Secret Valentine

I pluck up courage and dial the number. “Hello, Julie…” I hold the receiver under my chin and take a swig from my glass.

“Hi, Claire. You sound excited.”

“You’re right. Listen to this. You know we were talking about Valentine’s Day yesterday? Well, guess what?”

“Let me think… You met the man of your dreams, right?” Julie laughs.

“I’ve received a bunch of flowers.”

“A bunch of flowers? From whom?”

I drain my glass. “From an admirer,” I say.

“An admirer?”

I look at the vase of flowers on the table. The sweet scent of the lilies has filled the room and it’s going to my head – or maybe it’s the wine.

“Lucky old Daisy my neighbour is always home on Thursdays. She took them in for me,” I explain.

Julie’s gasps make me smile.

“It’s a lovely bunch of flowers with a red rose in the middle.

My neighbour had said, “I didn’t know you had a boyfriend, dear.”

Neither did I, I thought.

“Is there a name or a clue as to who sent them?” Julie asks impatiently.

“I’ve called the florist’s number – it’s on the card but all they could say was the flowers were ordered on-line.”

“Oh great! Any message?”

I look at the card lying beside the crumpled wrapping paper. “It says: to a blue-eyed babe, from an admirer.”

“No name?”

“No but there’s a phone number.”

“Well, what are you waiting for?”

“I’ll have to think about it,” I lie.

“Wait till I tell our Romeos tomorrow… Oh, d’you mind if I do?”

My lips stretch into a smile. “Not in the least.”

“What did they call you? Miss High Almighty? I must say, they were a bit harsh on you yesterday.”

“Sour grapes. Those two think they can pull every new girl who steps into that office. I wish I hadn’t let on that I’d be home on my own this Valentine’s evening.”

“On your own this Valentine’s, Claire? A pretty chick like you without a boyfriend? Well, we did ask. You could at least give one of us a chance. Have you changed your mind, Claire?” Julie mimics the two menthen laughs out so loud I have to hold the receiver away from my ear.

“Do you really think I should ring the number?”

“Ring the number. RING IT.”

“Okay, okay. I’ll do it tomorrow. I’ll sleep on it.”

“Promise you’ll let me know as soon as you find out something,” Julie says.

“Okay. Talk to you later.” I put the receiver down.

I pour myself the last bit of wine and stretch out on the sofa.

My cat Mina comes to join me.

As I stroke her soft fur a sense of satisfaction overwhelms me. I needn’t have worried after all. The wine is a great help, of course.

My plan to take the day off tomorrow is working too. It will allow mouthy Julie to tell my colleagues about the flowers and of course, my mysterious admirer.

That’ll give the Romeos something to talk about.

Sending the flowers to myself had been no problem. Good old Internet.

I think of last year’s Valentine evening: oysters and champagne at a candle-lit restaurant. And John’s eyes smiling across the table.

Since John had moved out, old Daisy next door had been firing questions at me: “Have you heard from him, dear?” “Any chance of getting back together?”

Daisy was fond of John. He’d do odd jobs around the flat for her. “You’re like the son I’ve never had,” she’d say to him.

“Well, it’s you and me this Valentine’s evening,” I say to Mina and she meows as if she’s understood.

The alcohol and scent of the flowers are intoxicating me. My eyelids are heavy and Mina’s purring is growing distant.

The bing-bong of the doorbell startles me. I stumble over the phone on the floor and make for the door.

“Yes?” I mumble into the intercom.

“Interflora.”

“There must be a mistake.”

“Miss Johnson?”

“Yes,” I say and touch my lips to stop them from trembling.

I open the door.

A smiling face greets me with a bunch of flowers. “Sorry it’s so late – we’ve been very busy.” He hands me the bouquet.

I thank him, my eyes fixed on the flowers.

“Have a nice evening,” he says.

The handwriting on the envelope looks familiar.

I tear it open and read:

Your favourite flowers,

with all my love.

Can we give it another try?

John.

Mina is by my side mewing – she can’t understand why I’m ignoring her.

My brain is screaming, “YES, YES, we’ll give it another try!”

I pace up and down. Think, I tell myself.

I can’t wait to ring John, of course, but first I must call Julie.

My hand trembles as I dial her number.

“Hello!”

“Julie, I’ve just rang that number after all. I’ve discovered who sent the flowers,” I lie.

 

Written by:  Nethi

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Adami

I have recently retired and I am dedicating some of my time to my favourite hobby - writing short stories with a twist in the tail. I have always loved "who done it" stories/films and have read a lot of the Agatha Christie books. A twist in the tale is a bit like a "who done it" as it keeps the reader guessing right up to the end. I also like to crochet and I am currently preparing some small accessories to sell on line. I lead a very healthy lifestyle and go to the gym once a week to keep fit. I have lived in Cyprus and Italy where my two sons were born and I have two lovely grandchildren.

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