by Isabella Louise Anderson
Genres: Literature & Fiction, Romance
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As the owner of a successful florist shop, Khloe Harper trusts her instincts. She has a strong bond with her family and friends, but after being betrayed by her last love, she's kept herself at arms’ length from romance. When dashing entertainment attorney Derek Thomas walks into her store, Khloe’s interest is piqued. What at first seems like a business relationship quickly turns into romance, and Derek slowly plucks away the petals she’s been hiding behind. Just as Khloe lets down her guard, she discovers that Derek may not be worthy of her love after all.
Frumpy Connie Albright has a faux fascination with an imaginary man named Walt, thinking that by sending herself flowers from him she’ll feel less out-of-place with the “mean girls” she works with. When she comes face to face with her possible prince charming and thinking she might have a happy ending, when a truth is revealed, she wonders if she’ll ever have a Cinderella story.
A recently widowed senior, Gabby Lewis, isn't ready to give up on love—which means releasing herself from survivor's guilt and taking a chance on finding happiness and companionship again. After signing up for an online dating site for senior citizens, much to her surprise, she’s matched with Harry, an energetic and loving man, who quickly eases himself into her heart. Will Gabby take the leap of falling in love again, knowing it’s possible to have two loves of her life?
As each woman’s story develops through flowers and cards sent from Khloe's shop during the Fall months, they begin to learn that love can only truly blossom when you trust your heart.
It was a perfect kind of day. The rising sun warmed the chill in the air, there wasn’t a cloud in the sky, and a light breeze tousled Khloe’s long auburn hair. After sliding her key in the lock of her flower shop, she inhaled the intoxicating scents of gardenias, sweet peas, magnolias, along with her personal favorite—roses—and they tickled her nose. She smiled, thinking how the aroma of flowers made for a great start to the day.
Six days a week, at eight in the morning, Khloe sat in her office at the back of the store to return emails and process online orders. While it wasn’t a big office, it had turned out just as she’d designed it. Three walls were painted starfish orange, and various posters of flowers, including several Georgia O’Keeffe prints (gifts from her parents after opening her store) scattered the walls. Her cherry wood desk sat in front of a floor-to-ceiling window, which overlooked a row of rose bushes that she’d planted to make the gray slate building across the street less of an offense to look at, especially when she brought customers back to her office for meetings. Across the room was a square glass coffee table, which was made to look like a table at a dinner party with four place settings. In the center lay a large floral arrangement with fall-like colors of oranges and red roses, along with mini pine cones dispersed throughout, which Khloe had designed herself. Customers always praised the beautiful seasonal arrangements she created for the table, and these often helped make a sale for weddings, birthday parties, anniversaries, and even funerals.
After working for three florists during high school and college, Khloe knew she wanted to work in the floral business. Soon after graduating college with a degree in business, her then-boss promoted her to store manager. After six years, she felt she’d gained enough knowledge about the to open her own shop. She gave her two weeks’ notice, secured a loan, and opened Khloe’s Flower Shop. While it took time for things to get started and run smoothly, sales finally picked up, and just before Christmas, her store flourished. That was last year, and she had high expectations for the upcoming holiday season. Owning her shop meant everything to her, especially because it distracted her from her non-existent love life.
Right then, her phone rang.
“Hi, Mom,” Khloe said, after checking the caller-ID on her cell phone, plopping herself down, and taking a seat at her desk.
“You sound perky,” Linda joked, commenting on Khloe’s monotonous tone.
After toggling the mouse to wake up her computer, Khloe observed the numerous overnight orders that had come in. “It’s just going to be another crazy and busy day at the shop.”
“That’s great, honey. I’m very happy your store is doing so well, but maybe it’s time to focus your efforts on finding yourself a man. Like I’ve told you, I had a lot of trouble conceiving you because I was in my early forties, and don’t forget, you’re not getting any younger. I’d love to be able to play with my grandchildren.”
At thirty-one, the only child of Linda and Kyle Harper, Khloe was never pushed to be perfect or meet her parents’ desires, but just as she had when she was a young girl, on occasion, she still felt the need to please her parents. “Mom, we’ve gone over this a hundred times, and right now, my shop takes up all of my time.” In truth, it didn’t, but Khloe wasn’t ready to have her heart broken again.
“I know, I know, and I’m sorry to hound you about it, but I want you to be happy—really happy.” She paused, then added in a softer tone, “I just wish you wouldn’t be afraid to get back out there. I mean, after Josh hurt you…”
Just the mention of Josh’s name was enough. “Mom, I know you and Dad thought I’d marry Josh, but he really hurt me.” She covered half of her face with her hand and tried to shake the memory away, but like a strong wind, the memory of his betrayal swooped in, causing her to relive the pain.
“I appreciate your sentiment and know you want only the best for me, but I’m doing okay.”
“If you say so, dear, but if those bells on your door chime, and Mr. Right walks through, take him by the hand, marry him, and give me grandchildren.” Her mother’s over-excitement stung Khloe’s ears. She loved her mother, but sometimes she was too brash.
Her mother sighed. “Okay, I’m sorry. I’ll try not to dig into your love life, but know I’m always here to listen. Anyway,” she began with enthusiasm as she changed the subject, “your father and I went to the Mumm winery over the weekend, and we shipped you two more cases. You should be expecting them within the next few days.”
“Thanks,” Khloe said, trying to sound thrilled as she leaned back in her chair and saw the five wooden cases she’d received last week, having taken only one home. “It’s definitely a perk when I pull out a bottle meeting with my customers, and, as you know, it’s my favorite. Oh, and how’s Dad, by the way?” she asked, changing the topic.
“As a matter of fact, right now, for the third time this week, he’s out with his golf buddies. One would’ve never known he’s a cancer survivor.”
Khloe laughed, feeling her heart warm, thankful that her dad was well taken care of by his doctors. “Well, I’m glad to hear things haven’t changed and he’s doing well.” At the sound of a ding, her computer signaled another order had come in. “Well, Mom, I have to go, but give Dad my best and tell him I love him.” After they said their goodbyes, Khloe hung up with her mother and got to work.