Dave realized he’d lost his mind the moment he considered buying her flowers.
He blamed it on sleep-deprivation. The time difference meant he’d woken up at four in the morning, and it had been a long day of non-stop meetings, murder investigations, and fights. Then it was straight to the hospital to make sure the Black Valentine didn’t try anything funny like stealing all the drugs in the building while the doctors treated her. Her bullet wound wasn’t serious. Dave had seen friends and colleagues with worse, but that didn’t mean surgery wouldn’t hurt like hell, especially since she couldn’t take any anesthesia. The way she’d clenched shut her eyes as they stitched her up gave Dave an idiotic urge to punch the doctors for hurting her.
Now, Val rested in bed, and Dave stood guard—or sat guard, rather. He sat near her bed, drinking a cup of coffee a nurse had brought him, and as he gazed around the bland, private room, the thought crossed his mind that it could use some flowers.
It was a stupid idea for so many reasons. First, he didn’t exactly carry his wallet around when he was in costume. Second, even if he did have money, he’d have to leave Val unguarded to go downstairs to the gift shop. Third, he was in costume, and the moment someone spotted White Knight holding a bouquet, the tabloids would explode with speculation. And why would he even consider buying a supervillain flowers? If this was Pretty Boy Jeffries, the idea would be ridiculous. Was he only feeling sorry for Val because she was a woman? He pictured Madam Guillotine lying in bed instead, and the urge disappeared. So it was just Val, then.
“There’s nothing on,” Val groaned. She held the remote to the small, cheap TV on the counter across from her bed and was flipping through the channels.
“You should sleep,” Dave told her.
“Hurts too much. Need a distraction.”
Dave took a sharp breath at the awful feelings that arose in his chest at her admission of being in pain. Suddenly needing a distraction, too, he focused on the TV and saw a familiar scene from an old telenovela.
“That show’s not bad,” he said before he could stop himself.
Val paused her channel surfing and blinked. “The Spanish soap opera?”
The screen showed a pretty young woman in a maid’s dress passionately embracing a handsome man with far too many buttons in his shirt undone. There was music. It was dramatic. Dave really should have kept his mouth shut.
Val’s mouth slid slowly into a smile he was coming to equally dread and adore. “I’m not sure if I’m more surprised you speak Spanish or you watch soap operas.”
“I grew up bilingual.” Going by a codename instead of his real name meant most people didn’t realize he was Cuban. In his more cynical moments, he thought he would’ve never become so popular a superhero if people didn’t assume White Knight was a WASP with a suntan.
“And the soap operas?” she asked.
“I used to watch them with my mom when I was a kid. Don’t laugh.”
“I wasn’t going to. I think it’s sweet.”
He couldn’t tell if she was serious or not. He regretted saying anything, especially a personal detail he wouldn’t even admit to Harris or Moreen.
“I mean it,” she said. “I never did stuff like that with my mom.”
Dave tried to recall everything he knew about Mr. Lucifer’s wife. All he could remember was that she’d been dead for many years.
“Were you young when she passed away?”
Val shrugged. “In high school, but that’s not what I meant. She was on so much coke that it was like she wasn’t even there.”
“I’m sorry.” And he truly was.
She shrugged again. “She was weak. I’m not.” Then she shook her head. “No, sorry, that’s my father talking. She was…in an awful situation she had no way of escaping. In another life, I think she would have been a good mom, but you can imagine what being married to my father must have been like. I guess that was the only way she could get away from it all. Anyway. So what’s this show about?”
She turned quickly to the TV, and it occurred to Dave for the first time that the way he felt around her—unexpectedly comfortable but off-balance at the same time—might be something that went both ways.
“Right,” he said, not sure what to make of it yet, “So the heroine’s name is Maricruz, and she works for this mysterious billionaire….”
Every couple needs a hobby they can share. Apparently, Dave and Val’s is soap opera watching.
How is everyone’s Christmas shopping coming along? I’ve finally finished mine and am just hoping the packages arrive in time for me to wrap them. (Yay online shopping.) My next update will be after Christmas, so I hope everybody has a great holiday, and if you don’t celebrate, I hope you have a great weekend!