“I think I’ll like this way. I think I’ll like it very much.”
* * *
We order two teas and a slice of chocolate cake to share, and as Tommy hands the plate to me, he gives me a sly nod. “Go for it,” he hisses as Macy walks to the table.
“All in due time,” I hiss back. I return for the mugs then join Macy in the corner of the shop. We trade bites of cake, along with praise for this dessert. Midway through, she sets down her fork. “Why do you hate Valentine’s Day?”
I exhale and tell her the truth. “I was cursed when I was eleven.”
She laughs, but when I don’t laugh back, she schools her expression.
But then I chuckle too. “Look, it’s silly, but I was truly cursed.”
“You really believe that?”
“Yes, no, maybe?”
I give her the details—the broken nose, Lily Van Tassel, and the hex that started it all.
“Fine. So you had a spate of bad luck. I get that. I had the opposite—lots of good luck on this day.”
I sneer, not liking this direction. “With men?”
She scoffs then laughs as she pats my hand. “Don’t be silly. I meant good luck in life. And listen, I don’t think you were hexed, and I also don’t think you need to love Valentine’s Day, but I hope you’ll realize it’s truly just a day to celebrate friendship and love. You should embrace it a little bit.”
Friendship. There’s that word again. Is that all she wants? Or does she want the latter?
“Even if I get another broken nose?”
She glances around. “Who’s going to break your nose? Tommy?”
“Let’s hope not.”
She studies my nose as she curls her hands around her mug of tea. Softly, she says, “I like your crooked nose.”
She nods, swallowing. “I like your whole face.”
My body hums with excitement, with the thrill of a compliment from the woman I adore. “I like yours too.” Holy shit. Did that just happen? Did I just compliment her in a way that makes it patently obvious how I feel? Maybe I did, and maybe it works. The woman is smiling like she has a secret.
“How should I embrace it?”
“Well, you did get me a heart-covered latte earlier. I’d say that’s a start.”
But yet, I know there are other ways I should embrace the day. By talking to her, getting to know her even better, understanding her. “Tell me why you love it.”
A brightness seems to stretch across her whole being. “I love friends and family and celebration. I’ve loved telling people I care about that I love them. That’s what I think birthdays and holidays are all about. Showing people you love that you care.”
The way she says that touches into the dark, jaded, cursed part of my heart and makes it lighter. “You’re good at that.”
“When I was younger, I made cards for everyone. Friends, family. I would tell them all the things I loved about them.”
“That’s a cool thing to do.”
She shrugs like this is all second nature to her, and I suppose it is. “If you care about someone, you should let them know. I know you might think I love holidays because I’m a cornball and a former cheerleader and generally an extrovert.”
I smile. “You are definitely an extrovert.”
“And you’re an introvert.”
“You spend your evenings reading books.”
“Hey, I work out too and go to sporting events.”
“But that’s the only thing you get excited about. The rest you keep inside.”
“What do you think I’m keeping inside?”
“It’s not what I think you’re keeping inside. It’s what I hope.”
I’m warm everywhere, buzzing and hoping and wanting. “What do you hope for?”
But before she can answer, my phone rings. It’s my sister. “Are you still near the rehearsal space? I left my laptop there.”
“I’ll head over and check.” I hang up.
Macy stands up. “I’ll go with you.”
She rolls her eyes. “Why is that a surprise?”
“I don’t know. You always do nice things. It shouldn’t be a surprise.”
“I like spending time with you, Kirby.”
My skin heats to August in New York levels. “I like spending time with you too. I like it a lot. And if this is part of you having ways, then you can keep having your way.”
She raises an eyebrow in appreciation.
It sure feels like we’re speeding out of the friend zone. And maybe that’s not the worst thing in the world.
On the hunt for my sister’s laptop, we head to the building where we record. We step into the elevator, shooting up to the sixth floor.
A red sign in the elevator reads Happy Valentine’s Day. Yesterday, I might have scowled at it. Today, though, thanks to talking to Macy, I consider that maybe I’m wrong. What if I’ve been wrong about everything? What if I’ve been wrong about curses? Besides, tomorrow is Valentine’s Day. Today is still just a day.