Sweets to the Sweet

                            Candy, flowers, a fine meal with soft music and a fine wine was the assemblage that Evan associated with Valentine Day.  On this occasion he had a special reason to want a special evening.  Emily was a sweet girl.  She had many fine qualities that Evan admired.  She was as cute as hell.  She was by all appearances unattached. And, most importantly she was rich.  Her father had given her a generous allowance and now that she had turned twenty-one, he had further shown his love for his only child by giving a generous endowment.  For all this, Emily had remained a fairly normal, unpretentious girl.  Following a college education, she had taken an entry-level position at her father’s firm and spent hours volunteering at multiple social service agencies.  She had many possible suitors, but she had so far turned down all of them.  The one exception was Evan.

            Evan became aware of Emily while reviewing the social pages of the local paper.  A bit of a deeper dive into her background revealed that she would be an easy target for a young up-and-coming businessman such as himself.  Following his research, he took an entry position at her father’s firm.  This got him in speaking distance of Emily.  Due to his research, he also made a Saturday morning appearance at the soup kitchen where she was scooping up steaming hot ladles of a thick meaty broth.  He was bussing tables and mopping floors, and eventually making innocent small talk with Emily.  Evan had experience with the game and was, if anything, patient.  Over the course of months his small talk became more intense, and in weeks they had shared dinner and discovered how much they had in common.  She had a weakness for golden retrievers, and so did Evan.  She eschewed the popular music with barely discernable words for the soothing sounds of the big band era.  Evan shared this enthusiasm.  Evan made certain that they were as compatible as any couple could be, a perfect match.  And he knew that they would remain a perfect match till they were duly wed and he became entitled to a handsome chunk of her pending fortune.  Who knew? He thought he may even grow to tolerate her for a long time.

            Time passed.  The relationship became more intense and after New Years Evan began plotting an engagement strategy.  On February first, he made dinner reservations, and ordered a large bouquet of roses from the florist along with a pack of dog biscuits in a bright red ribbon for Maxie, her golden retriever.  His final purchase was for some specialty candies from the city’s foremost chocolatier. He ordered a large heart shaped box of candies.  He knew that her favorite was the caramel covered by dark chocolate.  He had only three of those in the box, but one was constructed with an engagement ring.  It wasn’t a large ostentatious gem, but nice and fitting a junior executive such as the role he was playing. The other two candies he thought she might choose had small notes that were clues to encourage her to hunt for the confection containing the ring. The cost was exorbitant, but the candy-maker assured him it would be ready for February fourteenth.

            Leaving the shop, Evan opened the door to the sidewalk directly into the path of a pedestrian knocking her squarely on her bottom against the pavement.  He bent over to help the young lady while spewing multiple apologies.  As he reached to help her back on her feet, he noticed she was familiar, very familiar. On looking up she gasped, “Evan, is that you!  I can’t believe we’ve met again after all this time.”  Evan’s brain went into a tail spin as he strained to remember facts of their relationship.  Two years earlier bespectacled Sylvia had been his target. At first, he had researched her in the same methodical fashion as he had followed with Emily.  Then she became clingy.  Evan didn’t mind Sylvia’s aggressive courtship behaviors until he received a summons to meet with her father.  

He was asked to meet the father at his firm.  He was a senior partner in one of the city’s most prominent law firms.  Evan was escorted to opulent office by a proficient and comely secretary.  Sylvia’s father sat behind a grandiose desk and barely looked up to acknowledge Evan.  A handshake was apparently out of the question.  “Evan, thanks for coming in to meet me here at my office.  I appreciate meeting here rather than at our home with Sylvia and her mother present.  As you know, we have all become very fond of you.  You’ve been very helpful regarding her medical condition, specially watching out for her peanut allergy.  That’s scared us more than once and I know you’ve helped to monitor her diet.  On top of that, Sylvia has begun to think of you as more than a passing fad.”

            Evan felt like a base runner rounding third and heading for home, “I’ve also grown to regard Sylvia as more than a passing relationship.  I know you don’t like over-sentimentality, but to throw out a trite phrase, I can say that I love her, I love her deeply.”

            “Do you? Do you really?  I wondered about that, so I had one of our investigators do a bit of checking.  Your past is to be polite, checkered.  You have had a series of several close relationships in recent years. They usually are from six to nine months duration.  You become very dear to these young ladies and even more favored by their families, and then—and then Evan, you always find a way to exit the relationship.  But you don’t exit empty-handed, do you?”

            Evan was given a moment to explain, and his brain spun as he tried to say something even vaguely convincing.  “I’ve had issues with commitment in the past.  I can’t deny that.  These girls were all very dear to me, but I felt I couldn’t measure up to their high standards.”

            “That, Evan, is a morsel of truth.  Perhaps it is the only bit of truth you’ve said since I’ve known you.  Now, Evan, Sylvia is head over heels for you.  You’ll have to be the one to break off this relationship.  Then you’ll disappear and have no further contact with any of my family including Sylvia.”

            “Can you do that?  I mean legally, can you keep me from seeing Sylvia?”

            “Legally, son, don’t talk to me about legally, I am the lawyer sitting at the desk and you, why you’re just an ignorant little no nobody.  I can cause you so much legal trouble, you’ll never be free of it, or you can leave gracefully with a little change in your pocket.”

            Evan knew he was being handled, but in the moment, it seemed wiser to go with the flow.  “Do you have a proposition, sir?”

            “Yes, Evan, I have a cashier’s check here for you, and all you have to do I compose a convincing letter for Sylvia to extricate her from your clutches.  Evan viewed the check lying on the huge desk and the plain stationary and compose a Dear Sylvia letter. 

            My dearest Sylvia,

            This letter is written with my heart broken, but grateful for the time we have spent together.  I have come to realize that you are the love of my life.  You are my soulmate, the only woman I could ever love and be content serving for the rest of my days.

            But I have also become aware of my severe deficiencies.  My social strata can never be your equal.  While I’m not concerned about my poverty in comparison to your means, it will take me a long time to provide you the lifestyle you deserve.  In short, I could never measure up to the standards you deserve in a mate.

            At the same time, I have been given the opportunity to improve my situation by taking a position in Europe.

            I will grieve for our lost future, but always cherish the time we were together.

Farewell my dearest Sylvia, I will love you forever,


 Evan completed the letter.  Her father reviewed and approved it.  Sealed it in an envelope and Evan addressed it.  Sylvia’s father placed it in his coat pocket and would post it from a different ZIP.

Evan left the building feeling a burden lifted.  Perhaps not the outcome he had anticipated, but with a significant boon for his bank account.  And now, Sylvia has reemerged. 

“Sylvia, how great to see you.”

“Evan, I’ve thought of you every day for the past two years.  There is so much I wanted to say.  I know we could have a future, and I still wonder what I did wrong to drive you away.”

Evan felt a keen need to get Sylvia off the street before Emily or one of her friends happened by to see this encounter.  Could I buy you a cup of coffee?”

Over a cup of coffee, Sylvia obviously still held a torch for Evan, and despite his hasty retreat from the relationship two years ago, she seemed eager to reunite.  “But Sylvia, you must have gone on with your life and be far out of my league by now.”

“Believe me, your status is not important to me and with your love we can make anything work.”

Sylvia was a complication he couldn’t afford.  His choices were few.  His decision was to string her along till his situation with Emily was clarified.  It took time from Emily, but for the next week Evan lunched with Sylvia, and made evening time for Emily.  As the holiday approached, he made duplicate orders for roses and specialty chocolates. 

This year the holiday of Cupid occurred on a Sunday.  Evan had begged off Emily till the afternoon so he could brunch with Sylvia.  He picked her up near her home shortly after eight AM.  Sylvia had been secretive regarding her renewed relationship with Evan.  He drove her to a darling little café a full two hours from the city.  They had a champagne brunch during which Evan presented the roses and chocolates.  Evan felt confident as the couple seemed loving and celebratory.  

Evan encouraged her to sample the chocolates for dessert, “Sylvia, sample the candy I brought.  I had it made special for you.  I know that you loved the nougats and they made those fancy and special.” But she preferred the cheesecake offered by the café.  “Honey, the box is so pretty that I don’t want to destroy it.  I think that I’d rather sample the cheesecake here at the café.  I’ll get into the valentine candy tonight.”

Evan would have preferred for her to sample the special candy in the restaurant as it would be better cover for him when she ingested the peanut laced nougats and triggered the deathly allergic reaction he had anticipated.  But then he felt that for her to sample the candy in the privacy of her home would give him better cover.  With no rush, he drove Sylvia back to a street near her house.  She understood that her father was not fond of Evan, but felt that could be smoothed over with time.

He was slightly pressed for time, and still felt bloated from brunch, but was on time for his evening date with Emily.   He was more public with Emily than Sylvia and took her to a small exclusive restaurant in the city.  Reservations were difficult and he felt that Emily appreciated the ambience more than the soup kitchen where they frequently met.  The waiter presented the roses Evan had brought.  The champagne flowed.  The dinner was elegant though by now Evan had an over-full feeling.  And finally, the waiter presented the huge valentine of chocolates Evan had specially prepared.  That was when Evan’s phone rang.  It was the worst moment of all for a call, but Evan felt compelled to take it since it may be news of Sylvia.

Hello, Evan speaking.”

“Evan, I love you, I love you forever!”

“Sylvia, Sylvia, are you okay?”

“Am I okay?  Of course, I’m okay, I’ve never been better.  And yes, yes, I’ll marry you--you silly goose!  I almost swallowed the ring, but I’ll wear it forever!  

February 14, 2021 05:21

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