“Lilies. I always think lilies are so beautiful.” Shirley Davison sighed, looking around at the bunches of flowers on display.
“Well, they’d certainly work for decorating the church, but for a bouquet you need something a little smaller. Something that won’t overshadow the bride.” Bonnie glanced over to where Shirley’s daughter stood, clearly overwhelmed by the choice available. “What do you think, Amanda?”
Before Amanda could speak, her mother cut in. “Why don’t you give us a few suggestions? I’m sure we’ll find something we like.”
Not for the first time since they’d walked into her shop, Bonnie wondered which of the Davisons was actually getting married. Shirley acted like she was getting a do-over of her original wedding, arranging all the things Bonnie suspected she’d never had, or been able to afford, the first time around. Whatever Amanda wanted seemed as if it would come a poor second to Shirley’s wish to play the successful, glamorous mother of the bride.
Bonnie took a breath and considered options, sizing up Amanda with her pale skin, fine-boned features and long ash-blonde hair. She looked, Bonnie figured, much the way her mother would have done at the same age, and she wondered if Shirley Davison had even considered that she was looking to repeat her own wedding day. “Well, I’d be tempted to go for something classic. There’s a trend for dark and moody bouquets right now, lots of amaranthus and protea, but if you’re wanting lilies for the church, then I’d suggest simple white flowers for the bride and bridesmaids too. Anemones are really cute, and I’d add some sprigs of eucalyptus to fill out the arrangement and give a nice contrast in color. Why don’t I show you what I have in my book?”
“Book?” Shirley asked, her interest piqued.
“Yes. I photograph all the bouquets I create. That way, I have pictures for inspiration, but I can also make sure no two brides have exactly the same arrangement—unless they want that, of course.”
“Oh no.” Shirley shook her head. “Amanda deserves something unique and special.” She put an arm around her daughter’s waist and hugged her, and for the first time, Bonnie sensed a genuine affection between the two. Shirley Davison might be a little overbearing and self-important but there was no denying she loved her daughter and wanted what was best for her.
“Well, while you’re looking through those photos, can I get you both something to drink? Tea? Coffee?”
“Do you have chamomile tea?” Shirley asked.
“I can make that for you.”
“That would be lovely. With a little honey, if that’s possible.”
“No problem. Amanda?”
Amanda looked up from the page she’d been studying. “The same for me, please. No, wait, could I have coffee with milk and two sugars?” She turned to Bonnie. “I never used to take sugar in my drinks, but… Well, I swear it’s the stress of getting married, but I’ve dropped a dress size in the last month. I’ve had to have my wedding dress taken in once already.”
“I can imagine,” Bonnie replied. “I’ll go put the kettle on, and I think I’ve got a pack of cookies in the back somewhere. I’ll hunt those out for you.”
“Before you do, can I ask a question?” Amanda sounded a little hesitant.
Bonnie smiled, doing her best to put Amanda at ease. “Sure, fire away.”
“Why is there a blank page at the beginning of the book?”
Most people didn’t notice that. They were too busy flicking through the photographs, searching for inspiration. “Well, that’s where I’m going to have a shot of the bouquet from my wedding,” Bonnie admitted.
“You’re getting married?” Shirley’s face brightened. “Congratulations, honey.”
“Oh, no, I’m just… Let me get you those drinks.” Bonnie hurried out to the back room, wanting to hide the heat that had risen in her cheeks. Not only was there no wedding on the horizon for her, there wasn’t even a man in her life. There hadn’t been for longer than she cared to recall.
“I just don’t understand why you’re still single,” Bonnie’s best friend, Tara, had said on any number of occasions. “You’re attractive, intelligent, kind… You run your own business. The guys should be queuing up to date you.”
Bonnie figured she knew the reason why she was still on her own. Her height. Most men might not come right out and say it, but they didn’t want a girlfriend who was close to six feet tall. She knew the shorter ones felt threatened by the way she towered over them, and even with taller guys, she hated not being able to wear high heels when they went out. Sometimes, she thought she ought to forget about her special page in the book of bouquets, use it to showcase another bride’s special flowers, but that would be as good as admitting she was never going to get her own happy ever after. And the one thing she would never do was give up on love.
* * * *
Amanda and her mother spent the best part of an hour leafing through the photos of floral arrangements and coming to decisions about what they liked. Bonnie took notes and made sketches, and by the time they left the store, both Amanda and Shirley seemed more than happy with the choices they’d made.
As Bonnie went to stow her notebook, the bell over the door tinkled. She looked around to see her sister, Cassidy, standing in the doorway, clutching a battered-looking paperback.
“Here you go, Bonnie. I found it in the end. It had fallen down behind the nightstand in my bedroom, would you believe?” Cassidy walked over and set the book down on the counter. The historical novel was this month’s selection for the reading club that met at Becker’s Books on Main Street, and Cassidy had promised to lend her copy to Bonnie when they’d been talking over dinner a few nights ago.
“Thanks, but I thought you were going to drop this off at the house tonight.”
“I was intending to, but then I remembered we’ve got another rehearsal planned for this evening.”
“Really? That’s the third this week. Are you sure they aren’t working you too hard?” When Cassidy had decided to major in theater arts, their dad had claimed it wasn’t a real degree, not like math or science, but from what Bonnie had seen, her sister put in as many hours as her friends who studied the more academic subjects.
“These rehearsals are voluntary. And this is my first time directing a play, so I really want to get everything right. We’ve been working on the blocking, but I’m still not happy with it.” Cassidy ran a hand through her short bright-pink hair and sighed.
“Well, maybe you could come over to mine once you’re done. I can stop off at Shelby’s on the way home, pick up a couple slices of cheesecake.”
Cassidy shook her head. “No can do. Lisa and I are driving over to Laurel Lake. They’ve got a midnight screening of the new Marvel movie, so Lisa’s taking me as our anniversary treat.”
“Anniversary? You guys have been dating—”
“Yup, two years to the day since she first asked me out over sloppy Joes in the campus dining room.”
“Wow.” Bonnie tried to hide the envy flaring up at the reminder that Cassidy’s first serious relationship had lasted longer than any of her own ever had. “Where does the time go? Well, have a great night, and maybe we can get together one evening after the play is done.”
“I’m gonna put two tickets to one side for you, for the opening night. Bring whoever you want.”
She knew better than to think Cassidy’s comment might be fishing for information about whether there was a new man in Bonnie’s life.
“Thanks. I can’t see Tara wanting to sit through anything that doesn’t feature male strippers, so I might ask Miranda if she’d like to come along.”
“Great. Though I think Tara would enjoy it. And not just because the leading man takes his shirt off at one point.” Cassidy glanced at the clock on the wall. “I’d better be running along. See you later, Bon.”
Bonnie picked the paperback off the counter and shoved it in her purse as Cassidy left the store. She checked the time herself. Five o’clock. She didn’t have any plans of her own for the evening but picking up cheesecake from the diner sounded like a good idea, even if she’d be eating it on her own in front of the TV rather than enjoying a fun, gossipy evening with her sister.
The bell sounded again as someone pushed the door open. Without looking over, Bonnie said, “I’m sorry, but we’re closed.”
“I promise you this’ll only take a moment.” Something in the speaker’s tone gave her pause. He had a flat English accent, but he sounded breathless, urgent, like he’d run all the way over to her shop.
“Okay…” She turned around. A man, well over six feet tall, stood in the doorway, wearing a lightweight navy funnel-neck coat and with a tweed cap partially concealing his dark-red hair. Everything he wore had the look of expensive tailoring, and Bonnie wouldn’t have been surprised to learn he’d come in here after he’d finished up on a modeling assignment. “What can I do for you?”
“It’s about the flowers for the McCarthy-Glazer wedding.”
Bonnie reached for her tablet and scrolled through the list of orders until she found the one he was talking about. “If you’re here to collect them, I’m afraid you’re forty-eight hours too early.”
“Oh, I don’t want to collect them. I want to cancel them.”