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April Wilson - aqua watercolor logo - fr

Happy Valentine’s Day

Written by April Wilson

Copyright © 2023. All rights reserved.

Main Characters

Haley Donovan – 17 yrs old, daughter of Mack Donovan

Philip Underwood – 24 yrs old, works for McIntyre Security, Inc.

Chrissy – Haley’s mother

* * *


Haley Donovan


Today is Valentine’s Day, and just like we do every year, students in the high school buy red carnations for three bucks each to give to their boyfriends and girlfriends. It’s a fundraiser for the junior prom. Right now I’m sitting in my calculus class—my last class of the day—and the bell’s about to ring.

Just as I’m sliding my laptop into my backpack, two girls come into our classroom to pass out carnations. They rattle off the names of the lucky ones and hand out flowers to giddy recipients. Mostly it’s girls’ names they call out, but a few of the flowers go to guys, which makes everyone laugh.


They’re not going to call my name, that much I know. The guy I like—Philip Underwood—doesn’t go to my school. In fact, he doesn’t go to school at all. He’s twenty-four years old, and he works for McIntyre Security, the same company my dad works for. That’s how I met him—through my dad.


So, no red carnation for me.


I know it’s not the end of the world, but it’s frustrating to see the other girls getting flowers from their boyfriends when I’m not even allowed to go out on a date with mine. My dad put his foot down. He said we have to wait until after I turn eighteen before we can date. My eighteenth birthday’s in three months, just a week before I graduate.

I do get to see Philip occasionally, at birthday parties of my dad’s friends, but we’re never alone. Sometimes I see Philip when I spend the weekend with my dad and his girlfriend, Erin. Philip lives in the same apartment building downtown Chicago that my dad and Erin live in. In fact, their apartments are on the same floor. Philip makes a point of stopping by to visit when I’m there for the weekend, but of course we have two chaperones with us the entire time—Dad and Erin.


Erin’s really cool, and I love her to pieces, but having your dad as your chaperone really ruins the vibe. The four of us end up watching a movie or playing a board game, and it seems like my dad’s watching us like a hawk the entire time we’re together. I’m sure Philip is bored out of his mind, but he never complains. He’s such a great guy.

I’ve never known anyone like Philip. On the surface, he’s hot as hell—super tall, like my dad. He’s built like a football player—in fact, he played football in high school. He’s practically a giant, and that’s saying something because I’m really tall for a girl. He’s got a gorgeous smile, short dark brown hair, and dreamy chocolate-brown eyes surrounded by thick lashes. But his physical appearance isn’t what attracts me the most. It’s his calm demeanor, his gentleness, that I find so appealing. He’s so steady, like a rock. When my life sometimes feels like a rollercoaster ride, he makes everything better. He’s like this calm, confident, gentle giant. I find that such a turn-on.


My biggest fear is that Philip’s going to get tired of waiting for me. I’m afraid he’s going to meet someone else—someone his own age, someone who doesn’t have a curfew and an overprotective father breathing down her neck. I’m afraid he’ll move on.

There’s nothing I can do to speed up the clock. My eighteenth birthday isn’t going to get here any faster no matter how hard I wish.


Philip promised my dad he’ll follow the rules, and when he makes a promise, he never goes back on his word. He wants my dad’s approval—his respect. And that means we have to wait.


One of the girls across the room from me—Rhonda—waves her carnation at me. “Haley, where’s your flower?” She pretends to look puzzled. “Oh, that’s right. Your imaginary boyfriend sent you an imaginary flower, right? We just can’t see it.” She laughs along with several of her friends.


Everyone in the class turns to look at me.


They think I made Philip up, so I don’t mention him anymore.


My best friend, Stacy, hears her name called, and someone hands her a red carnation. Grinning, she brings the flower to her nose and inhales deeply, a smile on her face.


Do carnations even smell good?

I don’t think they do. It’s not like they’re roses.


I catch Stacy watching me out of the corners of her blue eyes. “Sorry,” she says as she lays the carnation on her desk. “I told Todd not to get me one this year, but he insisted.”


“It’s okay. I don’t mind.” That’s not entirely true—if I’m being totally honest, yes, I’m envious, but I certainly don’t blame Stacy for having a boyfriend who goes to our school. They’re both seventeen, and they’ve been dating for two years.


“I hate it that you’re left out,” she says.


I glance out the window at the yellow school buses lining up outside the main entrance to the building. Then I glance at the clock on the wall. Two minutes until the final bell rings.


“Do you guys have any special plans tonight?”


Stacy tries not to smile but fails miserably. “Todd’s taking me out for dinner. He got us reservations at Renaldo’s. They’re having some kind of Valentine’s Day special this evening.”


“Wow. That’s great.” I’d give anything to be able to go out to dinner with Philip—just the two of us.


The bell finally rings, and everyone shoots to their feet and heads for the door. The hallway is jam-packed with students practically racing to their lockers. Fortunately, mine’s not far.


After opening my locker, I put some of my books inside and take out the ones I’ll need to do homework tonight. Stacy’s locker is just a few feet away, so we’re both ready to head out to the buses at the same time. We always walk out together. We even ride the same bus as she lives just around the corner from my house.


I sling the strap of my backpack over my shoulder, drape my jacket over my arm, and then Stacy and I join the surging flow of students who can’t wait to go home.


I step outside the building first, Stacy right behind me. When I stop dead in my tracks, she runs right into me with an “oomph.”


“What—” she starts to say, but then she sees what I see.


It’s Philip, leaning against the passenger door of his black Camaro, which is parked at the curb. His big, booted feet are crossed at the ankle, and his even bigger, muscular arms are crossed over his chest. He looks like a million bucks dressed in ripped jeans, a form-fitting black T-shirt, and a worn brown leather jacket. Just looking at him takes my breath away.


He looks—oh, wow. My stomach does a somersault.


As soon as he spots me, his gaze locks in on me.


“Is that who I think it is?” Stacy whispers behind me.


I nod as my pulse takes off. I can’t believe he’s here. He’s never come to my school before.


Stacy clutches my shoulder. “Haley, oh-em-gee, he’s so—girl, I have absolutely no words.”


I smile. I know.


I’m sure I’m biased, but Philip Underwood is a walking, talking giant of a hot guy. His muscular arms are as big around as my thighs, and his rock-hard thighs are like twice the size of mine.


When his lips curve into a smile, I go weak in the knees.


As I walk toward him, he pushes away from his vintage muscle car and heads toward me. It’s just now that I notice what he’s holding—a bouquet of red roses, wrapped in pink tissue paper and tied with a cream-colored silk ribbon.


My pulse starts racing.


When he reaches me, he leans down and kisses my cheek, his warm lips lingering on my skin. “Happy Valentine’s Day,” he says as he hands me the bouquet.


His deep voice makes my belly flutter. “Thank you.” I lift the bouquet to my nose and inhale its sweet fragrance. Now this is what flowers should smell like. “I can’t believe you did this.”


“Of course, I did. It’s Valentine’s Day.” He tugs on a strand of my hair hanging past my shoulder. “And you’re my valentine. I promise we’ll do something special to celebrate next year. I’ll take you out somewhere nice, or I’ll cook dinner for you. Whatever you want.”


Next year.


I can’t help smiling. “It sounds like you’re planning to stick around awhile.”


His eyes darken. “You better believe I am. Wild horses couldn’t drag me away.”


Philip pulls his phone out of his jacket pocket and holds it out so I can see the screen. It’s one of those count-down apps—the ones that tell you how many days until a special event takes place. The app says eighty-nine days.


Philip catches my gaze. “Do you know what happens in eighty-nine days?”


I shake my head. Right now, I can’t even think straight. “No. What?”


“You’ll turn eighteen, which means I’ll be able to take you out on a real date. And if I play my cards right, I might get to kiss you for real.” He leans close and whispers in my ear.


“I’m not talkin’ about a peck on the cheek, babe. I’m talkin’ about my mouth on yours.”


My face burns as a wave of heat surges through me.


“Can I drive you home?” he asks, nodding toward his car.


“Sure.” I wave goodbye to Stacy, who’s standing in line for the school bus. “Philip’s driving me home.”


Grinning, she gives me a thumbs-up sign.


Philip opens my door, and I slide into the front passenger seat. My hands are shaking as I buckle my seatbelt. I’ve never ridden in his car before. Already I have goosebumps at the thought of being alone with him, even if it’s just for a few minutes.


Just before we pull away from the curb, I look out my window and notice Rhonda and her friends standing in a tight knot, staring at us. The look on her face is absolutely priceless.


That’s right, Rhonda, he’s real.


As soon as he pulls away from the curb, Philip holds his hand out to me. I hesitate a moment, not sure what he wants, but eventually I lay my hand in his. He grins as he interlaces our fingers, and then he rests our joined hands on his thigh.


When we pull into the driveway, I notice my mom’s black BMW is parked in the drive. “Hey, my mom’s home. Would you like to come in?”


Philip parks behind my mom’s car and shuts off the engine. “You don’t think she’ll mind?”


“She won’t. She likes you. Come on in.”


We get out of the car and walk up to the large ornate wooden door shaped like an arch.


Philip opens the door and holds it for me.


I step into the foyer, Philip right behind me. “Mom?”


“I’m in the kitchen, honey!”


Philip follows me down the hallway to the kitchen, where we find my mom putting away groceries. It looks like she just came from the store.


“Look who gave me a ride home from school,” I say.


Mom turns and smiles when she sees who’s with me. “Philip! Hello. It’s good to see you.”


He nods. “Thanks. You, too, ma’am.”


My mom rolls her eyes. “Please, call me Chrissy. I feel so old when you call me ma’am.

Thanks for bringing Haley home.” She eyes the bouquet of roses in my hand. “What a lovely bouquet! Haley, why don’t you grab a vase from under the sink?”


When I locate a crystal vase, Philip takes it from me and fills it with water. Then he sets it on the counter.


I unwrap the roses, clip the ends of the long stems, and slip them into the vase. I stand back to admire the roses, interspersed with tiny white baby’s breath and ferns. “They’re beautiful,” I say to Philip. “Thank you.”


“Would you guys like something to snack on? I just stocked up. Help yourselves. Dave’s going to grill some burgers when he gets home from work. Would you like to stay for dinner, Philip? Maybe you guys can watch a movie until he gets here.”


I bite my lip to keep from smiling. I think my mom’s doing some matchmaking.


* * *

Philip Underwood

Haley and I get comfortable on the sofa just twenty feet away from her mom, who’s still putting away groceries. Chrissy’s a lot more open to the idea of Haley and me dating than Mack is. I think if Mack had his way, Haley and I would never date. I don’t blame him. She’s his daughter. He’s trying to protect her. I just wish he’d understand that I’d never do anything to hurt her. Haley means everything to me. She’s an amazing girl, and I’d never do anything to mess up my chances with her.

“What do you want to watch?” Haley asks as she picks up the remote.


There’s a huge TV on the wall across from the sofa.


“You pick,” I say. Honestly, I don’t care what we watch. I’m just glad to be spending time with her.

She knows I like action movies, so she picks the newest Gerard Butler film. “How about this?”

I nod. “Sounds perfect.” Of course, I’ve already seen it, but I don’t tell her that.

The movie starts, and we snack on a plate of cheese and crackers and grapes that her mom brings us. We’re sitting close, but not so close we’re touching. I don’t want to push my luck, and I sure don’t want word getting back to Mack that I crossed a line. I’ll follow his rules to the letter—after all, we only have to wait eighty-nine more days.

I catch Haley sneaking glances my way, but I don’t let on. I don’t want to make her nervous. To my knowledge, she’s never had a serious boyfriend before, and that makes me think she’s probably a virgin. I try not to dwell on that fact. I’ve never been with a virgin before. It seems like it’d be a lot of responsibility.

I try my hardest to keep my eyes on the movie. Whenever I sneak a glance at Haley, or even think about her, my chest tightens and I get overheated. Even now, sitting this close to her, I feel my body stirring. I finally resort to laying a throw pillow over my lap so she doesn’t notice my growing erection.

I can’t believe Haley’s never had a serious boyfriend. What’s wrong with those high school guys? She’s amazing. Not only is she super smart—she’s in the running to be the valedictorian of her graduating class—but she’s also kind and thoughtful and compassionate. She’s mature for her age, and she’s tall for a girl—which I appreciate—with long, wavy dark brown hair and beautiful big brown eyes surrounded by long dark lashes.

When I shift in my seat, attempting to make room in my jeans for a growing hard-on, Haley smiles up at me. I think she’s blushing.

Eighty-nine more days.

That’s all.

I can do it. We can do it.

* * *

I hope you enjoyed this quick peek at Haley and Philip’s developing relationship. Yes, they will have their own book one day, after Haley turns eighteen. Philip will just have to be patient.

* * *

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