“Oh, she’s here,” a tall pretty redhead says, coming into the kitchen, followed by two other people, all of them acting like they know me already.
“Yes, please. Help yourselves,” I encourage as more people start to show up.
“We’re a bit like family around here,” Q says before he goes back to leaning up against the wall and watching me.
I spend the next few hours cooking for his staff, and I really like all of them. They all tell me their favorites, and we pick out a few that I’ll have at the event next week along with the strawberry cake.
When it’s time to go, Q takes me home, not caring that it’s busy at the restaurant when we go. He even walks me to my door.
“A week, sweets,” he says, and it sounds like a vow.
It takes everything in me not to chase after him. Instead I lock the door and lean up against it. My head is still spinning. For a girl who’s never been kissed, I have too many complicated relationships.
I guess I have a week to figure it out. A week is forever from now.
My phone chimes, and I pull it out from my purse to see a text from Cupid.
Cupid: You got the job?
Me: I think so. I’m doing an event for him next week on Valentine’s Day.
Cupid: Don’t forget, sweets. You’re my Valentine.
One week later…
“You know, when Star and I got together, she thought I was crazy.”
“You are,” I say to Nick without looking up.
“But I have to say nothing I did compares to this.”
When I glance up at him where he’s standing on the stage, he’s wearing a smug smile, and I want to tackle him to the ground. Maybe a good fight would get out some of this pent-up aggression I’m feeling right now. Especially with everyone already arriving and in the other room having cocktails and hors d’oeuvres.
I want the place to be perfect, so I’ve been helping Star and her team of people decorate the restaurant. It’s a Valentine's Day theme, of course, but it’s also over the top. Which is exactly what I wanted.
There are flowers hanging from the ceiling in long cascades, and every flat surface is covered in red and pink roses. There’s an orchestra warming up, and I’ve already seen several people coming through the front door.
“It’s time,” Nick says as he lights the final candle and comes to join me. “Are you sure about all this?” When I glare at him, he holds his hands up. “Okay, chill, I’m just asking. When is my sister going to be here?”
“In about fifteen minutes if Star did her job.”
“Star won’t miss a thing,” Nick says confidently. “She wants today to be perfect too.”
“Okay. If for some reason this doesn't go according to plan—”
“I’ve got it,” Nick says, patting me on the shoulder. “Just go get pretty, and I’ll keep everyone occupied with my sparkling personality.”
“We’re doomed,” I sigh as I walk to the back office and get changed.
Once I’m out of my clothes I used to set up, I change into my dark suit and red tie. I check my watch and then glance out the back window, seeing Star and Astrid pull up right on time.
There’s a small room in the back we use for private dining on occasion, and I wait there for Astrid. My heart is in my throat, but I know that today is the day I come clean. It’s been a week of me desperately holding on by a thread as I wait for today, and now that it’s here, I’m not sure I’ll survive.
“I’ll meet you out front,” Star says as Astrid walks into the room. Star winks at me as she closes the door, leaving Astrid and me alone.
“Um, what's going on? Everything is ready, but Star said you wanted to see me?”
“You look so beautiful.” Her floor-length gown is strapless and pale pink with some kind of sparkles all over it.
“It’s not too much, is it?” Her cheeks redden, and I can’t stand the distance between us anymore.
“No, it’s perfect. You’re perfect.”
“Star made me dress up for tonight.” She’s sheepish like she’s embarrassed, but she looks flawless.
Taking her hands in mine, I let out a deep breath and begin. “I need to talk to you about something, Astrid.”
“Is there a problem with the cake?” Her eyes widen, and I shake my head.
“No, it's beautiful. It was delivered perfectly and is waiting in the kitchen.”
She looks down at our joined hands, and I feel her fingers nervously wrap around mine. “When you look at me, sweets, do you feel something for me?”
Her eyes snap up to mine and widen a fraction. “What do you mean?”
“Is it familiar? Is there a stirring in your stomach like this is right where you’re meant to be?”