Happy Anniversary Mal!
To our magnificent Mal! We want to thank you for one full year of guaranteed happy endings! Through your remarkable talent we have come to love not only Cassie Valentine, but the whole Valentine clan! Especially her darling twin Max and his true love, the dynamic duo, Maxenna!
You are amazing Mal! You know we’d be lost without you. (Trust me, we can prove it!) 🐑💕
A collaboration with: @a-crepusculo @bex-la-get @danijimenezv @genevievemd @jamespotterthefirst @lucy-268 @potionsprefect @writer-ish for the lovely @liaromancewriter
“Earth to Jillian…”
The woman’s eyes snap back to the phone screen as a sheepish smile tugs at the corners of her lips.
“Nothing escapes you, does it?”
“I’m a diagnostician,” Cassie points out in amusement.
“Okay, okay,” she relents, “You have my full, undivided attention.”
“Which will last about 5 minutes.”
“Hey!” Jill complains, then seems to really think about it, “I’m sure I can make it up to 10.” that prompts a small laugh out of Cassie, who just shakes her head at her friend’s antics, “But anyway, back to you. What are your plans for today?”
“I’m going to meet Nat, Gen and Vic for coffee. And then dinner with Ethan, I think.”
“Oh! Say hi to the girls from me!” Jill says, trying to hide her smirk at the secret plans she knew Ethan had in store. Well, the secret plans her friends were helping Ethan with, really.
Cassie was basically a human lie-detector; she could spot bullshit from miles away, so hiding things from her was no small feat.
“Also, are you seriously wearing that?” Jill comments, “Don’t get me wrong, you look stunning as usual, but today’s the big day!”
“I’m pretty sure the big day was one year ago today.”
“True, but today’s your first anniversary.”
“I have to work, and we have plans for dinner. I’ll get ready after work.”
Jill groans, knowing that if she insists too much on it, Cassie will figure out something is up, “I know, but you can still dress up,” she tries to think through the outfits she knows her friend owns, “Oh, I know. What about the pink dress? The one with the plunging neckline. You know Ethan would lose his mind--”
The video call is suddenly interrupted by a few sounds, and she glances at the incoming texts from Lilac, Brooke and Marchia in the groupchat they had created to plan the surprise for Cassie.
Knowing that her face will most definitely give away she knows something, Jill immediately jumps up and rushes out a quick goodbye, to continue helping the girls with the planning, “Cass, I have to go. Happy anniversary to you and Doctor Grumps, and I really hope you enjoy today. Love you, bye! And please consider what I said about the outfit!”
“I will,” Cassie rolls her eyes, but smiles at her nonetheless, “Goodbye, Jill.”
The smell of freshly brewed coffee fills the air, the normally quiet shop now bustling with the mid-morning crowd. Genevieve takes the coffees off the counter, giving the barista a smile before retreating to the table.
Once a month, she, Cassie, Natalie and Victoria meet at Derry Roasters to catch up, gossip and enjoy some well earned girl time.
“I would like it noted, that I think the person who was late should have gotten up to get our order.” Gen places the coffees down, her friend laughing loudly.
“But you’re so good at it! And I have a very good reason why I was late.” Victoria smirks, taking a sip of her latte.
“Yeah, I bet you did.” Natalie chuckles, winking at her friend.
“So, you made it a whole year with Doctor Terminator, how does it feel?” Victoria nudges Cassie playfully.
“Honestly? No different from before.”
“Oh, come on! There’s no difference at all?” Gen raises an eyebrow. “There was for Patrick and I.”
“Maybe it’s because her and Ethan have basically been married since day one.” Victoria smiles, “He was whipped from the start.”
“Cheers to that.” Natalie races her coffee cup, all four laughing.
“Any plans for the evening?” Gen sets her cup down, resting her head in her hand.
“Dinner, I think.” Cassie answers with a smile. “No muss, no fuss.”
“Lame. Did you at least buy something special?” Victoria and Natalie share a look, filled with mirth.
“Ooooh.” All three of Cassie’s friend’s say at once, causing her to laugh.
“Well, once again, Happy Anniversary to you and Ethan, Cass. We all love you both so much.”
“So, Casey must really like the two of you if she’s making me spring for Sorellina’s.”
Casey shook her head and giggled, “Tobias! We’re treating them for their engagement! Where were we going to go? Burger King? Besides, it’s not like I won’t make it up to you later.”
Charley grimaced at her friend and turned to her finance, “I did warn you about them didn’t I?”
Patrick wrapped his arm around her. “You did. Still, I’m very glad to meet them. Especially Casey. I’m just sorry I couldn’t meet the third part of your trio. Nat, isn’t it?”
“Yeah, she couldn’t make it. But that’s OK, it just gives you an excuse to come back and visit us again! Or, better yet, for all of us to come to San Francisco!”
The group followed the maitre d’ to their table when Tobias let out a chuckle. “Hey, you may not get to meet Nat, but you can meet another member of the posse.”
He pointed to a quiet banquette in the corner where Ethan and Cassie were nuzzling over their cocktails.
“Cassie!” Charley yelled as she rushed toward their table.
“Babe, they may not want you to…” Patrick began, but she was already gone with Casey hurrying along beside her.
Tobias grinned at Patrick. “Oh, this is going to be fun.”
“Cassie! Ethan! Oh my God! I can’t believe you’re here too!”
Cassie shot Casey a dirty look, then stood up and graciously greeted Charley.
“I had no idea you were in town! Why didn’t you tell me!”
“Well, it’s your anniversary and all.”
“Yes, it is,” Cassie smiled.
While others engaged in chit-chat, Cassie whispered to Casey through clenched teeth. “I sent you a text letting you know we were coming to Sorellina’s for a romantic dinner tonight. Why would you come here too?”
“You didn’t text me,” Casey insisted.
“Check your phone.”
Casey removed her phone from her purse and Cassie shook her head.
“I guess it does help when you charge it after all now, doesn’t it, Casey?”
“Yeah, well, so what. At least you get to see Charley! It’s not like that happens all the time.”
Tobias took one look at Ethan’s face and smirked, “You know what, she’s right! The girls never get to see each other and… we should join you!” He motioned to the maitre d’, “Can you bring some extra chairs over here, we’ll just squeeze in with them.”
“Oh for Christ's sake,” Ethan said rubbing his temples.
“Excuse me, but it is our anniv…”
Charley’s eyes widened. “Oh! It is! We’ll leave you alone. Maybe we can grab lunch? Patrick is here for an event at Harvard tomorrow and we’re staying the rest of the week.”
“Oh stop it!” Tobias said sliding into the banquette next to Ethan, “Let’s just have drinks together, and then we’ll go on our way. You don’t mind, do you, buddy?”
“Actually, I ….”
“Just for drinks,” Casey agreed. “We can all reminisce about your beautiful wedding and you can see Charley for a short time. I mean, she should be asking you for wedding planning tips, Cassie. Because your wedding was next level.”
“Well, I’d be happy to lease my mother out to you, Charley. She did most of the work.”
“She did a great job! Your wedding was beautiful. We are looking at several locations for our reception. One of the places is your family’s hotel in San Francisco. We attended a benefit there a few weeks ago.”
Cassie smiled. “I think Max mentioned it. It was about women’s health?”
“Yes! That is my focus right now.”
“I think that is just wonderful! Please let me know when there is another event, I’d love to go.”
As Cassie finished, Ethan shot her a look. He was right. This would be fine on any other night, well, except for Tobias. But this was their anniversary.
Cassie locked eyes with her husband and gave a knowing nod. Clearing her throat loudly and declared, “Well, as lovely as this has been, perhaps we could catch up tomorrow, after all, it is our…”
“You know not to call me Cass…”
Casey rolled her eyes, “OK, Cassie… just for a drink, and then I promise, you can have your man to yourself for the rest of the night.”
Charley looked around at everyone. As much as she would like to have a drink with Cassie, maybe now wasn’t the time. But Casey looked hopeful, and Tobias was sitting there with a smirk on his face. “Maybe tomorrow would be…”
“Nonsense!” Tobias interrupted. “Ethan can’t get enough of us, isn’t that true?”
“No, actually it’s not.”
Patrick became extremely uncomfortable. “You know we could always make plans for another time…”
Charley nodded. “If we can’t get together this week, you’ll be at my wedding, right?”
Cassie stood and hugged her. “Of course we will, you and Patrick are polite.”
Charley touched the shawl over Cassie’s shoulders as they hugged. “Your shawl is gorgeous! Lamb’s wool? Was this a gift from the husband?”
Cassie turned her head and winked at Ethan.
“Well, clearly he has good taste!” Casey smiled, “After all, he picked Cassie. You do know that we really love you guys, right?”
“Well, you have a hell of a way of showing it, MacTavish,” Ethan sneered. “Don’t think I will forget this! Cassie and I are going to barge in on your anniversary celebration next month!”
“Heh, heh. You could do that if you want, buddy, but you may not be happy. I mean, we don’t do our celebrating in a public, capiche?”
“OK, that’s it. Get out. Get out now. It was nice seeing some of you.”
The four scurried away from the table as Cassie and Ethan attempted to get back to a romantic dinner. Luckily, the two of them had no issue ignoring the intruders and getting back to lusting each other over their appetizers.
“You know, I kind of feel bad,” Charley said, as they were seated at their new table. “I’m sure they didn’t need us barging in on them on such an important day.”
“Ah, we’re just having fun. Plus, a few minutes inconvenience will be well worth it to them, you’ll see! I’m not that much of an ass.”
“You can be, hon,” Casey said tapping his knee, “but I still love you.”
Charley and Casey spent the rest of the dinner reminiscing about their antics during their undergrad days. Left to find conversation on their own, Tobias and Patrick discovered that they both had a fondness for boating. Charley smiled at Casey, pleased that the guys could discuss that together, the women agreed they simply liked being on the boats, not the work that went behind it.
Casey was the first of the four to notice Ethan and Cassie looking over from their table.
“Uh, babe, why are they looking over here at us like that? I thought they wanted to be rid of us.”
“You don’t think they’re still mad? If so, I made a hell of a first impression,” Patrick lamented.
“They’re not mad, trust me,” Tobias grinned.
Cassie and Ethan strolled over to their table.
“What, you crashing our party now?” Tobias winked.
Ethan deadpaned in his direction. “Thank you for picking up the check, Carrick. It’s appreciated, but it wasn’t necessary”
“Yes, it was,” Casey smiled, “We were kind of jackasses before.”
“Yes. You were.” Cassie agreed.
“You didn’t have to agree so quickly, geez!”
“It was very nice of you. But, because of your antics earlier,” she tapped a paper bag in her hands, “We got a couple of desserts to go too. You know, since it is on you.”
“Yes,” Ethan added, “and a few of the shrimp appetizers you love so much, right dear?”
“I’d expect nothing less.” Tobias smiled.
The men shook hands. “Hey, Patrick here is into boating too. What do you say the three of us get together this weekend and let the girls have some alone time?”
“Fine, we’ll take my boat. It’s better than your dingy,” Ethan smirked.
“Hey, don’t talk about my guys dingy,” Casey said as Ethan rolled his eyes.
“Can we leave?” He asked.
“Sure, but after our boat ride, you have to come over to our place. We can have a little anniversary celebration for you. Because you two really do bring us so much joy. Well, I mean, Cassie does. Whenever I’m down, she is always there with some fluffy magic to pick me up.”
Cassie looked around, “Are you talking to me?”
“Stop it! Can we throw a little celebration for you?”
“Will you be cooking for this thing?” Cassie asked.
“No, I just said I like you!”
“Then I think we can make it.”
As they made their way toward the door the four of them hooped and hollered, “HAPPY ANNIVERSARY!” Drawing the attention of all.
“We’re never coming here again,” Ethan muttered.
“I’m in full agreement.”
Ethan offered Cassie his arm, and she slipped hers hand through it as they exited the front door.
“You know I hate them, don’t you?”
“No, you don’t.”
His wife shot him a questioning look.
“OK, I only hate them on odd-numbered days. And, it’s generally limited to Tobias.”
“That’s more like it.”
Cassie stood up on her toes and kissed Ethan.
“Happy Anniversary, baby.”
“Happy Anniversary, love.”
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