Chapter 5

Wally cleaned up when the pizza was consumed and he brought a couple more beers back to the couch as he and Valleri continued to talk, mostly about dead fathers now that they had something in common – although it was different losing your Dad when you were six versus losing your Dad in your thirties.

"It still hurts the same though," Wally concluded.

They shifted the conversations to step-Dads when Wally mentioned that her mother was spending time with a 'gentleman friend' at the condo complex.

Of course, getting a step-dad when you're in your late thirties would be different from getting a step-dad when you were seven.

"I would never consider him a step-dad anyway," Wally insisted and Valleri got a good laugh out of teasing him.

They said their good nights after killing the six pack of beer (3-3) and Valleri probably would have slept in again the next morning had she not been awakened by a knock on her guest bedroom door.

"Yes?" She answered when she realized what was happening.

The door opened and Wally popped his head in to find Valleri still under the covers, the sheets pulled up to her chin as she stared at the intruder. "Just wanted to make sure you were going to be okay today of all days," he said with concern.

"Friday?" The perplexed Valleri asked.

"It's Valentine's Day," Wally said.

"It is?" With all the distractions, commotions and chaos in her life, Valleri had completely lost track of the calendar.

"A day of torture for those of us not in a committed relationship," Wally said. "Some people treat it as the single greatest holiday of the year."

"If you work for Hallmark or florists, maybe," Valleri agreed.

"Anyway, are you going to be okay?" He asked.

"It's just another day, Wally," Valleri said.

"I guess that's a good healthy way to look at it," Wally reasoned.

"Do we have any other choice?"

"It can be a rather obnoxiously tacky day for some."

"Like us?" Valleri tested.

"Maybe we should just eat that chocolate you got your mother from Michaelson's," Wally suggested.

"For breakfast?"

"Why not?" Wally smirked.

"I left it in the car," Valleri realized.

"Well, do you need anything?" Wally asked.

"You mean like a stuffed animal with a heart on it or a dozen roses or a fancy dinner at the Sun Rise Lake Inn?" Valleri wondered.

"Sure, if you want…."

"No," Valleri replied. "You know," she continued. "I spent last Valentine's Day running around Manhattan freezing my ass off in the cold weather because my boyfriend forgot to make a reservation ahead of time. We were put on a crazy-long waitlist at some random restaurant and it became this long stressful unromantic night of hell. I guess I should have realized then that we were doomed if he couldn't even be bothered to pre-plan a romantic night out."

"Sorry," Wally offered.

"I don't want to feel sad today," Valleri determined. "I'll just stay here and send out more resumes so I don't have to feel sorry for myself watching people carrying flowers all over the place."

"So, you're going to be okay?" Wally asked.

"Of course," she said bravely.

"Okay," Wally said. "Call if you need anything."

"I'm thirty-eight, not eight, Wally," Valleri said. "I'll be fine."

He nodded and the door closed. Valleri fell back on the bed and listened to the sound of his car pulling out the driveway and suddenly she was feeling more alone than ever.

She fell asleep and finally dragged herself out of bed a couple of hours later, used the bathroom, changed into her sweats, had a cup of coffee and a donut, and then returned to the guest room to send out more resumes.

She was busy and focused on her work and hadn't heard the car in the driveway or the front door open and all of a sudden she looked up to see Wally standing in the doorway with a dozen roses, a box of chocolate, a stuffed dog with a heart around his neck, and some take out Chinese.

"What in the hell are you doing?" Valleri asked with surprise.

"Happy Valentine's Day," Wally said sheepishly. "I wasn't about to stand you up today."

"You're ridiculous!" She laughed. She saw the look of panic on his face. "But you make me very happy."

"I remembered Chinese was your favorite," Wally said with relief as he came into the room and sat next to her on the bed.

"What about work?" She asked.

"I'm the Police Chief," he reminded her with a grin as he began to hand her the gifts one at a time.

"It's fun to share all these things with someone like you," Valleri smiled.

"Happy Valentine's Day, Monkee," Wally said.

"Look at us, back in bed together again," she grinned. "Take off your shoes and gun and stay awhile."

"This is going to be the best Valentine's Day ever," Wally predicted, watching as Valleri began to open up the cartons of Chinese food.

"Come to think of it," she said, giving him a smirk. "Take off everything."

"You too," Wally told her.

"Does this mean you're finally my valentine?" Valleri asked.

"I've always wanted to be Valleri's Valentine," he replied happily.