ECHO

Four months earlier:

He was fumbling with his keys when he found the note just outside of the elevator on their floor.

Leaning down, he caught the fluttering edge between his thumb and forefinger, tugged the yellow square from the carpet, and lifted it up until he could read the neat, all caps handwriting his wife's handwriting.

-VITAMINS

His eyebrows furrowed. Vitamins? Maybe she'd started a shopping list but the paper had fallen out of her pocket or purse on her way out.

Tucking the note into his pocket, he sorted through his keys until he found the right one, eyes downcast as he approached the door to the loft.

But there, stuck to the handle, was another note.

-ICE CREAM

Hmm.

He opened the door slowly, called out his presence as he entered, but there was no answer, and it was quiet in the loft. Another note greeted him from the bowl where he always drops his keys, this one in his own handwriting.

-Milk
-Eggs
-Butter
-Chocolate Bars
-Graham Crackers
-Marshmallows

Laughter bubbled up within his chest, joy that couldn't be contained. Ingredients for his s'morelet, which Kate grudgingly admitted wasn't *all* bad.

And this note told him she wasn't just writing a grocery list. He knew this note and its smudged ink from where she'd run her thumb over the words, its worn crease from the way she'd folded it to keep the precinct grime-covered sticky side on the inside of the note.

"Kate?" he called out, but she still didn't answer.

Shrugging to himself, he pushed open the door to their bedroom, toeing off his shoes as he reached his closet, his gazed drifting to the bed and then to the bathroom, just in case she was waiting for him in either location. But he was alone.

The writer slipped off his jacket, one hand making its way to the cuffs of his shirt while the other reached for a hanger, found paper instead.

He had to squint in the dim light to read it.

Come and find me.

The corners of his mouth turning up, he hung his jacket quickly, then strode out of his closet, fingers deftly undoing the buttons at his sleeves and rolling his cuffs up his forearms.

Hmm. Where to look?

But, as it turned out, he didn't have to look. Not really. Just had to step into the next room.

She was sitting in his office chair, her eyes fixed on a book whose title was obscured by the way her hands cradled it.

"Kate?"

Her eyes lifted to his, happiness shining in their depths, but she said nothing, only smiled at him.

"What's up?" he asked as he crossed the room, perched on the corner of the desk and leaned down to press his mouth swiftly to hers.

She caught him by the placket of his shirt when he tried to pull away, dragging him down for another kiss, this one slower, tender in a way that made his chest ache.

Breathless, he sat up when she let him go, his eyes roving her face, taking in the way the afternoon sun streaming in through the windows gilded her hair and her skin and those eyes that stared at him with such adoration.

He followed her gaze when she dropped it to the surface of his desk, knew already what he would find there. Another note, yes. Her handwriting once more.

"More of your shopping list?" he wondered aloud with a chuckle.

But she just shrugged.

He reached out and brushed the backs of his fingers across her cheek, observed the way she turned into his touch even as she watched him, her eyes sparking as if she could hardly bear the anticipation of his reading the note. She was a conundrum, this woman, simultaneously vibrating with excitement and yet quiet and more peaceful than he thought he'd ever seen her before.

Finally, he gave in, tearing his eyes from her face to stare down at the desk and the note that rested on it. This sheet was bigger and it didn't lay flat. Something was underneath it. His heart rate jumped.

He had to squint to read the single word.

-PICKLES

Throat clogged, he turned back to stare at his wife, his tongue heavy in his mouth for a moment before he could find words.

"Are you-" he began as his hand dropped to the note, finger tracing the raised edge, his whole being longing to flip it over, but terrified in case he was wrong.

She met his gaze and then he felt her hand, warm and soft over his own, her slim fingers curling around his thicker ones and guiding him.

He looked down as she flipped the note to reveal a white and purple plastic stick taped to the back.

And then her arm was around his neck, her mouth at his cheek, her breath warm and moist against his ear as he stared in wonder at the blue plus sign.

"Yes."

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