Welcome to the final day of my Annual Valentine's Day Blog Hop! I've cooked up a lovely little piece of flash fiction for my lovers... a romantic little romp intended to make you smile and put you in the mood for romance.
But first, I must thank the three bloggers that participated in this fun little tour: spiritual counselor Jennifer Leigh Scott, radio show host Candi Fox and romance novelist Monica Schroeder. Thanks so much, girls--- we really rocked this blog hop!
And now, without any further adieu... pour yourself a cup of something warm and creamy... pull up a chair and get nice and cozy... Darling readers, I offer you ---
❤♡ Encounter At Inspiration Point♡ ❤
"NOT MUCH OF A CELEBRATION, BUT I'M GOING TO MAKE THE BEST OF IT."
Kaitlyn muttered these words to herself, as she made her way to Inspiration Point, a popular spot that offered a view of the Hudson River, George Washington Bridge, and Manhattan---all at the same time.
Known for its scenic approach and romantic allure, Inspiration Point seemed the perfect spot to spend Valentine's Day, even if she was spending it by herself.
Kaitlyn stepped carefully along the paved walk, avoiding the few remaining patches of snow. A weekend thaw had melted the little accumulation they'd had, and though Kaitlyn had been sad to see the fluffy white stuff go, she was grateful for a clear walk; it saved her leather pumps from getting ruined. In contrast to Februarys past, she didn't mind the the mild air, either.
Balancing a venti chai tea, a little bag that held the lemon-poppyseed scone she couldn't resist, and a small clutch purse, Kaitlyn reached her destination. She took in the view of the lovely little spot along the bridge, one that overlooked the river, was lined with benches, and dotted with old-fashioned street lights.
Then, she looked around discreetly, to see who she'd be spending Valentine's Day with.
A young couple: predictable. A middle aged couple: to be expected. A guy about her age, with his dog (a yellow Lab) and a cup of coffee: hmm, interesting.
At least I'm not the only one spending Valentine's Day alone, Kaitlyn thought, as she noted the guy was rather cute, and prepared to take a sip of her chai.
Ethan, the fun, but elusive young attorney she'd been dating, had broken off their brief relationship just a month before. Abruptly, he'd announced that he was taking a new position in a new town, with a new firm, but that he'd thoroughly enjoyed knowing her.
Kaitlyn couldn't have said she was disappointed. Her affair with Ethan had been one that consisted of a few dinners out, a random movie here and there, awkward conversation at best, and lackluster sex, on occasion.
Theirs had been a relationship designed to fill in spare time and stave off boredom, nothing more. There never had been that spark.
Sunset was approaching. The sky was gathering pillows of orange, pink and purple, the way it did at that time, every day.
Muted laughter drew Kaitlyn's attention; the middle aged couple had drawn close, in an embrace. The man withdrew a small velvet box from his coat pocket. The woman positioned an appropriate look of anxious surprise, upon her face.
As the woman opened the box, Kaitlyn caught sight of something sparkly, inside.
She was just about to sigh, when a deep voice with a comfortable tone, spoke, to her immediate left.
"They seem happy."
It was the guy with the yellow lab.
Seeing his easy demeanor, Kaitlyn responded accordingly.
"I agree. They've probably left the kids at home with a sitter, and this is their big night out." She smiled warmly and finished, "Good for them."
"Reminds me of my folks," the guy said. "My parents have that… that um…" he seemed to be searching for the right word. "quality," he finally said. Then, glancing at Kaitlyn with a smile about his eyes, "The look of soul mates. Too bad they're both working tonight, on what most deem the most romantic night of the year." This he said with a smile, and Kaitlyn noticed his eyes were the most fetching blue.
After holding Kaitlyn's gaze for a moment, the cute guy with the blue eyes and yellow lab said, "I'm Ben," and held out his hand.
That took some doing, as it required him to grasp the paper coffee cup he'd been holding, and his dog's leash. Confident that he was balancing it all, Ben continued introductions. "And this, is Maisy," he said, nodding downward at the dog obediently sitting and gazing up at him. "And you are…?"
Kaitlyn was about to say what a cool name 'Maisy' was, then introduce herself. But Maisy, upon hearing her name, had other ideas. She jumped up suddenly, in excitement, spilling the contents of Ben's cup.
"Well there goes your coffee!" Kaitlyn said, trying to keep a smile from her face. "But at least it didn't get on your coat, or clothes."
"Yeah, luckily" Ben agreed. "But it wasn't coffee, it was chai, and man had I ever been craving a good cup of chai!"
Without thinking, Kaitlyn responded.
"I've got chai. I haven't even touched it yet. You want… I mean… would you like half?"
To her surprise, Ben stuffed one hand into a pocket, looked thoughtfully at her cup, and adopted an expression of deep thought. After a moment of exaggerated contemplation, he spoke.
"Well, seeing as your lipstick is an interesting blend of fuchsia and red, and there's not even the hint of it on that cup, I'd surmise you're telling the truth, and you have not, in fact, touched it yet. What did you say your name was?"
"In that case, you'd surmise correctly," Kaitlyn said, smiling. "And my name's Kaitlyn."
Grinning in return, "Excellent," Ben said. "In that case, I would be happy to accept half of your chai, miss."
"That was one heck of a deduction, there. What are you, like a detective or something?"
Kaitlyn smiled, as she took Ben's empty cup from his hand, and filled it with half of her chai, which was still steaming.
"Something like that," Ben said. "I'm a forensic specialist, with the NYPD."
On a whim, Kaitlyn boldly replied, "Is that supposed to make me feel safe?"
On a whim, Ben boldly replied, "I hope so, because I was going to ask if you've had dinner."
Seeing Kaitlyn's hesitation, Ben spoke quickly.
"Lonely guy… works long hours… no Valentine to spend the evening with…"
Ben was playfully selling himself, and selling Kaitlyn, he hoped, on the idea.
If she was being honest, Kaitlyn had to admit Ben was awfully cute. Meeting a good looking guy unexpectedly, at her favorite lookout spot, was romantic. And it was Valentine's Day. About his job…? Well, it was just plain cool. One thing was bothering her, though.
"How's a guy like you---and by that I mean, cute and presumably single, on his solo, Valentine's night?"
Deciding to be utterly honest, Ben said, "Well, I got dumped. About a month ago. So now, it's just me, the job, and Maisy."
"Wow, I'm sorry." Kaitlyn said.
"Oh, it's no big." Ben assured her. "I mean, at the time, it felt pretty brutal. But now, looking back, I can see it was absolutely the right thing. We weren't right for each other. I was ready for a relationship; she couldn't commit. I'm a family guy; she wants to travel the world, doesn't particularly like or want kids."
Kaitlyn felt the corners of her mouth beginning to turn up, into a smile. Laughing just a little, she asked, "Do you always tell your life story to just anyone? Anyone you meet, any random night, while you're out walking your dog?"
Ben thought quickly, on his feet.
"Ah, but I have not told you my entire life story. And our meeting may have been unexpected, but you are not just anyone: you're Kaitlyn, fellow chai lover."
Seeing Kaitlyn smile, egged Ben on.
"And this is not any random night; it's Valentine's night. And I'm wondering… would you like to grab dinner?" Ben finished with a grin and a flash of his baby blues.
Kaitlyn acquiesced, fully aware that she'd planned to, all along.
"Well," she said, "I am starving. What did you have in mind?"
"There's a cool little Greek diner, just over there---" Ben motioned toward an establishment across the street. "Great sandwiches, great salads."
After a moment, Kaitlyn replied.
"Sure," she smiled. Then a thought struck her. "What about Maisy?"
"Believe it or not, Maisy's welcome there," Ben said. "The owners love her."
"Oh?" Kaitlyn replied, as she began to follow Ben's lead toward the diner. "That's odd, isn't it? A diner, allowing a dog inside?"
"Not really," Ben smiled as they approached the entrance. "The owners are my parents."
Outside the diner, Kaitlyn noted the festive Valentine's Day decorations: doily hearts and cupids shooting arrows. Lit hearts o the windows and red heart-shaped balloons fastened to a planter, outside the door.
And as they stepped into the warm interior, Kaitlyn was taken aback by the charming decor: old fashioned plates on the walls, soft candlelight on the tables, red hearts and doilies, everywhere.
Kaitlyn smiled to herself, thinking of chance meetings and surprise romantic encounters.
Kaitlyn couldn't wait to see what the menu, the night, and her new friend, had to offer.
Already, it was one of her most memorable Valentine's Day, ever.