After a string of bad Valentine’s for the past few years, winding up alone and single is the last thing Lizzie expected. Her new boss, Sharon, loves Valentine’s Day, and doesn’t want to see Lizzie alone or unhappy for the holiday.
Sharon’s misguided attempt at a grand romantic gesture backfires into painful humiliation for the shy Lizzie. When Sharon realizes that her strategy is only causing Lizzie pain, she discovers that it’s the little things that really matter when it comes to lovers.
Lizzie stomped into work, shaking rainwater out of her cropped brown hair. She glared at the sandwich board on the way in.
Looking to fall in LOVE this VALENTINE’S?
Pop in for a cup of pure ROMANCE!
Beneath the irritatingly cutesy message was a shakily chalked sketch of a teacup. It was practically giving birth to a cloud of hearts.
Her boss had a real thing about Valentine’s. Lizzie dreaded to think what she’d cook up on the actual day.
“Morning!” Sharon called from behind the coffee machine. Her glossy black hair was done up in a fancy French braid today. Lizzie really didn’t know where she found the time, given that the only time she’d seen it down, it had reached all the way to Sharon’s slender hips. “Still feeling sour?”
Lizzie huffed in reply as she grabbed her apron. She’d been working for Sharon for about six months now and still wasn’t entirely used to the whole ‘eternal good cheer’ thing her boss had going on. It seemed like no thirty-year-old woman should be quite that happy about working for minimum wage in the service industry.
Sharon hummed sympathetically. “Such a shame, and just before Valentine’s Day as well. There’s nothing worse than being single on Valentine’s.” She placed a takeaway cup on the counter.
“Chocolate hazelnut with whipped cream and cinnamon!”
Sharon smiled sweetly at the drink’s owner as he limped forward. He was a short, pasty young man with floppy blond hair, who kept his eyes carefully on the ground the entire time so he could avoid Lizzie’s gaze.
Last week, she might have said a few things she shouldn’t have about the contents of his sketchbook.
She felt a little bad, but how was she supposed to know he was colour blind?
“Look,” Sharon said and turned back to Lizzie. “Come out with me tonight. We’ll have a few drinks, meet some cute girls. See if we can’t find you someone before the big day.”
“It’s only been a week,” Lizzie said. Nine days if she was going to admit to counting them. She ducked her boss’s gaze by grabbing a cloth and swiping absently at one of the counter’s many coffee rings. “I’m not looking for another girlfriend right now. Maybe not ever.”
Sharon laughed. “Not ever? No plans to date anyone for the next sixty, seventy years?”
Lizzie smiled reluctantly. “Well, maybe not ever, but not for a while. Not for now. I’m done with Valentine’s at least. You might hate being single for our favourite ode to consumerism and Cadbury’s, but I’ve had plenty of practise the past few years.”
Sharon huffed and might have replied, but a gaggle of teenage girls with impeccable makeup and brightly coloured mini-skirts swirled through the door demanding skim milk, and soy, and were the muffins gluten free?