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Not a Chalk Candy in Sight

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Cassandra Anderson checked her phone, which read 7:37 AM. Classes weren’t due to start until homeroom at eight, so getting to school that early hadn’t been strictly necessary.

But Cassandra was understandably a bit nervous. After all, it was her first Valentine’s Day with a significant other (Cassie rather congratulated herself for managing to land a girlfriend in senior year of high school), and she wanted to do this thing right.

God forbid Andrea ever get one of those stupid heart-shaped chalk candy messages like Cassie had last year.

Having gotten to school early and made her way to Andrea’s locker, she looked furtively up and down the hallway to make sure her girlfriend wasn’t suddenly going to materialize next to her, and quickly slipped the envelope through the gap between the top of the door and the frame.

Cassie couldn’t stop herself from biting her lip as she walked away, but was proud of herself for not anxiously looking backwards every second step at Andrea’s locker.

Homeroom, then morning classes until ten-fifteen AM, after which fifteen-minute recess started. Unfortunately for the butterflies in Cassie’s stomach, she hadn’t had either of her two classes with Andrea, who also hadn’t swung by Cassie’s locker before classes.

As she came up to her locker, she spotted a familiar head of black hair in a ponytail, and saw that Andrea was leaning against the door, her back to Cassie.

As Cassie came up to her girlfriend, she reached up tentatively to tap Andrea’s shoulder. “Hey, there!” she announced. She worried her lip for a second before Andrea turned around.

Andrea beamed and said, “Hi! Oh, Cassie, thank you for the card! I loved it!”

Cassie tried to look nonchalant as Andrea pulled the card out from her backpack and read aloud: “‘Dear Andrea, the last four months have been amazing. On this Valentine’s Day, I want you to know that you’re a very sweet (haha) girlfriend. Cassie. Heart, heart’ - oh my god, I still can’t get over that.” Andrea pressed her lips together, trying to stifle her giggles as she looked up at Cassie.

Cassie said, “Yeah, I did the hearts and XO thing. Was that, you know, too cheesy?” She bounced lightly on her feet, trying not to let the tension show.

Andrea gently swatted Cassie on the shoulder with the card and beamed. “Of course not, silly! It’s a very sweet card, you know. Pun not intended, unlike in your card.”

She reached out to sweep Cassie into a hug, which Cassie returned (letting out a small sigh of relief, as well). When they drew apart again, Cassie mentally scored herself ten out of ten. Step one accomplished!

At lunch time, Cassie brought out her second weapon in her arsenal—er, Valentine’s Day Gift.

Holding the single red rose in her hand, she went to their usual lunch spot at one of the tables in the cafeteria and set it crosswise in front of her. She grabbed her phone and tapped out a message to Andrea: “Hey. Am at the cafeteria. Where are you?”

“Lineup! What do you want?” was Andrea’s reply.

Cassie looked up, spotted Andrea in line, and smiled to herself. She replied with, “Surprise me.”

To kill some time, Cassie began looking on Instagram for other Valentine’s Day pictures, smiling at some of the sillier ones posted by her fellow volleyball team members.

A loud “Cassie!” got her attention. Cassie looked up from her phone to spot Andrea coming toward the table with a tray that had two plates, plus drinks, on it. A few moments later, and Andrea had the tray in front of the two of them, and sat down to Cassie’s right.

Cassie grinned. “A ham and cheese sandwich. My favorite!” She put on a starstruck expression for Andrea, who rolled her eyes at Cassie’s antics.

Just as Andrea finished setting out the plates, her eyes caught the rose, and her body stilled. Cassie swallowed, her breath hitching. Was it too over the top?

In a small voice, Andrea wondered, “Did you really get that for me?”

Cassie nodded jerkily. “Uh, yeah. Here.” She reached out to pick up the rose and held it out. “Your second Valentine’s Day gift, Andrea Yates, my wonderful girlfriend.”

Andrea blinked and took the rose. “That’s really sweet. But Cassie, you really don’t have to do all this, honestly. I’m just happy to spend the day with you.” At Cassie’s worried look, she hastened to add, “Not that I don’t appreciate the card or the rose – believe me, I do.”

Not sure what to say to that, Cassie leaned in to capture Andrea’s lips in a quick kiss. After they drew apart again, Andrea said apologetically, “I’m just feeling a little bad because all I got you was a card, which I want to give you after school. Is that okay?” She smiled uncertainly.

“Sure!” Cassie waved her hand. “You don’t need to feel like this is a competition.”

Maybe, wondered Cassie, she should cancel those dinner reservations. Then, she decided, Fuck it. Andrea deserves a good time.

Andrea grinned, clearly relieved. “Well, lunch awaits!”

With that, they ate, and then cleaned up their table to head off to afternoon classes. As Cassie left the cafeteria, she smirked to herself. Another ten out of ten for step two.

After school, at Andrea’s locker, Cassie joked, “No more presents! For now, that is.”

Andrea groaned and facepalmed. “Oh, Cassie, please don’t tell me you bought me a car or something ridiculous, and it’s waiting at your house.”

Cassie snorted. “No, I didn’t. But, um…” she continued in a lower voice, “I did get us dinner reservations at The Lantern’s Shade.”

Andrea’s jaw dropped. “You didn’t.”

“Look, maybe it was too much – I can cancel the—” blurted Cassie.

Andrea’s gentle finger on Cassie’s lips stopped her midstream. “That place is expensive, but if you thought I was worth it, I’m… well—” Andrea dropped her hand and blushed. “I’m flattered, really.”

“So… you’re okay with it?” ventured Cassie as she shifted on her feet.

Andrea nodded. “I am. So, why don’t we get this lovely rose into a vase, then change clothes, and then you can escort me to a fancy posh dinner? It’ll be the perfect time for me to give you your card.”

Cassie, standing in line waiting for the maître d’, said, “I may be biased, but I have the hottest girlfriend next to me, am I right or am I right?”

Andrea, her hair in a chignon updo and wearing a thin gold necklace accompanied by a sleeveless navy blue dress shirt and a knee-length navy blue prom dress, chuckled. “You’re looking pretty good, yourself, for using what was in my closet.”

Cassie, for her part, had put her hair in a similar updo style as Andrea’s, and had picked out a black halter dress that went down to mid-thigh. “Thanks. Let’s get a picture for the Instagram while we’re still waiting.”

Cassie dug her phone out of her purse and, within a few moments, had the picture taken, cropped, and uploaded. “There. Dinner is now immortalized.”

Andrea laughed and rolled her eyes. “I’m just happy you told my mom and dad in advance about this, or they’d probably have insisted on sending a scout party or something.”

Andrea’s parents weren’t that overprotective, Cassie knew, but this was her first serious relationship, from what she understood. So she could live with a little bit of excess caution from those quarters as long as she got to see the smart girl she’d gotten to know over the last couple of years since they’d first met in junior biology class.

Shortly after, they were escorted to their table, a semi-secluded one with a bench seat in a U-shape near the back. The maître d’, who didn’t look much older than them, wished them a happy Valentine’s Day dinner, and left them to look at the menu. Both of them felt adventurous enough to try the spiced fish fillets with a salad on the side, and they decided to stick with water as it was a school night.

Until the food arrived, they kept the conversation light, making plans for the upcoming prom in late spring and discussing schoolwork they could work together on over the coming week.

Once they each had a plate of fish before them, Cassie raised her glass of water. “Sorry it isn’t wine, but anyway. Andrea, here’s to a wonderful Valentine’s Day.”

Andrea smiled and raised her glass to touch Cassie’s with a small clink before doing the traditional sip of liquid. Andrea then cut off a bit of fish and speared it with her fork to hold it out for Cassie to eat. “C’mon, girlfriend.”

Cassie opened her mouth a bit tentatively, not sure how good the fish would taste (it was supposed to be ‘spiced’), and instantly regretted it the moment she drew back from Andrea’s fork and began chewing. She grabbed up her water and swallowed large gulp, sighing in relief as she set the glass back on the table.

Andrea blurted, “Oh my god! Are you okay?”

“Holy spicy freakin’ fish, Andrea!” she gasped.

Andrea’s look of alarm faded to a more hesitant look as she eyed her fish warily. “Let’s try eating it with the lettuce from the salad. That might help,” she suggested.

Cassie shook her finger at Andrea. “Not yet, lady. If I have to eat a fish that tastes like hot peppers, you have to suffer one bite too.”

So saying, Cassie speared a bit of fish on her fork and held it out to Andrea. “Open wiiiiide,” she chanted.

Andrea rolled her eyes, but acquiesced. Cassie couldn’t help but burst into giggles at seeing Andrea’s eyes go comically wide, her face flushing as she frantically chewed before grabbing up her water to swallow some.

Luckily, the rest of the dinner was less exciting for their taste buds as the salad-with-fish trick worked, and at the end, Andrea sighed and leaned back against the seat, snuggling a little closer to Cassie. “I’m so glad I didn’t make you cancel this. I had a good time, even if that fish was maybe not the best idea.”

“Thanks,” replied Cassie. “You want dessert?”

Andrea looked conflicted. “I don’t know. That was a pretty big meal.”

“Worst case, we’ll just have to take the cake home with us or something. C’mon, Andrea, please?” Cassie leaned in for a short kiss.

“All right, chocolate cake it is, then,” Andrea agreed. “Also, I brought my card for you, but I want to give you that after we get it. Okay?”

“Sure.” Cassie signaled their server, and not long after they had a plate of rich chocolate fudge cake in front of them and two cups of coffee.

Andrea reached for her purse, and took a deep breath before digging around in it. Cassie’s heart began to race as Andrea held out an envelope to her. Cassie opened it and extracted the card, then read its contents:

Dear Cassie,

I wasn’t sure what to write in this for Valentine’s Day at first, but thinking back on the months we’ve had together, I can safely say they’ve been good, happy ones. Before I found out you liked girls, too, and were into me – which I still can’t totally get over! – I would’ve been happy enough just being your friend.

I’m happy we’ve become so much more, and it might be very sappy to say so, but I really hope we have many more Valentine’s Days ahead of us. I’m hoping this is enough in saying, ‘I love you, Cassandra Anderson.’

Your girlfriend, Andrea.

Something seemed to crystallize within Cassie’s mind as she re-read those final words on the inside of the card.

Andrea’s lips were pressed together as she fidgeted, her hands clasped together in her lap. Softly, she asked, “Was that…?”

Cassie would later be proud she only managed to sniffle loudly, once. Even so, her eyes were undeniably wet as she blinked rapidly. She reached out for Andrea and swept the other girl into her arms. As she rested her chin on Andrea’s shoulder, she said thickly, “It was beautiful, Andrea. And – and I love you, too.”

She could feel Andrea’s gasp as she embraced her girlfriend for a few more moments, then slowly drew back to pluck a Kleenex out of her purse to blow her nose. Once Cassie had her composure back, she reached for Andrea’s hand. “I never put it into words before now, but – seeing those words from you, it was like something shifted inside me. I can’t explain it, but… I just knew.”

Now it was Andrea’s turn to sniffle and for her eyes to get suspiciously wet, but her voice barely wobbled as she said, “Well, we’ve got a cake to eat and our coffees are getting cold, so maybe we can talk after?”

Cassie smiled broadly. “Of course.”

With that, the two of them dug into the chocolate cake with gusto, leaving just over half of it for later consumption. Thankfully, they hadn’t made any messes feeding each other pieces of cake on a dare.

As they waited for the bill, Andrea looked across at Cassie and clasped her hands. “Cassie, thank you so much for a wonderful day. It really has been lovely, getting the card and the rose and now this.”

“Well, I sure wasn’t going to give you something dry and tasteless, like those stupid heart chalk candies with silly messages on them,” Cassie joked.

Andrea wrinkled her nose. “Ew, those things? I got one from a guy last year and it had 'MARRY ME' on it. Who did he think he was kidding?”

Cassie chuckled and tucked a stray strand of Andrea's hair behind her ear before turning to the server, who had just approached, in order to settle the bill.

On their way out of the restaurant, Cassie leaned in, put her arm around Andrea’s waist and said into her ear, “Let’s go to my place and have that talk. Then how about a different kind of celebration? My mom and dad said they were going to stay out at a hotel tonight.”

Andrea gulped and looked at Cassie, her eyes growing dark with arousal. “For real?”

Cassie grinned. “This is brought to you by the number six, and the number—”

Andrea burst out laughing, “Cass-ie!”

Cassie’s response was to reach down and goose Andrea’s butt, garnering an indignant squeal before the two of them reached Cassie’s car.

That night, both Cassie and Andrea celebrated Valentine’s Day in a very special way, and they both woke up in Cassie’s bed the next morning.

Yesterday was eleven out of ten, Cassie decided to herself as she looked over and smiled at Andrea, who was brushing her hair out of her eyes and smiling back.