Ruth pulled back abruptly. "No, you haven't."
Vague tendrils of alarm plucked at Ed. "Of course I have. Where else—?"
"I called Douglas about three. He said you left. You walked out, practically as soon as I turned my back. Eddie—"
Ed patted her nervously. "Take it easy, honey." He began unbuttoning his coat. "Everything's okay. Understand? Things are perfectly all right."
Ruth sat down on the arm of the couch. She blew her nose, dabbing at her eyes. "If you knew how much I've worried." She put her handkerchief away and folded her arms. "I want to know where you were."
Uneasily, Ed hung his coat in the closet. He came over and kissed her. Her lips were ice cold. "I'll tell you all about it. But what do you say we have something to eat? I'm starved."
Ruth studied him intently. She got down from the arm of the couch. "I'll change and fix dinner."
She hurried into the bedroom and slipped off her shoes and nylons. Ed followed her. "I didn't mean to worry you," he said carefully. "After you left me today I realized you were right."
"Oh?" Ruth unfastened her blouse and skirt, arranging them over a hanger. "Right about what?"
"About me." He manufactured a grin and made it glow across his face. "About...what happened."
Ruth hung her slip over the hanger. She studied her husband intently as she struggled into her tight-fitting jeans. "Go on."
The moment had come. It was now or never. Ed Fletcher braced himself and chose his words carefully. "I realized," he stated, "that the whole darn thing was in my mind. You were right, Ruth. Completely right. And I even realize what caused it."
Ruth rolled her cotton T-shirt down and tucked it in her jeans. "What was the cause?"
"I need a vacation. I haven't had a vacation in years. My mind isn't on my job. I've been daydreaming." He said it firmly, but his heart was in his mouth. "I need to get away. To the mountains. Bass fishing. Or—" He searched his mind frantically. "Or—"
Ruth came toward him ominously. "Ed!" she said sharply. "Look at me!"
"What's the matter?" Panic shot through him. "Why are you looking at me like that?"
"Where were you this afternoon?"
Ed's grin faded. "I told you. I went for a walk. Didn't I tell you? A walk. To think things over."
"Don't lie to me, Eddie Fletcher! I can tell when you're lying!" Fresh tears welled up in Ruth's eyes. Her breasts rose and fell excitedly under her cotton shirt. "Admit it! You didn't go for a walk!"
Ed stammered weakly. Sweat