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Funny Valentine(8)

By:Sienna Mynx

penetrating stare. What am I doing? Whatever it is, I better get it under control.

I’m not sure if our delivery man is someone I want to tease. He nods at me, and

damn it, I smile.

Well, a little flirting doesn’t hurt. Right?

Funny Valentine by Sienna Mynx

Chapter Four

Where did all these cars come from? On either side of the road they’re

boxed in. Took me nearly twenty minutes to find a spot that wouldn’t have me

walking several blocks in the dark. Lucky for me on the third sweep there’s an

Armada, a block over, swerving out a space. I expertly wheel my beamer in its

place. But unlucky for me, my tenacious pursuit of the perfect parking spot made

me later than late. Grabbing my purse and putting the top up, I’m on the sidewalk

in seconds.

Jake’s Cleaners is closed? Didn’t know that. That’s a shame. It seems like a

lot of the old-school shops are closing up in the neighborhood. All the more reason

for Lucille’s to relocate. Something that Margie is dead-set against. I could do so

much in marketing and promoting the place, but she nixes every idea I dream up.

Look at this place. Once a thriving pulse in our community, the streets got pawn

shops, record stores, liquor stores, barbershops, and plenty of abandoned

buildings. Squatters from all over the underbelly of this town roll this avenue. I

worry constantly for my sisters after the latest robbery.

“Hey lady, spare some change?”

He leaps out in front of me from nowhere. A scruffy Hispanic male with

red, swollen crusty eyes that are latched on to my purse. He pushes up in my face,

scratching at himself. He scratches his arm, chin, then head and the stench comes

off him like hot garbage. So pungent he is, my eyes water. Taking a step back, I

struggle with a firm answer.

“No, sorry. I don’t.”

Circling him wide, I get a move on, quickening my steps. I can see guests

and family further ahead walking inside. I’m close enough to not be in real danger.

Though if he grabbed my purse right now I’d just let it ride. No way am I chasing

some guy over credit cards and sixty dollars cash. He can have it. And apparently

Funny Valentine by Sienna Mynx

scruffy here is a mind reader ’cause he’s sniffing out my fear. So I hurry the pace

with his footfalls in beat on the sidewalk behind me.

“Wait, lady. Damn. Why you got to be such a bitch about it? You can’t

spare a fucking dollar… I ain’t ate in three days.” He hooks his hand, fingers

fastened like a claw, on my arm and yanks me back. He’s so strong, I choke on the

scream of protest in my throat. Then it happens: a swift jerk from behind that

releases me and sends the vagrant flying to the side. The poor sap is body-slammed

against the gate that shields the windows and doors to Jake’s Cleaners.

“You got a problem keeping your hands to your self, bro?”

“Ugh, lemme… ugh… go…”

It’s Melvin with his forearm pressed crushingly hard against the man’s

windpipe. The guy’s terrified. He’s gurgling through an apology. Melvin lets him

drop and the homeless guy scurries away on all fours, then leaps to his feet and

runs in the other direction. It happens so quick I’m standing there, gaping. Where

did Melvin come from?

And when did he get all alpha-man fine on me? Check him out. He’s in

khaki pants starched crisply, a navy blazer that’s smooth as velvet but rippled like

corduroy over a white shirt that’s tucked tight over a chest that’s cut with hard

angles beneath. His cologne replaces the stench of the arm-snatcher earlier. It’s so

sexy and strong that I breathe in deep and exhale slow. I’d say my flower guy is

what my nephews would call a ‘cool cat’.

My eyes lift again to his and I register the concern glistening there. I’m a

little freaked, too. Not by the robber alone. I think it’s that jump-out-of-nowhere-

kick-ass thing he got going, or am I just over the top from too many nights of red

wine and crossword puzzles?

“You look beautiful.”

Three of the most seductive words a man could ever say to a lady. Like

Cupid’s arrow in the bump, I nearly jump from the surge of flattery.

“You sure you’re okay?” he asks, then looks back over his shoulder. His

jaw clenches with anger at what he walked up on. Those eyes return to me and

Funny Valentine by Sienna Mynx

soften. So does his speak. “Been waiting on you. You’re late. Came out for a smoke

and saw him before you did. Sorry he got so close.”

He smiles. Then he moves out of the shadows. Steps out from the overhang

of the cleaners’ awning. He stops near me with the moon as his spotlight and I do