Valentine's Day Blues, and how to fix them
by Judith Freudenthal
1999

Valentine's Day had arrived yet again. Nick had made plans, which he had kept from Natalie, wanting them to be a surprise.

He arrived at her apartment to set everything up and was surprised to hear her heartbeat. He knocked on her door and a few moments later she opened the door.

Natalie was dressed in beat up sweats, her hair completely wild, her nose red and stuffy.

"What's wrong?" Nick asked, concerned.

"I've got the flu. Did we have plans?"

"Yeah. I was going to surprise you."

"You can stay, but I probably won't be great company."

"Thanks. I will. How about I fix you a nice hot bath? I know the perfect oils to use to make you feel better."

"Sounds good," Natalie said as she forced a small smile. She felt like hell and would take any offer that would help relieve her symptoms.

"I'll be right back."

Nick left, needing to track down the necessary ingredients, ones that were different from what he'd brought with him.

A few minutes later he returned and let himself in. He headed straight for the bathroom where he started a steaming bath while he mixed the proper oils together and added them to the water, making sure it did not get too hot. He knew that each one was chosen for its healing abilities.

As he entered her bedroom, he saw her blowing her nose.

"How can you want to see me looking like hell?"

"I think you're cute," he grinned and kissed her on the forehead. "You have a fever." His grin lessened as he became a little concerned.

"Thanks for telling me what I already knew." Natalie smacked him on the arm as she passed coughing, quickly realized he didn't deserve either the sarcasm or smack. "Sorry."

"It's okay. I know how you get when you're sick."

She stuck her tongue out at him, causing him to grin.

He escorted her into the bathroom and left her to undress.

"Enjoy."

"Will you wash my back in a little while?"

"Okay," he said with a small grin, unable to resist the little girl look she gave him, mixed with a hint of seductress.

He heard her sigh as she slipped into the steaming bath.

Natalie settled into the fragrant bath, sighing with contentment. She hoped his treatment worked. "Nick, what oils did you use?"

"Lavender, Tea Tree, Thyme and Eucalyptus."

He changed her sheets while she soaked, knowing that the fewer germs she was surrounded by the faster she'd get well. He lit scented candles, knowing the Lavender, Clove, and Eucalyptus scents would help clear her congestion, and help ease the rest of her symptoms as well.

He had learned about healing herbs and holistic medicine back during his mortal days as well as during his search for mortality. The Lavender is an antiseptic, smells nice, and also deals with headaches. The Tea Tree has amazing healing properties and was used by the Australian army. Eucalyptus is for the sinus. Thyme helps heal and helps the sinus.

After about twenty minutes she could feel the water starting to cool off.

"Nick, I thought you were going to wash my back."

Nick stuck his head in the door, pleased to see her completely relaxed, her mane piled on top of her head, held in place by a large plastic clip. A few strands had escaped and were plastered to her neck.

"I did promise that, didn't I?" He said as he pushed up his sleeves.

"Take off the shirt," Natalie said.

Nick took off his shirt, knowing it was fair, and hung it on the hook on the back of her bathroom door.

He kneeled down and picked up the sponge. She leaned forward to allow him access. He washed her back, starting at her neck and gently worked his way down, gently caressing her skin as he went.

Her sighs were music to his ears. He washed her shoulders and then her arms one by one.

Their eyes met. Questions were asked and answered without a single word being spoken.

He maneuvered himself so he was in front of her. He gently caressed her body as he ran the sponge down her front, across her collarbone, down one breast then the other, and across her abdomen. Her skin was so soft and creamy.

He was pleased when she enjoyed his simple gesture of love. He found that he received almost as much pleasure as she did, and was surprised that the beast had not reared its ugly head.

He continued to work his way down her lovely body until he reached her toes. He gave equal attention to her feet knowing the stress they endured each night.

He enjoyed the feel of her long, silky mane as he worked the shampoo through every strand of it, from the roots to the tip, making sure to massage her scalp. He gently rinsed it, before working conditioner through her hair, knowing how easily it tangled. Once he had thoroughly rinsed her hair he unfolded a large, thick, fluffy towel and enveloped her in it as soon as she stood.

He lovingly dried her off from the top of her head to the bottom of her feet. He again wrapped her in the towel, swept her up in his arms and carried her into the bedroom, where he set her down so she could dress.

Natalie realized that she had not sniffled, sneezed, coughed or blown her nose since shortly after she slipped into the bath. She felt better. She wondered how much had been the bath oils, the steam and how much had been his tender care.

She noticed the clean sheets and candles. She slipped into a nicer pair of sweats.

"Nick, you can come back in now."

Nick entered, seeing her dressed in the sweats, knowing they're what made her feel safe and secure.

"What are the candles for?" She asked as she picked up her hairbrush.

He took the brush from her and motioned for her to take a seat on the bed. "They will help you breathe easier as well as help your body fight off the flu. I'll make sure they're put out before I go to sleep." He gently brushed her hair, loving the feel of it in his hands. It was so thick and soft. "Are you hungry?"

"No."

"How about a nice back massage?" Nick set the brush down on the bed.

"That would be wonderful." Natalie stretched out on the bed, stripping off her sweatshirt, leaving only the T-shirt behind.

Nick pulled her shirt up over her head, tossing it on the bed. He gently massaged her neck and shoulders before working his way down her back, making sure he had every knot and kink worked out before moving on.

Her sighs of pleasure warmed his heart. He was pleased that he was able to do something truly special for her on Valentine's Day.

He heard her breathing ease as his remedies worked. He knew it wouldn't cure her in one night, but it should help shorten its duration.

"You have a wonderful touch. Great hands," she sighed.

He slowly worked his way down her back, then gently massaged her arms, legs and feet. Each foot received an extra thorough massage because he knew how tough the long hours were on them, especially when she had several autopsies to perform.

When her breathing became slow and regular he knew she'd fallen asleep. He knew the deep, relaxed sleep would allow her body to heal itself, better than it could with any over-the-counter medication.

He finished his massage and gently turned her over, slipping her shirt and sweatshirt back on her, not wanting her to become chilled and awaken. He knew his vampirism was the only way he was able to do so without awakening her. He tucked her in, planting a quick kiss on her forehead, noticing she was slightly cooler. She rolled over onto her side.

He headed out to the family room, deciding to have a quick drink while catching up on some reading. When he tired he reentered her room, watching her sleep for a few minutes. She was so beautiful, even when asleep. She looked so innocent. He grinned thinking how sometimes she looked like a little girl instead of the stunning grown woman he was madly in love with. He blew out the candles and returned to the other room.

He made sure the blinds were securely shut before he fell asleep on the couch.

Later that afternoon, near sunset, Natalie awoke, feeling much better. She still had some symptoms, but was no where near as sick as she should've been.

She went out to the family room, sat in the chair near the couch and watched Nick sleep.

He looks so innocent, so cute. She thought, unable to believe how much like a little boy he sometimes seemed.

A short time later Nick awoke and found Natalie watching him.

"How long have you been there?"

"Not too long. I like watching you sleep."

"Okay." Nick couldn't argue with her because he enjoyed watching her sleep. "How are you feeling?"

"Much better. Thank you. Would it work if I took another long steamy soak? Would the candles help?"

"It should."

"I slept so well last night. Thank you."

"I'm glad I could help ease your suffering."

Natalie entered her bedroom and returned with a small wrapped package.

"Happy Valentine's Day. Okay, so it's a day late."

Nick took the offered package and opened it. Inside he found a silver key chain in the shape of a sun, inscribed on one side with the date they met, and an Irish design on the other side to remind him of her, since she was half Irish. He smiled.

"It's beautiful. I'll think of you every time I look at it."

Natalie smiled.

"I think it's time for me to go run you another hot bath."

Two nights later, Natalie returned to work feeling great and wearing a huge smile.

"You look way too happy for someone just getting over the flu," Grace teased.

"Nick stopped by to celebrate Valentine's Day and was forced to alter his plans. He used a combination of bath oils, herbs and scented candles along with massage therapy to help me recover faster."

"It must be nice to enjoy being sick," Grace said.

"Yeah, actually, it was," Natalie said.

The end

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