Most of the women I work with are usually level headed no nonsense professionals, but today, they all wore silly grins. Those who didn't have a box of chocolates on their desks had flowers.
"Yes." I swung around in my chair, and found myself face to face with a bouquet of wildflowers, being held by one of the most attractive men I'd ever seen. "What's this?"
"Flowers," he said.
This had to be someone's idea of a joke. I reached into my pocket, snatched a bill, and held it out to him.
"Tip's been taken care of." He offered a two-fingered salute, and left.
I ripped open the envelope attached to the bouquet. The message was short: Happy Valentine’s Day. Love, Cupid.
That's it! Love, Cupid. I don't think so. I read the address on the card. I'd get the name of the practical joker; I wasn't sure what I would do to the culprit, but it wouldn't be pretty!
Cupid's Corner was a bit of a surprise. There were no traditional Valentine's Day window displays. The windows were filled with wildflowers, an explosion of color, which interrupted my anger, and brought a smile to my face. Just because I don't buy into this Valentine's Day thing doesn't mean I don't have feelings. But I'd also don't like being the target of a practical joke. And that was the only logical explanation available for the flowers.
Frown and attitude back in place, I marched into the flower shop.
"Hello, Jane." There stood the delivery man. "I've been expecting you."
I plopped my hands on my hips. "Look, I'll cut to the chase here. I want to know who ordered the flowers."
"Run that by me again."
<> "They are your favorites, aren't they?"
"How did you know that?"
"There's very little I don't know about you, love."
"The name's Jane, buster!" I narrowed my eyes. This guy was good. "I know this whole thing is nothing but a joke. Who the hell are you?"
"My name is Ryan Eros."
"Eros? The God of Love?" The fertilizer was getting deep. "You expect me to believe you're Cupid?"
"No, he expects nothing of the sort." An old man dressed in white robes appeared before me. Slung over his shoulder was a golden bow. "I claim that honor."
Maybe I'd fallen asleep at my desk , and this whole mess was a dream.
The old man smiled. "You're not dreaming, Jane. I am real and so is Ryan," he said, as if he could read my mind.
"Is he a god?"
"He's as mortal as you are." Cupid snapped his fingers and an hourglass appeared. "It's getting late. I have work to do." He pulled an arrow, and armed his bow.
"Stop." Ryan stepped in front of me. "We have an agreement."
"Oh, that." Cupid waved his hand in the air. "Now that you've met Jane, how could you not love her?"
"I don't want a woman who has to be spelled into loving me. Jane has to love me of her own will."
"She does love you; she just doesn't know it yet," Cupid argued. "Need I remind you there is a time factor at play here? If she doesn't--"
"I'm well aware of what's at stake."
Cupid faded, and I was alone with Ryan. This had to be more than a dream, more than a little bump on the head. I was probably in a coma.
"How long have you been hanging with Cupid?"
"We met today. Jane, he was telling the truth; this isn't a dream. What will it take to convince you?"
He sounded so sincere that I couldn't muster a flippant response and honesty came out instead. "I'm sorry there's nothing you can do or say that's going to sway me. You're too perfect." He was my fantasy man. The one I'd dreamed about all my life.
The lights dimmed. A table with wine and food appeared in the center of the room. Ryan looked skyward. "I thought you left?"
"It's Valentine's Day; consider this my gift to you and Jane."
The hours passed and before I knew it, it was almost midnight.
"How did you hook up with Cupid?" I asked.
"He woke me from a sound sleep. I was dreaming of you. I've been dreaming about you my entire life."
We stood and he met me halfway around the table. He took me in his arms, and it felt like I had always belonged there. It had to be the wine going to my head. When he kissed me I felt the room tilt. A million different emotions swirled in my heart and in my head. I couldn't sort them out -- lust, longing, anything and everything -- but love; I refused to believe that I was falling in love with my fantasy man.
"I've loved you my entire life," he said.
Life was cruel. Had I found this perfect love only to wake and discover that it was all a dream?
Suddenly the room filled with light.
"It's midnight," Ryan whispered. "Valentine's Day is over. I had until midnight to make you love me."
"So this is a dream," I said.
"If you had loved me, we would have spent the rest of our lives together."
"Don't leave me."
"I don't have a choice. According to Cupid, tonight was our one chance to make it happen."
"I won't give you up," I shouted.
"You don’t have to, Jane." Cupid stood before us. "Do you really think I would go to all this trouble just to let you two go your separate ways?"
“It's after midnight," Ryan said.
Cupid flashed a mischievous grin at us. “I'm a god. Don't you think I have the power to move the hands on a clock?”
Ryan took me in his arms. As our lips met, Cupid's farewell echoed in my heart, "Happy Valentine's Day."
About the Author: Donna L. Bolk is the author of Saving Cinderella (ISBN 1-60154-285-2), a paranormal romance from The Wild Rose Press.