It was mid Friday afternoon when, with a bounce in his step, Steve gaily whistled his way to Oscar’s office. With a folder in one hand and a red carnation in the other he elbowed his way through the glass door of the reception area to be greeted by an empty chair. He frowned suspiciously at Callahan’s absence. ‘I missed her. Oscar must have given her the afternoon off,” he thought to himself. He stepped up to the office door and knocked. When no answer came he nudged the door open and poked his head in. “Oscar?”
Oscar was on the phone but bade Steve enter. “Okay Denise. I will pick you up at your house tonight around seven. How’s that?” A broad grin hung on his ears at her answer. “See you then.” As he hung up the phone he caught sight of the flower in Steve’s hand.
“How did you know I love red carnations? Steve you shouldn’t have,” Oscar teased with an affected come-hither look.
“Sorry Oscar. You’re not my type,” Steve retorted sharply with an elfish wink. “It’s for Callahan but I assume her boss was kind enough to let her off work early today seeing how it’s Valentine’s Day?”
“He boss will after she returns with the file I asked he to fetch down in the record room.”
“Ah! Then I’ll have the chance to present her with my gift.”
“I’m sure she’ll appreciate it. So?” Oscar leisurely leaned back against his chair. “Who’s your hot date?”
“Sorry Oscar. Confidential information.”
“Awwwwww come on, Pal! I’ll tell you mine if you tell me yours,” Oscar needled as he swiveled his chair back and forth.
“I already know who yours. It’s Denise Warren.”
“Alright. You obviously uncloaked the identity of my Valentine, how about giving me a clue as to who is your special girl.”
“Oscar,” Steve sighed in exasperation.
“I know it neither Callahan nor Cassandra since they both have dates. Perhaps it’s Pamela down at Rudy’s lab? I caught her making sheep eyes at you.”
“Save your breath. I’m not going to tell you. You’ll know when the time comes.”
“The time is now.”
“Later,” Steve cut abruptly and tossed the folder on Oscar’s desk. “Here’s my report on the Whelan case.”
Oscar straightened up in his chair and leaned forward to peek at the file. “Any problem?”
“Only the usual run-of-the-mill glitches normally encountered with this type of assignment, nothing more.”
“Good. Now for your next assignment...”
“Hold it right there, Oscar,” Steve interrupted with a fierce shake of the head and a wave of the hand.
“I was going to say that your next mission will be to take it easy at home for the next week to recharge your batteries.”
“Ahhhhh now you’re talking my kind of assignment. I will follow instructions to the letter.“ Steve tugged his forelock before turning to the door.
“Oscar, take it slow tonight. Remember you’re no spring chicken,” Steve teased.
“Get out of here!” Oscar hurled an eraser at Steve who dodged out the door to avoid impact with the flying bullet.
“What’s so funny?” a puzzled Callahan asked a giggling Steve as he exited Oscar’s office.
“The boss can be a barrel of laughs sometimes.”
“I guess you had to be there.” As she sat in her chair Steve stepped up to her desk to present her with the flower.
“This is for you on Valentine’s Day. I hope your boyfriend won’t mind?”
“Thank you, Steve,” she gushed, taking the carnation to drink in the fragrance. “Don’t worry. Harry is not the jealous type. Otherwise I never would have agreed to go out with him.”
“So where’s your lucky girl?”
“I bet it’s Pamela Teller, Dr. Wells’ new receptionist.”
Steve rolled his eyes in exasperation. “Why does everyone think it’s her?”
“Because she only has eyes for you, Blue Eyes,” echoed the teasing voice from behind.
“Cassie what are you doing here?” He leaned sideways to accept her kiss on the cheek.
“I heard you went around giving carnations to pretty ladies in the building. I came up hoping to get mine.”
“Why should I give you one? You have about five dozens of them already.”
“Ah yes,” she mused to herself, wrapping a friendly arm around Steve’s shoulders. “I’ve got myself a bunch of Valentine sweethearts this year,” she boasted with a twinkle in her eye. “It was hard to narrow it down to a single suitor but I finally opted for the dashing, debonair, witty, charming,“ Steve sighed with annoyance at her endless list of adjectives, “ winsome, refined, educated, sexy…”
“We get it, 35. He’s a dreamboat.”
“I do believe you are jealous.” She tweaked his nose and turned to Callahan. “Isn’t he cute?”
Callahan couldn’t help but chuckle at the playful bantering between the two friends. Steve threw his arms up in defeat. “I’m getting out of here.”
“Ah, ah, ah!” Cassie hooked his arm before he left. “Not before you tell me about your date tonight.”
“Ahhhhh come on you can tell me, you best pal? Just whisper it in my ear.”
“Sorry 35. Not now. I don’t need the publicity.”
“I’ll keep quiet.”
“You’ll find out soon enough. I’ll tell you later if you don’t hear it from the papers first.”
“Papers? You’re going out with a celebrity?”
“What are you talking about WITH? I AM a celebrity!” He flashed a smoking gun at her. “Later.”
“Hummmmmmmmm I wonder who the mystery girl is?” Cassie pondered aloud, glancing down at Callahan who just shrugged.