She’s right. There’s so much junk. It’ll take forever to clear this place out. “I have no idea. I guess I’ll be busting my ass for a while before I can even think about decorating.”

“When’s your last day at the marketing firm?”


I smile. “Yesterday.”

She releases a sigh, and then shakes her head. “Oh, Lily. I certainly hope this works out in your favor.”

We both begin to stand when the front door opens. There are shelves in the way of the door, so I careen my head around them and see a woman walk in. Her eyes briefly scan the room until she sees me.

“Hi,” she says with a wave. She’s cute. She’s dressed well, but she’s wearing white capris. A disaster waiting to happen in this dust bowl.

“Can I help you?”

She tucks her purse beneath her arm and walks toward me, holding out her hand. “I’m Allysa,” she says. I shake her hand.


She tosses a thumb over her shoulder. “There’s a help wanted sign out front?”

I look over her shoulder and raise an eyebrow. “There is?” I didn’t put up a help wanted sign.

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She nods, and then shrugs. “It looks old, though,” she says. “It’s probably been there a while. I was just out for a walk and saw the sign. Was curious, is all.”

I like her almost immediately. Her voice is pleasant and her smile seems genuine.

My mother’s hand falls down on my shoulder and she leans in and kisses me on the cheek. “I have to go,” she says. “Open house tonight.” I tell her goodbye and watch her walk outside, then turn my attention back to Allysa.

“I’m not really hiring yet,” I say. I wave my hand around the room. “I’m opening up a floral shop, but it’ll be a couple of months, at least.” I should know better than to hold preconceived judgments, but she doesn’t look like she’d be satisfied with a minimum wage job. Her purse probably cost more than this building.

Her eyes light up. “Really? I love flowers!” She spins around in a circle and says, “This place has a ton of potential. What color are you painting it?”

I cross my arm over my chest and grab my elbow. Rocking back on my heels, I say, “I’m not sure. I just got the keys to the building an hour ago, so I haven’t really come up with a design plan yet.”

“Lily, right?”

I nod.

“I’m not going to pretend I have a degree in design, but it’s my absolute favorite thing. If you need any help, I’d do it for free.”

I tilt my head. “You’d work for free?”

She nods. “I don’t really need a job, I just saw the sign and thought, ‘What the heck?’ But I do get bored sometimes. I’d be happy to help you with whatever you need. Cleaning, decorating, picking out paint colors. I’m a Pinterest whore.” Something behind me catches her eye and she points. “I could take that broken door and make it magnificent. All this stuff, really. There’s a use for almost everything, you know.”

I look around at the room, knowing full well I’m not going to be able to tackle this by myself. I probably can’t even lift half this stuff alone. I’ll eventually have to hire someone anyway. “I’m not going to let you work for free. But I could do $10 an hour if you’re really serious.”

She starts clapping, and if she weren’t in heels, she might have jumped up and down. “When can I start?”

I glance down at her white capris. “Will tomorrow work? You’ll probably want to show up in disposable clothes.”

She waves me off and drops her Hermès bag on a dusty table next to her. “Nonsense,” she says. “My husband is watching the Bruins play at a bar down the street. If it’s okay, I’ll just hang with you and get started right now.”

• • •

Two hours later, I’m convinced I’ve met my new best friend. And she really is a Pinterest whore.

We write “Keep” and “Toss” on sticky notes, and slap them on everything in the room. She’s a fellow believer in upcycling, so we come up with ideas for at least 75 percent of the stuff left in the building. The rest she says her husband can throw out when he has free time. Once we know what we’re going to do with all the stuff, I grab a notebook and a pen and we sit at one of the tables to write down design ideas.

“Okay,” she says, leaning back in her chair. I want to laugh, because her white capris are covered in dirt now, but she doesn’t seem to care. “Do you have a goal for this place?” she asks, glancing around.

“I have one,” I say. “Succeed.”

She laughs. “I have no doubt you’ll succeed. But you do need a vision.”

I think about what my mother said. “Just make sure it’s brave and bold, Lily.” I smile and sit up straighter in my chair. “Brave and bold,” I say. “I want this place to be different. I want to take risks.”

She narrows her eyes as she chews on the tip of the pen. “But you’re just selling flowers,” she says. “How can you be brave and bold with flowers?”

I look around the room and try to envision what I’m thinking. I’m not even sure what I’m thinking. I’m just getting itchy and restless, like I’m on the verge of a brilliant idea. “What are some words that come to mind when you think of flowers?” I ask her.