Notes: This month we're setting a Valentine's challenge. There are two choices for you. We have ten words and you'll need to use at least FIVE of them, OR we have a line for you to use. The words are: CUPID; ANNIVERSARY; PERFUME; HEART; CANDY; DIAMOND(S); VALENTINE; SATIN; ORGASM; SEX. The line is: OOH BABY, COME TO MAMA/PAPA.

All the usual disclaimers apply

Timeline - Pre-Season 1

Genre - general

Rating - T

Author - Charlie

Amanda stood in the dining room nervously adjusting the candle sticks on the table. Everything was set. The silverware gleamed, the linen napkins were immaculate. She had wine chilling, stuffed Cornish hens ready in the oven, chocolate mousse for dessert.

Checking her watch, she debated about lighting the various candles she had scattered about the room but decided to wait. Once Joe pulled in the driveway, she'd have time to light them before hurrying to the front door to greet him.

Her stomach quivered and she put her hands on her waist, trying to calm the butterflies that fluttered about underneath the SATIN material of her dress. It was just dinner with her husband, no reason to be nervous, none whatsoever. 'Except,' a little voice inside her head whispered, 'you know this is your last ditch effort to rekindle some romance in your marriage.'

Her heart thumped heavily in her chest as she acknowledged the truth of the statement. Her marriage to Joe was going downhill fast. He was so busy with his job that he barely had time for her or the boys. Some days they never even spoke. She'd be in bed sleeping by time he got home and then he'd be gone by time she returned from taking the boys to school...

But that was all going to change after tonight, she reassured herself. She'd been planning this all week. They'd have a romantic dinner together, then sit and talk—really talk—about their relationship, their future. Joe was a reasonable man and she was sure that if she could only get his attention, she could make him see what was going wrong.

A smile played over her lips as she envisioned how the evening would end. They'd head upstairs together and spend the night making slow passionate love. She'd sent the boys over to her mother's for the night, so there would be no interruptions, no need to be quiet. It had been a long time since they'd had unrestrained SEX and she was looking forward to an earth shaking ORGASM.

Amanda checked her watch again and frowned. Joe was late. A little frisson of worry crept over her but she firmly pushed it away. No, he couldn't have forgotten. She'd reminded him several times this week that they were having a 'date' tonight and she'd even left a message for him at work.

Walking into the kitchen, she checked on dinner and decided it wouldn't be too overdone. After adjusting the oven temperature so that it just kept the meal warm, she turned the wine in the ice bucket then readjusted the fresh flowers on the counter. Impulsively, she carried them to the dining room and set them between the silver candlesticks. Yes, that looked better.

The flowers were lovely. Roses and baby's breath with ferns gently cascading down from the edges of the arrangement. Too bad Joe hadn't thought to buy them for her; he used to do crazy impulsive things like that when they were first together. She sighed knowing she shouldn't be expecting romantic gestures after all these years of marriage. Gently she fingered the velvety blossoms that she'd picked up while buying groceries that morning. It was silly to buy herself flowers but she couldn't resist. Leaning forward, she sniffed the roses, enjoying their scent.

A car could be heard coming into the driveway and a bubble of excitement rose up inside of her. She flicked on the stereo so that quiet waves of romantic music filled the room. With shaking hands, she lit the candles, then hurried to the window, pushing the lace curtains aside so she could spy on her husband. She wondered what he might have bought her. CANDY? PERFUME? It didn't really matter, just him being home was present enough...

Gazing out at the driveway, the smile on her face fell. It wasn't Joe in the driveway. The car was already backing out; it was just someone turning around. Biting her lip, Amanda forced herself to not cry. Joe wasn't that late, not really... Something important must have come up. He'd probably call any moment now and apologize, then reassure her that he was leaving that minute...

Amanda turned and looked back at the elegantly appointed table. The hardwood surface gleamed. Crystal glasses and silverware sparkled while candlelight danced merrily, casting magical shadows on the wall. Romantic music was softly playing in the background and two chairs sat facing each other, expectantly awaiting the arrival of young lovers.

Blinking rapidly, Amanda walked to the den. 'He's just late. He's was just late...' She chanted the phrase over and over to herself as she sat down and hugged a cushion to her chest. Joe knew how important this was to her; she'd told him several times. Surely he had heard her. He couldn't forget...

*****

Three hours later...

Joe King walked into a silent dark house and wearily shut the door. It was late and he was tired. Another busy day at the office but—he smiled as he hung up his coat—it had been successful and in the end that was what mattered.

He turned and sniffed the air. Something smelled delicious. Amanda probably had leftovers in the fridge for him. She was such a trooper... Striding into the dining room on his way to the kitchen, he stopped cold and stared. The best dishes were out. Burnt out candles were scattered about the room and a bouquet of roses adorned the centre of the table.

Realization dawned. It was VALENTINE's day and Amanda had been going on and on all week about having a special dinner for just the two of them. He'd totally forgotten. Inwardly cursing, he headed into the kitchen and spotted the light on in the oven. Bending over, he saw two plates inside, the food decidedly dried out and unappetizing. Slowly he stood and turned off the oven, then glanced towards the den.

From where he stood, he could just see some brunette curls over the top of the couch. Slowly, with a leaden heart he walked into the den. Amanda didn't move, even when he softly called her name. Hesitantly he approached, circling the couch until he stood in front it. Gazing down at his sleeping wife, he noted the tear stains on her cheeks, her smeared eye makeup, and slightly pink nose. A pillow was wrapped in her arms and held protectively over her heart as if to ward off something unpleasant.

"Oh crap!" He chastised himself. His shoulders slumped and he wearily rubbed his hands over his face. Gently he reached out and brushed a stray curl from Amanda's cheek, regretfully whispering the fated words. 'This just isn't working anymore, is it sweetheart?'