Romance Stories

Valentine’s Day With A Stranger

Maisey Lewis prided her independence. She needed neither man nor animal to feel complete. Too bad her friends read her life through a lens altered by their personal experiences. One by one, they married. Her friends glowed with pride when they left happy hour early to meet their husbands for dinner. Maisey knew better. Bliss was soaking in a bubble bath without having someone knock on the bathroom door because they needed to use the toilet. 

And it was a conspiracy; they wanted Maisey to join in their “matrimonial bliss.” For the eleven other months of the year, Maisey eluded most of her friends’ pleadings to meet “a friend of a friend.” However, their insistences gained momentum in the days leading up to Valentine’s Day; until Maisey buckled and agreed to join a group date. The more, the merrier and the easier it would be to avoid sticky situations. 

As the chilly winter day that often was filled with flowers and overpriced chocolate approached, Maisey regretted her decision to accept the invitation. The group date dwindled down to two couples. It would be Maisey’s friend Emily along with her fiancé, Jared, and some guy who was sure to be either stuffy or over the top. 

Determined to be miserable, Maisey fell into the chair of the coffee house where she would meet her friends and a mystery man they wanted her to meet. Not even the lovely smell of ground coffee could pull her out of her cynical mood. 

Maisey looked to the right and the left and assessed the situation. Either there was a discount on red sweaters and single stemmed roses, or like her, several others chose to meet a blind date at the coffee shop. The similarities put Maisey in the position of regretting her outfit. Her long red tunic sweater with black leggings and her knee-length boots screamed, I’m single and a little lonely. 

Her eyes connected with the guy sitting in the chair across from her.  His sable brown eyes softened with curiosity didn’t match the sarcastic quirk at the end of his lip. Then and there, Maisey decided he was just as bad as her. The guy wore one of those red Land’s End sweaters that had a zipper in the front. The collar of his blue plaid shirt peeked out of the opening. 

Not wanting to call him out on the obvious, Maisey tucked her chin and directed her attention to their surroundings. The sound of glasses tinkling and the low hum of voices blended below the Norah Jones song playing through the sound system. 

She did a double-take when the woman who wore leggings with hearts moseyed over to the line to order her coffee. Talk about taking Valentine’s Day to the next level. No wonder she’s single. The judgment should have made Maisey feel better about herself, but it made her feel worse. She prided her singleness yet just judged someone for the same thing. 

“Five dollars says she’s a teacher,” the man in the sweater said to Maisey. 

“Sales consultant,” Maisey faced the man. She noticed the wave in his hair that was combed back neatly and decided he was cute. From the playful tone in his voice, she surmised that he was the kind of guy who didn’t take too many things seriously. That’s probably why he was single. Oh, I did it again. Maisey pushed against the pride to determine the cause of it. Was her defensiveness a safeguard for her ego? Were her friends telling her something she hadn’t seen in herself? Did she want to have someone special in her life?

red envelope and red rose
Photo by RODNAE Productions on

The man leaned forward, and his hand reached for something behind him. He pulled out a black leather wallet. From where she sat, Maisey could tell it was one of those smooth leather wallets that had to have cost a pretty penny. The next thing Maisey knew, the man was fiddling through the money with his long slender fingers. They stopped and pinched a bill that he laid on the table. Then he looked at her expectantly. 

“Okay,” Maisey dug into her over the shoulder purse and pulled out five ones from her wallet. “I suppose you’re going to ask her?”

“Me,” the guy balked. “That would be weird. It would be better if you struck up a conversation with her. Especially today.” His eyes flitted in the direction of the woman, “She may get the wrong idea.” 

“And that would be?” There was something about the guy. Maisey found herself wanting to antagonize him. For some reason, the guy gave her the impression that he’d be fun to argue with. He gave off the vibe that he used conflict propelled things in a forward motion, but not enough to go dramatic. 

He lowered his chin and spoke in a hushed tone, “Every woman is looking for a man today? She might get the wrong idea.”

“What’s wrong with her?” Maisey felt the need to take up the fight for the girl she had never met with this stranger. 

“With my luck, she’s my date.” He shuddered.  

Maisey felt the overwhelming need to atone for her judgemental attitude earlier. Especially when the woman struck up a conversation with the barista. “I’m sure she is a nice person.”

“It’s not that.” The man’s voice sounded apologetic. “My friends have the worst taste. They think they know me, but they always set me up with women that aren’t anywhere near anything I’d choose for myself.” 

“I feel like I should ask your name?” Maisey glanced toward the glass door hoping her friend would open it and free her from the conversation. Sure the guy was cute, but he was kind of full of himself. 

She saw a couple walk by, holding hands and then a clear view of the parking area outside the coffee house. 

“John,” he said. Then his eyes flitted around the room. “My name is John Lincoln. And your name?” 

“Maisey. It rhymes with Daisy.” Maisey played with the edge of her purse. This was the point where guys like John cracked a joke about her name. 

“Maisey.” John said,  “I like you.” John leaned back in the chair and then forward. “I feel like if we’d met under different circumstances, we’d be friends.” John leaned into the arm of the chair and spoke with an air of conspiracy. “I’m going to sabotage this date.” 

“How so?” Maisey asked. It never occurred to her to chase away a suitor. She always tried too hard, and they offered excuses why it wouldn’t work. 

“I don’t know.” John rubbed his chin. He checked the area around them before asking, “Should I start by talking politics or religion?” 

Maisey gasped in discomfort for John’s date. “While your idea is interesting, it could backfire.”

“Exactly.” John seemed too pleased. It was clear to Maisey he hadn’t thought it through. She’d had to talk a couple of friends down when they tried to change their personalities to please a guy they thought they liked. “I mean, she can pretend to agree with you, and then what are you going to do.” 

white smartphone
Photo by Cristian Dina on

“Good point,” John frowned and stared at the dark brown coffee table that created a barrier between them. “What do you suggest?” 

“Chew with your mouth open. Or try taking a bite off of her plate without asking.” Maisey didn’t have to fake the shudder at the thought of having to endure a meal with a man that rude. She surveyed the restaurant, and her eyes landed on a guy in a red buffalo plaid flannel shirt. He was reading a book. Maisey made a mental note to remember to ask him about it. 

“Oooh, I can not stand when people do that.” The disdain on John’s face morphed into an aha smile. He wagged his finger at Maisey. “I knew I liked you.” 

Maisey bathed in his compliment and shimmied her shoulders. “I do aim to please. Now you can repay the favor. What can I do if I don’t like my date.” She doubted that would happen, but it was always good to have an arsenal of defenses. 

John batted away the question like it was almost too easy. “Tell him you want children in the next two years. If you want to have, fun say it when he’s swallowing a bite of food.” 

The alliance Maisey formed with an absolute stranger astounded her. A happy feeling bubbled in her chest. Maisey could see herself having fun with John. 

John held up his phone to show Maisey the time. “My friend should be here any minute. Then we’ll call my date over, and I’ll gladly take your five dollars.” 

“Did you set me up?” Maisey tried to glare but couldn’t pull it off. 

“Nah, my friend usually sets me up with the teacher or librarian types. I know it’s her.” Maisey saw her five dollars ending up in John’s wallet. The more she watched the woman, she found herself inclined to agree with John. The woman stood in front of a bookshelf with her coffee in her right hand. She looked up briefly, and her eyes roamed the coffee shop. Then, she quickly returned to perusing through the other books on the shelf. 

“Well, I offer my condolences.” Maisey joked. “My friends set me up with boring business types. My only misery is having to nod and pretend that I care about the bottom-line.”

“You don’t say?” John arched a brow. 

Just then, Maisey’s friend, Emily, walked in the door.  Her fiance, Jared, followed behind her. Both wore black bottoms with similar beige sweaters. 

John lifted his hand and threw a quick wave to Jared. The beginnings of a giggle tickled Maisey’s chest. When Jared bobbed his head in greeting to John, Maisey bit her bottom lip. 

Jared and Emily talked while they walked over to where Maisey and John were sitting. Maisey marveled at the irony. She grinned at John and watched his face change with the realization of the contrast between what he predicted and what would take place.

Maisey’s heart fluttered, and she grinned through the flush that heated her cheeks. 

man and woman walking along old building in city
Photo by Katerina Holmes on

John held out his hand to take Maisey’s. When their hands touched, the immediate sense of connection filled Maisey. All the arguments against serious relationships drifted into the quiet sounds around them. John raised his brows and dipped his chin. He whispered in Maisey’s ear, “ If you say anything to me about having children, I will chew with my mouth open.” 

She replied, “It’s too late. You already said you liked me.”  

To which he said, “I wanted kids anyway.”

John bent down to pick up the money they laid on the table. He placed the ten dollars in Maisey’s hands and said, “I have never been so pleased to be wrong.” He then guided her out of the coffeehouse to the first date that would change both of their lives.  

Liked the story? I have another one where serendipity strikes at the coffee house…

Was it a coincidence or fate when Hannah bumped into Keane?

Single mother, Hannah Thorne does not want to end up like the mothers featured on her favorite talk shows. When she decides to date, her girlfriends give her advice that doesn’t work. Hannah can’t tell the difference between Mr. Right and Mr. No Way. Then she bumped into Keane.

Keane is married to his business. But he has time to help his friends with matters of the heart. He’s responsible for being the sage behind several marriages. When he sees Hannah needs help, Keane gladly steps up to the challenge.

The friendship with Hannah shows Keane what he has been missing. But he taught her to avoid men like him. Things get interesting in Three Creeks when Keane is tasked with the challenge of convincing Hannah to give him the second chance he may not deserve.

Home Sweet Home is a small town, feel-good, love story that delivers a happily ever after.

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