“Okay, well Hunter is basically like an older brother to me. And I hate to disappoint you by not jumping on the incest train but I ain’t a ‘ho that has sex with her bro’.” I nudged her back.
“Whatever,” she scoffed as if I was acting pretentious then took a sip of her drink.
“Besides, I’m sure Hunter has his pick of Valentines. Girls probably give him roses and chocolates instead of the other way around. It’s not hard to believe considering you’d go as far as to break state laws for him.”
She laughed. “I was just joshin ya, Lorrie. Hunter’s all yours.” She gave an exaggerated wink that made me uncomfortable. “But you’re probably right about girls wanting to woo him. Anyway, it’s fun to dream about opportunities that’ll never arise.”
“Maybe. But it’s also fun just being buddies.”
“To each, her own. Anyway, I don’t want to keep you from the kids. I’ll see you back at the dorms.”
I left the Barnyard feeling better about Valentine’s Day. Despite the odd direction the conversation took, it raised my spirit. Somehow Daniela always knew how to make me feel more upbeat. The walk across campus to Hunter’s place was quick, even with the two inches of snow crunching beneath my boots. When I reached his apartment, I unlocked the door, and stamped my boots on the welcome mat.
I could hear the kittens meowing already in their box so I quickly opened the fridge for the formula and started heating it up. I spent the next half hour feeding them. It wouldn’t have taken so long if Taylor hadn’t kept trying to climb out of the box after she had already been fed. They were already growing so big, I could barely hold their entire bodies in my hands.
The six little monsters finally fell asleep in their box, and I started cleaning up. Just then, Hunter came through the front door.
“Hey Lorrie, Happy Valentine’s Day!” I heard him yell as he came in.
Shit, I almost forgot. If it was Valentine’s Day, Hunter might have brought a girl back. My heart beat faster. How awkward would it be to meet his Valentine? I turned around quickly, blood rushing to my face, but it was only Hunter standing in the doorway, letting in a blast of winter air.
He was wearing a black sweatshirt and thick sweatpants: he must’ve just come back from the gym. I let out a slow breath of relief. He wasn’t with anyone.
“Hey Hunter. Don’t even remind me.”
“Oh, okay. I don’t really care, but I figured girls liked Valentine’s Day. How are the kittens?”
“Just fed ‘em, they’re all sleeping now.”
He walked through the apartment to his bedroom. When he emerged again, he was shirtless. His body glistened with a thin sheen of sweat sending an unwelcome surge of awareness through me.
“Come on Hunter, do you always need to show off your muscles?”
He laughed, “Hey sorry, I wanted to get out of my sweaty clothes ASAP. You have any Valentine’s Day plans?”
“Why? Are you trying to ask me to be your Valentine?” I crossed my arms, ready for whatever he was going to try to throw at me next. It would be difficult to top being half-naked, but I wouldn’t put it past him.
Hunter held his hands up in surrender. “Whoa whoa, slow down there Lorrie. I was just going to ask if you wanted to stick around and hang out. Gary is coming over in a bit. We were just going to have some beers and watch TV.”
I wasn’t expecting Hunter to be lacking dates for Valentine’s Day so I was surprised that he wasn’t going out.
“Really? You’re hanging out with Gary on Valentine’s? Are you sure there’s nothing going on between you two?” I teased him.
He smirked at me.“Well you’ll have to stick around if you want to find out. So what do you say?”
I giggled at the thought of the two of them wrestling naked like ancient Greek combatants. “Sure. Sounds like fun.”
Hunter went into the bathroom to take his shower, and I plopped down on the couch to watch TV. Bridezillas was on—an appropriate show for the occasion. I watched the brides for a while, but I couldn’t stop thinking about why Hunter wasn’t going out for a date on Valentine’s Day.
After he finished his shower, he walked over to the couch. He was wearing a tight white t-shirt and a new pair of gray sweatpants. His hammer tattoo peeked out beneath his sleeve when he took a seat beside me and my heart did a pitter patter. I wanted to shift further away on the couch but I was already squeezed against the armrest.
“What are you watching?” he asked, his eyes fixed on the TV.
He remained silent while watching a group of bridesmaids console the bride who was crying over being unable to squeeze into her dress on the last fitting because she had gained weight from tasting too many wedding cake options.
“You like this kinda stuff?” he asked casually.
“Uh, yeah!” I chimed.
He continued watching, seemingly mesmerized. “Why?”
“It’s a guilty pleasure. It’s like you know it’s bad, but you can’t stop watching. It’s kind of like watching a train wreck.”
He hummed to himself in thought as the bride began sucking on her thumb like a toddler to ease her anxiety. “Yeah, I can see the appeal. I wanna stop watching but I’m not sure I can. You think you’d ever be like that?”
“What? No. No way. I’d be way more reasonable . . . I think.”
“Well, they say there’s a ‘Bridezilla’ in everyone. I’d like to think I’m better than that but it’s easy to believe you’re better until you’re actually put into a similarly stressful situation. A lot of people enjoy watching trashy reality shows because deep down it makes us feel good about ourselves. But maybe we’ve all been lying to ourselves and Bridezillas is a true reflection of human nature.”
“That’s deep,” he said softly.
We sat together in silence, watching the show and pondering the philosophical implications of Bridezillas.
During a commercial break, Hunter shrugged then went to the kitchen and came back to the couch with a large heart-shaped box in his hands.
My pulse skipped a beat. “Is that . . . for me?”
He narrowed his brows and looked at me funny. After pausing for a second, a light flashed across his eyes, and he grinned mischievously. “. . . Maybe.”
“No, it’s not,” I said, realizing the ruse. “Dude, did you forget it was Valentine’s Day already?” I asked, annoyed that he led me to assume he got me a V-Day present.