The Wrong Type of Seduction

41 Val’s Red Roses


41: Val’s Red Roses

Val usually didn’t go to the foundation on Monday, but Dr. Gains begged for Val to come in. The woman was so pleased with the success of the gala she wanted to thank Val personally. Because Val had no other plans the rest of the afternoon, she went. 

And there was Val inside the woman’s office pretending to enjoy the praise as they stood across from each other.

It was all hollow to Val. What should have been a wonderful success, turned into a bitter reminder what she may have lost. Matt hadn’t called her Sunday. He hadn’t been at the gala on the last day. She was so used to him just popping up, so she didn’t know how to feel about this. She wanted to call him. But was it okay? Had her question about Cody changed everything?

Maybe that was for the best. Distance would keep him safe. She just hoped he was okay.

Looking ever the picture of a therapist with her thick rimmed glasses, curly hair in a tight bun, and very conservative slacks with cardigan sweater, Dr. Gains asked eagerly, “So I was wondering if you wanted to try to put on more fundraisers for us?” 

Val smiled politely. “I just finished with one. Can I get a vacation first?”

“Oh! Yes. And we have so many volunteers now we still need to create tasks for them. You are amazing. Thank you!” She hugged Val.

Val hugged her back out of courtesy before she pulled back. “I should get going.”

“Wait, I wanted to talk you about Tina.” Dr. Gains grew quiet clasping her hands in front of her. “She told me what you did… How you made her feel better with your words of confidence. You don’t know how much these women here need that. I know you aren’t a trained councilor, but I want you to consider taking classes to become one. Or just hold a confidence building workshops now and then.”

“I don’t think-“

“I know its a lot to ask. But sometimes people need others to encourage them and show them how to encourage themselves. Please consider it.”

“I’ll give it thought.” Was all Val would promise because she didn’t know how much longer she’d be in New York.

“Ok… You’ll be back Friday, right?” The woman looked hopeful, as if she could tell Val was ready to flee. Then again, the older woman was a psychiatrist so she probably could tell.

She nodded. “Most likely.” She waved goodbye to the woman and walked to the front of the office.

“Oh!” Tina grinned coming up to her carrying a bundle of beautiful red roses. “You have another delivery.”

Matt? Val didn’t hide her grin as she took the note from the flower and read the Italian script:

I miss you, my love.

D. Ricci

Val’s stomach dropped and her smile faded. She balled up the note. “Keep them, Tina. From me.”

Peering over the bouquet, Tina pouted. “What? Why? I mean thank you but…”

“Enjoy them.” Val walked past the woman and out onto the street. She took a deep breath inhaling the not so fresh city air. Her phone rang. She looked down to see that Matt decided to call her. Before she saw the flowers, she might have answered it… 

She put her phone back in her purse and mentally stilled herself to keep from calling him back.

Taking the subway, she got off near Central park. Once out in the middle of the wooded area, she sat down on a bench and closed her eyes.

The son of a bitch sent flowers. 

He always sent flowers to his women when he wanted to seduce them. So he was trying to lure her. Not happening. Next, after the flowers, invitations for dinner. No…no… He’d call next. Presents afterwards. Then the invitations to dinner. That was how he operated.

Would he use force? Technically, she and he could still be married if he was claiming she died, which allowed him to skip the paperwork or the shame from the church. However, if she was dead, then Valeria Ricci no longer existed. Val had already changed her name to Val Braun. She no longer had to play his games. But she needed to see all the angles, calculate every possibility. 

Or maybe she should go back under. In the underworld, she was a nobody and could move about quietly. She’d just have to be careful. She’d be the assassin again, watching every eye, camera, and her back. But most of all, she’d have to say goodbye to Matt. No. Not goodbye. She’d have to leave without goodbye because he was far too persistent.

Not just yet. She never made a move until the right time…so first she needed to observe more.

Getting up from her bench, she pulled out her emergency phone and entered a quick text: CODE ORANGE. Then she went to have a nice quiet dinner in an five star steakhouse where the staff doted on her.


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