Castles to Caramel Truffles: A Valentine’s Day Surprise

Dear Reader, 

      This month, the Violet Femmes are celebrating Valentine’s Day by posting four short tales about love, and everything in between.

       The first story is about a woman with a history of horrible Valentine’s. This year’s is headed in the same, dismal direction. Or is it?

        I hope you enjoy it!

        Also, we love to hear from readers. So, if you’ve ever suffered through a Valentine’s Day or have a Valentine’s memory sweeter than caramel truffles, please share with us in the comments section.

        Oh, and for those who do comment, this month’s giveaway is a bouquet of flowers with a box of Valentine’s chocolates!  Please check back at the end of the month to see if you’ve won.

                                                                                              Kisses with love,

                                                                                              Michele

***

Castles to Caramel Truffles: A Valentine’s Day Surprise

 Is that all, Ma’am?

     The cashier’s question had ricocheted around in my head as I grabbed our tray. Tony’s choice of restaurants hadn’t exactly been hopping last Valentine’s Day, despite their half-price ad.

     Hey, babe. What took you so long? Tony had asked.

     I had been wondering the same question myself.  For the past month, maybe two. His words had been the final bun on an already greasy burger.

     It was at that point the tray clattered on the formica tabletop and spiraled around. Tony’d made a grab for his supersized drink. And me? I slipped off my heels and sprinted for the door without looking back.

***

     Memories of the cashier’s tone made me grimace—even a year later. I turned up the car radio, in an effort to drone out these unhealthy recollections, to blast the soulful voice of Enrique Inglesias, singing You’re My Number One.  Sweet, how much he loved his girlfriend, tennis star Anna Kournikova. I’d bet my right leg she had never spent Valentine’s Day at White Castle.

     Was that all?

     My car vibrated in warning, snapping me back to the present just as a tractor trailer rumbled by and sent a wave of slushy water up and over my windshield. The Mazda began to hydroplane in a slow-motion beeline for the embankment.

     “Jack-a-bunny!” I screamed, regretting my stinginess in not investing in new tires. Three things happened simultaneously: my Valentine date for the evening, a dvd of My Big, Fat, Greek Wedding, flew off the dashboard and smacked me in the chin; the chocolate shake erupted out of the cupholder, coating my new, white, woolen dress like ash from Mt. Vesuvius; and the Mazda flew up the embankment until Mother Nature wrapped her muddy grip around the wheels.

     “Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth,” my father’s favorite phrase calmed me as the car halted. I realized how close I’d come to not spending Valentine’s Day alone. How much the thought of being single another year really wasn’t such a bad idea considering I almost just died.

     With a deep breath, I unfastened the seatbelt and pushed on the door handle. The door wouldn’t budge. I squinted down toward the empty roadway. No help in sight.

     With a quick swipe at the pool of chocolate on my leg, I attempted to open the passenger’s door—without success.

     Calling for help required a charged SmartPhone. Hazard lights would drain the battery and, on this frigid night, a warm car was vital. My bundle of In-Case-Of-An-Emergency gear was in the trunk, flares included. If I set them up along the roadside, surely someone would notice?  I popped the trunk with intention.

     Reclining the driver’s seat and discarding my thick, quilted NorthFace, I managed to squeeze into the back seat, and in turn, wiggle through the gap behind the center seat and into the hatchback. Finally, I made my way out into the dark, February air.

     I half-walked, half-slid down the hill using the pathway carved out by my tires. By the time I’d reached the roadway, the chocolate on my dress was nothing compared to the layer of dark, moistened earth coating me. Nothing short of a miracle would clean off this muck.

     The single set of flares lit-up without problem. Thankfully, the rain had stopped. For a moment, I felt hopeful that my Valentine’s Day might be salvaged. Until the ground rumbled in warning. I jumped back from the roadway as another tractor hauled on by. Another mini-tsunami rose up from the blacktop and rained down upon the flares. And me.

     “Ah,” I managed to cry out.  Muddy tears trickled down my face. I glared at the fading red taillights, smoothing away my freshly cut bangs that plastered over my eyes. The now blackened woolen dress seemed to shrink three sizes and molded to my body like spandex.

     Yanking the skirt down, I slowly retreated back up the hill to the warmth of the Mazda.

     Next year I’ll spend Valentine’s in bed, I promised as I began worming my way back into the hole between the backseat, stopping every few wiggles to roll back sodden wool from my waist.

     “Can I . . . um . . . help you?”

     I jumped in surprise and wacked my head against the car frame.  “Jack-a-bunny!” I exclaimed, but not from the smarting of my head. No, my cotton boy briefs were white and as saturated as the dress . . . which was presently pooled up around my waist. My exposed posterior was on full display.

     A deep, throaty laugh followed.  Even in my present state, the sexiness of his husky tone did not go unnoticed.

     Lifting my lower half, I tugged the evil material into place and reverse wormed my way back into the trunk. And quickly sat up to confront my rescuer.

     “How did you manage to get up here?”

     His words, though, were lost to me as I peered at him through my bangs. Sometimes a sexy voice was deceiving; you expected Brad Pitt and ended up with a . . . Tony. Not that last year’s date was unattractive but compared to the man assessing my mud-submerged Mazda, Tony was ordinary. I swallowed deeply, noticing the strangers jet-black hair and crystal blue eyes. His shoulders were broad, I could tell despite his blue coat. Tall, too.

     His eyes swung away from the vehicle and back onto me. And then he did the darnedest thing . . . he whistled.

     My eyes widened.

     “I’m going to have to ask you to step out of the . . . trunk.”

     “What . . . okay,” I responded and climbed back out with one hand holding onto the dress and the other placed into his large, warm palm. His hand moved to my elbow as I wobbled slightly on my feet, courtesy of the wet soles of my loafers.

     “Thank you,” I began, “you’ve no idea of the problems this day seems to bring. Not one but two tractor trailers—”

     With his head cocked to the side, he pierced me with narrowed eyes and interrupted me. “Before I administer the breathalyzer, don’t you have something . . . warmer to wear?”

     “Breathalyzer? Do you think I’m drunk?” I exclaimed, noticing the twirling red lights down below. “You’re a cop?”

     “It’s Detective Keegan.”

     No way was I going to let this terrible accident, or series of accidents if I really thought about it, turn into a trip to the police station. He had to listen to reason.

     “Officer Keegan—”

     “It’s detective Keegan.”

      His name gave me hope. After all, my first kiss—or rather kisses and minor groping, the kind of stuff teenagers do—had been with a Dylan Keegan. He’d gone off to college and that was that.

     “Detective Keegan,” I stressed the title, “can’t you see I’m not one to get into trouble; drinking and driving is dangerous and more so on a dismal night like this. Though Lord knows I could use a drink.”

     “All I know is your vehicle is at the top of this hill and you are rolling about in the back of your trunk in a dress that is in sore need of a washing. Not to mention your legs, even your . . . backside, is covered in mud. I’m not certain what transpired here . . .”

     Something changed in his eyes when he mentioned my backside. Perhaps the realization he’d gotten the story all wrong? The thought gave me hope.

     “Detective, my jacket is in the front of the car and both doors are wedged in the mud. I tried to light flares but a tractor trailer sprayed them—and me.” I gestured to my dress and his eyes followed the movement of my hands, from my chest all the way down to my toes. Suddenly, I was certain of two things: I had never been attracted to someone so quickly and low and behold, the attraction seemed mutual. A warmth spread through me.

     “If this don’t beat all,” he muttered.

     My sentiments exactly, though I didn’t seem so puzzled by it. Attractive male, attractive female . . . a mud covered, sopping wet mess of a female. Who was I kidding?

     With a shake of his head, he turned, breaking our connection. “Let me see if I can open the door.”

     In an odd sort of way, I hoped he wouldn’t succeed—feeling the need to validate my story. Ridiculous thought. Though the fact he had to tug several times on the door before it opened was satisfying enough.

     He turned the car off and seconds later, I was in the warm confines of my coat.

     “Careful down the hill. Wouldn’t want you to muddy your jacket,” he remarked and shot me a grin. A sexy, manly smile that nearly knocked me off my feet.

     “This is your car?” I gaped at the sleek, black Mustang, with the swirling red light affixed to the roof.

     “I’m off duty. Almost missed you too, if it hadn’t been for the flare.”

     Flare?  Sure enough, one lone survivor had made it through the deluge.

     He opened the passenger side door, and I let out the breath I’d been holding, safe in the knowledge that criminals sat in the back seat.

     “I have a buddy who will tow your car. Rather than wait here in the cold . . .” His voice trailed off and he leaned closer. His thumb caressed my cheek and came away black.

     I wanted to feel his fingers, palms, and hands on me. All over me.

     “Sophie Monterelle,” he stated in that sexy voice.

     My eyes widened. He looked, sounded, felt familiar. And suddenly, I knew. “Dylan ?”

     “So, you finally recognized me. It’s been a long time. I’d ask how life’s been treating you but . . .” He reached over, and wiped away another smudge of mud from my cheek.

     It was him. My first true love—and more handsome than ever. 

     “Sophie, are you hungry? Maybe we can . . .”

     A shudder ran through me as I climbed into his car. Tony had asked that very same question last year. And look how that had turned out. Fearing disaster, I sunk into the seat and peered out the window.

     I felt the car shift as he climbed into the driver’s seat. Silence followed. Until something tapped against the steering wheel, demanding my attention.

     I turned and stared in surprise. It was my DVD My Big, Fat, Greek Wedding. With raised brows, I looked at him.

     “Do you do this often?”

     His smile, smooth and sexy, calmed my fears.

     “A few steaks, a bottle of wine, and a movie, on top of some much needed change of clothing. I know this is sudden—a first for me, really—but what do you say, Sophie? Or do you already have a Valentine’s date?”

     Life was like that. Just when you peel away from a greasy burger or find some semblance of contentment sipping on a frothy chocolate shake, a box of caramel truffles sweeps in and steels your breath away.

     “Well, Jack-a-bunny?” An undercurrent of uncertainty laced his humorous quip. It was that uncertainty that sealed it for me. This Valentine’s date was a keeper.

 

    

 

    

 

 

 

 

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24 Comments

  1. hieubietusa

     /  February 5, 2012

    shrink three sizes and molded to my body as spandex…talk about a visual. I still see that scene…it makes me feel warm.

    Valentine’s Day of never mind how long ago…I decided to act a one-woman guy and meet the responsibility of a mature college relationship. After acting the part for about a week, during a Val. Day. dorm room visit I was informed…”it is obvious that you like me more than I like you.”
    Do not fret, I did whatever guys do when they hear something like that and moved on.
    FYI: About two weeks later she met me in a parking lot crying and stated, “why haven’t you called me? How can you act like this?”
    I answered…with no malice intent or sarcastic tone…”Its easy.”
    Wow! You do not want to know what happened next.

    Reply
  2. Thanks for commenting, Joe. Gosh, I think most of us can relate to that line, “I like you more than you like me.” Mine was a sound guy for an Irish band – who turned out to be a jerk, anyway. Something good always comes out of the bad.

    Reply
    • hieubietusa

       /  February 5, 2012

      Michele…I never understood that line. “You like me more than I like you.”
      Another one from the ladies that still causes me to quake…
      “Do you love me…or…are you in love with me?” I have answered two different ways and was both wrong…is it something to do with chromosomes?
      Valentine Joe

      Reply
  3. jmpwriter

     /  February 5, 2012

    Joe, you are too funny! I DO want to know what happened next!

    My fave…and should have been my clue…was when my boyfriend picked me up for a V-day date. I had really taken the time to look my best. His response…(said in dry monotone)…”You..are..a..good..looking..woman.”

    Wow, way to sweep me off my feet.

    Thanks for sharing, Joe!

    Janet

    Reply
    • hieubietusa

       /  February 5, 2012

      Janet…I will tell you in e mail…what happened next could be censored by the government and the Church.

      Reply
    • Janet, well at least it wasn’t something like “you look like a linebacker in that sweater”. I suppose the 80’s fashion
      sense didn’t help matters. Michele

      Reply
  4. Lori

     /  February 5, 2012

    Kiddos on the scene, Michele. I love people meeting someone they knew and the attraction is right there. Of course, they had to not do something horrible (like breakup with the person on their birthday). Who did that? My brother’s girlfriend. Her birthday is Valentine’s Day. He brought her a dozen roses, a birthstone ring, and chocolates. All out for turning sixteen. His birthday is the 17th. The night of the 16th she calls him up and says she wants to go to prom with her boyfriend and since he is too old to attend they have to break up. This way she could date this guy for three months and go to prom as a couple. Sweet girl, I know. Now so many years later she facebook requests him and me. My brother says to me, “Its kind of like going into a fast food restaurant to eat at you were fired from.”

    Reply
    • Hi Lori, I appreciate your comments! Wow, that’s horrible – obviously she didn’t know what she was missing! That’s the funny thing about facebook, all the ex’s lurking there, some wanted, and others, well . . .
      Best wishes, Michele

      Reply
    • hieubietusa

       /  February 5, 2012

      Hey…Lori…I like your bro…good observation.

      Joe

      Reply
  5. Great story Michele! Unfortunately I don’t have too many memorable stories about V-day (pretty pathetic for a romance writer, huh?) I do remember one time going out to dinner with my husband (we weren’t married yet) and another couple (not very romantic, but oh well). It was a small Italian restaurant in a house. Very cute and romantic despite another couple being with us. Anyhow, the girl admired my necklace-a heart with pave rhinestones in it. She said “Oh, your necklace is so pretty. Did [my husband] buy it for you?” To which my answer was something like a snort and “No.” It was an oddly funny moment.

    Reply
    • Hi Maria,

      Nothing like putting the hubby on the spot! I’m wondering what he got you the NEXT year ;0

      Just to clarify, I’ve never spent a Valentine’s at White Castle.

      Don’t have any horrible Valentine’s stories either; I met my boyfriend of 10 years on February 15th, though!
      Michele

      Reply
  6. Hi Michele, I empathized with your heroine’s situation and appreciated her sense of humor and resourcefulness. Loved the happy ending!!!

    Reflecting on my own Valentine Day high or low points? I’m finding it a challenge to share a specific moment. I don’t really remember disasters and I do remember enjoying some Valentine Days whether I was going out to a comedy club or whether I was attending a special event in the arborium in Atlanta that featured an orchid display, marvelous chocolate desserts and two places to dance with a special partner. I’ve spent some with and without a husband, partner, friend, or children…and they’ve all been a time to remember to love my life, myself and the special people and blessings I have. I especially love mushy Valentine cards and homemade ones from my children over the years. As a former teacher, it was always fun to see the excitement of little ones sharing those tiny cards with everybody. And every year I get a small box of those little message hearts, too!

    Happy Valentine’s Day to all! Love, Karen

    Reply
    • Hi Karen, Thank you for sharing! I understand what you mean about the young kids distributing
      those one to two word cards and how they react to getting one. Be mine! Yours forever. Kisses.
      Memories from childhood, as well. Have a wonderful Valentine’s Day, Michele

      Reply
  7. Good job, Michele. Did you make up “jack-a-bunny” or is that a real phrase? The things you learn reading romance!!

    Reply
    • Hi Joanna, Happy writing! “Jack-a-bunny” is all mine. It’s not something I say, personally. But as a teacher,
      you learn how to substitute certain curses with more . . . ridiculous-sounding ones – such as this!
      Cheers, Michele

      Reply
      • jmpwriter

         /  February 6, 2012

        Michele, I use “sugar beets”, for “son-of-a…”

        Got that from my neighbor when I was growing up…she was a teacher, also.

        Janet

      • My standby is fudgesicles. Think I might give Jack-a-bunny a try, though!

  8. Nicole Doran

     /  February 14, 2012

    Michele,
    Loved the story! No Valentines disasters..but as I was making out cards for my 8-year old son’s class last night…he got all gushy (yes gushy) and said he has a crush on a girl in his class…He’s NEVER said it before! I tried to keep a straight face and all but..waaaaaa…it’s starting already!
    Nicole

    Reply
    • Hi Nicole, How cute is that! One day they don’t want anything to do with girls and the next they’re thinking, “She’s kinda cute!” What a fun age for a kid, too.
      Thanks for commenting and glad you enjoyed it. Michele

      Reply
  9. Jenna Blue

     /  February 15, 2012

    Michele,
    I’m a week behind, but I LOVE this! Reminds me of something straight out of a Susan Elizabeth Phillips book! I can already see it growing into a novel! : )
    Kudos, my friend, and Happy Valentines Day!
    Julie

    Reply
    • Hi Jenna, thank you! It helps to have such wonderful and inspiring critique partners ;} I hope your Valentine’s day was wonderful, too — plenty of chocolate, no White Castles. Michele

      Reply
  10. RoseAnn DeFranco

     /  March 5, 2012

    HS Sweethearts reunite / 2nd chance at love is one of my all time favorites! I love, love, LOVE her dress! It became a prop and you worked it! 🙂

    Reply
  11. Hi RoseAnn, thanks for commenting. Glad you enjoyed it. I love using props in my writing and trying to surprise the reader by referring back to them. The dress was a fun visual. Wait until you read what I’m doing with an endamame bean in my current WIP . . . 🙂 Michele

    Reply
    • RoseAnn DeFranco

       /  March 6, 2012

      Sounds like fun and something I’d like to read!

      Reply

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