Originally written for a friend. There’s a crick in my neck, and I think that’s what wakes me—the discomf ...
Bedlam & Begonias
Sadie wrenched the door of the shop open far harder than was necessary, but she couldn’t find it in her to give a damn. The bell above the door chattered frantically, and she spared it a hard glare. She wasn’t in the mood. Not for the cute little shop with its lavender and black exterior, its Victorian punk feel, not for the absurd bell above the door with its clean, clear ring, and especially not for the fantastic blend of floral scents that bombarded her as soon as she opened that damnable door, two minutes before the end of the extended holiday hours listed on that same door.
Most of all, she wasn’t in the mood for the stupid holiday itself, or anything that went with it. Including flowers. Especially flowers, and adorable flower shops. Any other day she’d have found the shop intriguing, at least. Hell, she’d been meaning to come in for weeks, since she’d seen the place.
“I mean really, who names a flower shop Bedlam & Begonias?” She snorted softly, shaking her head.
“Well, I thought it rolled off the tongue a little better than Anarchy & Amarylis, but that’s just me.”
Startled, Sadie spun in the direction of the voice, and found herself face-to-face with the cutest girl she’d ever seen. Long black hair and a gentle smile, a green slouch beanie that perfectly matched her eyes. White, green, and purple plaid flannel shirt rolled up over arms that weren’t really muscular, but were still nicely defined. Skinny jeans and Docs that went up almost to her knee.
Sadie couldn’t stop staring.
The girl lifted an eyebrow, and she found her mouth gone dry.
“So how can we at Bedlam & Begonias help you on this lovely Valentine’s Day?”
The mention of the hated day finally kickstarted Sadie’s brain. She slammed the twenty dollar bill she’d been clutching onto the counter. “How do I passive-aggressively say ‘fuck you’ in flower?”
The girl—woman, really— let out a burst of laughter and came over to the counter. Her fingers slid the twenty out from under Sadie’s hand, smoothing it out as she smiled. “Well. Definitely not the challenge I was expecting today, but I think I’m up for it. And, added bonus, it’s a nice change from roses.”
Sadie snorted, but she was glad the pretty girl didn’t ask why she’d made such an angry request.
The woman in question bit her lip and grinned wider. She stepped past Sadie to the door, flipping the closed sign and throwing the bolt, then walked back behind the counter. “I don’t usually invite customers back, especially at the end of the day, but come on. We’re going to raid the cooler.”
Sadie narrowed her eyes for a second, then shrugged. “Hell, why not. But if you murder me, I’ll haunt your ass. Even if I don’t know your name.”
That laugh again, clear as a bell. Clearer. “Evan Song. I own Bedlam.”
Sadie almost tripped on her own feet. “Wait, you own it? And you’re working the absolute worst flower day all year?”
“Says the girl who walked in at the end of the same day, asking how to tell her ex to fuck off in flowers.”
“Touché, I suppose. I’m Sadie.”
Evan turned and gave her a once over. “Pleasure, Sadie.”
Yes. Yes it would be. The thought came unbidden, making her blush, and Evan winked before turning back and opening the door to the cooler.
“Step into my parlor.”
The teasing note in Evan’s voice made Sadie blush even deeper. She shook off the feeling and stepped into the cooler, immediately envious of Evan’s flannel shirt. It looked adorable on her, too…
If Evan noticed her distraction, she gave no indication. Instead, she held out a flower with tissue-thin petals. “First in the fuck you bouquet, my personal favorite, the begonia. For warning and dark thoughts.”
She waggled her eyebrows, still holding the flower, until Sadie reached out and took it.
“Next, we have the lovely peony. Which, despite their beauty, symbolize your anger with the recipient.”
Sadie took the peony, too.
“Hydrangea for frigidity and heartlessness. I’m assuming that’s appropriate?”
Sadie grunted, taking the proffered stem without looking up. “Yeah. Considering I caught her in our bed with the guy next door, and she blamed me for her affair… I think that works.” She wasn’t sure why she’d said it. She hadn’t really wanted to think about it. The pain was only hours old, a sharp stab wound that hadn’t even faded to a dull throb yet.
Both Evan’s eyebrows lifted, but she didn’t comment. Just reached for another flower. “I think snapdragon next, then. Lies and falsehood. And chrysanthemum, specifically yellow, for slighted love.” She continued to pick through flowers, handing them off to Sadie as she listed their meaning. “Petunias for resentment and anger. Oleander says to watch out. And the finishing touch, an orange lily. For that great big I hate you that all fuck you bouquets need.”
Sadie looked down at the lily Evan held out, and swallowed. All the rage she’d carried with her into the shop had disappeared as Evan had picked out blossom after blossom. The fight had gone out of her, smoothed away by unobtrusive smiles and colorful flowers, leaving her feeling…sad. And tired. The betrayal was still there, and the pain, but the immediate bite had faded. “You know what, I… I’m sorry.”
Evan’s voice was soft and kind. “Not feeling it anymore?”
Sadie shrugged, not looking up. “I really do appreciate it. Really. You didn’t have to put up with my bullshit, especially not after closing on your biggest night.”
Evan said nothing, and the silence stretched until Sadie couldn’t stand it. But just as she was about to look up, to speak, to walk away−anything to break the silence−she felt the flowers being gently removed from her hands. She watched slim fingers take them away, one at a time, until her hands were empty. Sadie looked at her empty hands for a moment, then turned to leave.
Fingers caught at her own, the same slim fingers that moments before had held flowers.
“I think I have a better idea. If you don’t mind indulging me.”
Sadie finally looked up, only to find herself caught by kind green eyes that crinkled at the corners. Only when she felt something pressed into her hand did she manage to break away from Evan’s gaze. This time, the flowers were blue.
“Blue iris, to start. For hope. Because we all need hope.”
Evan’s smile grew from kind to hopeful. Just like the irises Sadie now held. And then Sadie laughed as the next flowers came out.
“Daffodils, next, not just because they’re the happiest flower I can think of, but for new beginnings. Another thing we all need, but I think it’s especially appropriate right now.”
Sadie blushed, knowing Evan was right.
“And lastly, stephanotis, for luck. Not that I think you need it,” she added with a wry twist to her grin. “But it’s a nice thing to have, luck.”
Evan handed her the little white flowers, and then gently took Sadie’s hand. With a soft squeeze, Evan led her out of the cooler and back to the work area. There, she took the flowers back from Sadie, leaving her standing awkwardly.
But only for a minute. Before Sadie really had a chance to examine just how awkward she felt, Evan turned back to her, a beautifully arranged bouquet in hand.
“I know it’s not the fuck you bouquet you asked for, but…” Evan hesitated, biting her lip again.
Adorably. Sadie didn’t even bother to deny it as she accepted the flowers.
“I think this one suits you better. The irises bring out the blue in your eyes.” Evan blushed as she offered the compliment.
Sadie felt herself smile for the first time since walking in on Jen and Adam that morning. It was…nice. Better than her original idea would have felt, she suspected. “Thanks.”
“I mean, you paid for an arrangement.”
“Yeah. Still. I’m pretty sure you closed like a half an hour ago, and you put up with my cranky-ass request…”
Evan shrugged, still smiling. “Like I said, it was a nice break from the endless cavalcade of roses. Some people have no imagination!” Her lips twitched slightly. “And I never could say no to a pretty girl, especially one who was upset.”
Sadie felt her face flush deeply. “I should… I should go. You probably want to get out of here. I’m sure you have plans for tonight.”
“I don’t.” The answer came quickly, and Sadie glanced back up as Evan continued in a rush. “That’s why I took the closing shift and let everyone else go early. I was just going to go home and watch Netflix.”
Sadie stared, her mind gone blank.
Evan smiled shyly. “I’m single. That’s what I’m trying to say.”
Sadie blinked. She recognized the words Evan had said, but her brain was refusing to catch up and actually grasp their meaning.
“You could join me.”
Evan laughed, her cheeks going pink. “Sorry.” Her eyes darted away. “That was probably… You clearly just ended a relationship. You’re obviously hurting. It was a stupid thing to say−”
“I’d love to.”
Evan’s jaw worked up and down before closing with a deliberate swallow. “You would?”
Sadie looked at her flowers, so carefully selected minutes ago. Hope, new beginnings, and luck. Evan seemed like all of those things.
“Yeah. I would.”