Maria opened the door to her husband’s bedroom and stepped inside. Augustus was in the process of undressing. He was still in his slacks and shoes but wore only his undershirt above the waist. Maria, wearing in a lavender housedress, sat down on the side of his bed.
“You’re home early,” she noted. “You usually stay quite late when you’re with Zoey.”
“She wasn’t feeling herself and decided to turn in early.”
“That’s too bad. It’s not very fair to you though.”
“What do you mean?” he asked.
“Well, she’s left you high and dry.” Maria giggled. “I just realized how naughty that sounds.”
She reached forward and unfastened his belt and then began unbuttoning his trousers. “You’ll have to let me know if I’m doing this correctly. I’ve never done it before.”
“Apparently,” said her husband, closing his eyes, “there really is no wrong way to do it.”
Ten minutes later, he lay on the bed, his shoes still on, but his pants and underwear down below his knees. Maria crawled up and nestled her head into his shoulder.
“I came in here to ask you about our baby,” she said. “What do you want to name him or her?”
“If it’s a boy,” he said, “he must be named after my father. That’s a given. I hadn’t thought about a name for a girl. I suppose I just assumed that I would have a boy first.”
“What do you think about naming her after your auntie?”
“I have no problem with that in theory, however you must know that it would earn the everlasting ire of my mother.”
“Your mother’s name could be her second name—Iolanthe Yuah Workville Dechantagne.”
“You’re determined to have your family name as the third name?”
“It is traditional,” she said. “What else would it be?”
“I have my father’s two middle names.”
“Yes, but if we did that and it was a boy, then he’d have the exact same name as your father. That’s unlucky.”
“That’s true,” he admitted. “All right. Terrence Augustus Workville Dechantagne or Iolanthe Yuah Workville Dechantagne. Both of those sound like auspicious names.”
“Yes, they do,” said Maria, snuggling deeper into his shoulder.
* * * * *
“I had a hell of a time finding you,” said Zoey, entering the west wing breakfast nook. “Why aren’t you in the dining room?”
“We just wanted some quiet time away from the rest of the family,” said Maria.
“I’m sorry,” said Augie. “I just assumed you would sleep in, as you weren’t feeling well last night.”
“I feel much better now.”
“Sit down then.” He raised his hand and snapped his finger. “Gahk du dak khikhiino sowasuthurock!”
“Thank you,” said Zoey, sitting next to him, opposite Maria. “I didn’t eat much last night and now I’m famished. Are you both done?”
“Yes, but we don’t mind sitting while you finish,” said Maria. “You don’t have plans with Augie today, do you?”
“No, silly. You and I are supposed to go shopping for baby things.”
“Oh, yes. I suppose I have that baby brain people keep talking about.”
A lizzie delivered a huge platter to the table in front of Zoey. There was enough food to feed three men—six fried eggs, white pudding, black pudding, at least half a pound of bacon, beans, tomatoes, potatoes, and a stack of crumpets.
“What’s baby brain?” asked Augie.
“It’s a sort of pregnancy-induced fog which many women claim to experience,” explained Maria. “Some say they become more forgetful, oversensitive, and less attentive. I admit, I always thought that it was balderdash.”
“Sounds like everyday woman’s brain to me,” opined her husband.
“You’re right of course,” said Maria, smiling not at her husband’s words, but the way they made Zoantheria’s brow furrow.
“Well, I’m off to the office,” he said, getting to his feet.
He stepped around the table to kiss his wife on the cheek, and then returned to kiss Zoey. She turned her head, to catch his mouth with hers, but he caught her cheek anyway. Then he was gone.
“What’s the matter with him today?” wondered the dragon in human form.
“Oh, his mind is just on the office.”
“Well, I don’t like it. His mind should be on me, or at least on us. He could show more interest in his baby.”
“That’s just how men are,” said Maria. “He did decide on names though. It will be Terrence if it’s a boy, and Iolanthe if it’s a girl.”
“Oh. Well, I guess it’s too much to expect him to name her after me.”
“Your name, beautiful though it is, is far too exotic for a little Dechantagne.”
“I suppose,” said Zoey. “Do you know where you want to shop today?”
“Well, we have to outfit the nursery, so it’s Banneker & Bentley first, and then I need some attractive maternity clothes, so it’s off to Deneuve’s Fashions.”
“I’ve been shopping at Mrs. Bankerly’s,” said Zoey.
“Well, we can stop there too,” said Maria.