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Thursday, February 14, 2008

Valentina's Day

by Mariah Talbot

Valentina St. Depris collapsed on the one comfortable chair in Love's Unlimited lobby and kicked off her shoes. This singing telegram business might bring in the money, but it sure was hard on the feet.

“Please tell me there aren't any more orders,” she called out to Ruth, who was typing away on the computer keyboard. Tina rubbed one foot with her hands, letting out a low moan at how good it felt.

“Just one more,” Ruth said, bringing an index card, an envelope, and a balloon bouquet. “This is the last one and then you can take the rest of the day off.”

Tina cast a look at the clock. “Gee, thanks,” she muttered. “It's only ten minutes to quitting time as it is. I won't even get there until after five.”

“I know,” her business partner said, “but the party indicated it was an emergency. You didn’t have any plans for tonight anyway, did you?”

Tina sighed. Why did Ruth have to remind her? Here it was, Valentine's Day and her birthday, and she was spending it alone. Not that the alone part bothered her. After all, she could have still been with Howard if she'd been willing to put up with his cheating ways, but there were some things that weren't worth putting up with. Even for a date on Valentine's Day. She wasn’t desperate, but she wasn’t getting any younger. Her romantic heart yearned to be the one on the receiving end of flowers and balloons at least once.

With a little sigh of resignation she shrugged. “Okay. Let me have the stuff. Please don't tell me it's a terribly mushy message this time.”

“The address is on the index card, the message is inside the envelope. Now… have a good evening and I'll see you in the morning.” Ruth practically pushed her out the door, obviously in a hurry to get to her own Valentine's celebration. Lucky girl had a wonderful new husband to party with.

Tina tamped down a twinge of envy at Ruth’s good fortune and headed to her car. As she drove to the address on the index card, she hummed a new tune. That was one of the things she liked the most about the business she and Ruth had started…the chance to work on her own music, even though most of the composing she did was to cloying little rhymes made up by their customers. Who knew? Maybe one of the tunes would be just what it took to get her music career off the ground.

Tina got out of her car and straightened the white tunic and Cupid's wings she'd let Ruth talk her into wearing for Valentine's Day. Next time, she swore, she was going to stand firm when it came to Ruth's crazy ideas. After all, Ruth got to sit safely behind the phone and computer…anonymously.

She rang the doorbell, laughing at the whoopee cushion sound it made. As she waited for …who was it? Ah, she located the name on the card…Dave to come to the door, she lifted the flap of the envelope and pulled out a gift card to the swankiest restaurant in town. There wasn't time to look over the accompanying message before the door opened. Tina's heart skipped a beat as she looked into a smiling face and she berated herself for allowing that little frission of attraction to occur. This was someone else’s guy, based on the fact that she was delivering him a Valentine’s Day telegram.

Dave’s brown eyes twinkled with laughter when he saw her, and one eyebrow lifted as his gaze traveled up and down. Hovering on the wings fluttering in the cool winter breeze, his lips quirked as he tried to hide a bigger grin.

“May I help you?” His voice was deep and smooth, an almost physical caress that soothed her nerves better than her short massage had earlier. “Uh...Cupid?”

“Oh.. right…” Tina pulled out the message and began to hum a tune.

“ ‘I have come this way to say/ I hope you have a happy day/ And so you'll know I think you're sweet/ I wish you'd take this girl out to … eat?’ What the…?” Tina stuttered to a stop and looked up at Dave in confusion. “I'm sorry… I don't understand this. It's from someone named…RuRu?”

Dave threw his head back and laughed. When he’d regained his breath, he said, “You must be Tina, right?”

Tina nodded and looked up from the card in her hand to stare at Dave. “Who are you and who is RuRu? You must know something I don't.”

“RuRu is my big sister…Ruth. She's been telling me about her business partner, Tina, and suggesting we get together for supper one night. I think she finally got tired of waiting. “ He poked at the envelope in Tina’s hand, his fingertips lightly brushing over hers, and gave her a lopsided smile. “So, how about it? Do you have plans for tonight?”

Tina’s heart leaped into her throat at his words. Keeping herself from doing the Snoopy dance right there on his front step, she murmured, “If you let me go home and get out of these wings, I'm sure we can work something out.”

About the Author: Mariah Talbot is the pseudonym for authors Marianne Arkins and Judy Thomas who, during a moment of insanity, decided to write together. You've been warned.

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