Valentine's Cowboy

By: Starla Kaye

Chapter One


What she needed was a big Cupid dartboard on her office wall and a few darts. Then she could toss the darts at some strategic places. The vision almost made Valentine Hart smile. Romance, patooi! Probably a bad attitude for a professional romance therapist, but there it was. Romance sucked!

If she was really lucky she would never receive another overly mushy card that professed how wonderful or how beautiful she was—in the most generic ways. She would never sit through another candlelight dinner for two where the man insisted on choosing her meal, unconcerned with what she really wanted. She would never endure having another handsome man seduce her with sweet talk, and then attempt to make her “see the stars” as he had his way with her body.

She sat back in her big leather executive chair, swiveled it to look out the window of her corner office, and tried to force the memory of the night before far from her mind. Not possible. It had been too awful. The blind date from hell, even if that was a bit cliché. It was such a shame, too. At first glance of the GQ fashioned stockbroker she’d had such hopes for the evening. Hopes that were dashed almost from the moment he sat down across from her in her favorite, very romantic little Italian restaurant. It would be a long time before she’d feel up to going there again. He’d soured her on that, too.

She squeezed her eyes shut and slowly shook her head at the sadness of it all. Shoulder-length hair dusted her shoulders. The effort didn’t get rid of the memory, but it did make her slightly dizzy. Or maybe she was dizzy and light-headed from lack of sleep lately, or from frustration. How about all of the above?

Why did the men she dated forget about her being a highly skilled professional and only see her blond hair, only think of her as ditzy? Why couldn’t men see past her unfortunate perfect Barbie doll figure? Weren’t there any men—make that available men—out there who thought with more than their dick? Men whose blood actually flowed all the way to their brain and could make conversation. Decent conversation, that is. More than about their flashy, over-priced car or their high-tech apartment with a playboy’s dream bedroom. Wasn’t there any man who could talk about more than his amazing skills between the sheets?

She heaved a disappointed sigh and looked again out at the sky burdened with thick gray clouds holding the promise of another depressing winter day. Perfect. She was already depressed about the whole issue of romance. Okay, she had to admit that never wanting any of those romantic things again was a bit dramatic. Normally, she liked all of that. But she hadn’t had much luck with any of it, beginning with her failed marriage. Insert heavy sigh here.

She was a professional, an independent woman quite capable of running a business and handling her life. She had a sensual, loving side that was apparently going to waste away if she continued in her rut of dating the wrong men. She didn’t want to be a man’s substitute mother, major “oh yuck!” Or be his caretaker. Too many of the men she’d dated in the last year seemed to be looking for those skills in a woman. If not those traits, then they wanted a brainless playmate in bed, particularly one who praised their super-stud abilities. As far as she’d been able to tell “super-stud” merely meant the man had a penis and knew where to stick it in his partner of the moment for his pleasure alone.

Okay, she was in a seriously bad mood.

Her thoughts returned to the male Cupid dartboard idea. She smiled wickedly, knowing exactly where she would toss that first dart.

Then the image of Cupid changed to her ex-husband. She cringed and quickly put many layers of clothing on “Cupid.” How could she not have sensed he was at heart a gay man? Why had she had to catch him enthusiastically having at it with their former neighbor before she slammed into the wall of reality? That was so not an image she wanted to keep in her mind! Even worse, why hadn’t she been horrified, angry, felt betrayed? She’d simply given him the divorce and wished him happiness in his next relationship.

And she’d not found a really hot relationship of her own since then.

Her breath caught in her throat as she figured it out. I’m a lesbian! That had to be the answer. But she didn’t remember ever paying all that much attention to what another woman looked like. She didn’t remember ever wondering what another woman would be like in bed. Maybe she’d been suppressing those things because she’d been married. Yes, that had to be it. No. Well, maybe. Oh, she was confused.

Feeling a headache coming on, she swiveled her chair back around to face her desk and the reality of her daily world. Her appointment schedule covered the monitor. No sign of a blank hourly space for the next month. Business was booming, which should make her feel great. Unfortunately, as a momentarily romantically challenged partner in a romance therapy business, she felt stressed instead. She couldn’t handle clients right now. She couldn’t find a way to offer advice to improve a relationship, or to suggest intimate little rendezvous ideas. She couldn’t face another hopeful couple seeking romantic bliss.

She needed a vacation. Now!