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(Photo Copyright 2011 Michael Clothier)
A Rose for Rosa
He won't have remembered that it's Valentine's Day. As Rosa pedaled her way through the crowded streets on her way to meet Marq for their weekly coffee “date”, she reminded herself over and over again not to expect too much. It was too soon in their relationship for her to assume that February 14th meant anything to him other than another Monday.
It had been like-at-first-sight when the two of them met—both involved with someone else, both more than content with friendship…and a little harmless flirtation on the side. They’d shared laughter at each other’s jokes. They’d shared sympathy when their relationships ended. Then, just this past weekend, they’d shared a pizza, their first kiss, and the realization that their friendship had unexpectedly caught fire. But it was too soon to acknowledge that fact with hearts and flowers—wasn't it? It was just too soon for Valentine’s Day—much too soon.
Reaching the café, Rosa parked her bike, straightened her clothes, tried to settle her nerves. What was the big deal? It was just coffee with a friend—with Marquis—just like every week. But it really wasn’t like every week, and she couldn’t fool herself into believing that it was. Not with lacy red hearts decorating the café’s steam-fogged windows, or with memories of Marq’s lips on hers setting her own heart to pounding.
“Too soon,” she muttered to herself again. “Maybe next year.”
If only they’d figured things out earlier—even a couple of weeks earlier. But what was the use of “what ifs”? They hadn't figured things out earlier. And, now?
“It's just another Monday,” she told herself as she straightened her shoulders and reached for the door knob.
Warmth and chatter and the sweet smell of coffee and pastries washed over her as she stepped inside. Her gaze went at once to their usual table. Her heart sank when she found it empty. He was always here before her. Always. Unless he wasn’t coming.
There’d been a few times when one of them hadn’t been able to make it—although even from the start they’d each been scrupulous about letting the other know if they were going to be absent or late. Maybe she’d read things wrong this weekend? Maybe she’d scared him off somehow?
“Happy Valentine’s Day, pretty lady.”
Rosa’s heart stuttered at his words—and at the sight of Marq, on one knee, holding out a rose. “For me?” she couldn’t keep from asking, even as she blushed over her own stupidity. Of course it’s for you, you idiot. “You remembered.” There. That was at least a little better.
“A rose for my Rosa,” Marq murmured with a little smile. Then his eyes grew wide, his gaze vaguely reproachful. “Of course I remembered—did you really think I wouldn’t?”
“I-I thought, maybe, it was…too soon.”
Nodding, Marq got to his feet. “I know,” he said as he embraced her. “We really should have figured things out much earlier, shouldn’t we?”
“Things?” She returned his embrace, reveling in the spicy scent of soap and cologne and man.
Marq pulled away a little, gazing at her gravely. "Yes, "things"." He shook his head. “I think I’ve loved you from the start.”
“Oh.” Rosa’s heart sped up. She wouldn’t be needing coffee to get her blood moving this morning. In fact, she might never need coffee again. She couldn't stop the smile that spread across her face. “Me, too.”
She sighed blissfully as his lips met hers again. So what if she hadn’t thought to get anything for him? They had time now. She could make it up to him. And next year…next year they’d both remember.
She's thinking fling, he's thinking forever.
Former film star Claire Calhoun has been Mike's fantasy since the first time he saw her bare it all for the camera. Now, she's in his bed and he'll do whatever’s necessary to keep her there. But he's not a stalker, right? He's just a devoted fan.
To read more about this title, go to http://www.liquidsilverbooks.com/books/letmecounttheways.htm