Happy Valentine's Day! Tis a joy and tis a wonder that love is in the air. Love is everywhere! See the day as the time to celebrate the years you've had with your significant other; to embrace the wonderful person you are; to reconnect with someone you've lost; to start afresh. Love knows no boundaries. Love knows nothing of time. With all that sappy nonsense, enjoy the last story of my Season of Love.
Wynne’s Surprise © Billy London
Wynne made her way to the florist, trying to stifle her disappointment. Everything had gone wrong. The cancellation of her flight to Tunisia for a week’s holiday, the argument she’d had with her boyfriend and worst of all, the weather. Wind, rain, rain, rain. My god the rain. If one more newscaster told her it was the wettest winter since records began, she’d drive to the studio and hurt someone. All of them. Badly.
The florist in Dulwich was her favourite and the assistant always made the most beautiful bouquets. People complained that only rich people bought flowers, but they made the most incredible difference to her little flat. She needed cheering up and this was her one vice.
She struggled to get inside the florist, customers were crowding the shop. Wynne recognised the owner at the front, picking his nails, while the two assistants wrapped and served their patrons. With a sigh, she pulled out her phone, looking for a message from her boyfriend. They’d only been together for six months. Everything was still so new and the holiday was to be their first real test as a couple. Instead, they’d fought over something as tiny and pathetic as their insurance and it escalated. All her insecurities as to why Robert was with her at all surfaced and she threw them at him. Pride stopped her from calling him and apologising. And he obviously felt the same way. Why was everyone in here?
Oh god... Hearts, red roses by the dozen, men frantically buying... Day of Doom. There was no message from The Flick - she called him that, because he was always pushing his hair out of his eyes.
“Hi there, what can I get you?”
She hadn’t realised the queue had moved so quickly. “I’m... I don’t even know.”
The assistant had a name tag that read Lily. Her face was set in sympathy. “What’s your name?”
“Wynne Jones?” she asked.
Wynne frowned. “Yeah...”
Lily gave a nod and turned around. “Just a minute, I’ve got something for you.”
She disappeared into the back while Wynne waited nervously for Lily to return. She came back into the shop only her cherry-wood curls visible from behind the massive bouquet of flowers. It was the most beautiful arrangement she’d ever seen - red roses, clematis, tulips and jasmine all combined in artistic flair. “Wynne?” Lily called from behind the bouquet.
“I’m here!” She tilted her head to the left and Lily did the same, her smile coming from around the cellophane wrapping.
“These are for you. Have a lovely day.”
“Wait, what? Don’t I owe... What the?”
“Bought and paid for. There’s a card in there.”
Wynne couldn’t believe it. Who would know to have her favourite florist make up an extraordinary bouquet for her, that even in the middle of a shop filled with flowers, smelled like a perfumers laboratory. Wynne reached around the bouquet and shook Lily’s hand. “Thank you so much. I tell everyone how amazing you are.”
Lily shook her head, hiding behind her curls. “That’s really nice of you. Honestly, have a fantastic day.”
Wynne hurried out of the florist, throwing to the pot bellied boss, “Your Lily’s the best thing about this place!”
Breathing in the jasmine and roses, she cradled the precious bouquet and walked to her flat. Once inside, she put the bouquet down and opened the card, waiting to see Robert’s name at the end of the card. She had to blink several times before she understood the name she saw. With a brief shake of her head, she dialed his number, her hands vibrating so badly, his name blurred on the screen. “Hi. Can you come over? Okay. I’ll see you in a bit.”
Sitting down, her eyes travelled between the card and the bouquet. Someone really was planting their flag. For her. Finally the doorbell rang and she rushed to answer it. He sent her a shy smile and Wynne simply stepped to the side for him to enter.
“Dude...” she started, waving her hands to the items that changed her understanding of her life in seconds.
“What did I miss?” Bren asked genially.
Bren, her friend, the friend who had talked her through her troubles with Robert, the friend who answered her text messages and decoded Robert’s one worded responses, the friend she’d maybe had a fumble with at a summer barbecue a million years ago... Had done this.
“Why’ve I made the effort I should have done before Robert started messing you about? I don’t know. I did warn him that if he didn’t leave you alone, I’d rip him to pieces and he knew I wasn’t joking so... Are you really surprised?”
Wynne sat down and covered her cheeks with her hands. “I’m... A thousand things.”
“Do you love him?”
Her mouth moved before her brain caught up. “No. I mean... I thought I was getting there.”
Prodding twit. “Because of you! You were in the background guiding everything, so no I didn’t love him and no, I clearly couldn’t trust him. And I wonder if I can trust you.”
Bren clasped his hands together, looking at the space between his knees. “I meant what I said in the card.”
“We can’t go away together!” she blustered.
He raised his eyebrows. “Why not? You’ve got the holiday booked, I’ve got flights that are definitely leaving tomorrow morning. I’ve got extra Valium in case you’re flying fear picks up again... In two days, everything here will feel like it happened a year ago.” Bren got to his feet and knelt beside her, his hands braced on her thighs. “Wynnie...” Resolve. Falling. Away... “There’s this thing between you and me. And I don’t think it’s ever going away until we do something about it.”
Shut up brain, just be quiet! ”Can you get me a glass of water please?”
Bren rose to his full height, and with a careless brush over her cheek he disappeared to the kitchen. Flopping back against her sofa, Wynne screamed silently holy shiiiiiiiiiiiiit! What do I do? The immediate answer was, “Go, you silly bitch. Go. Beach. Shopping. Food. Shisha. Bren. Bren naked.”
She closed her eyes for a moment. Bren in swimming trunks. Bren sharing a tagine with her. Bren handing her the pipe from a shisha. Bren kissing his way over her back and untying the top of her bikini. A shiver rippled over her, shaking her shoulders. Oh god, she hadn’t felt like that around Robert, even in their earliest days. Oh god! What about Robert? She got up and checked her phone. Silent. Not a text, not an email, nothing.
“Do you want to get something to eat, while you think about it?” Bren asked from the doorway, stretching an arm out to hand her the water. She took it warily from him and gulped.
“I think...” she said, putting the glass down, “I need to pack. What about you?”
Bren’s grin brightened the room. “My case is in the car.”
“Bit ahead of yourself, aren’t you?” she challenged as he came closer to her. A frisson of awareness trickled over her spine as he placed his hands on her hips, pulling her into his body.
He gently traced the line of her mouth with butterfly light kisses. “I just wasn’t going to let you say no. Not again.”
Wynne fell completely under his spell, under his kiss and under his weight as he edged her towards and then deliciously onto the sofa.
On the table her phone vibrated across the wood, Robert’s number flashing on the screen.