In honor of the second book in my Grandberry Falls series, HAPPY NEW LIFE, I'm going to give you a little sample of my first novel in the series, THE LADYBUG JINX.
“If you have two pennies, spend one on bread
and one on a flower. The bread will give you
life and the flower will give you a reason to live.”
Celia stood on the cobblestone walkway looking at the name, ever so elegantly painted over the bay window in beautiful cursive writing: The Ladybug Florist.
“Will that be all?” the painter asked, poking his head out of the doorway.
She followed him inside and admired the Chinese proverb he’d painted over the cash register. “You do fine work,” she said.
She was pleased with the details. Except for one thing. “Before you go, can you make the dot on the ‘I’ in Florist a ladybug?” Celia asked.
It’s all about the details to Celia, all the way down to placing a ladybug sticker in each arrangement, in the right spot.
The painter didn’t question her. He set his ladder up behind the cash register and began to work his magic. Celia left him alone to finish. There was new inventory to put up, flowers to cut, and arrangements to be made. With orders flowing in, she wasn’t about to complain.
Celia had dreamed of owning her own English floral shop, and when the two bedroom cottage on the outskirts of Grandberry Falls, Kentucky, went up for sale--Celia snatched the opportunity.
Celia bent down to stop Charlie from barking when the bell hanging above the front door rang. “Shh! You’re going to scare the customers.”
After Celia’s mother died, she went to the pound in Lexington to look for a dog for her father. A companion of sorts. Instead, the silver-haired miniature schnauzer found her. She was perfect for him, as Charlie was for her. He gave her two things a man never could: loyalty and unconditional love.
“I can’t keep up with all these deliveries, Celia.” Marty Briggs’ voice boomed throughout the old clapboard house. “You are going to have to hire someone. I’m just too old.”
She started to snip away the bright orange Gerber daisies as her father came in. She didn’t have to look up to hear the anger in his voice. He was good at letting her know how much he dislikes being the only flower delivery boy in town.
“I know, Dad, but you’re retired, and it gives you something to do. Everyone in town is always telling me how much they love visiting with you.” She continued to cut one daisy after the other, keeping a cautious eye on her father.
“When you started this business you told me that I would be delivering on a temporary basis.”
Marty looked at the arrangements left to be delivered.
“You need to hire someone else. Place a wanted ad in this week’s paper.”
“Don’t you enjoy getting out of the house and visiting with Mamie down at the Fatted Pig during your coffee breaks?” Celia looked up to see if her dad would react at the mere mention of Mamie Beale’s name.
Celia’s heard faint rumors about Mamie taking a fancy to her father over the past few months.
“Celia Briggs, what are you implying?” Marty’s voice gave off a distinct displeasure to her accusations.
“I’m not implying anything, Dad. I think you need to get out of your house, and if you’re not delivering flowers you might not ever leave your TV.” Celia wasn’t about to tell him not to court Mamie, or press him for more information when he clearly wasn’t going to be forthcoming.
“Well.” Marty bent down to pick up a couple arrangements. “I can’t do them all anymore. You’re business is growing, and I’m more tired now than I was at Benton’s.”
Celia had several fond memories of her father being the manager at Benton’s IGA, the only grocery store in town. Many times she’d fling the Coke bottles down the bottle return as fast as she could so they would break in a big pile at the end. And many times she heard Mavis Prattle scream, “Marty Briggs, that child of yours has got to go home!” It only caused Celia to fling them harder the next time.
She knew her dad was right. The job was getting bigger than she planned. But, every since he’d been delivering flowers, she’d seen a difference in him. It was hard on all of them since her mother passed a couple years ago.
Besides, Celia only gave him what she called “happy orders”: birthdays, anniversaries, births, just because occasions. He wasn’t ready for funeral homes, the sick or death deliveries. She left those for herself, which she found was leaving her little time to fulfill the orders too.
“Oh! Dad, wait!” Celia grabbed the ladybug stickers and ran after him.
“That’s the first words out of people’s mouth, ‘Mr. Briggs, where’s the ladybug?’”
Her dad made the funniest excited woman’s voice causing Celia to giggle.
“I love when you make me laugh. Now shoo.” Celia signaled for him to get going.
“Don’t forget about the delivery boy wanted ad. I mean it, Celia.” His face became stern. “I can’t do this all by myself anymore. It’s just getting too big.”
She shooed him out the door before she heard another word.
“Anything else?” The painter asked.
Wiping her hands on the apron, she then retrieved a tip for his time. “It looks great.” She held the tip out.
Pushing the money aside, the painter said, “If you don’t mind, I wouldn’t mind having a few daisies to take home to my wife.” He pointed in the other room towards the freezers. “My wife loves the simple daisy.”
Celia held back from laughing. If he only knew the complexity that simple flower has made upon the world. A whole philosophy was born when Buddha held up a single lotus. The simple flower was what made her love her job. Flowers make everyone happy, even the grumpy painter.
She opened the freezer, taking in a deep breath. The freeing feeling she got from the whiff of the fresh flowers caused her heart to glide along with soaring memories of her grandfather’s words. “Cee, if you are ever sad, go over to my freezer, and put your nose up to the seal. Inhale through your nose, open and shut the door. All your cares will melt away as the scents mingle, and swirl around.”
She held out the bucket of daisies. “Pick a stalk. Three.”
The painter eyed each one carefully and pulled out the prettiest three.
“Good choice.” Celia placed the bucket back in the freezer, and took the stems from the painter.
Silently he followed her back to the old kitchen where Celia worked her magic. Placing the final touch, she stuck a ladybug on a single white petal.
“You really like ladybugs.” The painter admired the arrangement.
“My grandfather always told me they were good luck.” She handed the vase to him. “They haven’t let me down yet.”
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