Liason: Charred Roses

“Okay, let’s take one more mental checklist,” Brenda decided. She put her hands on her hips and surveyed the work she’d done on the penthouse.

The second Elizabeth had left for her afternoon shift on Valentine’s Day, she and Jason had started preparing the place for their dinner date. He was determined to make up for the crappy way he’d been treating Elizabeth and she was determined that Jason not be an idiot.

The lights were dimmed and the living room set had been pushed back to make room for a candlelit dinner for two. Jason was in a tux, the box of candy and roses in his hands and she was going to be waiting by the elevator for Elizabeth so she could blind fold her.

She frowned when she saw Jason fiddling with his collar. Brenda smacked his hands away. “Stop that.”

The door opened then and Sonny poked his head in. “Just call a call from the front desk. She’s on her way up.” He grinned. “Well, don’t you look like a freak.”

He scowled. “Get out of here.”

“I’ll bring her in and it’s up to from there.” Brenda smacked his cheek lightly. “Try not to screw this up.”

She moved towards the door and shoved Sonny towards his own penthouse. “Stay out of here tonight, got it?” she warned him. The elevator dinged and Brenda pulled out the black silk blind fold.

Elizabeth stepped off the elevator and immediately halted when it was lowered over her eyes. “What the–?”

“Relax, kid,” Brenda told her, gently pushing her into the open door of the penthouse. Have a good time.”

“Brenda?” Elizabeth twisted towards her voice and reached out only to have her hands in enveloped in Jason’s large warm hands. “Jason?”

“Happy Valentine’s Day,” he said softly, brushing a kiss across her lips. She melted–she hadn’t seen him all day but he’d never said a word about doing something tonight.

“Jason…” she reached for the ties of the blindfold, but he stopped her.

“No, not yet. Go upstairs and get changed,” he told her. She reached out with her hand and came in contact with the fabric he was wearing. She frowned.

“Are you wearing a tux?” Elizabeth asked clearly surprised.

“Get changed,” Jason repeated amused as he steered her towards the steps. She slowly felt her way up to the second floor.

About fifteen minutes later, her soft voice called out. “Do I have to wear the blind fold?”

“No, you can come down,” Jason told her. He watched her face closely as she descended, her curls loose around her shoulders, her body encased in a filmy strapless black dress.

She covered her mouth with her hand and gasped softly. “Oh my God, Jason…”

He took her hand and led her towards the table. “Do you like it?” he asked nervously.

“I love it,” she told him firmly. She raised herself up on her tiptoes to kiss him briefly. “This is…I never expected…”

He reached the heart-shaped box of candy sitting next to the candles and gave it to her, not realizing how warm the box had gotten sitting next to the heat.

She smiled and opened it, making a little face. “Oh. It’s melted.”

Jason grimaced and took it from her. “I’m sorry. I left it next to the candles–”

“It’s okay, it’ll…dry…” Elizabeth shook her head. “Really, it’s okay.”

He took a deep breath and held the chair out for her. She sat down and looked suspiciously at the plate sitting in front of her that was covered with a silver cover. “Did you cook this?”

He shook his head and sat down across from her. “No. I didn’t want to poison you.”

Elizabeth laughed and lifted the cover off to find her favorite meal from the Grille. “Mm…this looks delicious.”

Jason smiled and reached across the table for her glass as if to pour some wine into it but his hand knocked into the candle which felt to the side and quickly the tablecloth burst into flames. Jason swore loudly and stood up, knocking his glass of wine into the fire, causing the flame to jump.

Elizabeth squealed and pushed away from the table. She stood and watched as the table cloth continued to burn even as Jason retrieved a fire extinguisher.

When he put it out, their dinner was charred and so was the bouquet of roses he hadn’t given her yet. The penthouse was a little cloudy with smoke and she coughed.

Jason sighed and moved to open some windows before looking at her. “I’m so sorry. This…I screwed this up so bad.”

Elizabeth crossed to him quickly and took his hands in hers. “No, it’s okay. It was just an accident.” She slid her hands up his chest until she wound them around his neck. “We have the rest of the night,” she told him, lowering her voice.

“I wanted this to be perfect,” he sighed. “I’ve screwed up so many times. I mean, first…going so slow you thought I was gay and then asking you to move into the guest room and what I said on the docks that night…I even asked Brenda to help me set this up.”

“You went to Brenda for help?” Elizabeth asked incredulously. She stepped back from him. “Jason–”

“I told you. Tonight had to be perfect because that’s what you deserve and I was going to tell you I loved you and instead I nearly burned the place down.” He shook his head. “I’m really bad at–” he frowned when he saw Elizabeth’s wide eyes. “Elizabeth?”

She licked her suddenly dry lips. “I–you–could you say that again please?”

“Say what?” Jason frowned but then he closed his eyes. “Damn it, I even did that wrong.”

“Jason.” She pressed two fingers to his lips. “Please just tell me again.”

He took her hand and kissed the palm before pressing it to his heart. “I love you, Elizabeth.”

Her eyes watered and she threw her arms around him. “God, I’ve waited so long to hear you say that,” she whispered. “I love you so much.”

“I should have—when you said it that night on the docks, I panicked.”

She drew away from him a little. “Panicked?” she echoed. “Why?”

“Because I’d been in love with you for so long that when I finally had the chance…I said the first thing that came to mind.” He shook his head. “When I told Brenda, she smacked me around but she told me that I had…I had to tell you just right and that’s why I wanted tonight to be perfect–”

She cut him off with a hard kiss. “Jason, the second you said it, tonight was perfect.”

“Well…” he reached into the jacket of his tux and pulled out the long velvet jewelry box. “I do have this.”

She squealed and took it from him. She slid it open and glanced up at him. “Jason, this is beautiful.” Elizabeth unhooked the slim silver bracelet and held it out to him. “Put it on me?”

He fastened it and looked at her hesitantly. “Are you sure everything’s okay? I mean…it was okay tonight?”

She nodded eagerly. “It was perfect. Just the way it was supposed to be.” She tossed the box on the nearby pool table. “So what do you say we go finish this night right?”

He grinned. “Works for me.” He grabbed her hand and tugged her towards the staircase.

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