Valentine’s Day is supposed to be the end-all be-all of romance. The day we to go out of our way to show our significant others how much we adore them. Hotels advertise amorous weekend packages that include couples massages, candlelit rooms and silk covered bedding. Restaurants are fully booked months in advance. Movie producers flood theaters with horrible rom-coms, florists scramble to fill orders and candy makers shift production into overdrive.
What a crock of shit.
If you were expecting some fluffy story about me, a red-lingerie clad Kate and a fuzzy white bear holding a heart that says “Be Mine” – you’re going to be disappointed. Because Valentine’s Day is a giant frigging scam. A con. In reality, it’s a brilliant marketing strategy. I think Charlie Brown put it best when he said, “Even my dog has gone commercial.”
He was a wise kid, sadly underrated. I never liked Lucy though – she was kind of a bitch.
But, my point is, Valentine’s Day has nothing to do with passion – and a hell of a lot less to do with love. If you need a holiday to remember to show the person you love that you love them, you’re fucking doing it wrong.
When you’re really in love, every day is Valentine’s Day. Kate’s on my mind every moment – sometimes in the background – but she’s there. I’m constantly thinking of new ways to please her, make her smile, and she does the same for me. Flowers, backrubs, little presents and hot, horny gestures – for us they’re not a one-year occurrence, they’re part of our fucking lives. It doesn’t require work or forethought, it just comes naturally.
And that’s how it’s supposed to be.
Which is exactly why, although this is the first year I’ve ever had a girlfriend on Valentine’s Day – or any time for that matter – we’re boycotting. Chucking the whole damn thing. I’ve talked to Kate about it – explained my theory – and because she’s not only drop-dead gorgeous, but a brilliant, practical businesswoman, she totally agrees with me.
We’re not going to play their game. Those corporate executives at Heart Messages, LLC can take their little candies and shove them up their asses.
Because of our shared opinion on the ridiculousness of the holiday, I’m not concerned when Kate steps into the kitchen wearing a red sheath dress that falls above her knee, a matching red jacket and knee-high, black, fuck-me boots. Kate looks fantastic in red.
Well, she looks best in nothing at all – but red is definitely a close second.
She smiles gratefully as I hand her a fresh cup of coffee. We sit at the table – I glance at the newspaper while eating my cereal and Kate has a yogurt.
“So…” She asks, “What’s your schedule like today?”
“Pretty light, actually. You?”
She looks at me over the rim of her coffee cup. Almost…expectantly. Then she answers, “Nothing major. I should be home relatively early.”
An article about the up and coming 3-D printer technology catches my eye, as I agree, “Yeah, me too.”
I’m still looking at the article when Kate offers, “I could pick up some filet and lobsters on the way home. Have a little surf and turf for dinner?”
I shrug, “Sure, if that’s what you want.”
And I check my watch. We need to get going. With all the snow that’s fallen recently, getting to work, even walking, takes forever and a day. Kate puts her coffee cup in the sink and we head to the door. I hold her long wool coat for her and she slides into it.
Then I grasp her waist, spin her around, and kiss her deeply. Thoroughly. One hand moves from her hip to bury in her soft hair – holding her head right where I want it as my mouth moves roughly against hers. At first Kate’s surprised, but then she gets into it, lips nipping and sucking, hands stroking and grasping.
When I eventually pull back, she’s breathing heavy. “What was that for?” she asks.
“That, was just because I can. And because you look beautiful today.”
She smiles brightly. “Thank you.”
I smirk. “You can thank me later.”
And together, we head out the door.
You remember my father’s penchant for celebrations, right? Good. Then it should come as no surprise, that when Kate and I step onto the 40th floor of our office building, my old man is there passing out red carnations to every employee.
He’s decked out in a perfectly cut navy suit with a deep red shirt, red tie, and a navy striped red handkerchief peeking out of the breast pocket. He looks like Cupid’s financial adviser.
Or a successful pimp.
“Happy Valentine’s Day, Janice.”
“Thank you Mr. Evans.”
“Happy Valentine’s Day, Mark.”
“You too, Mr. Evans. Thanks.”
Kate and I approach and he hands a flower to her. “And a very Happy Valentine’s Day to you Katherine. Enjoy your carnation – knowing my son, it’ll be the only one you’re given today.”
“Thank you, John. That’s very thoughtful of you.” She smells her flower.
“Carnations?” I question. “We couldn’t have sprung for roses?”
He hands a flower to another passer-by. Then informs me, “Dianthus caryophyllus. It’s the carnation’s scientific name – translated it means “flower of love” or “flower of the gods.”
“I did not know that.”
“Believe it or not son, there’s a lot you don’t know.”
I choose not to believe it, thanks.
My father is well versed in my opinion of this particular holiday. Which is why he goes on with, “There’s nothing wrong with going out of your to make employees feel appreciated. Valued. At least one day a year – particularly if they’re single and spending the day alone.”
Single and alone are not synonymous. In fact, Valentine’s Day is the least alone day of the year. Chicks all over the city are hoping, searching, for any shred of romance they can find. And if they can’t? Most will happily settle for an amazing screwfest with a random stranger.
Yes, I speak from experience. Sue me.
I shake my head, “You’re just feeding the corporate monster, Dad. That is one black hole, I refuse to get sucked into.”
Kate presses her knuckles to her forehead, dramatically. “Quick, catch me. You’re being so romantic, I’m going to swoon.”
I grin in the face of her sarcasm. “Romance is subjective.”
Even though she’s smiling, Kate’s eyes look a little…disappointed. Disheartened. “Yes, it certainly is.”
Then she turns to my father. “Happy Valentine’s Day, John.” She glances at me. “See you later, Drew.”
And she walks away to her office.
And she didn’t even kiss me goodbye.
My father shoves a carnation in my face. “Here you go, son. I have a feeling you’re going to need it.”
I take the flower and walk towards my office. I’m stopped at Erin’s desk outside my door – by the tremendous vase of long stemmed red roses and baby’s breath perched on her desk. Tied to the vase are two hovering heart balloons that say, “Be My Valentine.”
Erin’s smiling face peeks out from behind the floral monstrosity. “Gorgeous, isn’t it?”
I shake my head. “Et tu, Erin?”
She shrugs. “They’re from Josh – the minor league baseball player I started dating last week. He’s leaving for training down in Florida in a few days.”
I frown. “You realize baseball players are notoriously unfaithful, right?”
She sighs dreamily. “Yes, I know. But he’s got an ass I can bounce quarters off of, so it’s a risk worth taking.”
Can’t argue with that.
“What big plans do you have set up for you and Kate?”
Her face goes blank. “Nothing? But it’s Valentine’s Day. Your first Valentine’s Day as a couple.”
“It’s not even a real holiday!” I argue. “Do you know who Saint Valentine was? He was a martyr – who was killed on February 14th – had his heart ripped out while it was still beating. That’s what you’re celebrating. There’s nothing happy about it.”
She’s still skeptical. “And Kate knows you feel this way?”
“And she’s okay with this?”
“Of course she is. Kate’s a practical woman. She doesn’t need all this crap. What we have goes way beyond candy and fucking flowers – she agrees with me.”
“O-kay. If you say so, boss.”
I frown. And head into my office.
Why is this such a big deal? Like I said, Kate and I are deeply, frighteningly in love. She knows what she means to me. I don’t have to fall in line with the commercial brainwashing to show her.
And now you’re looking at me the same way Erin did.
You can forget it. I’m not giving in – I’m not getting Kate anything for Valentine’s Day and she’s just fine with that. Case closed.
“He’s really not going to get me anything for Valentine’s Day. I can’t believe it. Son of a bitch!”
“Well, he told you a while ago that he doesn’t believe in it, right?” Delores asks, through the office phone I have at my ear.
“Yes, he told me.” I reply begrudgingly.
“And you said you were just fine with that?” She prods.
“Then what’s the problem, sweet cheeks?”
“I thought he was lying! I thought he was setting me up for some hugely romantic, something I’ll never forget, surprise!” I argue.
She sighs. And then she giggles, and I hear Matthew’s muffled, murmuring voice in the background. Because they’re together. They took off of work, for a three day ski trip in the snowy Pennsylvania mountains. That Matthew planned and arranged for them.
I kind of hate Matthew right now.
And don’t be shocked by how well Dee-Dee is taking Drew’s dereliction of his boyfriend duties. Although, she usually jumps at the chance to point out how unworthy he is, in this particular case – she actually agrees with him. Dee’s never been a fan of Valentine’s Day. Traditionally she wears all black in protest, even during the years when she had a boyfriend.
But this year is different. Matthew Fisher makes it different.
Truthfully, I’m really happy for her. Jealous – but happy. Green with envy – but happy. Maybe a little bitter, but…oh you get the point.
“Why don’t you just tell him you want to celebrate Valentine’s Day? That it’s important to you? He’s a douchebag, but he’s not an idiot. I’m sure he’d pull out all the stops.”
I twist the phone wire around my finger and complain. “It’s not the same thing. It doesn’t count if I have to tell him.”
Dee takes a bite of something and speaks while chewing. “Do you want me to have Matthew tell him?”
“No.” I grumble. “That wouldn’t count either.” When Delores pauses to swallow, I ask, “You’re eating chocolate aren’t you?”
“Uh huh. And it’s gooood.”
I pout. “I want chocolate.”
Dee chuckles. “You realize you’re fully capable of buying yourself some chocolate?”
“I know.” But that’s not the same either. Everyone knows chocolate tastes better when someone else gives it to you.
This time, she giggles – and I know it’s in response to something Matthew has said or done. “I’m going to start working.” I tell her. “Have fun. Be careful skiing.”
“Okay, be happy, Katie. And don’t worry about me on the slopes – skiing is not really high on the agenda, if you know what I mean.”
I can almost hear her eyebrows wiggle.
We hang up. And I open the file on my desk – trying to pretend like it’s just any other day.
I work at my desk until noon. Just before I’m about to go to Kate’s office to see what she wants to do for lunch, a visitor opens my office door. Two visitors, actually.
“Happy Balintine’s Day, Uncle Drew!”
Mackenzie runs in and launches herself onto my lap. Alexandra walks in behind her. They’re wearing matching outfits, light pink skirts and white cardigan sweaters. My niece’s feet are adorned in sweet, pink ballerina type flats, while my sister wears high heels of the same shade, making her look strikingly statuesque.
“Happy Valentine’s Day, Little Brother.”
“You too – both of you.” I spin my chair in a quick circle, making Mackenzie squeal. Then I ask, “Are you two meeting up with Steven?”
“Yes, he’s just finishing something up in his office. Then we’re all going to lunch and a movie. So what do you have planned for you and Kate today?”
“Why the hell does everyone keep asking me that?”
My sister’s eyebrow rise. “Why the hell are you so defensive about it?”
“I’m not defensive. I don’t have anything planned. Kate and I aren’t celebrating Valentine’s Day.”
Alexandra looks surprised. Maybe a bit concerned too. “Not at all? You didn’t get her a card, candy, nothing?”
“No. I don’t have to. I show Kate that I love her all the time. Every day is Valentine’s Day for us.”
My sister thinks on that a moment. But before she responds, Mackenzie says, “’Cept today.”
And ask, “What?”
Mackenzie looks up at me and explains, “You say that every day is Balentine’s Day for you and Aunt Kate, but you’re not doin’ anything for her today. So today is the only day not Balentine’s Day for her, is it?”
Well…hell…I hadn’t thought of it like that.
Alexandra simply adds, “From the mouths of babes…”
That’s when Steven strides into my office, matching his wife and daughter’s attire with a black suit and a pink tie and handkerchief.
Loudly, he wonders, “I heard a rumor that the two most beautiful ladies in the world were visiting today.” He gasps comically, and settles his gaze on Mackenzie and Alexandra. “And they were right! Here they are.”
Mackenzie laughs. “Hi Daddy.”
“Hi little lady.” Then he focuses on my sister. He steps up to her, wraps his arms around her, and swings her down into a deep dip. “Hello my beautiful lady.”
Whatever moves Steven lacked in high school, he’s definitely made up for – the guy’s got game.
Alexandra laughs adoringly, and Steven kisses her.
Mackenzie stands beside me with a grimace. “Yuck.”
“I second that.” I hold my fist out to her and she taps it in agreement.
Once the kissing is done, Steven stands my slightly dazed sister back up. “Are my girls ready to go?”
“Ready!” Mackenzie exclaims. She smiles, kisses my cheek and runs to take her father’s hand.
“Enjoy the day, Drew.” My sister tells me kindly.
I wave. “Have fun, you guys.”
And the three of them walk out the door.
After they’re gone, I spin my chair around and look out the window at the city. Thinking. Then I buzz Erin on the intercom. “Erin, can you come in here a minute?”
She enters my office a few seconds later. “What’s up, Drew?”
“I think…I think I may have screwed up. Or…I’m on the verge of screwing up.”
Erin responds dryly, “Cause that’s never happened before.”
She’s referring to the “before time” – in December.
I hold up my hand. “Shut it. I told you to block that week from your memory.”
She’s unrepentant. “I’ll try harder.”
“What are the chances you can find me a florist with a bouquet of white daisies and red roses in stock?”
“Slim to none. But…if I do, it’s going to cost you an arm and a leg.”
Small price to pay.
“Make some calls, okay? Text me what you come up with. And move my three o’clock conference call to tomorrow. I’m going to be out of the office the rest of the afternoon.” I stand up. “If Kate asks, tell her something unexpected came up.”
Erin smiles. “You’ve got it.”
And I head out – I’ve got some romantic commercialism to do.
At six o’clock I rub the ache in my neck. It’s a hazard, when your job requires you to work at a desk for hours on end. Maybe Drew will give me a back rub when I get home?
And then I smile. Cause there’s nothing ‘maybe’ about it. Drew may not subscribe to Valentine’s Day, but the chance to get his hands on my bare body? It’ll be a cold day in hell before he turns that down.
After I got off the phone with Delores, I realized I was being a baby. A ridiculous baby. Because, Drew’s right – flowers or chocolate can’t compare with what we have – our relationship, our passion…and the sex.
Mindblowing doesn’t really cover it.
I look down at the file on my desk. I’ll work on a few more pages and then I’ll call it a night too. But just as I get to the end of the first document, there’s a knock at my open office door. It’s a delivery man, holding a long gold box, that I can see through the clear plastic on top, is filled with red and white flowers.
“I have a delivery for you, Miss.”
My brow furrows. “No, I think you may have the wrong office.”
He checks the tag. “Kate Brooks?”
“Then this is the right office.” He hands me the box, and now I see the flowers inside are white daises and red roses. A lovely, crisp bouquet.
“Uh…thank you.” I stutter and reach for my bag to give him a tip.
He hold up his hand. “Already taken care of. Have a nice night.”
After he leaves, I lay the box on my desk and slide the big pink bow off of it. I lift the lid and enjoy the fragrant smell of the flowers.
I can’t not smile.
My teeth toy with my bottom lip as I open the card, and I wonder if my Mom or Billy sent me flowers. You can probably guess what a great reaction Drew will have if it’s the latter.
But they’re not from Billy.
Or my Mom.
I laugh out loud – because I’m surprised. And overjoyed. And excited.
I grab my coat and the box of flowers and walk out the door – rushing – moving as fast as my high heeled boots will take me.
Because this is going to be so much better than chocolate.
I make it to our apartment in record time.
I hang my coat near the door, and put my bouquet on the front table. That’s when I spot a giant heart shaped, velvet box. Of chocolate truffles. And there’s a card on top.
I open it up.
It’s in Drew’s own handwriting.
All the things I never knew, I didn’t know
I used to think I knew it all – and then you taught me.
I used to think I’d done it all – and then you touched me.
I used to think I’d heard it all – and then you said you loved me.
I used to think my life was perfect – and now, because of you, I know it is.
Come to the bedroom, do not pass go, do not collect $200…
Do take off all your clothes.
PS – I changed the toilet paper roll. Happy Valentine’s Day, baby.
The first few lines actually make me tear up. Then I laugh again as I read the last ones. I place the card gently back on the table, and, as directed – walk towards the bedroom.
I take off my blazer and drop it on the floor. I unzip my dress, and slide that off too. Until I’m left only in my red lace bra, matching panties, black garters and shiny black boots.
I’ll leave the boots on. Drew will like that.
I stand in the bedroom door and take it all in. The air is filled with the scent of the vanilla and ginger candles lit around the room. Drew reclines on the bed – his hands folded casually behind his head – covered only in a pair of red, silk boxers.
I take a moment to admire his body – I love every inch of it. Taut, sculpted arms, his broad, warm skinned chest, and the delicious ripples of his abs that I can’t wait to trace with my tongue. I can’t see his hands, but I see them in my mind.
In my memory.
Hands that are so strong, so gentle, expert fingers that know just how to touch and tease – and love me. Like I’ve never been loved in my life.
He smiles dashingly. “That’s my line. Why didn’t you tell me you were wearing garters?”
Proudly, I step into the room. “I wanted them to be a surprise. Surprise.”
His blue eyes are alight with heat. And hunger.
As he sits up, I notice the bear on the dresser beside the bed. A white, fluffy bear holding a heart that says, “Be mine.”
I smile and pick it up. “You got me a bear?”
Drew nods. “I did. I completely caved and got you a bear. But, for the record, he can’t stay in the bedroom. His eyes follow me wherever I go – it’s starting to freak me the fuck out.”
I laugh. “What made you change your mind?”
He traces my smile with his fingertips. “This. I wanted to make you to smile just like this.”
I put the bear on the dresser – with his eyes facing the wall.
Drew stands and I wrap my arms around his neck. “I am, you know. Yours.”
“Yeah, I know. The bear can be a reminder.”
I look into his eyes. “I love you so much.”
“I love you,” He whispers. “Every moment, every day – including Valentine’s Day.”
He leans down to kiss me, but I pull back, suddenly feeling terrible. “I didn’t get you anything! When I got your flowers, I rushed home and didn’t even think to stop.”
Drew just smirks. “Well…you kind of did. The flowers, the chocolate, the bear – they’re for you…” He steps out of my arms and picks up a tube from the bed. Out of it, he slides a roll of white fabric – like a sheet, but thicker. A canvass.
“…but this, it’s for both of us. But mostly for me. I’m keeping it.”
He flicks his arms, and the canvass sheet opens, spreading out over the floor.
“What is it?”
He shows me two containers of paint – one black, one red. And a bunch of brushes wait on the bed. “These are body paints. The idea is, we paint each other. Then, we lay down on the canvass and I make you come, five maybe six times. When we’re worn out, we’ll have a painting. One of a kind.”
He puts the paint down and comes up behind me. He slides his hands up my thighs, over my stomach, cupping my breasts in his hands. He kisses my shoulder, then my neck, and slides the strap of my bra down.
I sigh against him. And his breath tickles my neck as he tells me. “And only you and I will know what it is, Kate. We’ll look at it, and know the spot where I held your hands above your head, while my cock was buried deep inside you. We’ll see where your knees pressed against the canvass while you were on top, riding me into perfect fucking oblivion. I’m going to frame it, and hang it in my office – where I’ll most likely be too distracted to ever get any work done again.”
I turn my head and he takes my mouth. I slide my tongue against his, tasting his moan.
A few moments later, Drew pulls back and asks, “So what do you say?”
I smile. “I say, pass me a brush, Valentine.”