Christina Cole Romance

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Jared’s Bouquet – A Valentine’s Story

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As Valentine’s Day approaches, romance authors everywhere are gearing up to celebrate. This is our holiday, that one special time of the year when all thoughts turn to love and romance, to candy, kisses, and tender expressions of adoration and undying affection.

I love Valentine’s Day, and as a gift to you, I’m going to share one of the many short stories I’ve written over the years in honor of the holiday.

Jared’s Bouquet

Short Story by Christina Cole

Flower Bouquet

The bell above the shop door jingled brightly. Putting a smile on her face, Angela Taylor set aside the bouqet she’d been working on and turned.

“May I help –“

She stopped short, blinked, and glanced at the bell.

No one stood before the tall, wooden counter.

Angela might have worried that she’d lost her mind if it hadn’t been for the chubby little hand reaching up.  She smiled and leaned over the counter.  A small boy with big blue eyes and a huge smile looked up.

“I want to buy some flowers.” He opened his hand to show her the gleaming copper pennies he held. “Lots of flowers.” His smiled grew bigger and brighter. “For Valentine’s Day.” The boy turned his hand over and let the coins drop to the counter.

Angela’s heart ached. She recognized the child. Jared Manning. He lived with his father in the little house next door to the florist’s shop. A year before, on a cold January day, both Angela and the shop owner had stayed busy making floral arrangements for Suzanne Manning’s funeral. Only twenty-seven, Jared’s mother had lost control of her car on an icy hill.

Sadly missed by husband and son …

She saw Jared almost every morning when she came to work. She made a point to smile and wave. He always returned her greeting with a smile of his own.

“Hi, sweetie. “ Angela peered down, barely able to see beyond the tears welling in her eyes. Maybe she could find a few less-than-perfect blooms — ones destined for the trash bin — and gather them up for the child. “Let’s see what we can do,” she suggested.

Jared nodded. “My mommy’s in heaven. Did you know that?” He didn’t wait for a reply. “My daddy says she’s still watching over us. He says she’s in our hearts.”

Angela cleared her throat, afraid her tears would spill down her cheeks. Touched by the thought of this brave little boy buying flowers for his mother in heaven, she silently vowed to  create the perfect bouquet. No less-than-perfect blooms would do. No wilted stems or misshapen blossoms. Only the best for this cherubic little angel.

She stepped out from the behind the counter and held out her hand. “Let’s look around a bit. You can tell me which flowers you like best.”

He smiled and placed his hand in hers.  “I think I like those.” He pointed toward the roses, then shook his head. “I don’t know. What do you like?” Big blue eyes looked up at her.

“Oh, I like roses,” Angela assured him. “I think every woman likes roses. What color?”

Jared shrugged. “I don’t know. What’s your favorite?”

She opened the display case and took out several yellow roses. “How about these?”

He grinned.  “Yeah, I like those. And maybe some of those flowers over there?”

Angela winced when he pointed toward the orchids.

“Do I have enough money for them?” Jared asked.

“Yes, honey.” She barely made enough to pay her bills and put food on the table, but his financial woes didn’t matter.  She’d buy a few cans of tuna on sale next week. Live on ramen noodles and peanut butter sandwiches. Whatever it took, Jared would have the bouquet he wanted.

He scurried through the shop, pointing here, pointing there, and Angela followed along, plucking only the most perfect blooms for Jared.

The bell above the door jangled again and a harried-looking older woman burst in.

“Jared Michael! There you are! I’ve been looking everywhere for you.” She rushed across the shop and swept him into her arms.

“I told you I wanted to get some flowers, Granny. Didn’t you listen?”

She ignored Jared and turned toward Angela. “I’m sorry if he’s been bothering you.

“No problem. He hasn’t been a bother at all.”

“I look after him, you know, while his father is working.” the grandmother said. “Sometimes it’s a little hard for me to keep up with him.” She let out a long breath. “If he comes over here again, just send him back home, all right?”

Once again the bell jangled and through the door came Missy Cadwallader, the shop’s owner. She’d been out making deliveries all morning.

“Do you have the next round of orders finished?” she asked, glancing toward the unfinished bouquet on the worktable. “What have you been doing while I’ve been gone? And what are you doing with those flowers in your hands?”

Jared’s grandmother took that as her cue to leave. With Jared safely in her arms, she waved good-bye and hurried out.

Angela stared down at the roses, the orchid, and the crazy assortment of other colorful blossoms.

“Working on a special order,” she said, returning to her workstation.

Missy went to the receipt book. “I don’t see any new order written up. And I’m still waiting on the ones you were supposed to have ready. I told you I’d be back at eleven. You know I’ll be out making deliveries all day. I’m counting on you to keep up here.”

Angela nodded. “Yes, ma’am. I’ll get back to work right now.”

She placed Jared’s special bouquet in a vase of water, then returned to her work table.

“Who’s that special order for?” Missy asked.  She grabbed a pencil and jotted down a few notes. “It’s going to run $119.75. Did you get payment in advance?”

“I’m paying for it. Take it out of my check.” Angela lifted her chin. “The special order is mine.”

Missy sighed. “What’s really going on?”

While Angela worked, she told Missy about Jared’s visit. “He’s buying a bouquet for his mother. In heaven.” She brushed away a tear.

“No, he’s not. You’re buying a bouquet.”

“Well, you know what I mean.”

“You’re a real bleeding heart, aren’t you.” Missy rolled her eyes. “It’s your money.” She began packing the boxes as Angela finished each Valentine arrangement. “Off for the next round of deliveries. I’ll be back in about an hour.”

Throughout the day, Angela continued working. From time to time she glanced toward Jared’s unfinished bouquet. She really couldn’t afford to pay such an exorbitant price. And the sweet little boy next door had probably forgotten all about it. Maybe it would be best to put the roses back in the display, the orchid, too. And the other flowers, as well.

Angela reached for the roses, then drew back her hand. It didn’t matter how much it cost. The child’s love was priceless.

For the rest of the day, Angela smiled as she worked. She could hardly wait for quitting time. Once the shop closed, she turned her attention back to Jared’s bouquet. She added in a bit of baby’s breath, a few sprigs of ferns. She carefully arranged the flowers, tied a yellow ribbon around the vase, and re-figured the cost to include all she’d added.

Never mind how much it costs. It’s worth it.

Wrapping the bouquet carefully, she bid Missy good-night and stepped outside. She turned toward the little house next door and hurried toward it, anticipating the happiness she would see on Jared’s face.

She knocked at the door, expecting the boy’s grandmother to answer. Instead, when the door opened, a handsome, blond-haired man stood in front of her.  He looked very much like an older version of Jared.  His blue eyes held a touch of sadness.

“I think you must have the wrong house,” he explained, nodding toward the bouquet in her hands. “I didn’t order –“

“Daddy!  My flowers!  They’re here!”  Jared dashed past his father and ran to Angela. He jumped up and down, shouting for his father to look.  “See, Daddy! I bought all these flowers!”

Angela bent down and carefully handed the bouquet to the boy. Her heart felt as though it might burst with joy. She turned and walked back toward the store. Her car was parked in the lot behind the red-brick building.

“Miss! Wait a minute.” Jared’s father called after her. “I don’t know what this is all about, but –“  He stopped and looked down. Jared was pulling on his sleeve.  “What is it, son?”

“You’re supposed to give the flowers to her.”  He pointed in Angela’s direction.

“Well, yes, that’s what I’m going to do.” He came to her. “I have no idea why you brought these flowers over –“ He stopped again. As before, Jared stood at his side, tugging at his sleeve.

“Now, you ask to her be your valentine.”

“Jared, what –“

“She picked out all her favorite flowers.” His chubby face glowed. “I made sure she got just what she wanted.”

Angela’s mouth fell open. She looked at Jared. “I thought you wanted the flowers for your mother.”

“She’s in heaven,” Jared said, pointing toward the evening sky. “And in our hearts, too,” he added. “But since she’s in heaven, I don’t have any way to give her flowers.”  He looked at Angela and then at his father. “But, she’s here, Daddy, and I think you’d like her. She always smiles and waves to me. And don’t you think she’s pretty?”

A deep blush heated Angela’s cheeks. She didn’t know what to say.

“Yes, Jared, I do think she’s very pretty.” Jared’s father looked into her eyes.

“Give her the flowers, Daddy.”

“I don’t even know your name,” the man said, his voice soft and gentle. “But I think I’d like to get to know you.  I’m Robert, by the way. Robert Manning.”

Jared tugged again at his father’s sleeve. “The flowers.”  He reached up, took the bouquet from his father’s hands and let out a very long, important-sounding breath. “Here’s how you do it, Daddy.” He held the flowers out toward Angela. “Will you be his valentine? Please? Ever since Mommy went to heaven, he’s been all alone. Well, except for me. But we’re both alone. So I just thought maybe –“

Robert stepped forward. “Jared, I think I can handle it from here.” He grinned at his son, then smiled at Angela. “This is a little awkward, but will you be my valentine, Miss –“

“Miss Taylor. Angela Taylor.” She lifted the bouquet and inhaled the sweet fragrances.

“I’ll pay for the flowers, Angela.”

“No need.”

“I insist.”

“We can talk about it.”

“Over dinner?”

She smiled. “I think I’d like that.”

“Will you be my valentine?”

She smiled again.  “Yes, I think I’d like that, too.”

Angela and Robert exchanged glances.  No one could know what the future might hold or where this impromptu meeting might lead. But it didn’t matter, really, did it?  Life was short, and every moment deserved to be lived and enjoyed to the fullest.

That’s what really counted in life. Making the most of whatever life handed you.

She glanced down at the flowers she held and smiled once more.

* * * *

I hope you enjoyed the story of Jared and his special bouquet.

This blog post is part of the “Love is in the Air” blog hop, with prizes at every stop along the way.

Love is in the Ai

Love is in the Air

I’m giving away 3 ebooks — Winners may choose the title they’d like:

  • Irresistible
  • Happily Ever After
  • Summertime
  • The Wrong Woman
  • Not the Marrying Kind

To enter, leave a comment on this post, then click the giveaway link below:

Christina’s Giveaway

Giveaway ends on February 14.

Winners will be announced and notified within 48 hours.

Now, for more fun and more prizes, visit the other romance authors who are taking part in the “Love is in the Air” celebration.

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Author: christinacoleromance

Christina Cole believes in the power of love. She writes romance novels with characters you'll care about and remember long after the end of the story.

40 thoughts on “Jared’s Bouquet – A Valentine’s Story

  1. This is a sweet and beautiful story. With a good lesson for us all to stop, smell the flowers, and appreciate those around us.

  2. Great post 🙂

  3. Absolutely love this! I knew somehow that it would be for her, I just knew. Guess you and me do think alike… 🙂
    And totally agree with Laure on smelling the flowers.

  4. This was a little short story I wrote one morning for a group called “Tuesday Tales”. Each week, we would have a “word prompt”. We would write a short story or share an excerpt from a WIP using the word. For the week of Valentine’s Day a couple years ago, the prompt was “flowers”. I got up on Tuesday, realized I hadn’t written a post, so I quickly sat down and did this little story. I was very surprised by the positive responses I got. Last Thursday, I suddenly discovered I’d signed up to take part in the “Love is in the Air” hop — and had no idea what to post. I thought back to the impromptu story and figured it could “save” me once again. I have another Valentine’s story you might enjoy. Long and Short published it for their Valentine’s story in 2010. I think you can still find it in the archives.

    http://longandshortarchives.blogspot.com/2010/02/be-careful-with-your-heart-by-christina.html

  5. That was adorable! What a cute little kid (and conniving too lol)

  6. This was a sweet read, enjoyed it.

  7. Hi Christina! What a lovely story! Thanks so much for sharing it.

  8. thanks for the short sweet read! 🙂 and thanks for joining the blog hop! 🙂 love it!

  9. Pingback: “May I Quote You on That?” |

  10. I loved every thing about the story. It’s a perfect picture of Valentines Day, Christmas, and every other holiday wrapped up into one breathtaking embrace of love. Thank you! 🙂

  11. I just posted a comment and forgot to mention that I signed up in the giveaway as Amber McCallister.

  12. I loved this. It was great. Thank you for sharing this with us.

  13. That was nice

    bn100candg at hotmail dot com

  14. What a wonderful story! Thanks for sharing. Happy Valentine’s Day!

  15. I am working on telling people in my life that I love them. I am getting better at it.

  16. Itell all the people in my circle everyday how much i love them after I lost my sister and my dad in a 6 month period it put things in a perspective

    mortalsinn@yahoo.com

    • I know exactly what you mean. I lost my little sister a few years ago, and I still miss her. So many times I want to pick up the phone and call her…and then I remember, I can’t do that. Life is short.
      Thank you, Beverly, for dropping by and sharing your thoughts.

  17. We should all stop and smell the roses. It’s so important to appreciate the people you love.

    Mary
    mary_reiss @ hotmail.com

  18. What a sweet story. Thank you for sharing it.

    lkish77123 at gmail dot com

  19. Thanks for the giveaway. Happy Valentine’s Day!
    cosgrove.julia@yahoo.com

  20. A great little story perfect for the holiday!!

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