Dillon planned to walk four miles down Imperial Highway, from his apartment building all the way to Pizza Paradise. He was meeting the new girl. His mom was being a total bitch and wouldn’t let him borrow her car, just because he’d backed into a pole and made a dent in the bumper. What was the big deal anyway? He didn't understand why she was so mad. It was a piece of crap car anyway. The new girl’s name was Heather Tracy. She used to live in Beverly Hills. Her dad was some kind of entertainment lawyer. The bastard dumped her mother for some chick that played in soft porn, so they had to move to Orange County, into Heather’s grandma’s house. That’s the term Heather used, soft porn. Her eyes were so blue that the heavy jet-black eyeliner she wore made them pop. He just couldn’t help it—he had to stare as they welled up when she told him about her rotten dad. And when Dillon looked into her deep blue eyes he suddenly knew what love felt like. He didn’t even care how stupid he appeared as he briskly walked along the sidewalk making his way to Pizza Paradise, like some stupid-ass kid from junior high. It was all he could do not to run.
Tell me you haven’t looked at your husband from time to time and thought—get away from me! Well, I looked at mine the other day and I thought, I’m sick to death of you and your lackadaisical attitude towards fashion! I swear to God if I see you wear that old U2 t-shirt one more time, the one that doesn’t fit the way it used to, I’ll up and barf. I really will. That threadbare thing’s shrunk and you’ve expanded.
Tell me you haven’t gotten mad at your husband recently for one reason or another. You know he gets mad at you. He might keep it in but he gets furiously mad at times. You can tell. He wants to scream at the top of his lungs, “Hey bitch—get off my frickin back!” But instead he sulks, he sulks and he sulks and he sulks.
So then Valentine’s Day rears it’s ugly little Cupid head. That nasty little arrow penetrated your heart years ago, and now all you have is a festering wound of familiarity and contempt. All you have is responsibility and obligation, drudgery and monotony. Or do you?
On February 14th, what did my husband do? He arranged for his mother to pick our son up from school. He showed up at my office, in a Porsche that he’d rented no less, and then whisked me off to Santa Barbara. We had a lovely Italian dinner, and stayed in a fabulous B&B, like we used to in the old days. There was a giant whirlpool tub in our room, champagne, chocolate covered cherries, red roses! Need I say more? God, I love that man!
Fiona hates bars. Really hates bars. On TV they always depict glamorous people in glamorous surroundings clutching martini glasses and flirting with one another from across the room, as the beat of the music sounds in the background, but in real life bars just blow. The places Fiona’s been to of late: good luck trying to even keep a grip on your cosmopolitan without getting slammed into so many times that you spill more than you drink, good luck on getting off that crowded dance floor without scuffing up those expensive Christian Louboutin’s you saved all your hard earned greenbacks for, good luck trying to carry on a conversation because the music is absolutely deafening, good luck trying to meet any half-way decent guy. Good luck.
“Let’s go to The Pond,” her best friend Dee says.
“You’ve got to be kidding,” Fiona says. “It’s Valentine’s Day.”
“So.” Dee’s too-heavily-plucked eyebrows knit together. She pokes you with her long blue fingernail. “It’ll be fun.”
“No way,” Fiona insists. “I’d rather eat a cockroach.”
“What are you going to do tonight? Stay home? Eat Ben & Jerry’s?”
“I’m taking myself to the movies. I’m going to see, He’s Just Not That Into You.” Fiona already bought her ticket for the seven o’clock show. It was tucked inside her wallet.
After leaving Dee standing on the busy corner in a state of disbelief over why a good-looking girl would go to the movies alone on Valentine’s Day of all days, Fiona decides to treat herself to a mocha frappuccino with whipped cream. Starbucks is crowded. She gets in the back of the line. Then her phone rings. Drat, private number. She answers anyway.
“Hey,” a deep voice sounds through her head. She recognizes the person behind the “hey” immediately. It’s Pat Booker, her boss’s accountant. “Pat Booker,” he says. “How are you Fiona?”
“Good,” she says. “I’m in line at Starbuck’s, how are you Pat?”
“Starbucks sounds good. But then, I’m a caffeine junkie. I know it’s really short notice, but I’ve been invited to a Valentine’s Party. A friend of mine had this great idea--she’s throwing a First Date Valentine’s party. To take the pressure off. Get it?”
“I think so,” Fiona does her best to wrap her mind around the concept. “You’re to bring someone you haven’t been out with before—right?”
“Yes. I know that it’s a slim chance that you don’t already have a date for tonight. But I thought I’d be brave and give it a try. If you don’t have plans—would you like to come with me?”
Slim chance that she has plans—more like it. Pat’s cute. But he’s an accountant. Maybe that’s a good thing. Right brain. Left brain. Why not? She accepts his invitation, ditches Starbucks, flags a cab, and heads home. Tonight she’ll wear those new Betsy Johnson pumps that just scream Be My Valentine. Tonight she might find true love.
All Rights Reserved. © 2009 by Elizabeth Bradley.
All Rights Reserved. © 2009 by Elizabeth Bradley.