Updated: Feb 26
Glad you came back.
How's life treating you?
You know tomorrow is Valentine's Day, right?
You didn't forget, did you?
Oh, you poor fool.
I forgot Valentine's once.
It was a few months after Cass and I got back together.
She and I were dating again, but still living separately. Officially, at least. For all practical purposes, she had moved into my home out in the hills, and only stayed back at her apartment for a day or two, now and again.
I was out of town. It was one of my last assignments for OutLook, a pretty basic run from Long Island over to Seattle. Hardly even anything underhanded or covert about it. I hopped on a jumpbug from the Island to Richmond, then transferred to another bug for the Richmond-Bellingham leg. Customs was easy, because the Empire and the US were on good terms at the time. And I'd been doing this for ten years now, longer than anyone else in the history of the company.
The only snafu happened in Bellingham, and I missed the ride I had scheduled, but the package made it on time and intact and that's all that counts, right? Not how many bruised bodies (and egos) I left in my wake?
But in any case, I was tired. All I wanted to do was go home, because I knew Cass would be there, and collapse.
I arrive home in the middle of the afternoon, walk in, and notice some oddities. Curtains are closed, lights are on, but they're low, there's music playing, but no Aiyana.
I follow the voice. She's in my, our, bedroom, and I stop dead in the doorway.
Look, you all know I think she's the most beautiful person ever to walk this planet or any other, but she outdid herself.
Her hair was done up, makeup, which she almost never wears because she doesn't need it, and the naughtiest emerald-green lingerie I'd ever seen.
"Zeus, why do I ever leave?" I say, and she smiles.
That's when it hit me.
I had been so busy on my run I had forgotten the importance of the date.
I smile back and said, "Be right back." I was still in my coat.
"I'll be waiting."
I turn and walk until I'm out of sight, then I run. I pull out my phone and order roses, rush delivery. I think I paid about four times the already-inflated Valentine's rate, but I was promised it would arrive within two hours. I ditch the coat, lose the shoes (my work shoes - comfortable and occasionally stylish but not romantic), and head back to the bedroom. All in about ninety seconds.
"Hi," she says, and she looks at me with those big blue eyes.
"Hi," I say, undressing and climbing next to her. "What a pleasant surprise."
"I thought you might need to recharge after your business trip." I hadn't told her about OutLook and was covering my runs by, well, lying to her.
After that, we didn't speak for a while. At least nothing I'm going to tell you.
I'm catching my breath, and say, "This was lovely. Thank you," and kiss her again.
"Happy Valentine's Day, honey," she says to me.
"And a memorable one it is."
We kiss some more, and just as things are getting interesting again the doorbell rings.
"I'm not expecting anyone," she says, and I grin.
"I am. Hold on." I reluctantly get out of bed, pull on a robe which just about covered my ass, and pad to the door. A delivery robot was there with the flowers and vase. I accept them and pad back to Aiyana.
"Oh, they're beautiful!" she says when she sees me. "For me?"
"Duh," I say, and put the whole assembly down next to her.
She's as eager as a child at Christmas, and she reaches for the card.
"Of course," I say, and I lean back, most pleased with myself. That lasts about ten seconds until Aiyana bursts out laughing.
This isn't what I expected. I had been most precise in my dictation to the florist. I said, "For the love of my life."
Wordlessly she hands me the card.
It said, "For the love of my life, make sure you get this to my house today because I forgot the fucking holiday."
I gave her an uncharacteristically sheepish smile, but she was laughing too hard to notice. When she finally ran down, I said, "Sorry."
"It's okay," she said, still giggling. "I'll forgive you if you do that thing to me again."
And that's all I'm going to say about the rest of the Valentine's.
Talk to you again next week!