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Todd threw a brand new tennis ball against the wall in the office while his coworker, Cody, finished ordering his girlfriend flowers on his phone.
“Are you seriously not doing anything for her?” Cody asked for the third time that morning. “I’ve been dating this girl for, like, a month and I can’t imagine not doing something.”
Cody was a few years younger and actually worked under Todd at the company, so Todd somewhat treated him like his little brother.
“You don’t get it, man,” Todd told him. “Her birthday was last week and with the wedding in the pipeline, we just decided not to do anything this year.”
“That seems like a trap,” 24-year-old Cody warned him. Todd merely brushed him off and continued trying to figure out how to kill time until lunch.
She had been waiting for Caroline to show up to their lunch for about fifteen minutes before she actually did. “I’m sooooooo sorry,” she apologized while frantically taking off her coat and scarf before sitting down. “Our meeting went late and everything just got away from me.”
“It’s okay,” she assured her. “I’ve just been catching up on some reading – you look really pretty today!”
Caroline rolled her eyes.
“Sooooooooo,” Caroline drew out, “Todd do anything for you for Valentine’s Day?”
After finishing a sip of her large iced, sugar-free, vanilla latte with soy milk, she shook her head and said, “I mean, no, at least not this morning before he went to work. Did John do anything?”
Caroline adjusted in her chair before explaining, “He’s such a little brown noser. He sent flowers to me at work and I know it’s just so he feels good about himself knowing all my coworkers saw them.”
“I mean, guys have it so good on Valentine’s Day,” Caroline continued. “Like, what am I supposed to get John besides making him dinner tonight at home?”
Smirking, she couldn’t hold it in. “Well, I mean, I can think of one other thing.”
Caroline did a fake gag gesture before assuring her that she was not doing any of that tonight.
“Have you planned anything for Todd?”
“Well, we decided not to go out tonight because we’ve legit been to every restaurant in the city a million times at this point,” she told her. “So I’m just going to go to Whole Foods after this and pick up some filets and potatoes for him along with a bottle of wine. I-D-K, maybe I’ll get him some new cologne that he’ll never use or something.”
“I sent her flowers at work,” John typed. “Old pro move, everyone seems em and sees how good of a husband I am.”
Todd heard the notification come in and alt-tabbed to respond. “I can’t really send flowers to an office…” he joked.
“Hahahaha,” John fired back. “What’d you end up doing this year for her?”
Confused as to why everyone seemed to care so much about what his plans were, Todd simply responded, “We decided not to do anything this year.”
“You know that’s a trap, right?” John warned him.
Todd let out an audible sigh at his desk and ran the entire situation through his head. Just this past weekend, he had spent more than enough money on her birthday. “Hell,” he thought, “I still haven’t even gotten Venmo’d from half the people we went on the birthday party bus with.” His mind went back to the conversation they’d had on Monday night regarding what they’d do for each other come Valentine’s Day, and both of them agreed that taking it easy this year was a perfect compromise.
“Nah,” Todd typed back with confidence. “I’ll be fine.”
As she unpacked all the groceries out of her reusable bags she had ordered from Goop, she checked her Apple Watch to see how much time she had before Todd would get home from work. The meal she was going to prepare — filets, redskin potatoes, and a kale salad — wouldn’t take much prep time.
She had ignored a text from Todd that he sent around 3:30. “You haven’t done anything for me for Valentine’s Day this year, right?” he asked. She figured she would use the element of surprise to her advantage for when he got home from work and saw the dinner on the table.
Todd normally got home around 6:30, so she knew she had plenty of time to make pre-make the salad and get the potatoes to a boil before finishing off with cooking the steaks on the stovetop before finishing them in the oven. If she played her cards right, she could even watch some episodes of Will & Grace before he got there.
Unseasonably warm, Todd decided he’d leave and walk home from work a little early that day. The fresh air would do him some good. He laughed to himself as he walked by street vendors handing out the last of their bouquets of flowers to the poor saps who forgot to do something prior to heading home to their wives and girlfriends. Sure, there was a slight feeling that he should do something, but he figured he’d be extra sweet when they settled in and rented a movie.
About halfway through his walk, it began to sprinkle. “Of fucking course,” he thought while seeking shelter underneath an awning. “Nothing like a little rain in 45-degree weather.”
Pulling his phone out of his jacket pocket, he queued up Uber which had inflated prices due to everyone hitting the town that night. Knowing he didn’t have a choice, he accepted the fee and was whisked away in a Chevy Traverse.
“Any plans tonight?” the driver asked.
“Nah, not really,” Todd half-heartedly responded while refreshing Instagram and making fun of all the people who used Valentine’s Day as an opportunity to get more likes. “Probably just going to order in with my fiancée.”
Not seeing it as his place to weigh in, the Uber driver smirked and raised his eyebrows as if to say, “Your funeral.”
When Todd finally emerged from the Uber and got in the elevator to head up to their apartment, it was the first time all day that he thought to himself, “Well, fuck, maybe I should do something.” Somewhat lying to himself, he reaffirmed that it was all going to be okay. If worse came to worse, he could say that something hadn’t arrived in the mail yet.
Fumbling to get his key in the lock, he noticed the apartment was a little darker than normal as he cracked the door. Candles were lit on their island and Michael Bublé was playing on their speakers. He shut his eyes in defeat knowing how badly he had likely botched this situation.
When he poked his head around the door, he saw her standing in the kitchen wearing a black dress covered with an apron that read, “Kiss The Cook” that she had picked up from Sur La Table on her way back from Whole Foods.