Mom: A doctor, Lily? AND your own business? I want to be you when I grow up.

I screen-shot that one, too.


Chapter Twelve

“What are you doing to those poor flowers?” Allysa asks from behind me.

I clamp another silver washer closed and slide it down the stem. “Steampunk.”

We both stand back and admire the bouquet. At least . . . I hope she’s looking at it with admiration. It turned out better than I thought it would. I used florist dip dye to turn some white roses a deep purple. Then I decorated the stems with different steampunk elements, like tiny metal washers and gears, and even super-glued a small clock to the brown leather strap that’s holding the bouquet together.


“It’s a trend. Kind of a subgenre of fiction, but it’s catching on in other areas. Art. Music.” I turn around and smile, holding up the bouquet. “And now . . . flowers.”

Allysa takes the flowers from me and holds them up in front of her. “They’re so . . . weird. I love them so much.” She hugs them. “Can I have them?”

I pull them away from her. “No, they’re our grand opening display. Not for sale.” I take the flowers from her and grab the vase I made yesterday. I found a pair of old button-up women’s boots at a flea market last week. They reminded me of the steampunk style, and the boots are actually where I got the idea for the flowers. I washed the boots last week, dried them, and then super-glued pieces of metal to them. Once I brushed them with Mod Podge, I was able to line the inside with a vase to hold water for the flowers.

“Allysa?” I place the flowers on the center display table. “I’m pretty sure this is exactly what I was supposed to do with my life.”

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“Steampunk?” she asks.

I laugh and spin around. “Create!” I say. And then I flip the sign to open, fifteen minutes early.

We both spend the day busier than we thought we’d be. Between phone orders, Internet orders, and walk-ins, neither of us even has time to take a lunch break.

“You need more employees,” Allysa says as she passes me, holding two bouquets of flowers. That is at one o’clock.

“You need more employees,” she says to me at two o’clock, holding the phone to her ear and writing down an order while ringing someone up at the register.

Marshall stops by after three o’clock and asks how it’s going. Allysa says, “She needs more employees.”

I help a woman take a bouquet to her car at four o’clock, and as I’m walking back inside, Allysa is walking out, holding another bouquet. “You need more employees,” she says, exasperated.

At six o’clock, she locks the door and flips the sign. She falls against the door and slides to the floor, looking up at me.

“I know,” I tell her. “I need more employees.”

She just nods.

And then we laugh. I walk over to where she’s seated and I sit next to her. We lean our heads together and look at the store. The steampunk flowers are front and center, and although I refused to sell this particular bouquet, we had eight preorders for more of them.

“I’m proud of you, Lily,” she says.

I smile. “I couldn’t have done it without you, Issa.”

We sit there for several minutes, enjoying the rest we’re finally giving our feet. This was honestly one of the best days I’ve ever had, but I can’t help but feel a nagging sadness that Ryle never stopped by. He also never texted.

“Have you heard from your brother today?” I ask.

She shakes her head. “No, but I’m sure he’s just busy.”

I nod. I know he’s busy.

We both look up when someone knocks on the door. I smile when I see him cupping his hands around his eyes with his face pressed to the window. He finally looks down and sees us sitting on the floor.

“Speak of the devil,” Allysa says.

I jump up and unlock the door to let him in. As soon as I open it, he’s pushing his way inside. “I missed it? I did. I missed it.” He hugs me. “I’m sorry, I tried to get here as soon as I could.”

I hug him back and say, “It’s fine. You’re here. It was perfect.” I’m giddy with excitement that he made it at all.

“You’re perfect,” he says, kissing me.

Allysa brushes past us. “You’re perfect,” she mimics. “Hey Ryle, guess what?”

Ryle releases me. “What?”

Allysa grabs the trash can and drops it on the counter. “Lily needs to hire more employees.”

I laugh at her constant repetition. Ryle squeezes my hand and says, “Sounds like business was good.”

I shrug. “I can’t complain. I mean . . . I’m no brain surgeon, but I’m pretty good at what I do.”

Ryle laughs. “You guys need any help cleaning up?”

Allysa and I put him to work, helping us clean up after the big day. We get everything finished and prepped for tomorrow, and then Marshall arrives just as we’re finishing up. He’s carrying a bag when he walks inside and drops it on the counter. He begins to pull out huge lumps of some kind of material and tosses them at each of us. I catch mine and unfold it.

It’s a onesie.

With kittens all over it.

“Bruins game. Free beer. Suit up, team!”

Allysa groans and says, “Marshall, you made six million dollars this year. Do we really need free beer?”

He shoves a finger against her lips, pushing them in opposite directions. “Shh! Don’t speak like a rich girl, Issa. Blasphemy.”

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