His Heart, His Valentina

“Really Valentina,” my best friend squeezed my hands in his. “I wouldn’t mind coming over tonight. Valentine’s Day is just another day. Josh will understand.”

I wanted Brandon to come back. The last few night’s dreams had been so real and terrifying that I was afraid of sleeping alone. But I couldn’t be that selfish. I knew how excited he was about spending Valentine’s Day with the guy who stole his heart.

“I haven’t had the dreams in ages. Go have a blast, and tell Josh that if he doesn’t marry you soon, I’m going to turn into a guy and take you away from him.”

Brandon grinned and kissed my forehead. “I love him.”

“I know you do.” There was happiness leaking out of Brandon’s every pore. “You deserve it after having waited for the right guy all this time.” I looked at my feet and pretended that I wasn’t waiting for my guy, too. I was a 28-year-old single woman who had never had a relationship that lasted more than seven months.

“Are you sure you don’t want me to stay?” Brandon was probably seeing right through me. I wasn’t very good at pretending. “I can go to Josh’s for a while, and come back before you go to bed.”

“No way.” I play punched him in the gut. “Get out of here. Go get some, then come back tomorrow and tell me all about it.” I pushed him towards the front door, but he didn’t open it. “Leave! And keep the details fresh. Remember that your sex life is all the action I get.”

“You’re so sick.” Brandon made puking sounds and then turned the doorknob. “Promise me something.” He stopped smiling. “If you wake up screaming in the middle of the night, you’ll call me regardless of how late it is.”

“Yes, Mr. Brandon Protector Man,” I said, in my most annoying baby talk. But my fingers were crossed behind my back.

Brandon shook his head and walked out of my apartment, laughing.


Four hours and 36 minutes later, I sat in bed with all the lights on staring at my alarm clock. I tried not to think about the dreams, but it was so hard not to. I had been living them for the last six years. I had been thinking about how the dreams were much more vivid on Valentine’s Day, when sleep sneaked up on me.  


“Marcus?” I whispered. “Marcus, are you here?”

A pair of hands grabbed me by the waist and covered my mouth before I could scream. “My Valentina,” he said.

“You scoundrel,” I said between kisses. “You nearly killed me with fright.”

“Do forgive me, my love. I have been waiting for so long.” Marcus pulled me against his body and I welcomed his touch. “I see you are covered in blood. How many children will we have?”

“Dozens.” I giggled. “I think I was struck by every Luperci in the village. Some with goat tongues, some with hides, and all bellowing ‘Faunus and Lupercus will protect you from wolves, and Juno will fill you with child and love.’ I tried to get here as soon as I could, but everybody is out for Lupercalia.”

“Let me make the priests’ wishes come true and fill you with love, my Valentina. With luck, the Goddess will smile on us and our love will make many children.”

It was too dark. I didn’t see Marcus take off his tunic, but I felt the fabric drop on my feet. I had been running naked since the Fertility Festival began, so I was ready. Marcus picked me up and I wrapped my legs around him. My body welcomed him in, the same way my heart had done the year before. I loved my Marcus and he adored me. We were going to run away together and be happy.

Our bodies began to tremble, and Marcus had to lean against the wall of the cave to keep us from falling. We swallowed each other’s gasps, moans and laughter.

“I love you, Marcus.”

“And you are my heart, my Valentina.” 

“Search the entire cave, and slaughter the heretics!”

Marcus and I jumped together at the sound of the voice of one of my father’s colonels.

“Bring me the heart of the one who corrupted the General’s Daughter…” There was a pause, and the voice got so low that I barely heard the words that followed. “If you find her with him, kill the whore, too.”


My alarm clock went off at 11:33 pm. I had been dreaming for less than an hour, but it had felt like an entire night. And the dream was different. I had never been able to wake up before reaching the twisted weeping willow. And I had dreamed about Marcus before, but always in the woods, or flirting at the market, or screaming as the colonel who worked for Valentina’s father cut his heart out.

I could still taste Marcus on my lips. And I felt sticky. I switched on the lamp on my nightstand. And screamed.

I was naked and covered in blood. I ran to the bathroom and jumped in the shower.

“It’s not real. It’s not real. It’s not real.” I shuddered under the cold water. “But what if...?”

I thought about Marcus’ touch. About how my relationships had never worked out because I compared every guy I dated to a man I met in a dream. “I need to go back.”

I ran out of the shower, reddish water still running down my body. I put on a sweat suit before unplugging my alarm clock, turning off my cell phone, and grabbing the only weapon I kept in my apartment: a hammer.

I lit lavender and willow candles. I had spent a lot of money in dream therapy, and although my psychoanalyst hadn’t been able to help me stop the dreams, she had taught me how to induce the dream state. She had also said that I needed something familiar to bring me back; the scent of lavender and willow were as familiar to me as my own face.

I held the hammer over my chest and thought about damp soil, about the dark cave, about Marcus in my arms…


Marcus touched my face. “You need to hide here.” I was in a small hole in the cave floor.

“You too, Marcus.” I held on to his hand.  

“No, there is only room for one.” He kissed my face and I tasted blood and tears. “I will hide in the woods. Meet me at midnight by the twisted weeping willow.” He covered me with dead leaves that felt cold on my skin. “Valentina, they are coming into this chamber. Don’t make a sound. Regardless of what you hear, don’t make a sound. I love you.”

I sat in the hole hugging my knees. There was something hard and cold pressed against the middle of my chest. I grabbed it. A hammer? I thought. Then it all came back to me.
 
It felt unbelievable and a little ridiculous, but I knew Valentina’s memories were mine. Marcus’ family was Pagan and my father served Emperor Claudius, a man who believed in the new god. Marcus and I knew my family would never allow our union, so we had decided to run away during the Lupercalia Fertility Festival. But our plans never came to be. Marcus was murdered. And my father forced me to marry his colonel. 

“Marcus, come back,” I yelled but there was no answer. I crawled out of the hole, my hammer in hand. I stumbled through the cave half blind, and ran into someone’s back.

“Valentina?” Marcus shook his head. “No, no, no!”

“Found the farmer, colonel,” said one of the five men who stood in front of Marcus and me holding torches and swords. “Should I—?”

“No.” My father’s colonel spat on the dirt. “I can take care of a farmer and a whore. Leave us!”

The men rushed deeper into the cave.

Marcus pushed me behind him. “Do what you will with me, but let Valentina go.”

The colonel smirked, and pulled out the dagger he had used to cut out Marcus’ heart, six years in a row. I leapt in front of Marcus and hammered the smirk off the bastard’s face.

“Valentina!” Marcus’ eyes looked huge.

“We need to get to the twisted weeping willow before midnight, Marcus.” He looked so confused. “I will explain later, my love. Can we get past the soldiers?”

“Take your clothes off,” he said.

I was going to tell him to stop being such a pervert, but he began to remove the colonel’s armor and I understood.

Marcus grabbed me by the arm. “Try looking upset. Cry if you can manage it.”

I wailed like a banshee as he dragged me through the middle of the plaza. Emperor Claudius’ soldiers were going through the crowd with whips, spears, crosses and swords. There was blood everywhere.

“Stop watching, heretic!” Marcus slapped me out of my trance. “Or you’ll get whats coming to you sooner.”

I heard soldiers laughing.

We got to the twisted weeping willow tree and Marcus hugged me. “I’m sorry, my Valentina.” Marcus kissed my throbbing cheek. “I didn’t—”

“I understand,” I said.

He nodded. “We need to head south. My father will help us.”

“No,” I said. I looked at the moon. “Do you trust me, Marcus?”

“I love you, Valentina.”

I stared into his eyes. “Kiss me then, and don’t let go.”

He looked towards town. A group of soldiers was heading our way. I saw Marcus swallow. “I trust you.” He kissed me.

I kissed him back. I pressed his body against the willow tree. I visualized my one bedroom apartment, thought about Brandon’s laughter, about the scent of lavender and willow…


I woke up in my bedroom. Marcus was still kissing me. We were smiling into each other’s eyes, when a group of toga-clad men kicked down my door.

Brandon, Josh and about ten other guys, stood openmouthed in front of Marcus and me.

“It’s not what it seems,” I said, and tried to cover my breasts just to find out that Marcus’ hands were already taking care of the job.

“Okay,” Brandon said. “You are not in bed, looking very happy and very naked, with a hot guy in shiny armor holding your tatas.”

I glanced at Marcus and giggled. I was happy, and my hot guy in shiny armor was indeed holding my tatas. “I guess it’s exactly what it seems.”


Marcus and I had a ceremonial double wedding with Brandon and Josh. The four of us will have our official wedding when New York laws allow gay marriage, and Marcus gets an ID that doesn’t say he was born a couple of thousand years ago.

My husband is getting used to the 21st century. He is even beginning to understand why the world has a holiday named after his Valentina, but he is bothered by the fact that whoever translated the poem he wrote for me, which must have been found in the cave with his tunic, misspelled my name. 

Happy Me Day, with an “e”!
Valentina  
 
via


23 comments:

  1. All right! fun little story.

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  2. It was very fun to write ;-)

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  3. I LOVED this! I want to read it again and again!! What a fabulous Valentine's Day story! Best I've ever read!

    Thank you, M!

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  4. That is so lovely. Thank you for sharing! :)

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  5. Excellent. Happy ending. :o)

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  6. What a sweet story! Love the friend dynamic between Valentina and Brandon (great dialog!), and (of course) love a happy ending for Valentine's Day! Thanks for sharing.

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  7. @Melissa, so glad!

    @Dough, it was a delight to write.

    @Kallan, you are always conspiring to bring me happiness and weird giggles, aren't you? I love that you want to read it over and over; I only do that with writing that really touches me.

    @Sarita, lovely is an appropriate word.

    @Rachel, I do love happy endings, but they are so hard to get. This one was a treat.

    @Jax, I wrote Brandon with a friend in mind. He is one of those guys who is always there for you, and who had to wait forever for his sweetheart. I'm glad that after many years, he found his perfect half!

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  8. I so enjoyed this :)

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  9. Fun read! Thanks! Happy V-Day!

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  10. @Lis, it makes me very happy that you did.

    @Micha, Glad it was fun. Happy V-Day to you too. Hope no one bombs you (sorry, couldn't help myself lol)

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  11. I loved your story, Magaly!!

    Happy Valentine's Day :)

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  12. Happy V Day to you too, Lyn. I'm very glad you enjoyed my story ;-)

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  13. wonderful story...such fun to read...really liked it...

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  14. I'm so happy you enjoyed!

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  15. wonderful story...such fun to read...really liked it...

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  16. @Melissa, so glad!

    @Dough, it was a delight to write.

    @Kallan, you are always conspiring to bring me happiness and weird giggles, aren't you? I love that you want to read it over and over; I only do that with writing that really touches me.

    @Sarita, lovely is an appropriate word.

    @Rachel, I do love happy endings, but they are so hard to get. This one was a treat.

    @Jax, I wrote Brandon with a friend in mind. He is one of those guys who is always there for you, and who had to wait forever for his sweetheart. I'm glad that after many years, he found his perfect half!

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  17. I LOVED this! I want to read it again and again!! What a fabulous Valentine's Day story! Best I've ever read!

    Thank you, M!

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  18. That is so lovely. Thank you for sharing! :)

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  19. It was very fun to write ;-)

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  20. Happy V Day to you too, Lyn. I'm very glad you enjoyed my story ;-)

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