Alex lips were moving, but no words came out.
Finally, he said, "Wh, what do you mean?"
Christie pointed to the rose again. "I found that in our bedroom. Who's it for?"
Alex took a deep breath, and sat down at the table. "I'm sorry you had to find that," he said. In seconds he seemed to have gotten control of himself, and his face was calm. In fact, it was almost impassive, like a statue.
"Go on," Christie said, tapping her finger on the edge of her plate, her anger rising. "What's her name?"
Alex smiled. "Christie, of course. Who else? It was supposed to be a surprise. For Valentine's Day. One red rose, from me to you. I guess I screwed up the surprise part."
Christie searched his face. Was he lying? If he was, he was hiding it very well. There wasn't the trace of a twitch or a reddening of his face, and his coal black eyes stared straight at her. He was either telling the truth, or he was the most convincing liar she'd ever met.
Long seconds passed, and Christie could hear cars in the street, and the hum of the refrigerator's motor, and a train whistle in the distance. Alex's eyes never wavered.
Finally, he broke the silence. "Well," he said. "What do we have here? A Valentine's dinner, it looks like. And my favorite -- steak. Thank you so much, honey. You really outdid yourself. Could you pass the steak?"