“Yeah, sorry. I’m just allergic to Valentine’s Day.”
Daniela flipped her sandy-blonde hair back and removed her jacket. “I know what you mean. Valentine’s Day is lame.” She put her finger up. “Hold on, I’m starving. Lemme get some food first. Otherwise, my belly’s gonna revolt.” I waited a few minutes and she came back with a tray containing a large cheeseburger topped with all the fixings and a huge plate of fries.
I noticed that we were the only two people in the cafeteria not wearing a shade of red. It was kind of surprising that Daniela wasn’t decked out in hearts and arrows, actually.
“You know Daniela, I was kind of expecting you to be wearing a pink tutu and one of those heart shaped tiara’s on your head.”
She scrunched her face at me. “Meanie. Just because I wanted to celebrate Valentine’s Day in style two years ago doesn’t mean that I feel the same way about it now.”
I raised an eyebrow, skeptical. “Really? What’s changed?”
She shrugged, “Valentine’s Day is just a construct of the media-entertainment complex, designed to keep the poor girl down.”
Whatever answer I was expecting from her, it wasn’t that. “Uh . . . what?”
She looked at me waving the fry in her hand for emphasis. “Think about it. The entire day is designed to make you feel shitty if you’re single. It’s even worse if you’re seeing someone, because then you feel obligated to spend money.”
“Um, I take it things aren’t going well with Cody?”
“Cody is old news,” she puffed then rolled her eyes. “Turns out he was a total loser. You win some, you lose some.” She shrugged then dipped a fry into a dish of ketchup.
“You don’t seem too broken up about it.”
“You know how it is, easy-come, easy-go.”
She didn’t seem too eager to talk about it, so I didn’t ask her to elaborate. A few tables behind Daniela, a bulky guy in a tight frat t-shirt was going around table to table with a basket in his hand. After chatting with a group of starry-eyed freshman, he started coming our way. He got to our table and smiled at Daniela, his cheeks dimpling. A red heart had been painted on his left cheekbone.
“Hey, ladies, want to buy some chocolates for your Valentines? P-K-D is raising money for heart disease.”
Phi Kappa Delta? Wasn’t that Gary’s frat?
Daniela finished chewing her mouthful of cheeseburger, before wiping the corner of her mouth daintily with a paper napkin. She looked up at him, her eyes glinting mischievously. Uh-oh. That was her tiger-stalking-her-prey look. I had a feeling I was about to get a demonstration of “easy-come”. I leaned back, looking forward to the show.
“Hey cutie, what’s your name?” she said, batting her eyes at him.
Nice Daniela, real subtle.
The guy licked his lips before answering. “Jeff. I’m Jeff.”
“Hi Jeff, I’m Daniela, and this is Lorrie. Unfortunately, us two ladies don’t have Valentines to give chocolates to. Now I might be interested in getting some chocolates for myself, but . . . I think I’ll need a little extra sweetness with my chocolate.”
He stared at her dumbly. “Uh . . . you can sprinkle some extra sugar on top of them I guess.”
I rolled my eyes and shot a look at Daniela. Was she serious? What could she possibly see in this guy besides his dimples and muscles?
Daniela put her hand in front of her mouth and mock whispered to him, “Put your number on the wrapper and I’ll buy one from you.”
The frat guy scrunched his brow, seeming to consider it for a second, before realizing that he was being hit on. His eyes suddenly lit up in realization, and he nodded quickly with a smile.
“Yeah, oh yeah. Okay.” He scribbled something on one of the chocolate bars before handing it to Daniela. She rummaged a dollar out of her purse and handed it to him with a wink.
After the guy walked away to a different table, we both erupted in giggles.
“Oh my god Daniela, you’re impossible! You were just telling me about how you hated Valentine’s Day!”
“I still hate Valentine’s Day, but that doesn’t mean I can’t use it to my advantage.” She picked up her burger again, taking another big bite.
I shook my head still laughing softly. “So are you going to call him?” I asked her.
She chewed thoughtfully. “Maybe, I don’t know yet. I like to keep my options open. Besides, what if someone hotter comes along selling flowers before the end of the day?”
I wanted to say something back to her, but the alarm on my phone played its melody reminding me that it was time to feed the kittens.
“That’s the sound of kittens crying for their Mommy,” I said, turning off the alarm and putting my phone back into my pocket.
“Feeding time at Hunter’s?”
“Hey you know, what if Hunter was your Valentine? Or if you were his? I know you guys have been pretty chummy lately taking care of the kittens and all.” She nudged me.
I rolled my eyes. “There’s only one problem: there’s nothing romantic going on between us. Also, what happened to you warning me to be careful around Hunter?”
“I’ve been brainwashed by the Hunter-bad-boy complex,” she confessed. “Behind his reputation, he’s actually been a good guy. I’m thinking I misjudged him.”
“Yeah, I might’ve misjudged him as well—although being friends with him has had its rough spots, it hasn’t been the trouble I thought it’d be.”
“Have you considered moving further with him?”
“Eh . . . we’re two friends jointly caring for six furry babies. We could be Valentine’s Day Buddies but that wouldn’t be true to Saint Valentine’s spirit. It’d be like if you took your brother to prom as your date.”
Daniela opened her mouth and put a finger inside to simulate gagging. “Yuck! On the other hand, if my brother looked like Hunter. . .” She grinned. “I’m not going to say what would happen but I’ll just suggest that there might be some incest going on in the Stauffer household.”
“Ewww. Aren’t there laws against that?”
“Not even the law can stop love,” she said playfully.
“What about your parents? Knowing your dad, he’d probably kick the both of you out of the house. Lack of a home can certainly stop love.”
“Well, of course the hypothetical Hunter Stauffer and I would keep our relationship on the down-low. On the outside, we’d seem like a normal brother and sister pair; we may or may not kiss each other on the lips in public—depends on social norms. Beyond that though, society wouldn’t be ready to accept us.”