“One hundred and forty four, One hundred and thirty two, One hundred and twenty, One hundred and eight…”

I love the way he still sounds stroppy. Defiance in every single syllable.

His arms are crossed. He knows that is not how I want him to stand, so it’s another little fuck you. His nose might be to the corner of the room, but he’s still in the middle of his tantrum.

“Sixty, forty-eight, thirty six, twenty four…”

His weight is on one leg too. Hip cocked to the side, sticking his butt out in a tight ball of temptation. It’s almost as though he wants me to slap his arse. I will. Just not yet.

He is just so fucking mouthwatering.

“One hundred and thirty two, One hundred and twenty one, One hundred and ten, ninety nine…”

I have to walk away or I’ll be distracted by way his tapping foot is flexing his thigh under the dark knit denim of his jeans. I’m pretty sure he thinks this is time to give him time to calm down. But, actually, I need the time to work out what set off the explosion I walked into this evening. This morning I left for work and everything was calm and by the time I got home he’d decided…well, I don’t know what?

The laptop is open on the kitchen counter. And his favourite shop is open in the browser. I’m beginning to get and inkling of the problem. I collect the evidence and make my way back to the dining room where he waits.

“Eighty eight, Eighty, Seventy two, Sixty four…”

“Have you been shopping?”

“Forty eight, Forty, Thirty two, Twenty four…”

Every syllable was slapped out, so even if I discounted his failure to answer, I had in fact got to the bottom of the problem.

“The past orders section?”

“Eighty four, Seventy seven, seventy…”

He’s screaming at me in numbers. So angry. Even though, if he were rational, he would realise this wasn’t, couldn’t be what he thought. If I had been buying these things for someone other than him, I wouldn’t be waiting for him to count backwards through his tables.

I hope he thinks this through. He should be catching on by now.

“Twenty one, Fourteen, Seven, zero…”

There is a hesitation that gives him away. He’s waiting for me to speak, but I just think he needs to start to put this together himself. What date is it?

“Seventy two, Sixty six, sixty, fifty four…”

I won’t get there for him. Surely he noticed the sizes I ordered?

“Forty two, thirty six, thirty, twenty four…”

I can hear the second the penny drops. He deflates before my eyes, arms dropping to his sides, hips squaring and arse tucked under as though running away from the slaps coming his way.


He falls silent.

“Sixty, Fifty five, fifty.” I count for him, but he doesn’t join in and I let the room fall silent.

I get in there first. After all, one small sentence could have saved all that emotional energy for something far more fun. More purposeful.

“Stephen wanted to make sure Ashe didn’t get a heads up on their birthday present again this year.”

“Blue is their colour.”

I wrap my arms around him, and he sinks into my embrace. Mind you, he won’t be so keen on me later when he gets his reminder of the behaviour I expect, if not the behaviour I deserve.