It was official! The day had finally
arrived. On most February mornings, Susan Williams would bury
under the covers, but she couldn’t sleep. Today was the grand
opening of her florist shop. She jumped out of bed and planted
her feet firmly on the circular braided rug, then shoved her icy
toes into warm slippers and padded across the polished hardwood
floor. She peered outside. The sun hadn’t yet risen over the
snow-capped mountains to the east.
She’d graduated from the state
university with a degree in business two years ago, but sitting
in a stuffy office behind an oversized desk didn’t suit her.
Even as a little girl, she loved her mother’s flower garden and
picked roses, carnations, and sweet peas for her Nana. Susan
would arrange them in a vase and carry them next door for her
grandmother’s praise. Susan sighed. That was a very long time
ago. Nana always told her she’d make a wonderful hostess, wife,
and mother. She hadn’t met any of her grandmother’s
expectations, not yet anyway.
Susan had her heart broken once—and
once was enough. She’d dated Michael for four years. The week
before graduation she discovered she would not be included in
his plans to transfer to another state for his law degree.
Michael gave her the usual speech that it would be better for
both of them, and if they were meant to be together, then they’d
find each other again. Susan said goodbye, vowed she wouldn’t
give her heart away so easily a second time, and held little
hope of finding anyone in such a small town. Winton Springs just
didn’t have a thriving, unattached male population.
She pulled on jeans and a fresh, white
polo shirt and grabbed the new green apron. “I’m living my
dream, Nana,” she said, eyes looking heavenward. “I’ll find
someone someday. Give my guardian angel a little nudge and tell
him to send a nice, good-looking guy my way. Someone who will
stick.” She scanned the room and the frilly pink curtains, the
soft, white chenille bedspread tossed up against the pillows in
a half-hearted attempt to make her bed. This had been her room
for as long as she could remember. She bought the house from her
mother when she moved across town to the retirement village.
Susan’s Aunt Dorothy lived in Nana’s old place. “Maybe I need a
change, Nana. Maybe this new business adventure will lead the
way for other things to happen in my life. Wish me luck!”
Running down the stairs, Susan grabbed
a toaster pastry right out of the box and nibbled at the edges.
When the caterer delivers the food for the grand opening, I’ll
grab something then. Coffee—that’s what I need. She headed for
the car, scooping up the morning paper from the driveway.
Susan swung her car into the
drive-through of the one and only coffee place in Winton
Springs. She shook her head. Where would she find an eligible
male in this town? Population 5,321, as the sign read. She knew
everyone and no one fit her fantasy of a dream man. She’d have
to broaden her horizons, but today wasn’t the day. She had other
dreams to fill her schedule.
“Large caffé latte, nonfat milk, and a
pump of sugar-free hazelnut,” she said as she leaned through the
window and spoke to the ancient speaker.
“Hi, Susan,” said the voice in the box.
“Why don’t you just say, ‘my usual’? You get it every morning.”
“Donna?” Susan laughed. “Hi. I thought
you worked the counter.”
“No. Not today.
Lydia and I traded spots to
shake it up a bit.” Donna, the owner of the Coffee A Go Go,
giggled with her deep, hoarse laugh.
“Well, don’t shake up the locals too
much.” Susan looked into the rearview mirror and a moment of
surprise caught her off guard. A most interesting, definitely
nice-looking man stared right back. She lowered her eyes.
“See you at the window. That will be
five dollars and twenty-five cents.” Donna lowered her voice to
a whisper. “That’s the new minister at North Point.”
Susan waited until she reached the
window. She didn’t want Donna’s voice booming over the parking
lot and right into the car window to the rear. “That’s my
church. When did he get here?”
“He’s been in here the last couple of
weeks. You haven’t seen him?” Donna gave Susan her coffee with
one hand and took the money with the other.
“He hasn’t been preaching. The elders
must be breaking him in. He probably transferred from another
town.” Susan held a dollar tip in her hand and waved it
tauntingly at Donna. “What do you know about him?”
“You two order the same drink every
morning.” Donna grinned as Susan handed over the dollar.
“Hmm…thanks. That’s good to know.”
Susan smiled. “I gotta run. Drop by the shop today. It’s my
“Okay. I’ll stop by when I get off.”
The author has received recognition in
both fiction and nonfiction from: Enduring Romance top 10 picks
for 2008, William Saroyan Writing Conference, Byline Magazine,
Writer’s Journal Magazine and The Southern California
Genealogical Society. Her first novel, Alvarado Gold, was
published in 2007.
Victoria is a former staff technician
for the environmental sector working in air pollution control.
She is the mother of two daughters. Victoria and her husband
enjoy travel, church service and emergency radio communications.