Sadie and Lori had been inseparable since high school, with Lori practically becoming a second daughter to Sadie’s mother, who frequently inquired, “Is Lori coming over for dinner tonight?”

The pair eventually married two close friends, Benjamin and Keith, whom they met during their school years. Initially, Sadie had thought Benjamin would be her match, but over time, Keith captured her heart, and Lori paired off with Benjamin.

Plans were made for a joint vacation to celebrate Keith’s birthday. “Sort out our stay, Sadie,” instructed Lori, “while Ben and I handle the meals.”

The trip proceeded wonderfully, with the evening filled with laughter and drinks. At one point, Benjamin and Sadie found themselves alone on the balcony.

Inside, Lori and Keith were singing karaoke. Benjamin leaned in, “Sadie, I’ve been arranging a surprise for Lori.”

Curious, Sadie pressed, “Ben, what are you scheming?”

“It’s a secret! I’d have to trust you to keep it if I share. I’ve struggled to keep bottles hidden from Lori…”

“Which bottles?”

Benjamin chuckled, his speech slightly slurred from the alcohol.

Lori and Benjamin typically avoided alcohol, given her father’s battle with alcoholism, which made her forbid alcohol at home.

“What are you both whispering about?” Lori suddenly appeared. Benjamin quickly diverted to a tale about being trapped in an elevator with Keith.

“We just waited it out on the floor,” he recounted.

“I remember,” Lori replied, “you told me right when you got back.” She then returned inside.

Later, in their room, Sadie confided in Keith. “What should I do?”

“Do you think Ben was serious?” Keith pondered. “He seemed quite tipsy.”

“Isn’t that just him being candid?” Sadie considered. “Alcohol sometimes brings out the truth.”

“Sadie, if it’s troubling you, maybe you should talk to Lori. You’d only blame yourself if something were to happen.”

The following morning, during a walk, Sadie relayed Benjamin’s words to Lori.

“Really?” Lori questioned. “Are you sure he said ‘bottles’?”

“Yes, but it’s just a thought. I wanted you to know, just in case. I know your concerns, especially with your dad.”

“Ben’s been secretive,” Lori noted. “But surely, it’s not what you’re imagining!”

After their trip, they stopped at a café before heading home.

The next day, Lori texted Sadie, “You saved my life. I’ll call later.”

When Lori called, she revealed she had left work early to search their house. “I just had to see what Ben was hiding.”

She then detected a gas smell in their home.

“Imagine if I had just turned on the stove, Sadie?” Lori exclaimed. “We could have been in serious danger.”

“Did you find anything?” Sadie inquired.

“Yes,” Lori replied. “Hidden behind towels in our cupboard.”

“What were they?”

“They’re bottles,” Lori explained. “Not liquor, though.”

“Sadie,” Lori continued, “They’re antique perfume bottles. Not all, some are other kinds of old bottles, each tagged and apparently quite valuable.”

Sadie was puzzled, knowing Benjamin’s interest in antiques, but unaware of his intent to sell them at a profit.

“Lori, each bottle sold brings us closer to our dream. I’ve been planning a surprise trip to Paris for our anniversary,” Benjamin confessed when confronted. “I bought these vintage bottles online, selling them for a profit.”

“And the perfume bottles?” Lori asked.

“They were meant to be your first gift,” Benjamin smiled. “Paris was to be the second.”

“Perhaps it’s his way of expressing his love,” Keith suggested to Sadie later. “Lori always did adore her classic films.”

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