Chocolate, anyone? Did you know that the US population spent about 27.4 billion dollars leading up to Valentine’s last year — that’s about $196 per person, on Valentine crap! About $2.4 billion of that money were spent on candy. Candy!
It’s romantic, you might say. I’d disagree, but since I’m here today to tell you about a Valentine story I wrote, I probably shouldn’t say too many negative things about this holiday of *cough* love.
Do you love your partner? Do your partner love you? Do you need roses on the 14th of February to believe it? If you do, I’ll go out on a limb here and say that you’re in trouble. I’m not saying don’t buy your spouse flowers or a box of chocolate if that’s what you want to do.
My husband buys me sharpies on an ordinary Tuesday if he happens to walk past a package with some colours he thinks I’ll like. It means a lot more than a heart-shaped box of chocolate ever will.
For $196 you can buy 288 sharpies or 128.5 pounds of basmati rice if you’d rather feed your family than fill your desk with sharpies. If you were to give your spouse a kiss and DIY a card on the 14th instead of buying anything, you’d be able to put those $196 into an index fund. Say you had a 7% interest and left it there for 20 years. Then you could buy your partner roses for $791.59 in 2041. Cool, ey? Say you’d skip all the Valentine gifts for those 20 years, and put in $196 every year. In 2041 you could take it all out and buy chocolate for $8,839.01.
Sorry, I didn’t mean to turn this into a personal finance lecture LOL. On to the story. It’s Valentine! Elian Hubert teaches history of literature at the university, and Dimitri Petrov got his lower leg blown off by a landmine four years ago while serving in Afghanistan. Since then he suffers from PTSD and doesn’t do well in crowds.
Neither Elian nor Dimitri want to celebrate Valentine, and yet …
EXCERPT FROM Be Still, My Heart
There was a man hurrying down the sidewalk.
Dimitri’s skin grew tight as he observed him. He could have hidden a weapon under his jacket. It was too thin for the cold February afternoon, and Dimitri had been taught to notice anything unusual. Clothes not sufficient for the weather were unusual. It didn’t look like he was hiding a bomb under it, but he could be. Dimitri had been taken by surprise before. The ones you least expected could pose the biggest threat.
Sliding his hand toward his right side where his gun should be, he jumped when the man opened the glass door and more or less ran into the lobby.
Dimitri shot to his feet, his right leg not acting as it should, and not until he looked down to see if something had caught on his pants, did he remember he didn’t have a foot anymore. The prosthesis started underneath his knee.
“Hi!” The man gave him a dazzling smile, which stunned him. For a second, he could not move, unable to talk.
“Hello. How can I help you?”
The man unzipped his jacket, and Dimitri once again reached for the gun that wasn’t there.
“I need a date for Valentine’s Day.” The man rolled his eyes, revealing a purple shirt with a million tiny flowers as he unzipped his jacket all the way.
“Ah, okay.” Dimitri forced his muscles to unclench and sat on the chair. “Are you the two o’clock with Irina?” Irina, his sister, ran this snobbish matchmaking agency. He was the only man working here, and it was because he was her brother and he wouldn’t leave the house unless he had a job he had to go to. It would’ve been better for business if she’d had a beautiful woman greeting their clients rather than a grumpy, rugged, military vet, and Dimitri would’ve preferred if she did. But life never turned out the way you planned it, and she insisted he was the man for the job. He wasn’t.
“No, I don’t think so.”
“You don’t think so?”
The man shrugged. “No, I think I’d have remembered if I’d made an appointment, but you never know. Stranger things have happened.”
Dimitri got trapped in his sparkling blue eyes — there was so much going on in them. “You … erm … don’t know if you would’ve remembered?” Perhaps he had brain damage? Disability wasn’t always visible at first glance — he should know.
The man leaned against the counter, chuckling softly, which poked at something dormant in Dimitri’s chest. “I said I think I would’ve remembered.” His gaze turned warmer, if a gaze could, and when he spoke again it was in a lower, calmer tone. “I need a Valentine’s date. I want a big, strong man. A man who can slam me against the wall and have his way with me.”
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