new medication.

A week ago, he had finally been given a clean bill of health but with warnings to stay on top of a clean diet and a healthy exercise routine.

Two vials of blood | Source: Pexels

Two vials of blood | Source: Pexels

Sure, it was their anniversary that they wanted to celebrate, but it was also more than that. They needed to remind themselves that they were still alive, young at heart, and that they needed to embrace every moment they had.

Ethan and I went to our favorite restaurant—it was the spot that we always ended up at for all our date nights. At the end of the day, we were creatures of habit.

“That was a really beautiful thing you did,” I said, taking his hand across the table. “Thank you.”

My husband blushed, something that, even after all these years, he still did whenever I gave him a compliment.

A cozy restaurant | Source: Pexels

A cozy restaurant | Source: Pexels

We ordered our meals, and I sat back in my chair, wondering when Ethan was going to tell me about the anniversary dinner in our home.

He was right about the fact that I would have blabbed and told my mother—I did tell her everything.

But as I sat there, I also wondered why I was so quick to judge Ethan and assume that he was having an affair. Despite our busy schedules, Ethan always made sure that we spent quality time together.

There was no way that my husband was having an affair.

Sitting across from him now, I felt guilty for thinking the worst. Ethan deserved more than just my doubts.

A woman eating at a restaurant | Source: Unsplash

A woman eating at a restaurant | Source: Unsplash

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