.. Her mother." . right wing Secret Service agent." her mother went on. I’m attracted to poets. Toni DeLucca. Callie." She remembered the lopsided pink cakes they’d iced together. yeah. artists. the handmade Valentines they’d strung around the house. and I didn’t want you to be alone. As a single mother. musicians—in short. Fans of that book will remember Toni DeLucca and Jason Williams. "A short-haired." Callie knew what she meant." "Oh.MY SECRET SERVICE VALENTINE Susan Elizabeth Phillips *********************************************************************************************** * This is the only short story I’ve ever written. "Jason’s just been transferred to San Francisco. "Yours. too. three thousand miles away from Callie’s tiny San Francisco apartment. and he doesn’t eat meat. Toni had believed in the importance of tradition." Callie softened. I hope you enjoy this chance to get reacquainted." her mother Toni responded from her office in Washington. men who don’t carry a Smith and Wesson Model Ten. "It’s Valentine’s Day.. the nation’s missing First Lady. In case you’ve forgotten. You know it’s your favorite holiday. "DeCaprio’s a gerbil!" "Exactly! No toilet seat left up. "He’s exactly your type.C. Mom. *********************************************************************************************** * "Mom. the agents tracking First Lady Cornelia Case. it’s hard for me to believe you’re my daughter." "Honestly." Callie said sarcastically. was one of the nation’s first female FBI agents and something of a legend—a legend that had grown larger during the search for Cornelia Case. gun-toting. Callie. with your attitude toward men. "Honestly. It was originally published in Waldenbooks magazine in conjunction with the release of FIRST LADY. What more could a woman want?" A sigh from the other end of the telephone line. D. on the other hand. "You don’t want to spend Valentine’s Day alone. Callie. how can you do this to me?" Callie DeLucca moaned into the telephone. he hates sports. and you’re going to adore him. sweetheart. Callie ground her teeth. "I’m not alone! I have DeCaprio. we haven’t carried the Model Ten in years.. was an animal-loving vegetarian harpist who supplemented her performance income by giving music lessons.

" Another of those disarming grins. remember? Where did I go wrong?" "Maybe with that toy Uzi you gave me when I was two.Callie rolled her eyes. He’s sensitive. "Before I waste your time.. DeCaprio’s cage sat in a forest of house plants to keep him from getting too lonesome for the outdoors. Secret Service Man since she intended to send him on his way immediately." "I’m not either. "Great place." Callie knew what he meant. Callie groaned. It left her a little breathless. He regarded her shrewdly." her mother said cheerfully. He studied her apartment. Serves you right." "Yeah. but she loved her. Callie." "You’re a pacifist. but before she could tell Secret Service Man what he could do with his charity. Then his smile faded as he spotted DiCaprio." "No kidding?" His blue eyes shone with something that looked like admiration. A knock sounded. Buttoned-up. "I was afraid you’d be just like her." "I have to go.. only to stop herself. and an India cotton top. "Wouldn’t think of it. and the best agent I ever worked with. "I thought we agreed that you were going to stay out of my love life. "A brush-up class on identity theft. "Your mother terrifies me. DiCaprio’s lame. then automatically ran her hands through her curly brown hair. close-cropped. I’m supposed to take you out so you’re not alone on Valentine’s Day. There was no need to primp for Mr." "We do?" Her voice squeaked." She tore her gaze away from a pair of terrific blue eyes and took in his sports coat. I was forced to liberate him from this awful pet shop owner. but Toni spoke up first.. and she knew he had her number. "I can’t disobey orders. Her mother was annoying. and I wasn’t really expecting anyone. He looked like a Ken doll! And she was Hippy Barbie with silver earrings." "Who me?" She gulped. you should know that I’m a harpist. My mother only called a few minutes ago.. so—" He grinned. right. an animal-rights advocate. And great looking. a vegetarian. Now you won’t be ready for my surprise! She gazed around her apartment with its funky posters and third-hand furniture stacked with brightly-colored pillows. which must have been how he managed to slip past her into the apartment. And Callie had a surprise of her own to share. she saw her worst nightmare standing on the other side." "Uh. but I don’t think this is a good idea." When had she become such a sucker for broad shoulders? And amazing smiles? Whoa." "I’m going to kill you for this. "Since you’ve grown up around federal agents. I never said a word.." . As she opened the door. Jason. She knew we’d have a lot in common. It comes from all those lonely hours on the firing range." The corner of his mouth kicked up. She’s a great woman. you’re smart enough not to stereotype us. jeans. "That must be why Toni decided to fix us up. Jason. oxford shirt." "Wait a—" But Toni had already hung up. I’m Jason. and tassel loafers. and a pacifist. "Be nice to Jason when he shows up. "Most animal rights people aren’t too crazy about keeping animals caged. but it’s a little hard to relax when she’s around. "Hi.. dear. Callie thought as she slammed down the phone. steelyeyed. She managed an apologetic smile." "You agreed." Callie bristled. he shuddered." "Who knew it’d turn you into a nut case?" Callie laughed. Don’t get me wrong. "I’m sorry. Mom.

"Happy Valentine’s Day. "Can I get you a beer?" "I’m not much of a drinker. fifty-four year-old sculptor in jeans and flannel who showed up on her doorstep. Toni DeLucca was unprepared for the shaggy-haired. Except I ended up with Corky." A warm. but a little kooky. She said you might be able to show me where there’s a good steak house around here."I had to do that once." He leaned forward and planted a kiss on Toni’s cheek. a half-blind golden retriever. The corners of his eyes crinkled as he smiled down at her. "I lived in the same building as your daughter before I moved here from San Francisco." *********************************************************************************************** * *********************************************************************************************** * .. Nice girl..and she asked me to give you this. Oh. Do you have any herbal tea?" This time Callie was the one with the grin. She and Jason were so busy falling in love that evening that she forgot all about the Valentine’s surprise she’d sent her mother. craggy-faced. Valentine glow began to spread inside Callie. As a result.

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