Here is the Prologue if you missed it!
Twelve Years Later
“How was Vegas?” Lily asked when Poppy showed up for work on Tuesday morning. Rose came in the exact second the question was asked.
“It was great,” Poppy said. “It would have been better if Rose wanted to let loose some more.”
Lily laughed. “She’s not you.”
“That’s right, Poppy,” Rose said. “Excuse me if two glasses of wine are my limit and I don’t care to attract that many men at the bar.”
“It was all in good fun,” she said. Geez, you’d think she was out there having threesomes with the way her baby sister by one year was talking.
“Did you have to pull her off the bar?” Lily asked.
“No, she didn’t,” Poppy said. “I had four glasses of wine in a three-hour period. I just drink faster than Rose. I wasn’t drunk, as Rose will tell you. And since we shared a room and went there at the same time each night, she knows I didn’t hook up with anyone.”
“It was your choice not to do it,” Rose said. “You had enough men coming onto you.”
“That doesn’t mean I accept it,” she said.
Sure, she liked sex. She had ever since her first experience with Reese McGill so many years ago and he left, breaking her heart.
But that didn’t mean she slept with every man she came in contact with. She didn’t sleep with strangers either and that was what all those men were to her in Vegas.
Did she have some friends with benefits situations over the years? Yep, she did. She was a modern day professional getting a business off the ground. She was busting her butt to prove to her older sister that she could hold down the fort too. That she wasn’t the silly girl that was emotional and cried every month when she got her period because she hated the cramps.
Well, maybe she still did that during that time, but not because of the cramps. It was more her hormones. But now it was in the privacy of her condo.
The one she bought with her money from the hard work she’d been doing for years. She could buckle down when she needed to.
“We know you aren’t loose,” Lily said, rubbing her hand on her arm. “We are only picking on you.”
She did know that deep down. “What can I say? Maybe I’m jealous of what you’ve got going with Zane.”
Lily started to date Zane Wolfe last spring. Now the hot construction owner and his daughter were living in the house the three girls had moved to after Lily married Carl Blossoms who died of a heart attack, leaving Lily a widow in her early twenties.
She was happy for her sister, but she was being honest in that she was jealous too.
“If you weren’t always out for fun maybe you’d find that with someone too,” Rose said.
“Please,” she said. “Like you are one to talk. The only person who dated less than you was Lily. She’s making up for it now though.”
“I’m not dating anyone,” Lily argued. “I’m in love.”
“Real love,” she said to Lily. “And don’t argue anymore. You sacrificed everything for the two of us and you can deny all you want. Rose and I aren’t stupid. Hell, nothing would surprise me about the marriage you had with Carl. I still don’t know how you married him when he was old enough to be our father. Let alone slept with him. Or maybe you didn’t?”
“Leave Lily alone,” Rose said. “Her marriage to Carl is old news and we know it. She’s happy with Zane and she deserves it. We should all be happy with what we worked for too. And back to the convention because I know Lily is dying to hear about it.”
She should have figured Rose would stop Lily from answering the questions she’d had for her older sister for years. But she supposed it wasn’t her business either. What was done was done.
Carl had been more a father to her and Rose. Well, not a father, but more like an uncle. He put a roof over their heads—a nice one—they all went to college. They were left money and the business when Carl died. Though by then, the three girls had started their own branch of Blossoms.
Candles, soaps and lotions, with her accessories and Rose’s jewelry in the works.
Man, if she never had to make a bar of soap or candle again, she’d be one happy girl.
She’d always been more into fashion than her sisters, but money was tight and she didn’t get to buy half of what she wanted.
So she learned to make it. She had a good hand at sewing and when she got sick of the products to their original business, she broached her plan with Lily. Scarves, purses, handbags, belts. Any accessory she could think of and they stuck to the floral theme.
She was in her glory and more so when she got a booth at the craft fair and sold out in two hours.
When Rose saw the results, she said she wanted her own line too. Jewelry was born and now all three of them could say they were equally contributing with Lily running the business as a whole.
Lily was born to lead. She’d been more a mother than their own mother at times. That guilt Poppy felt, she was trying to push it off as much as she could. She might like to have fun, but she’d caused enough grief for her sister over the years.
Which was why she’d never told Lily or Rose anything about Reese when she’d snuck out to be with him each night that week. The only week she had with him.
And she had to stop thinking of the man too.
She’d pushed him from her mind for years, but in moments of weakness, she’d do an internet search and see what he might be up to.
A professional poker player. She’d never imagined that in a million years. But the fact she’d spent a week in Vegas with Rose, her eyes looking around for any chance he might be there, could be why he was entering her mind now.
“I’ve got a bunch of fabric samples from different vendors. I love the way they look and I’ve got them in the car to bring in and try out. I’m more concerned about the sustainability of them. If I can only use them for scarves, then so be it. But I did get a list of contacts for possible placement of my products too.”
“Wonderful,” Lily said. “If you want to give me the list, I’ll look into them.”
“I can do it,” she argued. “I know you are used to doing it all, but let me reach out first. I’m fussy about the way my products are displayed. How they will be placed and represented in shops and boutiques.”
Poppy might be flighty about a lot of things in life, but this was her livelihood and she took it seriously. Maybe the only thing she took seriously in life in years, some would say.
“Okay,” Lily said. “If you need help let me know. I’m so excited and happy for you.”
“Thanks,” she said. She knew Lily meant it too.
“Now your turn, Rose,” Lily said. “What do you have to report?”
“I got a few lists of contacts too. I saw some great processes that I want to try out. Some of the contacts I got are the same as Poppy’s. They seemed to want all the products we have.”
“You didn’t tell me that,” Poppy said. She hated when they didn’t tell her things. “How come?”
“Because you were too busy flirting the last day there and I was by myself at my booth. Then we packed up and caught our flight home,” Rose said. “I just figured I’d talk to both of you together.”
“This is all exciting,” Lily said. “Why don’t you let me know who those are and we can all meet to work it out. It’s best to reach out to them as a business unit, and not individually. Agreed?”
“Yes,” Poppy said. She’d been so proud of herself for getting those names and now it seemed like it wasn’t just for her but for them all.
She had to get over it. They were a unit and it wasn’t all about her.
“Now if you’ll excuse me,” Lily said. “I need to check out the flower shop and make sure Jasmine and Violet are all set along with the rest of the girls. Valentine’s Day is Monday and we know how busy they are going to be.”
“The shop too,” Rose said. “We’ve been running specials all week. I feel bad we were gone for most of it.”
“That is what we’ve got other employees for,” Poppy said. She and Rose ran the storefront while they created in the back. All her products were produced at the manufacturing plant too. The same with some of Rose’s jewelry.
“I know,” Rose said. “And of the three of us, I hate working the store the most but will do it. I’m dying to get back to my shop and start working on new designs, but we should check in the store before we do anything else.”
Poppy hated that both her sisters always felt like they had to tell her what to do. That she wasn’t smart enough to figure it out. Or maybe they thought she was still flighty like she’d been accused of as a kid.
It seemed like she was forever trying to prove her worth to everyone even if they didn’t mean to make her feel this way.
“I planned to do that,” Poppy said. She looked at her watch. “We’ve got an hour before the store opens anyway.”
Lily was in her office before eight each day. Poppy and Rose normally came in around the same time too to get to work and then would fill in at the store if they had to. In the past several months, they didn’t have to much at all, but rather had to keep inventory to their specialties and schedule the staff more than anything.
It was nice being the boss, but sometimes it’d be nicer to not worry about those things.
“Then let’s get to work,” Lily said. “You two know where I am if you need me. Maybe we can plan on meeting at the end of the week once you’re both settled to figure out what contacts you’ve got and what we want to put together to send them?”
“That works for me,” Rose said.
“Me too,” she said. She and her younger sister left Lily’s office above the flower shop. “Thanks for throwing me under the bus.”
“What?” Rose asked. “What did I do?”
“Talking about me drinking and flirting.”
Rose looked at her, her eyes a little wide. “I didn’t say anything that wasn’t true or what we’ve picked on you about for years. Let me guess, you’re going to get your period again and are just hormonal?”
She let out a sigh. “No,” she said. “I just feel like I’m always trying to prove that I can handle my end of the business.”
When they got to the back where both of them had offices that were more workrooms, Rose stopped and looked at her. “I’m sorry. I’m the one with more self-doubt than you. You’re killing it right now and you know it. Maybe I’m jealous that my branch isn’t taking off like yours.”
Rose was the quietest of the three of them and Poppy knew it took a lot for that confession to come out of her sister’s lips. “There is no reason to be jealous of me. You’re doing great. Hence, getting the contacts like me. Remember, we are stronger together than apart.”
She’d been told that so much by Lily over the years that she finally started to believe it. “We are,” Rose said, hugging her. “And I’m sorry if I hurt your feelings.” Her baby sister must really feel bad but she normally ran at the first sign of any affection.
She laughed. “You didn’t. I’m emotional and we all know it.”
“One of us has to be. You got all my genes for that. I’m the stone cold one.”
“You’re not cold, Rose. Don’t let anyone tell you that.” She hated when Rose put herself down.
“I know. We all have our faults. But we all have our strengths too. And we better get to work before Lily comes down and cracks the whip.”
She grinned and bumped hips with Rose. “That’s her strength. Keeping us in line.”
“Even if we don’t want to admit, we need it.”
“We do,” she agreed.