This is one of my favorite Valentine's Day scenes, featuring one of my favorite couples...
Lucy took a long last look around the bedroom. It was perfect. Rose scented
candles stood ready on each of the nightstands, and in their bathroom a bottle of vanilla flavored massage oil steamed peacefully in the bottle warmer. A picnic basket
containing most of the ingredients for the meal she’d planned sat ready on the bed.
Olives and oysters and double cream Brie. And cherry tomatoes—out of season, of
course, and not nearly as good as the ones they’d get later in the year, but that could not be helped. She’d fared better with the avocados and the artichokes.
Two weeks of searching had turned up several bottles of a nice Cabernet that was a
near match for the wine they had shared all those years ago. She’d struck out when it
came to the fresh strawberries, however. To compensate she’d bought a box of
marzipan fruit and two cans of whipped cream.
She was ready. Closing the door behind her, she headed down the hallway toward
her kitchen to check on the rest of the meal. She looked at her watch, to see how much
time she had, and felt a momentary tightness in her chest when she saw how late it was. Where was he? Surely he wouldn’t be late tonight?
Not that there was any hurry, of course. They had all night to eat and talk, and to
love each other. To remember the way things used to be. Could still be. Were.
She could hear Mandy and Kate giggling in the family room as they watched one of
the videos she’d rented for them. She thought of Scout and her cousin, probably
already checked in at the spa—already in bed, perhaps. And Marsha, out to dinner with
Sam. She tried to rein in the jealousy which for weeks had threatened to overwhelm
She’d had a whole lifetime of loving and being loved, after all. It was petty of her
to begrudge her two best friends a little of the same happiness she had, wasn’t it? But
she did, all the same.
As she checked on the artichokes, wiggling a couple of the outer leaves to see how
loose they were, she imagined how it would feel to slide one of them into his mouth, to feel the touch of his lips as they brushed against the tips of her fingers. The faint tug as
she pulled the leaf out again, and his teeth clamped down on it, resisting her. She
imagined the taste of and the feel of melted butter as it dripped down her chin. The
sweet aftertaste in both their mouths as he licked the butter away and then kissed her.
The artichokes were ready she decided, turning off the heat beneath the pot. And so
was she. Ready to break down the wall that had sprung up between her and Dan.
Ready to break through the silence that threatened to suffocate them both. Ready to
reclaim her marriage.
And reclaim her husband, too, from whatever it was that had stolen so much of his
She had everything she needed to accomplish her task, except for one little thing.
Dan still wasn’t home. She resisted the urge to check her watch again, and uncorked
one of the bottles of wine. It was just as well that he was late. It was a fairly young
vintage, after all. It could use a few minutes to breathe. She poured herself a glass of it, anyway, admiring the deep, clear color of the wine.
Three drops, red as heart’s blood fell on the white tile counter. She wiped them up
and licked her finger, and then turned at the sound of the door opening, her chest tight
“Hey babe. Sorry I’m late,” Dan said, smiling as he came toward her. He was
carrying a bouquet of roses and a small, insulated paper bag.
Lucy could hear her heart thudding in her ears. “Hey, yourself,” she murmured,
putting her glass down, and leaning back against the counter. She cocked her head to
the side. “What’s in the bag?”
He put the roses on the counter and leaned in close. “Your Valentine’s present.”
He pushed her hair back behind her ear and nuzzled her neck. His voice was a warm
whisper. “Part of it, anyway. I thought maybe we could take this back to our bedroom
with us later, maybe have our dessert in there tonight?”
He brushed a brief kiss against her lips and then pulled away, and handed her the
bag. “Here. Take a look.” He rested his hands on the counter, one on either side of
her, and watched as she opened the bag.
“Lavender ice cream?” Her favorite. She stared at him in wonder. There was only
one place in town that made it, and then only during the summer. “How’d you get it?”
He flashed her his most mischievous grin. “It was easy. I just called and asked if
they’d make up a batch of it special for me. Told them I’d give them a real good deal
on the lavender this year, if they did. That’s why I’m late tonight, I had to stop
downtown and pick it up.”
Lucy clutched the pint container against her chest, mindless of the chill, as she
thought about the velvety smoothness of the ice cream, the sweet taste of lavender, the way it would feel later tonight, as it melted on her skin.
Dan’s eyes gleamed as he watched her. “Well? Don’t you have anything for me?”
She nodded and reached for his hand. “Come on. I’ll show you. Bring the roses,”
she said, smiling at him over her shoulder.
She’d been foolish to be so worried, she thought, as she led him down the hallway
towards their bedroom. Nothing had changed between them. They were still on the
same wavelength, still in sync. Still in love.
She dropped his hand as they entered the bedroom. Crossing to the bed, she pulled
down a corner of the bedspread, so he could see the rose petals she’d layered between the sheets: red and white, just like the ones he’d brought her.
He smiled at her from across their bed. “The red rose is a falcon and the white rose
is a dove,” he recited softly. “The red rose whispers passion and the white rose
breathes of love. Looks like we might have been thinking along similar lines today.”
“Hmmm.” She returned his smile. “Looks like.”
He frowned suddenly. “Except...I think I may have reversed the order of those
She shrugged, and rested one knee on the bed. “Does it really matter?”
“No.” His glance sizzled as it wandered slowly over her. “Not at all. So, what are
you tonight? A falcon, or a dove?”
“I don’t know.” She shrugged again. “I haven’t decided, yet. Maybe neither.”
“Neither, huh?” He looked amused. “Why don’t you come over here and let me
change your mind about that.”
She peered up at him teasingly, “What’s your hurry, Cavanaugh? You got places
“Just one,” he said. His glance went briefly to the basket on the bed between them.
“Are we having a picnic?”
She nodded. “Take a look.”
She held her breath and watched as he lifted the lid and looked inside; watched the
smile that slowly crept across his face, watched his throat work as he swallowed. He
remembered. Her heart soared at the look in his eyes when he looked at her again; at
the heat and the passion that blazed within them.
“C’mere,” he said and his voice, husky with emotion, warm and dark, set all her
nerves aflame. He reached for her across the bed and she went to him, she felt his arms close around her, felt the sting of tears in her eyes as he kissed her. His lips, warm and familiar, told her everything she wanted to know. All the things he hadn’t put into words in so long.
My favorite thing about this book is how all the couples' stories intersect and parallel each others. And I have rather a few couples, as it happens; four, to be exact--which is fitting since it's actually the fourth book I wrote, even though it's only number three in the series.
I hope you'll check it out, if you haven't already. It's available in paperback and digital formats and it's also one of the books I'll be signing in LA this April at the Romantic Times Booklover's Convention.
- Paperback: 446 pages
- Publisher: SynergEbooks (April 15, 2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 074430783X
- ISBN-13: 978-0744307832
Available in: Adobe Acrobat, Microsoft Reader, HTML, Mobipocket, Epub
ebook: Word count 159,168Heat Index