Ryan Brodie has been brooding for a year. His friends despair of him emerging from his grief over the death of his boyfriend, Jesse, especially as it happened on Valentine?s Day. As the anniversary approaches, Ryan?s moods become more and more black until the now hated day arrives. On his return home, a single red rose adorns the pillow of his dead boyfriend. Ryan realizes it?s a sign that Jesse has not forgotten...
Ryan Brodie has been brooding for a year. His friends despair of him emerging from his grief over the death of his boyfriend, Jesse, especially as it happened on Valentine’s Day. As the anniversary approaches, Ryan’s moods become more and more black until the now hated day arrives. On his return home, a single red rose adorns the pillow of his dead boyfriend. Ryan realizes it’s a sign that Jesse has not forgotten him – even in death. Then he turns his mind to who placed the bloom in his bedroom. Perhaps he has an admirer.
Valentine’s Day tradition meant little to me as I neither sent nor received anonymous cards or small gifts, so while the office was abuzz with secret admirers, I went on with my work. That is until around 10.30 when a delivery of the most beautiful bunch of wildflowers stopped the office. When I ventured out because of the excited buzz that infiltrated even my sluggish brain, I discovered a young female courier clutching the blooms at the front counter, obviously seeking directions to the lucky recipient.
There was something familiar about the arrangement but it wasn’t until the young women approached and asked, “Ryan Brodie?” and I’d nodded my head that I realized the flowers were for me. I gave a startled cry which was covered by the round of applause from my office colleagues. “You’re a lucky man, someone loves you very much,” the courier prattled as I signed her electronic chit.
Before any of the other staff members could descend on me with their inane questions or snide references to secret admirers, I fled to my office and closed the door hoping I would be left alone. I was trembling, anguish flooding from every pore. I should have known better, for a few moments later there was a knock and the door and Denise stuck her head in.
“Come in,” I said. “Close the door.”
“Who on earth sent you such beautiful flowers?” she asked as she came over to take a closer look at the delivery. “If you don’t want him, I’ll take him off your hands. Ryan? Whatever is the matter, you look like you’ve seen a ghost?”
I could scarcely bring myself to speak in case I burst into tears. “That’s…that’s the exact combination of native plants that Jesse always sent me on Valentine’s Day. I always told him it was a waste of money but he insisted I was worth it.”
Denise attempted to be reassuring, “That’s just a coincidence.”
“I would probably agree with you. The combination of flowers could be a fortuitous accident, but the arrangement is identical, the way the package is wrapped; everything is the way Jesse sent me flowers every year for the five years we were together.”
“Is there a card? Anything at all to identify who sent them?”
“Not a thing. Only the florist they came from. And, yes, it’s the one Jesse always used.”
“There’s your answer then,” she said. “He must have ordered in advance. Maybe even years ahead. You know what a control freak he was.”
I sniffed. “I prefer to call it ‘organized.’ I don’t mind admitting, it spooked me.”
Denise plucked the florist’s card from the bouquet and dialed them on my phone. Lying that she was my secretary, she quizzed the shop on the delivery. They were more than happy to answer her questions after she explained that she merely wished to know if it was a standing order or whether someone called in personally.
Denise put the call on speaker phone. “Oh, I remember that order well,” the shop assistant said. “It’s quite magnificent, isn’t it? Very expensive, too. A young gentleman ordered the flowers. Quite specific on the natives he wanted included and how to arrange them. I must say, we balked at the details at first but when we made up the order we had to admit his way was the best. I remember, too, he did not wish to add a card.”
“Did he leave a name?”
“No, he paid cash. The odd thing was he wouldn’t leave a contact number in case something went awry with the order and we needed to refund.”
Denise asked for a description of the young man but it was no one I recognized. When she’d disconnected the call, Denise looked puzzled.
“Okay”’ she said, “I have to ask this. You didn’t order them yourself? At a psychological low point or something, and forget?”
I could have been angry that she would ask such a question but I supposed it was valid.
“No, that’s something I would remember. You don’t suppose someone in our group who knows about the tradition would have sent it thinking it might cheer me up?”
Denise shook her head. “I’ll ask, but we pass our ideas around the group first before we do anything that pertains to you.”
I was shocked but filed it away for later. I’d have a few questions once this mystery was solved.
Barry Lowe writes about love and sex so he won't forget how to do it. When he's not scribbling his adventures for the Sydney gay weekly SX¸ or out doing field research, he's writing about love’s wonderful variations for a series of smut eBooks, novels and anthologies for Lydian Press.