Delano thinks Valentine's Day is just an excuse to eat candy and buy things, but he's also lonely, and wants more than just a hookup. While all the werewolves in Puck's pack seem to be finding each other, he's left to read his books and wish it was him out there finding love.
Zachary is trying to be a good vampire and not eat the werewolves that he shares a pack with, but it's hard. When Armand, Puck's vampire mate, tells Zachary to walk Delano home, hinting that they could both use more friends, Zachary isn't interested. But he always does what Armand tells him to.
When everyone seems interested in quick pleasure for the night, these two are looking for more, but more is hard to find for two introverts who want nothing to do with the holiday.
Delano knew Valentine's Day was coming. Everyone in Puck's pack did. It was unavoidable. The children had cut little heart shapes out of paper and taped them to every surface possible. After a warm winter, there were flowers coming up prematurely, and everywhere he looked people were in love. He wished them well, but he wasn't going to be one of them. Falling in love on Valentine's Day was overrated. As for those people not looking for love but just for someone to pass the night with, he was happy to be free of them, too.
He stopped by Puck's house to visit the pack library, the largest one in the pack and the main gathering place for the werewolves when it was too cold out for them all to simply sit out on the grass with blankets. Delano was finished with his last book and ready to start another. He had plenty of ebooks, but big reference books, those ones that no one ever read, those were the ones he got from the house.
Children were baking cookies in the kitchen as he looked through the disorganized shelves. Someone had messed up his system. He huffed and tried his best to ignore the chaos of a cookbook being next to one on Buddhism simply because the authors' names were in alphabetical order. He wasn't sure what he was looking for, but he was sure that something would catch his eye. The pack was constantly getting new books. They were big fans of the end-of-year sales that libraries had, and Delano was always in line to be one of those people with bags full of books on the last day. On those days he grabbed everything from early reader books to obscure horror novels. The pack was growing a little more each year, it seemed, and there would always be someone interested in reading something new.
Delano found a book on World War II that he hadn't seen before and pulled it down. After a few pages he looked up, realizing that he was no longer alone in the library. As a werewolf, he should have been more aware, but within the pack he felt safe. It was Armand who had joined him, and Delano gave his alpha's mate a nod. Armand was a vampire, one of the few in the pack, and Delano was comfortable with him and the others like him being there. They didn't bother him or the children, and they certainly hadn't been the ones to mess up his book system.
"I'm sorry, I'm terrible with names and I don't see you all that often," Armand said as he picked out a book to read as well.
Delano didn't mind. He liked being low on the pack totem pole. He didn't want to be noticed or remembered. Where he had come from, those kinds of things could get a wolf into trouble. "Delano," he quietly reminded him. He knew Armand only as Puck's mate. He'd never spoken to him before and had only seen him a few times.
"Did you get a cookie already? The children promise that they're delicious. You might actually be able to taste the cookie, too, if you scrape off the inch-thick layer of icing."
Delano smiled and shook his head. "I haven't been in there yet. I'll get dinner in a bit, when they're done and I don't have to sidestep children while trying to make a sandwich. And...it's all a lot of celebration I'm not really into."
Armand's expression softened. "That's all right. There's a singles thing happening by the fire tomorrow, if you're interested. It's on the pack calendar."
Delano knew all about it, and he'd be staying home that night. "I went last year. It's just an excuse to hook up."
Armand chuckled, probably because he knew that as well.
"It's just...I'm not really into Valentine's Day. I think it's dumb. All the sweets, and the trying to fall in love, and the buying stuff just because you're supposed to and the other person or people expect it out of you. Maybe if I was a teenager I'd care about it, but I'm not. I'm thirty-five, and yes, I'm single, but I'm not desperate enough to go hook up on Valentine's Day."
Armand opened his book. "Make sure you grab a cookie on your way home tonight anyway."
Delano wasn't sure when Armand had decided to start caring whether the werewolves ate cookies or found happiness or whatever else, or if he was just trying to make small talk, but Delano appreciated it. "I will."
Someone came and lit a fire in the small fireplace a few hours later. Delano didn't pay them much attention. He had curled up in a big chair with his book across his lap. His back would hurt later, but for now he was comfortable.