Richard walked past me, out to the living room where his suitcases were lying open. “I know, I wish I didn’t have to, but now that I hit the museum, I have to keep the momentum going, and when you’re invited to a gala in New York City, you go.”

I walked up behind him and wrapped my arms around him. “Are you sure girlfriends can’t tag along?” I joked.

He turned around with a smile and kissed my nose. “I wish. I’m gonna miss you.”

“I’m gonna miss you, too.” I grinned, giving him a light kiss. “And if you want, I can show you exactly how much I’m going to miss you.”

Richard grimaced and glanced at his watch. “While that sounds ridiculously enticing, I gotta leave for the airport in like twenty minutes, and I’m hardly done packing.” He unwrapped our bodies and went back to his suitcases to pack his brushes.

“Okay. Well, are you sure you don’t want me to drive you to the airport?”

“No, it’s fine, really, I’ll just get a Lyft. You’re training the new girl at work today, aren’t you?” He glanced at his watch one more time before looking up at me. “I think you’re already late.”

“Yeah, you’re right. Well, okay. Text me before your plane takes off, and call when you land.” I bent down and kissed him on the lips.

“Okay, sounds good—and, babe?” he called after me as I scooped up my keys to leave.


“Block that number.”

“I’m sorry I’m late,” I said, hurrying into Monet’s Gardens through the back door.

Mari was going over the weekly orders with Chrissy, our new florist. Chrissy was a beautiful woman in her seventies who’d once owned her own floral shop. Teaching her the ins and outs of the shop was easy—she knew more than both Mari and me when it came to flowers.

When we mentioned that she was over-qualified for the position, she disagreed, saying she’d been a busy florist and shop owner for many years, but it was a lot of work for her to keep up with. She said her friends told her to retire, but her heart knew she needed to be surrounded by flowers for a bit longer and the position at our shop was perfect.

“No worries.” Chrissy smiled. “I already started arranging the orders for today.”

“Yeah, and she also taught me this new computer organization system—in other words, I think we hired a wizard,” Mari joked. “Is Richard off to New York?”

“Yup, sadly enough, but he’ll be back soon.”

Mari narrowed her eyes. “This is the first time you two have spent a week apart—are you sure you can handle the separation?”

“I’m planning to binge on comfort foods—kale chips and guacamole.”

“Sweetheart, no offense, but kale chips are not comfort food,” Chrissy sassed.

“That’s what I’ve been telling her for the past million years!” Mari said with a sigh as she walked over to unlock the front door and open the shop. “But okay, I’m going to take Chrissy with me to set up a wedding in Wauwatosa—do you need anything from us?”

I shook my head. “No. Have fun! I’ll be here when you get back.”

As they walked out of the back door, an older gentleman with a fedora walked in the front and was quick to take off his hat.

My chest tightened seeing him, and when his stare found mine, he smiled wide. “Lucy,” he said warmly, tipping his hat my way.

“Hi, Ollie. What are you doing here?”

He walked around a bit, studying the flowers in the shop. “I was hoping to buy a few roses for a special lady.” He gave me his charming smile and started whistling as he wandered around the shop. “Though, I’m not certain which ones she’d like. Will you help?”

“Of course. Tell me a little about her.”

“Well, she’s beautiful. She has these eyes that just pull you in, and when she looks at you, she makes you feel like the most important person in the room.”

My heart warmed hearing him talk so endearingly about the woman. As he continued, we walked around the shop, pulling a flower for each facet of her seemingly vibrant personality. “She’s gentle and caring. Has a smile that lights up a room. She’s smart, too, so smart. She’s not afraid to give a helping hand, even when it’s tough. And the last word to describe her…” he said, reaching out and picking out a deep red rose. “Is pure. She’s pure, untainted by the world’s cruelty. Just simply, easily, and beautifully pure.”

I took the rose from him, a grin resting on my lips. “She sounds like a wonderful woman.”

He nodded. “She is indeed.”

I walked to the counter and started to trim the flowers for Ollie as he picked out a red vase. The flowers were an arrangement of different colors and styles—a stunning collection. That was my favorite part of my job: when people came into the store and had no idea what they wanted. Roses were gorgeous, yes, and tulips were pretty, too, but there was something so creatively rewarding about being able to have free range and create a piece that expressed the artistic personality of the customer’s loved one.

As I tied a bow around the vase, Ollie narrowed his eyes at me. “You’re ignoring his calls.”

I grimaced for a second, fumbling with the ribbon. “It’s complicated.”

“Of course it is,” he agreed. “We are, after all, talking about Graham.” He lowered his voice and held his fedora to his chest. “Sweetheart, whatever he did, he’s sorry.”

“He was cruel,” I whispered, the bow not quite perfect enough, leading me to untie the ribbon to begin again.

“Of course he was,” he agreed. “We are, after all, talking about Graham.” He softly snickered. “But then again, he’s Graham, which means he didn’t mean it.”

I didn’t say anything else on the subject. “So, the flowers are $44.32, but I’ll give you the first-time visit discount, bringing it to $34.32.”

“That’s very kind of you, Lucy. Thank you.” He reached into his wallet and handed me the money. Then he placed his fedora back on his head and turned to leave.

“Ollie, you’re forgetting your flowers,” I called after him.

He turned back to me and shook his head. “No, ma’am. A friend of mine asked me to stop in to pick out those for you. I asked him some characteristics about you, and that is the creation that came to be.”

“Graham said those things about me?” I asked, my chest tightening a bit as I stared down at the arrangement.

“Well, he gave me one of the words, and I just kind of gathered the others on my own, based on the few moments we spent together.” He cleared his throat and tilted his head. “Listen, I’m not saying you have to go back, but if you do, you’ll prove him wrong.”