Valentine Surprise
by Judith Freudenthal
1996

Natalie arrived back at her desk, a smile spreading over her lips as she saw the small heart shaped box of chocolates on her desk. She opened the attached card seeing the one word on the envelope 'Nat' and found it rather cryptic. All it said was 1228 with a N underneath as a signature. Suddenly her mind flashed back to LaCroix and his roses. She pushed that aside and studied the card again, recognizing Nick's scribble. Just to play it safe she picked up the phone and dialed a number.

"Knight."

"Nick, thanks for the chocolates."

"You're welcome. Did you get the note?"

"Yes, but what does it mean?"

"That is for you to figure out. It's too bad you had to work the day shift today. I booked off for tonight."

"Can I come over tonight?"

"I'd like that."

They hung up.

Natalie suddenly realized what it was. It was an invitation, time and a reference that only she would understand. She wondered what he had in store for her.

She opened the box, having been reassured that it was indeed from Nick and was safe to consume. It was no ordinary box of chocolates, but some of the finest chocolate in the world, and some of the most expensive as well. She indulged herself by savoring several pieces before settling down to work.

 

Several hours later the clock read 12:28 and her stomach informed her that she was in need of lunch. No sooner had the thought crossed her mind than there was a knock on the door.

A delivery man entered carrying a well insulated meal and a small bouquet of sunflowers. Natalie loved the surprise. She could smell the heavenly aroma drifting from the insulated bag, lasagna, her favorite. Before she knew it she was clearing off her desk, setting aside the files she had been working on. The lunch was unpacked and laid out before her, with the flowers being the centerpiece.

Natalie tried to tip him but he would not accept it.

"It has already been taken care of. Enjoy."

Natalie poked around in the flowers and found the same message on the card there, as on the candy.

She enjoyed her lunch, smiling with pleasure as she thought about tonight.

 

The rest of her shift dragged on. Finally it was over and she dashed home. She had six hours until she had to be at Nick's so she decided to take a nap. It was not a night to fall asleep in his loft.

She woke around 11pm and showered. She fixed her makeup and had trouble deciding what to wear. She wanted to look nice but not too fancy, not wanting to overdress. She found the perfect outfit - it was a sleek black jacket and pants which she matched to a red silk blouse, which was anything but business like. It was elegant without being too dressy or too businesslike.

She left her house at midnight, remembering the card and small gift she had bought him the day before.

 

She entered his loft at precisely 12:28 to find him standing there looking absolutely stunning, grinning from ear to ear. Suddenly she felt underdressed.

"I see you figured it out."

"Yes. Thank you for the lovely lunch."

"My pleasure." He motioned for her to sit on the couch.

No sooner than she was seated, did a large box appear in front of her. She opened it and was stunned by the dress inside. She pulled it out of the box. It was a royal blue cocktail dress from the top designer, and it was in her size.

"Try it on."

"In a moment. I want you to open your gift first. Thank you. It's gorgeous."

Nick opened the card first and read the message out loud "You never fail to surprise me but I wouldn't have it any other way. Love Natalie."

Nick opened the small box and saw a man's ring, 14 karat gold with a design that was very elegant due to it's simplicity.

"Nat, it's beautiful. Thank you." Nick slipped it on and noticed how perfectly it fit. "How did you...."

"Remember when your other ring was missing? The one you said fit you like a glove?" Mischievous sparkles danced in her eyes.

"So that's where it went. I did find it after you were here the next time. You could have a promising career," He teased.

He motioned her upstairs and she obediently complied.

Upstairs in his bedroom she slipped out of her clothes and into her new dress, surprised that it fit her like a glove. She found a box with Nat scribbled across the lid on his bed and opened it, only to find matching shoes in her size. She slipped into them and they felt better than any she had ever owned. She turned around to check out her outfit and one other small box caught her attention. She opened it and found a small pair of sapphire and diamond earrings, the exact color of her dress. She removed her simple gold earrings and slipped his on.

Nick looked up when he heard his bedroom door open. His eyes grew wide as he saw her graceful decent. The outfit fit her perfectly.

"Wow!" Was all he could say.

She blushed. "You shouldn't have. It's gorgeous. How did you....."

"I've learned a few things over the years," he said with that mischievous glint in his blue eyes. His smile was pure delight.

He moved towards her and kissed her ever so gently.

The place was different she suddenly noticed. There were flowers almost everywhere. Nick dimmed the lights and lit the candles providing a most romantic atmosphere.

Neither knew exactly what the evening would reveal.

He lead her over to very romantically set table and held her chair out for her, being the perfect gentleman. She sat down, allowing him to push her chair in for her.

He popped the cork on a very expensive bottle of champagne, pouring each of them a glass. He removed the lids from their dinner setting one plate in front of each of them.

Natalie sipped her champagne, noting the excellent quality of it. She took a bite of the shelled lobster in front of her noticing how perfectly it had been steamed.

Nick took a bite of his and was surprised to find it to be edible. The smile on Natalie's face encouraged him to eat more of it.

She was surprised to see him eat a good portion of the lobster before stopping.

"I'm impressed," She said, a warm smile crossing her face and radiating from her voice.

"It was good," He said surprised.

Nick served desert next. Natalie looked down at the rich, lucious chocolate mousse in front of her and contemplated the calories before pushing that thought aside for the more primal urge to devour the contents.

Nick smiled as he watched her savor every bite of the mousse. She stopped long enough to pick up his spoon and put just a bite of mousse on it before handing it back with the implication that he should taste it if he knew what was good for him. He did, but found it too rich for his tastes. He did like it, though.

She was oblivious to his smiles as he watched her thoroughly enjoying her dessert.

He noticed a similarity between the way she was hungrily consuming the sweet and the way he used to relish the taste of his dinner, before he stopped hunting that is. This comparison startled him.

When she finished he asked "would you care to dance?"

She nodded and he swiftly changed the soft romantic background music to something more fitting.

They held each other close as they danced. By the end of the song their lips met. She enjoying the coolness of his while he enjoyed the soft warmth of hers.

He kissed down the side of her neck and began to feel the beast. He kissed her on the lips one last time before pulling back.

"Do you want me to go?" She asked, unsure what to do.

"No. I'll be fine," he said as he shut off the music. "How about a movie?"

"Do you mind if I change first?" She did not want to mess up the beautiful dress.

"No. You'd probably be more comfortable that way. That wasn't designed for a lot of sitting."

He took off his jacket and tie, popped a movie into the VCR and sat down on the couch awaiting her return. She joined him on the couch, dressed in the outfit she had arrived in and leaned against his chest, like she had done so often in the past. His arm went around her shoulders.

"Thank you for a perfect Valentine's Day."

"You're welcome. I enjoyed it too."

The end.

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