The day Oliver Tulloch entered my life was simultaneously one of the best and worst of my life. On the one hand, Sofia, his sister, was the best friend I could ever have asked for. We'd been practically inseparable since the very first minute we'd met. But on the other hand, Oliver was such a pain in my ass I'd sell him to the corner store for a packet of sour worms and a Mars bar if they'd take him.

I'd known them for about ten years. Sofia and I were seven at the time, Oliver was eight, and my brother Jacob was nine. The Tullochs had just moved in, and my mother, being the busy yet neighbourly person that she wanted people to think that she was, decided to send me over with a home baked apple pie, to welcome them into the neighbourhood.
Good thing I wasn't part of a Grimm brothers neighbourhood. A small child and an apple pie would be as good as home delivery to an evil witch. I'd never get out of there alive.
So, despite the obvious stranger danger, I headed on across the road to deliver my pie. Before I'd even had a chance to ring the doorbell, the rudest, loudest boy I'd ever come across bounded out of the door, stopping on his way to pull my braids and knock me down the stairs. The pie, thankfully, stayed intact, and even more thankfully, off my new dress. That small consolation didn't stop the tears springing to my eyes, though.

And so began my feud with Oliver Tulloch.

Sofia came out to see what the fuss was about. Like I said, it was friendship at first sight. She helped me off the ground, introduced me to her mother – Katherine, and father – Gareth, relieved me of my pie, and pulled me into her room for a gruelling game of Barbies.

Jacob and Oliver bonded over their love of all things boy, just like me and Sofia bonded over the girlish wonders of the world. This arrangement worked out well for me – on the frequent occasions that Oliver had done something to irritate me or destroy my life, I'd hide out at Sofia's. When Oliver's influence finally reached Jacob, and he started to do the same to Sofia, she'd hide out at mine. It was a regular war of the sexes, until Jake found better things to do with his time and left Sofia alone. If only I could say the same of Oliver.

"Hey, beautiful."

I resisted the urge to roll my eyes as Sofia's boyfriend, Luke, joined us for lunch. He was everywhere these days.

"Hey yourself," she responded, her blue eyes glittering as she leaned in to kiss him.

"Hey Trix," Luke nodded at me once he'd separated himself from Sofie's face.

I managed a small smile. "Hi Luke." In my head, I cleverly referred to him as 'Puke', on the account of that's what I wanted to do every time I saw him and Sofie together, but I refrained from using the nickname out loud. Or at least when he was in earshot.

"So what's going on?" he asked us. "Anything interesting?"

"Nope," I told him. "Unless you count the contents of this so-called 'lunch' interesting." I poked at the thing with a fork, watching it jiggle. Giving up on the cafeteria food, I pulled a muffin out of my bag.

"Valentine's Day is Saturday," Sofia reminded him slyly. "What are we doing?"

Luke just grinned secretly, his brown eyes giving nothing away. "You'll just have to wait and see," he told her. "But trust me, it will be great. What about you, Trixie? You got a valentine?"

I scoffed. "Nope. Not this year."

"Well that's not entirely true, is it?" Sofia said, ignoring my glare. "What about that guy? The secret one?"

"Secret guy?" Luke asked, brushing his dark brown hair out of his eyes as he threw his arm around Sofia. "Sounds interesting."

"It is," Sofia said earnestly.

"No, it isn-"

"This guy has been sending her secret valentine's gifts all week," Sofia cut me off. "Chocolates, and bears, and flowers, and she has no idea who it is!" She sighed. "It's so romantic," she breathed, leaning into Luke.

I stifled the urge to laugh at his expression. He looked worried, like some creepy mystery admirer guy was making him look bad. I got the feeling that I wouldn't be the only girl receiving mystery gifts for very long.

Fortunately, the bell cut Sofia off, preventing her from continuing on with her list of potential suspects. Luke looked a little relieved.

"I have to run babe," he told her hastily. "If I'm late to P.E again, it's twenty laps after class. I'll see you later," he said, kissing her on her waiting cheek. "Later Trix," he directed at me, before rushing off. "Good luck with your mystery!" he called over his shoulder.

I glared death at Sofia as we slowly collected our things. We both had free periods so we were heading back to my house.

"What?" she asked innocently.

"Did you have to tell him, Sof?"

She shrugged. "I thought maybe he could help. I mean, guys talk amongst themselves, right? What if someone mentions that he's sending flowers or whatever to some girl, or even admits that he's into you? We have a man on the inside. I thought you'd be happy. Don't you want to know who it is?"

I sighed as we got up from the table and headed for the front gate. "Honestly, I don't care. If a guy likes me, then why can't he just man up and tell me who he is? Never mind this whole secret admirer Valentine's Day crap. Just be up front, you know?"

She shook her head at me. "Well, I think it's sweet. It shows he cares. Which reminds me, what did you get today?"

Today was Thursday. I'd been getting these presents since Monday, and Sofia was always around when I found them. Monday was a box of heart-shaped candies, Tuesday was a (okay, admittedly very cute) plush polar bear holding a balloon, and yesterday I got a bunch of lilies at my locker. Lilies were my favourite flower, but to be honest it sort of creeped me out that whoever it was knew that about me. He could be a stalker, for all I knew, and I was not going to sign up for that mess.

We ran into Jacob as we were crossing the parking lot.

"Hey guys," he greeted us. "You want a lift? Going home, right?"

I shrugged, and jumped into the passenger seat without hesitation. It beat the hell out of walking. Sofia hopped in the back, thanking Jacob as she did, and with that we were on our way.

"So girls," he said, in a voice that was so deep and posh it was ridiculous. It was his 'dad' voice. "How was your day?"

He'd come to treat us as if we were one person, instead of two. I guess he'd learnt over the years that our days involved doing many of the same things, and why ask to hear the same story twice?

"You know how it is, brother dear," I told him, propping my feet up on the dashboard. "Write some things, maybe learn a little, have lunch, go home. Same old routine."

"Yeah, except for the fact that someone is getting a little extra attention," Sofia piped up. "Deviating a little from routine aren't we Trix?"

"What's this?" Jake said, turning his head to look at me, swatting my feet off his dashboard as he did so. "My baby sister, getting male attention? Who is he? Who is the scoundrel paying attention to my little Trixie? I'll see him hanged!"

"Ugh," I said, rolling my eyes. "Please calm down on the dramatics, Dad. You're both acting like this is the first time I've had a boy show interest in me. It's not, just in case you've both forgotten." I turned around in my seat to face Sofia. "You, if anyone, should know it's not." She'd heard the tale of my drunken loss of virginity many a time, and consoled me about anything boy-related many more.

"I feel like this conversation is just about to take a turn down 'Things Older Brothers Don't Need To Hear About Their Baby Sisters' lane," Jake interrupted before Sofia could respond. "Let's just make a little U-Turn and get back to the original question. Who is this guy?"

"We don't know," Sofia answered for me. "That's what's so interesting!"

"You say interesting, I say creepy," I told her. "He just leaves presents in and at my locker, without even a clue about who he is."

"So, nothing? No notes, nothing?"

I shook my head.

"What a pussy," Jacob said, smirking. "What kind of a guy doesn't have the spine to tell a girl he likes her? Promise me something, Trix, don't date him. If you ever find out who he is, that is."

I laughed. "That I can promise."

"Excuse me," Sofia interrupted. "Am I the only one who thinks this is sweet? He's going through so much trouble to show you he's interested, and you two are just sitting here dismissing him!" She tossed her raven black hair over her shoulder indignantly. "No wonder the poor boy doesn't want you to know who he is, you're laughing at him!"

"Sofie, come on, it's just a joke," Jacob defended us. "And besides, he can't possibly know that we're laughing at him. Nobody gets hurt, really. It's all in good fun."

"There's nothing fun about making fun of people," she muttered.

Jake and I exchanged looks, and sighed, rolling our eyes in unison. Sof had been like this for as long as I'd known her. When she got into a state like this, it was best not to argue with her. Luckily for everyone, we'd just pulled into our driveway.

When Jacob made no move to get out of the car, I looked at him questioningly.

"I'm meeting Oliver in town. We've got practice later," he explained, laughing at the immediate dislike that I knew had taken over my face. "I'll see you when I get home."

I waved acknowledgement over my shoulder as I headed for the house. "Don't bring him with you!" I called.

"No promises!"

"What was that about?" Sofia asked from the doorway where she was waiting. Ten years of friendship and she still didn't feel comfortable walking into my house first.

"He's meeting your darling brother," I filled her in as I entered the house. "We're home!" I yelled by way of announcement.

"Hey honey!" I heard my mother yell from the garage. She had just started a side business, a small independent clothing label, so most of her days lately had been spent cooped up in the garage working on designs.

"Hi Gabrielle!" Sofia yelled, right on cue.

"Hey sweetheart!"

On the way to the kitchen, we found my father buried in work in his study.

"Hey daddy," I said sympathetically, walking over to kiss him on the cheek. "Working hard?"

He sighed. "Always, sweetheart. This case needs to be done by tomorrow. It'll be a long night, I think. Hello Sofia." He smiled tiredly at her.

She returned the smiled. "Hi Reese."

"We'll try to keep the noise down for you," I told him as we left the room, closing the door most of the way behind us. I didn't want him to feel like he was being left out of anything.

After the acquisition of snacks and drinks, Sofia and I headed into the basement – turned – rec room, and decided to get stuck into our assignments while we had the peace and quiet.

"If I never have to hear the word 'belonging' again after this year," Sofia complained, crumpling what I assumed to be a sub-par essay introduction and tossing it across the room, "then I will be the happiest girl to ever exist."

I laughed. "Imagine all the girls in the years before us who have uttered that exact same sentiment."

"I'm taking a break," she said decisively, lifting herself up off the floor and onto a nearby bean bag.

"I think you have the right idea there, Sofia Amber," I told her, taking the neighbour bean bag.

We sat in silence for a while, our brains enjoying the break.

"So how are you and Luke?" I asked.

"We're good," she said, closing her eyes and sliding further into the bag. "We're doing alright. I mean, it was a little weird, the first couple of days after the fight, but I think we'll get through it. He's a really sweet guy, and I really like him. I don't know, though. Sometimes I think we're too different." She sighed. "Sometimes I don't even know what I think."

There was a hesitant silence. I wanted to say something, but had no idea what. I'd heard the ins and outs of her relationship with Luke – after all, what were best friends for? – but still, I was lost for words.

"Like I said. I think we'll be okay," she said, more to herself than to me, I thought. "But anyway. Enough about me. What about you, miss?"

I groaned, dreading where this was going. "What about me?"

"Your secret admirer, duh." She rolled onto her stomach to look at me directly. "What did you get today?"

She wasn't going to stop until I gave her what she wanted to know. I exhaled deeply and gave in.

"Terrible music," I said. "Really, really terrible music."

"Huh?" she asked, confused. "Clarify, please."

I reached for my bag and dug blindly around in it until my fingers closed around what I was looking for. I tossed them next to her. Holding them up to her face, she raised an eyebrow as she flipped through them.

"Songs to show you care? 50 Greatest Love Songs? Mix of Love: Songs for Her 2012?" She laughed as she reached the last CD. "One Direction? He bought you One Direction?"

"It would appear so. And unless he is a member of said boy band I'll never admit to liking, I'm still not interested."

"Oh, come on Trixie. You're intrigued, at least. Admit it. You're at least interested to find out who it is. You have to be."

"Alright, alright," I said, throwing my hands up in surrender. "Alright. I want to know who it is, but that's all. He can send as many Valentine's Day presents as he likes, but I will continue to think of it as creepy and stalkerish."

"Someone's been sending you Valentines?" I scowled as Oliver's voice joined the conversation. "I thought you were spending it with your cat again, Patricia. Or did he finally figure out how to use the postal service?"

"Oliver," I said disparagingly. "I assume you'll be spending Valentine's Day with your hand, as always?"

He laughed. "She knows what I like, what more could I want?"

"Gross," Sofia groaned. "You know I'm in the room, right? I don't want to hear that shit."

I hoisted myself off the bean bag. Oliver's eyes, the same blue as his sister's, were alight with amusement.

"You're disgusting," I told him, pushing past him. "I'll be in my room, Sof."

"Good talk as always, Patricia!" Oliver called after me.

I cursed his very existence as I climbed the stairs to my room. Only three groups of people ever called me Patricia – my parents, who only ever used it when I was in serious trouble, new teachers, who hadn't yet had a chance to realise how much I detested my name, and Oliver, who knew full well how much I hated it, and used it as yet another weapon to infuriate me.

Jacob was leaving the bathroom as I reached the hallway, dripping wet. He grinned at me.

"Already?" he asked, amused. "Well that didn't take long."

"You can't honestly be surprised, you know what he's like. Why do you insist on torturing me?"

He merely shrugged as he passed me on the way to the stairs. "My house too, Trix," was all he said before heading down to join his ape of a friend.

Sofie joined me in my bedroom about five minutes later.

"Well," she said, closing the door behind her as she burst in. "I've spoken to him. Again." She flopped down on the bed beside where I was reading Frankenstein for the millionth time. "Don't think it will do much good, but you can't say I didn't try."

"And I appreciate it," I told her, wriggling over to rest my head on her shoulder.

It wasn't always like this between me and Oliver. Well, that's a lie. It wasn't always this bad, I should say. I didn't always have to leave the room whenever he was around. After the initial braids-pulling and stairs-pushing, I retaliated by dumping a bucket of sand on him on one of our joint family trips to the beach. Unfortunately for the both of us, I had missed the addition of a bluebottle in my sand gathering, and he'd been stung something severe. Hey, I was ten, I wasn't exactly paying attention. Of course he thought I'd done it on purpose, and attacked me appropriately. I can't even remember everything we'd done to each other. Physically and emotionally, we'd messed with each other a lot. And I mean a LOT.

But, there was a small cease – fire a couple of summers ago. Well, less of a ceasefire, and more of a case of me not retaliating because I'd developed a stupid crush. Sofia and I refer to it as the summer of temporary insanity. I would have been about fourteen, and he'd been spending more time than usual at our house, on account of him and Jacob being on the same baseball team. He was new, so Jake had been helping him practice and all that. So that meant a lot of long, hot days with the two of them out in our backyard, often shirtless, and incredibly sweaty. I didn't hate Oliver so much that I didn't notice that he was attractive. And he was attractive. He and Sof could have been twins, if not for the age difference. The blue eyes I'd always envied in Sofia were irresistible in Oliver, and even though I was certain that he'd never taken a brush to his messy black hair in his life, and his hair was shaggy to the point where he seriously needed a haircut, the look sort of worked on him.

The crush lasted right up until the point where he and Jake stole my diary and found out about it. Somehow the constant teasing and ridicule made him less attractive in my eyes, and the feud was back on.

As we got older though, it was less about what we did, and more about how we acted. We'd go out of our way to irritate and annoy and embarrass each other, and that was about where it ended. I personally didn't have the energy to devise any great plans, and I assume that it was no fun for him if I didn't take the bait.

I was brought out of my reverie by the beeping of Sofia's phone. I could tell by the goofy smile on her face as she read it that it was Luke. I rolled my eyes.

"Go," I told her.

"What?" she asked, pretending that she didn't know what I was talking about.

"Whatever he wants you to do," I said. "Go."

"He wants to go ice-skating," she said happily. "Are you sure you don't mind?"

I laughed. "Positive. Go," I urged, pushing her lightly in the direction of the door. "Have mushy romantic couple time. I'll be fine. Me and Frankenstein have a hot date."

She giggled. "Alright, alright. I'm going." She hugged me goodbye and picked up her bag. "Call me if you need anything."

I just waved her out of the room.

I spent the rest of the night reading Frankenstein and making notes, until I fell asleep in a pile of papers.

It was Sofia who woke me up the next morning.

"Hey," she said, nudging me gently. "Trix. Get up."

"Mmmpff," I mumbled, burying my head under the pillow.

The next thing I knew, I was being hit over the head with a cushion. "Up and at 'em, Patricia!" she sang.

I groaned, and lifted my head.

"Good morning sunshine," she said cheerily, beaming down at me.

"Good morning Satan," I said sarcastically as I got out of bed.

She simply laughed at me and tossed my uniform at my head in response. "I'll be downstairs."

I sighed as I headed for the bathroom. I was not a morning person at all. Luckily, though, Sofia was. In fact, she loved the mornings enough for the both of us.

I stumbled tiredly into the shower, sighing in relief as the water hit my skin. I washed my hair, sighing as the streaks I'd put through my hair turned the water red. I turned off the water and dried myself, taking extra care not to stain the towel with hair dye. Mum had gone ballistic last time, nearly taking my head off in anger. I picked a ratty old towel out of the cupboard on my way back to my room, and used that to dry my hair instead.

I tossed the towel on the floor when I entered my room, and headed straight for my dressing table. Observing myself critically in the mirror, I was overall happy with what I saw. I quickly applied a thin line of eyeliner around my green-grey eyes, and ran a brush through my (mostly) dark brown hair.

"Good enough," I said to myself, grabbing my shoes, socks, and bag and heading downstairs where Sofia was waiting impatiently.

"Take your time why don't you!"

I checked the clock that hung above our front door. "It was only twenty minutes. That's like a personal best."

"She ready yet?" Jacob asked, poking his head in the door. Seeing me, he rolled his eyes. "Jesus, Trix, take your time. Come on, grab your lunch and put your shoes on in the car. We need to go."

I poked my tongue out at him, but grabbed two apples and a small bag of cookies off the bench and rushed out the door, stopping cold when I saw who was sitting in the passenger seat.

"You have got to be kidding me," I muttered to myself as Oliver waved happily at me.

I ignored him and climbed silently into the back seat.

"Sorry," Sofia mouthed at me. "I didn't know."

I shrugged and smiled. "Not your fault," I mouthed back.

Not her fault she was related to a cretin.

Sofia and I sat silently in the back seat the entire drive to school, while Jacob and Oliver talked nonstop about video games and sports and other things I didn't particularly care about.

We made it to school just as the first warning bell went off.

"Thanks Jake," I said, jumping out of the car practically as soon as it had stopped. "I'll see you later."

Sofia and I rushed off to home room together, praying that we weren't late again. One more late mark, and it was detention. We made it just in time.

"Lucky, girls," Mrs. Oalin, our home room teacher smiled at us. "I was just about to close the door. Take a seat."

We sat down as she marked us down as present, and read out the announcements.

"As you know," she said, reading the last announcement. "Tomorrow is Valentine's Day. The Student Council have been selling roses and balloons for the past two weeks, to raise funds for the school. These will be delivered throughout your classes, please make sure that you don't let this disrupt your learning."

Sofia leaned over to me.

"What's the bet that your mystery guy sends you roses today?" she whispered. "Wouldn't that be the sweetest?"

I rolled my eyes. "I think it's far more likely that your boyfriend, whose identity is completely confirmed, is going to send you roses. That would be the sweetest."

I felt bad for Luke. My mystery guy was getting more attention from Sofie than he was.

Sofia's response was cut off by the first period bell.

"What've we got?" she asked me.

I consulted my timetable. "Well I've got double Ancient History. I don't know what you've got."

She thought. "Science. It's the only class I have that's different to yours. Science," she nodded.

I groaned.

"What?" she asked.

"We're in groups this week," I explained to her what had just remembered. "Your brother is my partner."

"Don't worry," she said, patting my shoulder sympathetically. "It'll be over before you know it."

I made a face as I pulled my bag onto my shoulder and headed for the history class. "I can only hope."

"Have fun!" she called after me.

Fun was not what I foresaw happening. My best bet was just to hold my tongue and get the work done.

Oliver was already sitting at my table when I arrived.

"You know that your table is over there, right?" I told him, pointing in the direction of his own desk.

He shrugged. "I know. But I figured seeing as we're partners now, what's yours is mine." He flashed me a grin.

I rolled my eyes as I sat down at the next desk, and waited for Mr. Browne to arrive with the textbooks I needed.

"Did you miss me in home room?" Oliver asked, obviously ignoring the fact I clearly did not want to speak to him. He moved his chair closer to mine. "I'll bet you did."

I stifled a laugh. "Why would I miss your presence, Oliver? I spend most of the time I spend with you wishing you'd go away."

"Harsh," he said. "You know, Lauren Moon wasn't nearly this mean to me when I was her partner."

"That's because you guys spent most of the time you were together making out. Why don't you ask to be paired with her again, and leave me alone?" I said, annoyed.

"Can't. Browne organised these groups specifically, you can't change them. Surely that fourteen year old that was crushing on me is still inside you somewhere, and ecstatic to be around me," he said, eyes glinting.

"No," I said with finality. "She's not."

Whatever clever remark he was going to make was cut off by Mr. Browne's arrival.

"Hello everyone, sorry I'm late." He plunked a large crate of textbooks down on his desk. "Everything you need is in these books, please feel free to use all of them. I encourage you to get to work immediately." With that, he pulled on his glasses and sat down to take the roll.

I headed straight to the crate, searching for something that would keep me occupied enough to drown Oliver out. I fished out two promising looking books, and headed reluctantly back to my desk.

"What'd you get me?" Oliver asked, reaching for the books.

I slapped his hand away. "Get your own."

A knock on the door interrupted him before he could speak.

"Yes?" Mr. Browne asked the trio of students standing at the door.

"Valentine's deliveries," the girl explained cheerily.

He sighed. "Alright, make it quick."

As they moved into the room, I recognised the two guys as my friends Daniel Morgan and Chad Samuels. I waved.

Chad, whose arms were full with roses and balloons, simply smiled and nodded acknowledgement. Daniel, on the other hand, whose arms were empty, smiled and headed over to hug me.

"Busy morning ahead, then?" I asked, indicating the girl and Chad, who were occupied with handing out gifts.

Dan grimaced. "You could say that. So many people wanting to express their feelings. But, it's all money for the formal, so it's all worth it. Speaking of," he said, motioning Chad over to us, "You cleaned up nicely this year. Quite a few beaus to choose from, if memory serves me correctly." He plucked a bunch of nine roses out of Chad's hands and handed them to me after checking the tags.

I was concerned initially, figuring that it was my secret stalker sending me things, but a quick flip through the tags proved me wrong. There was one from Jacob – something we'd done for the past two years just for fun, two from Sofia – a tradition we'd had since seventh grade, one from Joshua Stringer, who I'd never really even spoken to, one from my friend Ben as an apology for a fight we'd had a week ago, and the remaining four were from Daniel. No anonymous gifts.

When I looked up at him, he was smiling confidently.

"Oh really?" I asked, raising my eyebrow.

He nodded. "Don't think too much into it, though. That's how people destroy nice gestures."

"And that's all this was," I asked slowly. "Just a nice gesture?"

"Oh no, not by a long shot," he said. "Consider it an expression of interest. But I'm just saying, if you're not interested, it's just a gesture."

I rolled my eyes good naturedly. Daniel was cute, yes, but I didn't really think he was my type. Still, it was Valentine's Day, and it was a very nice gesture.

"And what exactly were you hoping for in exchange for this nice gesture?" I asked coyly.

He flashed a lopsided grin at me. "Well, I was thinking that a kiss for a flower wouldn't be all that much to ask for, you know."

I giggled. "Seems fair to me." I stood up and moved towards him, before kissing him twice on his left cheek and once on his right. "There you go." I went to sit back down, but he grabbed me before I could.

"Wait, wait, wait. I'm not all that great at math, but I do know a thing or two about kisses, and that was only three kisses. You owe me one more."

"Silly me," I said, moving closer to him. "I must have miscounted." I went to kiss his right cheek once more.

What the hell, I thought to myself, changing my mind. "It is Valentine's Day."

With that resolve, I pulled his lips to mine, and kissed him gently. I smiled as I pulled away and took my seat.

"Thanks for the flowers, Daniel," I said sweetly, batting my eyelashes overdramatically.

He laughed. "I'm not getting any more than that, am I?" he asked.

I shook my head. "Sorry."

"Don't be," he waved away my apology. "It was more than enough. Thank you for a great Valentine's Day, madam," he said, before bowing and leaving the room.

"What was that all about?" Oliver asked curiously. "Between you and him?"

I busied myself with my textbook. "What was what about?"

"That kiss. You could have just kissed him on the cheek again or something, what was with the mouth action?"

"What's it to you?"

"He your boyfriend or something?" Oliver asked.

"Why are you so interested all of a sudden?" I asked suspiciously.

"I'm not," he shrugged, grabbing one of my textbooks and flipping to some random page. Grateful he seemed to be dropping it, I didn't take the book back like I normally would have. "Just making conversation."

"O-kay," I said, deciding that rather than push for the reasons behind his strange behaviour I would focus on the work in front of me. Maybe all this Valentine's madness was getting to him too. Either way, we sat in silence until the bell rang, giving us an escape.

"Um, you going to be around later?" I asked, figuring that in the spirit of the day I'd try to at least be civil.

"Why?" he snapped. "You have some rooms you want to avoid me in?"

I just looked at him, confused. One of the only times I'd ever really tried to be nice to him, and he practically tore my head off. I shook my head.

"Who spit in your cornflakes this morning?" I asked, shaking my head. "Forget I asked." I left the room before he had another chance to snap at me.

I forgot about the incident with Oliver practically as soon as I'd left the room. I didn't have time to bother my mind with things like that. I immersed myself in Math, giving Joshua Stringer a polite 'thankyou for the rose, sorry I'm not interested' line before taking my seat. It's not that he was terrible or anything, it's just that we'd never had a conversation more than about three or four words, and to send a rose to someone over that felt a little off to me. I admit to feeling extremely flattered, though.

Math flew by, as did Modern History after that. To be honest I couldn't wait for the day to be over. The sight of couples plastered all over each other's faces all throughout class was starting to nauseate me. Even the happiest single person couldn't help but feel a little bit lonely on Valentine's Day, even if she did have five non-obligatory roses in her hand.

I rushed off to my locker as soon as the bell rang, more than ready to be out of that classroom. I'd just spent the last seventy minutes of my life unable to escape the spectacle that was Victoria Watson and Mathew Richardson, who I'm surprised didn't run out of oxygen. I was that close to lobbing paper balls at their heads just so they'd separate.

My so-called 'secret admirer' had managed to slip my mind as I'd dealt with the romance of the day. Unfortunately, Sofia hadn't. She was waiting impatiently by my locker, basically sprinting towards me when she saw me round the corner.

"Have you checked yet?" she demanded.

"Checked what?" I asked innocently, dawdling towards the locker.

"Oh, come on Trix," she pleaded. "Luke never does anything this romantic for me. Let me live through you."

"You know, rather than hounding me constantly about my creepy admirer, you could just talk to your boyfriend. I'm sure he'd be more than happy to up the mystery."

"I could have just opened the locker for you," she pointed out. "I do know your combination, you know."

"Then by all means." I gestured her towards it. "Open away."

"If you insist." She didn't need to be told twice. She rushed excitedly towards the lock, and, putting in the combination, ripped the locker door open. "Oh."

"What?" I asked at her disappointed tone.

"There's nothing in here," she frowned. "Nothing new, I mean. Apart from all your usual stuff."

"Oh well." I shrugged. "Maybe he forgot? Now, if you don't mind."

I pushed past her to get to the locker, depositing the books I didn't need and grabbing the ones I did for the weekend.

"Well that's just disappointing," she pouted. "Maybe he found out that you were calling him creepy and backed off," she speculated accusingly.

I rolled my eyes. "Alright, Veronica Mars, great detective work. I'm going to head home."

"But you normally stay on Fridays."

"I know. But I'm really not too keen on sticking around through two study periods on Valentine's Day. Believe it or not, too much love can be too much. I just want to get home and sleep until Valentine's Day is over."

"Wait a second," she said, completely ignoring what I'd just said. "How many roses did you get?"

I groaned. I'd been hoping she wouldn't notice.

"Well?" she demanded impatiently.

"Nine," I admitted grudgingly.

"Well I know that only two of those are from me," she said thoughtfully. "And then the one from Jacob. So?"

I slammed my locker shut and walked towards the exit. "So what?"

"Come on," she pulled me forcefully towards our usual lunch table. "You can leave after lunch," she said before I could protest. "So where did the other roses come from?"

I sighed. "You're going to be disappointed," I warned her.

She just looked at me expectantly, waiting.

"Fine," I relented dramatically. "One from Josh Stringer, one from Ben, and four from Daniel."

She squealed happily. "Why would I be disappointed with that? You cleaned up. Any one of those guys could be your mystery man!"

I looked at her sceptically. "The one from Ben was an apology, the one from Josh was just a sweet gesture, and I've already talked to Daniel about his. None of them are the creepy admirer, I'm sorry."

"So that's what Stacey was talking about," she mused. "She said something happened between you and Daniel this morning. Did you kiss him? Because I heard that you kissed him, and I heard it was magical."

I groaned inwardly. Curse Stacey Pitts and her large mouth.

"I'm taking your silence as confirmation," she informed me happily. "You and Daniel would be cute together! You never know, he could be the mystery guy! You should ask him."

"Why won't you let this go?" I asked exasperatedly, resting my head on my arms. "I don't care, why do you?"

She shrugged. "I don't know. I just feel like you're missing out on something. I have Luke, and I know how happy he makes me. Is it so bad that I want someone to make you as happy as he makes me?"

I groaned disgustedly, not moving my head from my arms. "Excuse me, I'll just be over here, vomiting up my breakfast."

She laughed and shoved me playfully. "I'm serious," she told me. "You haven't had one good guy in your whole life, and you're the best person I know. I just want you to have someone to make you happy."

I raised my head up to smile at her. "But I do have someone," I told her, standing up. "I've got you, and that's all I need."

She rolled her eyes. "You know what I mean."

"I do." I stood up. "And I love you for caring, but really I'm okay." I kissed her lightly on the forehead. "Honestly." Anything else I was going to say was cut off by the bell. "And that's my cue."

"Want me to come over tonight?" she offered as she walked with me towards the front gate.

"And have me responsible for taking you away from Luke, are you crazy?" I grinned at her and shook my head. "It's fine, really. Come over sometime on Sunday, once you and the boyfriend are all loved out, and tell me all about your super cute Valentine's day. I promise I'll only vomit a little."

She laughed as she hugged me goodbye. "It's a date."

"That it is," I agreed. "Don't tell Luke, he might get jealous. Adios!"

She waved me goodbye before turning and heading back inside the gate towards her class.

The walk home actually helped me clear my head. Some of what Sofia had said made sense, I'd admit it. Maybe it would be nice to have someone like Luke to make me as sickly happy as Sofia, but there was nobody I really liked enough to let that happen. Sofie was crazy about Luke months before he got up the nerve to ask her out, and I figure that's why they work so well. Truth be told, I hadn't really had a 'crush' on anyone since Oliver. Nothing substantial, anyway. A fleeting thought or two about an attractive guy in class was about as crushing as it got. Maybe I was just traumatised from the whole Oliver incident. It would make sense that he would find a way to ruin my life even further, without even trying it seems.

I'd been so caught up in my thoughts that I hadn't even noticed I'd made it all the way home until I was literally standing at my front door. I let myself in and made a beeline for the kitchen, starving.

"Hey honey," Mum greeted me from the dining room table. "Why so early?"

I shrugged as I perused the fridge. "I didn't feel like sticking around. The romance in the air was suffocating me."

She smiled at me sympathetically as I emerged from the fridge holding left over lasagne and orange juice. "Not a good day then?"

"It wasn't bad," I admitted, popping the lasagne in the microwave. "I'd just rather not be around all the loved up couples for that much longer. It does things to a girl, you know." I retrieved my food as the microwave beeped loudly at me. "I did get some roses though," I told her as I poured myself a glass of orange juice. "And more than just the usuals from Sofie and Jake."

"Oh, that reminds me!" She got up excitedly, rushing over. "Come, you got something!"

I grabbed my food and juice and followed her as she hurried to my room. "What are you talking abou – " My question was cut off as she pushed open my door. The overwhelming, unmistakeable scent of lilies and violets hit me. Stepping into the room I found seven large, overflowing baskets filled with the flowers.

"Whoa... Where did these come from?" I asked slowly, still taking it all in. I placed my food down on the bedside table.

She shrugged. "They were waiting at the door when I got up, addressed to you with no note saying where they were from. Does someone have a secret admirer we need to know about?" she asked suggestively.

"Just some creepy stalker," I shrugged. "There's been this guy leaving me presents all week," I explained at her expression. "I thought maybe he'd forgotten today but – " I gestured to the flowers spilling out across my room " – apparently not."

"Well I think it's sweet," she told me decisively. "This boy is clearly going out of his way to show you he likes you."

I snorted. "You and Sof should get together." I headed over to the

"I mean it, Patricia," she said seriously. "You deserve to have a nice boy in your life."

"And you think that some anonymous stranger who somehow knows my favourite flowers, and my locker, and where I live fits that description?" I asked as I ate. "Really, Mum?"

"I'm just saying, it couldn't hurt for you to be open to finding a boyfriend," she said in the condescending way only mothers can get away with. "It's worth thinking about."

"You really should get together with Sof," I told her. "Honestly. If I didn't know any better, I'd say the two of you were conspiring against me."

She held her hands up in surrender. "It's just a thought."

"I always appreciate these moments, mother," I told her, in a not so subtle hint for her to leave my room.

She laughed. "Alright, point taken." She came over to kiss me on the cheek. "Your father's working, so no loud music please."

"No problem."

"Yell if you need anything," she said as she left.

I got up to close the door behind her. Between her and Sofia, I had a feeling I wasn't going to escape this boyfriend speak all that easily. I sighed heavily and hit my head against the wall a few times.

Thinking about Sofia, I realised she would probably kill me if I didn't tell her about the flowers. Reluctantly, I pulled my phone from my pocket.

Turns out I was wrong. Stalker-boy didn't forget. Seven baskets of lilies and violets filling up my room as we speak. Creeeeeepyyyy.

Figuring that would satisfy her, I flopped back down on my bed, pulling my laptop towards me. There was nothing like some music and a little internet browsing to keep my mind off romance.

My phone beeped next to me.

Sofie's response, as expected, was the polar opposite of my own.

Cuuuuuute! You're so lucky, he knew they were your fav and everything! :3 I guess you had a happy valentines after all.

I rolled my eyes. Typical. She would find it cute.

I responded quickly.

You say cute, I say creepy. Still not a good valentines, still super creeped out. Anyway, pay attention in class, I'll see you Sunday. x.

I waited until I got her 'See you then! Don't think you're getting out of the gossip either. x.' response, before setting my phone to charge and returning to my laptop.

After about an hour or two of useless tumblring, twittering, facebooking and internet window-shopping, I gave up on the internet. I browsed my music library until I found a chill out playlist I had created for just this occasion, and settled down for the millionth time with my worn down copy of The Picture of Dorian Gray.

I don't know when I fell asleep, but the next thing I knew, I was being woken by my phone going off rather loudly.

Rolling over unhappily, I picked up the phone without even bothering to check the caller id.


"Trixie, can you let me in?"

I sat up immediately at the voice. "Oliver?"

"Yes, me. Can you let me in please?"

"Why don't you ask Jacob?" I asked grumpily, before hanging up.

He continued to ring, and I continued to ignore him.

Eventually, the phone stopped ringing. I sighed happily, and pulled my laptop towards me, and was shocked to find that it was nearly half past midnight. I couldn't believe that I'd slept for that long. All this Valentine's nonsense must have tired me out more than I had known.

Tired of sitting in the dark, I rolled out of bed to turn on the lamp that stood over by my window. Once the room was lit, I set about doing all the things I should have done when I got home from school. Like, for instance, changing out of my uniform.

I picked a pair of cotton pyjama shorts and a singlet out of my drawer, and started to undress. Realising that I did have a creepy guy sending me anonymous gifts, it occurred to me that changing with the curtains wide open probably wasn't the greatest idea.

I walked back across the room to close the curtains, and nearly had a heart-attack. Oliver was standing on the ledge outside my window, like he was about to knock.

"Jesus Christ, Oliver!" I hissed, once I'd regained control of myself. "What the fuck are you doing out there?"

"Hey, Trix," he greeted me coolly as he opened the window wide enough for him to slip through.

"You are aware that what you're doing is a crime, right?" I asked. "You just broke in to my house."

"Well," he said, as he took a seat on my bed, inspecting the still-playing playlist. "Death Cab For Cutie. Nice. If you would have answered my calls, I wouldn't have had to break in. So really this is your fault."

"Well clearly you have the wrong room," I told him frostily. "Jacob's across the hall. Please," I directed him, opening the door. "Get out."

"No, no, I have the right room. Your presence in here just confirm it. I see you got my flowers."

Suddenly, it all made sense.

"Of course," I said. "Of course it was you. Well played."

"Played?" he asked, genuinely confused.

"In messing with my mind. Creeping me out. Well done. Now, get out."

He rolled his eyes. "Are you ever not a bitch?"

"That depends. Are you ever going to give up on trying to mess with me?"

"You know, as I recall, there was a time when you actually wanted me in your life." He smirked.

"Yes. Nearly four years ago, I had a mental lapse. We've all gotten over it, it's about time you did too." Just being in the same room as him was putting me in a bad mood.

"And what if I don't want to get over it?" he challenged. "What if I want to hold on to that information for the rest of my life, then what?"

"Then I hope you and your information lead a very happy life. Now please get out."

"Trixie what day is it?" he asked suddenly, changing the subject.


"What. Day. Is. It." He repeated slowly.

I rolled my eyes. "As of about an hour ago, it's Saturday. Now I know you have calendars at your house, why don't you go and consult one of them." I pointed towards the door.

He sighed exasperatedly. "No. I mean what day is it."

It took me a while until I got what the emphasis was all about.

"Oh," I said without enthusiasm. "Valentine's Day. And I'm sure your television is missing you. You should return to her."

He just grinned at me. "I brought you something."

"Surely there's no fun in it anymore now that I know it was you leaving all the creepy gifts," I told him as he walked back towards the window.

"Oh come on." His back was still towards me, as he leant out the window searching for something. "Are you saying you didn't like them?"

"Besides the point," I deflected. "It was still creepy."

"Admit it," he teased. "There was a part of you that liked it all. Some secret part of you was wishing that it would be some super hot guy with a thing for you."

"If I say yes, will you go away?" I asked tiredly. "Fine, okay." I threw my hands up in fake surrender. "You got me. Well done, your medal's in the mail. Now, please, go away."

"And, now?" he asked, completely ignoring everything I had just said. "Now that you know it was all me?" His hands were behind his back, hiding something. Needless to say, I was worried.

I shrugged. "Is it supposed to make a difference? I thought it was creepy before, now that I know it was you, it's still creepy but it at least makes sense."

"Sense how?" he asked curiously. All trace of playfulness was gone as he walked over to sit on the bed, still not showing me what was in his hands.

"It explains how the creeper I thought was stalking me or something knew all that stuff about me. And now that I know it was just you being you, it explains why they were sent as well."

He sighed and stood up. "You know what, I think you were right. I should go." He walked over to me, and produced a box from behind his back. "This is for you."

He placed the box in my hands and headed for the door. I waited to hear the front door close to be sure he'd gone before staring down at the box. Curiosity won out within seconds, and I opened the lid to peer in.

Whatever I'd been expecting, it wasn't this. Sitting innocently inside was an apple pie. On top of it lay a note.

I wanted to deliver this one in person. I hope you like it.
Happy Valentine's Day, Trix.
- Oliver.

Without thinking, I rushed downstairs and outside after him, box still in hand. Even walking as slowly as he was, he was nearly back to his house.

"Hey!" I called out angrily after him. I'm not sure why I was angry, but it's all that I felt at the moment.

He stopped in his track and turned to face me. "Patricia?" he asked, genuinely seeming confused.

"What is this?" I demanded, holding the pie up like it was a piece of evidence.

He stared at me like I'd gone mad. "That is what we in the realm of sanity refer to as a pie. An innocent apple pie, mind you, so you might stop shaking it like it's done something wrong."

"Why would you give me a pie?"

He shrugged. "I thought it would be nice. Same pie as you brought us when we first moved here. Well, not the exact same pie, you know, because that would be disgusting, but you get the general idea. It was a gesture."

"Why?" I asked. I was honestly confused.

"Like I said. I thought it would be nice. Are you done yelling at me for no apparent reason?"

I eyed him suspiciously, an idea niggling at the back of my mind. I walked slowly towards him.

"Oliver?" I asked slowly.

"Yes, Patricia?" He seemed to want to move away from me, but seemed unable.

"Why did you really send me all that stuff?" I asked, gauging his reaction. The poorly disguised alarm in his eyes told me I was heading along the right direction.

He scoffed. "I thought you'd figured it all out already. I was messing with you, Patricia. That's all." I eyed him as he shoved his hands further into his jacket pockets, as if he was trying to hide something.

"What's in the pocket?" I asked, nodding towards him. "Something incriminating?" I'll admit, I was enjoying myself. This was one of the few times I was the one in control.

He shook his head unconvincingly in protest. "What are you talking about?"

I was directly in front of him now, closer than I'd ever been. He was doing all he could to avoid my eyes.

I caught his eyes eventually, and refused to let him break the gaze. "Am I making you nervous?" I asked seductively, enjoying the way I was making him squirm more than I felt I should have been.

I saw him swallow hard, as he tore himself away from my eyes. "Why would I be nervous?" he managed to mumble.

I smiled as I reached for his pocket. "You tell me." I reached into his pocket quickly and pulled out a folded bunch of papers, before running out of retaliation distance. "What's this?" I asked, looking over the first page quickly as he grabbed for them. "A diary?"

"Journal," he corrected unhappily, giving up on the chase.

"If it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck..." I trailed as I pretended to read. "Why are you carrying around pages of your diary anyway?"

I couldn't hear the response he offered. "What?"

"It's a journal," he corrected tiredly.

"Whatever." I shrugged it off. "Why are you carrying it around?"

He exhaled heavily and shoved his hands back in his pockets as he walked closer. "I was going to give them to you," he told me.

"Why?" I asked, baffled.

"To make up for... you know."

"For you and my brother invading my privacy and reading my diary?" I finished.

He nodded, his eyes on the sky. "I figured it could help even the playing field, or whatever."

"Well that's...uncharacteristically thoughtful of you," I conceded as I took a seat on the curb. "So I can read them?"

"Please," he said grudgingly. "Go right ahead."

"I won't read them if you don't want me to," I told him, holding the papers out to him. "Unlike some," I said pointedly, "I respect people's personal thoughts and feelings."

He seemed to wrestle with the decision for a little while, before relenting. "No. Go ahead. I was going to give them to you anyway."

"Well if you're sure." I didn't have to be told twice.

As I leafed through the papers, I noticed something.

"There are pages in here from three years ago," I said, looking up at him. "Why so long ago?"

He hesitated before answering. "Keep reading."

I complied. I started to notice a recurring theme in the pages he'd given me. "They're all about me."

"Aren't you the observant one. I've changed my mind," he said suddenly, grabbing for the papers. "Stop reading them."

"I saw Trixie again today," I read out loud from one of the earlier pages. "I've started calling her Patricia, Jake said she hates it. She's really hot when she's angry?" I stared at him before flipping to another paper, dated around the same time.

"We found Trixie's journal today. She's got a crush on me, isn't that weird? I was so sure she hated me, she's always such a bitch when we're in the same space. Maybe it's one of those weird girl things. I couldn't do anything but make fun of her when Jake was around of course. He'd beat me to a pulp." I found a paper dated last year.

"I think I've really messed things up. Trixie can hardly stand to be around me anymore. Every time I walk into a room, she'll walk out. I know I should stop teasing her. It's so immature but I cant help it. It's like I'm eight again. I don't know how she does it." There was one last page to read from. Looking at it, it was dated last week.

"So I've decided to make my move," I read slowly. "It's Valentine's week, so I guess it's now or never. There's a part of me – okay most of me, that's hoping she's still got that crush. I guess we'll find out."

I couldn't read any more. I took a moment to collect my thoughts, before meeting his waiting gaze. "What is this?" I asked him.

He stared at me. "You just read it all."

"Uh uh." I shook my head. "Tell me. What was it?"

He wrung his hands, clearly dealing with some kind of emotional turmoil. After a while, I grew tired of the silence.

"You know what?" I said, pushing myself up off the curb. "Fine. Don't say anything. I'm done with this." I walked back towards my house.

I wasn't going to wait around for him to tell me what was going on in his head.

As I was heading up the stairs to my front door, I heard him.

"I like you, Patricia."

It was barely audible, but I heard it. I froze in my tracks.

"Who knows," he continued, a little louder. "Maybe I even love you."

I turned around slowly. "What?" I asked.

He groaned. "Please don't make me say it again," he said as if it pained him.

I grinned. "See, what I heard," I said as I strutted towards him. "Was that somebody has a crush on someone else." I came to a stop right in front of him, mere centimetres between us. "And this time, it's not me."

He groaned. "How long are you going to mock me for?" he asked. "Just so I can be prepared."

I pretended to think. "How long is forever, exactly?"

He groaned again, louder this time. "Great. If you need me, I'll be over here, giving up on life." He walked a little way away.

"I'm sorry," I said, in a voice that completely contradicted my words as I followed him. "But if you recall, you never exactly let up on the fact that I had a thing for you. You can expect the same treatment, mister."

He stopped unexpectedly, whirling around to face me. It was all I could do not to run into him.

"You had a thing for me?" he asked trying to disguise the sadness. I didn't miss the importance of the emphasis.

To be honest, I hadn't given the whole situation too much thought. There was no time like the present.

Oliver was... infuriating. He was sarcastic, and crude, and irritating, and he'd been a constant pain in my life literally since the first day we'd met. He'd been nothing but a never ending source of annoyance, spouting constant ridicule and forever plotting ways to ruin my life.

But on the other hand, what boy wasn't like that? At least at one point or another? And, I'll admit, there were times – I'd always thought I'd imagined them, but in light of things, maybe I hadn't – when I'd caught him looking at me with a certain gentleness I'd never thought he could possess. That was a large part of the reason I'd developed the initial crush on him.

"I don't mean to rush you," he interrupted gently. "But if you're going to let me down, could you maybe do it soon? My heart doesn't generally like to have its breaking to be drawn out over time."

Either way this went, it was probably going to hurt at least a little. I bit my lip uncertainly.

"This is real, right?" I double checked. "I'm not going to wake up tomorrow to find out this has all been some massive mindfuck?"

He smiled wryly. "100% real. Do you really think that I could make something like this up?" He laughed at my expression. "I've done some pretty awful things to you, Patricia, but even I wouldn't mess with you like that."

I smirked happily. "So I guess you really do have a crush on me, huh?" I couldn't help but tease.

"Patricia," he said, pained. "I like – maybe even love – you, but if you don't stop enjoying my torment long enough to give me an answer, I might just kill you."

"Rude." I pouted, taking his hand.

"So about that crush..." he murmured, moving closer into my personal space.

"It might have stuck around," I shrugged nonchalantly. "Perhaps, if you stopped calling me Patricia, it would make itself known."

He laughed as he pulled me towards him. "Never. Going. To happen."

"Well in that case," I began, playfully reaching up to put my arms around his neck. "You better have another offer on the table."

He bent down towards me, his eyes never leaving my own. "I'm sure I can find something suitable," he murmured.

I beamed happily. "Well, in that case."

He grinned cheekily, his arms around my waist pulling me closer to him.

"Are you sure about this?" he asked gently, visibly uncertain.

"Oliver." I stepped back to look at him properly. "I'll be honest. I'm rather fond of you."

The expression that settled over his face was the softest I'd seen him wear. "Is that right?" he breathed.

I shrugged. "I guess." I smiled at his expression. "Have been for quite some time. I like – maybe even love – you too, Oliver Tulloch." I paused. "So are you going to kiss me or what?"

He beamed, his hands returning to my waist and bringing me back into him. One hand reached up to my face and pushed a few stray strands of hair back behind my ear. He leant down slowly, until, before I knew it, his lips were on mine.

The kiss was soft and gentle, almost hesitant, as if neither one of us could believe this was happening. I'd never thought that I'd be standing in the middle of the street in the early hours of the morning, kissing Oliver. Killing him, perhaps, but kissing? Never.

He bit my lip gently, before pulling away. His hands were still wrapped firmly around me. "So, Patricia?"

I sighed, shook my head and wriggled out of his grip, heading back to my front porch. I smiled to myself as I heard him follow me.

"Oh come on, Patricia." I could hear the laughter in his voice. "Really?"

I turned, and leant back against the wall by the still open door.

"Well if that's the best you can do," I teased, "then you need to stop calling me Patricia."

He placed his hands on either side of my head, and leaned in dangerously close.

"Is that right?" he said softly, his blue eyes sparkling with mischievous intent.

"I'm just saying."

With one hand still against the wall, supporting him, he ran the other down the length of my arm, linking his fingers with mine when he came to my hand. Grinning cheekily, he yanked me towards him. "I just didn't want to break you."

"You couldn't if you tried," I challenged.

"You just remember that you said that," he warned playfully.

Without warning, his lips crashed into mine. Where the other kiss had been gentle and reserved, this one had no hesitations at all. His lips were rough, and warm, and passionate. His hands had made their way up to tangle themselves in my hair. When his tongue pushed its way into my mouth to meet mine, I felt my knees literally weaken. I felt him smile against me as I leaned into him, kissing him back hungrily.

Abruptly, he pulled away, moving his lips instead to my neck, kissing any flesh he could find intensely. If his hands hadn't been supporting me, I'm fairly certain I would have collapsed.

"So?" he asked cockily, resting his forehead on mine. "Any better?"

I opened my mouth to speak, but nothing came out. I barely managed a nod.

He just laughed. "I never thought I'd see the day when you of all people would be speechless, Patricia."

"These things happen occasionally," I shrugged, regaining control over myself. As much as I tried to quash it, however, I couldn't stop the warm feeling that spread all over my being.

He sighed reluctantly as he pulled away from me.

"What?" I asked.

"It's nearly 3am," he pointed out. "And as much as I hate to say it, we should sleep."

I pouted, tugging on his shirt to bring him back to me. "Do we have to?"

He chuckled as he kissed me on the forehead. "I don't like it any more than you do. In fact, I probably like it a whole lot less. But I do have soccer tomorrow."

I made dramatic puppy eyes at him. "Can't you tell them you're sick or something?" I joked.

"As much as I would love to," he sighed, running his hands up and down my arms. "Your brother would have my head."

"You're probably right," I conceded. "And I do prefer you with a head."

He just laughed. "You are a bad influence, Patricia, has anybody ever told you?"

"I've been told," I said happily.

He shook his head as he headed back to the porch, returning with my pie box in his hand. "Don't forget your present," he told me. "The journal pages are in there too. You know, just in case."

"Wanna carry it up for me?" I smiled at him coyly.

He looked at me in disbelief. "I didn't realise your arms were broken."

"Shush," I giggled, shoving him gently. "Can you just carry it please?"

He sighed dramatically. "I wish you would have told me I'd be turned into a slave before I kissed you," he said as he walked past me and into the house. "I would have thought twice before telling you I liked you."

"Don't lie," I said as I closed the door behind us and followed him up the stairs to my room. "You would not have."

"You're right," he agreed without hesitation. "I regret absolutely nothing."

He pushed open my bedroom door and walked over to place the pie down on my bedside table. "Anything else?"

I shook my head.

"Well, then," He came over to meet me where I stood in the doorway. "I guess this is goodnight." He kissed me gently. "I'll see you tomorrow?"

"Sounds good."

He pressed his lips lightly against my forehead and stepped out into the hallway.

I, of course, had no intention of letting him leave.

"Wait." I reached out to take his hand before he could go any further. He shot me a quizzical look. "Do you..." Now that the time had come, I was having trouble getting the words out.

"Do you want to stay?"

A slow, cat-like grin spread across his face. "Are you inviting me into the ice fortress?" he asked mischievously.

I rolled my eyes good-naturedly. "I get the distinct feeling that that was innuendo," I began. The widening grin on his face only confirmed it. "So, to clear it all up now, no, we are not having sex."

He scoffed, acting offensively. "Patricia, I am a gentleman. Thoughts such as those never even crossed my mind."

I giggled. "Sure, sure. Are you staying or not?"

He closed the distance between us, hooking his fingers through my belt loops and tugged me into him. "I'd love to."

He bent down to kiss me. I could definitely get used to those lips.

He sighed into me. "You have no idea how long I have been waiting to kiss you, Trixie," he said softly, stroking my hair happily.

I beamed. "Nearly as long I'd been waiting to kiss you, I'd bet."

I suppressed a squeal as he picked me up, turned off the lamp, and walked us over to the bed, lowering me gently down on to it.

His mouth hovered inches above mine. In the moonlight flooding in through the window, his eyes were practically glowing.


I swallowed hard at the deep tone of his voice, fighting to hold on to the no-sex rule. "Yeah?"

"Will you be my girlfriend?" he asked huskily. "You know. Officially?" There was a barely detectable nervous hint to his voice.

Grinning happily, I reached up to his face. "I thought you'd never ask." I kissed him gently.

A dopey smile fixed itself on his face. He leaned down to kiss me deeply, before rolling down beside me.

"Oh, by the way," I said, breaking the happy silence as I stared at the roof. "Did I forget to mention that there is a strict no-shirt policy in this bed?"

"Is that right?" I could hear the amusement in his voice.

"Uh huh."

"Well I can't help but notice that your shirt is still on," he pointed out.

"Hey, my bed, my rules." I defended myself. "So come on, off with it."

"Make me."

I never was one to turn down a challenge.

Without any warning, I leapt on top of him, straddling him.

"Don't waste any time, do you?" He laughed from underneath me.

"Hey, you told me to," I defended myself.

I grabbed the hem of his shirt and tugged it over his head, tossing it off to the side.
I saw him smirk as he watched me check out his body.

He'd come a long way since I was fourteen, that's for damn sure.


I nodded. "Oh, yeah."

I rolled off him, and settled on to my side. He turned over to face me.

"This is not fair at all," he complained as his hand stroked my hair. "I feel all exposed and vulnerable."

"Well, we're in your bed, you can make the rules," I told him.

He slipped his hand under my shirt and settled it on my waist, his warm skin sending shocks out over my body as he moved closer to me. "You can bet on it."

His mouth made its way to mine, like I'm not ashamed to admit I was hoping it would.

As I enjoyed the feel of his body and mouth against my own, and the way his hands roamed over my body and pulled me into him, I couldn't help but think how glad I was that my creepy valentine had been Oliver Tulloch.

Valentine's Day wasn't so bad after all.