Sarah Tweed walked to work that morning feeling particularly down in the dumps. Today was not an ordinary day – today was Valentine's Day. Sarah usually liked this time of year, it was just this one particular day she just did not have the patience for. She let the winter wind blow her long auburn hair around her face, and even welcomed the frost bite that was nipping at her nose and cheeks. She hugged her wool jacket tighter to her body and continued her walk to her office building on 32nd street. The snow was her favourite thing during the winter. It usually covered the streets of Manhattan in a blanket of shimmery white, covering up dirt, and muffling unwanted noises. Unfortunately for Sarah, it hadn't snowed in a couple of weeks, leaving the streets in a grimy, grey coloured slush.
Sarah approached her office building, a small travel agency nestled between two tall skyscrapers. She nodded hello to the receptionist on her way to her cubicle.
"Your twelve-o-clock appointment has cancelled today, Miss Tweed." The receptionist said as she walked by.
"Thank you, Tracy," Sarah said, continuing to her desk. Sarah unbuttoned her jacket and slung it on the back of her chair, settling into her desk.
"Look, Megan," Sarah argued as she talked to her best friend on the phone later that day. "I understand that you are trying to help really I do—"
Sarah twirled the phone cord around her finger and rolled her eyes. There was no getting through to this girl! "It's just, I don't do blind dates"
"Clearly, you don't do any dates!" Megan responded, well aware of the fact that her friend did not go out with men often.
"Wow, Megan," Sarah sad, feigning disappointment. "That really hurt,"
"My ass," Megan said as Sarah giggled. "Look, you are going on this date, and that is final! I already have everything set up, and if you really aren't going to go, you can call him and cancel yourself!"
"Fine…fine" Sarah said, coming around to the idea of going on a date set up by her best friend on Valentine's day. Plus, she really didn't want to have to shoot down a man who probably hadn't had a date in months. Sarah closed the file that she had been skimming just before Megan had called, and accidentally knocked it off of her desk, sending papers flying.
"Shit," Sarah muttered under her breath. "Look Megan, I've got to go. I will call you after the date" Sarah dropped to her knees, and crawled under her desk. She collected all of the papers, and then smacked her head on her desk on the way out. "Ow, Jesus Christ!"
"Uhm, excuse me?" Sarah heard a voice say.
"I'll be with you in just a moment," Sarah muttered, her voice muffled beneath her desk. She rubbed her forehead in attempt to ease the pain.
As she stood up, she placed the file on her desk, smoothing down the front of her skirt.
A man stood before her. He was about her age, with dark hair, and a lot of scruff. He was wearing a surplus jacket, and black jeans.
"How can I help you?" She smiled politely.
"I'd like to book a trip," he said. Sarah waited for him to continue. Of course that was why he was here.
When he didn't say anything she said, "Would that be for business or pleasure?" Sarah eyed him up and down. He looked like the type of guy to go vacationing with his sweetheart.
"Business," he replied.
"Please, have a seat," Sarah motioned to the seat opposite hers. She, too, sat down. Typing on her computer, she asked "What is the destination?"
"Boston," the man replied. The minute he sat down, he had been fidgeting with the things on Sarah's desk. "Is that your boyfriend?" He asked, holding up a frame which he had snatched from her desk.
"My brother, actually," Sarah responded, annoyed, taking the frame from him and placing it back in its original position.
"What does your boyfriend think of you having a picture of your brother on your desk and not of him?"
Sarah rolled her eyes. "Not that it's any of your business, but I don't have a boyfriend."
"A sweet thang like you?" the man said playfully. "What's wrong with you? Are you a control freak? A workaholic?"
"Nothing is wrong with me," Sarah said defensively. "Now can we just get back to planning this trip?"
"All business," the man grinned. "I like that."
"What name can I put the reservation under?" Sarah asked, ignoring the man's comments, a task which was proving to be difficult. He was being an ass, but he was a gorgeous ass. She couldn't help but blush every time he tried to pick her up. She hadn't gotten any in a while.
"Thom Yorke," the man said without falter. Sarah was about to start typing, then stopped.
"Haha, very funny. What's your real name?"
"Ah, so you caught that." The man smirked. "A Radiohead fan, I take it?"
"Look, how about I just direct you to another travel agent who can help you out?" Sarah said, fed up with this man.
"I'm sorry, I'm sorry," the man held up his hands in a way that said 'I surrender'. "You can put the reservation under Kevin".
Sarah began typing. "So you like candy?" Kevin asked, pointing to the bowl of colourful Valentine heart candy. However, instead of the usual 'I love you' message, they contained phrases like 'You turn me off' and 'Alone 4ever'. It was her sadistic little twist on a traditional Valentine's Day staple.
Kevin took a candy from the bowl, read the message, and then smirked. "Not a Valentine's Day girl, eh?"
"No," Sarah said curtly. "I most definitely am not,"
Sarah leaned in close to her vanity mirror as she fastened her pearl earrings on. Taking a step back, she admired her outfit. She smoothed down her long-sleeved, turquoise bandage dress, and just before dashing downstairs, she spritzed some perfume on the back of her wrists. She couldn't believe she had let Megan talk her into this date. The last date she had been set up on had been with a guy who ran a porn website out of his mother's basement. Not exactly what you would call prime dating material. She buttoned up the last button on her jacket, and grabbed her beaded clutch from the hall table. Locking the door behind her, she set off down Rainbow Ave, to the restaurant a few blocks away.
She entered the building, first noticing the mid-tempo piano piece that was playing lightly overhead. There was lots of chatter going on around her, and the place was packed. Sarah walked over to the maître d'.
"Reservation under Locke," Sarah said to him. Megan had texted her the name earlier that day.
"Of course, Miss," the maître d' said politely. "May I take your coat?" Sarah slid her coat off her arms, and handed it to the man. "The other member of your party has already arrived. Salvatore will show you to your table."
Sarah followed a man in a tuxedo through the restaurant to a table near the back. The lighting in the dining room was dim, and there were candles for added ambience. As they approached the table, Sarah noticed the man sitting there. His back was to her, but she took note of his thick dark hair. Even sitting down, Sarah could tell that he was tall and muscular.
"Here you are, Miss," Salvatore said, one hand resting on his cummerbund, the other directing her to her seat. Salvatore pushed the chair in for her as she sat. "Have a nice evening,"
Sarah sat, and settled in, turning toward her date. "So good to see you again," he said.
Sarah was taken aback. He was dressed better than before, and his hair was combed back, but it was definitely the same guy.
"Kevin?" Sarah exclaimed, shocked.
"In the flesh," he smirked.
"Are you…are you following me?" she asked, incredulous. "Because you know, my date will be here any second."
Kevin laughed, a heartily laugh, one that came from the belly. "I am your date,"
"But you came into my work today! Don't tell me that was a coincidence,"
"No, I cannot like," he said. "Megan mentioned where you worked, and I thought I would stop by and check you out,"
"So really," Megan said, rolling her eyes, "what you really wanted to do was size me up and figure out if this date was worth it,"
"Yes," he said simply. They locked eyes for a moment, then Sarah looked away first.
"And?" Sarah said, waiting for him to continue.
"Was it worth it?" Sarah asked, not really wanting to know the truth.
"Yes," Kevin said, his eyes shining. "I think it was,"
"And what are we having this evening?" a waiter came over to their table.
"Shall we order?" Kevin asked.
"Yes," Sarah said, smiling. "We shall."