Two friends meet at a kitchen table surrounded by open backpacks, school books and a plate full of steaming hot pepperoni pizza rolls. Victor, worried boyfriend, sits huddled over a notepad with his elbows on the table, head in hands, deep in thought. He’s struggling to find the perfect words to go with a surprise gift for his girlfriend, Violet.
“Maybe write: do the laundry, make you food, clean your room—”
“Look, Tom. I’m trying to write Violet something nice—a poem maybe, not a to-do list. Who do you think she is? My mom? Clean my room… Stupid. Now can you help me out like you said you would and focus?”
Victor pushes the notepad over. Tom grabs it. His eyes dart left to right, line by line, and shoves it back with a frown. “Heyoo,” Tom said.
“Seriously, dude?” Stunned, Victor scans over the words. “What’s not to like?”
“That reads like my chemistry homework. Keep it simple, but memorable. I have something better than your crap poem or a to-do list, even though your room could use a proper cleaning.” Tom snatches the notepad back. “What’s Violet interested in and what’d you get her?”
“Spiders…” Victor digs into his pocket and shows Tom the gift. He backs up, raises a brow, and nods in approval.
“Oh yeah, man. Had to mow almost a hundred yards this summer to save up.” Victor smirks and puts the gift back. “Anyway, she wants to be an arachnologist. Cool, huh?”
Twenty minutes later, Victor bent the knee before his best friend. “Again, this is incredible… Wow.” He holds an envelope labeled Violet at his chest, his brown eyes wide with hope. “And it’s cool if I say I created this?” Tom nods slowly. “What do I owe you?”
“For you, Victor?” He pats him on the back, leading him to the door. “My best friend since first grade? Nothing, this masterpiece is free, but the next will cost you. Go, reap the benefits of your best friend’s creative mind.”
In the backseat of Victor’s car, the air is hot and heavy. Every window is snug with cloudy lust. Victor cups Violet’s chin as their tongues untangle. “I have something for you,” he whispered against her mouth. “Close your eyes babe, I’m gonna take your hand…”
“Ooh!” Violet’s eyes flicker with intrigue. She closes them and squirms in her seat. “I’m so excited!”
Victor sets the surprise in her waiting palms. “Open.”
“Ah!” Violet opens the envelope, unveiling a bubblegum pink card decorated with a large, flowery black lace circle on the cover. Tiny glowing spiders bounce and scatter inside the lace circle into the form of a throbbing heart. “Wow! The heart is so soft, I can feel it beating under my finger!” Her eyes bulge as the spiders part and scatter up her hand. They hug her finger, taking the shape of a ring. “Aww!”
Victor flips open a black jewelry box. “This is the real promise ring, so you don’t have to wear spiders. But they’ll always throb… as my heart does for you.” Victor made that part up himself and hoped it didn’t sound too cheesy. Violet gasps and extends her hand. The spiders scatter back onto the card in a heart shape. He slides the dainty fourteen karat gold on her right ring finger. A petite round diamond twinkles from the center. “Oh my gosh, Vic…”
He kisses the back of her hand before he lost the courage fueling him. “Go on.” He smiles big and points at the card. “Open it.”
Violet traces her hand over a drawing of two black spiders locked in a passionate embrace. They shimmer in the delicate moonlight that creeps inside the car. Victor didn’t understand Tom’s mind, but his magic got the desired reaction. Victor waits nervously as Violet reads the words: I love you.
She tackles him down to the seat. “Ooh! I love you too!” Her lips kiss every inch of his face. He laughs beneath her elation. “Thank you, you’re so sweet, babe. I love the ring! And I hope you make me more of these cute cards. Please?”
Victor feigned a smile, imagining how much Tom would charge for the next gift.