Sometimes love just bites… A group of author friends I know has a system of flash challenges associated with seasons of the year. I missed out on Monster Mash, hosted by Siobhan Muir, in October and Tipsy Santa, hosted by Ever Addams, in December of last year. This New Year I managed to make it out to the New Year Revolution hosted by Cara Michaels. Now I’ve somehow also managed to make it out to the Love Bites flash fiction blog hop of the series, hosted by Katheryn J. Avila, with a chance at one of two prizes! The challenge ran from the 10th of February until tonight. I’m coming in just under the wire here again to submit my piece of flash.
So without further ado, here is my addition to the Love Bites blog hop using the prompt “the fake relationship”! Be sure to share and/or comment across Twitter, Facebook, and elsewhere using the #LoveBites2020 hashtag. Don’t forget to check out the other tales under the tag, too!
Masks and Kisses
“Happy Valentine’s Day, my love.”
I turned around in my desk chair, the office hum droning around me, to find Eric poised with that signature charming grin and dashing twinkle in his eyes. From behind his back he presented a dozen red roses and an enormous box of chocolates that would give anyone diabetes if eaten all in one sitting.
“Eric… I thought we agreed to wait until we both got off work and were home,” I said quietly, flashing an apologetic ‘oopsie’ kind of smile at the nearest coworker that looked our way. They just scowled and looked back to their computer screen.
“I know we did, but I wanted to surprise you. Can’t I surprise my beautiful babe?” The innocence in his voice always made my heart melt. Eric leaned over to kiss my cheek, setting the flowers and chocolates on the corner of my desk.
A smile genuinely tugged at my lips. Heat slowly flooded my cheeks, turning them about as rosy as the roses I guessed. “Yes. You can. Just not here.” I gave him a playful shove and he chuckled. “Now go home. I’ll see you tonight, and thank you. It’s very sweet of you.”
Eric gave me a wink and one last kiss before turning and striding off through the cubicles so I could return to my work.
“You’re so lucky,” Nancy, my nearest coworker breathed as she leaned toward me. “I bet he’s the perfect guy.”
“Amanda Christine, will you marry me?”
I turned around in my chair from the shocked gasp of my mother and the jaw-drop of my father to find Eric down on one knee, presenting a stunningly gorgeous, and quite pricey based on its size, rock. Shock rattled my frame. Followed by confusion and then settling dread. My mother’s eyes burned into the back of my head, eagerly awaiting my answer.
I knew what she expected me to say.
I knew what Eric expected me to say.
And I knew what I really wanted to say.
“Well?” Eric pressed. The twinkle in his eyes not so dashing and innocent anymore. “Will you do the honor of making me the happiest man alive and marry me?”
I tugged at the sleeve of my sweater, rubbed a thumb over the bruises. Casting a fidgety glance aside I whispered, “Yes.” The shakiness to my voice went unheard, drowned out by my mother’s enthusiastic cheering that garnered attention from the whole restaurant.
What else could I really have said? No? We were the perfect couple.
The wadded ball of toilet paper in my hand did little to stem the blood flow. Pristine, crimson drops splashed at the porcelain white sink of our bathroom- No. His bathroom. I would have to make sure all those spots of blood left no trace to mar his perfect household.
Glancing in the mirror I caught sight of my state for the first time since I locked myself in against Eric’s pounding fists. My eye was swollen and turning a sickly blue-purple already. Fresh blood flowed down my cheek, mixing with tears that left a bitter, salty taste in my mouth each time I sobbed. The toilet paper in my hand soaked up the blood with the pace of a plague.
What felt like hours could have simply been minutes. The crashing outside the bathroom door had quit finally. Eric no longer yelled and body-slammed the door, which I had jammed shut by a broken towel rack. His voice still resounded in my head though, pounding just like the budding headache. My eyes kept hitting replay every time I blinked.
“Why do you have to make me so angry?! I asked you to do one simple thing! One!”
“I’m sorry. I just ran out of time. I’ve been up since five for work and-”
“Excuses! All of them! You couldn’t even do something as small as clean up the kitchen from dinner before I came home. You worthless bitch!”
Another crash startled me back, followed by a lazy thud at the door. “Amanda… Come on, baby. I’m sorry. Come out of there, dollface.”
I could only stare at my broken reflection.
The stillness of the night struck me first. So quiet my ears rang. I could have heard the blood hit to the ground. The high shrill in the distance broke the peace. Hues of red and blue came to dance across my front window in numbers.
For the first time in years, I smiled.
750 words / © 2020 Daelyn Morgana