VALENTINE'S DAY BLUES
I'm not a big fan of Valentine's Day. Call me old and jaded, but the idea of spending money on candy and flowers to acknowledge that special someone should be done all the time, not just on Valentine's Day. Expressing feelings like that, the need to want to surprise someone with a single rose or a romantic dinner should be there on any given day, not only on February 14th. It's always nice to know that our significant other appreciates us no matter the day.
I am getting ready to publish The One Who Loves You. This is a new and uncharted territory for me. I'm nervous and excited, anxious and proud. And all along, my husband has been my biggest cheerleader. He isn't always the most thoughtful person, and sometimes he can be a downright pain in my ass, but at the end of the day, he's there. He's there supporting me and my dream, he's proud that I've come this far. He doesn't always show it, and that's okay, because I know that no matter the day, he still manages to surprise me in his own special way. Even if it's when he brings home my favorite candy bar (I love dark chocolate) or a bottle of wine, just because. I know that he appreciates me. I don't have to wait until February 14 to be reminded.
Nick is one of the characters in TOWLY. He is deeply flawed, as we all are, and he's working his way through life, which has become increasingly complicated, both by his own hand and by circumstances. No marriage is perfect. We all find ourselves, at some point or another, wading through the bad times. Hanging on to hope that a good time is right around the corner; the peace and calm that waits once a storm has passed.
I hope that you enjoy this short story from Nick. He's gone above and beyond his comfort zone to surprise Siena for Valentine's Day and he's reminded, like me, that it's just another day...
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The one thing we can ever get enough of is love.
And the one thing we never give enough of is love.
NICHOLAS: VALENTINE’S DAY 2010
I glanced down at my watch. 6:00 p.m. Where the fuck is Siena? I was practically wearing a whole in the floor from pacing the living room, waiting for her to pull into the driveway. One hand was shoved in my pocket, the other hand was firmly gripped around two fingers of Macallan’s finest. What is holding her up? Traffic, maybe? It was a Friday night, after all and she was driving from Downtown L.A. I tugged my tie loose a little. I didn’t realize I’d done so tight.
Noel helped me put this plan of mine into motion. I’d never been the typical romantic ‘dinner for two by candlelight’ type of guy, but things around here, things between Siena and I had been pretty tense. I wanted to wave the white flag and surrender, even if for just one night. I hoped that by doing this, we could get past this rough patch we’d found ourselves stuck in. You know that routine: kids, work, kids, work, house, work. It all seemed to be sucking up our time together. My work had been a little slow, still reeling from the recession, but Siena managed to pick up some extra clients and work was good for her. She found herself spending more time in New York, away from me and the girls. I understood though. She was the bread winner for the family, so I supported her.
Noel was the first person I went to when I decided to surprise Siena for Valentine’s Day. She made sure that Siena was going to be in town, because when I last took a peek at the calendar in her organizer, there was a heart on Valentine’s Day, along with the three letters NYC. Technically, Valentine’s Day isn’t until Sunday, but I wanted to spend the weekend alone with her, so I set dinner for tonight. I looked at my watch again: 6:10. I took another gulp of scotch and waited for the familiar burn that lessened with every swallow. At this rate, I was going to be shitfaced before Siena got home.
I walked into the dining room and saw the table was set perfectly. I don’t know what I was expecting to see since I was the one who set it. I slowly worked my way around, reaching my hand to make sure each placemat was aligned perfectly with the edge of table and that each napkin was perfectly folded in a non-perfectly folded way. There was a decanter of Cab and two wine glasses patiently waiting to be filled. I hadn't lit the candles yet. The two long, ruby red tapers were perfectly set into some crystal candlestick holders. I moved slowly further along the table, smelling the sweet air around me. There was a centerpiece of all white flowers sitting in a red globe vase. It was filled with some of Siena’s favorite flowers: gardenia, plumeria, white roses and some other crap. I ordered a similar arrangement to be sent to her office this morning and had another one delivered here. I paid out of the ass for the arrangements; how was I supposed to know that gardenias didn't bloom in February?
My glass was empty and it was only 6:30. I poured another two fingers and added a hand full of ice to at least water it down some. I was nervous, and doing my best not to get trashed. I made my way into the kitchen, aware that I shouldn't be mindlessly drinking. Before I opened the over to check out diner, I set the glass down and slid it away from the edge of the counter. Maybe if I put it far enough away, I though, I’d forget that it was there. The smell of warm food crept from the over, I barbecued jumbo shrimp and filets. There were also perfectly grilled asparagus, a few baked potatoes and plenty sourdough bread piled with cheese waiting to be broiled. On the opposite counter from the stove, thick delicious triple chocolate brownies sat safely behind the glass of a cake pedestal. I went cheesy and even sprinkled pink and red shaped hearts of foil confetti around the brownies.
Unfortunately, my hand missed the feel of cold glass, and before I realized I’d done it, the glass was back in mind hand. I remembered this time to sip, not gulp. Back over to the expanse of living room windows for one more peek to see if she made it yet.
Another small sip as I walked down the hallway toward our bedroom. Sitting in the middle of our bed was a large pink box with a black ribbon tied around it. Inside that box was Victoria’s Secret naughtiest little ditty I could find. I got instantly hard just thinking of how Siena was going to look in the outfit I picked out. Tightly nestled in the folds of tissue paper was a bustier and coordinating thong. Both were in the lightest pink I’d ever seen. Woven in the pink fabric were the finest lines of silver threads that formed an intricate floral pattern. The front was pretty tame, low cut, but still modest enough for Siena to be comfortable. The back of it was the show stopper. I had to adjust myself, wipe my brow and take a drink just thinking about it.
Below the two straps that went over the shoulders were three bows that held the bustier together. They were pink silk bows that were evenly spaced apart, and positioned directly in the middle of the back.
Was it getting hot in here? Fuck. I wiped my forehead again. Another gulp. I heard the chinking of ice against the glass. How the hell did I finish that so quick? I set the glass of ice cubes on the dresser and leaned against it, arms crossed. After two glasses of scotch, I was feeling pretty fucking good. I thought about the piece de resistance: the tiniest fucking pair of underwear. The front of the barely there triangle of material was the same pink and silver pattern, and across each side was a light pink silk ribbon that led to the back. The two ribbons met at the top, to form a pink bow, smaller than the ones on the bustier. I could easily picture that bow perched proudly atop Siena’s perfect ass. If I kept thinking about all the ways I was going to violate my wife, I was going to have to step into the bathroom and rub one out, and I didn’t have time for all that. Plus, the bathroom was cleaned and perfectly staged. Bucket of ice with a bottle of champagne chilling and candles perfectly scattered around the edge of the tub waiting to be lit.
I was so gonna get laid tonight, I thought, I brief smirk cross my smug face. No woman would ever consider not giving it up after all the romantic thought and effort their significant other had gone through to make Valentine’s Day special.
I grabbed the watery remains of my scotch and made it back to the living room. Seven fucking o’clock, I noticed the time on the cable box of the TV. I just don’t understand where she could be. I thought about calling her, but then decided against it. Things have been pretty tense around here and I don’t want her to think I’m checking in on her or worse, have this somehow lead to a fight. The tension was so strong, any little thing was liable to set either one of us off. This is why the element of surprise needed to me by ace in the hole.
My phone didn’t have any missed calls and there were no text messages. Not surprising, Siena didn’t usually text me unless she was going to be super late. And 7:00 on a Friday night isn’t really late, except that Noel assured me that Siena had no appointments booked after 3:00, so I couldn’t understand what was hold her up. I hated being one of those pathetic guys calling around looking for his wife. But my dinner was already past warm working its way to cold and I was buzzed, working my way to hammered.
Back in the kitchen I grabbed a large cup and filled it with water. I guzzled it back with two Advil. I didn’t want to be hungover during dinner. And the water was an opportunity to hydrate and sober up. I grabbed my phone, made a few sweeping motions with my thumb and a second later my call was connected.
“Hellooooo,” her words were strung out in a sing songy way.
“Hey,” I grunted.
“Why are you calling me, why aren’t you eating brownies off your wife’s ass?” She was laughing.
“Because neither my wife nor her ass are here.”
“What?” She was genuinely surprised, I could tell by the sound of her voice. “What do you mean she’s not there? It’s after seven, and I confirmed with her that she was getting off at three. She told me she’d taken the whole weekend off. She even sent me a text at lunch confirming that I was picking the girls up from school and that she’d come get them Sunday night to celebrate Valentine’s Day.”
“Shit, Nick. I am sorry. I really don’t know where she’s at. Did you try calling her?”
“No, I wanted to call you first and see if you heard from her.” I felt my sails falling, my buzz waning and my hope sliding into the gutter. If she wasn’t with Noel, I had no idea where she could be.
“Hey,” she said in a cheery voice, knowing that I was losing my confidence to pull this off. “Let me call her real quick and find out where she is, okay?”
“Yeah, sure. The girls are good?” They were always my bright side.
“Yup, we just picked up some Chinese to-go and we have a few movies lined up after we do our fingers and toes. Hey… Don’t worry, I’ll call you right back,” and she hung up.
I poured another glass of scotch, three fingers this time. No ice. It was already 7:30, and I was ready to give up. I fell back onto the couch and grabbed the remote, with barely the effort of touching a few buttons, the slow beats of music quickly filled the air around me. I loosened my tie a little more, needing to give myself breathing room. I dressed in Siena’s favorite suit, dark gray, almost black. I wore a simple white dress shirt and a tie I picked up especially for tonight. It’s black with a pattern of tightly woven blood red dots. Each dot was done in fine silk thread. Tie shopping isn’t on the top of my fun things to do list, but when I saw it, I knew it would look great with this suit.
I also knew it would look great with it wrapped around Siena’s writs, firmly bound to our headboard. I thought about this image of her neatly restrained, wearing the present I picked out for her, wild brown curls spread across a pillow, and my heart felt a little heavy. My buzz picked back up and the music left me a little melancholy. However, I still felt the hardness in my pants and I was reminded that my libido wasn’t on board with my oncoming pity party, it was still holding on to the idea of getting laid.
Gary Moore’s blues were flowing throughout the dark room. The only lights were the green ones from the electronics along the wall in front of me, the other lights filtered in through the windows to the right of me. Those faced the street where the city continued to move on despite my now sullen demeanor.
The vibrating of my phone brought me out of my momentary daze. I noticed the time before I answered the two text messages that came in. 8:04 and under that February 12, 2010. I opened up the two text messages.
Noel: She got caught up in a last minute deal that was dumped on her.
She’s on her way home
See: I’m in Century City, caught in traffic. On my way home.
Century City was over an hour way, without traffic. She wouldn’t be home until after 9:00. I sat in the dark, finished my glass of scotch and pulled my tie off. I slung it over the couch behind me. The first few buttons of my shirt were now undone and my suit was past wrinkled.
I thought about all the effort I’d put into pulling this off for her. It wasn’t her fault she had to work, and I knew, rationally, that she didn’t do this on purpose. She had no idea that I was planning this for her, and because things had been tense between us, I knew that she was in no hurry to rush home and jump into my arms.
Still, I had hoped she would want to come home to me and celebrate in some way. She knew the girls were with Noel. Which wasn’t unusual, since Noel often took the girls for the weekend. But, other than the text I got saying she loved the flowers, I hadn’t heard from her.
Maybe, I rationalized, it’s because Valentine’s Day isn’t until Sunday, so she’s not worried about coming home tonight. To her, it’s probably just another Friday night.
I fixed myself another scotch and grabbed a brownie for the road. My jacket and pants met up with the discarded tie. Back on the couch, I tried not to get crumbs on my white shirt or drop feelings of hurt in my scotch.
What a pussy, I thought. Who the fuck thinks that? So what? Valentine’s Day is just another day, if you think about it. If I were any sort of husband, I would surprise my wife like this more often, remind her that I appreciate all she does. Dinner can be warmed, and really nothing’s ruined. It’s just delayed, I convinced myself. Except there was a microscopic part of me that thought there was more. As I tipped the glass back, that feeling of doubt was swallowed away with the last few sips of scotch. I closed my eyes and let it all wash away, clear in my mind though was still the image of Siena tied to the bed.
♥ ♥ ♥
I can’t be sure what woke me first, the furious sound of pots and pans banging together or the smell of coffee creeping across my nose in a slow, tortuous way. No matter the reason, my head was pounding and it was clear the two Advil to took last night to prevent this headache, didn’t fucking work. My eyes were still closed, I felt a mile throb in my left temple and a ferocious growl from my stomach, a reminder that I didn’t eat dinner last night and that all that food had gone to waste. It slowly registered that Siena was making breakfast. Thank god. That means she’s already seen the food, the table, the bed and gift and the bathroom.
I rubbed my eyes, not wanting to face reality and explain how my whole night had gone to shit. How I passed out waiting to surprise her. How I felt again like I disappointed her because I had to have those last few glasses of scotch. A heavy sigh escaped my mouth.
I smelled her before I felt her pull my hand away from my face.
“Hey, sailor, rough night?”
I cracked open one eye just enough to acknowledge her and then promptly shut it.
“I brought you some coffee and Advil. Here, sit up,” she commanded. I sat up and held my hand out for the Advil.
“Thanks,” my voice sounded gravely and thick. My head hung limply from my body.
“I’m really sorry I got home so late last night. I obviously didn’t realize that you had all this planned. It wasn’t until I got home and put two and two together. I got a lead on a last minute deal and I wanted to get it wrapped up before I left for the day. I am really sorry, Nick. You went through all this trouble for me and I feel terrible that I ruined your surprise.”
I finally opened my eyes when I felt her slight frame shift the cushions of the couch. She was sitting next to me. I looked up to see her.
Her hair was long and loose, covering her shoulders, she had just the right amount of make up on. Peeking through a curl on her shoulder was a light pink strap. My eyes quickly followed that strap. Attached to it was her Valentine’s gift. I darted my eyes back to her face, she had a wicked smile planted there.
“Com’on, sailor,” she stood and held out her hand. I threw off the blanket she’d put on me last night. “Let me feed you some breakfast, then you can show me what devious thoughts were swirling through your mind last night.”
I let her pull me up and I stood over her, kissing the top of her head. “Happy Valentine’s Day. I know we haven’t been getting along lately, and I know that I’ve been a pain in the ass. I also know that there’s no one else in the world who would put up with my shit, so for that, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. This is my white flag of surrender and piece offering.”
She pulled back and looked into my eyes, “I know things haven’t been easy. We can both remember to be kind and patient with one another. This too shall pass. I love you, Nick.” And she hugged me, I’d been a long time since we just stood, tangled in each other’s arms. It was bittersweet.
I needed to lighten things up, feed her and then toss her ass into bed. “This outfit looks better on you than I ever imaged it would.”
“Yeah. Let’s eat.” I grabbed the tie from the back of the couch and slung it over my shoulder.
She cocked an eyebrow at me and smiled.
“Nice boxers, by the way.” They were covered in red and pink lips. The front said KISS ME HERE and pointed to the open fly. Classy, I know.
“What’s the tie for?” Eyebrow still arched.
“Feed me and find out.”
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