From Me to You

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What's worse than being dumped right before your 40th birthday on Valentine's Day?
This story was contributed by Emily Duvall



Two weeks from today I will turn forty. On Valentine's Day. I peruse my social media site noting the comments about how I don't look a day over thirty (lovely lies) and how this will be the best year (heard that before). This is all in response to a post I put up after too many glasses of wine.

Guess who didn't get engaged for Christmas?

That would be me. My boyfriend Peter didn't come close to giving me a ring. He gave me rain boots. Nothing says it's over after five years of dating like boots in the wrong size.

We broke up later that night and I haven't seen him since.

The new year started from scratch. I haven't seen or spoken to Peter. His stuff is boxed up and sitting in my garage, but a sudden storm has encased half of Frederick in snow. Turns out, Maryland winters still come as a surprise. The sidewalks and roads are clear, but today is a low customer volume day at the flower shop I own, Blush. I have owned it for twelve years and am

My biggest mistake is that I chose okay over great. My regrets as a glaring as the freshly cleaned glass windows boarded with faux glittery snow and Valentine's Day stretched across in an adorable banner. I write the words in pretty, thick chalk on the quote board next to the cash register.

Always risk your heart over sensibility.

With the Day of Love around the corner, we are slammed with orders. I am in the middle of putting together bouquets with blue hydrangeas and pink roses for a wedding shower when the bell jingles on the door with a fierce blast of cool air. I look up and see a gentleman enter, but I don't like to hover.

I give him a few minutes in front of the flowers-to-go and I walk over. He's tall and broad; cute too upon first glance. Sandy brown hair. Wears a suit. A jaw made for pulling close to lips or being pulled into.

I wipe my hands on my green apron. "Hi," I say. He glances at me with eyes the color of the milk chocolate truffles they sell next door, and I was wrong. Cute is far from an adequate descriptor. He's all man with the way he fills out his suit. His eyes hint at having an ego. Even though I take care of myself and my shoulder-length hair has a healthy low-lighted shine, I can't compete with the twenty-somethings. Or the thirty-somethings. He's got to be near my age with all that distinguished vibe he gives off. He's probably picking out flowers for his gorgeous wife. "Is there something specific you're looking for?" I say, before my curiosity begins to stalk him.

"I have a coworker recovering from a surgery," he states in a gruff voice. So far, he's used more emotion in that sentence than Peter ever did. "How do you say, 'I care' without saying I want you back?" He winces as if a victim of his own cruelty.

"I've heard worse," I say truthfully, not taking my eyes off his. Something about him commands eye contact. "I once had a customer buy for both his pregnant girlfriends. They didn't know about each other."

His laugh is rich and heartfelt. I smile like I'm experiencing my first crush, probably rosy cheeks and all. "Might I suggest these?" I point to a few blooms to make a mixed bouquet. "Nothing over the top or overly romantic."

"Those will do," he says, following me to the cash register. "Thank you—"

"Eleanor," I introduce myself, noticing with a stealthy look that he's not wearing a wedding ring. "Everyone calls me Lea. And you are?"

"Noah."

"That's a fine name." I roll my eyes internally and cringe. "I'm sorry, I just sounded like my grandmother," I say dryly.

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