Jessica and Elizabeth plan a special dinner for their parents' anniversary. Jess actually makes a bunch of food, Steven picks up a cake, the twins decorate the house, and Liz finds the cake topper from their wedding cake. When Ned and Alice get home though, they're mainly surprised that they both completely forgot about their anniversary. They laugh it off but it makes Jessica wonder.
Those wonders turn to worries when she realizes how much time her mom's been spending with her new client, Mr. Howard. He's one of the richest men in California and apparently looks like a movie star too. He comes by the house to drop some stuff off and keeps calling Alice all the time. Jessica tries to talk to Elizabeth, but she doesn't really seem to buy it.
That all changes when Liz starts a living history project with Pamela and Amy. They all decide to interview their parents and find out how they met. Every time she tries to talk to her parents, they blow her off. Ned is too busy watching basketball on television, and Alice is too busy with Mr. Howard and decorating his office. While at the mall, she spots Jessica running around in a hat and trench coat (i.e. the cover picture) and spying on their mom. Jessica sees them shopping for an engagement ring, which makes Liz realize that Jessica was right and that their mom is in love with another man. Yup, sounds about right.
When Mr. Howard comes over to drop some stuff off, Alice convinces him to stay for lunch. Jessica doctors up his salad with a "special" dressing made from garlic, hot sauce, and a bunch of other stuff. It makes him sick, she convinces him that it's her mom's secret blend, and he winds up leaving the table. They think they convinced him to leave their mom alone but then overhear them making plans again.
Alice asks them to drop off some documents at his office for her. They wear a bunch of ugly clothes and make up a ton of lies when they see him about how their mom made the clothes for them. Just when Jessica thinks he's about to run off, she hears him on the phone and talking with someone about running away/eloping together that weekend. She runs to tell Liz what she heard, Liz tells her friends, and they all rush to tell Steven before coming up with a new plan.
Since Ned finally got off his ass and planned something for his anniversary, they call and leave a message with Mr. Howard's secretary to invite him over for dinner on Saturday night. After their parents go out to some Italian restaurant, they get rid of the good furniture, bring out some ugly stuff, and go crazy with bad clothes and makeup. Steven invites over some players from his team.
They tell Mr. Howard that the kids in the house are Alice's kids from her previous marriages, all ten of them, and that she's an alcoholic who probably forgot she invited him over. Some of the players run in dragging Amy between them. Mr. Howard tries to stop them, which causes everyone to start laughing, and he realizes they played a prank on him. Before he can really do anything, Ned and Alice show up followed by some beautiful woman.
Turns out the woman is his real fiancee and that he and Alice really do just work together. Everyone has a good laugh over the kids' crazy antics. Alice then announces that Mr. Howard wanted her to decorate his other office but she decided against it because she needs to focus more on her family. They then take the whole group out to the restaurant to celebrate their anniversary as a family.
In the end, Elizabeth reveals to Amy and Pamela how her parents met, which is completely unlike the other stories we heard. Alice was working as a waitress while looking for an interior design job, and Ned was in law school when he came into the restaurant. She ended up tripping and spilling a platter of food over him, his boss gave him a chef's outfit and treated him to a meal. Since his friends all left, as did his date, Ned invited Alice to eat with him, and they fell in love. Huh. That's almost a better story than the whole drowning thing, more realistic too.
*Amy's mom and dad met when they both worked at some rinky dink amusement park. They were randomly chosen to ride the ferris wheel together, it got stuck on the top, and they fell in love by the time they came back down.
*Pamela's parents met when her mom sprained her ankle during some sorority thing. Her dad was the doctor who treated her and asked her out after a few appointments.
*Speaking of Pamela, it was a little weird to see her in this book. I thought she disappeared after that one where she transferred to Sweet Valley from her special school. I still think it's odd that Denny, her older brother, gets a few mentions in SVH but she pretty much goes the way of Janet and Ellen.
*Alice points out at the end of the book that she only took her interior decorating job because she wanted to work part time. Um, then why is it that the twins have to do so much work around the house and she always seems to be working? My mom worked part time when I was growing up and was pretty much always home when I got back from school.
*Ned is ridiculously oblivious. He's all like, "oh gee, your mom didn't come home from work again? I didn't even notice." I like to think that there's an unwritten book where Alice totally cheats on him, he walks in on her in bed with some random guy, and just asks when dinner will be ready.
*Every time Alice makes frozen dinners, like in this one, I want to giggle. I thought she was one of those super moms who always made dinners from scratch or had frozen homemade dinners waiting in the freezer.