Flowers and Fumbles: A Valentine’s Day Story
Howdy Monster Hunters!
To say thank you for the awesome reception for Bloodlines, I thought I’d publish this little scene between Will and Penn on their first Valentine’s Day. The timeline is at the middle of MA3: Legend, right after Matt’s seventeenth birthday, and is from Will’s point of view.
Happy Valentine’s day to y’all!
Flowers and Fumbles
Penn ran through the parking lot as fast as her legs would carry her. I smiled…she had to take three steps to each of mine, so watching her run was a sight. Like a pixie chasing dandelion fluff. Or, in this case, dodging icy patches on the asphalt. Lucky for me, she slipped right as she made it to me, and I got to catch her.
And maybe I twirled her around once or twice. Don’t judge. If you had a tiny, perfect pixie of a girlfriend, and you were roughly the size of a Mack truck, you’d twirl her around, too. If only to hear her squeal.
“Put me down, big guy,” she demanded, and I did as told. Destroyer–my pet name for her–pretty much owned me from the top of my head to the soles of my Nikes.
I set her down gently, but patted her on the head to be a jackass. She frowned. So damn cute.
“You ready?” I asked. I had a little surprise planned back at my house. Millicent had made a dark chocolate and sea-salt caramel cake with little hearts on it (she told me it would impress Penn) and my gift was even more outrageous than that.
“Yep.” She flitted alongside me to my BMW, where I even opened the door for her. Today, I was doing this stuff right.
On the ride home, she asked, “Did you see Matt and Ella today?”
I laughed. “The whole school saw Matt and Ella today. I don’t think they separated for more than five seconds when we were out of class.”
In fact, he’d beat a hasty retreat, Ella in tow, the second the bell rang. Making up for lost time, I guess.
“I’m glad it worked out,” she said. “It was hard seeing Ella sad all the time.”
I decided not to comment on the slightly baffled and totally goofy smile that Matt kept sprouting out of the blue. All I could say was thank God. He’d been kind of a moody bastard the last eight months.
We drove to my house, me sneaking looks at Penn every time we hit a stoplight. After two years of messing around, I still couldn’t believe a girl would have me so tied up. We fought like cats and dogs half the time–and that was fun. And I really liked the way she kept me in line. I was ready to kick this thing up to the next level. Problem was, I didn’t know how to suggest that like a mature human being, which is why I got her flowers in addition to the cake. Nothing says desperation like three dozen long-stemmed roses from the fancy florist my mom uses.
We pulled into my driveway and went inside the house. The smell of chocolate hit us the second the crossed the threshold. There was nothing better than coming home to Millicent baking.
“Sweet heavenly bliss, what is that?” Penn asked, sniffing the air.
“Part of your present.”
Her face lit up. “You got me cake?”
“Well, I had a little to do with that,” Millicent said, smiling from the kitchen doorway. “It’s almost ready. The sugar glaze has to set.”
“Glaze? Did she say sugar glaze?” Now Penn’s expression rivaled an enraptured kitten. I wanted to scoop her up and kiss her face all over.
“Yes, she did. Come on, I have something to show you upstairs until it’s ready.”
“Door open!” Millicent called.
Heh, as if that would stop us once Penn saw the flowers.
We climbed the stairs, Penn practically bouncing. “My old boyfriends never did this good on Valentine’s day.”
“You haven’t even seen the present yet,” I said. “But let’s avoid talking about your old boyfriends. They’re in Oklahoma.”
“Good riddance,” she said, nodding. “Okay, show me what you got, Giant Will.”
“Do you have any idea how dirty that sounded?” I said. “Just to be clear, I’m not complaining.”
She laughed. “Good.”
I blocked my bedroom doorway. “Now, what you see in here will cement my awesomeness. You might, just might, feel compelled to tackle me.”
Her eyes gleamed. “Bring it on.”
I stepped aside. My bedroom’s pretty big…yeah, so maybe it’s roughly the size of a studio apartment. Anyway, I’d put the flowers on the little table by my couch where the TV was. The vase was huge with two dozen red and one dozen white roses. It was like Valentine’s Day had exploded in my room.
Penn stopped short. “Uh oh.”
Um, that wasn’t how this was supposed to go. “What?”
She answered by sneezing. Then again. Then a third time, so hard that she stumbled back a step. I let the back of my head fall against the doorjamb.
She was allergic to roses. And not just a little bit.
“I guess I should’ve asked what kind of flowers you liked,” I said. Just call me an idiot.
“No, it’s…” Sneeze, sneeze, sneeze. “Really sweet…” Big sneeze “Of you.”
I put an arm around her shoulders and guided her down the stairs. She sneezed the whole way.
“How allergic are you?” I asked.
“I’ll be better soon.” She grabbed a tissue from a side table. “But some fresh air might help. I can smell those devil flowers all the way down here.”
“Devil flowers?” I didn’t know whether to laugh or curl up in a ball of shame.
“Sorry. That was kinda mean.” She smiled apologetically and patted my arm. “I liked the effort a lot.”
After yelling to Millicent that the cake would have to wait a minute, we went outside. It was frosty, but the snow from the blizzard last week had already started melting. Penn cuddled close and we stood on the porch, watching the thin winter sunlight sparkle on the remaining drifts. I smiled down at the top of her head. She was practically perfect, devil flowers aside.
“You know,” I told her, “I might love you.”
She wriggled away from me, her left eyebrow arched high. “Might?“
Grinning, I picked her up, exactly like I had the first time I kissed her. I hoped she didn’t elbow me in the ribs this time. “I’m sorry, that wasn’t what I meant to say. What I meant to say is I do love you.”
“Good.” She pressed her lips to my cheek. “Oh, and tulips don’t make me sneeze.”
“Seriously,” I whispered, burying my face in her hair. “I say the big thing and you tell me you want tulips?”
“Giant Will, if you didn’t know I loved you from the moment I saw you help that old lady after she fell on the ice, you’re not paying attention.” Her smile was like sunshine. “Now, where’s my cake?”