A Little Surprise

by Monika

Originally published at WFOL2015 for Challenge #1


It wouldn`t be easy, but easy wasn`t asked. For Vincent, only perfect would do. Since Catherine had found that crumpled note in Vincent’s writing at the little place behind the falls, the thoughts whirled inside her head. ‘Valentine – Catherine – Chocolate’ the note read. If he wants these things in one place, I’ll get them for him (and for me if I’m being honest!), she thought.

Oh, she asked for help from one or two others … Father and Mouse ... but the rest she planned herself.

Now all was ready, but how could she tell Vincent without ruining the surprise? The clock was ticking. In five minutes Vincent would be here, and her ideas might not. All she had to do was to invite him to Renata’s, to her little Italian restaurant. Thank god she had met this helper last Winterfest after missing her for three previous years running! She had set a date for Valentine’s Day in three weeks. There would be good Italian food with a very good chocolate dessert. Now, what should she say to invite him without saying too much and revealing the surprise?

Okay. One minute. She could do it if she remembered how to breathe.

There he was. Good looking as ever. His voice brought her the usual warmth as he greeted her and she saw the light in his eyes.

“Vincent! How are you? Is everyone all right?”

After listening to his assurances, she became aware that he seemed nervous … seemed to want to ask something and didn`t know how.

“What do you want, Vincent? You know you can ask anything and don`t need to hesitate.”

“Catherine, I wondered if you have plans for three weeks from now … Valentine’s Day. Perhaps I could interest you in a concert. There will be a concert in the old house at the music school … with promising players. It begins at nine-thirty that evening. It’s a little late, but the students often have some jobs and so cannot attend sooner.”

Jackpot!! Catherine thought. At Renata’s by six, some time to eat, and … Oh. Vincent is waiting for my answer.

“Of course. That would be great! And then I can meet her at her restaurant and go to her cellar entrance to help Renata with plans to bring some things down to you as a surprise for Valentine’s Day. It would be great if you could help me, but if you have other plans till the concert I will understand and meet you there. I can meet Renata at six, and after that, meet you at nine so we can go to the concert. Is that okay?” she asked hopefully, hoping her luck would hold out.

“I could help you carry whatever Renata prepared for you … for us,” Vincent answered hesitantly. “I wouldn’t even tell anybody about the surprise from the two of you. I could there be at six so it would go faster, and we could take our time going to hear the music. Some of the music is classical, some new titles. The students want to impress their listeners. Would that be all right?”

“Yes, of course. Even if I spoiled your surprise from Renata, I`m sure that the evening will be a wonderful time for all of us! Let’s go ahead and enjoy this evening first, and then we shall see how the evening in three weeks will be! Do you have time for some reading, or is there a place where you must be?”

“No. I have a surprisingly free evening. The children are at Father’s feet, all listening to his reading of an adventure book. They thought I could spend some free time with you; and if I didn`t want some time with you, they would like you to read farther if Father should get tired. That way they could stay awake a little longer!”

“Good!” Listening to Vincent, she began to imagine the evening in three weeks again: the surprise on his face when he saw what was done for him, the good Italian food (his favorite, as Renata promised), some Mousse de Chocolate (for his wish and his sweet tooth), all in the cellar looking like an ordinary date. Now there’s even a concert … and the rest of this evening in her apartment. In the apartment … even though not a night out with her.

Catherine thought, But this evening is not at all over. One date after the other. One step after the other. But the whole way with Vincent! It will be worth the steps forward and back! We will find the rest of our life together (even if Vincent does not yet know that secret); we will see, and hopefully live, our dream together.

So, for this night a date at the falls … and then …

Let the dream go on.