Amy regarded the bright red box with the same trepidation as one might regard a venomous snake.
Laurie had been urgently called away to New York on business the week before, threatening to incur Amy’s wrath as they were hosting a rather large get-together for the notable families in town. Her husband had apologized profusely (and had arranged for the delivery of a massive bouquet of hothouse flowers on the day itself, as further atonement for the sin of not being at her side). Amy had, in his absence, called in the cavalry of Marches to assist, and between her and Meg and Marmee, the party had gone off without too many hitches. Jo and her professor had even helped, for which Amy was grateful. Laurie had returned so late the next night that Amy hadn’t even been able to greet him, hadn’t felt him collapse into bed next to her when he’d come home, and as he was a much earlier riser than she was, they still had not crossed paths yet on this cold Concord morning.
The red box, as well as his boots by the door, were the only evidence that he was there at all.
Amy glanced towards the closed door of his study, where he undoubtedly was. For a moment she thought about going over and opening the door–it was her house as well as his, she knew, but she crossed that threshold so rarely that it still felt foreign to her, like she was an interloper in the world of business, even though she hated herself for thinking so. Jo would surely have no qualms about bursting into the study, but still, something held Amy back. Instead, she crept towards the box on the counter, spotting her name written in Laurie’s unmistakable hand.
A sweet smell met her nose as she held the box in her hands, telling her that it was a confection of some kind–how sweet of Laurie to remember her sweet tooth to try to get back into her good graces, how so like him! But still, Amy hesitated before opening the box. She couldn’t help but think how Laurie wouldn’t simply give a box of sweet to Jo if he was trying to apologize for something. No, he would track down some rare book that she had mentioned once, or surprise her with tickets to the theatre, or a new pair of skates–
No. No, she must not do this now. She had to stop comparing herself to Jo every chance she got–it wasn’t fair to any of them, not to Laurie or to herself or even Jo or Friedrich. And now that she thought about it, buying Jo a book was really more Friedrich’s style than Laurie’s, wasn’t it? Surely Amy was just–
“There you are.”
The sound of her husband’s voice calmed Amy down far more than she would have thought, and she was smiling when she turned to face him. He stood in the hallway, slouching a bit with his hands in his pockets, looking like a sheepish schoolboy waiting to be chastised. “I hope I didn’t wake you last night. The train was late.”
“No, not at all. I was sleeping sound enough to wake the dead, I expect.” She stepped forward, placing her hands on his shoulders softly. “I missed you.”
“I missed you too. I hope I can be forgiven for abandoning you in your hour of need.”
She rolled her eyes. “I had already made up my mind to forgive you, but I might not if you keep asking me about it.”
“My peace offering worked, then?”
“Which one, the flowers or the sweets?”
“Both, but I was referring to the sweets. French bon-bons, just like we had in Paris. I remembered.”
“Mmmm, you certainly do know the way to my heart.” She leaned up and pecked him gently on the lips, smiling as she pulled away.
“Shall we try one?” Laurie asked, a bit eagerly, but Amy shook her head and took hold of his hand to tug him out of the kitchen.
“They’ll keep. I haven’t finished welcoming you home yet.”