The Flower LadybyCathleen©
Many thanks to UnseenChagrin for her editing skills and encouragement, this is for her.
Leah stood in puzzled silence as the deliveryman came into her workshop. He was delivering a beautiful bouquet of flowers. Her amazement was well founded because she was a floral designer with her own highly successful business. Who would send her flowers? She thanked the man for dropping them off and asked him to say hello to Paul, his boss, a friend of hers and fellow designer.
The flowers were lovely and Paul’s hand could be seen in the imaginative design, full of color and style. Leah looked at the card attached with wonder. It only said “To my flower lady” with no name. Odd, she thought again, who would send me flowers? Leah immediately called Paul’s shop for information on the sender; he could only tell her that a woman he hadn’t known came in to place the order for a friend. Nothing else. Paul was as surprised as Leah. He’d never done an arrangement for a fellow designer either, they laughed with one another and exchanged pleasantries and caught up. But in the end Leah still had no more information than when she’d begun. She was surprised but that wouldn’t interfere with her enjoyment of the gift.
Leah had a very good business. She was a highly sought after floral designer. Her talents were very well known throughout the country as she had become famous for celebrity weddings, as well as providing designs for The White House on occasion. Leah traveled quite a lot; most recently it was for a special wedding, a last minute request from a friend that had taken her to Los Angeles again. She didn’t much like it out there but she loved her work so much that she couldn’t say no. The wedding was beautiful, as was her work. Her staff had worked tirelessly to provide everything the bride requested, right down to the handmade floral napkin rings and floral note cards with fresh hand pressed flowers for each of the lady guests. It wasn’t a large wedding but a very detailed one and it was done beautifully of course, she had never failed to personalize each event marking her style.
It had been a tiring trip and she was glad to be home, back to her beloved Boston. She had been raised outside the city, in a smallish town. She now lived in the city, in the Back Bay area, where elegant and pricey shops mixed with the old world charm of the Brownstones. Leah loved this city, she would stroll along Newbury and Boylston Streets in the afternoons looking at the boutique windows and the people. There was always something to see and do in town and she tried to make time for her favorite places like the Museum of Fine Arts, The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum and The Museum of Science. A favorite walk was along the Charles River on the Cambridge side or a walk through Harvard Square, full of students and great sights.
Her home and studio were in the same building. She had purchased it years ago and refurbished the top two floors for her home. From her place she had a great view of the Charles River and the city of Cambridge as well as the Back Bay itself. Her taste was simple but classically elegant, and her contemporary flair blended well with the old building. She had worked hard to restore the building and her home; it had all the modern conveniences she needed or wanted. She was very happy with how it all came together. Her home had been showcased in Boston Magazine for its creative restoration. Mostly it was just home to her, not a show house.
Her design studio was on the lower two floors with a smaller space for her retail shop. Her calendar was booked at least two years in advance for the larger events but she always found time in the schedule for her local clients, many of whom were now her friends. None of the success went to her head though; she just loved her work and was so very grateful others enjoyed it too. In fact, to be able to say Leah did the designs for your affair was high prestige in Boston, as well as elsewhere.
As time went on she preferred not to take on so many events that had her travel, she was a homebody by nature and the travel wore on her. This most recent trip out West was her last for some time she hoped, unless she couldn’t refuse another friend. The highlight of this last trip wasn’t the event this time, it was him.
She had run into Brad. They had grown up in the same neighborhood and had even attended college together, although he was a few years older. They had a very special friendship, in fact they had dated in their early twenties but when her business took off and his job took him to Maine they weren’t able to sustain their dating relationship. Over time he had met someone, they married when she became pregnant, thus putting an end to any thought of resuming the relationship with Leah as it had been.
She loved him so much but wouldn’t let the world see her hurt; she kept it inside like a tumor. She tried to banish him through her work; even the one-night stands wouldn’t do it. Leah knew in her heart of hearts, she would always love him and he was gone from her. Even when Brad moved back to the Boston area they didn’t see each other often, perhaps because of the bittersweet feelings seeing one another brought forth or maybe because of the temptation.
When her eye caught his at the trendy LA restaurant she did a double take. Her heart started to beat so quickly that she could feel it in her throat. He always made her feel so much, and now was no different. He was with some clients and they didn’t get to visit for too long, it was maddening, they were three thousand miles from home and it was here they saw each other but still could not spend any length of time with one another. They only were able to catch up on family and friends, who was doing what and where, how many kids, how old they all were, that kind of thing. Not even having time to inquire about each other, as time was so short. She felt as if every memory and his every touch had materialized within her at that moment leaving her with a physical ache and longing she’d denied for so long. Leah always missed him; but this went beyond missing.
Coming back home and with her busy summer season ending and before the holidays were upon them she decided to take some time to visit friends and family. Some days she would travel north and see friends in New Hampshire, Vermont or Maine, other days she spent on the cape with family. It was meant to be a restful time, a time to renew and refresh and reflect but she only grew more restless. She spent time sketching designs and ideas but her concentration was gone, her focus for the first time in a long time was on him. Brad invaded her thoughts and dreams, even her daydreams. She’d not allowed that in a long while but she couldn’t control it, she didn’t want to either. Leah would touch her face and it was him touching her. Her whole being would respond to her core, to her womanly depths.
Today back in her studio, with the phones ringing, the work piling up, Leah had to get away from the studio; that flower delivery from an unknown sender had shaken her more than she wanted to admit. She made her way into the Public Gardens passing the famous Swan Boats and looking always for the famous ducks that made their summer home on the small island inside the lagoon. The paddled Swan Boats gave a nice tour of the twenty-four acre area that was The Public Gardens; the riders could take in the numerous garden beds as well as the area where the Make Way for Ducklings story was born. This day she found a nice grassy area and placed her blanket down, her view was of the gardens looking toward Beacon Hill and the State House with its golden dome. The sun was gleaming off the dome and it created a reflection in the waters. This was her home, her town. She was finally feeling her inner stability; she tried to will it back.
She hadn’t noticed him approaching; she was too caught up in her sketching when the sunlight was blocked. When she looked up, there he was. Brad.
“Brad!! What are you doing in the city? Wow it’s so nice to see you, please sit!!” Her excitement was charging out of her mouth. Her physical reaction was hidden in her private areas.
“Hello Leah” he said as he sat next to her on the blanket. He leaned in to give her a kiss and she returned it too, a friendly kiss, but for Leah, it was always bittersweet.
“So, tell me, what are you doing here today?” She was the curious sort, never nosey, just friendly.
“I had a meeting with some developers who want to rehab a building over on Arlington Street. It’s a farfetched idea, but you know, it just may work. Stranger things have happened.” He was looking at her in a way that made her blush, or maybe she was imagining it. In truth, she was hoping actually.
He was so easy to talk with and they always were able to share everything. The two friends sat for a while in silence too. There was never an uncomfortable moment between them ever. He’d talk, she’d listen, she’d talk, he’d listen; it was always easy for them. So when Brad asked her about who she was dating it caught her off guard, for that was one topic they never discussed since their lives went in separate directions. As if it had become off limits. He was married and she had resigned herself to that fact and he never asked her whom she was seeing. It was an unspoken rule of sorts. When she fell silent for more than a moment, he noticed.
“Umm, well, actually I am not seeing anyone special right now. I mean not a lot anyway.” She was lying she knew but it was just an uncomfortable topic for her, especially with him!
“Oh, I would have figured you’d be out with someone new every night Leah.” He was laughing lightly as if to ask a question of it, hoping to find more answers without having to really ask.
“Very funny Brad, very funny. So, tell me, how are the kids and Jane?” She was good at pushing questions off on the other person.
“The kids are great, thanks, they are twenty-two now can you believe it?” Not waiting for her answer he continued, “As for Jane, well, I don’t know. She has been living in Florida for more than a year, Leah.”
“Brad, what is that about, why is she there? Are her parents okay?” Leah was genuinely concerned.
“She left. She didn’t want to be married anymore and she left.” There was a touch of sadness but Leah noticed not that much actually.
They talked about what happened to his marriage, what the twins were doing now and how he was adjusting to his new life. It was a conversation she never thought she’d be having with him ever. Even though he and Jane were never the ideal couple, they seemed to make it work. She knew no one can ever know what really goes on between couples. And this was no exception. Leah was shocked and sad for her friend. He assured her he was happy, in fact happier than he had been for a long time. She felt terrible, not just for the breakup but because she was secretly glad.
As the two friends talked neither had noticed the time and it was approaching darkness and time to move from their spot in the gardens. He mentioned getting some dinner and they walked over to Boylston Street to a casual pub style place. They hadn’t spent this much time together in years and it was as if the years had never happened. They just picked up where they had left off all those years ago. He was about to place an offer on a Brownstone on Beacon Street and move his business into the city. He didn’t need the big house in the suburbs and wanted to make a change anyway. They would once again be neighbors and both were thrilled to be with each other again. It was a happy evening for them, full of laughter and even love. She was as much in love with Brad as she was at twenty-five. She wondered would she be able to take the risk again and love him. Did he still love her the same way? Her mind was on a roller coaster of her own making.
They parted with plans to meet again soon, very soon he said. She wasn’t sure but he seemed to want to kiss her goodnight and not the friendly goodnight kiss. She dared not wish it though, that heartache thing. Brad called her the next day to ask her to meet him at the Brownstone on Beacon; he wanted her opinion on it before he made the offer. She’d gladly meet him; there wasn’t a hesitation when she agreed to be there at noon. It seemed as though not a day had passed between them, it was so natural to be there for each other.
She spent the afternoon in her studio drawing plans for a holiday party for a client. She heard one of her assistants calling her to the showroom. Again, Leah stood in disbelief, for in walked Rick the deliveryman from Paul’s floral shop with another arrangement for her. The card attached had the same message “To my flower lady” with no name. Again she called Paul; again he told Leah the same. The only difference with this delivery was it also included her favorite chocolates too. Paul said the woman had brought them with her as well. He was as in the dark just as much as Leah.
The next day was the same thing; in walked Rick with flowers and a card that read “To my flower lady” only. She instantly called Paul yet again. The extra item included were earrings that she had admired a few weeks back at local jewelers on Newbury Street. Again, Paul had no information except this time it was a different woman that came in with the gift and placed the order. Leah was getting nervous. Who was this person and why were they sending her the flowers and gifts? She asked Paul to try to get any information from the woman.
Each day brought the same routine now. Each time a different gift, one day a beautiful silk scarf that went perfectly with a coat she had, another day a pin of the Swan Boats, and then one day a beautiful watercolor of the Boston Public Gardens was carried in by Rick. This was getting more than odd Leah thought and she called Paul to help her. She would plant herself in his shop if she had to, this was more than enough, and she was nervous. She couldn’t shake the feeling of being watched and that person knowing incredibly personal things about her.
Leah was planning to meet Brad for dinner that night; she decided she would talk with him about it. She’d not mentioned anything to him about these gifts, she was feeling awkward about bringing it up, and she didn’t want him to think she was seeing someone else. Not that it would matter she thought, he wasn’t doing anything to make her think they would rekindled their relationship beyond the friendship they shared. But she felt she needed help. Today’s delivery had sealed that decision for her.
As if on schedule Rick arrived with another bouquet but this time the added gift was a small bottle of fragrance oil she loved. It was found only in a small shop on Nantucket Island and was a special blend the owner had made just for her. How would someone know something so personal? How did they get that information? She called the shop on Nantucket and asked, but Steven the owner was off island and his employee couldn’t help her. Now she was downright scared.
Brad had left a message saying he was called into a late meeting and would she mind if they changed plans totally. Instead of meeting at the Prudential Center, would she come to the Bay Tower Room on State Street near Quincy Marketplace? Leah was more than agreeable, for she loved the Bay Tower Room, it was one of the best views of Boston Harbor in the city and it was a special place for them both. For way back when, he had taken her there to celebrate their first year anniversary of dating. She never forgot that night; it was one of the most romantic evenings of her life. She was reeling from the fear these deliveries created but she couldn’t stop thinking of that particular night and she lost herself in the dream of it.
Leah dressed carefully for tonight’s dinner, choosing a special dress that showed off her body well. She had her hair down in a simple style that was almost sexy in appearance. She felt good, very good. She left a few notes for her employee and grabbed a cab to downtown. She was a bit early but didn’t mind as she sat at a table overlooking the city and remembering. Brad was right on time; he was never late she reminded herself. He looked wonderful to her, and he brought her a single red rose. She was touched by his gesture. Not many people would think to give a florist a gift of a flower, but not Brad, he knew she had loved flowers since they were kids.
They settled down to a wonderful dinner and enjoyed each other very much. They danced to the jazz trio; they shared a dessert and sipped their coffee. There was no hurry for either of them; they were engrossed in each other absolutely. Leah had even forgotten to talk with Brad about these deliveries. They were just lost in each other’s presence. It was truly a romantic evening and neither seemed to want it to end. He took her hand and for the first time they talked about their relationship. They were in heaven, for they knew they were in love with one another and they had always been in love with each other. Their time was finally here, it was now.
Brad took her hand and kissed it lightly telling her that the night was not over; he asked if she would accompany him back home. He had not moved into his new place on Beacon but that fact slipped her mind, she was too much in love to notice a small detail like that! They rode to her home chatting quietly with each other holding onto one another. Time stood still for this night. When they arrived on Newbury at her home they walked slowly up the front steps, stopping only to notice the couples strolling down the street arm in arm, just as they were now.
Inside her home, Leah kicked her shoes off as she entered and padded to the kitchen to make coffee. She thought Brad had wandered off to the living room, but when she went looking for him she didn’t find him there. She called his name and he responded that he was upstairs; he had wanted to show her something and asked if she would come join him. Leah climbed the stairs, curious as to what he was doing now. Was he playing a joke on her?
Leah’s heart skipped a beat when she entered her bedroom. The sights and sounds were awesome to her. There was Brad standing in the middle of her bedroom, which was lit with dozens of candles, and she heard the soft music playing from the stereo in the corner. She stood in silence; stunned silence. Her room looked beautiful, and then she noticed the scent, her room smelled beautiful too. Brad approached her with another signal red rose, presenting it to her with a kiss; a deep passionate kiss that held years of missing her and said he would miss her no longer. When he broke their kiss he stepped aside so she would see what he’d done.
Her bed was covered in red rose petals. Hundreds upon hundreds of rose petals, the scent filled the room; she knew now why her room smelled so lovely. The room was breathtaking, filled with scent and shadowed in soft color. Leah looked at Brad with love and surprise. Brad took her hand and guided her to the bed; there she found a white envelope with her name on it. When she opened the card she gasped, the card had one line that spoke a lifetime of love. The card read “To my flower lady, will you be mine forever?” Leah looked up at Brad and saw something glimmer in his hand. There she saw the most beautiful diamond and ruby ring she’d ever seen in her life.
“Leah, will you be my flower lady forever please?” Brad asked her so softly she thought she’d not truly heard him. But she did and she would.
“Brad, it was you! You sent the flowers and the gifts!”
“Yes, sweetheart it was me. I didn’t mean to scare you; I actually thought you would know right away.” He said with a bit of smile.
“Why, how would I know it was you?” She asked him but really the answer didn’t matter anymore.
“Leah, first please answer my question. Will you be my flower lady forever?”