Vince couldn’t concentrate all day long. He wanted to go home and see his girlfriend Olivia and surprise her for Valentine’s Day. Their relationship had been rocky for the last several months, but it wasn’t anything he thought they couldn’t work through.
The whole week he was thinking about what he could do to show her just how much he loved her. He wanted to do something special on Valentine’s Day for her and try to patch things up. He knew he had work to do in order for their relationship to heal and to progress, and he was up to the task. He loved this woman and wanted to be with her forever.
Vince thought of all kinds of things. Simple things and elaborate things. Things that would be expensive and things that were cheap. He tossed around a romantic weekend getaway and he tossed around dinner and a movie. What he settled on was simple, elegant, and romantic. And he knew she would love it. The minute he decided what he was going to do it was half past nine and he put his plan into motion. He still couldn’t concentrate on work.
Olivia sat at her desk in her cubicle and sighed. Three in the afternoon and still no flowers from Vince. He really didn’t love her. He knew she was a sucker for holiday’s and she had dropped him hints about Valentine’s Day coming up. She resolved in her mind that if she didn’t get flowers or chocolates or even just a note or phone call on Valentine’s Day, she would leave him. She didn’t want to, she loved him, but she couldn’t go on like this for the rest of her life. Trying to change certain things to make him happy while he never did anything to try to make her happy. What kind of relationship was that? So when her afternoon break came at three o’clock and there were no flowers, chocolates, notes or phone calls from him, she went from depressed to angry. She thought of all the things she had given up because of him. The big promotion at work that meant they’d have to move, the weekends with her girlfriends, and as much as she hated to admit it, she’d do it again if she just knew how he felt.
Olivia had tried, for the three years they had been serious, to get him to open up more to her. She wanted him to let go of the fear and stigma of men talking about their feelings. She knew it would help him. But he never really “got” it. He would come home upset about something and be so cold to her and she’d gently prod to get him to let it out and instead of talking, he’d explode. Those nights usually ended up in an argument and Olivia crying herself to sleep on the sofa wanting to get out of the unhappy relationship but not wanting to leave this man she loved.
She had worked up the courage all day long for the inevitable, had made arrangements with her best friend to stay with her at her apartment until she could find a place of her own and figured she would go home, tell him she was leaving him, pack a few essentials and leave. She would worry about getting the rest of her stuff later. It was 3:30 now. Time to leave work. She would have forty-five more minutes on the commute home to figure out what she would say to him.
Vince put the finishing touches on the home-made card and set it on the dining room table in front of the bouquet of lilies he had bought when he left work. There was a dozen roses on her nightstand in the bedroom too. He went into the kitchen to check on the dinner he was making to make sure everything was done and hot and ready for when she got home. He heard the garage door open and was so nervous. He was so excited to see her.
Olivia walked in and looked so sad. His heart skipped a beat as he saw her look so sad. What was wrong? What happened? Her face turned from sadness to confusion as she looked at the dining room table already set for dinner and she smelled the Italian food cooking with wafts of garlic and oregano finding their way to her from the kitchen. She saw the flowers and the card on the table and her own heart skipped a beat as she looked at Vince.
“Hey, baby,” he said quietly. “Look, I know I’ve been a jerk these past couple months and I know I haven’t exactly been the best guy in the world before that either. But I love you. I can’t describe it so I let other people say how much I love you. It’s in the card.” He walked to the table and picked up the card and handed it to her. She looked at it as he handed it to her and then took it. Before she looked at it, she looked up at him. She looked in his eyes and flushed. She looked down, paused for a few seconds and then opened the card.
I love you. But that’s not enough to explain how I feel. It’s much more. You know I’m not good with showing feelings, or talking about things, but from today on, I will try. I love you more than anything.
She put the card down on the table and sniffled as a tear rolled down her cheek. She looked up and he wasn’t there. He appeared in the corner of her eye from the living room and music filled the air from their surround sound stereo system. It was a breezy bossa nova type song and then she heard Tony Bennet start to sing. Vince opened his arms in the traditional dancing pose and she walked over to him and put her hand on his shoulder and took his other hand in hers and they started dancing.
“Hold me close and hold me fast,” Tony crooned. “This magic spell you cast, this is la vie en rose. When you kiss me heaven sighs, and though I close my eyes, I see la vie en rose.”
Olivia closed her teary eyes and rested her head on his chest. He brought her hand in towards them both and the arm around her waist brought her in closer and held her tightly.
“When you press me to your heart, I’m in a world apart, a world where roses bloom, and when you speak, angels sing from above, every day words, seem to turn into love songs. Give your heart and soul to me, and life will always be la vie en rose.”