( Photo on Foter.com )

It’s February, and a lot of people automatically think ‘Valentine’s Day’. Now I may be a bit biased, being a romance novel writer and reader–okay, I’m a lot biased–but I think romance shouldn’t be limited to just one month of the year.  I’m guessing lots of you feel the same way.  I’m not complaining about flowers, or sparkly jewelry, or chocolates (especially from my favorite local candy maker!) on Valentine’s Day, but it makes me a little sad that there seem to be so many people who do only think about making romantic gestures on occasions like this.  As if the rest of the year doesn’t count. As if they only feel it necessary to make sure their significant other realizes they’re loved at Valentine’s Day.

I’m not suggesting everyone feels this way. I know a lot of people who make romantic gestures all year round.  I just feel like maybe sometimes we forget, and we should make more effort to remind ourselves and our S.O.s that we care.

( Photo on Foter.com ) A little breakfast in bed once in a while, maybe? Help folding the fifty gazillion loads of laundry? I know there are a lot of ways we can do that, but maybe it wouldn’t hurt for us to have more ideas, so I’d love to hear some of yours, or maybe some way your S.O. surprised you and reminded you they love you.

And in the meantime, I have a little snippet of one of my tiger shifters. Anton is shopping with his new mate for a formal event, and he’s about to do something sweet for her.

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Laney paused inside for a second, looking around to get her bearings, then headed directly for the back half of the store.

Anton frowned at the displays around him at the front of the shop–some very pretty things there, from what he could see. He ambled after her, noting the way she skipped right past the sparkling and shiny gowns on mannequins and wall displays before she started to dig through a tall round rack. He turned around, still frowning at all of the things they’d passed by.

Including a dark green gown the same color as her eyes had been in bed last night. He stepped closer. Shoulder straps an inch or so wide, with a neckline that didn’t dip down too far to be decent, and a skirt closer to the slim end of the range than some of the full-on Cinderella gowns nearby. He flipped through the hangers until he thought he’d chosen the right size, then moseyed back to join her.

She had pulled a slim black gown from the rack and was studying it, a frown furrowing her brow. After a moment, she put it back on the rack.

“What’s wrong with it?” he asked.

She glanced up. “Cut too low.” Her gaze flicked to the gown he held. “Too much.” She went back to the rack beside him, flipping through hangers.

One of his eyebrows rose. “What?”

She sighed, then glanced toward the front of the store where the saleswoman was still occupied at the cash desk. “I don’t shop the front of the store, because they always put the most expensive gowns there.”

“I like this one. It matches your eyes.” He held it forward.

She met his gaze again, not looking at the dress. “My eyes are hazel.”

“Sometimes,” he agreed, “but they’re this color when we’re in bed.”

Her cheeks went red, and she cast a horrified glance around to be sure no one was close enough to hear him. “Anton,” she whispered.

He smiled. “You have to at least try it on.”

Laney shut her eyes for a moment. “Fine, but I’m not getting it.” She tugged another black gown from the rack to study while avoiding his gaze.

If the green fit her, he was buying it, he decided as she rummaged through the gowns on the next rack.

The saleswoman finished up with her other customer as Laney added a purple dress to the black and red gowns he held with his own choice.
“I can take these to the fitting room for you,” the older woman said, reaching for the dresses.

“I’m actually ready to head back,” Laney said with a polite smile.

Anton trailed after them, then dropped onto the overstuffed armchair in the waiting area. Laney shut her fitting room door, and he listened to the soft rustling of her clothing behind it–first her coat, then the sweater and tank, her wool pants. In his head, he imagined each piece coming off. He wondered which gown she’d try first.

He found out a minute later when she emerged in the purple. He kept his mouth shut as she crossed to the big mirrors, but her wrinkled nose told him exactly what she thought.

The color was pretty on her, but the dress had an odd, angled neckline, and the ‘sleeves’ barely covered her shoulders.

Before the saleswoman had made it back to them, Laney was already on her way back into the smaller room. The older woman’s mouth pursed a little.

Anton shrugged when she looked at him, and she smiled.

When Laney came back out, it was in the green gown he’d chosen. He had picked the right size–it hugged her torso perfectly before the skirt belled out a tiny bit and swept to the floor.

“Oh, you look beautiful in that,” the older woman said. “And it doesn’t even need alteration.”

Laney met his gaze in the mirror, and she didn’t look happy that she looked so good in the dress. Anton wondered just how expensive it was. He let his gaze wander lower, to the pretty hint of cleavage the dress framed, then he met her gaze again with a little smile.

She blushed and murmured something to the saleswoman, then hurried back into the smaller room.

The other black gown fit well, too, though she looked appalled at the cleavage exposed in this one. The red was okay, he thought, but it covered everything, with sleeves that went almost to her elbows, a swingy skirt, and a squared off neckline sitting just an inch or two beneath her collarbones.

He didn’t eavesdrop on her short conversation with the saleswoman, but got up and stretched. This might be the shortest gown-shopping trip in the history of womankind.

The saleswoman took the black, green and purple gowns from Laney, who retreated into the smaller room. Anton frowned when she put the green gown on a small rack with the purple. He shook his head, and she caught him, her mouth opening.

He pressed one finger to his lips, and she shut her mouth, understanding him perfectly. She retrieved the green dress and nodded to the front of the shop, smiling.

The woman hung both the black and the green gowns on a hook at the cash desk. “That’s a nice gift. She looked beautiful in the green.”

“Yes, she did.” He withdrew his wallet from his pocket while she punched some numbers into the small computer on the counter. He didn’t even wince when she gave him the total, just handed over his card.

By the time Laney arrived at the front of the shop, he had the garment bag holding both gowns slung over his shoulder. She frowned, but glanced at the older woman and kept her protest to herself. “Thank you,” she murmured, nodding to the older woman, who winked at Anton when he turned Laney toward the door.

“Shoes next?” he asked when they got outside.

“You didn’t have to buy my dress,” she said, looking up at him. “I have money.”

“Call it a gift.” He unlocked the car and hung the gowns from the hook in the backseat. She hadn’t noticed there were two hangers.

Yet.

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Don’t forget to tell me the romantic little things you and your S.O. do when it isn’t Valentine’s Day, while I go back to work on Medusa #2!

 

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