By Ekta R. Garg
Valentine’s Day Escape Plan—You’re going on a blind date for Valentine’s Day. In case the date is a dud, you have your best friend on standby. Your friend is to call you at 9:30 on the dot. If the date is going well, you answer and use the phrase “I already took care of that.” If it’s not, you answer and claim your friend has an emergency. The date is going well and your friend calls at 9:30 as planned—only problem is, the friend calls with a real emergency. What is it and what do you do?
Angela reached for the handle of the car door, but Craig stopped her.
“Hang on, I’ll get that for you,” he said. “Just stay here.”
Angela grinned. “Okay. Thanks.”
She watched as he got out of the driver’s seat and trotted around the car.
Maybe this won’t turn out to be so bad, she thought. How many guys open the car door anymore?
Craig opened the door for her and gestured toward the restaurant.
“This way, my lady,” he said. “Sorry, I know that sounds goofy, but I couldn’t resist.”
Angela shook her head and smiled again. “It’s okay. Thanks.”
They walked to the restaurant, and once again Craig stopped Angela as he opened the door for her. She thanked him, and when he smiled back Angela felt a flutter in her chest.
Could this turn into something…
Craig let her lead on the way to their table and then pulled her chair out for her. When he checked to make sure she’d gotten settled in the chair, he went to his chair and sat down.
“Okay,” Angela said with a laugh, “I’ve gotta ask. What’s wrong with you? I mean, I thought chivalry was dead.”
Craig shook his head with a rueful smile. “Not quite. Let’s just say it’s in a coma.”
“Seriously? In a coma?”
“Yup,” Craig said, “but the prognosis is good.”
Angela laughed again. “That’s good to hear. I have to say, Craig, it’s refreshing to meet a guy who cares about women. I mean, really cares about women.”
He shrugged. “I’ve got three older sisters, and my mom always made sure to teach me that if I wanted to get girls then I’ve got to treat them the say way I’d want a guy to treat my sister.”
Despite the fact that she only had a water glass, Angela still raised it in a toast to Craig. “Your mother is a smart woman. Thank her for me, will you?”
They chatted easily, and as they talked Angela tried to remember the last time she had this much fun on a first date. A blind first date, no less. When she called Shannon with the scoop later, she would have to thank her for setting them up.
Halfway through dinner Craig’s phone alerted him to a text. He pulled it out, read the text and then smiled.
“Something funny?” Angela asked.
He shook his head. “I guess I can tell you, since this is going so well. I was a little freaked out about a blind date—I guess you could say I’ve been on my share of bad ones—so my buddy said he’d text me and give me an out. If I wanted to bail, I could say he needed help. If I was having fun, I could tell him all was well.”
Angela propped her chin in one hand and tilted her head a little, fully aware of the flirtatious nature of the move. “And what are you going to tell him?”
Craig’s piercing green eyes softened and crinkled at the corners. “I’m going to tell him that I’m busy.”
Angela felt the flutter again, but before she could respond her own cell phone rang. She checked the caller ID and laughed.
“I guess it’s safe to tell you that I had the same arrangement with Shannon,” she said. “I told her that if this date sucked, she would have to get me out of it.”
“Are you going to tell her the same thing I told my guy?” Craig asked, his voice a little softer.
Angela find herself without the ability to respond for a moment—Craig’s eyes held her own—but she managed to answer the phone.
“Shan?” she said. “Hi.”
“Angela, you’re not going to believe this,” Shannon said, “but I’m calling with an emergency.”
“Um, I actually already took care of that,” Angela said, using the code phrase they’d chosen to indicate the date was going well. “But thanks for reminding me.”
“No, you don’t get it,” Shannon said, and this time Angela detected distress in Shannon’s voice. “I fell down the stairs, and Rob isn’t home. I think I broke a bone.”
Angela gasped. “Are you okay?”
“Do I sound okay?” Shannon asked, and Angela could hear her fightingtears. “My ankle is killing me, and it’s swelling up. Can you please come help me?”
“I’m on my way,” Angela said. She ended the call.
“What happened?” Craig asked, his brows turned downward.
“Shannon fell down the stairs, and she thinks she broke her ankle,” Angela said, standing up. She dropped her napkin on top of her half-finished meal. “I’m really sorry, Craig, but I have to go help her. Her husband’s out of town for the night, and she’s got—”
“Twins, I know,” Craig interrupted. He got up too. “I’ll come with you.”
“What?” Angela asked.
“I’ll come with you,” Craig repeated. “Call Shannon back when we get in the car and tell her to call 9-1-1. Her house is just around the corner, so by the time the paramedics get there we should be able to get the twins settled into bed.”
Despite the seriousness of the situation, Angela put a hand on her hip and fought a smile. “Craig Larson, are you saying you want to spend the night with me after only one date?”
He chuckled. “We can figure that part out when we get to Shannon’s house. Now let’s get moving.”
Angela looked at him for a long minute and decided then and there that she would do everything she could to make this relationship work.