Piotr Kurtzburg didn’t expect to receive cards and chocolates on Valentine’s Day.

He certainly didn’t expect to receive cards and chocolates hand-delivered by a statuesque bombshell of a model.

Her visit caused quite a stir in the office. A six-foot-tall, jaw-droppingly beautiful woman walking around in nothing more than a longcoat and sexy lingerie was not a sight the average British office worker expected to see on your typical miserable and overcast February morning.

“Happy Valentine’s Day from the Heart Squad,” she said to Kurtzburg before handing over an oversized card and heart-shaped box of chocolates.

Dumbfounded, Kurtzburg just accepted them. He was blown away by her appearance.

One. She was really tall. Taller than Kurtzburg’s five-ten.

Two. She was still perfectly proportioned despite her height. She had a perfect feminine physique—full hips, fuller chest, and long long legs. She also had big big hair. It was red—flame not ginger—and complexly coiffured in a style Kurtzburg hadn’t seen since the kitsch sci-fi films of the sixties. Her smile revealed perfect white teeth.

Three. She was clearly wearing nothing more than underwear beneath her longcoat. It was pink, frilly and sheer enough for her nipples to be visible beneath.

That alone should have been enough to have her stopped long before reaching Kurtzburg’s desk. Except…

Four. She had overwhelming presence. This was the hardest to explain. Not only did she look absolutely drop-dead gorgeous, she also had this aura that flooded out of her and subsumed all around her. She seemed the sort that had the chutzpah—and looks—to blag her way into anywhere.

What Kurtzburg couldn’t understand was why she was here for him.

When he’d finally gathered enough presence of mind to stop gawping at her like an open-mouthed yokel, he said, “I think there’s been some mistake.”

“Are you Piotr Kurtzburg?” she asked.

Kurtzburg gave her a slight nod of affirmation.

“Then there’s been no mistake. Happy Valentine’s Day.”

For one awful moment, Kurtzburg thought she was going to perform a striptease for him right there and then, in front of the entire office. Under other circumstances, Kurtzburg might have been okay with this. He was your typical sex-starved male nerd and her body was extraordinary. But not here. Not with the whole office watching. Not with his cheeks almost burning as brightly as her hair.

Instead she dipped her head forwards and kissed him on each cheek, continental style. On the last kiss her head slid on until her sumptuous lips were level with his ear.

“See you later,” she whispered.

Then she turned on the spot and walked away, leaving a very befuddled Kurtzburg standing there with his mouth open and holding a heart-shaped box of chocolates. He was still surrounded by a cloud of her perfume. Faint traces of it stayed with him for the rest of the morning.

Kurtzburg didn’t get around to opening the card until after he’d cleared all of the morning’s urgent tasks. Not that it shed any more light on the mystery.

It was one of those standard giant-size Valentine’s Day cards you could pick up in any high-street shop. Kurtzburg’s name was on the cover of the plain red envelope, written in elegant handwriting. Kurtzburg didn’t know of any other Piotr Kurtzburgs in the company, so it must be for him. For whatever reason.

“Happy Valentine’s Day from the Heart Squad,” was written on the inside in the same elegant handwriting.

Kurtzburg had no idea who or what the Heart Squad was.

Someone had drawn cute little cartoon bats all over the inside of the card. Some of them were carrying pink hearts. The ones that weren’t had long tails—that looked more like devil tails—looped around in the outline of a heart.

Maybe he had a secret admirer.

Kurtzburg nearly laughed out loud at the thought.

He was no catch. Even by the not-that-high standards of the typical IT male, Kurtzburg was distinctly below average. He knew his nickname around the office was ‘moleman’. His co-workers didn’t seem to care he knew either.

He supposed it was different. At school they used to call him Penfold after the character in the Danger Mouse cartoons.

It didn’t bother Kurtzburg all that much. Maybe at some point in the past, but he’d long grown out of letting it upset him. You couldn’t help what you were born with, as far as he was concerned. There were a few people in the office he didn’t like, but he just tended to avoid them. As for the rest, they were fine. They let him get on with his work and he let them get on with theirs. The only time they interacted with Kurtzburg was when they wanted something done. This was also fine with Kurtzburg. That’s how work worked.

Now there was this card.

Kurtzburg would have put it down to a prank played by Dave Gregg, except Gregg had left the company two years ago. Foxtrot Tech had been a different place back then and ‘Greggsy’ was the office prankster—a larger than life character with a big mouth. Kurtzburg hadn’t got on all that well with him. Gregg was a massive extrovert. Kurtzburg was a massive introvert. There were clashes.

That was then. Times moved on. The kind of ‘hijinks’ Gregg used to get up to, especially with the female staff, were no longer tolerated in the modern workplace.

Kurtzburg turned the card over. There were four glossy lipstick impressions of kisses on the bottom left corner. They’d been added later rather than printed on the card. Written over them in the same elegant handwriting were the words:

“We’ll see you tonight.”

This was just like one of the ‘jokes’ Gregg liked to pull.

But not anymore.

Not since that business.

* * * *

That business had involved Roberta Ross. Kurtzburg was dragged into her office just before lunch.

“Care to explain that little incident this morning?” she asked.

Ross was all cold angles and hidden landmines. She was a short, mousy-haired woman who favoured power suits despite running the traditionally laidback IT department. Kurtzburg respected her professionalism and efficiency, but he couldn’t ever bring himself to like her. There was a furious intensity about her, as if she was always a couple of countdown ticks away from an explosion.

“I don’t know,” he mumbled. “A mix-up, I think. Someone set up a prank and got the wrong man… person.”

Ross fixed him with steely grey eyes.

“I don’t know or care what you and your friends get up to outside of work, but if they are your friends you should let them know the next time they pull a stunt like this it will be you that has to bear the consequences.”

Ross turned back to her monitor.

“The latest patch is running late. I need that bugfix done before you leave tonight.”

Meeting over.

Ross had joined the company as a junior programmer three years ago and had risen meteorically to the position of department head. It was her complaint of sexual harassment that had resulted in Dave Gregg’s termination.

It hadn’t come as much of a surprise. Greggsy had always been a little too free with his mouth around the female staff. Even freer with his hands. That kind of behaviour was no longer tolerated.

There had been a similar controversy involving Ross and another senior developer, Jake Packman, about a year later. Unwelcome advances. Hands touching parts of the anatomy hands should not touch.

That had been a surprise. Unlike Gregg, Packman was a quiet sort that kept to himself and was happily married as far as anyone knew.

You never could tell, the office gossiped.

Packman had ‘resigned’.

Kurtzberg switched off the voice-recording app on his smartphone as he left the office.

No, you never could tell.

* * * *

There was email awaiting Kurtzburg when he got back to his desk. That in itself wasn’t surprising—there was always email waiting for him. However, this particular email was not like the others.

“Hi Piotr. We’re the Heart Squad!”

It was followed by a picture of four extremely attractive and provocatively attired women sitting in the back of an expensive limo. They were all smiling at the camera and holding their arms out. Kurtzburg recognised the gorgeous flame-haired courier who’d delivered his card and chocolates this morning.

“We’re so looking forward to making your Valentine’s Day an unforgettable one.”

Kurtzburg frowned. He was normally super-careful about which emails he opened. He was sure this had been another work email when he’d clicked on it.

He lifted his small round spectacles and rubbed his eyes. Must be tiredness. It had been a hard slog over the past couple of weeks to get the latest patch ready.

He became aware of someone standing next to his desk and hurriedly deleted the email.

He looked up and saw it was Leah Betts from the QA department. She was looking down at the chocolate box.

“Aren’t you going to open them?” she asked.

“I dunno,” he mumbled.

“You know it’s customary for employees to share their Valentine’s chocolates with the rest of the office.”

“It is?”

He tried to remember if anyone had ever brought chocolates around to his desk. Not that he would have remembered or even registered if they had.

He glanced back at his screen. Was that email with the picture of the four hot semi-naked women in the back of a limo gone yet? Yes. Thank fuck for that.

Not that he needed to worry. Betts was still staring down at the chocolate box. “Go on. Open it up,” she said.

Kurtzburg shrugged. He opened it up. It was a box of chocolates. The cover was sickeningly saccharine. Kurtzburg flipped open the cover. Yes, they were chocolates.

“Ooh, those are fancy,” Betts said. “Have you got a posh bird you’ve been hiding from us?”

Her hand hovered over the tray like a vulture about to swoop.

Kurtzburg was reluctant to take one. Where had they come from? Why him? You heard stories. Food being tampered with.

Betts selected one she liked—a little brown nut from near the centre of the tray. She plucked it out and brought it up to her mouth.

“Wait!” Kurtzburg said.

Betts stopped, eyes opened wide in sudden surprise.

“I don’t know where they’re from,” Kurtzburg said.

Betts’s frozen expression of surprise thawed out into a contemptuous grin.

“They’re Valentine’s Day chocolates, stupid. You’re not supposed to know who they’re from.”

She rolled her eyes and popped the chocolate into her mouth. She chewed. Her eyes widened.

“Ooh, these are yummy,” she said. “It tastes like… ooh.” A hand involuntarily drifted down to her crotch. Her cheeks reddened.

“Mandy, you have to try one of these,” she called back to the adjacent QA section.

She looked back at the box with naked avarice.

“You look busy,” she said. “You want me to share them around the office for you?”

Kurtzburg mumble-grunted a yes and Betts went away, taking the box of chocolates with her.

Then his attention was caught by something on his monitor. A heart-shaped balloon floated to the top of the screen and popped to reveal the word, “Tonight.” A lipstick kiss flashed on the bottom right of the screen and was followed by, “The Heart Squad.”

Kurtzburg’s stomach lurched. Had that email downloaded a virus onto his machine?

He went through a series of diagnostics and found nothing untoward. He rubbed his eyes again. He couldn’t have imagined it, could he?

And what did they mean by “tonight”?

* * * *

The first text message arrived at two o’clock.

“Are you excited for tonight? We are. xoxo, the Heart Squad.”

Number withheld.

Kurtzburg was less rattled about this one. If they could find him at work, they could find his phone number.

A picture followed. It was a close-up of the flame-haired model kissing the camera with the other three girls in the background behind her.

All four women were exceedingly attractive. They looked just like the women you saw on TV gliding around the swanky parties. Starlets. Celebs. ‘It’ girls. Ironic that his own profession, which also shared the same two letters, was often at the opposite end of the spectrum when it came to glamour and social skills.

Then it clicked.

If they looked good enough to be TV people, they might just be TV people. Which made this a… Valentine’s Day prank? Yes, that sounded plausible. Probably one of the cheap’n’nasty reality TV shows. Kurtzburg had no idea which. He didn’t watch much TV nowadays, preferring instead to spend his leisure time playing videogames or solving coding problems. He also had no idea why they’d singled him out.

Okay, he did. It was because he was fugly and surrounding a mumbling fugly with four bombshell beauties would make for appropriately cringe-inducing TV.

He had no idea why they’d singled him out.

Oh well, that mystery would have to wait for later. He had to fix this bug before the end of the day.

Betts came back with an empty box of chocolates and a guilty expression. For all of Betts’s talk of sharing them with the whole office, Kurtzburg doubted the box had even left the QA section. He didn’t mind. Given their suspect origin, he hadn’t been planning on eating any of them.

* * * *

Kurtzburg got another text at three.

“We’re going to have so much fun together.”

You’re going to be so disappointed, Kurtzburg thought, deleting the text.

Another at four.

“We’ll be waiting for you outside after work.”

You’ll be waiting a long time then, Kurtzburg thought. Judging by how this bugfix was progressing, Kurtzburg didn’t think he’d be finishing until at least eight. He wasn’t too thrilled about it. He’d been looking forward to getting a few hours in on the new space 4X game, Master of the Crimson Nebula.

Later: “It’s almost time. We can hardly contain ourselves. Can you?”

The innuendo was obvious. Kurtzburg felt it in his loins anyway. Despite not being the most active in that department, he still retained some sexual desire. He really wished he lived in a world where four hot girls would whisk him off the street and take him out on a wild night of partying and debauchery.

This was not that world.

Kurtzburg was also not a chump.

He was also too busy anyway.

He looked at the screen. Goddammit. Comment your goddamn code, people.

The messages stopped after five-thirty. The office had already emptied out. Kurtzburg was the only one left still tapping away at his keyboard.

He felt a little sorry for whoever was behind these Valentine’s Day fun and games. They must have realised something had gone wrong by now. That Kurtzburg wasn’t coming out or had already given them the slip.

Sorry, hah. What was he thinking? It was probably just a prank to humiliate him.

He got up and trundled to the drinks machine to pick up a can of Red Bull. Caffeine makes code. He looked at the screen and focused on the problem at hand. It was trickier than he’d first thought, but he felt he understood it now. He reckoned he’d be able to fix it before leaving tonight.

He checked in the solution at 8:31. Half an hour later than he’d estimated, but not too bad. He got up and stretched. Most of the office was dark. Kurtzburg packed his things together, walked to the exit and switched off the lights. His stomach rumbled. Maybe he should have eaten some of those chocolates after all. Oh well, he could always pick up a kebab on the way home.

He walked down the stairs and out the front entrance. The night was a little nippy. He adjusted his coat and turned right. His bus stop was at the end of the street.

A shape flowed out of the darkness and stepped in front of him. It was the tall and busty flame-haired woman. She was still wearing nothing more than a longcoat over frilly pink lingerie.

Had she been waiting out here all this time? She must be freezing her nips off, Kurtzburg thought.

If she was, she gave no outward sign. She greeted Kurtzburg with a breezy smile.

“Mr Kurtzburg, we never realised you had to work so late.”

She glanced up at Kurtzburg’s floor, where everything was in darkness.

“It must have been so lonely, working up there on your own. You should have let us know. We would have come up and kept you company.”

A stretch limo—sleek and gleaming white—pulled up alongside them. The back door opened and two excitable women leaned out.

“Hello, Mr Kurtzburg,” they said in unison.

Both looked younger than the flame-haired woman and were just as attractive. He recognised them from the pictures that had been sent him. In person they exuded a strong aura of wanton sexuality. They looked like the type of girls that did anything and everything.

“I think there’s been some mistake,” Kurtzburg said. “You have me mixed up with someone else.”

“You are Mr Piotr Kurtzburg, of…” The flame-haired woman reeled off Kurtzburg’s home address and even his date of birth for good measure. “I don’t think there’s been any mistake.”

No, that had been rather… specific.

“Why me?” he asked.

“Because someone thinks you deserve it,” the flame-haired woman said.

That didn’t help Kurtzburg at all.

“Did you like the chocolates?” she asked.

“Um, I didn’t… um… eat them. The QA women shared them.”

The woman looked disappointed.

“Oh well, can’t be helped,” she said. She smiled. “Their husbands and boyfriends will be in for a good night tonight. What about you, Mr Kurtzburg? Are you ready to embark on a night of unadulterated hedonism?”

She held out an arm, pointing him in the direction of the back of the limo while simultaneously blocking his path. Three gorgeous girls beckoned him to join them in the back of the car. And they were extremely gorgeous indeed.

Kurtburg was tempted.

He was also not a mug.

This was waaay too good to be true.

“I don’t think I can get in that car with you,” Kurtzburg said.

“Aww,” the flame-haired woman said. “Don’t be so uptight. Come with us. You’ll have a lovely night.”

She moved forwards. Kurtzburg instinctively moved back.

“Sorry. I think this is a big misunderstanding. You have the wrong guy.”

The woman placed a hand on her hip. She pouted in irritation.

“My, you are an awkward one.”

Her sensual lips turned up in a smile. Her eyes twinkled. For a brief—split-second—moment, Kurtzburg could have sworn he saw a pink flash. Then…

…Kurtzburg was sitting on the back seat of a luxurious limo with a glass of champagne in his hand. He was surrounded by four gorgeously uninhibited young women.

The tall, flame-haired woman had introduced herself as Angela. Kurtzburg had already seen plenty of her goddess-like body, given that neither her longcoat or pink lingerie did a good job of hiding it. She was sitting on his left with an arm around him.

Sitting on the other side of him was a girl dressed in a black leather corset and black fishnet tights. She had one of the largest busts Kurtzburg had ever seen. Her corset struggled to contain her boobs and Kurtzburg kept catching himself sneaking glances down into the deep soft chasm of her cleavage. Her face had a slightly exotic cast, accentuated by heavy black eyeliner extended in gothic wings. Her hair was medium length and raven black. She reminded Kurtzburg of sultry vamps from old horror films. She’d given her name as Mystrella.

Sitting across from Mystrella was almost her polar opposite, Lapine. Lapine was tall, blonde, tanned and leggy. She wore a pink bikini and frayed denim shorts. She looked like a slutty beach bunny.

The last was Eulalia. She was dressed in elegant lingerie and pearls, and looked like she’d just left a swanky soiree at a posh country mansion. Her hair was honey-coloured and fluffed up in luxurious waves. Her most striking feature was her lips. Bee-stung, plump, sensual, and glossy-red—they might just be the most kissable lips Kurtzburg had ever seen in his life.

Together, they called themselves ‘The Heart Squad’.

“And what exactly is ‘The Heart Squad’?” Kurtzburg asked.