I am taking part in Choc Lit's Round Robin story for Valentine's Week. Five Choc Lit authors have written a 500-750 word section of the story, taking the lead from the author before them. And you can follow the story at each stop, read and win the prize at the end.
by Isabella Connor
Read part one on Reading in the Sunshine, part two on Victoria Loves Books, part three on Chick Lit Reviews and News and part four on Chloe’s Chick Lit Reviews
In the kitchen, slumped over a mug of coffee, Shelly thought of roses and redundancies, of her lost job and her lost love.
Get a grip, she told herself. Jake Starkey had never been her love. Just an illusion. He didn’t deserve her devotion.
She looked at the bouquet on the counter, next to the empty bottle of Chardonnay. She’d found the flowers outside her door, after she’d ignored four long rings at the doorbell. They were the reason she'd drunk herself into oblivion last night, embarrassed that her mother had sent roses in an attempt to brighten up her Valentine's Day.
'Things might get better,' Jan had clucked on the phone, probably tapping the side of her nose at the same time.
Nice idea, Mum, but it hadn't made her feel better. Just reminded her she was a failure at relationships.
Jake Starkey had been the focus of her attention for the last four months. The hope, the dreams, the fantasies – they’d kept her going through a long cold winter. She’d not make that mistake again. No more unrequited love …
Unrequited love. She’d heard those words yesterday in the flower shop. The florist – Ethan – had seemed to guess by magic her sad situation. He hadn’t made her feel pathetic, though. Not then, nor after Jake had dropped his bombshell, reducing her daydreams to dust. Ethan had packed up her things and got her safely into a cab, staring through the glass, looking concerned. He had nice green eyes. And a head full of dark curls … You look like the rose …
She hadn’t even thanked him for being so nice. Well, she’d set that right as soon as she’d showered, and put some make-up on. Now, where had she put that pink pashmina …
Shelly entered the flower shop but there was an unknown woman behind the counter.
‘Can I help you?’
‘I was looking for … but he’s not …’ Shelly’s voice trailed off.
‘Ethan’s making a delivery. He’ll be back soon. Can I give him a message?’
‘No, it’s okay.’ About to leave, Shelly caught sight of the white rose in a vase on the counter. She remembered hissing at Ethan to take it away… ‘Could you tell him thanks for helping me out yesterday. I had a bit of a crisis.’
‘Are you Shelly?’
God, Ethan must have told her about yesterday’s fiasco.
‘I’m so sorry about what happened. Ethan was gutted. He used to work for Jake Starkey. Five years ago. He was made redundant too. That’s when he set up this shop. Decided to be his own boss.’
‘I see.’ It must have been hard for him to be reminded of all that, yet he’d seemed more concerned about how Shelly felt.
‘Did you like the flowers?’
‘The yellow roses. Ethan chose them specially. I tried to deliver them, but you weren’t at home.’
Roses … chosen specially for her … roses on Valentine’s Day …
‘Ethan will kill me for saying this, but I’m his big sister, so I’m allowed – he thinks you’re gorgeous.’
Gorgeous. Shelly was blushing, probably a deeper pink than her scarf. But the woman was smiling which gave her confidence. And a mad kind of courage.
‘I’d like to buy some flowers.’
Ethan trudged into the shop. His heart just wasn’t in it today. Thank God Sandra was there. She gave him a big smile. Probably a pity smile.
‘Any customers?’ he asked.
‘One. She bought something. For you.’
Ethan frowned. ‘Me?’
Sandra pointed to a vase on the counter. It had held only the Michelle rose, but now that was surrounded by a dozen yellow ones.
‘Oh my God … was it … did she …?’ His mind was reeling with possibilities, and his mouth was refusing to work properly.
‘She left a card.’
Ethan took it, staring in shock at the writing. The name of a restaurant with a date and time, and the words No more unrequited love.
And for once the leftover Valentine’s Day balloons and pink teddy bears didn’t seem even remotely out of place.
Happy Valentine’s Day from everyone at Choc Lit!
Question: What colour are Ethan’s eyes?
When you’ve collected all five questions (which can be found at the end of each section of the story) send your answers to firstname.lastname@example.org to be entered into our Valentine’s Day giveaway!
Liv Thomas was born and raised in the South of England. She always had the dream of becoming a writer, but never had the confidence to pursue it completely. After positive responses to Lord of the Rings fan-fiction, she decided it was time to make the dream a reality. Wife and mum, Liv works for the NHS, and is employed at the hospital which first featured in Channel 4′s One Born Every Minute. Liv is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association.
Valerie Olteanu grew up in Scotland, and her childhood ambitions were to travel and to be a writer. After studying English and Art History at the University of Glasgow, she moved to London where she worked in the Literature Department of the Arts Council England. Some years later, she decided to teach English and see the world. She lived and worked in Croatia, the West Bank, and Mexico, before settling with her husband in Canada. She is currently an adult educator in Burnaby, British Columbia.
Beneath an Irish Sky is their debut novel.