To My Valentine

Authors: Foster-Dallion4ever

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1: The Usual

Micki looked at her watch again - 9:30pm.

Lloyd had arranged that they meet at the country club at 8:00pm for a Valentine's dinner. True, they ate at the country club every week, but Lloyd wasn't really into Valentine's Day and he admitted that it was easier to just go somewhere familiar.

He was always conservative and safe like that.

Now here Micki sat. A beautiful redhead, dressed in an elegant black dress, waiting for her fiancé to arrive.

She had been waiting nearly an hour before he had called her and told her that he'd be another 30 minutes; he wanted to finish up some paperwork at the office.

Sometimes Micki wondered why she put up with it; she wondered if it had something to do with her parents' relationship or if it was just because she was used to the way Lloyd treated her.

Before her thoughts completely took over her mind, Micki delicately waved down a waiter and asked for another glass of wine and an appetizer. She hadn't eaten anything since breakfast and by now she was starved.

Finally, after nearly another 30 minutes Lloyd strode over to the table, looking slightly irritated.

She stood to kiss him, but he sat down and looked down at the empty plate, "Well, I see you've already eaten." His voice was cold and hushed.

Micki sat down again and looked at the plate, forcing a smile, "No, no, just an appetizer. I was really hungry, and I thought that it would hold me over until you got here."

He nodded, "Fine. Let's just order, Michelle. What are you thinking of having?"

Before she could answer Lloyd stood, waving to a business associate, "Roger, hello!"

Micki rolled her eyes, "great," she thought to herself, "another dinner filled with networking and business."

She sipped her wine while Lloyd chatted on with his colleague, until finally he made his way back to the table, thankfully in a better mood than he had been before.

Micki and Lloyd ordered and, after the waiter had left, Micki leaned forward, taking Lloyd's hand in hers, "Happy Valentine's Day."

He moved his hand uncomfortably before drawing it away, he really didn't like public affection, "Happy Valentine's Day, Michelle."

2: Dessert

Lloyd drove them home, and let them in the front door, "I'll go pour us some champagne in bed."

Micki nodded, "Okay, I'll be up in a minute - I just need to do a couple things."

"Okay, but don't take too long. This is a very good champagne I bought for us, and it'll taste best well-chilled."

"I won't be long, Lloyd, Darling." Micki picked up the mail from the floor below the mail slot, and leafed through for anything important. She separated into a pile for herself, and a pile for Lloyd, then went into the kitchen, checking the answering machine for messages as the threw away the ads.

She allowed herself a spoonful of ice-cream from the carton of Haagen-Dazs in the freezer, and straightened her clothes in the foyer-mirror before going upstairs to Lloyd.

He was in bed, holding two flutes of champagne, and patted the bed beside him, "Happy valentines day, Michelle."

She sat beside him, taking one of the flutes, and looked at the sparkling liquid against the light, "It's beautiful."

He smiled, "You'll love my gift, then." He reached down, to the shelf of the nightstand, and presented her with her usual present - a box, perfectly wrapped, from Tiffany's.

She smiled and opened it. It was a 3 carat diamond necklace on a platinum chain.

"Thank you, Lloyd. It's beautiful."

Lloyd grinned, fastening it around her delicate neck, "So, do I get a gift in exchange?" he asked, slipping one of the straps of her dress off of her shoulder.

Micki forced a smile, reaching beside the bed and handing him a large box, "But first...I hope you like it."

He opened it to reveal the expensive designer briefcase that he had requested for Valentine's Day. "Michelle, thank you. It's exactly what I asked you for this Valentine's Day."

He set it down and began kissing her neck, taking the champagne glass from her hand and setting it on the bedside table. "Now, on to my real present..."

3: A New Valentine

Micki wasn't sure about Valentine's day, anymore. But Ryan had insisted they celebrate Valentine's day, since they were a couple. He said that his Micki deserved a wonderful day of romance and devotion.

Micki felt that she'd heard it before, but she had finally agreed. He had excitedly told her that he would plan everything.

That had been January 9th, and she hadn't heard anything else about it. She thought he had lost interest, that maybe he had changed his mind, or maybe had just plain forgotten. And she'd been relieved, thinking that, on February 13th when she fell asleep in her bed, listening to Ryan playing he drums on his Walkman on the other side of the wall, just like she always did.

When she woke up the next morning, everything seemed normal. Until she opened her door, "Happy Valentine's Day," Ryan said, looking up at her from where he stood in front of the stove.

She walked over to him, "Happy Valentine's Day, Ryan. What are you making?"

He turned to kiss her lightly, his lips lingering against hers for a moment before he turned his attention back to the pan, "Cheese blintzes, for my Valentine. The coffee's fresh, Micki, if you want to pour a cup - breakfast will be ready in about twelve minutes."

She watched him for a minute, as he tended the crepe in the pan. Even when he performed the most menial of tasks, he seemed to be working to the beat of music only he could hear.

She poured a coffee, and sat at the table, watching him bemusedly.

That's when she noticed the gorgeous bouquet of wildflowers in the cream colored vase. They sat, unannounced, in the center of the table. A quiet, unassuming gift of beauty from Ryan. They were a flash of colors, each bloom more brilliant than the next.

"Oh, Ryan, they're beautiful!" Micki exclaimed, walking over to him and hugging him tightly. Suddenly, she was feeling a bit less apprehensive about the holiday, "Thank you."

He grinned, turning and holding her close, "Nothing's too good for my Micki. I just wish I had been able to find flowers as beautiful as you."

She smiled, blushing, and kissed him lightly, "Breakfast smells wonderful."

He nodded, still smiling, "Well, that's a good sign!"

Micki sat back down and the two of them enjoyed a relaxed breakfast filled with laughter and lighthearted jokes. Micki couldn't remember ever having had such a wonderful Valentine's morning.

In fact, her fear of Valentine's monotony and unhappy expectations was starting to fade from her memory.

Finally, Ryan stood and started downstairs, cup of coffee in hand, "All right, I guess it's time to open up the shop."

4: Workday

The day was like any other, filled with chatting, flirting, dusting, and a few sales. Ryan took her to lunch at 11:20, and they went out to a bistro they had never been to together. They sat talking and enjoying one another's company well past the time when the rest of the Valentine's Day lunchers had gone.

On the way back to the shop, Ryan detoured to the beach. Once they were there, they walked along, enjoying the view, and one another's company, until they got to an art gallery, where Ryan wanted to go in and see what they had.

It was a wonderful showing, of landscapes, still-lifes, and abstract painting of plated food, and they spent quite some time there, enjoying the art, and the view of the water from the front windows of the gallery.

After they left the gallery, they walked along the streets, and Ryan insisted they stop in at another bistro, this time for coffee.

They sat and talked for over an hour, drinking coffee, listening to the nearby jazz, and playing the board games left out for customers. Whereupon Micki found out that Ryan was obnoxiously good at not only Pictionary, but at Trivial Pursuit.

"Who knew you, of all people, was a trivia nerd?!"

Ryan laughed as Micki threw down the card in mock aggravation. "Hey," he said, looking smug, "I prefer to be called a trivia mastermind, thank you very much."

She laughed and finished what was left of her coffee. Then she looked down at her watch, "Wow, after six already? We should be getting back to the shop. Jack..."

Ryan cut her off with a smile, "Jack is wining and dining that woman, Lillian, he met at the shop a few weeks ago. Which means, he won't be back until late. Besides, I have another surprise for you. C'mon, let's go!"

Micki eyed him suspiciously as she stood and took her coat. She was never a huge fan of surprises, particularly after her life with Lloyd, so she wasn't sure what to think.

Still, a part of her was excited, and an even bigger part of her was just happy to be spending the evening with Ryan.

When they started back in the direction of the gallery, Micki's curiosity got the better of her and she asked him almost half-a-dozen times where they were going.

Ryan just laughed and held her close, "You'll just have to wait and see."

When they finally stopped, they were standing in front of the art gallery, now dark and empty since it had been closed for the night.

Before Micki had a chance to ask what was happening, Ryan walked up to the door and knocked, leaving Micki looking completely confused.

After several minutes the door opened and a nicely dressed man bowed to their entrance.

5: Candlelight

Micki's eyes widened as she surveyed the scene in front of her.

Ryan had led her to the second floor where there was a small table, set formally, with crystal and china sparkling in the candlelight.

The candles burned all around the table, the glow from the flames dancing on the walls and bouncing off of the large windows.

Through the windows, the water shimmered in the moonlight.

And just to the side of the table sat a large picnic basket, overflowing with food and drinks.

Micki's eyes filled with tears as she turned to face Ryan, who was, by now, grinning wildly, "Oh, Ryan, it's so beautiful...but how...?"

"Ahh, I'm friends with the owner, Mike." He said casually, waving his hand modestly.

Ryan walked to the table, took one of the roses from the table, and handed it to her along with a small box, "Happy Valentine's Day, my angel."

Micki threw her arms around him and pulled him close. She had never felt so loved or so cherished in her entire life.

"I love you, Ryan."

He smiled, holding her tight, "I love you, too, Micki. So...are you going to open it?" he asked excitedly.

She nodded, with a grin, then stopped, "But...your's still at home."

He shook his head, still grinning, "Being here with you, spending the whole day together, those are my presents, and I couldn't ask for anything better."

Micki, by now, was on the verge of tears and her shaking hands worked to unwrap her gift.

Inside were a sparkling pair of art glass earrings that Ryan had made her a few weeks before. They were the most beautiful things that Micki had ever seen and the fact that Ryan had made them especially for her made them something that she cherished.

She removed the earrings she was wearing, putting these on, and the old ones in the box, then hugged him again, "This is wonderful, Ryan! Thank you so much!"

He kissed her lightly, his lips warm against hers, "You're welcome! Come on, let's eat! This salt-air makes me hungry!"

"You're always hungry!"

He pulled out her chair for her, and after she was seated, he laid out the food, dishes of curried eggplant, kabobs of steak, chicken, shrimp, and vegetables, polenta, and a spinach-cheese pie. "I wasn't quite sure what you would want to drink with this - I brought a red wine, a white wine, champagne, Perrier, and milk - in case something is spicier than I remember."

Micki shook her head, "I can't believe you were able to plan all of this without me finding out."

He laughed, "Yeah, and it wasn't easy. You are one nosy woman. I had to get Jack to keep you busy on more than one occasion."

"Well it is unbelievable. Thank you, Ryan, this means so much to me."

She smiled as he took her hand, "Happy Valentine's Day, Micki."

Micki's small hand squeezed Ryan's hand and she leaned in to kiss him, "Happy Valentine's Day, Ryan."