Coreen held out a plastic window decoration of a cartoon vampire holding a red heart that read "I'd like to take a love bite out of you." as Vicki came into the office much later than usual.
Vicki looked at it and snarled, "If you dare put that up, I'll fire you," and walked into her office.
Coreen dropped it on her desk and followed Vicki. "What's the use of having a vampire if you can't enjoy it?"
Vicki dropped the mail on her desk, "I don't have a vampire."
"What about Henry?"
"What about him?"
"I thought you worked everything out with him."
"You're together aren't you?"
"Not really. We have our moments but that's about all." Vicki held up her hand for silence, "And before you ask, I don't have Mike either. Both of them are friends, just friends."
Frowning Coreen asked, "Friends with benefits?"
Vicki walked over and stood in Coreen's space, "That's so none of your business."
"What got you so touchy. It's Valentines. A time for friends and lovers to tell each other they care." Then Coreen pointed at the center of Vicki's desk that held a pink skull coffee mug.
Vicki sighed at the site and felt a twinge of guilt over the fact she didn't have anything for Coreen. "Sorry I didn't think. I've lost track of the calendar. Take the rest of the day off and go enjoy your friends."
Coreen's face brightened, "With pay?"
Vicki shook her head, "Of course. With pay." Coreen shut down her computer and was out the door before Vicki had a chance to change her mind.
Sitting down, she powered up her computer and picked up the skull mug. The eye sockets were shaped like hearts and the toothy grin smiled. It was cute and ugly at the same time. In the mug were chocolate heart shaped candies. Vicki pulled one out, unwrapped it and ate it as she checked her e-mail.
There was an e-card valentine from Mike that was as romantic as a handshake and another from Henry that was one of his own drawings of Vicki kicking a demon's butt with the caption, 'you try kissing me again and you're dead'.
Vicki sent them both to a special save file and continued working on research for one of her long time clients that appreciated her skills in back ground checks.
Without the phone ringing or Coreen chattering she was able to get a lot accomplished. By the time her eyes grew tired, it had turned dark outside and she was beginning to get hungry. Looking at the clock she was surprised to see that it was well after 7 PM. She shut down the computer and was about to turn off the lights when her phone rang.
"Would you like to go out for a pizza and beer?"
"Don't you have a date for tonight?"
"Kate pulled a case and will be tied up for hours."
"Does she know you're calling me?"
She heard the hesitation in Mike's voice as he said, "She knows you'll always be a friend. She can't object to me seeing a friend can she?"
"I don't think it's a good idea. You've finally started getting your life back together. You don't need me to screw things up again for you."
"E-mail buddies and occasional phone calls. That's all that's in the future. At least for now."
"At least for now." Mike agreed and added, "I'm here if you need me."
"I know. Good night Mike. Give Kate some flowers." Vicki hung up before she could hear Mike say, "I did."
Vicki finished locking up the office for the night and started the short walk home. Even with her limited night vision she felt perfectly safe walking home with her asp in hand.
Vicki heard the soft foot steps behind her and triggered the asp to its fullest length as she turned toward the sound.
"Is that a way to greet a friend?"
"It is when they're sneaking up on me."
"If I were sneaking you would never have heard me."
"How are you Henry?"
She laughed, "Lonely! You! You have half the female population at your feet. How can you possibly be lonely?"
"They're not you."
"What do you want?"
"I want to spend the rest of Valentines with someone that really knows me and accepts me for what I am."
"There are others in town that fit that description besides me."
"I've broken contact with all of them. To them I've already moved on."
"So why keep in touch with me?"
"Ask the vampire?"
"The vampire part of me won't give me any peace unless I spend time with you. It wants you and I'm tired of fighting it."
"Well then let it kill me and get it over with."
"It doesn't want you to die, it wants you to love it. And I want you to love me."
"Henry Fitzroy you're confusing me." She turned back towards her apartment. "Come on let's go home and give the vampire what it wants."