Authors: Mallory Rush
Bad Boy of New Orleans
Bestselling, Award-winning Author
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The flowers hadn't arrived yet. Micah checked the clock again—9:00 a.m.—where
they? Maybe she should call the florist to make sure they hadn't forgotten...
Don't be ridiculous, she chided herself. After all, she didn't even
the flowers, they just came, like clockwork every day for the past month.
Micah plucked at the white blouse that clung with humid tenacity to her skin and stole
another glance out the leaded glass window. Still no flowers—except for the azalea
bushes and magnolia trees, and they didn't count. Everyone in New Orleans owned some
of those. Early May transformed even the plainest homes into perfume paradises of
fuchsia and white blooms.
She sighed and forced herself away from the window and back to the dog-eared section
of the want ads.
Today was grimmer than usual.
She scratched out a receptionist position she'd circled earlier. Typing was required.
She was pretty sure twenty words per minute probably wouldn't cut it. She continued
down the column until she reached the W's.
"Waitress," she muttered. She poised the pen, then read on: "Must have background
in serving etiquette for prestigious establishment."
She had etiquette, but not
etiquette. She sighed and pitched the paper into the ornate fireplace. Nothing today.
From outside she heard the sound of an engine's sustained rumble. Micah jumped off
the worn Victorian sofa and dashed to the window.
The flowers! They were here! She hadn't realized how much she looked forward to them
until she thought the mysterious sender had forgotten her.
Long ingrained rules dictated she wait patiently until the delivery man knocked on
"Hi, Theo!" she called from the veranda as the teenager alighted from the, driver's
seat. "I was almost getting worried that you weren't coming today. Need some help
getting that out?"
"'Afternoon, Ms. Sinclair. Thanks for the offer, but I can handle it. Got you a big
one today. 'Fraid that's why I was running so late. Those little posies were one thing,
Why, you're not gonna believe it." He opened the side door and leaned in. "Someone
must really think a lot of you. Why, they even sent this fancy crystal container over
to put them in. Good thing. We didn't have anything big enough to hold it all."
He turned around and Micah gasped. She was at the gate, and held onto the black iron
grille work to support herself.
"Oh, my word," she breathed. "Who in the world—"
"Reckon you might be about to find out. This one has a card attached."
"A card? You mean I finally get a card?" Micah fought the urge to scramble through
the arrangement to snatch it.
"The messenger who brought the big vase said to be sure to enclose the note. It was
sealed nice and tight."
She led him into the house and over to the entry table before quickly gathering up
the plumed quill and guest book to make space. Theo carefully set down his burden,
gave a once-over to the surroundings, and sniffed.
"Not that we mind the business, Ms. Sinclair, but this place is starting to look more
like a wedding hall or a funeral parlor—" His face turned beet-red before he rushed
on, "I'm sorry... I didn't mean to—"
"Don't feel bad, Theo. You didn't upset me."
"Well... it's only been a month. I know you're still mourning... and..." He ducked
his head. "Well, you know what I mean."
She felt like a fraud. Keeping up the pretense of mourning was tough, and poor Theo
had been her daily dupe. Ever since he'd delivered several of the funeral sprays then
followed those up the next day with a single red rose minus a card. She remembered
how he'd mumbled his personal condolences even though they were strangers. The memory
made her feel doubly guilty now.
"Of course I know what you mean. Now take this for my thanks and go see a movie with
your girl." She took out a ten hidden in the back of the guest book and pressed it
into his hand. Micah tried not to think about how low her gas tank was. "After all,
you deserve it for hauling that botanical garden over here."
When he tried to refuse, she shooed him out the door.
At last! She turned her attention to the fragrance tantalizing her nostrils. It was
the scent of curiosity more than the exotic bouquet drawing her near.