Can a letter from the past change the worst Valentine's Day into the Best Valentine's Day Ever?
My breath puffed out and hung in the air ahead of me as I trudged up the walk to the Airensen house. The heart-shaped box of chocolates I carried under my coat dug me in the ribs, but I didn’t mind. The look of surprise and appreciation that would flow across Ainsley’s face when I gave them to her would be well worth the momentary discomfort.
I shoved a hand through my curls, oddly nervous. Ainsley and I hung out together all the time. In fact, most Saturdays we’d be heading to the movies about now. But today was Valentine’s Day. And Ainsley’s date with Chase Wainwright.
At least it wasn’t that asshat Keith. Of all the guys she could add to her list of potentials she had to go and pick a real dick of one there. And, whether she liked it or not, I was having a say in this one. He was not coming anywhere near her.
Fortunately, he was still dating Samantha Jones, so I didn’t have to worry too much. Yet. But, once he was free, which rumor had it would be soon, I’d be paying him a visit and offering him some physical encouragement to stay away from Ains.
I rapped my knuckles against the wood door, turning the knob when I heard a muffled, “Come in.”
A wave of heat enveloped me as I stepped inside, and beads of sweat broke out on my forehead. A fire roared in the fireplace, making the room a sweltering eighty-something degrees, a shocking change from the ten degree air I’d been walking in.
I undid my jacket, tucking the chocolates out of sight, and wandered over to Ainsley. She looked so cute sitting on the loveseat angled as close to the table lamp as she could get. As I watched her, she reached up and tucked a lock of her honey-blond hair behind her ear. My gaze drifted over her face, taking in the deep blue eyes that were damp and swollen, and the cheeks that held blotchy streaks of red.
“What happened?” I clenched my fists, wanting to slam them in to whoever had hurt her. When I found them, they were going to regret making her cry.
Ainsley jumped and the yellowed paper she’d held in her hand fluttered to the floor.
“God, Jesse,” she set a hand to her chest, “you scared the crap out of me.”
I crouched down in front of her, picked up the paper, and handed it back to her. “Sorry. I thought you heard me knock.”
She gave me a watery grin. “I did.” She sniffled. “I just didn’t hear you come in, is all.”
I arched a brow. “What happened?”
“Nothing.” Ains wiped the sleeve of her sweatshirt across her nose.
“Come on, Ains. You’re sitting here crying. Something happened.” I reached out and played with the string dangling from the hood. “Wait. Why aren’t you dressed up? You’re supposed to be going out with Chase.”
She gave a weak laugh. “Yeah. About that. He cancelled. Said he was really sorry, but a game or practice or something got scheduled and he had to be there.”
“See, I told you hockey was his one and only love.” Ains punched me in the arm and I smiled. “Is that what the tears are about?”
“No.” She let out a long sigh. “Chase is a nice guy, but after talking to him this week I realized that we really don’t have that much in common.”
I grunted. I’d known that when she first mentioned his name. Ainsley wasn’t one to sit in the stands and cheer her guy on. She wanted to be at his side, competing with him. Like she did with me every time we entered a 5K.
“So, why the tears?” I tugged the string I still held.
“Oh, Mom and I found these old letters from Grandma and Grandpa up in the attic. I’ve been reading them, and…well, reading about how they fell in love during the war made me cry.”
I tugged the fragile paper from her fingers and looked at the faded writing. Squinting, I read a few of the lines.
My Dearest Love,
All day I thought of you, fearing I might never see you again. Never touch your
silky hair. Never stare into your sapphire eyes. Never feel the joy seeing your
smile brings me. I thank God for every minute we had before I left. I thank Him
for every memory that carries me through the day. And, I thank Him that I made
it through today and am one day closer to seeing you again.
“Isn’t that the most lovely thing you’ve ever read?” Ains asked, her words coated with emotion.
“Yeah.” I cleared my throat, surprised by how gravelly my voice sounded. Her Grandfather had captured my very thoughts about Ainsley. When I left for college in the fall, those were the words I want to write to her. The things I want to tell her. The things I haven’t found the way to say. Yet.
“So,” Ains poked me in the shoulder, “if you thought I’d be out with Chase, why’d you come over?”
I reached into my jacket and pulled out the chocolates. “To give you your Valentine’s gift.”
She took the box, a mixture of surprise and something I couldn’t define racing across her face. “Thank you.” She jumped to her feet. “Wait here a sec, okay?”
I nodded and she ran from the room. A minute later she returned and handed me a familiar, rectangular shaped box wrapped in heart paper.
“What’s this?” I shook it gently, hearing a quiet rattle.
“Duh. Your Valentine’s Day gift.”
I lifted the paper and smiled. She’d found the war game I’d been looking for. I held up the box and arched a brow. “Wanna play?”
She grabbed it from my hands and headed toward television. “You really have to ask?”
I shrugged out of my jacket and sat on the loveseat, marveling at the twist my night had taken. When I left my house earlier I thought this would be the worst Valentine’s Day ever. But now, with Ainsley at my side, I found myself enjoying the best Valentine’s Day ever.
Twisting tales one story at a time.
YA author Mary Waibel’s love for fairytales and happy-ever fill the pages of her works. Whether penning stories in a medieval setting or a modern day school, magic and romance weave their way inside every tale. Strong female characters use both brain and brawn to save the day and win the heart of their men. Mary enjoys connecting with her readers through her website: marywaibel.blogspot.com