A New Anti-Valentine's Day Tradition

Summary: Single Lauren Branning hates Valentine's Day full stop. So instead she spends an anti-Valentine's Day with her cousin Joey, refusing to buy into the hype, which results in them finding a new tradition accidently. One Shot. Joey/Lauren.

Lauren Branning was never a fan of this day. To her this day was just about people making money. People thought she hated this day because she was single but it honestly wasn't because of that; she just wished people didn't feel the need to buy loads of silly little things and flaunt their relationships for the whole world to see; she didn't want to see that on the best of days.

"This is so stupid." Walking into the cafe, she spotted her cousin sitting up the corner alone and went to join him.

"What's stupid?" He asked. Joey Branning had a feeling he knew what his cousin was on about as he too felt a similar way but with Lauren, you couldn't always predict what would come out of her mouth and had to check.

"This whole day! I mean, come on, do people really think one day is going to change things? Nope, it's just some day where companies abuse customers with their alluring ways to go spend money because 'it's the right thing to do'. No it's a chance for you to increase your prices and make money!"

Smirking, he watched her get worked up and flustered; she really did despise this day. "So you didn't get any valentines cards?"

"No thank God! Did you?" Pulling her scarf off, she stole Joey's drink and took a sip. He'd got used to her just doing stuff without warning.

"Help yourself." She smiled and he just rolled his eyes. "I got a few. Not sure who half of them are from, mind you."

"Of course you did. Are you working later?" In the eight months since her cousin Joey arrived in the square, he'd become one of her closest friends and was a lot less hassle then her best friend Lucy Beale.

Stealing his coffee back, Joey took a sip before answering her question, "Yeah, we've got a big hen and stag do on. What about you; what are you doing with yourself tonight?"

"Dunno yet, Abs has kicked me out the house for the day and I'm not allowed back until later tonight when she texts me."

"She's kicked you out the house?" Lauren nodded. "Why?"

"Mum and Dad have gone away to try and work on their relationship, Nan's got Oscar at Ava's and Abi wants to take full advantage of an empty house with Jay tonight, if you get my drift." Her parents were just starting to get their relationship back on track after her Dad's secret wife turning up, thanks to her now dead Uncle Derek, and causing trouble. After his wife, Kirsty, signed the divorce papers, her Dad filed them the very next day, determined to prove he was committed to their family and wanted nothing more to do with her.

"It's alright for some. Here, I've got to be in work by seven to set up but you can just stay at ours. That way you can let Abi know she has the house for the whole night." Joey pulled his keys from his jacket and handed them to her. "Alice has gone to spend a few days with Mum so you'll have a free house until I get home; just no parties please."

She took his keys with a grateful smile. "Thank you. I promise no parties; even if I wanted to throw one, it'd probably be full of couples so I think I'll stick to my own company today. Don't you need to go back home before work?"

"Yeah I do but only to change. However, seeing as you have nothing better to do with your day and neither do I, we might as well do something together but if I don't give you them now, I'll forget later. You feel like doing anything particular?" Joey had never had many close friends so he cherished his relationship with Lauren; they were both so honest and blunt that they tended to tell each other pretty much everything and respected each other for it. He'd never thought he could have such a person in his life, especially a female and a Branning.

"I don't mind. Movie day at yours? Avoid all these petty people?" Lauren suggested making Joey laugh at she looked around the cafe.

"Seriously, what has made you hate today so much? You had a bad experience in the past of something?" Lauren was hard to read and wasn't the most open person, especially when it came to her history. Alice had told him that apparently Lauren had had a rough few years but didn't give much detail.

"I just see it as degrading and fake. Tomorrow half these people will go back to arguing with each other and within a few hours, some people will have broken up. It's just the same as any other day. I've experienced this day both in a relationship and single but it doesn't change how I feel; the positive about being single is I don't get moaned at for being anti-Valentine's day." The male could understand his cousin's point of view but as much as he wasn't the biggest fan of the day, he wasn't completely opposed to it either.

"Ok then, let's just go to mine and hang out as if it's just any another Thursday. Just us two. No couples; no romantic comedies; no hyped up sales signs and no Valentine's Day." Standing up, he waited for her to put her scarf back on before leading her out the cafe and back to his place.

He knew there were worst ways to spend Valentine's Day than hanging out with his cousin. And at least she didn't cost him anything.


As promised, the two of them spent the day either just watching any movie that wasn't romantic in the slightest, talking or cooking. Joey had gone for a sleep around four that afternoon leaving Lauren alone as he needed a rest before heading to work for the night. Joey had made sure she was ok with everything before leaving. However, it hadn't taken long for her to get bored so she grabbed her jacket and Joey's keys and went to the club; if she was spending the night alone, she might as well spend it alone at the club, getting drunk and reminding herself why she hated this day so much.

Joey was busy serving despite the club having only opened an hour ago. Between the stag and hen parties and the Valentine's party Sharon was putting on, the club was pretty rammed. Through the chaos, he hadn't spotted the brunette walk in not long ago and who'd been served already by his colleague. Eventually, the line died down a little and his colleague, Matt, was serving the hen and stag parties so he had a chance to take a few minutes breather at the bar.

"Whatcha doing?" He turned hearing her voice and couldn't help but shake his head as she propped herself up on one of the bar stools.

"I thought you were at home?" He leaned on the bar next to her so they could talk.

"Eh, I got bored. Thought I'd come bug you some more and remind myself why I hate this day." She pointed at one of the promotional offers on special Valentine's drinks. "See; just more hyped up stuff."

Joey grinned. "Well this stuff is paying my wages so I can't argue. Will a free drink help make things easier?" He offered.

"Oh, it'll definitely make things easier." He moved as a customer appeared on the opposite side of the bar.

After sorting the order, he grabbed her a drink and placed in front of her. "For my special anti-Valentine's date."

"Thanks and thanks for spending the day with an anti-Valentine's person." He nodded.

"I think it's the best Valentine's Day I've ever had and by far the cheapest."

She gasped in mock offence. "Oh thanks, you think I'm cheap?"

"No I don't think you're cheap; I just mean normally, like you say, a guy has to spend money on girls on day's like today; sometimes just to even get them to spend the day with you. You, I know, didn't just spend the day with me because I'd spent money on you; it was because I think you actually wanted to." It was true; most girls he'd been with on Valentine's Day previously had either just been random hook ups or he'd had to bribe them to spend the day with him by buying flowers and promising to take them out and whatnot. Lauren was the first person he wanted to spend the day with, without feeling pressured to, and she had made it clear she was grateful to have someone to be with today, someone that wouldn't try and change her opinion on the day and wouldn't create a fuss by spending money.

"It's ok, I get it, Joey. Maybe this'll be a new thing for us every year if we're alone; spend the day doing the complete opposite of what is expected. I mean how many people would choose to spend the day with their cousin over a date? Don't think there would be many." She squeezed his hand that rested on the bar.

They couldn't talk for much longer as another group of people entered the club and headed for the bar. Lauren remained in her position watching Joey work, his white shirt showcasing his flexing muscles as he moved. Every now and then he'd look over to check on her and would flash her his special grin that not many people got to see; it wasn't his cocky or flirty one, it was his real one; one only the people he was exceptionally close to, got to see. A short while later, she watched a group of women enter the club and immediately started flirting with him as they ordered their drinks. She didn't blame them because her cousin was something of a looker and he certainly used his looks to his advantage. Watching Joey flirt back, she realised as much as she loved today and just hanging out with him, he probably had a lot more planned, especially for tonight. There was no question in her mind that if he wasn't being forced to spend the day with her and then offering to take her in so she wasn't homeless for the night, he would have most likely been taking a girl home with him tonight. Knowing how much she had already taken from him today, she decided she would stop putting her hatred of today on him and let him enjoy whatever was left of the night. Climbing off the stool, she finished her drink and walked round to him to get his attention.

"I've gotta go; a friend from college has an emergency so I'll probably just stay over at hers. Thanks for today though." She lied, sliding his keys from her black skinny jeans pocket and handing them over to him.

Giving her a confused look, he gave her his full attention, his colleague taking over serving, "You sure everything's ok?"

She nodded, "Yeah, I just need to go. Thanks again for earlier and the offer. Have fun tonight; I think there are a few girls hoping to get some attention from you tonight and you might as well take advantage of an empty house too." Winking at him, she kissed his cheek and disappeared out the club.

"Now what?" She asked herself, finding herself completely alone and with nowhere to go.


Joey was finally finished around one thirty am and was shattered. The night had been a success but as a result, they had very little time to take it easy tonight with the continuous crowds. For the last three hours, however, he hadn't been able to focus as easily, nor had he been as flirty, as his mind kept drifting back to his cousin who had suddenly disappeared. He knew she was lying to him but he didn't understand why. As a result, he'd turned down several offers to join girls at more clubs later on or even their offers of going home with them. It had to be the first time he flat out refused either. And he never thought that would happen and especially not for his blunt cousin, Lauren Branning.

Walking away, he was about to turn when someone caught his eye over on the war memorial. Walking over, she was sitting facing the chip shop and in a complete world of her own.

"It really looks like your friend is in desperate need of you." Lauren jumped, startled at his voice. "Lauren, what are you doing? What happened back at the club?"

She sighed as he sat down next to her and she shivered from the cold. "I didn't want to ruin your night."

"Ruin my night? What you on about?" Joey was genuinely confused.

"It was Valentine's Day; Joey, if I hadn't of dumped my boring hatred on you and being kicked out, you would have no doubt done more than watch horror films all day and then gone home alone. Being there, I knew would ruin the night for you because I know you're funny about taking girls home when you have family at home." She refused to look at him as she explained.

What she couldn't see was the smile that fell on his lips as he shook his head, "Oh, Lauren, what are we going to do with you? I've already told you, today, yesterday, whatever you want to call it, it was even better than I could have ever imagined. I wouldn't have done anything better nor would I have found better company. As for tonight, you didn't stop me; I could have gone home with someone but I didn't want to; I did genuinely want to hang out with you. Like you say, people get too hyped up over Valentine's Day and I was over it too. And that wasn't your doing either. Anyway, what brilliant plan did you come up with seeing as you're homeless for the night? What, were you planning on sleeping in the street?"

"Maybe. Don't really have a lot of choice." She finally looked up at him with a smile.

"Hey, there's that smile again. I don't know how many times I've told you but you should smile more often." Lauren just rolled her eyes. Running his hand over her head, he wrapped an arm around her. "As much as I'd love to stay here, it's freezing and I'm ready to go to bed. Are you coming or you staying here?"

"You sure you can put up with me a bit longer?" She asked, her eyes shining under the moonlight.

"I've put up with you for eight months; I think I can manage at least another night. Come on." He moved and grabbed her hands to pull her up, before wrapping his arm around her again, her arm wrapping round his waist, as they made their way back to number twenty three.


"I'm guessing you need some stuff to sleep in?" Joey asked, as they entered the dark house; Lauren locking the door behind her.

"Yeah, a t-shirt will do unless you want me to go raid Alice's stuff." She slipped her coat off and hung it up on top of Joey's.

He started walking up the stairs and she followed. "I'm sure I've got a t-shirt I can spare." Following him into the familiar room, she sat on his bed as he went to his cupboard. "You know, for a guy, you keep your room reasonably tidy."

"Are you really analyzing my room?" He gave her an amazed look as she shrugged at his comment. "Yes it is but that's cause it's easier to keep it reasonably tidy than it is to have Alice on my back all day to clean it up."

Lauren laughed; Alice definitely wasn't as sweet and innocent as she appeared on first look. "It's nice to see Alice has you on a tight leash; someone has to have some control over you or you'd be like an untrained puppy, aka a disaster."

"Thanks for that but hey at least I'd still be as cute as a puppy." She laughed.

"Oh shush. Hurry up and find me a top, boy!" Joey pulled a black t-shirt out and threw it at her, "Gee, thanks."

"Where are you going?" He asked as she strode out his room, without warning.

"To get changed away from you, you pervert." She shouted back.

"Like I'd even look at you!"


Lauren reappeared in Joey's room a few minutes later wearing just his black t-shirt. Joey found his gaze instantly drawn to her long legs and followed them up to where his t-shirt skimmed her thighs; his words moments ago completely gone. He knew he'd be lying if he said he didn't find her, standing there and then against his door frame, attractive. There was something about her wearing his clothes that changed the way he looked at her.

"It's a good job it's only you seeing me like this because this look is so not sexy." She moaned, pulling at the t-shirt's edge.

Joey smirked and stood up off his bed; he was still in his work clothes but he'd now taken his shoes off at least. "I think it's a sexy look."

"Yeah, you'd think that. Joey, stop eyeing me." She scolded, seeing his eyes roam over her body.

He held his hands up in protest. "Hey, I'm a guy; it's natural for us to have to check out all girls. Except our sisters. And our Mums."

Lauren rolled her eyes and headed downstairs to get a drink, Joey following close behind her. "You know Alice text me earlier."

"Oh yeah, why? Is everything ok?"Grabbing two cups, he started making them both a hot chocolate.

"She asked me if I could come over in the morning and check if you'd had company tonight. She said she needs to know whether to disinfect the house when she gets back in a few days. I told her I'd be on it first thing." Sitting down at the table, Joey watched as she pulled her knee up to under her chin, her closed legs and his t-shirt just about still protecting her modesty. However, while it may be protecting her modesty, and such an innocent, unconscious movement on her behalf, he felt something stirring in him that he never expected.

Turning back to focus on the cups, he tried to regain his dirty mind without making it obvious. "You do know she will trust every word you say and she's probably already thinking I've got company so you better not fuel her speculations, especially when I'm not exactly receiving anything to at least make her lecture worthwhile." Although there was something that would make it worthwhile; that something sitting directly behind him in his t-shirt, Joey thought to himself.

"Aww, poor Joey, has it been a while?" He turned and glared at her, hearing her playful tone. "It has, hasn't it? Oh don't you worry, Lauren will help you find someone."

"Why you talking about yourself in third person? Now that's just weird." He poured the hot water in the cups, desperately trying not to let his mind wonder or say what he really wanted to.

"I'm weird. Simple as." Joey hissed as he splashed himself with some of the boiling water. "Careful. Do you need a hand?"

He could feel his frustration building; why was she suddenly affecting him like this? How could he go from seeing her as just his cousin to him wanting, no needing, her, in the space of just thirty short minutes. Had he always wanted her but never actually realised it before? Did she know something was up or even how he felt?

When he didn't reply, she stood up and walked over to him and grabbed his hand. "Come here." She moved him to the sink and ran the cold water over the small burns.

At the close proximity to each other, their eyes snapped to the others and Lauren saw something in his eyes that she'd never seen in them before but something she could read as a clear as day; lust. They both knew the atmosphere in the room had changed, their drinks long forgotten. Taking the plunge, Joey moved his head down and kissed her.

As soon as their lips touched, it was like something had been triggered inside them both. Breaking their hands apart, Joey turned the tap off and lifted Lauren so she was half sitting on the side, her hands in his hair, while her legs wrapped around his waist, allowing her to feel his pressing erection against her hot core, which unfortunately was only covered by her black lace underwear.

Moving down, Joey moved to her neck, kissing her while also branding her his. As she felt what he was doing, Lauren couldn't help the moan that escaped her lips. She needed him just as much as he needed her.

"Joey, bed." She didn't need to say it twice and Joey lifted her fully off the side, his hands resting on her backside as she kissed him while they manoeuvred their way to the stairs. While he climbed the stairs, she worked her way to his neck and her fingers slowly started working on undoing the top few buttons on his shirt.

Entering his room, Joey gently laid her down before crawling on top of her. Catching her lips with his own again, his hands reached down to the hem of his t-shirt and with a swift tug, he removed it from her body and threw it somewhere behind him in his room. He let her fingers finish their mission of undoing his shirt before pushing it off over his muscular shoulders. Taking the chance to look at her, he saw the look in her eyes and knew she wanted this as much as he did.

Reaching back up with his hands, he pulled the black hair band out of her hair, the offending item that had kept it held up together now gone, allowing her long, shiny, chestnut brown locks to tumble down past her shoulders, his fingers twisting into the softness. Lauren was enthralled by his small intricate touches. It was in that moment her heart reeled inside of her chest, forcing her to bury her face in his muscular neck as he kissed her chest; she had realised this wasn't just sex anymore as her feelings hit her like a tonne of bricks; she was unconditionally and irrevocably in love with her cousin! She just hadn't been able to realise it before now because she would only allow herself to see him as her cousin. But now, together, this didn't feel wrong like it should.

Joey stopped for a few moments and looked her in the eye having felt her tense up slightly. "Are you okay?" She nodded, not being able to find the words immediately. "Do you want to…stop?" He knew it would practically kill him to stop now but he would if it's what she wanted. However, she shook her head before sitting up and captured his lips with her own, her lips softly caressing his own.

"Definitely not," Lauren finally replied, pulling back and smiling slightly.

His arms encircled her small but curvaceous body and found the clasp of her bra, which he promptly opened having unfortunately had plenty of practice. With her lips still attached to his, Lauren slipped the offending item off and gasped into the kiss, feeling Joey squeeze one of her soft breasts. He lay her down once again and took a moment to take her in; she was breathtakingly gorgeous; dark hair spilling around her head, brown eyes full of arousal, creamy pale skin that was now flushed. He knew then and there he'd never find anyone in this world who could take his breath away like the beautiful creature under him. He knew somehow this girl had unknowingly captured his heart and he never wanted it back.

Knowing he was taking her in and most likely having to deal with his feelings just as she had, she ran her fingers up and down his chest several times until she reached the edge of his jeans. Undoing the button, she allowed him to sit up and kick them off, leaving them both in just their pants. Looking up, a cheeky glint in her eye, she hooked her fingers into the waistband of his boxers and slid them down his legs, allowing him to kick them off fully.

Joey moved to kiss her lips again before moving slowly down her body, kissing her neck, painfully slow for Lauren, before moving further south and kissing all around her breasts and nipples before taking one of her nipples in his mouth, loving the taste of her sweet skin before repeating the action. Lauren arched her back into him and moaned again at the sensation he was causing, her hips grinding against his.

Moving back to her hot mouth, her fingers tangled in his hair as Joey moved his hands to her now wet black lace knickers. Pulling away once more to make sure this was what she wanted, he saw her bite her bottom lip as she nodded. Quickly, the last piece of clothing joined the rest of their clothes on the bedroom floor.

Both knew now was not the time for playing around, they needed each other too much to care right now. Feeling the heat of her arousal, Joey moved closer to where his body needed to be. He paused when he remembered he didn't have any protection and the ones he did have were downstairs in his wallet in his jacket.

"Shit, I need to get a condom." Lauren moved her hand to his face and lovingly stroked his cheek at his thoughtfulness.

"It's fine. I'm on the pill." She reassured him; she didn't think she could wait much longer for him.

"Lauren, are you sure?" Part of him felt elated at being able to truly feel all of her but he wanted her to be reassured and safe. The brunette nodded, her brown eyes meeting his brown eyes.

Steadying himself above her, she gave him a look of encouragement before he gently entered her; the two gasping at the feeling of being one. Lauren moaned in ecstasy as Joey soon started moving, slowly at first, as he set the pace; she'd never been with a man as well endowed as Joey and it was sheer bliss and didn't compare to any lover she'd had previously.

They both could feel every muscle in their bodies shake as the adrenaline coursed through them. Joey watched her coming undone around him and it felt like heaven knowing he was the one making her react that way; hearing his name tumble from her lips as she moaned with pleasure. But it was also pushing him closer to his own release. Her fingers were gripping at his back as she tried to fight the sensations she was experiencing but he knew she was fighting a losing battle.

Her legs wrapped around his waist, taking him deeper. Needing her to finish before him, he flicked and pinched her tiny swollen bud with his fingers. She gasped, her back arching as she started to clench around him while her fingers tugged sharply on his hair as she reached her peak; the slight pain mixed with the intense pleasure sending Joey over the edge right after her.

Collapsing on top of her, their sweaty bodies tried to come down from the intense high. Rolling off her, Joey pulled her closer to him, her head resting on his chest as they tried to regain control of their breathing. Neither had ever experienced anything close to what they just had; it was everything they both hoped for and more.

Joey stroked his fingers through her long hair that was now damp with sweat. Pressing a soft kiss to the top of her head, Lauren looked up at him and allowed him to kiss her soft lips again. Joey couldn't stop thinking about how he hoped he hadn't fucked everything up between them because the thought of not having Lauren in his life, wasn't really a life he wanted at all.

Deciding he didn't have much more to lose, he allowed himself to tell her how he felt, "I think somewhere along the lines I've fallen in love with you."

As the words left his mouth, he knew he didn't regret telling her the truth because their whole relationship had been built from being blunt and honest with each other about everything. He'd never take it back.

Waiting for her response, he watched her gorgeous brown eyes flicker back open and look up at him. What he saw filled his heart with hope; she smiled. It was a shy smile, one that matched the flush in her cheeks. To Joey, there and then, she looked so innocent; so sweet. She looked absolutely beautiful.

"I think I've somehow fallen in love with you too." To Lauren, looking into Joey's eyes she saw three things: love, trust and comfort. He was her future now and with his support and encouragement she knew she wanted to spend every Valentine's Day from here on out, with him.

Softly kissing her again, he broke away with a sly smile. "Happy No longer Valentine's Day, you anti-Valentine's Day, girl. I think we've just found our new anti-Valentine's Day tradition."

Lauren rolled her eyes and shook her head; maybe she didn't hate Valentine's Day as much anymore but she would need a lot more convincing every year to stop hating it fully.

A/N: First off, Happy Valentine's Day to you all, single or not! I'd love to hear your thoughts on this? Love it? Hate it? Let me know!

Secondly, I'm so sorry I've disappeared and not posted anything for a while; if you follow me on twitter (or have seen my profile) you will know I've been ill. I feel like I'm having every itis ending problem and all at once; tonsillitis, laryngitis, conjunctivitis and also other upper respiratory infections, which then complicate my heart and kidney conditions and all my other medical problems, so I've been a very poorly girly and only just starting to feel up to writing again. (Not after sympathy just feel like ranting today). However, I'm half way done with a new story so hopefully in the next week I'll be back but bear with me.

Anyway, hope everyone else is ok and speak to you soon! :) x