As a Valentine’s Day Treat, please to enjoy a certain couple from the Hex Hall series enjoying their first Valentine’s Day. If you haven’t read the last book and don’t know who Sophie ends up with, beware spoilers. :)
"This is Applebee’s."
"It is indeed."
Archer frowned as he turned the pages of his menu. “I didn’t expect so much of the food to come in skillets.”
Laughing, I stabbed at the lemon in my ice water with my straw. “I don’t think you properly prepared for the glamour that is Applebee’s, Cross.”
He was still puzzling over his menu. “They really like the word ‘sizzlin.’”
"It was your idea to come here," I reminded him. "I told you we didn’t need to do Valentine’s Day-,"
"Oh, we are doing Valentine’s Day." Archer laid down his menu and linked his fingers, studying me across the table. His dark hair was falling over his forehead and he was grinning, and ugh, it really was unfair for one guy to be that cute.
"Jenna said Valentine’s Day is a really big deal," he continued, and I shook my head, taking his hand.
"Jenna said that so you’d give her an excuse to put even more pink in our dorm room."
At that, Archer grimaced a little. “She did go kind of overboard with the decorating.”
I raised my eyebrows. “Kind of? Cross, I couldn’t even get into my room this afternoon because it was filled with roughly ninety bajillion pink balloons. And we’re not even going to get into the current Glitter Situation.”
It must have been a trick of the light, but I could’ve sworn a flush rose up Archer’s neck. “The balloons are actually my fault. Jenna said she’d get them, but then it didn’t look like there were quite enough, so I…,” Trailing off, he wiggled his fingers, and I gave a startled burst of laughter.
"You used magic to make balloons?”
"Okay, when you say it like that, it sounds dumb."
"Because it is," I giggled, and after a moment, he smiled back.
"You’re right. I mean, the least I could’ve done was use my powers to make them into especially romantic balloon animal shapes."
I nodded somberly. “Nothing says love like a balloon giraffe, let me tell you.”
Archer gave a theatrical sigh and leaned back in his seat. “Alas, traditional human dating rituals clearly elude me.”
He looked at me again, and while he was still grinning, I could see…something move across his face. Just the littlest moment of uncertainty. “But you felt loved, right?” he asked. ”Adored and appreciated and all the other things the commercials say you’re supposed to feel?”
Squeezing his fingers, I nodded. “I did. And also a little claustrophobic.”
"A natural side effect of True Love."
With that, Archer let go of my hand and turned back to his menu. “Okay. So apparently we can have tacos or wontons, or we could have wontons stuffed with tacos which, frankly, sounds like intensely evil magic. You should maybe make a few calls, Mercer.”
"Or," I said, twirling my straw. "We could ditch this place and go to the local graveyard, see if there are any ghouls hanging about, maybe a few Dark Magic users we could bust."
Archer’s eyes met mine over the top of his menu. “Don’t tease a man like that.”
I just grinned. “Your sword is in the trunk of the car.”
Tossing his menu down, Archer rose from the table and took my hand, pulling me out of my seat. And then he kissed me, right there in front of the framed pictures of old movie stars, the collection of license plates, and about two dozen scandalized locals. “New Valentine’s Day tradition?” he asked when we parted. “You, me, Applebee’s, a little bit of ghoul hunting…,”
Rising up on my tiptoes, I gave him another quick kiss. “Sold. But maybe next year skip the balloons.”
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