Danvers looked at the card again, wondering. It was encased in a cream white envelope, his name and address inked carefully on its face in a beautiful calligraphic hand. He could tell it was a card from its stiffness: whatever it contained was made of something much more resilient than paper. The only mark apart from the address was the monogram GM, printed on the back in large ornamental script.

Curious, Danvers broke the seal and lifted the flap of the envelope. A heavenly scent emanated from inside, a very distinctive and alluring perfume. The card itself was made of stock the same cream shade as the envelope. On its front was drawn a heart with an arrow through it. Inside, in the same hand that had written the address, was a short poem:



The eyes, the windows of the soul

Are now open to Me

With rhyme and rhythm hypnotic

I enter sinuously

You feel My words sink in your heart

And with your thoughts combine

Compelling you to surrender

And be My Valentine



It was the strangest message Danvers had ever received. He turned the card over, looking for some closing signature or any mark that might help him decipher its cryptic contents. The card was blank except for the doodle on its front and the poem.

Shrugging his shoulders, Danvers put the card back in the envelope and laid it on the small table in the foyer of his apartment where he kept his recent mail. He checked his pockets for his keys and wallet and prepared to walk through the door into his working day, but stopped. Without noticing that he did so, he picked the card back up from where it lay and raised it to his face, inhaling deeply of its scent. This done, he placed the card in the inside pocket of his jacket and exited the apartment.

“What’s that?” the man on the bus next to Danvers asked as it wended its way toward the stop near his office.

“I’m sorry?” Danvers replied, unused to communicating with his fellow passengers.

“You were muttering something, it sounded like a poem. Something about the ‘windows of the soul.’”

“Oh,” grunted Danvers, taken aback. “Forgive me. Thinking aloud.” This was not entirely true. Until the man spoke, Danvers was not aware that he had been thinking anything in particular.

Danvers disembarked from the bus and walked the two blocks to his workplace, his mind distracted. “What’s that?” Fred, his coworker, asked as he entered the office.

“What’s what?” asked Danvers.

“That card in your hand, the one you keep sniffing. Do you have a new girlfriend we don’t know about? Fess up!”

Danvers looked down, not having realized that he had taken the card with him, much less that he had removed it from his jacket and held it to his nose for much of the walk from the bus stop. “Oh, this,” he blurted, embarrassed, “…it’s nothing. Just a card from an old friend.”

“A friend who wears very sexy perfume,” said Fred with a wink and a grin.

Danvers smiled abashedly and walked to his cubicle, fleeing to the safety of work. Firing up his computer, he began composing the memo that Mr. Johnson, his boss, had asked him to draft. After an hour and a half he had the wording just right. Hitting “send,” he forwarded the memo to all departments and pushed back from his desk. He had earned some coffee.

Before he finished pouring himself a cup, the voice of his boss came over the intercom. “Danvers! Get to my office!” The tone was angry. Very angry. Danvers set down the coffee and hurried to the head office.

“What is it, Mr. Johnson?” he asked as he entered.

“What the hell is this?” Johnson demanded, turning his computer screen so Danvers had a clear view. It showed an inter-office email, marked “Urgent Memo,” sent from Danvers. The text of the email read “Surrender surrender surrender surrender surrender surrender surrender…” printed hundreds of times, bleeding off the bottom of the screen.

“This went out to all personnel!” shouted Johnson. “Is this some kind of joke? Did April fools come early?”

The color left Danvers’s face. He staggered, feeling suddenly dizzy. “I’m sorry,” he said with effort, “I haven’t been myself today…”

Johnson’s expression softened. “Hey…You don’t look so good, Danvers. Take the rest of the day off…Get some fresh air.”

“Th…thank you…I will…,” Danvers replied, staggering slightly as he exited Johnson’s office.

Outside, the sun and a cool breeze revived Danvers somewhat. He would go home. Sleep it off. Tomorrow he would be back to normal, ready for work.

His cell phone rang. Trembling slightly, he removed it from his pocket and looked at the caller ID screen. An unlisted number. A feeling of foreboding gripped him, but he could not resist answering. “Hello?” he spoke nervously into the receiver.

“Hello,” a woman’s voice answered. Its deep tones made Danvers’s insides quiver. “Come to 465 Park Street, Apartment 3A. The door is open, let yourself in.”

“Who are you?” Danvers asked.

“Do it now,” the voice replied, then the call cut off. The woman had hung up.

Danvers looked about, to see if he could identify anyone watching him. The crowds moving around him were all anonymously engaged in their own business. He shook himself. This was ludicrous. His bed was waiting. He set his feet in the direction of his bus stop and walked.

Twenty minutes later he looked up to see a door marked 3A. This was not his apartment. He had not gotten on the bus. Without realizing it, he had walked to 465 Park Street. The hairs raised on the back of his neck. He yearned to flee, to run from this place as fast as he could. But when he tried to do so, his feet seemed glued to the floor. He opened the door and entered the apartment.

“Welcome,” said the woman whose voice he had heard on his phone. She was seated on a plush armchair in the center of the apartment’s single room, which was otherwise bare except for two chains bolted to the floor, to the ends of which were attached steel handcuffs. As Danvers closed the door behind him he could smell the perfume that had scented the card pervading the apartment. The woman facing him was blond and thrillingly curvaceous. Her features were set in a warm but confident smile, and her deep green eyes seemed to engulf Danvers in their emerald light.

“Who are you?” Danvers asked, his pulse accelerating at the sight of his host.

“I am Goddess Marquesa,” she replied, “the ‘GM’ who beckoned you here with my poem.”


“To see if I could,” the Goddess answered cheerfully. “I had long thought it possible to mesmerize a man with the written word alone. You were the subject of a little bet I made with a colleague as to whether it was possible.”

“Well, you’ve won,” Danvers said, his voice trembling, “I need to get home now…”

“Oh, no,” remarked Goddess Marquesa, her lips pursed in a playful pout, “I haven’t won yet, puppet. I only win if I make you my Valentine.”

“Valentine? What do you mean?”

“Do you know the origin of Valentine’s Day?” asked the Goddess.

“No,” answered Danvers.

“Saint Valentine was a martyr for love. He was imprisoned, and dedicated himself to the daughter of his jailer.”

“You want me to be your prisoner?”

“Not exactly,” replied Goddess Marquesa, her tone slyly mysterious. “I want you to make yourself my prisoner. Offer yourself to me. Surrender. Be My Valentine.”

Danvers looked at the door. It was open, he knew he could leave. But something held him back. Something had been pulling him here all day. Some deep yearning. As he stood in thought, he realized it had not only been this day. All his life he had been longing for something. Someone.

He looked back at Goddess Marquesa. As his eyes took her in, all thoughts of the door evaporated. It was not just that she was beautiful. He could feel her power. It had pulsated in the words she had written. It had seemed to emanate from the envelope and card she had sent, imparted by her mere touch. As he gazed at her, everything became clear. He knew what he wanted to do, what he must do. What he had been yearning to do all his life. He knelt on the floor between the bolted chains. Picking up each handcuff in turn, he shackled his wrists.

“Please Goddess Marquesa,” Danvers said, his voice breaking with emotion, “make me Your prisoner. I surrender. Don’t let me go. Keep me as Your Valentine.”

Goddess Marquesa laughed. “Very good, pet,” she said. “You’ve made me very happy. Sleep now.”

At this command Danvers’s eyes closed and he collapsed to the floor.

The door to the apartment opened and a tall, young brunette entered. “I can’t believe it,” she said.

“Believe it, Mistress ____,” Goddess Marquesa replied.

“You must have cheated somehow,” Mistress _____ accused.

“You know that’s not true. You picked this man’s name out of a phonebook.”

“I still think you pulled some sort of trick. No poem can mesmerize a man.”

“It all depends on the poet, dear. If you reflect on my words I think you’ll see I’m right.”

“I don’t remember your poem,” Mistress _____ sneered.

“I think you do,” declared the Goddess. “Recite it for me now.”

Mistress _____’s eyes widened as she locked gazes with Goddess Marquesa. Stiffening, Mistress _____ intoned, “The eyes, the windows of the soul…”

“Are now opened to Me,” Goddess Marquesa answered.

With rhyme and rhythm hypnotic,” continued Mistress _____, her expression blank, her posture suddenly relaxed,

You enter sinuously

I feel Your words sink in my heart

And with my thoughts combine

Compelling me to surrender

And be Your Valentine.”

As she finished the poem, Mistress _____ fell to her knees before Goddess Marquesa, a look of rapt adoration on her face, her eyes unfocused.

“I think that settles the bet,” said Goddess Marquesa, rising from her chair to stroke the cheek of the kneeling woman. “Now, as in past years,” she continued, looking from one captive to the other, “I just have to decide what to do with all my Valentines.”



The End